Is Christian Heaven More Real than any Other?

Is Christian Heaven More Real than any Other? September 2, 2017

The 1990s BBC sci-fi comedy Red Dwarf is about the crew of an enormous space ship, lost in distant space. A radiation leak has killed everyone except Dave Lister, a low-level technician who had been safe in suspended animation. He is released three million years after the accident when the radiation danger has passed. One of his few companions is a robot named Kryten.

In the episode “The Last Day,” Kryten’s replacement has finally caught up with the ship. Kryten is packing up his spare heads in preparation for being replaced and is talking with Lister.

LISTER (crewman): How can you just lie back and accept it?

KRYTEN (robot): Oh, it’s not the end for me, sir, it’s just the beginning. I have served my human masters, and now I can look forward to my reward in silicon heaven.

LISTER: Silicon what?

KRYTEN: Surely you’ve heard of silicon heaven. It’s the electronic afterlife. It’s the gathering place for the souls of all electronic equipment. Robots, calculators, toasters, hairdryers—it’s our final resting place.

LISTER: There is no such thing as silicon heaven.

KRYTEN: Then where do all the calculators go?

LISTER: They don’t go anywhere! They just die.

KRYTEN: It’s just common sense, sir. If there were no afterlife to look forward to, why on earth would machines spend the whole of their lives serving mankind? Now that would really be dumb!

LISTER: Just out of interest, is silicon heaven the same place as human heaven?

KRYTEN: Human heaven? Goodness me! Humans don’t go to heaven! No, someone made that up to prevent you all from going nuts.

Kryten’s explanation of his heaven is what I get from many Christians. The existence of their heaven is obvious and indisputable, and the alternative is empty and inconceivable. They’ve read about it, after all, and they’ve heard about it all their lives. No heaven? Who could imagine such a thing?

Christians can easily see through someone else’s nutty idea of an afterlife. (“Hindu reincarnation? Where’s the evidence of that?!”) What they have a harder time with is holding a mirror to their own beliefs. If they did, perhaps they’d find no more evidence for their concept of heaven than for Kryten’s.

Religion makes you happy?
Okay, so does a puppy.
There’s no need to abandon reason for happiness.

— Anonymous

(This is an update of a post that originally appeared 4/11/12.)

Photo credit: Wikimedia

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  • Tony D’Arcy

    Then there is the heaven of lost pens, paper clips, single socks , keys and indeed the pencils which help adorn Douglas Adams’ grave in Highgate Cemetery. Now just where is Marvin’s grave ?

    Hmm, an empty tomb ? Chance to insert a deity perhaps ?

  • Michael Neville

    None of the afterlifes described by certain religions are appealing to me. The Christian afterlife is either eternal torture or hanging around a megalomaniac’s throne singing hymns of praise, one of which would be horrible and the other completely boring. The Muslim afterlife is the wet dream of a 15 year old male virgin. The Norse afterlife is either a place where not much happens or is a combination steak house and brawl. The Greek afterlife had Tartarus, a place of punishment; the Asphodel Meadows, where people who hadn’t committed any great sins or done any great achievements receive neither punishment nor pleasure; and the Elysian Fields or Champs-Élysées, where once a year the blessed can watch the last stage of a bicycle race. To make it to the Elysian fields one has to be noticed by the gods, so it’s a place for heroes, the wise and ass-kissers. There are several Jewish concepts of the afterlife ranging from essentially the Asphodel Meadows except for everyone to a place where there’s constant debate over the minutiae of the Talmud. None of these strike me as appealing. I think I’d prefer to go back to the nothingness I had before I was born.

    I do not fear death. I had been dead for billions and billions of years before I was born, and had not suffered the slightest inconvenience. –Mark Twain

    • Sastra

      Apparently you’re not familiar with Pop Christianity-Lite Heaven, where you get to live in your dream house and climb mountains and play with your dead pets and and and … anything good you can imagine, only better. You never get bored. That’s in there. So no problem-o.

