Rant Back

Tuesday, 10 March 2009

To Think About Heaven

One of the main reasons I don't believe in organised religion is their concept of heaven. It's mostly quite sexual, materialistic and misogynistic, with no similar sexual pleasures for women offered. Why aren't there 72 celebrity-lookalike male virgins for each women? Why does the Islamic concept of heaven resemble those of oases and palaces? Sounds like a heaven imagined by some bedouin tribesmen to me.

I've heard of the 'beauty' of these angels. They don't seem to be beautiful to me. Everytime the Quranic version of these angelic sexual servants is mentioned, I actually get turned off.

But that's beside the point.

The concept of eternal happiness or everlasting bliss is a flawed and logically impossible. What does it mean to have eternal happiness? Surely a million years in heaven would be boring. Monotonous. I might even turn gay out of boredom.

And what about knowing that the people you love and care about are rotting in hell? How is that supposed to be blissful? How is that supposed to make you happy? Truly the most rewarding thing about being human is the ability to connect with other people, to share your life with others. In the long term that is what matters.

Imagine this situation. You have a partner, who you love very much. You're religious, yet your partner isn't. Your partner is a wonderful human being, charitable and humanitarian. He/She is considerate to other human beings and has contributed to society in many ways. You feel like your partner is your soulmate, but no matter how hard you tried, you can't change your partner's mind about God. But you go on with the relationship anyway, hoping God will forgive him/her or show the way. You have a wonderful sexual relationship that goes beyond its physical pleasures, as well as a healthy romantic relationship that is mutually satisfying.

Both of you die in a car accident. You go to heaven, he/she goes to hell.

Will you be happy in heaven knowing the only human being who knows who you are and loves you more than anything in the world is being tortured because he/she didn't believe in a god who never made Himself clear anyway?

People argue that the pleasures of heaven is so great that you will forget your earthly nature. Isn't that basically changing the way you are? It's erasing a part of you, who is forever in love with a hell-bound human being. If you forget that part of your earthly past, you forget a part of yourself. Was your love meant to be meaningless? Is it supposed to be a test? What kind of considerate, forgiving God would do that? What human being would even think that's right?

Will you enjoy sex with angels/servants who you have no connection with? Would you enjoy your palace knowing that for eternity you would spend it without your partner?

I reject that heaven. I reject any form of 'everlasting happiness,' because it is itself a contradiction. Happiness is relative. If it is everlasting, it loses its meaning. It loses its delights. Happiness will become the new indifference.

Life on Earth for me is enough. I don't need an afterlife. A life without an afterlife makes it infinitely more special. It makes you cherish life more. Heaven is an illusion, a dangerous one.

I remember watching a film called 'What Dreams May Come.' It forced me to re-evaluate my thoughts about heaven, and how troublesome and conceptually flawed such a concept is.


  1. Posted on Facebook by Siddy Yussof:

    counter-agurment because some of Jason's threads are annoying to some of us =P.

    haha I love how the only thing you cited is a movie title. But anyway, I think you're creating so much confusion with the topic by relating things which logically speaking can't be associated in the ways you've associated them.

    Like first of all, you're applying the concept of heaven, something which can only occur beyond the spatio-temporal world with the world that it can't possibly occur in. You actually even said it yourself, the concept of heaven is logically impossible. I think the reason why that is is exactly that logic and many other earthly concepts or ideas maybe doesn't exist or apply in the afterlife(or other possible worlds), I’m saying 'maybe' because it could also be the case that these concepts: logic, justice, beauty are at their most perfect form beyond the temporal reality, that you can only fully comprehend them then, whatever the case is though, the logic here stands that you can't comprehend the idea of perfection using tools(objects, definitions, ideas etc) obtained within a realm of imperfection, it'll be like trying to understand what's going on inside a unicorn by dissecting a horse that you've plastered a horn onto, it’s the wrong method. Of course the concept of heaven is logically impossible in the now and spatial comprehension, it’s because such things can't occur in a spatial existence. You can't deny that such concepts are logically possible in another world, the concept of heaven if perfectly justified in the conditions that it's said to exist in. I know this may sound like anyone saying 'you can't possibly imagine heaven/perfection/eternity because you've never experienced it', and that’s a petty and fragile argument I agree, but it's really explaining why the case 'that you can't possibly imagine a heaven' is true, it’s because the world of experience is independent of the non-spatial world, heaven can't be experienced in ways we experience things in the current empirical existence because it exist in a different existence.

