562 – Monster Soup • 04

562

Lena and I have been talking a lot about the afterlife recently. Is there one, what is it like, will you get to see your friends, do you have to see your family, does the cable ever go out, that sort of thing. If classical Christianity is to be believed then hell is forever burning in a lake of fire and heaven is forever singing praises to god. Leaving aside for a moment the kinds of issues a guy must be carrying around to need to have a celestial host just to sing about what an awesome guy he is twenty-four/seven, I’m thinking a hundred years of either one is going to feel pretty hellish to me.

So I started thinking what I would want heaven to be for me. As it turns out, it’s not too different from my current life. Basically just what I have now, except maybe thinner and with a self-cleaning house. But that’s just me. I’m guessing most anyone you ask would have a slightly different opinion. (See where this is going?)

Now let’s say right off the bat, for the purposes of our hypothetical argument that there is an afterlife. (If your answer is “I don’t believe in heaven so this question doesn’t apply to me.” go ahead and say so if it makes you feel better, but I’m really looking for people who want to exercise their imaginations a bit more.) Let’s also say that you get to define what that afterlife consists of. What is it? What would make heaven, heaven for you?

77 Responses to 562 – Monster Soup • 04

  1. I can’t say much more than this.

    Look at the movie “What Dreams May Come”. An odd drama, considering that Robin Williams is the protagonist. The movie presents one of the best forms of heaven, as well as one of the most surreal forms of hell I could have seen.

    In a nutshell: heaven is what makes you feel complete, hell is forever succumbing to despair. There’s one or two main differences, but pretty much altering a complete landscape to your bidding and share your idea with others who earned the same goal seems pretty nice for me. In case of hell, I’ve thought of it as a place where you get the punishment you deserve. Not just a single lake of fire and brimstone; if you lied a lot to protect an embarrassing truth may just be punished by having you always speak to everyone you see that embarrassing truth. Karmic punishment, perhaps.

    Yeah, perhaps not so imaginative, but it makes a lot of sense if your reward is something more than immortality and eternal bliss. Keeping identity is essential.

    • Actually, the version of hell you are describing in classical christianity was taken from Dante’s Inferno.
      The bible’s description of Hell, is a Separation from God. Those people who don’t Choose God, are separated to the Lake of Fire, which is created for Satan and his demons, and THEY will burn forever… My belief is that humans are destroyed when cast into the Fire.

      Heaven, on the other hand is described best as a temporary place, where we go during the time of separation of the souls (after the return of Christ) Satan is defeated and Bound in the lake of fire for 1000 years. He is then released for “a little time” (I forget how long, I believe it is also a Millenium) This gives people (the ones born after the return of Jesus) the chance to make the choice: Evil (Satan, Paganism, Athieism ect) or Good (God, Jesus… (don’t forget, He’s supposed to return during this time… Choice will have to be obvious at that point but some people will still not get it.) Satan will then be brought to judgement, as will those who sided with him. God then Destroys the old earth, Replacing it with a New Earth, with the Lord sitting as King (for lack of a better title) in the Holy city of Jerusalem. Our lives would then be ours to live, but we’d CHOOSE to do things that Glorify God. Movies, Books, Music, Art. Science, whatever you do now, you’d do then… Just nothing “evil” Can you imagine what life would be like without Crime, Evil, and with the freedom to do pretty much whatever you want… with a loving God providing for your every need? (note I said Need, not desire… I know I’d be interested in Exploring the new Universe)
      The animals become Herbivores, (…the lion will lay down with the lamb…) and no threat to us.

      The best series I read which describes heaven and Hell accurately is “Left Behind” Specifically books 12 and 13 Glorious Appearing, and Kingdom Come. The entire series portrays our life, as told by the book of revelation… including what comes after the 2nd coming, and Judgment Day. Worth the read. (don’t bother with the movies though… 1 was good, 2 was okay, Three was a waste of film)

      Anyway, I also believe the What dreams may come film shows a great possibility for Hell… Just replace Despair to Separation from God (all that is good) and you hit it right on the head.

      I know my reply will generate a lot of “Haters” but Christian doesn’t always mean Boring.

      Have a blessed day!

      • No haters here!

        Loved What Dreams May Come, BTW. Thanks for that Oscar.

        This is getting a little off the track, but why does everything good have to come from god? I am an atheist, yet I often do good things. Would you interpret that as god working through me without my knowledge, as my atheism would be my choosing alliance with the devil, whom I also don’t believe in? I am not trying to poke fun, but from my point of view this all sounds like nonsense.

        • Because from the (some?) Christian POV(s), God IS good. As in, something cannot be good without being godly. He is the source of all goodliness, the cause of all goodliness, the etc. etc. etc. etc. etc. etc.

          Since he is the source and etc. of all goodliness, then something that is good must be godly.

          (Hey, if it made sense we would maybe be agnostics instead of atheists. )

      • Not to sound as a hater, but I’d like to share a little thing about Left Behind. Specifically, a blog that points out some of the apparent flaws in the books, and also a jab at the general idea about Premillenial Dispensationalism and related topics.