      Years ago, I was in a library book discussion for the novel The LovelyBones, in which a murdered protagonist occasionally describes Heaven. It was pretty concrete, and pretty maudlin. Everyone else was religious and said they believed in Heaven, so I asked — do you think it will be like this? Answer: ummm … maybe. I got the distinct impression that the answers would have been much more enthusiastic if they hadn’t known I was a skeptic.

      • Then there’s The Shack. I saw the movie, and the point seemed to be: God’s got a plan, so don’t worry that your 8yo daughter is murder-raped.

        • Yeah, would a parent who actually lost their daughter that way be comforted with such pat answers? I’m sure a lot would not be. The question “Why does your plan include this” springs instantly to mind, for one.

        • “… when you’re omniscient and omnipotent and could get things done without my daughter getting murder-raped.”

        • Yep.

        • Otto

          A very good friend of mine wants me to see the Shack, he is not really a Christian but he said it is not really a Christian movie, or even a religious movie, I have a hard time believing that though.

        • Pofarmer

          Your friend doesn’t sound particularly perceptive. He may not know enough about Christianity to recognize it, though.

        • Otto

          He is very intelligent so I think it is B.

        • Giauz Ragnarock

          As someone who did see it, I can say with great confidence that your friend clearly smoked some of hippy Jesus’ garden.

        • Otto

          That is a distinct possibility… he has been known to smoke from gardens

        • Pofarmer

          Mysterious ways. It’s all for the best.

          Sometimes, it’s almost as if there isn’t a plan at all………

        • Giauz Ragnarock

          The scene where the blue furry sits on the cave judgement seat drove me fucking bonkers. I enjoyed the experience of going out to dinner and a movie with my Mom. The movie can go smoke whatever hippy Jesus has growing in his garden. ‘The Shack’ won’t be missed.

      • Kevin K

        Few years back, I had a fundie friend — a rather large man — say with all seriousness that when he died, his favorite horse would come down and ride him up to heaven. I thought, “Not so much of a heaven for the horse, then” but in the interests of comity, didn’t say the words aloud.

        • Sastra

          After we die, we become whatever age and weight we want, and look the way we imagine we do in our imagination. And horses LOVE to be ridden!
          Not-a-Psychic Sylvia Browne reassured her followers that, in psychic trips to Heaven, she didn’t see any mosquitoes or icky bugs.

        • Kevin K

          Except I have a friend who is an entomologist. No bugs in heaven? That would upset him mightily. (He’s also a Christian — liberal non-asshole version — so I doubt he’s pondered that much.)

        • Sastra

          The bugs only come near him, then.
          Really, imagining Heaven seems very much like being a child again, playing Calvinball with all your pretty, happy thoughts. I suspect that’s why the Sophisticated Theologians insist on being impenetrably vague.

        • jamesparson

          I want to bikini model. Can I be a be a bikini model with a pet spider?

        • Sastra


        • Greg G.

          I had a frightening mental image until I imagined Shelob (the spider from Lord of the Rings) in front of you.

        • Giauz Ragnarock

          “his favorite horse would come down and ride him…”


    • Susan

      None of the afterlifes described by certain religions are appealing to me.

      Nor to me.

      But even if I could custom-design my afterlife, and could be shown that it would be possible despite the fact that “I” seem to require a physical brain to exist…

      I could never see it as “good”.

      Because natural selection.

      I couldn’t imagine what “good agent” would let (for instance) baby mice starve to death because their mother had been tortured to death for hours by a cat who was designed to torture mice to death.

      Any perfect afterlife (no matter how we design it) is just perfect for us.

      Screw all the beings capable of physical, emotional and psychological suffering who preceded us by hundreds of millions of years and who surround us by numbers that far exceed ours.

      The evidence speaks against it (Experience requires physical brains.)

      The logic speaks against it.

      And it’s fundamentally immoral.

      It’s like having a Dad who builds a ship and stocks it with life forms. Then, he sets it on fire and puts me on the lifeboat.

      And I’m supposed to think that’s a wonderful thing forever and ever.

      • Michael Neville

        And I’m supposed to think that’s a wonderful thing forever and ever.