    Second of all, you're comparing the components and co-concepts in heaven with earthly illustrations. I know that some people do take religious scriptures literally to the point where it’s so absurd you want to slap the living reality into them, but they can always be wrong in their method of interpretation, it doesn't necessarily mean that the scripture is wrong. I do believe that the illustrations of heaven in scriptures are geared to provide some form of comprehension, and in the ways it has tried I have to admit it's done a pretty good job at that too, given the circumstances that the only way one can form a description in the current existence is to use the language and objects within that existence. This however doesn't meant that when the scripture reads "you will get 72 drop-dead gorgeous angels in nothing but a thong feeding you grapes" that the exact occurrence is the way it would be on earth, and the problem I assume you have with that is such descriptions immediately paints a picture of a horny imam (or any other possible male figure) surrounded by 72 stripping sluts. Also the thing you're implying in that scenario is this idea that morality still exists in heaven, you can't say that our comprehension of what’s morally 'good' on earth is the same as morally 'good' in heaven. In fact, morality shouldn't even apply in heaven, there's no need for a good and bad system because if heaven is for eternity there's no judgment day that requires the concept of morality to exist. Alternatively, if the moral factors you're implying aren't the ones which bases its existence to the purpose of distinguishing good and bad for an end where there would be a form of judgment, it would still be absurd to imply morality derived from the politics of human history and placing that in a concept (heaven) that is completely independent of such world.

    I believe the reason why the descriptions are the way they are is because that’s the only way they can be comprehended in this limited existence, and as unappealing as it sounds for a human being to admit this, human beings in their earthly forms can be reduced to filthy horny imams craving for 72 half-naked chicks. That, is if you're trying to describe 'pleasure' in all its glory, pleasure with no moral judgment attached to it, the illustration given is as accurate as it can get. And I know, some people may start saying they'd rather have just one girl around, the one they love for eternity, but who's to say that heaven can't be relative to a person's conscious wants and needs and ideas of happiness, if consciousness even exists in that world, who's to say that the 72 naked chicks can't perhaps be symbolism for the woman you love. I don't think I need to swap the word man and women for the other just to make this thread non-sexist. I believe the horny imam is analogous to how gross ALL human beings can get, surely if I’m given a man and a woman's greatest form of pleasure, they'll either amount to the same filth or you'd expect the man to be the one impregnating 72 women at once, either models would have proven a point. So conclusively, it seems what the descriptions are trying to achieve is merely the most accurate form of whatever its trying o describe possible in the current existence by exploiting the reality of true human nature. This sounds bad, but you have to consider that the reason why they are bad in the current existence, is because morality applies in the current existence, morality applies for many reasons and one I believe to be that this world is limited, relative and because of that one persons actions would affect another, violating any form of other persons limited and relative good. If heaven was eternal and unlimited the same moral requirement would be unnecessary, what you do in heaven would be considered morally bad on earth, but in a non-limited existence it would simply be an action which gives you the most amount of pleasure with no good/bad labels attached to it because there isn't a need for such labels. That's just an opinion on the matter though; I don't think I've ever heard such arguments but if you find a fallacy in them do enlighten me.

    Anyway, coming back to your comprehension of the concept of heaven, I don't think the concept is flawed in the ways you say they are. I think its confusion about the concept that prevails here. The main confusion is obviously placing earthy ideas and wondering how they're possibly appealing in heaven and vice versa. When you ask what it means to have eternal happiness, it’s easy to just quickly imagine a million years of mundane man-made convention that is happiness. Sure a million years being married to the same woman who just won't grow old seems unimaginably boring and monotonous. But that convention is only one form of the greatest happiness on earth. Earthly happiness is relative, it’s temporal, and it doesn't last no matter what the optimistic freaks seem to think it does. I believe everlasting happiness means just that, being in a constant state of happiness, I don't know how you describe that but I suppose given the circumstances that when you're happy you're in the absence of pain or suffering(not in the literal sense but more unconscious of the fact that suffering is roaming around) and while in that state you can say that you're in ignorance of suffering in all its forms, you won't even notice that it's there, thus when you're happy you won't notice boredom(as a form of suffering), so imagine being in a constant state of happiness, based on what I’ve said if you're allowed that continuous state, you'll never get bored or it'll never get monotonous, it's simply logically impossible for both things to occur at the same time, unless you're in the temporal world.

    Another thing is this digression about all other ideas that exists in the current existence, ideas we don't even know enough about to know if they have meaning beyond the subjective claims for meaning. Like losing one's identity in the heavenly bliss, or allowing love to be a phenomenon connected with a possibility of it being an eternal state in a limited existence, or this earthly idea we create for life that anything worth cherishing are the things that doesn't last, making it special. I don't even know what all these things mean despite their obvious occurrence in life. For one, speaking of one's earthly identity to have meaning is like saying about a building someone's built to have some universal value (meaning) aside from just having meaning because we've created meaning for the existence of such buildings. Saying life is special because of its limited nature just sounds like you want to believe such things to help cope with the very fact that nothing lasts or the end is death. Special seems to just add an artificial man-made value to life.

    I'm sorry if the way I comprehend this isn't the way you meant for it to come across, I do feel like I'm missing a point with this one though. Perhaps it’s because I've already come to the decision that life is meaningless and people can choose to read that with the pre-conception that imply pessimism with anything that claims anything meaningless, but that’s reality the way I've experienced it and the way I believe every human being is also experiencing. No I didn't have to go through a shit environment growing up to realize that life is shit; it's self evident to those who observe reality and allow reality to express itself. Actually, that sentence sounds a little meaningless haha.