        This link (http://exharpazo.blogspot.com/2007/01/index-to-slactivists-left-behind.html) takes to another blog inspired by the blog Slacktivist, but this specific link serves as a unofficial index to the Slacktivist posts about the books. The blogger handled both the first book and the first movie, and it’s now on the second (Tribulation Force), pointing some of the irregularities present in the story. I’d like to add that, while at first it may not seem apparent, this is from the point of view of an Evangelical Christian (his words, not mine).

        (Also, Kev, you don’t mind I put that link, right? In case you have to take it down or something…)

        • I don’t mind, as long as you aren’t spam. The kind of link you posted is fine.

          Every once in a while, someone who hasn’t posted before (or enough) will put up a bunch of links and get flagged by the system, and then I have to track it down and unflag it. Even then I don’t mind, it’s just that it sometimes takes a little longer for those posts to appear here.

    • hell is forever succumbing to despair
      Hum… I spend a good enough time in hell, then.

      For me, paradise? I knew it once, but lost it. I was happy, and felt complete. I ask for nothing more.

  2. The self-cleaning house sounds nice, but I’m gonna quote Wise Blood: “And where you are ain’t no good unless you can get away from it!”
    So I guess my desired heaven would allow me to be and see and do anything and anywhere, and keep adding new places, things and activities to explore and experience without end.

  3. I guess to me, heaven is being free of the shackles of flesh and being free to wander the universe in spirit form. I don’t think it’s an actual place that one goes to, like Las Vegas for spirits or something. I think it’s more like a never ending vacation full of pure awesomeness, and you can get away from this crazy world for a few millenium.
    Hell, on the other hand, means only one thing. You get re-born as a baby and get to start all over again, with little or no memory of what happened in your last go-around. The twisted irony is that you get whatever karma you have stored up. A person, in perhaps an unconcious effort to make amends, chooses to be that which he has harmed the most in his last life. The rich man comes back to homeless parents, the arrogant jock comes back handicapped, the wifebeater comes back as a woman, the drug dealer gets to live as a crack baby, and so on. Only when a person can break out of this cycle of victim and victimizer can he truly be free of the whole mess and go on vacation from it all. It’s like the modus operandi of the universe is “Those who don’t learn from history are doomed to repeat it” in the most literal and horrifying sense, but you can’t remember that history- so you have to figure it out from scratch each time. Thus, people always get the feeling that “life isn’t fair”. They’re absolutely right. Suck it up.

    • When you’re wandering the universe, do you get cell phones so you can meet up with other spirits you like and want to hang out with? I love the idea but I’d dig it more if I didn’t have to be alone the whole time.

      • Oh, far from being alone. The mind and spirit are infinite. You instantly know where other spirits are, can go there instantly, can speak with them, can screw with civilizations on this or other planets, etc. This is where I believe “angels” came from, and why they tend to pop up every now and then throughout history. You’d get to hang out with Jesus, Buddha, Muhammed, Ghandi, Elvis, and all the other cool people who didn’t need to come back and do it all over again. You and the Archangel Elvis might appear to the Alpha Centaurians to start a rock n roll based religion. Ski some black holes, create a few stars, build your own civilization, contemplate your navel, or whatever.

  4. Actually, this is the most fiercely debated and unclear subject among Christians (probably mainly because we haven’t been there due to the fact it comes after our lives), and Gregory’s view is just one of the views. I believe Revelation to be a highly figurative book (based on the fact that Biblical books of prophecy always had high amounts of figurative language in them), and that rather than what Gregory described that it is just an encouragement to Christians to endure the persecution they were suffering, and that some still suffer, though in America the most we get is being made fun of by those who don’t believe what we do (with good reason sometimes, since most Christians live like everybody else, but tell everybody else that they need to live like Christians).

    However, onto my view of Heaven. I believe that just as Hell is seperation from God (which I agree with Gregory on), it is being in the presence of God that makes Heaven be Heaven. We will still have our identities, and we will be with many people that we knew on earth (and we know the rest after getting to heaven), and that it will be much like spending time with you closest friends on earth (except without ever getting upset with each other). It will be similar to life on earth, but with the imperfections of sickness and death and such. I hate singing, so I also don’t picture it as just singing all the time, and I think there will be a large variety of things we can do because He created us as unique individuals here, so I can imagine we would suddenly be cookie cutter images once in Heaven.

    Mainly, though, I think of Heaven as being even better than the best day I’ve ever had, or even the best day I can imagine. (I also don’t think that we will have to clean in Heaven unless we like cleaning, but I think there might be some work in Heaven, because we also seem to have a need to do something work-like, though any work we will do is work we will enjoy).

    If you have any questions about my post, just ask and I will answer to the best of my ability.

    • Okay, I have a question.

      To my knowledge, I am currently separated from god. If I’m not, he is mum on it. I am a happy person who loves his life and his friends and all but a few of his family. If eternity was this, I would be completely happy.

