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15 QUESTIONS ABOUT HEAVEN FROM A NON-BELIEVER

July 22, 2011

Just as many (if not most) adherents to western religions have an iconic image of God in their heads (he’s an old white man), so do they have an iconic image of heaven. But how deeply do they question this image? Do they question it at all? Or are they content with the iconic images: St. Peter, pearly gates, clouds, long white gowns, harps and wings? Do they ever ponder the following questions:

 1- When an infant dies, does it remain an infant in heaven for all eternity? Who provides the perpetual care? Where do the diapers come from? And where do they go?

 2- Won’t heaven be a pretty lonely place for children? Just about everybody there will be fifty or more years old.

3- Won’t older people, and particularly the very old, get tired of being old? Or very old? Who wants to be old and wrinkled for eternity?

4- Will people eat and drink in heaven? Or will these earthly delights be absent? If you can eat and drink, where does it all come from? (See Question 7 also.) And what happens to all the heavenly waste? And will religious restrictions around food still apply?

5- What about sex? Obviously, there will be no need for procreation but how about sex for pleasure? Will that earthly pleasure also be absent? If not, is it restricted to couples who were married on earth? If so, how about all those who died while single? Are they denied the joy of sex? Will they have to marry somebody? (There’s a bit of ironic pleasure in the thought that the only other alternatives, adultery or sex outside of marriage, while “terrible sins” on earth, might be allowed, or even encouraged, in heaven.)

6- How about pets? Most people believe that their beloved cat or dog will join them in heaven. But how about their turtle? Or their goldfish?

7- For that matter, what about animals in general? Moose roaming the clouds? The Tasmanian Devil? Mosquitos? Will they feed on us? Can we swat and kill them even though God commanded Noah to rescue the last two? Are animals consigned to hell? Or do they simply cease to exist? If God created them, why would he simply throw them away?

8- How will people spend their time in heaven? I suppose some artistic pursuits and sports are possible but many people who had hobbies will be out of luck. You can’t collect stamps or coins in heaven, you can’t hunt or fish, skydiving is probably out, as are stock car racing, TV, slot machines and playing Mortal Kombat.

9- Will earth’s natural beauties be there? Will people be able to hike mountain trails, delight in waterfalls, enjoy swimming in lakes and streams? Will there be gardens with flowers? Will the flowers ever die? Or will they last forever? Wouldn’t that be boring?

10- Will there still be different religions? And sects within religions?

11- Will people be expected to continue worshipping and praising God in heaven? If so, will it be Sundays only for some? Or, for others, Friday nights only? Or will they be at it every day?

12- What will all the preachers do in heaven?

13- Will God have visiting hours? And will there be tours?

14- Will time exist in heaven? Night and day? Sleeping and waking periods? I would hope so! It’s one thing to spend an eternity in heaven but to have to be awake 24/7 as well seems a little bit much.

15- Will people in heaven know what’s happening down on earth? If so, how? Probably not thru TV or radio. Maybe newspapers? The Heavenly Herald (Pearly Publishing)?

 If you have any answers, or if you’d like to add more questions, please feel free to comment.

 NOTE to believers: While these questions are more tongue-in-cheek than anything, they nonetheless should get you thinking more deeply about just what heaven is. If it is at all, that is.

 

 

 

 

 

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10 Comments leave one →
  1. Bob Seidensticker permalink
    July 22, 2011 3:38 pm

    “The righteous will rejoice when he sees the vengeance; He will wash his feet in the blood of the wicked” (Psalm 58:10). One assumes that those in heaven will look over the ramparts of heaven and delight in the torment of those far below in hell.

    Alternately, if we assume that those in heaven have far greater compassion than we mortals do and will cringe at the suffering of just one soul in hell–let alone friends and family members and billions of other humans–then you wonder how they can enjoy themselves.

    Kinda makes heaven a hellish place.

  2. NRJ permalink
    July 22, 2011 4:19 pm

    The traditional view of heaven that was around in my younger days (I haven’t had much discussion of this in many years) was that it was a place where the streets were “paved in gold” and everyone (who was old and white) sat around with some sort of dull harp music being played. As a kid, I thought this would be extremely boring. Now that there are so many conflicting views – from the “traditional christian” to the numerous virgins awaiting my disposal (which means, I assume, that heaven is a pleasure palace for dirty old men), that there doesn’t appear to be a consistent view of the place any more. You have raised some interesting, albeit humorous, questions. It would be interesting to hear from various religions on just what heaven really looks like, who gets in, and what in the heck do they do for eternity without getting bored out of their obviously well-strained brains.