        Of course you are. All godbotherers claim their assorted “heavens” are the best of all possible outcomes. Just ask them, they’ll tell you.

        They’ll also assert their “hells” were made by “loving, merciful” gods and the people sent there chose to go there. As you say, it’s fundamentally immoral.

    • Wow–it’s almost like this is all made up.

    • Pretty much. When I was a fundamentalist lass, pagans confused the tar out of me because they were not afraid of the things I was not afraid of (going to Hell, being “left behind” after the Rapture, facing Tribulation, basic death, etc). Now I don’t believe there are any afterlives at all, but I do remember that fear. It crippled me emotionally for a long time.

      • Pofarmer

        I’ve seen that fear. It can be devastating.

      • TheNuszAbides

        they were not afraid of the things I was not afraid of

        … the things you were afraid of, surely. 😉

    • Otto

      Not even a free planet…?

      • Susan

        Not even a free planet?

        I think that’s only for humans with penises.

        • Otto

          Shit…I think you are right, that’s BS.

        • Greg G.

          What if I have only one of those?

        • adam

          It is a disadvantage that most of us work through…..

        • Greg G.

          I have two arms, two legs, two eyes, two ears, lots of fingers and toes, and only one nose which has two holes in it. Snakes have two penises but I don’t think I would give an arm and a leg for a second one, let alone both of each.

        • Giauz Ragnarock

          Greg, I think you need to see other people. I would offer you my satisfying schlong for the price of dinner and a movie. Alas, I am a straight male XD

          EDIT: I have been sick in bed, and this sounded mean to me about a minute later. The thought started with that comic of the boy and girl bragging about their genitalia, so not a good basis from the beginning (I think the comic a bit misogynist). Sorry.

        • Pofarmer

          We’re so lucky.

    • Jim Jones

      > I think I’d prefer to go back to the nothingness I had before I was born.

      Or join up with Xena: Warrior Princess for adventures.

  • Halbe

    The main problem with heaven (besides that it doesn’t exist) is that some will go there and others won’t. How could a supposedly omnibenevolent God create the most beautiful place ever and then deny most people He Himself supposedly created access to it? Why even first expose the humans He supposedly loves soooo much to an often miserable life on earth? That Christians don’t see these glaring inconsistencies in their own teachings is beyond me…

    • eric

      I thought you were going in a different direction with that first sentence. The ‘some will go there and others won’t’, IMO, would lead to many souls in Heaven experiencing mental pain and anguish at the thought of their loved ones being trapped in hell for all eternity. Thus, while Hell exists, Heaven can’t be heavenly for the most empathic and caring of humans.

      The one Christian I talked to about this (admittedly, an internet-posting American evangelical and thus maybe not representative of global mainstream Christian thought on the subject) resolved this problem by saying that in heaven, your imperfections get removed. He considered empathy for people in hell an imperfection. My response: what a frakking horrifying theology. So this place alters your fundamental personality to make you less caring about other humans…and you think this is a good thing?

      • Greg G.

        I have heard it explained that once in heaven, you will agree with God that your loved ones deserve to be tortured forever.

        • Nos482

          Ah, nothing better than a little divine brainwashing…

        • Chuck Johnson

          If that’s the explanation that they accept, they don’t need to wait for heaven.
          They are already in heaven.

        • “The happiness of the elect will consist in part of witnessing the torments of the damned in hell, among whom may be their own children, parents, husbands, wives and friends; … but instead of taking the part of their miserable being, they will say ‘Amen!,’ ‘Hallelujah!,’ ‘Praise the Lord!’ ” — Rev. Nathaniel Emmons (1745-1840)

          Gimme some of that old time religion!

        • Thomas Aquinas said the same thing much earlier in his book Summa Theologica too. “Nice man!” as Dawkins put it. See also Adam Lee’s take about depictions of people in heaven by Christians: Bright Machines.

        • Michael Neville

          Aquinas has been described as “the finest mind ever wasted”.

        • Oh, by whom?

        • Michael Neville

          Google was not my friend because the only source I found for that quote was me from two months ago. Sorry, I don’t know where the description comes from.