      Now maybe that’s just because I don’t know what I’m missing. In order to make my existence hellish (in this hypothetical) god would have to reveal himself to me for an instant just so he would have something significant to deprive me of and so I would hate my existence for the rest of eternity. Which brings me back to questioning the notion of “everything good comes from god” since I my eyes this would make him the worst kind of asshole.

      • First I want to say I appreciate the fact that you attempt to respond to everybody who has posted on this subject. I know you don’t always say much, but it is still a nice acknowledgment of the people who have taken the time to share.

        Now, for the question at hand. I should have said that it is complete seperation from God before. Because in one sense you are separated from God due to your choice not to believe in His existence. However, He is omnipresent and maintains the universe and as such you are not completely seperated from Him. When it comes down to it, we may not physically be able to feel His presence, but our souls need Him. After all, we have been made in His image, for the purpose of fellowship with God. That is His desire for us, and our greatest desire, since that’s why we were created. So complete separation from Him would be torture. There may also be separation from everybody else as well.

        As to your other question about everything good coming from God, that is explainable by the fact that we are created in the image of God, and as such we know what is right unless we continually blind ourselves to that. Because of this, you often do good things.

        As for why He would reveal Himself, He does so even in this life, but in subtle ways, and the reason for it is to give us a chance to come to fellowship with Him, not to make us hate our eternal existence. In fact, He doesn’t want anybody to suffer that, but He leaves it as our choice.

        • I really like the people who post here Timothy. If you are taking the time out of your day to spend a little with me, I consider that an act of friendship and community. And that’s something I never want to discourage.

          Now… if my real choice is eternal bliss or eternal suffering, and I am left in the position personally of having a life of experience that leads me not to believe in god, which will apparently take me to suffering, then I would say that god isn’t doing his job.

          I have never experienced god revealed, nor have I ever spoken with anyone who could make a convincing argument that they had. However, when I look at the world around me, it is by far more easy to explain without a god than with one. So it seems like god is stacking the odds against me, which makes him look like kind of a douche, and not someone I’d want to spend eternity with anyway, no matter how cool he was.

          It seems like if god really wanted to give us a choice, it would be easily within his ability to explain the actual stakes of his game in terms we could understand and accept, and tell us himself… this is what you are choosing between.

          God could change my mind, but since he hasn’t, I am left with one of two possibilities. One; that he doesn’t exist, or two; that he does exist and he wants me to love him, but not bad enough to actually do anything about it.

          • When it comes to God doing His job, I would say that it is not God who isn’t doing His job, but rather the church. They are supposed to reach out to those around them who aren’t Christians and tell them of God’s existence and show proofs of it. One of these proofs is supposed to be their changed lives, which is the biggest problem with American Christianity. Many Christians spend 6 days a week trying to be like non-Christians, and the other day of the week trying to get non-Christians to act like Christians.

            You say that you have never seen God revealed or met anybody who had, but I would say that God reveals Himself through nature. Through the fact that the world is at just the right angle and just the right amount of distance from the sun to sustain life, with just the right atmosphere for life to exist. Also, if it is much easier to explain the world without God than with God, how do you explain first cause? I’ve never met anybody who could answer that, but I would be interested in hearing what you think on the subject.

            Also, you talk about if God really wanted to give you a choice He should directly outline it for you, or at least give it in terms you can understand. For the direct outline I would say that in order for Him to truly give us a choice, which He wants to do, this system wouldn’t work. Just like if a parent wants their child to do something because the child wants to the parent won’t say, “Do this or I punish you” every time it happens. But when it comes to explaining it in terms we can understand, that is what the Bible is. It is designed to tell us God’s message in terms we can understand, and that is also the responsibility of Christians.

            Also, if He changed your mind directly, it would take away your choice. But you are left with more than just those two possibilities, because at least one more is that He has done a lot for you, but you just haven’t recognized that fact.

          • I will agree that the biggest lodestone around the neck of Christianity is Christians. Having little to no experience with Christians outside of the USA I’ll have to take your word on the American variant… but it hardly strains credulity to think that they’re more hypocritical here than elsewhere.

            I would explain the angle and distance to the sun the same way I would explain first cause. The natural world, as we understand it, is infinite enough to assume that a planet of our specifications would develop somewhere, but if it hadn’t, and we had ended up with life of a different sort, then two beings that looked like giant squash with spider legs and day-glo fezzes might well be arguing how unlikely it was that their planet developed in just such a way as to support them. The very fact of the earth means that the odds of it happening were 100%, which makes our world much less supernaturally dependent. First cause is the same. Our natural world requires no such thing. It is only our way of looking at the world that makes us assume it must have been there. In day to day human experience, everything is caused by something else. It is completely normal that we would try and attribute that cause and effect sequence to the universe, and indeed it is likely so. But there is nothing to indicate that there was ever a “first” anything. Even the Big Bang seems likely to be only the most recent in a string of such occurrences.

            The parent and child analogy is flawed. Assumably the child believes not only that the parent exists, but also that the parent will punish him if he misbehaves, so that the parent need not say it every time the child is confronted with a choice. If I had a kid I would expect myself to be honest and consistent, not aloof and mysterious.