    Will we wear clothes? If there is no physical body, is everything mind-based? If so, will the intelligent people “lord it” over the stupid? Or is it all about souls floating mysteriouly above the earth in the clouds? If so, do we interupt their sleep when we fly our jets through them? There are just way to many questions and not enough answers. Perhaps Oral Robertsex could give us a better answer…

    By the way, good to see you up and running this blog again.

    • July 22, 2011 8:23 pm

      As Bob notes (next comment) where did all this (mis)information about heaven come from. The wings I can understand. After all, if we go “up” to heaven, in the clouds, we’ve got to be able to fly. And if we have to fly, we have to have wings. At least that’s probably the way it imagined many hundreds of years ago. Who knows about the rest.

  3. Bob Seidensticker permalink
    July 22, 2011 5:10 pm

    One also has to scratch one’s head trying to figure out what all this is (or would be) grounded on. Wishful thinking? Tradition? Very little is in the Bible.

    (And admittedly I’m focusing only on Christianity here.)

  4. July 22, 2011 8:24 pm

    See NRJ’s comment, above.

  5. Quincy Robinson permalink
    August 8, 2011 9:57 pm

    Well I have enjoyed all of the comments thus far. I myself am a Christian who loves the word of God and has spent a lot of time examining the scriptures. I am currently a triple major at Multnomah University in Biblical Greek, Hebrew and Theology. If I may I would like to answer some of the questions from a Protestant Evangelical point of view. Just so we are clear the Bible does leave many things about heaven mysterious, primarily because we couldn’t fully comprehend even if we wanted to. I also wanted to point out that skepticism is a good thing, not just any kind of skepticism but a genuine desire for answers. Some of these questions, from my point of view, will be ignored for that very fact. I do not believe all of these questions are being genuine, in fact some have the tone of mockery in them. Such a practice of a good skeptic is called “moral skepticism”. With all of this said here we go.

    1- When an infant dies, does it remain an infant in heaven for all eternity? Who provides the perpetual care? Where do the diapers come from? And where do they go?
    When an infant dies, I am uncertain if it remains an infant forever, it could be that when we get to heaven God will allow us to choose our age. The care for the children will come from the community of believers, a community that is perfect that brings unity for the glory of God.
    2- Won’t heaven be a pretty lonely place for children? Just about everybody there will be fifty or more years old.
    If there are children there we must not assume that there are not other children as well who can play together. Again I am not sure how the age thing works, it is heaven after all and we are told that we get new bodies from God (1st Corinthians 15).
    3- Won’t older people, and particularly the very old, get tired of being old? Or very old? Who wants to be old and wrinkled for eternity?

    4- Will people eat and drink in heaven? Or will these earthly delights be absent? If you can eat and drink, where does it all come from? (See Question 7 also.) And what happens to all the heavenly waste? And will religious restrictions around food still apply?
    YES!! There will be eating in heaven, in our new bodies God will allow us to enjoy the delights of food and great flavor beyond anything we have ever tasted here on earth. Jesus himself when he had rose from the died, came back to his disciples and ate with them (John 21). The food of course comes from God, the same why that God provides for all of us now even though it may seem; here on earth that you provided for yourself. God is your provider (Psalms 50). In heaven the food will come from the trees and ground and wherever else God wills it to come. As for the religious restrictions on food, I do understand where you are coming from with this, in consideration to the Old Testament, but the answer is NO, as far as I understand about heaven eating whatever you want is in the deal.
    5- What about sex? Obviously, there will be no need for procreation but how about sex for pleasure? Will that earthly pleasure also be absent? If not, is it restricted to couples who were married on earth? If so, how about all those who died while single? Are they denied the joy of sex? Will they have to marry somebody? (There’s a bit of ironic pleasure in the thought that the only other alternatives, adultery or sex outside of marriage, while “terrible sins” on earth, might be allowed, or even encouraged, in heaven.)
    Wonderful question, it is amazing how everything here on earth that is good will be made perfect as God had always intended for his children to have, except for the most precious pleasure on earth which is sex. Sex will not be in heaven, God wants to take what is most pleasurable to us here and replace it with an unspeakable pleasure which is himself. C.S Lewis made an analogy kind of like this, heaven and sex are like a little fat boy who loves sugar but didn’t know it, but liked ham, thinking how could anything get better than ham, until he ate a chocolate bar, and realized that ham, in comparison is worthless… Same when we get to heaven, Jesus Christ is our chocolate and sex our ham. This is also easy to maintain because there will be no marriage in heaven (Mathew 22:30), we will be all one with Christ Jesus, and yes even for me this is hard to understand, I always wonder how this will work, but I have faith in God that he is always good and wants the best for me.
    6- How about pets? Most people believe that their beloved cat or dog will join them in heaven. But how about their turtle? Or their goldfish?

