14 users responded " You can’t go to heaven! "

"You can’t go to heaven!" was posted by and 14 users commented
Jon Dreyer said,         
January 14 2010

Though the prospect of spending eternity ice skating with those three gorgeous women does have its charm, I’m glad I’m not going.

Eternity is a really really really long time. After you’ve played every possible chess game a million times, and done every possible Sudoku the millionth time, it all might get old. Then there’s the inevitable heat death of the universe at which point there would be nothing “down there” to watch and laugh at.

The only thing that pisses me off is that I won’t be able to go to all my religious friends and say, “I told you so!”

Sarah said,         
January 14 2010

Good point, Jon… although I bet our theist pals who believe in heaven would say it’s perfect to the point that you never get bored, ever. How, you ask? God will provide.
What really dusts my doilies about heaven and hell (aside from the childish system of controlling behavior based on rewards and punishments) is the schaedenfreude. Part of what’s great about heaven, so I hear, is watching your enemies burn in hell. And sticking it to people who didn’t believe and went to hell.
Yep, I deserve it.

Chris Allen said,         
January 14 2010

I believe Isaac Asimov answered “NO” to Sarah’s last question. He says there is no learning, no science, no discovery, no invention, no enlightenment in heaven. Why go there if all these things are your idea of heaven, and they’re all missing?

vixen strangely said,         
January 14 2010

I’ve never been comfortable with the idea of heaven–it just seemed too square and boring and long. Every description I ever heard sounded kind of like going to a really long stay at church–a very nice church. But still. Churchy. Praising God for all eternity–and yes! the weird idea of going to heaven and *enjoying* watching the sinners go to hell! It seems like a possibly nice sport for the kind of old gossips who hold grudges–but I’ve always been fairly “live and let live”, myself. I don’t think I *want* to be the kind of person who would like heaven, if that makes sense.

My kind of heaven would be open bar. There would have to be dancing. My idea of heaven would be more of a club. With a champagne room….

I’m pretty sure that’s not Biblical.

The idea I always kind of did like was reincarnation. My mom is five-foot-nothing, and she would always lament, “In the next life, I’m coming back taller.” I always liked to think that death was just like a video game, where if you died, there would be a screen asking, “Would you like to play again?” (This would make sense of the custom some people have of putting quarters on the eyes of the deceased, come to think of it….) I’d like to come back as a vampire warrior in an MMORPG.

Sometimes, I still think it would be neat if the universe “recycles” whatever is human in us, but I’ve never been able to sort out my persona from my material brain or sense-organs, so I really do suspect that death means death. It only bothers me until I realize I won’t be *there* to experience my not being there.

I still kind of hope I’ll live a long time–just not old enough to be the type of busybody crone that would enjoy heaven.

Also–there is supposed to be no marriage in heaven, according to some scripture or other. I’ve inferred this to mean also no foolin’ around, which is another reason I’ve no use for heaven. (Could me and my spouse be *just friends*? In heaven? We’re both atheists. The culture shock of even getting to heaven aside, if we couldn’t have the “with benefits” we’d better have an open bar….)

endofatheism said,         
January 15 2010

go shoot yourself in the head…





Bob said,         
January 15 2010

Well, there are many different depictions of Heaven. I like The Simpsons’ interpretation of the Protestant/Catholic differences. It manages to be accurate in a crude but humorous way.


That’s just a humorous primer to this thoughtful discussion


Q: Is there sex in heaven? Ans: Yes.

Jon Dreyer said,         
January 17 2010

I do agree that all of us “no” voters may be treating heaven from too earthly a perspective. Here on Earth, we have to do stuff to experience bliss, and even then it’s relatively rare. I suppose if you pimp the fantasy enough, the bliss of eternal perfect God love all the time could be pretty cool, better than “Cats,” and we wouldn’t really care if we weren’t doing anything interesting (down here, the very interesting is one of our routes to bliss, but up there we wouldn’t need that stuff). We could be sitting up there on a permanent soma holiday. So if the fantasy is taken to the extreme, I could go with it.

As a fantasy, that is. What’s so remarkable about belief in heaven is that the evidence is so overwhelming that brain function is completely correlated with consciousness. Even when we sleep we are unconscious, and when we are anesthetized, but still quite alive, we have no experience whatsoever. The idea that somehow, after death, the mind transcends the brain, while during life the mind is so correlated with brain function, is one of religion’s more ludicrous ideas.

I’ve never heard shadenfreude touted explicitly as a benefit. Seems counter to the psychological state you are supposed to get yourself into before you make it up there. But I want to be where my friends are so I’m going down!

Reni said,         
January 18 2010

My Catholic relatives insist that we will all be re-united in Heaven. Frankly the thought of spending a full week with those people makes me cringe let alone Eternity!

Please let this be all there is!