            I wouldn’t expect god to reach into my mind and change it directly, but I see a lot of daylight between that and not letting me know what the choices are, or whether or not they’re even real.

          • Yeah, Christians are more hypocritical here, but then again, hypocrisy is rampant in America in both Christians and non-Christians.

            I understand the argument about the fact that it is this way means it is this way, no matter how probable it normally would be. However, the explanation for first cause that you gave isn’t an actual explanation. If everything happens naturally, and there is a natural cause and effect rule, then there has to be a first cause, whether that first cause is 4 billion years ago, or 400 quintillion years ago, it still has to be there. There is no purely natural explanation for first cause, even though the laws of nature require first cause to exist.

            Even if the child believes the parent exists, it doesn’t believe that the parent is always watching, and thus can still make a choice without thinking they will be punished. Also, they might doubt that their parent would actually punish them. Also, God is honest and consistent, but He leaves choice up to us.

            Again, God has given mankind choices, and He has given enough proof of His existence, if people are willing to look, but if they want to say He doesn’t exist, then He won’t force them to believe. Again, a lot of this goes back to the failure of the church to accurately communicate God’s message to others. Many Christians don’t live like the choice is real, and don’t want to offend others by saying the choice is real (or even really giving people a choice), so they stay quiet, even though that silence dooms others.

          • We may have reached the end here Timothy. What I see now is your position of “I believe” and mine of “I don’t.” If the church is the one falling down on the job then it is still on god’s head, since he is allowing all those souls to be damned due to the failures of his followers, which is within his ability to set right.

            Just saying that there must have been a first cause doesn’t make it so. An infinite universe, or even a recursive universe, by it’s very definition would have no beginning. Cause and effect dictates no first cause, in fact, if you consider for a moment, it implicitly denies it. The law of cause and effect would demand to know what caused the first cause.

            God is consistent only in that he still doesn’t exist. But if he did, he would be remarkably inconsistent, and more than a little bigoted. A gullible person born to a righteous family would stand a MUCH better chance of ending up in heaven than a skeptical child born to a scientific family, through absolutely no fault of their own. And given that all gifts spring from the divine, it would be god’s fault for it.

            Since you are arguing for things you cannot show me, your position is unfortunately weaker from the outset, though I suppose that this makes the terms for your success simpler to understand. All you need do is show me something that you cannot, and I will believe.

          • To begin, we may very well have reached a point where continuance is meaningless, but I will leave that choice to you. To say that it is still on God is incorrect, though. He has made Himself known, even if people no longer recognize that fact, and Christians are simply charged with telling everybody about the good news of salvation through Christ in order to save them from condemnation caused by sin. Once again, God leave choices up to us, and we have to make the decision.

            When it comes to cause and effect, every effect dictates a cause, but that does not negate the fact that something had to cause the first effect. Even with saying it is an infinite loop, something would have to start the process of cause and effect. Something has to cause the cause and effect status to go into effect.

            God is actually consistent in the fact that He does exist, and continues to exist. Just because He is not able to be fully understood by us doesn’t mean He is inconsistent or petty or non-existent. We were created by Him, so it just makes since that we can’t fully understand Him.

            My position is only weaker if I am trying to convince you, but you aren’t trying to convince me. Otherwise, your position would actually be weaker due to the fact that the absence of evidence is not the evidence of absence, and thus trying to prove something does not exist is always harder than proving that something does exist. Same thing for God.

            Also, if two people were piloting a jet, and person one said that the order of the jet and the design of the jet meant that it had to have been designed and created by intelligent individuals person two could counter and say that they believed that a tornado had happened to blow through a junkyard, and it just randomly assembled the fully functioning jet that they were riding in. Even if person one stated that the fact they were flying in it and everything worked great showed it had been created person two could counter (correctly) that all that proved was they were flying in it, not that it had been created. Person two could then state that unless person one showed him the designers of the plane, that he wouldn’t believe they existed. Person one then gets out a manual with the names of the designers and the way the plane was designed, but person two says that is just made by people, and it doesn’t show that the plane was made by people, only that the manual was. Does the fact that person one can’t prove the existence of the designers of the plane mean they don’t exist?

            I’m sorry if you take offense to that example (it is not a perfect analogy, since no analogy is perfect), but my hope is that perhaps it will cause some thought.

          • No offense taken at all! To be clear, I am not trying to convince you of anything, nor do I believe you can be convinced. I have no need to make anyone else agree with me, and consider this to be only an entertaining diversion. Since I have no personal stake in it, there is nothing for me to take personally. (As long as we aren’t calling each other names.)

            A plane not only cannot happen randomly, but people make them on purpose every day. A planet of our specifications is easily within the grasp of our imaginations to have occurred totally at random, though the odds are long. And nobody has ever been seen to make one.

            And as for purporting god’s existence by refusing to accept proof of the negative… can you prove that I didn’t create the universe? I even have reasons for doing it that anyone can understand. (Taco Bell.)

            Still not seeing your point of why there has to be a first cause that was caused by nothing. You need to explain that to me.

