Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Paradise Redefined

This is a follow-up to two earlier posts, "Paradise Declined" and "A Better Life?"

I think my problem with heaven or an afterlife is that it seems terribly mundane. The Bible talks about heaven having many mansions or rooms, depending on which version you read (John 14:2). Whether you take that literally or figuratively, it's still pretty disappointing that all heaven can offer us is something appealing to our petty material desires.

Actually, most of the descriptions of heaven I've heard - a second Garden of Eden, rivers flowing with milk, streets paved with gold and the like - are offered by preachers using their imaginations and marketing skills to sell us the idea of heaven. There are very few references in the Bible to what heaven actually looks or feels like.

In this article, "What Does the Bible Say About Heaven?", the author lists 51 one things we can know about heaven, using the Bible as a source. I've read through them. I'm not sold. I'd rather be with my husband and my kids.

People talk about heaven as a place where there's no pain or suffering. I just don't see how life, especially eternal life, can be possible or desirable in such a setting. I could create a life of no pain and suffering for my kids here on Earth - raise them in a bubble or keep them high on drugs the whole time. It would be a short life, but they'd suffer no pain and wouldn't know any better. Is that what we should hope for?

Maybe I just can't think of a place that would be perfect for me because perfection is a self-defying idea. A life in which everything is perfect - no suffering, no obstacles, no existential angst, no challenges, no sweating, no yearning, no striving - would not be perfect. A perfect existence is something to strive for, hope for, live for; it's not something to actually achieve and sit on. Because that's what you'd have to do if you ever got there - sit on it. Where else could you go from there?

It's like that saying, "You can't have your cake and eat it too." Silly saying. What's the point of having cake if you can't eat it? Have it, eat it, and move on. Go get more cake. Eat that too. Keep looking for and eating more cake. Eating it is having it. Living a mortal life is life.


Matthew Taylor said...

Paradise not like Singapore LAH?

Shin said...


I've started reading the book you recommended, "The God Delusion". But I'm also reading "The Case for Faith", which was recommended by a Christian friend. Maybe these two opposing, sometimes extremist views will help provide a balance.

So far, I'm not very impressed by either author or argument. But I will read on...

Thanks for the recommendation!

Anonymous said...

Shin, hope you are feeling okay, let us know how you are feeling with the radiation treatment & also if the Henna powder is working...

Ages ago I sent you some info about my friend who had breast cancer and secondary brain tumours. She took a course of drugs which greatly reduced the size of her brain tumours. Let me know if you want me to find the info again - I know that all treatments vary depending on the individual and I am sure you are very up to date with most of it, but just in case...
Thinking of you.

Eira xxx

Anonymous said...

Bah, Brain Tumours
You're no match for Shin!

I just thought of this story which I had told Shin about a few months ago - my sister who is connected to surgeons in Italy, had a case of a boy with "terminal" brain cancer - after a few operations, the surgeons shook their heads, said "he's a gonner". Then, one of them said to him "look, just imagine this tumour is an enemy craft, zap it with all you've got - imagine it's space invaders inside your head" - within 3 months the tumour disappeared!! Maybe that's coincidence, but I certainly believe that brain power has some place to play. Shin, you've defied the odds, you can certainly defeat some more.

E x