GM Note: I have to apologize for the Shania Twain reference in the title. I’m Canadian. I’m hardwired to mention #CanCon any chance I get.
Let’s get this sermon started, shall we? Today, I wanted to talk to you good folk about Heaven. The ol’ Pearly Gates, the Promised Land, Eternal Paradise, God’s everlasting goddamned Glory.
If you’re like me and you don’t hide the fact that you’re an atheist, you probably get a lot of people all up in your jock asking, “What if you’re wrong?” Just this morning I woke up to one such tweet:
Eternity is indeed a long time to be locked out of Heaven.
Bruno doesn’t seem too choked up about being locked out of Heaven.
Heaven is bliss. Heaven is a reward. Heaven is, we’re told, where everyone wants to be.
But is it, really? Have Heaven’s biggest fans really thought it through? Can a place like Heaven even be possible? Do you want to be there? Do I?
The answer, for me, is no. Here’s why:
1. Eternity is a long-ass time.
I have enough trouble staying in any one place for a year, let alone eternity. Staying in one place, or one state of existence, where everyone is blissed out, everything is happy and nothing ever goes wrong… well, that sounds more like torture to me. The fruit of existence is overcoming obstacles, achievement, reaching goals and self-improvement. How are any of these things possible on a plane of perfection?
2. Spending eternity with your Great Aunt Mary?
No thanks. One can only hear the story of how she won the Bingo so many times. How does that work anyway? You get to be with your loved ones again, but do you get breaks from them? Are we granted Me Time? I mean, I don’t think I could handle being surrounded by all my loved ones for eternity. Even after an hour of it, now, I need a breather. What about people who want more time with loved ones who may not want the same thing? Who wins? It seems to me, perfection and total bliss is not attainable for all residents of Heaven.
3. I imagine all those behaviours deemed sins on Earth, will still be outlawed in Heaven, too.
This seems ridiculous, because if I were to paint my blissful Heaven, it’d be nothing but Biblically defined sin. Sex, gluttony, and laziness. Revelations makes it clear that there is nothing impure that will get into Heaven, and there will be no sin. So, does that, then, take away our ability to choose our own actions? Who wants to live in a place where we can’t check out our neighbour’s nice ass? Is it really bliss if I can’t gorge myself on Gruyere, or get sloppy drunk after the Browns first-round draft pick quarterback gets benched for an important game because he was snorting rails off a stripper’s ass over the weekend? And if that Browns first-round draft pick quarterback cleans up, gets himself all saved and shit, and ends up in Heaven, wouldn’t total bliss for him include snorting rails off a stripper’s ass at least once in a while? How is it bliss if he can’t make it rain at the Old Fuzzy Clam the odd Saturday night?
4. None of the best people are going to Heaven, let’s face it.
Anywhere without Doug Stanhope is not a place I want to be. Imagine never hearing a Ricky Gervais joke again, or not being able to binge on endless Hitch speeches or debates. Instead of Bill Gates, we’d have Mother Teresa. Instead of Tom Robbins, we’d have Dean Koontz. Instead of Christopher Hitchens, we’d have… *gulp*… Ken Ham. Imagine the complete lack of intellectual stimulation. Imagine the sad and sorry state of the conversations in Heaven. Nothing about this is appealing. To me, that would be Hell.
6. Do animals go to heaven? Will I get to be with all my beloved pets again?
I imagine they do because there are people out there who don’t have anyone in their lives but their pets. If those people go to Heaven, it couldn’t really be paradise for them if they are not with their animals. If animals do go to heaven, what about the predatory ones? Are they there? Does that make it dangerous for their prey? What about the people who are afraid of some animals? How can Heaven be blissful for the little girl who lives up the hill who is terrified of dogs? I think we’ve found ourselves yet another afterlife Catch-22: some people won’t feel bliss if there aren’t animals in Heaven, and some people won’t feel bliss if there are. So, which is it?
7. What about aborted fetuses?
Is there a nursery section of heaven where we rotate shifts taking care of the clumps of cells in bassinets? Every unborn child and every animal? How cramped is it up there?
There’s not one thing about the idea of Heaven that makes sense to me. I don’t see how any place can be perfect and totally blissful. It sounds more like a place that would require ignorance and limited free will. I’m pretty sure, it would get boring really fast, and that there would be no peace at all for the sheer numbers of souls it collects from animals and unborn children. It would be torturous to have to remain sin-free and to have our social interactions limited to those who were saved in life and to do it all with the knowledge that people are being tortured forever below.
To me, Heaven sounds an awful lot like Hell, and, quite frankly, you can keep them both. Me? I’d rather be plant food and be recycled for as long as the Universe is here, breathing life into future generations and future species, having lived my one life to its fullest while I had it, rather than living for my death.
I don’t need eternity. This life is enough for me.