Another problem with Heaven

HeavenEndNo Christians met last time’s challenge of showing us where the Bible says they’re going to Heaven when they die. Looks like they won’t be. Who knew.

Let’s say though that, despite the odds, they’re right after all; which of their ever-changing selves will be the one that makes it to ‘the other side’?

Does the Christian who passes away suffering from a dementia that has entirely dissolved his personality, his very self, find himself living for eternity in this condition?

Does a deceased child-convert find herself existing as a perpetual 9 year old?

What about all of those aborted foetuses many Christians feel so strongly about, maintaining that they too have souls; do they remain embryos for their heavenly existence?

Or does God change each arrival into the very best they could have been while on Earth? If he does, and everyone lives in their prime as, say, a permanent 28 year old, how much of who they really were and are survives in Heaven? It doesn’t sound like it can be very much.

Perhaps that’s why inviting dead believers to Heaven to live with him there has never been part of Jesus’ and his Father’s great plan.

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14 thoughts on “Another problem with Heaven

  1. “No Christians met last time’s challenge of showing us where the Bible says they’re going to Heaven when they die. Looks like they won’t be.”

    Looks like you’re wrong.

    We are confident, I say, and willing rather to be absent from the body, and to be present with the Lord. (2 Corinthians 5:8)

    In my Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. (John 14:2)

    Luke 23:43 – And Jesus said unto him, Verily I say unto thee, To day shalt thou be with me in paradise.

    Hebrews 11:16 – But now they desire a better [country], that is, an heavenly: wherefore God is not ashamed to be called their God: for he hath prepared for them a city.

    2 Peter 3:13 – Nevertheless we, according to his promise, look for new heavens and a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness.

    Hebrews 13:14 – For here have we no continuing city, but we seek one to come.

    Matthew 25:46 – And these shall go away into everlasting punishment: but the righteous into life eternal.

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    • None of your verses say that the believer goes to Heaven after death. Amongst other things, they talk about the resurrected body Paul believed Christians would be clothed in for their new life on a restored Earth; about heaven coming down to earth as the Kingdom is established here; about the heavenly city God would rule from, again on Earth.
      And all of this, Jesus, Paul and other NT writers claimed, would be happening soon, in their own time. it was when it didn’t that Christians started talking about going to Heaven. But wishful thinking did not make it so.

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      • Sorry but your doctrine is in error. I don’t know what you mean by their own time. The events spoken of by Jesus in Matthew 24 could only take place when the human race has the ability to destroy itself (Matthew 24:22)

        What do you think Paul meant by absent from the body present with the Lord? When you’re absent from the body (dead) you become present with the Lord (in Heaven)

        The thief on the cross, he went with Jesus to paradise that same day.

        Lazarus went to paradise immediately after he died (Luke 16:22-24)

        When Steven was stoned to death, he saw the Lord and said receive my spirit. (Acts 7:59)

        Yes there will be a final resurrection, but soul sleep is false doctrine.

        It was nice talking to you.

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      • In their own time: Jesus repeatedly refers to the end of the present age and the start of the Kingdom as being in his disciples’ lifetime. For example:

        For the Son of Man is going to come in his Father’s glory with his angels… I tell you the truth, some who are standing here will not taste death before they see the Son of Man coming in his Kingdom. (Matthew 16:27-28)

        For as the lightning comes from the east and flashes as far as the west, so will be the coming of the Son of Man… and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of the sky with power and great glory. I tell you the truth, this generation will certainly not pass away until all these things have happened. (Matthew 24:27, 30-31, 34)

        Then they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory. Now when these things begin to take place, stand up and raise your heads, because your redemption is drawing near. Truly I tell you, this generation will not pass away until all things have taken place. Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away. (Luke 21:27-28, 33-34)

        Paul similarly in 1 Thessalonians 4.15-17 and 1 Corinthians 15.51-52.

        In context Paul is talking about the ‘old body’ – he calls it ‘a tent’ in the five verses preceding the one you misquote. This old tent body will be replaced with a resurrected body once Christ returns. That new body will be the one the believer lives in in the new Kingdom ‘with the Lord’, It has nothing to do with going Heaven.

