10 Burning Questions I Have About Heaven

10 Burning Questions I Have About Heaven March 26, 2019

Of all the ideas that come from religion, Heaven has got to be the least logical to me. It makes less sense than a “secret to success” seminar hosted by Johnny Manziel. If Swiss cheese had as many holes as the story of Heaven, it’d be more like the essence of cheese or the spectre of a cheese that once was. Heaven, to me, leaves me with a ton of burning questions. Ten of the most perplexing are:

1. Are Good Place residents aware of the Bad Place?

It’s Heaven, right, so you’re supposed to be more blissed out than Richard Simmons at a short-shorts convention, correct? We’re talking levels of bliss that’d make the best orgasm you ever had feel more like the last season of the Office. You know, it was enjoyable, but you could take it or leave it. Heaven is bliss beyond anything we’ve ever felt or imagined. It’s bliss beyond bliss, and totally worth denying yourself earthly pleasures for your entire life to achieve.

So, do we just lose all knowledge of Hell while we’re there? Because I can tell you one thing about me that I know for sure: this anti-death-penalty activist and human rights advocate ain’t enjoying bupkus with the knowledge that people are being tortured for eternity.

How could you cope with that? I feel like anyone who could cope with that isn’t really all that good of a person and doesn’t deserve to really be in Heaven in the first place. So, the only real option here is that we go through some sort of Men-In-Black style memory wipe upon death, where all knowledge of Hell and those who’ve gone to Hell is ripped from our minds.

This then begs the question, are we really ourselves? My life revolves around the people I love here on Earth. If they all head to the Bad Place, and I head to the Good Place and have my memories of them wiped from my mind in order to truly experience eternal bliss, am I really me? Or am I some lobotomized shell of what once was GM? It’s not really me being sent to Heaven. It’s an empty old soul with my name on it.

So, why do I want that? What’s the selling point here? Is it merely that I’ve avoided eternal torture? Because I don’t see how bliss is possible without completely removing who I am at my core from the equation.

2. Will my dog be in Heaven with me?

Of all of the forty-two years I’ve been alive, I’ve lived maybe a year, total, without a dog. Life without a dog is what I imagine Hell to be. I don’t even know how to go about lowering my stress levels without being able to run my fingers through the soft fur of a creature who can literally hug you with their eyes. How do you wake up in the morning and get going without those little paws padding by your side? How do you arrive home and feel complete without being greeted by a wagging bum so forceful it could tip a cow? I can only conclude that our pups are there in Heaven with us, right? I mean to me, a Heaven without my Lucy goose is really Hell.

Is there really any possibility of bliss without this furry face at the foot of my bed every morning?

If we accept that Heaven can only really be Heaven if there are dogs, we then have to ask, are all dogs there or just the ones that were loved by a human? If some dogs don’t get a ticket to Heaven because no human ever loved them, where do they go? Hell? Is that fair and can we be happy in Heaven knowing this? On the flip side, if all dogs actually do go to Heaven, regardless of having a human or not, which seems more fitting for someplace referred to as the “Good place”, well, that’s a lot of animals running around. I mean think about it… every dog that ever lived, ever!

That would also then mean all cats ever go to Heaven, right? Also, perhaps hamsters and snakes and chinchillas and mice, rats, goats, pigs, tarantulas and birds. So, does that mean that all animals go to Heaven? Or is it just limited to the species we’ve had as pets? How many people must have loved one as a pet for the entire species to be welcome in Heaven? I ask because I once knew someone who had giant Madagascar hissing cockroaches as pets and was quite attached to them emotionally. I imagine if we had to let in all the hissing cockroaches that ever lived, life in Heaven might be… well, chaotic.

What about the people who are afraid of dogs? Is fear just not a thing in Heaven, then? ‘Cause as it stands right now, I am only slightly more afraid of losing a loved one than I am of tarantulas and if Heaven is full of them because some donkey down here on earth decided they’d make great pets, then count me the bleep out. I’d rather burn with Hunter S. and Billy Burroughs in the underworld.

