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But the point is a large part of the scenario of Heaven is the other people in it. Are they manipulated? If not, there will be conflict. If they are, well, then you'll be manipulated to make other people happier. If there are no real people there and all you see are figments that look and behave like them, that's a Truman Show-like thing.
How about it starts off like a Truman Show things and gradually becomes populated with real people as you learn to deal with them and they learn to deal with you? And how do you know what feelings your eternal soul carry? Maybe anger, frustration, sadness etcetera are all in the physical brain and not the eternal soul, and thus aren't really you.

Well, I'm sort of trying to argue that no matter how you interpret it Heaven can't be as perfect as it's made out to be. I'm not trying to argue Jesus is wrong or that Heaven is actually this way or that way or whatever; that's irrelevant to this discussion.
Well, it is relevant, because what model of Heaven we are debating rides on what interpretation of it you are using.


neither simple, nor coherent.
How about it starts off like a Truman Show things and gradually becomes populated with real people as you learn to deal with them and they learn to deal with you? And how do you know what feelings your eternal soul carry? Maybe anger, frustration, sadness etcetera are all in the physical brain and not the eternal soul, and thus aren't really you.
How about how about how about.

Somehow I think that if all my causes for "anger, frustration, sadness etcetera" were removed, whatever was left would bear little resemblance to myself. You need the sad times to enjoy the happy ones etc.

This is still my favorite bible-related story.


How about how about how about.

Somehow I think that if all my causes for "anger, frustration, sadness etcetera" were removed, whatever was left would bear little resemblance to myself. You need the sad times to enjoy the happy ones etc.
Well, we really wouldn't know what that is like because we haven't experienced that.

Aura Cobalt

*Bump* Heaven! I love heaven!

Id be surprised if you've heard something like this before cause I came up with it on my own. I think this should be an interesting discussion.

First I will explain my idea of the criteria required to get into heaven. You simply have to acknowledge that you, at the time you die, are not perfect, and to get into heaven you have to be willing to let 'God' or whatever he uses to mold you into a person of perfect orientation. Being perfectly oriented means what you want lines up with what you should want to create a perfect heavenly order.

Lets pause and go off on a relevant tangent. I am what you would call a hedonist, believing that people should go toward what feels best. Let me explain farther before you tack on any implications of 'hedonist' on to my viewpoint. I obviously believe in an afterlife. I believe the sensations there will feel insanely more awesome than anything we could experience in this life. With that knowledge I believe that immediate opportunity for pleasure should should not be pursued when it hinders future greater pleasure. Also I believe every human soul is equally important, so if your pleasure causes pain to someone else it is immoral. Basically I believe that morality is absolutely relative, and something is immoral if and only if it causes damage to the self or someone else.

Now, back to the heaven entrance examination. God will let anyone into heaven who is willing to change to fit his standards. This most importantly means the person must be willing to spend the rest of eternity worshiping the creator with their whole soul. (The soul is made up of the mind, will, and emotion; all parts will be continually stimulated, which is fun.)

Now for more of what heaven is actually like. I remember posting something about this in a thread a long time ago:

God is, by very definition, love, magnificense, joy, purity, etc. etc. There is nothing of any of these things without God, and any time one of these things is present in something, it is God Himself. Our endeavor is to make ourselves more and more like Him, and to have more and more of His character ingrained in our soul, but always we keep our individuality. Since God is pure, He cannot be in the same presence as Evil. Heaven is the ultimate manifestation of Him with the complete absence of Evil.

Worship, at its truest, is communion. In heaven, when we are at one with the God of all that is good, "mindlesness" just doesn't fit. I can't imagine anything but a flurry emotions of happiness, love, fulfillment, and joy, with maybe even a little sorrow and sadness added into the mix. I personally sure would rather that than to become nothing more.
Basically worshiping God is pointing back to him. I believe all creation in some way leads back to God. In fact, God used pieces of himself to make creation. If God is light I imagine a human soul to be like a color, a certain unique frequency. As Im sure you know white light contains all frequencies and when it is split up it turns into an infinite number of different colors. Yes, this does relate directly to my username.

Emotion is what makes us unique and real. Vivacity is what makes colors something to talk about. When your emotions tap into those of the souls around you, each unique, that could be pretty incredible. When your emotions tap into the infinite spectrum of God, that can be even more awesome.

Now lets go into the lack of counterpart: hell. My conception of people who don't go into heaven is that their spiritual energy, per se, kind of goes back into wherever it came from, and their experiences are lost. Meaning it either gets absorbed into God, or, how I think of it more often, it gets stretched out thin in the universe, like a color that was concentrated becomes pale as it stretches out over a wide area (I know that doesn't happen physically). Without being concentrated, the soul loses the capability to think, and can only feel the absolute slightest of stimulation (it definitely doesn't have the willpower to do anything).