    I think that's all I have to say about your thoughts on the concept of heaven. I don't think we've spoken about it this way before though I'm sure you've heard some of my examples from previous conversations haha. I do find it surprising that I'm defending a concept that I was hoping won't exist, but I'm really standing for the logical possibility of the concept based on the ideas and not defending scriptures of various organized religions in ways that would include its many other culturally and politically manipulated contents. Although, not saying that I reject scripture either, there’s too much I don't know enough about to be able to develop a personal response, not yet anyway. The points I was really against were these(below) if you're keeping track, I actually agree a little bit that they should at least humor what women would want their heaven to look like too, though I think every persons regardless of their sexual orientations have roughly the same ideas about happiness if existence really was unlimited.

    What I'm rejecting:

    "The concept of eternal happiness or everlasting bliss is a flawed and logically impossible. What does it mean to have eternal happiness? Surely a million years in heaven would be boring. Monotonous. I might even turn gay out of boredom."

    "People argue that the pleasures of heaven is so great that you will forget your earthly nature. Isn't that basically changing the way you are? It's erasing a part of you, who is forever in love with a hell-bound human being. If you forget that part of your earthly past, you forget a part of yourself. Was your love meant to be meaningless? Is it supposed to be a test? What kind of considerate, forgiving God would do that? What human being would even think that's right?"

    "I reject that heaven. I reject any form of 'everlasting happiness,' because it is itself a contradiction. Happiness is relative. If it is everlasting, it loses its meaning. It loses its delights. Happiness will become the new indifference."

  2. Posted on Facebook by Jason Biggs:

    Ah. Touche. (Damn, no diacritics)

    Forgive me if I'm missing the point, but to me, for a concept of heaven to occur would mean a changing of self or consciousness, or even loss of it. It would mean an almost artificial (or god-induced) state of nirvana. The workings of the mind then changes. Even for morality to have no bearing in heaven would require a massive psychological re-wiring.

    What is the point of God making us go making deep connections and falling in love with other people if that will be 'forgotten' in heaven?

    My argument was this, really. If eternal happiness means some parts of you, be it morality, love or consciousness, are changed, then it isn't really 'you' going through the gates anyway.

    I've always thought life is meaningless in that it has no preset purpose or predefined meaning. What I meant to say when I said the absence of heaven would make life meaningful is that people won't waste their lives abstaining themselves from everything in hope of a heaven that would repay them for their abstinence.

    I guess I'm more of an empiricist :P

  3. LOL! You are a joke Biggs, or Zul, or Doc, or whatever your name is. Only fools pay serious attention to your "say this, say that", cause that what they are, nothing more, nothing less, from someone who believe he is an evolutionised monkey. That's it! From now on, you'll be referred to as Mr EM, as in Evolutionised Monkey!

  4. Zul? Doc? Wow. What bag did you pull that out from?

    Evolutionised monkey. I'm not even sure if that's supposed to be an insult. If you say so.

    I'm not even sure what your point is, to be honest. I'm sure other people would appreciate it that you call them fools for opening up their minds to read and discuss arguments, theories and religion.

    I'm not even going to dignify your comment with an insult.

  5. Posted on Facebook by Liyana Tassim:

    I have a good argument on this, lets start with philosophy and Plato who believed in the duality of nature, heaven is a construction of MALE philosophers, that is a feminist answer, and I believe I have asked a couple professors on this especially regarding Islamic versions of heaven, appropriately some of them are actually FABRICATED and BORROWED from biblical theologians both Jewish and Christian theological traditions. In addition to that, Reza Aslans No God but God argues that the Quran was originally Syriano-Aramaic and bla3, and therefore difficult to interpret just as the Bible is difficult to interpret as things become LOST in TRANSLATION. In addition to that I have a few things up my sleeve but because you have anonymity that I don't its better off I say it in a private message, la di da

  6. I'd like to hear it. (That's not sarcasm by the way. It's hard to indicate tone here)

    If the Quran was indeed originally Syriano-Aramaic, then a lot of the current interpretations of Islam would demand major revisions. Moreover, in Aramaic, Muhammad would not be a 'prophet,' but a 'witness,' much like a believer is a 'witness.'

    Worse, all those jihadists would've died for 72 raisins, not virgins.

    And it certainly taints the Quran's image as the only undiluted, untouched holy book/scripture amongst the Abrahamic religions.

    Strictly, I was really discussing the Islamic (or more generally religious) connotations of heaven. I am an empiricist. It makes no sense to me to say "what if" purely on speculation, thus circumventing any inconvenient truths or logic.

    And Siddy, the only reason I only cited the movie title is because I was thinking about heaven and all this stuff, and the thought of the movie came up. Thought it was interesting. Hahahaha.