3. If there are cats in Heaven, do they still knock things over?

So, we just have to accept that Heaven is going to be filled to the brim with animals of all shapes and sizes. Does that mean my cat still knocks my beer over? I mean, I’m going to go ahead and imagine that in Heaven there is free-flowing beer on every corner because it wouldn’t really be Heaven if we couldn’t have a cold one when we felt like it, right? So, we have beer ponds and beer fountains and ornate, golden steins all over the place but we also have every cat that ever lived. Do we ever even get to drink the beer? Or do we just have to make sure we never set it down?

4. Is there free will in Heaven?

Are we free to make our own choices in Heaven? Because I’ve been told countless times by believers that the reason for suffering down here on the blue planet, despite an omnipotent, benevolent god, is free will. He allows us to make our own choices, and sometimes we make poor choices and it leads to our own suffering. So, if there is free will in Heaven, is there then also suffering? And if there isn’t free will in Heaven, then is it really the “Good Place”? I don’t know about you, but for me, I feel like bliss wouldn’t come from being an automaton.

5. Can we play Zelda games in Heaven?

Listen, right now I’ve got on a t-shirt with the tri-force symbol, a hoodie over that with the Legend of Zelda logo and I’m drinking lemon water out of a metallic green Legend of Zelda tumbler. It’s been less than 10 hours since the last time I played Breath of The Wild, and hun, if there ain’t no Zelda beyond the pearly gates, I am not going in.

If there is, however, does that mean that all games are available in Heaven? Like Grand Theft Auto and Resident Evil? Are we conceding that video games are not evil because evil clearly would never exist in Heaven? Or does Heaven limit its title selection to those that passed the tough scrutiny of the holy ghost?

6. How can we know what’s good in Heaven if there is nothing to compare it to?

If Heaven is all good, all the time, how do we know with nothing to compare it to? Wouldn’t existence get boring if there were no hurdles to overcome? No problems to solve? Does good without bad just feel mediocre? I feel like it might. Some of us live to help people, others live to help animals, others still live to help the environment we live in. Would these people be bored in a place where no help is ever needed, with anything?

7. Can we fornicate in Heaven?

Is Heaven the place where god finally lets us lay pipe without judgment? Is it just a wick-dipping free-for-all with muffin stuffing going on behind most closed doors? If so, does rejection exist? I mean, it’s Heaven, right, so it’s all happy, all the time, so I imagine rejection isn’t a thing. I’m left to wonder then, does that mean we’re expected to play hide the cannoli with anyone who asks? Our options are either a) sex is not a thing in Heaven b) rejection exists or c) everyone is obliged to do the horizontal hula with anyone who feels the desire.

Any one of those options is kind of a bliss-destroyer, don’t you think? So, perhaps there’s a fourth option, d) Heaven is not all good all the time. Of course, my favourite option and the one that coincides best with what we actually know is e) Heaven is not real.

8. Is Heaven where masturbation is suddenly okay in the eyes of the lord?

We all know that the Abrahamic god is enraged by the old taco tickle. He does not like it when we do our own handiwork if you get what I’m saying. He watches from his celestial throne, peering down at us lowly humans going about our mundane day-to-day business in hopes of catching one of us in the midst of basting the ol’ ham. And if he does? That’s one strike against us, loosening that grip on our ticket to Heaven. So, if we refrain from honking our own horns until we die we’re that much closer to getting admitted to the Good Place. Once we’re beyond the pearly gates, are we free to then entertain Rosie Palm and her five sisters to our heart’s content? I mean, it’s not baby batter anymore, right? I can’t see how or why there would be procreation in Heaven, so can we finally put our thumb in the proverbial porridge without limit? Or is there still some arbitrarily nonsensical reason why we musn’t beat the bishop in Heaven, too? Would that truly be… Heaven?

9. What if we see someone in Heaven who we didn’t like in life?

There’s this lady who lived down the street from us when we lived closer to Vancity. She used to peer out her window and complain to anyone who would listen about our kids. Any noise that was out of the ordinary was reported to police and I recall having numerous visits from them, even once when three of us were playing Trivial Pursuit quietly in my living room, totally stone-cold sober with no music playing. She was the neighbourhood busybody; was always up in everyone else’s business. She was also very snooty about her faith in Jesus and went to church every Sunday like clockwork. I gotta say, if she’s in Heaven, it’s not going to really be all that Heaven-like for me. So I guess that leads us to the question, what happens when people who don’t like each other both go to Heaven? Do you just keep them separate to keep the bliss flowing without interruption? What if it’s a family member or someone with whom you share a mutual friend? Doesn’t it get complicated to keep them apart? I imagine that, like in life, you can’t avoid everyone you don’t like forever. Eventually, you’re going to come across their bitter mug and if that happens in Heaven, wouldn’t that get in the way of eternal happiness?

10. Is there bacon in Heaven and if so, how does Heaven really feel all that great to a vegan?

I eat meat but I totally get the vegan argument. I support my family members who are vegan and look forward to learning to cook and taste new things that they introduce me to. There are people in this world who I love dearly who are vegans and there are people in this world who I love dearly who adore bacon.

Is there bacon in Heaven for the bacon-lovers who would deny that bliss can exist without the smokey cured snack? Would that not make it anything but Heaven for the vegans? Or is there no meat at all in Heaven, rendering the Good Place the sort-of mediocre place to meat-lovers? Or is there synthetic meat that doesn’t require an animal to sacrifice his or her life for us to consume? I guess what this question comes down to is, how do we please people with opposing viewpoints at the same time? How can there exist complete bliss for both parties when those viewpoints play a significant part in how they believe one ought to behave or conduct oneself?

The longer you ponder these questions, amusing as some of them may be, the more you realize that the concept of Heaven cannot exist. At least, not as a place that is all good, all the time, for everyone. I’d like to know what some of your problems are with the concept of Heaven. Let me know in the comments below!

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TRENDING AT PATHEOS Nonreligious
What Are Your Thoughts?leave a comment
  • Bliss is just … bliss. It’s all there is. Nirvana. There is no more thinking, so you need not concern yourself with pets or with food or with sex or with who are your friends and who are not. Just an eternal glow of bliss without thought. Are you the same you as during your temporal life? Well, no. But you are not the same you at 40 that you were at 20.

    So, if we take that as heaven, the real question, question number eleven, perhaps, becomes, Really? What the hell’s the point?

  • My brother if a fundamentalist Christian zealot who believes that yoga opens up portals to allow demons into the world. He believes a lot of weird stuff but loves him some Jesus and thi is that LBGTQ people, communists, atheists. and pro-choice people all serve Lucifer aka Satan. Anyway…..he posted a video from a pastor who says that yes, indeed, all dogs do go to heaven, and he had cherry-picked Bible verses of PROOF YES PROOF that all dogs go to heaven. So there we are.

    I have yet to hear of a place that would be perfect for eternity. Somehow I would get bored or frustrated or something.

  • Eternal existence is hell.

  • strewth

    You forgot horses 🙂 If dogs are like children who never grow up and cats are like roommates who never clean up after themselves then horses are like best friends: always there to listen and they’ll even carry you on their back when you need to run away from life for awhile.

  • There are at least four horses in Hell, right? And maybe a dog guarding its gate?

  • strewth

    Well that settles it. Hell sounds like a lot more fun. I’m reminded of a scene from the British comedy Blackadder where Rowan Atkinson as the Archbishop of Canterbury tries to convince a dying man to leave everything to the crown: “Heaven is for people who like the sort of things that go on in heaven, like singing, talking to god, watering pot plants. Whereas hell, on the other hand, is for people who like the other sorts of things: adultery, pillage, torture, those areas”

  • Lisa Cybergirl

    I’m not aware of the Bible referring to masturbation aside from the story of Onan, which arguably condemns the act because Onan was commanded to conceive a child with his brother’s widow. I know a lot of religious leaders treat it as a terrible sin, but I don’t see much basis for it.

  • There are things in the Bible that are barely addressed and not elevated to high sins (like homosexuality) which many modern Christians see as terrible, and things in the Bible that are treated as high sins that many Christians gloss over as minor.

    People read what they want to read. They project their own beliefs and biases onto the Bible. And fortunately for them, the Bible is such a sloppy mess of stories that you can make it say pretty much anything you want.

  • ThaneOfDrones

    Because I’ve been told countless times by believers that the reason for
    suffering down here on the blue planet, despite an omnipotent,
    benevolent god, is free will.

    ‘Free will’ is so important to Christian theology that the term appears in Teh Bible (KJV) precisely zero times; and YHWH, the tribal god of the Jews who rules in the Bible, has no respect for free will, such as when He ‘hardens the heart’ of Pharaoh (Exodus, multiple verses) so that He can show off by killing more people and animals.

  • ThaneOfDrones

    Nirvana is not bliss. Nirvana is complete detachment from the Dharma cycle. Bliss is a state of happiness.

  • HematitePersuasion

    Heaven is just as incoherent a concept as God or Christianity. Such terms are tossed around with abandon, and nobody ever notices all the contradictions inherent in the different (and sometimes the same) interpretations.

  • Brian Davis

    Dog heaven doubles as cat hell.

  • Christian Hell is just the reheated leftovers of the Greco-Roman Underworld and Jewish Sheol. Lucifer is just Hades put in a blender with Loki and Ha-Satan. Only concept that makes sense to me is reincarnation. Because every atom in your body used to be part of something and someone else, some magic sky kingdom you can enter if you kiss the ass of some sacrificial super savior makes no sense.

  • Milo C

    Numbers 4 and 6 are the questions I find interesting. Even if we all end up ghosts, are we still ourselves? How could Lucifer rebel if he didn’t have free will? Or the other angels that disobeyed indirectly by being tempted by beautiful earth women and having giant nephelem (sp) offspring? Nothing in the Bible says they didn’t go right back up to Heaven after their rebellious flings. So heavenly spirits are still tempted into physical sex. That means that Heaven alone is not truly all-satisfying pleasure, because desire remains a thing. What’s so great about heaven, then? No STDs? Give medical researchers a few more years.

  • Carol Lynn

    For JRR Tolkien, a devout Catholic, his take on a heaven in Lord of the Rings was a place where things were eternally new. Every sunrise was the perfect sunrise and you never got bored of sunrises because every time, no matter how many you remembered, they had that enchanting sense of perfection and newness. I don’t believe in that actually existing either, but it makes more sense than the standard Christian conception of heaven.

  • Derek Mathias

    I actually went through the Bible to see what it actually says about heaven…and really, it’s not pretty. Here’s a video I made about that evidence:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0RT1DTpF_7w

  • Wile F. Coyote

    Everybody I hear fantasizing about their heaven-notion will be joining deceased relatives/friends in the bestest family reunion/party ever.

    And each person imagines theirself as a heaven occupant permanently their own most favorite age, & getting to see grampa/gramma just like they used to be that one fabulous Christmas back when they were about five and still believed in Santa.

    But they never stop to consider that grampa/gramma would maybe choose to be a lot different version of themselves in their own heaven fantasies. As would every other resident of the joint they plan on palling around with.

    And that grampa/gramma have an enire pallet of family/friends on their own list of people to hang with, many dead before the grandkid was born, each of whom is the age they choose to be. Maybe an age even younger than the 30-70 year old daydreaming in church this Sunday pegs their own nirvana age as.

    All True Believer™ afterlife adherents ought to have figured out by now, though, that in heaven every soul which makes the cut is an ageless wraith engaged in worshipful songs of praise of THE LORD 24/7/eternity, end of story.

    Except for the eternity part, that is.

  • Arthur F. Meincke

    Before you were born you did not exist. In death you will be nonexistent, Not going anywhere or any place.

  • Cozmo the Magician

    The big book of bullshit has lots of answers to your questions. