Most people only think about heaven / the afterlife during times of death.  So, if you’ve had someone close to you die, you probably have strong opinions about the existence or nonexistence of the afterlife.

And, our opinions are probably wrong.

If heaven exists at all, it – by definition — is much different than what you or I imagine it to be.  And while my religion’s scripture (Christianity) has little to say about what heaven is like, it seems that my religion’s preachers – especially the ones at funerals – know much more about it than their Bible.

So, here are eight common ideas about heaven that I think are false.

Heaven is not …

One.  An opiate.  Like religion, heaven has too often been used as an opiate to blind people to the dismal reality that someone is in fact dead.

Two.  It’s probably not about you.  It’s selfishness that has made this place so shitty.  So, if heaven is better than what exists today, it will probably only happen when we are somehow drawn out of self-absorption by something greater (i.e. God).

Three.  A product of subjective validation. If you find heaven meaningful, good for you.  But, that doesn’t mean it exists.  Just because you like the idea of an eternal life where everything is unicorns and butterflies is not proof for heaven being an actual reality.

Four.  Subject to wishful thinking.  “In heaven I’m going to have a Ferrari with Kathy Ireland as my wife.  I’ll dress her up in My Little Pony outfits and I’ll play Black Ops all day.  Oh yeah, and grandpa will be there too and we’ll fly around together on the back of my Pegasus.”  Probably not.

Five.  A product of communal reinforcement.  If the only reason you believe in heaven is because your family believes in heaven and because everybody wants to believe in heaven, you probably haven’t thought about it too much.  And any perception you have about heaven probably sucks.

Six. Escapism.  Or, an excuse to trash this world because it’s going to be destroyed anyways (some evangelicals believe this.)  If anything, I believe in an inaugural eschatology that is bringing heaven to earth as opposed to bringing us earthlings to heaven.

Seven.  Hedonism.  A place where we can do whatever the hell we want.  Yeah, that place – if it exists – is called Las Vegas.

Eight.  A certainty.  That’s right.  It’s a hope, not a certainty.  It’s a valid hope during death.  It has a valid place in our lives now, but you simply can’t prove its existence empirically.  In some sense, we are creating heaven.  We are bringing it into existence.  And its creation is conditioned on us losing our egotistical outlook.  Heaving is becoming, but it’s not a certainty.

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