Basically, your friends or family members who do not make it to heaven with you will be erased. Maybe you can relate if back in the day you wasted over a hundred hours on a single Pokemon game cartridge and one day decided to restart your game. Being the young person you were you felt like you had lost old friends, those pokemon you had spent so much time raising to level 100. Actually, that's pretty much exactly how I view the human mind: a program. I am a kind of environmentalist: I believe that if you were omniscient then you could calculate exactly how someone would respond to something. I believe that willpower is a real force which makes us who we are, but who we are is ultimately a distinct thing that would react in a predictable way if we knew everything about it.

Note the presence of 'negative emotions' in heaven like sadness and longing, along with the knowledge that old friends no longer exist. These negative emotions in my view are actually positive ones (negative ones like fear and agony are a totally different class). Why is there a restorative quality in tears? And why is parting such sweet sorrow? Just because an emotion has a bend toward disliking something (for example the fact that we may no longer be able to see loved ones) does not make an emotion negative. Other emotions associated with this idea like hopelessness depression (actually i consider depression to be a lack of emotion) would never be felt in heaven.

I think that's pretty much it. Lets see what happens when we put that one out there.
Anyone care to point out any flaws you might see?
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Phantom Sorcerer
As one of the seemingly few theologists who bothered to read the Bible front to back, let me start by saying that I’m glad you brought this up. It’s a very underrated discussion, and I have perceived some dreadful misconceptions in both the initial post and the comments that followed. I understand it was literally years since the thread was made and you probably forgot about it by now, but I would appreciate whoever is still there to show some productive interest in what I’m about to say (specifically, interest in the Christian and biblical perspective).
Heaven, we are told, is a place of perfection. After death, provided we avoid landing ourselves in Hell, we are supposed to be blessed with eternal life in Paradise, where we will have perfect happiness with all our loved ones forevermore. Or so we think.
I don’t know who “told” you that, but it wasn’t the Bible. While it is described as paradise (at the very least, for the specific people whom the Bible addresses), it does not say that everyone is going to be perfectly happy there at all times. In fact, there are insinuations that pain is indeed present there. As you probably know, God himself resides in heaven. And yet, even he frequently expresses displeasure as he spectates the sins of the earth. It doesn’t stop there. Take a look at Luke 15:21-32. The son is having a meal with his Father (one of the few specified rewards in heaven is getting to eat with God). The “elder brother” is an angel, as it is said to have never transgressed (the bible makes it clear that all men transgress, but not necessarily all angels). Given the context of the situation, it’s reasonable to assume that the elder brother’s anger also occurred in heaven, and while God (presumably) comforted the angel, the fact that it felt that anger in the first place means heaven likely isn't 100% pleasant and perfect. Anyone who says otherwise is either exaggerating or misguided.
The most glaring problem with this image of Heaven is the existence of Hell. Hell is quite a problematic concept in Christian mythology in general, given all of Jesus’ emphasis on forgiveness and that sinners are not irredeemable; however, when considered along with its blissful counterpart, the outcome can stray from the territory of slightly awkward to downright disturbing – not the tortures of Hell itself, which could of course be considered disturbing in their own right, but as seen from the point of view of an inhabitant of Heaven.