            I think we should stay away from the “god shows himself all the time/god has never shown himself” argument, unless you can actually point to something that cannot be more easily explained by natural occurrence. Otherwise we’re just going “yes-huh” and “nuh-uh.”

          • Just as you are not trying to convince me, I am not really trying to convince you (though if you were I would not complain), because I think it highly likely that you can’t be convinced, either. However, I do want to give a showing for my beliefs, and to produce thought. It is also informative for me to actually try to better understand where you are coming from, so this has been a mentally stimulating endeavor. It is also nice that even though this is an internet discussion it has not devolved into senseless name-calling, as so often happens online.

            For the plane discussion, while they are made every day, very few people ever see one made, and while the odds are long for it to be made from a tornado hitting a junkyard, it is not beyond our imagination to see that happen. Also, while nobody has ever seen a person make a planet that is because (as far as I have looked up) we have never seen a planet formed, and only have theories as to how they are formed. Also, as I said, it is not a perfect analogy.

            You have changed what I said. I have not refused to accept proof of the negative. I said that the absence of evidence is not the evidence of absence. There is no evidence that God doesn’t exist. As for proving that you didn’t create it, it is easy to prove that the universe existed before you were born, but if you say that you formed it in a past life before you were born, even though I don’t believe that, there is no way to prove that to be incorrect. And while Taco Bell is good, I’m not sure I would expend the energy to create the entire universe just for it.

            For the first cause part, what I am saying is that every effect has a cause, but that does not mean that every cause has a previous cause, just that every effect has a previous cause. As such, at some point there has to be something that caused everything else. Even if you say there is an infinite cause and effect loop, what causes cause and effect to work? Something has to cause that, but the only thing that can explain that is God.

            I understand what you mean about the God never shows Himself/God continually shows Himself. I will try to only bring up that He shows Himself in order to counter a statement that He doesn’t show Himself.

  5. Depends, do you mean a material kind of Heaven, where you and your loved ones (or every decent human being) get everything you want (basically, what people who aren’t rich think being filthy rich is like) and also never die or get ill? sure, that would be nice, in a sort of shallow way. I call it ‘Immunity from the Cold Equations’.)

    Or the metaphysical, transcendent kind of Afterlife, where you are Enlightened?

    As an atheist, I do not think of Hell as a separation from God, because I do not believe in either the Christian hell or in any kind of personalized deity. But if a Hell exists, I have some pretty good ideas what it might be like[*]; just not a separation from the love of [insert deity of your choice].

    [*] The tamest version would be having to endure a Republican Convention or Creationist Convention in today’s USA. Forever. Without a machine gun.

    The Left Behind series is hateful, fundamentalist propaganda written by an American Dominionist, the worst kind of “Christian” fundamentalist. Please, don’t praise that piece of pure shit as literature. It may surprise Americans, but the idea of “The Rapture” (the faithful being spirited up into heaven from their driving cars or whereever and then getting a hard-on for eternity hypocritically watching all the “unbelievers” burn in hell’s agonies) isn’t even know in Europe. And certainly not preached in our churches. I only stumbled across it because the image turns up again and again in American movies and books and other media, either in straight form or in a variation, even in Fantasy novels (i.e. the Cataclysm in the Dragonlance series) or as bitter satire (i.e. Cordelia’s “ascension” in Angel, the spin-off series of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and also some very dark SciFi short story I read as a child, called The Harvest). For years, I was askinf myself “WTF is that about?”.

    Now, me, if we’re talking about the material kind of Heaven, I’d like a place where morons, fundamentalists, hatemonger ideologists and fans of Ayn Rand get forcefully enlightened and get a clue… also called the metacognitive ability for introspection, which (as research has confirmed) morons and ideologists lack.
    http://gagne.homedns.org/~tgagne/contrib/unskilled.html

    If there is no Transcendence of the soul, then Reincarnation seems like a pretty good deal, compared to nothing at all. Reincarnation as human, as alien. Lifetimes to see the universe in all its glory and destructive force.

    I have serious issues with the whole Hinduist karma-fate-reincarnation-cycle idea, for humanist reasons. The idea that those who suffer somehow “deserve it” for something their soul has done in a _previous_ life may sound “fair” at first, but in everyday life this idea has fed the arrogance of those born into a high caste (in India) or into wealth (everywhere), has let to fatalism among the lower castes (exactly what the ruling classes want, the lower classes do not question their own lot in life and dutifully stay at their station), and it dulls people’s empathy for those who are less fortunate. Plus, some a philosophical standpoint it’s a dumb idea: How are you supposed to learn from your cosmic punishment when your mind cannot remember the crime you’re being punished for (when you were a completely different person, no less)? Every psychologist will tell you that doesn’t work.

    • Will you marry me?

      Okay, not really. But I love (or is hate the right word?) your “tamest version” of Hell. Though I’d probably mash through Republicans and Creationists alike with my bare fists if I were subjected to that kind of experience. Well, Hell wouldn’t let me, but I’d sure try.