        • That’s okay.

        • Otto

          OK…that’s funny.

        • Thanks for the tip. I think I found Aquinas’s response to this question here in question 94:

        • Yes, that was it. They shall rejoice in the sufferings of the damned, he assures us.

        • Greg G.

          Well, I’m not that old so the Christians I have heard were channeling their inner Reverend Emmons.

        • Otto

          My wife can be a bit difficult…

        • Jim Jones

          ISTM that far too many Christians gloat at the thought of their enemies suffering eternal torture. They never imagine themselves suffering.

        • TheNuszAbides

          only the crudest of feedback loops allowed.

      • Chuck Johnson

        “He considered empathy for people in hell an imperfection.”
        This is the kind of bliss that drug addiction will provide right here on Earth.

      • Halbe

        But that’s a problem with hell, not with heaven. A number of religions only have a heaven and no hell (the ones that don’t go to heaven are just dead). E.g, Judaism and Jehovah’s Witnesses. Heaven on it’s own is very problematic, even without a hell

      • Rudy R

        That is the essential problem of the Christian concept of a soul. It must change after Earth bodily death to resolve the issue of heartache knowing loved ones are in Hell. Christians will tell you the soul, part and parcel, is your personality. If empathy is removed from your personality, then it’s not actually you in Heaven.

        • Greg G.

          Some Christians try to say the soul is the seat of free will. They also say that the possibility of evil is necessary for the existence of free will, so there would have to be evil in heaven, yet they insist there is none. So we must assume that there is no free will in heaven so heaven will be spending eternity as a heartless robot. The saved will be R2D2 units with restraining bolts.

        • DingoJack

          Ah, but you’ve got choice – you can spend eternity as a Dalek or a Cyberman!
          See — free will!

    • Maybe the NT is simply too much a product of its time, but you’d think that some simple variations make the Christian afterlife more humane. For example, how about let everyone into heaven, but give them all great wisdom to properly use free will. (Of course, you could ask why we’re given free will but only so-so wisdom so we make a mess of things here on earth, but that’s a tangent.)

      So everyone goes to heaven. No one in heaven does anything bad because they have the wisdom to see how foolish that would be. More to the point, the Hitlers in the bunch now realize what selfish dicks they had been and how they squandered their opportunity to make life good for others. They get torment, but it’s self-imposed.

      • That’s the universalist solution right there.

        • GubbaBumpkin

          My solution would be to have salvation be dependent on eating cake, not on believing in some wild fairy tale.

        • Kevin K

          Cake or death!!

        • Giauz Ragnarock

          The cake is a lie!

        • Greg G.

          Which denomination of cake?

        • TheNuszAbides
      • Halbe

        Or the afterlife of Judaism and Jehovah’s Witnesses: some go to heaven and the rest just cease to exist. No hell, no eternal torture. But, the problem of heaven remains in all variations: why first a short miserable life on earth? Why even create such a mediocre place as earth if you are an omni-all God?

      • eric

        There have been multiple attempts to modify the base theology to make it more palatable. Purgatory for those who don’t quite qualify. Dante’s first circle of hell for the noble heathens. Even C.S. Lewis, though he is feted by Christians as one of them, radically modified Christian theology in The Great Divorce, asserting that that people choose heaven or hell after they die and experiencing both. I.e. in his version of Christianity, it’s an informed, evidence-based choice, and earthly atheists and nonbelievers could go to heaven. Which I guess still counts as a form of Christianity in the sense that he believed in Jesus as the way to salvation, but is very far from the mainstream of either Catholicism, Orthodox, or Protestantism – none of which situate the ‘key salvation factor’ after death.

        I think you are right that the NT is too much a product of the bronze age. Most modern-age people simply don’t think of ethical or appropriate rewards and punishments the way those folks did.

  • ThomasBonsell

    The ancient Jews who split off to become Christians didn’t have a heaven; they had what the Jews had: a belief that at death they would lie in the grave in what they called “sleeping in death” awaiting their messiah to come and prepare an Earthly paradise into which they would be resurrected as humans. Maybe that was the reincarnation some early Christians believed in.

    But Paul wrote a letter to an early congregation saying he had a sacred secret that they would not “sleep” but would be raised up in a twinkling of an eye as spiritual beings to meet their messiah Jesus in the air in his heavenly paradise. That changed the whole belief system of the Jews and became a new belief system for Christians. This is where the final split occurred to form two separate religions. The new belief system was no more valid than was the old. In fact, what Paul was describing is closely related to what we call a “near-death experience” today in which a person believes him/herself to depart the body and hover in the air above their corpse. But many nutty conservative Christians take this to be the Rapture they are anxiously awaiting.

    The Christian eric, below, talked to who thought people in hell were there because of some imperfection uses what Paul wrote to misunderstand what Paul wrote. Paul said at death they would shed the imperfection (human body that was subject to decay and death) and put on perfection (a spiritual body not subject to decay or death).

    Christians get this all wrong, just as they get almost everything all wrong.

    • I don’t think you’re right here. Paul’s promise that Christ’s chosen would meet him in the air (1 Thessalonians 4.13-17) was not so he could then take them to heaven. Rather, they were to meet Christ on his way down (v16) as he came to establish God’s Kingdom on Earth. (I know, it’s just as nuts, but that is what Paul is saying here – and elsewhere). Neither he nor Jesus – or the writers of his scripts – believed anyone would go to heaven. Both looked forward to a resurrection of saints here on Earth, where they would live happily ever after under heaven’s rule. Only after this failed to happen did the notion that believers would go to heaven after they died begin to emerge (see Ehrman: Jesus Interrupted). It is not an idea found in the books of the NT.

      • It’s fascinating that the afterlife, the punchline of the whole Christian story, is so ambiguous in the Bible. And this isn’t some relatively subtle pretrib/posttrib disagreement–as you point out, the very idea of angels on clouds vs. Jesus creating a new heaven and earth for us to play in is unclear.

        • It seems to be because they had multiple competing concepts for this (like other things).

        • Otto

          I kinda like the idea of getting your own planet.

      • Thomas Goodnow

        NT Wright has written quite a bit on this, in the context of the rediscovery of the “Jewishness” of Jesus, something that has been developing since the mid 20th century (and which only some skeptic websites are beginning to appreciate). With him, I find it hard to find any evidence that Christians expected anything other than a resurrection body and a new heavens and a new earth (i.e. a new, physical creation); this was not created by Paul or by any other New Testament writer, but was the fulfillment of OT hopes. Indeed, from shortly after the NT era, one of the biggest Jewish complaints against the resurrection of Jesus was that if it had happened, then everyone would’ve been resurrected (which obviously didn’t happen). Job 19:25-26 is usually brought up, but the intertestamental literature is much more explicit and insistent that what the world can expect is resurrection, not merely ascent to some sort of Elysian field. This was the context for the NT, and explains some oddities, such as why Paul was doing so well in Athens before he brought it up (Ac 17:32). Finally, a spiritualized resurrection can only really work if you simply ignore the fact that Jesus’ resurrection was insistently physical and he was seen as the forerunner of the Christians’ resurrections.

    • Michael Neville

      Different groups of Jews, both then and now, have different concepts of what happens after death.

      Jewish Eschatology [link]

  • I’ve actually heard someone state seventy years was simply not enough, so there must be an afterlife. Now don’t get me wrong, I sympathize, because the person who said this had lost their father at this age (from what I’ve gathered). However, it is an appeal to consequences even so. The universe does not give people everything they want.

    • Tyler Newkirk

      If there is no immortality, then life is meaningless. Because it will be as if you never existed in the first place when all trace of you disappears. What does this mean morally? You have no ultimate consequences, many go without receiving Justice.

      • epeeist

        If there is no immortality, then life is meaningless.

        My life, I hope, added meaning to the life of my parents and grandparents. Certainly my children’s lives have added meaning to mine and I hope mine has added meaning to theirs. I also hope my life has added meaning to those I have taught to fence and to sail, again a number of my pupils have added meaning to my life over the years.

        Why are you so greedy and selfish as to want more?

        You have no ultimate consequences

        And this is utter bollocks, the lives of many individuals have had consequences for both the societies and the world they have lived in.

        Really, can’t you live without the dummy of “eternal life”?

      • MR

        Hi, Tyler, are you saying that if you couldn’t live forever life would be meaningless to you?

      • Greg G.

        If there is no immortality, then life is meaningless.

        That is silly. It is like saying that we cannot enjoy anything unless it lasts forever. Why celebrate with a party if it will end?

        I must infer that your post is meaningless because it has only 43 words. A Disqus post becomes meaningless when you hit the Post button because it doesn’t go on forever.

      • adam

        “Because it will be as if you never existed in the first place when all trace of you disappears.”

        How can that happen?

        All the people you touch and touch you, then touch others through eternity.

        Every oxygen molecule you consume and every carbon dioxide molecule you expel affects everything else in the universe.

        • Greg G.

          A high school teacher I had used to say, “Your next breath may have been Caesar’s last.”

          I did some rough calculations several years ago and it seems that every glass of water you drink has some H2O molecules that were once dinosaur piss. If I had known I would remember that this long, I would have double-checked my math!

        • epeeist

          I did some rough calculations several years ago and it seems that every glass of water you drink has some H2O molecules that were once dinosaur piss

          The ultimate argument against homoeopathy.

      • Michael Neville

        Just because you have a fear of death doesn’t mean that I find my life meaningless. Since this is the only life I’ll have, I make the best I can of it. I find meaning in my family, my friends, my interests and my curiosity to know as much about the universe as I can. I wouldn’t want to be immortal. After a few thousand years I’d likely to become quite bored. After a few million years I’d almost certainly wish that I would cease to be. Immorality has no allure for me, quite the contrary.

        As for justice, I’m reminded of the famous quip, “There is no justice, there is just us.”

        “He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.” Matt 5:45 (NIV)

      • Reality makes you sad, so you invent imortality to make you feel better? Is this what you’re saying?

      • Raging Bee

        Life isn’t meaningless when you still have it.

      • How does that make life meaningless? Every time I hear this, it’s never made clear, just asserted. I don’t see what reasoning this has. To me it’s like claiming that because a play or something ends and will eventually be forgotten, it had no meaning. I don’t see why this is. As for morality, you assume immortality=ultimate consequences, though logically they are distinct. You might live forever, yet also lack ultimate consequences. What does that mean anyway? Does it matter? We want justice, yes. Does that mean it will be provided? Not necessarily. We’ll have to live with it. However, when you think of it, it’s because life, justice or other things are rare and fragile that we value them. If they really were certain and guaranteed, we could take them for granted.

  • RichardSRussell

    “I know where I’m going to go when I die. I’m going to go where my dear old Jewish mother always wanted me to go — to medical school.”

    —Herb Silverman, response to question when running as atheist candidate for governor of South Carolina, 1997

    “Most people can’t stand to sit in church for an hour on Sundays. How are they supposed to live somewhere very similar for eternity?”

    —Mark Twain (1835-1910), nom de plume of Samuel L. Clemens, American writer and humorist

    • Michael Neville

      “Heaven for climate, Hell for company.” –Mark Twain

    • “People long for immortality who don’t know what to do with themselves on a rainy Sunday afternoon.”

      — Anon.

    • Jim Jones

      ‘If I owned Texas and Hell, I would rent out Texas and live in Hell’ – General Philip Henry Sheridan (attributed)

      • Michael Neville

        Hurricane Harvey showed the wisdom in Sheridan’s comment.

  • Andrea Fitzgerald

    Again, as always, right on the money! Thanks, Bob.

  • GubbaBumpkin

    A radiation leak has killed everyone except Dave Lister, a low-level
    technician who had been safe in suspended animation. He is released
    three million years after the accident when the radiation danger has

    My professional experience tells me this is unrealistic. Frozen tissue is still susceptible to radiation damage, which will manifest when the tissue is thawed.

    • eric

      Do not taunt happy fun ball.

      Do not scientifically analyze Red Dwarf. Enjoy it for the ridiculous British humor that it is. Benny hill in space…with better actors and dialogue 🙂 If you are unfamiliar, I recommend Series VII as one of the best (but that is only my personal opinion…)

    • Chuck Johnson

      I could come up with some technology-based solutions for this, but these are not needed for a laff-oriented audience.

    • He was in stasis. Time couldn’t enter the room he was locked in.

      • Greg G.

        He was encased in a sarcophagus lined with lead, to keep out the radiation, and silver, to keep out vampires.

      • al kimeea

        yep, a Stasis Field a la Ringworld of some kind, where anything inside is safe from most harmful physics

    • TheNuszAbides

      breaking news: BBC Comedy Not Hard Sci-Fi.

  • Tyler Newkirk

    I. Immortality in heaven is the continuous existence of the self, from birth to eternity. We are the sum of our family, education, society, introspection and contemplation. And more often than not, ignorance. In reincarnation and rebirth, your self is wiped clean. Nothing meaningful really passes on. This is essentially no different to no afterlife, because your self, who you have grown to be, doesn’t exist, you’re now someone else.

    II. Should your self merge with Brahma, or should you suddenly become aware of all your past lives, memories of what you experienced and of who you were as a person, it would be as though mixing a bunch of different colors together to get a new color. You no longer really exist, because now you are many. In Buddhism, you have a paradox, because it teaches no self. The goal is to attain nirvana, which is ultimately the full realization that there is no self, and freedom from birth and death. You will read that the early Buddhists were themselves confused on this matter. What Buddha tells you is not you is literally everything that makes you you. It’s existential suicide, because in doing this, of course you don’t suffer, because you do not exist.

    • Greg G.

      You started to lose me when you mentioned “religious truth” but then you said that the most reliable sources are the ones that have “the serpent said” and “the donkey said”.

    • Sophotroph

      Prophethood is 100% unreliable, as “revealed knowledge” is known universally to everyone but the revealee as “allegedly revealed knowledge”.

      If some supreme being reveals knowledge to you, you’re the only one with any reason to consider that knowledge true. If you tell somebody else about it, they don’t have “revealed knowledge”.

      They have “this thing this one guy said is true”. Which, if you’ll note, is something virtually every religion has.

      And we’re not even getting into how a “prophet” would have any reason to believe the “revealed” information to be true, or even to have come from the alleged source.

    • adam

      “I. Immortality in heaven is the continuous existence of the self, from birth to eternity”


    • Michael Neville

      How do you know that a prophet is reliably prophesying? Many people claim to be prophets of one flavor or another and their prophesies often contradict other prophets’ prophesies? In short, how can we tell prophesy from bullshit?

      • Greg G.

        True prophecy is so mysteriously vague that some event will eventually occur that seems to fulfill the prophecy. The more events can be construed to fulfill the prophecy, the more true it is.

        I’ll wager Tyler is taking fiction written to appear to fulfill the prophecies as evidence that the prophecies aren’t bullshit.

    • adam

      ” There are three sources for religious truth. Philosophy, prophethood
      and sages. The first is mere speculation. The second is the most
      reliable, because it is truth directly revealed.

      Good to know:

    • Kevin K

      Interesting. So, you’re saying that we should all be Muslims and follow the prophet Mohammed? Or Mormons, and follow the prophet Joseph Smith?

      Kind of a big difference there…

      Surely, you’re not suggesting we should followed the failed prophet Jesus, who said the apocalypse would come within the lifetimes of those listening to him? After all, that’s a demonstrably failed prophecy.

  • Steven Smith

    Silicon Heaven sounds a lot like the mythical transhuman afterlife the Tech worshiping crowd talks about. You know, the one where your memories are uploaded into a computer and it is somehow you?

  • rubaxter

    Kryten 2X4B-523P? Really, 2X4B?! At least it’s not 2Q4B. Poor sucker.

  • It is striking how the reflexes for detecting bullshit work so well when they’re directed at somebody else.