Thoughts on Heaven

Some of you know that my hiatus is only a quasi-hiatus. Well, this week my fiance has been out of town and several of my clients have been sick, so I've had plenty of time to sit on my can at home. I've been chatting it up over on Randal's blog, and today I responded to a post of his on Heaven and I just wanted to re-post my comment here. One of the biggest problems with Christianity, as I see it, is that if you're not interested in what they're selling then they have nowhere to go. To me, the concept of Heaven is an incredibly incoherent, jumbled mess of a thing and there is nothing about it that appeals to me at all.

In any case, my response to his thoughts on whether there will be deaf people in Heaven. To me, the paradoxes raised by even such an innocuous-sounding question illustrate very well the absurdity of Heaven:
Why assume that the concept of "deaf" would even make sense in Heaven? Is there air in Heaven by which sound is transmitted? If there's air, does that mean there's atmospheric pressure?
I'm honestly not just trying to troll here. I just don't see any logical reason why a believer would assume that Heaven, which is a non-physical realm, would have physical properties. Much like Islam describing Heaven as being filled with milk and honey, it just seems like a natural inclination to infer our experiences into a realm that (assuming it exists) is utterly beyond current comprehension. Now perhaps there's something like sound, so everyone can still somehow listen to their favorite Creed album in Heaven. But it's not sound per se, so it all seems a bit jumbled.
These stairs look dangerous
I think your thesis has a couple of problems too, though. You make the distinction between primary cultural identity and a secondary qualifier, but you don't give a reason why the latter couldn't be experienced in Heaven aside from "no one wants to experience that kind of suffering in Heaven". Well sure, but perhaps someone who died of cancer decided to live life to the fullest in the last six months, had the best experiences of their life which became all the more monumental knowing that the finality of death loomed overhead, and wishes to experience them again. Or consider the photos that recently went viral of a man who recreated his wedding photos with his daughter after his wife died of cancer. While it was sad, it was also a beautiful moment between a father and daughter brought closer together in their grief.
That's one of the many reasons Heaven just does not appeal to me at all. Human experience is defined by suffering and tragedy every bit as much as pleasure and happiness, which Taoism and Confucianism recognize in Yin-Yang. I don't think "sweet melancholy" like you described in the book makes the cut. Our struggles and triumphs through loss, grief, depression, pain, and ultimately death shape who we are and make us appreciate what we have. It seems like in Heaven, with all of that essentially wiped away, we'd have lost something crucial to ourselves. And the only 'cure' would be to sort of "plug into the Matrix" and experience an illusion.

I think that your analogy also overlooks people who lose their hearing later in life. If I were in a terrible accident and lost my hearing, I'd be devastated. I'm a musician and a music lover. I'd be crushed knowing I could never play guitar, listen to my favorite Justin Bieber albums, or hear my fiance's voice. It's really only people who have been deaf for most or all of their lives who are so well-adapted, and that's because they really just don't remember any differently. It's like Morpheus said: we accept the reality of the world with which we are presented.
And yes... that's two Matrix references in one post.


Popular posts from this blog

Why Christianity is bullshit, part 1: The Bible is stupid

Why Christianity is bullshit, part 2: The Bible isn't true

There is no such thing as sophisticated theology