Sarah said,         
January 20 2010

Reni, I’m not Catholic, but I totally dig what you’re saying.
Jon–some good thoughts, in that heaven is perfectly perfect. It’s def. something I’ve heard before about the benefit of heaven: the pleasure of watching those burning in hell. I read that according to some Muslims, god created heathens (like yours truly) in order to damn them. No, I don’t get the logic, either.
A person who believes in heaven would probably say our souls have nothing to do with our physical bodies or brains.
Speaking of heaven, I’m about to make me some rice krispie treats.

Sarah said,         
January 20 2010

@ Bob– much as I love the idea of a WASP heaven, sad to say it’s not what I was born to inherit. Marge’s dream sequence is a great parody of how many people seem to have these very specific, silly ideas of what heaven is like. She “knows” that Catholics and Protestants live on separate clouds.
As to sex in heaven, good question: do people who believe in heaven think we go there as “bodies,” or strictly as entities of energy? I’m reminded here of Amy’s date on Futurama.

Jim said,         
January 21 2010

Well….it all depends on who you ask about Judaism’s view of the afterlife (Gan Eden, Gehinnom, etc.). Of course, since you’ve already rejected the spiritual side of Judaism, what it says about this is beside the point isn’t it? 😉

Reseraching the development of the idea of Heaven is fascinating – inc. the 1st century Jewish apocolyptic expectation of the “Kingdom of God” arriving directly on earth any moment now being turned instead into a spiritual one – the Kingdom being the afterlife reward since it obviously didn’t show up on earth when advertised, the more current idea of Gan Eden (the place of spiritual reward for the righteous), “Abraham’s bosom” and so on, has been fascinating. The basic idea of a place of spiritual perfection in the immanent presence of the Divine suggests a solemn kind of bliss.
It is my impression that current thought is that we exist in Heaven as spirit BUT when the resurrection comes, then we’ll again be physical. Something like that. (The resurrection was a big feature of apocolyptic Judaism at any rate)

PirateJenny said,         
January 21 2010

As an agnostic, I would love to believe in Heaven (but that’s the problem right there, isn’t it: belief). It is very comforting to imagine a place of eternal comfort and happiness and peace.

In my childhood I went to a Methodist church for a while. There was some talk about heaven, I suppose, but I don’t remember any sort of detailed descriptions, like clouds and harps and whatnot. Those seem like the kinds of things you only see in movies.

I think of Heaven as an allegory (like many other Biblical stories), not a literal place. I imagine it as a place where you are free from pain and suffering, and there is kind of a general goodness and contentedness. Like being trapped in a pleasant dream. As such, there is no need for details like is there an open bar, or how hot are the men, etc. — because it’s just a mystical place, not like real life at all.

Guess I won’t know if my hunch is right until I’m dead. But that is OK with me.

Bob said,         
January 24 2010


Those Christians who accept the Apostle’s Creed and the Nicene Creed do believe in the resurrection of the body. It one of the last lines of both creeds.

Regarding the enjoyment of seeing people suffer in hell, I’m not aware of any serious theological statements to that effect. I’ve heard the expression “I hope you rot in hell” or variants “I’ll enjoy seeing you rot in hell”. However, these sorts of vengeful expressions are the sorts of things that practicing Christians (in the sense of acting as Christians should be act, and I know it’s not as common as Christians would like it to be) know are on the path to hell, not heaven. To be in that state of mind is not Christianity as it should be.

Indeed, I’ve more often heard the opposite expressed. The problem of heaven and hell is “how can it be heaven if some of my loved ones are in hell?”.

I’m leaving out some very important theological points here, since my audience is atheist and not Christian. But while still maintaining that God is the Judge, it can also be seen from a subjective point of view. That is, those who reject God by word and deed will have their wishes respected. Those who accept God by word and deed will have their wishes respected. Fire is a symbol of love (as in “my heart burns for you”) and of the Holy Spirit (the third person of the Trinity). God’s love/fire will be a joy to those who accept God, and God’s love/fire will be painful to those who reject God.

Anna said,         
January 27 2010

I never believed in heaven, and honestly, I had no real idea of the concept until “Highway to Heaven” premiered on television when I was seven years old. But it simply never occurred to me that people thought things like heaven and angels were real, and it took me a few years after that to realize some people thought hell was real, too. I thought it was obvious that it was all simply a story. Ah, youthful naïveté!

So, I never grieved the loss of an afterlife. I never expected one at all. It’s never made any sense to me to think that we should be different from other organisms, and since I don’t know people who argue that bats, rats, cockroaches, squirrels, and bacteria also go on to some sort of afterlife, it seems odd to think that humans would, given that we’re not biologically different from other animals.

Of course, if I could design an afterlife, I’d pick reincarnation hands down, with “pit stops” in between lives for catching up with friends, family and pets. Sounds like fun, and you’d never get bored that way.

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