You hear it very often said by the religious, as they enumerate the wealthy prospects of their divine real estate, that no greater reward above paradise may exist. For this demographic, these seemingly charming propositions function as the acme and simultaneous conclusion to their physical existence. The skeptic may observe in the religious as they perform these sentiments a muted and monk like disposition on the matter in question, or by all appearances (and with nearly unapologetic irony) a seemingly possessed celebration that includes dancing and other exhausted rituals.
These convictions, if tested, recommend a response that may only be reproduced by one whose birthday you’ve spoiled, or by laughing out of place at a funeral. This equation was instrumental in manufacturing, “the fine line,” where the skeptic is awarded some license to argue against the claims of the religious, save the validity of that which is their soul’s final destination. I do not know, but one may find it ostensibly true that while different religions boast trivial disparities of paradise and how one might afford property there, they are truly concerned only with an existence that survives the death of the brain.
When one examines the proposition of paradise, one finds it conclusively extirpates free will. Yet this demotion to serfdom escapes the religious and resembles a lobotomy more than a completely moral and physical liberation. It is necessary to clarify to what definition I feel the religious are referring when they discuss free will. Free will is the inalienable right, under god, to act or not act upon your thoughts regardless of the content or context. By this definition, presumably, god would be obligated to remove any capacity for sin upon entry into heaven.
The proposition becomes more convoluted when one attempts to align instinctual human ambitions, such as procreation, with the quotidian of paradise. Might one have license to fall in love in heaven? What of further exploring for knowledge of the universe? Would it not be necessary for god to discard our essential individuality? To draw something of an analogy, it would be much like shaving down a square peg for a circular hole. It is not for a lack of imagination that I will not elaborate further.
Chains for Free Men
Interestingly, the only mention of continued physical sensation of the three Abrahamic religions is in that of Islam, where the celestial heightening of sexual pleasure with seventytwo eager and equally lobotomized virgins shan’t experience limitation. Christianity and Judaism are less obvious in their claims on the characteristics of a patriarchal paradise.
They chain themselves with thornless roses to the bosom of Christ (or god) to sing his praises for all eternity.
This faintly domesticating (and it must follow axiomatically), boring fate manages a clever evasion to the question of the continued and uninterrupted existence of free will in paradise. It accomplishes this by offering liberation from pain and suffering as a substitute. Although this is a dangerous precedent, for our capacity to march on through troubling times or gain meaningful success for oneself is dependent, ostensibly, on the presence of pain and suffering. Our resilience to pain and suffering, while a subjective experience, is complementary to our perception of ethics and morality. It qualifies sympathy and motivates empathy. If upon death we were granted this liberation, the heaven of Tertullian would await us; the saved celebrating the suffering of the damned through holes in the floor of heaven.
The One Way Door
You cannot repudiate this as a skeptic. As it is, this question is ultimately unanswerable, and so evidence against it will remain nonexistent. You may pull the head of the weed, stunting its dangerous and unreasonable propagation, but belief in heaven will remain uncontestable, for the roots lay in the bedrock of a spadeless nation. One may dismantle the vulnerable stems of theological arguments, even burn wide fields of irrational prejudices to reason, but the instinctual fear of death will survive and continue to breastfeed this morally reprehensible and puerile notion.
However uncomfortable this appears, it is certainly even less comfortable in practice. To challenge the religious on this point of fact, one must be prepared to debate not only against religious text, but what they feel is earned liberation from earthly injustice and their physical form. This unconquerable dogma, with its solipsistic dressing, ignores the implications addressed earlier on the relinquishing of free will and every single human characteristic upon reception into heaven. At least in hell, one can think for oneself while the pearly gates open only one way.