      As for the whole karma-fate-reincarnation cycle, I’m not completely at odds with the Hinduist view of it, though in Buddhism it doesn’t really work quite that bluntly. It’s not simply about what you’ve done in past lives and carrying the consequences into the next, but rather what you have done for yourself in this life and what you have learned from it. Transcending comes from awareness, both of the self and of the world, and suffering isn’t in any way deserved by human beings, but rather a natural landscape that all humans will visit now and then, even those with the cleanest karma. The Buddha preaches that change is a constant, so neither extreme happiness nor extreme misery are unavoidable no matter where or who you are. Being a rich and spoiled monarch will hardly help you avoid the pain of losing your parents, siblings or even pets.

      Anyways, cool post! 8)

    • “ignorance more frequently begets confidence than does knowledge” That’s beautiful.

      Pretty sure that it’s your Atman that’s benefitting from the being rid of the karma, rather than any kind of lessons that the individual personalities are learning. (Exception would be “sudden enlightenment.”)

      A heaven where everyone suddenly learns The Truth and gets to be happy would be awesome, AND it completely negates the need for a hell at all.

      • I’m not trying to sound like a jerk, but just to raise thought, but couldn’t that statement be used by both sides of the Christian/Atheism debate, since both sides are confident to the point of arrogance in their opinions?

        • Which statement do you mean, Timothy? The “ignorance more frequently begets confidence than does knowledge” statement? Maybe, but I don’t think so. At least not correctly. The quote is Darwin’s, and the point was that the more you find out about the real world, the less you realize you know. Now if you were specifically talking about atheists who had not educated themselves at all about their own positions and the beliefs of the religious, then yes, I suppose you would be correct.

          I personally (and I apologize in advance for the way this is going to sound) think it’s a mistake to place atheism and religious belief on the same playing ground. To me that’s the same as saying that the people who believe in the Easter Bunny’s beliefs are just as valid as those who don’t. Well, they aren’t. It’s the people who believe in the world around them and the people who believe in an invisible man who controls everything yet completely erases his tracks and yet expects you to believe in him anyway or he’ll send you to the scary place. One of those I can look out of my window and see, the other requires me to believe in a lot of stuff that defies my actual experience. They don’t seem at all equal to me.

          • When it comes to education, there is a difference between Christians who have looked into their beliefs and those who haven’t as well. Christianity isn’t just something that only idiots believe, and there are many highly educated Christians who have thoroughly looked through their own beliefs and those of atheists and believe this Christianity to be the most logical choice. You mention God erasing His tracks, but I don’t believe He does. However, since He wants it to be our choice He doesn’t force everybody to follow Him. He doesn’t cram it down our throats, but the evidence is there, (as will be noted in my above post). I also don’t see them as equal, but I see the evidence being heavily in favor of Christianity, and compared the two equally in an attempt to show a view of equality between the people expressing the views, not the views themselves.

    • The biggest problem I have with the rapture, and final judgment?

      If you’re really a Good Man. A Just, worthy to stay at the right side of god. How can you accept to live an eternity of happiness and bliss while other humans, even evil ones, are suffering?
      I mean, I guess everyone around here has felt despair and pain at some moment or another, and maybe suffered enough to consider death. Could you wish that to someone else? Anyone? for eternity?

      And totally agreed on the reincarnation thingie, this is one of the reasons I gets so easily unnerved by morons who’ve adopted these beliefs as a source of hope (I won’t really die, since I’ll reincarnate).

      • Oh yes. Could I be happy in heaven if my wife was in hell? I don’t think so, “grand plan” or not. Hell, I wouldn’t be happy HERE if I thought that kind of thing was going on.

  6. I do believe in Heaven but I do not believe in Hell, what I do believe however is that if a person dies with regret and self loathing they will create their own punishment, but an actual hell? no I don’t believe there really is one. I think heaven is a place to be truly ‘free’, but as such both a ‘hell’ and ‘heaven’ are the same thing as we are free to be as we think we should.

    Now there is also a fun little saying I like to think about when my time comes…

    “Till death do us part”

    Yes that is the marriage line, and baby once my time is up say hello to past desires!

  7. My heaven would be a place where everyone would be relaxed and happy and not have to want for anything or suffer or worry. Everybody would be good and kind to each other, without exception, so everyone would be able to peacefully co-exist. There would not be such a thing as hate or unnatural violence or wanton destruction. Everything would be in perfect balance. And the weather would be gorgeous all the time. My definition of gorgeous weather is not more than 75 degrees in the daytime, with a light breeze, and a mostly clear sky with just enough clouds to make the sky interesting. It would rain occasionally, but never more than a light, brief, refreshing, cleansing rain that would always be followed by a beautiful rainbow. The sunrises and sunsets would always be picturesque. At night, it would be no more than 70 degrees and the sky would be perfectly clear so you could see the stars.

    I know that sounds really sappy, but that’s what I would want. 🙂

    • The problem I have with this is that it would mean either for us to no longer be us (I mean, I don’t know about you, but I’ve been at odds and had clashes with people I loved), or to be in a “false reality” where eveyone would be here for us.
      I’d love such a place (save that I like storms and fresh weather too. And Metal), but I can’t see it happening without everyone there being kinda lobotomized into being a better person.