        The Lazarus you talk about is not the one from John’s gospel whom Jesus supposedly raised from the dead. The Luke Lazarus is a figure in a parable, and it doesn’t say he went to paradise immediately after he died. It says he went to be with Abraham, whatever that means.

        Jesus apparently promised the thief he would be with him that day in paradise. This is the only use of that word in the whole of the New Testament. Are you sure it means Heaven? And if it does, why should it mean every other believer is going to go to Heaven too?

        Soul sleep is, you’re right, absolute nonsense. It’s Paul’s nonsense, though, from the Thessalonians passage cited above.

        There are no verses in the NT, as you demonstrate, that say ‘when the believer dies he joins the Lord in Heaven’ or something equally clear cut. There are many, however (I quote them in my articles) that say the new Kingdom will be on Earth in the lifetime of Jesus’ hearers and that the righteous will live there in new bodies. Equally preposterous, of course, but that is what it says.

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  2. Hello again. You’re misunderstanding the Scriptures.

    “For the Son of Man is going to come in his Father’s glory with his angels… I tell you the truth, some who are standing here will not taste death before they see the Son of Man coming in his Kingdom. (Matthew 16:27-28) ”

    Jesus is actually referring to John. John is the one who remained alive to receive the Revelation. It was not just a vision, John says he was actually there when it took place. (Revelation 1:10) so the “some standing there” was John. If there was someone else the Scripture does not say.

    For as the lightning comes from the east and flashes as far as the west, so will be the coming of the Son of Man… and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of the sky with power and great glory. I tell you the truth, this generation will certainly not pass away until all these things have happened. (Matthew 24:27, 30-31, 34)

    All the tribes of the earth will see Him because they will be resurrected. If you’re wondering why He said that generation will not pass, it is because of the ambiguous nature of the term “generation”. The Greek word used here is “genea” which means race or bloodline. Even up to 200 years ago the English word generation had this connotation. In Webster’s 1828 dictionary, the definition is also rendered “men of the same stock, bloodline.”

    What Jesus is saying is that the Jews will survive until the end of the world. (a prophecy that is still coming true despite almost being wiped out by the Nazis.)

    “The Lazarus you talk about is not the one from John’s gospel whom Jesus supposedly raised from the dead. The Luke Lazarus is a figure in a parable, and it doesn’t say he went to paradise immediately after he died. It says he went to be with Abraham, whatever that means.”

    “And it came to pass, that the beggar died, and was carried by the angels into Abraham’s bosom” Luke 16:22.

    This was immediately, but suppose he was just a figure for a moment, it still doesn’t change the fact that believers remain alive after death.

    Paul plainly said when he died he was going to be with the Lord.

    Philippians 1:21-23, For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain. But if I live in the flesh, this is the fruit of my labour: yet what I shall choose I wot not. For I am in a strait betwixt two, having a desire to depart, and to be with Christ; which is far better.

    That alone ends the argument.

    If Abraham is not in heaven, how did he see Jesus coming to the earth?

    John 8:56, Your father Abraham rejoiced to see my day: and he saw it, and was glad

    If heaven is not a place to go, why did Jesus say:

    John 5:24, Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life.

    Passed from death unto life. This plainly teaches heaven.

    You also didn’t address Steven. If believers do not go to heaven after death, why did Steven see Jesus and ask Him to take his spirit?

    Abraham, Moses, and Elijah are still alive ( John 8:56, Matthew 17:1-3)

    Steven saw Jesus and said take my spirit when he was dying (Acts 8:29)

    Jesus said whoever believes in Him is passed from death into life (John 5:24)

    Heaven is at death. The new bodies will be in the end times at the resurrection. Same with the rapture.

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  3. All of your Bible quotations refer to Paul’s idea that when Christians die they are vouchsafed with the Lord until the time of his return: the soul sleep you don’t believe in – hence Stephen commending his spirit. (I’d also be careful if I were you relying on visions/hallucinations of Jesus that Stephen, Paul and others had.) Once Jesus returned they expected to be resurrected in the new Kingdom on Earth. None of your references indicate that Christians go to Heaven in anything like the way Christians now believe in.