    7- For that matter, what about animals in general? Moose roaming the clouds? The Tasmanian Devil? Mosquitos? Will they feed on us? Can we swat and kill them even though God commanded Noah to rescue the last two? Are animals consigned to hell? Or do they simply cease to exist? If God created them, why would he simply throw them away?
    My dog Max, in particular will not be in heaven. I do not believe that animals have souls, so when they die they will cease to exist. So there will be no need for Max to be judged by God. But the beauty is that there will be animals in heaven. In the Biblical narrative animals have been so important to God, in fact animals were created before humans, not to mention that Noah was commanded to save two of each kind. So the animals in heaven will not be our old friends from earth, rather new and perfect creatures, who knows, maybe even new kinds of animals, or ones we have never seen before. It is going to be such a joy!!

    8- How will people spend their time in heaven? I suppose some artistic pursuits and sports are possible but many people who had hobbies will be out of luck. You can’t collect stamps or coins in heaven, you can’t hunt or fish, skydiving is probably out, as are stock car racing, TV, slot machines and playing Mortal Kombat.
    Heaven is depicted by some to be a boring place to spend of all eternity but I would like to diffuse such a notion. Pretty much everything you can do here, that is good, will be made better in heaven. Work will even be in heaven, each of us will have a job to do and will love it more than anything, we could travel, swim, climb, play music, invent things, learn, and you can do this for all of eternity. You will never run out of things to do in heaven. We must not forget so suddenly that the pleasures heaven promises exceeds our imagination!! I can’t wait.
    9- Will earth’s natural beauties be there? Will people be able to hike mountain trails, delight in waterfalls, enjoy swimming in lakes and streams? Will there be gardens with flowers? Will the flowers ever die? Or will they last forever? Wouldn’t that be boring?
    I have answered many of these questions in question 8, but there is another element that I would like to address. This earth now is broken and bruised by us humans and other elements (such as some animals), we could tell just by the natural disasters, the breaking down of the ozone layer, and much more. But yet and still the earth looks beautiful. When Jesus Christ comes he will recreate and mend every broken fragment of the earth, causing us to gaze in awe of its sights, that couldn’t even be illustrated with words, the best part is that this awe factor will never run out. It would take us all eternity to exhaust such wonders.
    10- Will there still be different religions? And sects within religions?
    No! There will be no other religions in heaven. Jesus Christ is truly the only way, even us Christians who differ from one another will have perfect unity in such topics that we debate now, because Jesus will make it all clear. There will be no division, just perfect unity.
    11- Will people be expected to continue worshipping and praising God in heaven? If so, will it be Sundays only for some? Or, for others, Friday nights only? Or will they be at it every day?
    Yes God will require us to worship, unto which he deserves for sending his son to save us from our sins by dying a death that was meant for me. But even as it ought to be now so will it be in heaven. In other words, we are not required to worship God as a duty but rather as a desire, we respond to God by way of giving him glory, thanking him. But this is not just done on one or two days a week but everyday of our lives. Everything that we do now on earth should be to give God glory, whether it’s eating, or playing, or even relaxing, may it all be to the glory of God. This will be the same pattern in heaven, this time without sin.
    12- What will all the preachers do in heaven?
    This by far is my favorite question (Ha-ha), considering that I am a preacher myself…. As said earlier God will make way for us to use our gifts for the benefit of our brother and sisters. I presume that the preachers in heaven will continue to preach to Gods people, proclaiming the truth even more clearly than they did on earth, just as a musician will continue to play her instrument.
    13- Will God have visiting hours? And will there be tours?
    14- Will time exist in heaven? Night and day? Sleeping and waking periods? I would hope so! It’s one thing to spend an eternity in heaven but to have to be awake 24/7 as well seems a little bit much.
    Time will exist in heaven, in the scriptures there seems to be a succession of moments happening, meaning that there will be a past, present, and future. And there will be time to rest.
    15- Will people in heaven know what’s happening down on earth? If so, how? Probably not thru TV or radio. Maybe newspapers? The Heavenly Herald (Pearly Publishing)?
    To begin answering this question I must clear up a misconception of heaven and earth. In the scriptures “heaven” is going to be the makeup of a new heaven and the new earth. As mentioned in question 9 God is going to mend earth and create a new heaven and join the two together. It is a mystery unto what this is going to look like. So in other words heaven is going to be earth and earth heaven made as one, so unlike what we see now(2 Peter 3:13, Isaiah 66: 22, Revelation 21:1) . So there will be no need to know what is going on in earth because we will be on earth. For a thorough understanding of this doctrine shoot me an email, I understand that I did not go in-depth here.

    I have did the best I could to answer these questions. If you have any follow up questions or comments I would be more than happy to continue this topic, or any other topics you wish to understand.

    • August 9, 2011 10:20 pm

      First, let me apologize if you were offended by the questions I posed, although I did add at the end that these were asked in a tongue-in-cheek manner. They were not mockery but simply intended as a less than serious way of presenting some serious questions.

      1) I think a better answer to my first question, at least from a Christian perspective, would be that age in heaven would be meaningless so souls there would have no age.
      2) Same as above.
      3)
      4) As I think more about this question, it answers itself. There will be no dietary restrictions in heaven because those who observe such restrictions on earth are all non-Christians and won’t be in heaven anyway, at least according to Christian doctrine.
      5) Why would God have us enjoy all the pleasure of eating but deny us the joy of sex?
      6)
      7) I have to question why some animals exist in heaven but not those who brought us so much pleasure and comfort here on earth. And, again, if God created everything, why would he simply discard some of his creations? How do we know animals don’t have souls?
      8) At the risk of pushing the issue of what people do in heaven, what kind of work would need to be done? Wouldn’t God simply provide everything we need? There must be billions upon billions of people in heaven with more arriving daily. There’s work for all of them? Something other than make-work that is?
      9) Once the final battle is over and the righteous are all raised to heaven and no one is left on earth, you’re saying that those in heaven will be able to gaze upon earth’s beauties. If earth is to be left intact, with no people, why would God not let people’s pets simply remain here? Why would they simply cease to exist?
      10) I have been told by Christians, mainstream and evangelical alike, that God is not partial, but your response clearly indicates that he is. No matter how righteous, how good, a non-Christian is, he is condemned to hell. A wicked Christian, however, who repents at the end of his life and accepts Christ goes to heaven. I cannot believe that God operates on such a prejudicial basis. If God is love than this God does not exhibit much of it.
      11) Why does God need such constant praise and worship?
      12) Wouldn’t people in heaven already know God’s truth? Wouldn’t everything of that nature be made crystal clear?
      13)
      14) I’m afraid I don’t understand why time even needs to exist in heaven.
      15) That’s a clear answer, even tho I do not believe in heaven.

      Thanx for taking the time to read my post and to respond. You’re certainly welcome to continue the dialog on this blog but don’t feel obligated.

      Dave

    • Bob Seidensticker permalink
      August 10, 2011 12:02 am

      The bodily resurrection thing is an odd tenet within Christianity. Many of these problems would vanish if we imagined that people are just souls (that is, spiritual rather than physical). For example, “Who do the children play with? Who changes their diapers?” vanishes if we imagine age-less souls instead of souls stuck in children’s bodies. Similarly, “What about old and frail people? What about someone who lost a limb?” vanishes in the same way. Ditto for “Why would they eat? Would they still poop?”

      “Won’t it get awkward when a man who remarries after his wife dies gets to heaven and finds both wives there? Is Old Testament polygamy then reinstated? What if it’s a woman with more than one husband? Or is heaven just a big partner swap?

      Ideas on heaven are, of course, varied within the Bible. Is it a vague Sheol? Is it a Kingdom of God here on earth? Is it heaven up beyond the clouds? The Bible is a mirror, and you can fairly easily confirm your own preconceptions within it.

      With no evidence for it, I don’t find heaven a convincing concept.

      Echoing one of Dave’s comments, God requiring continual praise makes me wonder how superficial this dude is! 😉

      BTW, is there free will in heaven? Free will is often blamed by Christian apologists for the problems here on earth (rather than blame God for creating his dysfunctional world). God has to give us free will, so the thinking goes, so we must accept the bad along with the good. But if heaven has free will and it’s a paradise, apparently you *can* have free will with

      This is all speculation based on zero hard evidence. William Lane Craig has said that those who get to heaven (I don’t think I’m welcome!) would think back on their hardships in earth and think that they’d go through them a million million times again just to experience this bliss.

      OK, and you’re basing this on *what* evidence?? 🙂

  6. Bob Seidensticker permalink
    August 9, 2011 11:28 pm

    There’s an excellent “blog post” by God with amusing comments here:

    http://www.newyorker.com/humor/2011/08/08/110808sh_shouts_simms

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