It just so happens that elitism of the sort that existed in the time the Bible was written is not quite so prominent in our thinking today, and the concept of torture as punishment, quite justly, makes most of us slightly squeamish. People generally wave this fact off when considering Hell, generally with something in the direction of everyone who is in Hell truly having done what they were condemned there for, or that human authorities have no right to torture but God does (a sentiment I personally find rather disturbing as well, but let us not stray too far from the subject). However, this becomes increasingly awkward once you actually are dead and in Heaven. I have heard some notable man from the Middle Ages quoted as saying that the greatest bliss of Paradise is the thought of all the sinners burning in Hell. The concept of Hell works great if you share this sentiment with him; not so much if you are the average person of today, who will find this attitude quite appallingly selfish and sadistic.
Ah, yes. This, in my opinion, is the darkest revelation in the bible. Individuals are briefly described as tormented via fire and parasitic worms, and even the smallest sin earns you a ticket there for all eternity. A lot of feel-good christian churches like to tell you that God would never judge that severely, but it’s quite the opposite. On the other hand, you have those christians who glorify God’s harshness as if they are happy he goes to such extremes. While I do technically respect God’s standards, I would never agree to them. And believe it or not, looking forward to the punishment of the wicked is something even God doesn’t want you to do (at least, not the way you might think). God urges people to have compassion on the ungodly and go to great lengths to ensure they don’t end up in hell, and He expects them to do it out of love for Him and the ones around them. If you have that mindset where you’re more eager to see people end up in hell than in heaven because “they deserve it”, you just might be heading to hell yourself. Only when sinners reach that point of no return is when resentment is allowed. But even then, I have long considered it something I would mourn over- both in heaven and on earth.
In other words, the first problem of Heaven is the inevitable knowledge that other people, perhaps even people you know personally, are in Hell receiving some considerably less pleasant treatment than you are. I do not think I could personally be at rest in Heaven knowing that others less fortunate are at the same time being tortured, and cannot help thinking I would not be very comfortable in the company of anyone who does not see a problem with that. And Heaven cannot be a very perfect place if one is constantly bothered by such thoughts, can it? This is even worse if, as the Lutheran Church would have it, your fate after death rests exclusively on your faith, your actions in life be damned. Thus, if you have a friend who is not a Christian, you can expect to have to know of them in Hell, even if they were wonderful people, while lunatics who murder doctors in the name of God will be up there with you – to say nothing of if you are not a Christian yourself. This strikes me as grossly unjust, and if true, I cannot say I could easily enjoy myself in Heaven with a God with such skewed priorities, even if I and everyone I knew actually were Christians.
God is a perfectionist (James 2:10). It is inevitable that even wonderful people (by our standards) will not always make it to heaven, and it is indeed going to be unfortunate. In addition, the faith-driven point of view isn’t as inclusive as you think (at least, not according to the Bible). Works are proof of faith (James 2:14-18). Yeah, there might be lunatics who have murdered doctors that will go to heaven, but not without repentance. Faith in a god that promotes murder is not faith in the Christian god; it’s idolatry.
One of the more obvious solutions to this problem, of course, is to eliminate Hell completely, which many do in this day and age when it does not seem quite so natural to assume that an omnipotent, benevolent deity would have people cast into an eternal torture chamber for petty sins. Thus some have interpreted Jesus’ crucifixion as effectively allowing everyone but the most remorseless of criminals into Heaven. However, this Heaven, when taken literally as an actual place where people either are or are not, still has the other problem, namely the problem of people.
God is (somewhat) benevolent and omnipotent. It just happens that he loves his law far more than he does people (Luke: 16:17), so he’s not gonna let the price for breaking it go unpaid. What might seem petty to us is astronminically serious to him; Not only did Jesus say people are going to hell, but more people are going to hell than heaven (Matthew 7:13-14). Going to hell is actually so easy it’s depressing.
People age. They change. They have desires often in direct conflict with those of other people. It would be shallow to assume that Heaven is a blissful place merely for containing good food and no pain, death or disease; a person cannot ordinarily be truly happy without the company of others, and this is where Heaven becomes quite awkward again. You tell your child that she will one day see her grandmother in Heaven, but is Grandma happy in Heaven without her granddaughter? Or, to address the more important and insidious side of this point, will Grandma actually be interested in spending her time in Heaven making pancakes for her granddaughter? Will Grandma even be the person that the grandchild knows in the first place – after all, perhaps she hated being old and her idea of being happy in Heaven is to be in her twenties again, running off with the love of her life? And perhaps his idea of Heaven is to be with the girl he eventually left her for. It’s a no-win situation. And if people in Heaven are stuck like they were when they died, what about Alzheimer’s patients? Small children – will they never develop the full intelligence of an adult?
1 Corinthians 15:35-53 has some information on this. We have confirmation of the “no death” part. Whether or not people there are going to be mentally cured remains in the dark. At least, as far as I can interpret.
Somewhat more generally, if X only finds fulfillment in Y’s company but Y wants nothing more than for X to leave them alone, what happens in Heaven? Do people have free will in Heaven – and if so, how does God avoid arguments, insults, people hurting other people? And if we don’t have free will, just how heavenly can it be? What about those whose greatest ambition was to effect change on Earth – how can they be expected to selfishly appreciate the luxuries of Heaven when the mortal world is still filled with misery?
Seeing as almost everyone on earth finds fulfillment in more than just one specific person’s company (said person usually liking the other quite a bit), it’s tremendously unlikely that this would be a major issue in heaven, so long as both individuals ended up there of course. I don’t know if people have free will in heaven, but it’s likely they will due to having it on earth (Not to mention Satan’s rebellion in heaven. I highly doubt God forced him to do that). If we do have free will there, I think temptation of sin will likely be less frequent due to the fact that we will only be with people who got there by surrendering their lives to god, and with not trolls who just want to push our buttons. There are also angels, who are far more resistant to evil’s temptation than humans. Rebellions like the one Satan pulled are probably quite uncommon. Those who want to change the world will just have to take satisfaction in what they were able to accomplish while they were alive. I imagine heaven has its own problems, so any philanthropist could probably find something to do there. Besides, whether or not they enjoy what heaven has to offer isn't gonna change the fact that they're stuck there.
One could theorize that Heaven exists as our own private ideal world of sorts, in which all the people we know exist specifically to be with us, but this idea is rather disturbing as well if it is given some thought, simply because those are not your real friends and family; you are essentially being deceived by shallow copies of the actual people that exist only to please you. I would be very surprised if you could look me in the eye and tell me that you see nothing unsettling about this kind of Heaven. It is somewhat reminiscent of the film The Truman Show, where the titular character lives in a world created specifically for him, with everyone around him actors; while his life is fine, per se, I could only expect the average viewer to hope throughout the film that he will discover the lie he is living and break free from it. If Heaven were something to this effect, I can only cringe at the thought of ending up there.
There’s no biblical reference to anything like that, so I can only assume that is not the case. If it is, though, I agree with your sentiment.
Then what if Heaven were not really a place at all, but a state of mind: instead of experiencing anything in Heaven, we’d merely feel? This is getting pretty far from how most people would imagine Heaven, but I have heard this position argued. However, this Heaven seems like a very, very shallow one. If you are fully conscious, in fact, it could only be described as torturous: no matter how heavenly it would feel, the idea is just unquestionably extremely boring, and to be devoid of real mental stimulation while feeling meaninglessly good for all of eternity would be enough to drive anybody crazy. (I read a news article once about a woman suffering from constant orgasms; it was considered a handicap, and I cannot imagine her idea of Heaven would have her anything but rid of the condition.) If we are not fully conscious enough to appreciate the boredom and become restless, then Heaven could only be described as an extended drug trip – hardly what anyone could consider the epitome of perfection, and in fact quite defeating the point of afterlife to begin with: surely, if we are ever put into a non-fully conscious mental state for the rest of eternity, it cannot be that much different in principle from ceasing to exist altogether – I can hardly say I would miss the blissful feeling if I just skipped the entire afterlife deal.
Again, not supported by the Bible. It portrays physical events that take place there, not just subjective feelings.
But the most important image of Heaven to consider has to be the image of an actual place in some other plane of existence containing actual people (or manifestations of their souls) in perfect harmony with one another. It is how your average person will imagine Heaven to be, and it is the most flawed one, as it contradicts the idea of free will, which surely must be central to anyone’s idea of a perfect Heaven. You cannot put millions of people in a place with free will and expect them all to get along in a world of sunshine and rainbows. If people have free will, they can be unhappy, and without the contrast of truly bad outside conditions, the perfections of Heaven will quickly become mundane and cease to give any pleasure.
You should know my stance on this by now. I don’t think there will be perfect harmony; just a respectable amount due to the circumstances that brought the people together. I guess that means they very much could have something to contrast perfection with.
Can there really be a Heaven that is so much more perfect than the mortal world?
Heaven has a lot of potential problems, so if you don’t want to assume it has to be some paradise, that’s okay. If anything, I would even say it’s natural to assume it isn't. Knowing people you love are going to be in hell and there’s nothing you can do about it, having to tolerate those who boast that the comdemned “got what they deserved”, possibly seeing those who are with you uncured from mental handicaps, and whatever else. But you know, you said that without the contrast of truly bad outside conditions, the perfections of Heaven will quickly become mundane and cease to give any pleasure. Perhaps it’s not as mundane as it is made out to be?