    Neat sidestepping of the ‘this generation’ problem, by the way. So what about ‘some who are standing here’; or does that too apply to people living 2000 years or more later?

    Leaving aside the wacky world of the Bible (‘Abraham and Moses are still alive’), remember that in reality we do not survive death; death is the closing down of all neural pathways, which have no independent existence outside the physical brain, and the complete extinction of existence. No-one (not even Jesus) survives this. So talking about where people ‘go’; after death is futile. There is nothing of them to ‘go anywhere’, least of all a heaven that the Bible itself is less than clear about.

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    • Thank you for your reply.

      “All of your Bible quotations refer to Paul’s idea that when Christians die they are vouchsafed with the Lord until the time of his return”

      They are vouched safe in heaven. Its the only logical conclusion.

      Jesus is in heaven.

      Paul said he was going to be with Jesus at death.

      Stephen saw Jesus at death.

      Abraham saw Jesus come to earth.

      Therefore when we die we remain conscious and go to heaven, or in other words, where Jesus is.

      Yes we do return to our bodies at the resurrection, but that is not the issue at hand.

      “Neat sidestepping of the ‘this generation’ problem, by the way.”

      Thank you. Its amazing what a little Greek does.

      “So what about ‘some who are standing here’; or does that too apply to people living 2000 years or more later?”

      If this ISN’T referring to revelation, I would be more than willing to accept John and perhaps one of the others still alive.

      “remember that in reality we do not survive death”

      Now this fascinates me. are you an atheist? If so I would think you value scientific inquiry. I do too.

      But, because science can only deal with the physical world, we can never subject the spiritual world to a test tube.

      So to say we do not survive death, I must ask you….did you conduct any scientific research or experiments beyond the grave to conclude that we do not in fact survive death?

      I would think not.

      Jesus did.

      Revelation 1:18

      I am he that liveth, and was dead; and, behold, I am alive for evermore, Amen; and have the keys of hell and of death.

      It was truly a pleasure engaging in rational discourse with you.

      Best wishes to you.

      May God bless you.

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  4. What spiritual world, A.C.? There is no evidence, scientific or otherwise, that it exists anywhere other than in the human imagination. Science investigates the physical world because that is all there is. (Interestingly Christians often suggest this physical world is evidence of God. But how can the physical be evidence of the non-physical? The tangible of the intangible? The visible of the invisible?)

    Jesus was not a scientist and he did not carry out scientific investigations as you claim. In fact, his world view was hopelessly unscientific (see my post ‘Christians’ Favourite Delusions 3: Jesus was Perfect’).

    Of course I’ve not carried out my own investigations of what happens when we die and nor have you – quoting scripture that has nothing to do with science is not evidence. Others have, however, and it is their conclusions I summarised in my previous response to you. With brain death, consciousness and the individual cease to be:
    http://phenomena.nationalgeographic.com/2013/08/12/in-dying-brains-signs-of-heightened-consciousness/

    You might also be interested in this website: http://lifehopeandtruth.com/life/life-after-death/what-is-heaven/. It presents from a Christian perspective the point I made in my original post – that the Bible doesn’t promise Heaven – which you dispute. (I have to say that as an atheist, I don’t believe in resurrection, eternal life or any other of the fanciful stuff you and this ‘Life, Hope and Truth’ site insist on. I offer it here because it says exactly the same as me with regard to what the Bible actually says).

    You seem a nice guy, A.C. May you find the joy of living this one and only
    life unencumbered by religion.

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    • The links you provided were interesting. Although needless to say I disagree with the majority of what they say. I want to talk about something you said.

      “Science investigates the physical world because that is all there is.”

      The thing about science is it makes assumptions. Since you turned out to be a friendly guy I’ll tell you what I mean.

      Science abides by logic. Without logical thinking there can be no science. Without the laws of logic there can be no logical thinking.

      The most popular law of logic is the law on non-contradiction. Which states A cannot be A and not A at the same time and in the same sense. (I cant have a five dollar bill in my wallet and not in my wallet at the same time.)

      Now, we all use this law constantly. But there are certain qualities of this law that do not fit into the materialist worldview.

