Sunday, July 03, 2005

Thoughts on Heaven


For at least the last two millenia, many have longed for a better life than was their lot here, and have taken consolation in the anticipation of achieving this in heaven. But what do we mean by "heaven" and is it really a meaningful hope? Here are some of the Christian components of heaven:
  • Free from pain and sorrow
  • No death or (permanent) harm to individuals
  • Free from evil and evil actions
  • Full of God's love and care for us
  • Full of happiness and joy
  • It is a nice place to live
  • Lots of pleasures and riches ("streets of gold")
  • Continual worship of / interaction with God
The question I have is: Is this a satisfying place? Is it really somewhere one would want to go? At first blush one would say "Of course". But what about the issue of freedom? Is there freedom in heaven? That is, is there freedom to do what we want to do, to think what we want to think, to pursue what we want to pursue? If there is not freedom all of these "pleasures" are pretty meaningless. It's like being locked in a jail with all the luxuries one could want, except the freedom to direct one's own life.

By freedom I mean one's life is not determined or prescribed by someone else. I think of it this way: imagine oneself as a point in a high dimensional space, where each dimension is a possible action or thought one could have. Certain dimensions are constrained, and we cannot move along those: for example one can't punch a fist through a concrete wall, nor can one factor a 50 digit number in one's head. Being free means having a rich set of unconstrained dimensions along which one can choose to move or not to move. In this sense being alive, being human, and being free all have the same meaning. That is why prison is a punishment -- it takes away a large portion of one's life.

Now back to heaven. The idea of no death, pain, sorrow, or permanent harm actually takes away a lot of freedom. One cannot take risks as one knows that nothing really bad can happen to oneself. Heaven must be very carefully padded to prevent someone falling off a cliff and dying, (or equivalently people's bodies are indestructible). It must be like living in a grand phantasm. One is not free to fully experience it, since that freedom would involve possibility of harm and death.

No sorrow eh? So that means one cannot do anything that would emotionally hurt another person. One can't be rude, one can't be too forward, one can't be withdrawn, and so forth. There are innumerable things one is not permitted to do in case they hurt someone. Or perhaps people aren't hurt emotionally by anything. But surely feeling loved and feeling hurt are two sides of a coin -- if one can feel loved, then surely one will feel pain if this love is cast asside. So in heaven either we are devoid of emotions, or else we are constrained by lots of rules to prevent hurt emotions.

Perhaps one would reply that people in heaven will be good and will always choose the good path and think the right thoughts. But that is saying people's lives are prescribed not to proceed along certain dimensions. That is much the way in which a manufacturing robot would be programmed to operate. Surely lives like that are empty shells. The problem with heaven, like communism and other utopias, is that it fails to take into consideration freedom.

4 comments:

  1. Those of us who believe in Heaven also know for a fact that even in heaven as well as in Hell, everyone will continue to have Free Will. Free Will is a gift that God gave us and which is never taken away.

    Heaven will be the eternal enjoyment of God's infinte and ever new & divine attributes without ever exhausting them (beauty, creativity, wisdom, joy, peace) etc.

    Also, everyone in heaven will have been so purified that no evil inclinations will remain in us. But we will be free to leave anytime for God does NOT create "robots" that can do nothing other than Love Him. That's precisely why you are Free to deny His existence and to refuse to Love Him...

    Love ceases to be true Love when it is given by force.

    None leaves this world without making that eternal decision.

    But those who choose Hell can no longer change their minds because they too will have been given many opportunities to make their eternal decision for Heaven or for Hell here on earth.

    However, at the time of your death, your "TIME IS UP" and ETERNITY will begin for you. Therefore, your last decision will become eternal and irrevocable.

    For those who never heard about God here on earth, at the time of their death, they will be given the grace to see Jesus Crucified and to accept or reject the gift of Salvation and Eternal life in Heaven with Him. They will decide Heaven or Hell by their repentance of lack of it.

    How sad to discover at the end of our lives that we could have loved God much more than we did here on earth...

    What sadness, what sorrow!!

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  2. According to a book that I read on this topic, in heaven there are two types of glories: Essential glory and Accidental glory.

    Essential glory is the eternal joy that comes from being in the presence of God. Accidental glory is the eternal joy that comes from being in contact with created things such as other human beings, games, adventures, sports, skills, etc.

    Every single skill that we have enjoyed on earth, will give us greater joys in heaven.

    "Eye has not seen, ear has not heard the beauty and the joys that God has prepared for us in heaven."

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  3. Read Randy Alcorn's book entitled "Heaven" and you will get what Scripture says about Heaven plus what His santified imagination thinks about it. It is worth reading. Paul F....

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  4. Of corase life after death includes hell, And one second there will be too much.Give your soul to Jesus.Join us in heaven.

    God Bless

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