        • You’ve seen it around you: We can fight over the smallest issues. Hell, I think you’ve even had fights with lena. I mean, even in heaven, if you both stay the same, there are gonna be moments where one will want peaceful moments together, and the other will want to go out and party with friends.
          You don’t need material things to bicker.

  8. Heaven is a never ending Bachman-Turner Overdrive concert… 🙂

    Love the 3rd panel… Do Black Patent Leather Shoes Really Reflect Up? 😉

  9. Heaven would be an upscale gentleman’s club with no cover and the really GOOD beer on draft for free, leaving you with a never-ending wad of $100 bills in your pocket for tipping. And all the dancers would actually mean it when they say that you’re their favorite customer.

  10. First time answering a post, but your topic interested me.
    Im an atheist so there is no afterlife for me. Were i to consider the belief in one i think it would be like the one described in the online comic Jack (sorry for pushing another comic, but yours rocks just as much as that one). Hell is a punishment, but a punishment of your own making, you are a jailer and captive because its in your nature to be. You can escape and recieve redemption, but you have to go against the very nature of your being that got you there in the first place,which isnt easy. The pain and suffering can come from the “demons” and wretches that havent chosen to be redeemed. Heaven is a challenge, not an overwhleming one, but a challenge that rewards you in the end with the satisfaction of a job well done. With that framework in mind you can add all the fire, brimstone, darkness, clouds, harps and light you wish.

  11. I dunno where that view of heaven and hell notion comes from. Maybe the dark ages. Biblically, there’s a lake of fire for hippocrites, a few other types, and the rest are unspecified. There is a ressurection, which is on earth but there’s no more death or reproduction. I suppose it’s safe to assume everyone is going to one or the other, including “unspecified”. But OTOH it’s written that those who don’t know any better will be punished with fewer blows. You know how churchies comfort eachother by saying “He’s in heaven now”? Instead the Bible says to comfort eachother with the ressurection, and that we “sleep” until then.

    As for me, I’ll be happy as long as I get to keep my curiosity and inventiveness satiated. But OTOH I recognize that there’s not much point to it all, in a kind of existential way.

      • Googled “Fire Dogs” and came up empty. Am I missing some kind of reference?

        As for (over)confidence, etc., it does go both ways. I see arrogant people at churches and at atheist meetings, and it seems your average joe has much more sense than either. As for things on earth, since it came up, the Bible seems to subscribe to existentialism in Ecclesiastes. None of it matters, none of it’s fair, yet work hard anyway, enjoy the things of life and diversify to avoid calamity.

  12. I don’t much care about god, or the church, but if personal heavens can be anything like clerics in 3.5 championing a cause, and individual to each person? I would be happy with a heaven like that.

    If it was, I think my heaven would be the heaven of infinitely fast internet connections, and high-powered computers.

    What would yours be?

    • “So I started thinking what I would want heaven to be for me. As it turns out, it’s not too different from my current life. Basically just what I have now, except maybe thinner and with a self-cleaning house. But that’s just me. I’m guessing most anyone you ask would have a slightly different opinion. (See where this is going?)”

  13. perhaps it is safer to believe in God then to not?
    what I mean is the odds are against atheism, consider this

    God exists, and you believe: you go to heaven.
    God doesn’t exist and you believe: you die forever.
    God exists and you don’t believe: you go to hell.
    God doesn’t exist and you don’t believe: you die forever.

    Assuming you don’t consider other religions its a 1 to 4 ratio
    out of all those scenarios there’s only 1 favorable outcome, although if you were to only follow God for this one line of thought you probably wouldn’t go to heaven anyway…

    Anyhow Kevin reminded me of a hilarious joke:
    “Why did Hitler go to heaven? because he hated the Jews”
    (Heaven would be Hitlers hell =p)

    • Here’s the catch. I don’t believe in god, yet I do the best that I can to live a good life and be good to those around me. If there’s no god, then it’s a moot point. If there is a god and it’s more important to him that I towed the line rather than be a good person, then he’s a douche and I don’t wanna spend eternity with him. If all he wants is for me to say I believe even if I don’t, then he’s a double-douche and I really don’t want to spend any more time than I’d have to with someone like that.

      Finally, if god does exist and lets me live in a world that makes it look like he doesn’t, AND has predicated my eternity on my believing he does, then he’s a triple-douche and deserves to get punched in the face.

  14. I think, therefore I am. I only have proof that I exist. When I sleep I dream. Sometimes dreams are so vivid for a short time they are real. Is reality the time you perceive most often? Perhaps this is the dream, or perhaps I am merely in another persons dream believing I exist. I am already in Heaven, or in Hell. Everything is a matter of perception. I have enough to eat. I am generally safe from the ravages of nature. I am alone, but content. Sometimes happy, sometimes sad. I cannot imagine a Heaven which gives me more or a Hell which could torment me better. Life ….. the search for the unknown ….learning and experiencing everyday. This is my Heaven. This is my Hell.

  15. I have hear this debate over and over. And while I am not Atheist, I just don’t think about gods and angels and devils and all that stuff. To me there is no point in arguing over it, and we’ll find out what happens when it is our time.

    The way I really do think about it right now is that maybe there IS no heaven, hell, gods or devils, or maybe there are, but they made the universe and went on about their business and that when we die, we are simply reincarnated and have another go at life.

    Maybe this is how the planet has reached such a high population, with souls being reborn into new bodies, while others are being created and given birth with their own body. Maybe we are reincarnated not just on earth, but across an infinite number of other planets across the universe? (I do not believe for one second that earth is the only planet with intelligent life on it)

    I really just don’t know. And I don’t even know if I’d believe my own theory I just outlined. And all the speculation in the world wont change how I live my life or my ideals.

    But back to the main question.

    What is MY personal heaven? I want to be a guardian angel. I want to protect the pure and innocent and punish the truly wicked, who only seek to destroy life and corrupt souls.

    But that is just me. And I may not even be as good as I’d like to be but I think I am a very good person, even if it is or isn’t because of some thought or hope of achieving some great eternal reward.

    Just bringing a smile to someone’s face when I help them with something makes me feel good. And that’s what I like to do.
    But I have some mental complex where I could probably try out for jesus or something. I know I’d have alot more money and material possessions if I was able to be an asshole to people and step on anyone.

    • I debate because it’s fun and lets me stretch my brain. That’s all.

      This is what makes sense to me, but I’ll admit to a VERY limited perspective. I am only human, and can only know what other humans know… and I feel that is almost nothing.

  16. The idea that there is an afterlife seems to me to diminish life itself. What good is life if there has to be something better or worse afterwards, depending on how you live it. Why can’t life stand for itself, and not serve some other purpose than to just continue itself, for life itself.

    To that effect, I wouldn’t mind having an eternity to spend in this life, this universe, because life is an endless stream of challenges and new things to discover, and to be able to witness it all would be the greatest thing ever, a heaven if you will.
    In the case that I cannot do that; I want to die. Period.

    PS. In an above comment there was a mention of the resurrection, where all who have lived come back with the Lord(Jesus or whomever). That got me thinking: Zombie Apocalypse, anyone?

    • Not necessarily. That depends on your point of view about things. If you consider that, after death, there is absolutely nothing, it may give you a slight boost to ambition but it makes watching for the future as futile. If your exploits in life aren’t significant, then your existence will slowly fade away, your passage in life no more than a statistic and barely holding any importance (unless a descendant of yours hits the jackpot instead…)

      That doesn’t mean this life is devoid of any meaning. Quite the contrary; doing absolutely nothing in the hope of achieving a greater afterlife isn’t the kind of life one would be expected to live. Using old-edition D&D terms (this is partly a tabletop comic based on D&D, after all): if you do no evil, then you’re merely neutral.

      So it’s a balance. Doing something great in this world should, IMO, reflect in any kind of afterlife. If you do nothing worthwhile in here (enough to say “I was here, and I can prove why I was here more than being a dead weight”), then said afterlife should be empty, devoid of any meaning.

      Also, reanimation =/= resurrection, unless you consider life as a mechanical concept based on movement. You can blame the current z-fiction writers that are trying to blur the concept of intelligent reanimated zombies and truly resurrected people. Besides, if they’re going to disappear again, it’s not much of a “Zombie Apocalypse”, now ain’t it?

      • I don’t see why there has to be a meaning to anything, beyond what we give it. Even if there were, it would only be the meaning someone else gave it. For my money, I’d rather play with a meaning of my own.

        There was an Aussie film that combined the Zombie Apocalypse with the Rapture. Can anyone remember what that was called?

      • Of course I want to do something great with my life, otherwise, why live? But I don’t want to do it on account of some deity, or for a chance of a better afterlife. I want to do it for me, and for everyone else alive or yet to live, or for Earth, or whatever.
        Because that is all that matters.

        Oh, and I guess you’re right about that resurrection thing. That was late at night, and it just sounded so cool.

  17. Heaven to me would be a never ending menagerie of incredible creatures I never could have imagined by myself, rocking out to metal that would leave me in the throes of musical ecstasy at least 80% of the time.

  18. Sitting under a tree on a warm summer day in the middle of an open field. A soft breeze blowing through. There are mountains in the distance. Every hundred years or so something interesting happens (maybe a stranger stops by to say hello) to break the monotony.

  19. I really should read this every day.

    I don´t know if there is an afterlife. I don´t care. I am here and what I do here is what matters. To steal a line from a Joss Whedon (he is an atheist) show:

    Angel: […] If there is no great glorious end to all this, if nothing we do matters, then all that matters is what we do. ‘Cause that’s all there is. What we do now, today. I fought for so long. For redemption, for a reward […] but I never got it. […] All I wanna do is help. I wanna help because I don’t think people should suffer as they do. Because, if there is no bigger meaning, then the smallest act of kindness is the greatest thing in the world. (Angel- Epiphany)

  20. Myself, I’d go for a more valhalla style heaven.
    fighting is fun when there’s no regrettable consequences.