      1. This law is not made of material.

      2. This law is unchanging.

      3. This law is universal for everybody.

      4. This law is NOT the product of the human mind.

      This law cannot be the product of the human mind because it would not have existed before man if that were the case. In that case, could the earth have existed and not existed in the same time and in the same sense prior to human beings? No. So this law predates humans.

      This law has to be eternal. If this law is not eternal, then there could have been a time when it both existed and not existed at the same time. Being completely irrational.

      My point is this.

      An immaterial, non-changing, eternal law comes from an eternal, non-changing immaterial mind.

      The same goes for morality. Which I believe is objective and absolute.

      So when we have transcendent things such as morality and logic, it is not a leap of faith for me to believe the testimony of Jesus Christ about an immaterial eternal place where the righteous are at rest.

      Yes their brains shut down, but the brain is matter. Spirit is not.

      Now if we were all just matter, with the evolutionary objective to pass on our genes, why exactly is rape objectively wrong?

      I believe we bear the image of God, and contain a spirit we may not be able to see, but we know is there.

      Its a pleasure talking to you. I hope you see the points I’m trying to make.

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  5. Thanks for writing again, AC. You make an appeal to logic this time. But I have to say I detect a number of serious leaps of logic in what you say.

    Leap of logic 1. ‘An immaterial, non-changing, eternal law comes from an eternal, non-changing immaterial mind’.

    Why does it? The ‘laws’ of nature – scientists don’t actually refer to ‘laws’ – exist because that is the way of the physical universe. They don’t have to have had a mind to have created them. That is how things are. A mind is superfluous to their existence.

    Leap of logic 2. ‘The same goes for morality’.

    You don’t demonstrate this. Why does the same apply to morality? Why should it?

    Leap of logic 3. ‘Which I believe is objective and absolute’.

    You jump from logic to belief. These are not the same. I might believe I can fly but it doesn’t mean that I can. Equally just because you ‘believe’ morality is objective and absolute doesn’t mean that it is.

    Leap of logic 4. ‘So when we have transcendent things such as morality and logic, it is not a leap of faith for me to believe the testimony of Jesus Christ about an immaterial eternal place where the righteous are at rest’.

    Assuming logic and morality are transcendent (you haven’t demonstrated this nor defined ‘transcendent’) it doesn’t follow at all that everything JC said was therefore true. This is nothing than the leap of faith you dispute!

    Leap of logic 5. ‘Now if we were all just matter, with the evolutionary objective to pass on our genes, why exactly is rape objectively wrong?’

    This is a version of the old Christian argument of ‘if there’s no God then we have no basis for morality’. It’s a dishonest argument because it omits any consideration of our social development. Our morality has developed precisely because we are social animals; our intelligence and empathetic abilities have prompted us to devise more reasonable ways of treating each other.

    Rape, incidentally, is not ‘objectively wrong’ in some parts of the Bible. In fact it is positively sanctioned… in Exodus 21:7-11; Judges 21:10-24; Numbers 31:7-18; Deuteronomy 20:10-14; Deuteronomy 21:10-14; Zechariah 14:1-2. Doesn’t look like morality is objective, eternal and transcendent after all.

    Leap of logic 6. ‘I believe we bear the image of God, and contain a spirit we may not be able to see, but we know is there’.

    Back to belief, none of which follows from what you’ve said. You’re welcome of course to your belief but it doesn’t mean that it corresponds with anything in reality. That’s why ‘we’ do not ‘know’ we contain a spirit. The evidence, in fact, tells us we don’t. Disagree with this evidence as much as you like, it doesn’t invalidate its objective reality.

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    • Hello again.

      “Why does it? The ‘laws’ of nature – scientists don’t actually refer to ‘laws’ – exist because that is the way of the physical universe. They don’t have to have had a mind to have created them. That is how things are. A mind is superfluous to their existence.”

      Actually the laws of logic and nature are different. A mind didn’t create them, they only stem from a mind.

      The whole point of going through the laws was simply to demonstrate the existence of immaterial, non changing, realities that we did not create. I recall you said earlier that the physical world was all there is.