There is just one important detail I neglected to mention. God does promise that there will be a time where pain will no longer exist (revelation 21:4). Most Christians don’t seem to think twice before they are awestruck by the “comfort” of that verse, but I’m not one of them. I honestly can’t imagine how God would do that without wiping my memories and brainwashing everyone, and I fear that will be the time where the person I am inside will cease to be. Maybe God will somehow preserve who I am, but in the end, I have no idea.

There you have it. People tend to disagree with me when I talk theology, but I did my best to make good points. So tell me, did that answer your question?


Still loves Joltik, though!
Staff member
Thank you for commenting! It was interesting to see a more Bible-based perspective on what Heaven is meant to be.

The original post here was a series of musings on the concept of Heaven as a genuinely perfect place free of all pain, suffering and hardship, and whether this could sensibly, consistently be true. If you posit that it simply isn't, and instead it's just a better but nonetheless imperfect place, then the argument is obviously not applicable. What you describe doesn't sound like how most people speak of Heaven in my experience, but your version does seem sensible and consistent.


Phantom Sorcerer
You're welcome. As I recall, your exact words were,
This thread is about the conceptual problems with Heaven as at least Christianity understands it.
My argument may not be applicable in the way you were expecting, but it does serve to correct the association you made with that religion. While there technically are denominations of Christianity that propose heaven is perfect, I was worried that perhaps you assumed all denominations thought that. Those who define Christianity as followers of its founder, Jesus Christ, should know that he himself insinuated that heaven is imperfect. Remember Luke 15:21-32? That was Jesus speaking.

Perhaps you already knew that not all denominations think heaven is perfect. If you did, though, I'm glad I could clear that up for you.