Monday, February 18, 2013
Heaven's broken promise
Heaven... The land of eternal paradise that so many believers see as their everlasting future. It's description will vary from person to person and sect to sect. But one one aspect that remains constant is one of paradise. It is supposed to be this wonderfully perfect place where you will be eternally happy forever and ever. Is this a realistic claim?
Each person may have a different picture of perfection. Some people may live for animals, yet many sects claim that animals are sans sole, thus there would be none in Heaven. Can those people be truly happy there? Another common claim is that you will be surrounded by your entire family once more. Sort of like a celestial family reunion. For many, that might be a wonderful thought. But I'm sure we've all been to family gatherings that are fun at first, but wear on you as time passes. Is this proposed never ending reunion really so attractive? What if that uncle who always teased you is there too, and is up to his old tricks? What would masochist Heaven be like?
We are supposed to find Heaven to be this place that brings infinite joy, yet are told that if you don't get into Heaven, that you will be cast into the pit of eternal fiery torture known as Hell. Now I don't know about you, but if I was in Heaven and was aware of the fact that people are being endlessly tortured (often for ridiculously silly 'crimes') I would not be able to feel infinitely happy, as is advertised. Worse yet, if you know someone... perhaps a friend is feeling eternal burning torment while you are free of pain, I feel like that knowledge would cause Heaven to be it's own kind of torment, rather than a paradise.
Another problem with the concept of Heaven is it's permanence. When you think of it fleetingly, eternal life sounds like a great thing. But is it really? Lets think about eternity for a second... After ten year you'll still be in Heaven. In 50 years you're still there. In 100 years you'll still be there.... 1,000 years... 10,000 years... 500,000 years... 1 million years... 36 billion years... 9 trillion years.... On and on and on without end, you will be a Heaven. I find this to be a sobering thought, and think that such great expanses of time would be enough to drive anyone mad. Think about it. How many times have you found yourself to feel bored? Maybe just one lazy day, maybe every now and then on the weekend, maybe your trip to the beach gets rained out one of the days you're there. How often when, and why isn't the important bit. But the fact the that one can easily get bored is our busy yet finite lifetimes, it isn't hard to imagine for bored one could become in an existence the literally never ends. Even if you try to stave of boredom, you will eventually do everything there is to do and still have an eternity to live. Personally, I don't find the concept of a never ending eternity of existence to be an attractive prospect at all.
While we're on the topic of the afterlife, there is one format that I would find personally attractive. The one and only afterlife that I find appealing is the concept of reincarnation. Whether that means reincarnation as an animal, or a person is really of no import to me. Reincarnation as an animal would bring brand new experiences. Reincarnation as another person would allow you to live and experience those 'firsts' that we all look forward to. First dates, first kiss, first love, etc, etc. Now, it's important for me to mention that even though I like the idea of reincarnation, I still don't believe it to be reality for the same reason I don't believe in Heaven or Hell... And that's a total lack of evidence. I would love reincarnation to be true, but it wouldn't be honest of me to posit it as reality simply due to personal desire.
Finally, we must realize that the amazing desire and longing that some have for Heaven does a disservice to this one short life that we know we have. Some treat this mortal life like it is a dress rehearsal for the after-life. This saddens me because this life is the only one we know we get, and all signs point to this life being our ONLY life. So when people take this life for granted and act like the important life is yet to come, it makes me feel sorry for those people. Life is a beautiful thing that should never be compromised, even for the promise of riches or another life eternal. Furthermore, given how the concept of Heaven fails on it's proposed promises, I feel that this life should be cherished all the more.
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