      The problem with saying these laws just are doesn’t address where these ultimately come from. If it is a necessary result of the existence of the universe, then they are finite, because the universe is finite. Which poses the problem I was suggesting earlier. Could the universe have both existed and not existed at the same time, etc.

      “Leap of logic 2. ‘The same goes for morality’.

      You don’t demonstrate this. Why does the same apply to morality? Why should it?”

      What applies to morality is that it is immaterial, and universal.

      “Our morality has developed precisely because we are social animals; our intelligence and empathetic abilities have prompted us to devise more reasonable ways of treating each other.”

      Then I might ask you who ultimately decides what is right and wrong? Whenever we say something is wrong, we are making a moral judgement. A moral judgement assumes there is a moral standard to base aberrations off of. For instance, grading someone’s paper as “F” without an “A” as the standard of grading is entirely incoherent. So if morality evolved what exactly is the standard you base judgements off of?

      The problem is, none of the verse you cite have anything to do with rape, Exodus 21 is about selling your daughter to become a maidservant. Judges 21 has to do with destroying non virgins because the people of that land were involved in incestuous fertility cults (Leviticus 18) the virgins are the innocent party and it never says they raped them. Deuteronomy 20 is rules for taking victuals in war, it never says anything about rape. Deuteronomy 21 is rules for taking a prisoner of war for your wife. It never says anything about rape. And Zechariah 14 is an end times prophecy against Israel, for their sins and idolatry. The “ravishing” is done by their enemies.

      “Doesn’t look like morality is objective, eternal and transcendent after all.”

      If morality is not objective, as you said, then it is subjective. In that case, what if I decide Nazism is not objectively wrong? I’m sure you would objectively disagree.

      My point about the image of God, is if that humans are not created in the image of God, then what gives us worth over a dolphin? If we are matter acting on matter, why is something wrong? The driving force of evolution is passing on your genes. Why is adultery wrong then? But since you said morality is not objective after all, perhaps you do not believe adultery is objectively wrong. If our intelligence gives us worth, then that is to say human intelligence decides our value. If that is the case, autistic people are not as valuable as doctors or lawyers. We know that is not the case.

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  6. Yes, things are wrong because we decide they are wrong. This is why what is wrong changes over time. Slavery is not wrong in the Bible (Leviticus 25:44-46). It is now. Autistic people are of value now, while those with disabilities in OT times were not (eg: Leviticus 21:16-17, 2 Samuel 5.8). These kinds of shifts would not happen if your god determined morality. It would if humans were determining their own values.

    You’ll no doubt try to argue this away – ‘the Bible doesn’t really mean this’, just as you do with what it says about rape being okay, and about (not) going to Heaven – but you know, the Bible says what it says. No amount of insisting that black is white changes that.

    Ultimately, even if everything you argue was right, it would not demonstrate that your god is the god behind the universe and its ‘laws’ (which don’t have to ‘come from’ anywhere outside the universe itself). Even if you had somehow demonstrated a deity exists, you would still be a very long way from demonstrating Jesus was some sort of manifestation of that god.

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    • Well it was really nice talking to you. This will be my last reply.

      New world slavery was racially motivated capture and sell slavery. Biblical “slavery” was indentured servitude and one could not capture any one. (Exodus 21:16), also, race played no part in it. (The Israelites were not allowed to be bondmen because they had just got out of 400 years of Egyptian slavery)

      I did in fact appreciate this discussion and I hope it was as enjoyable to you as it was to me.

      The verse you mention, really don’t have anything to do with mistreating people with disabilities. Leviticus uses the word מְאוּם which means spot, indicating leprosy or any bodily issue in general. A leper or sick person could not serve in the temple because he was ceremonially unclean.

      2 Samuel 5:8 was done to the Jebusites, the Jebusites were one of many tribes of giants that made average people look like grasshoppers.(Numbers 13: 25-33) Their “lame” were probably still strong enough to crush the average human being under-foot. Regardless, they were still Canaanites involved in the horrible practices (Including child sacrifice) as recorded in Leviticus 18.

      Talking to you has been a pleasure. And I enjoy the rational and civil discussion.

      Take care.

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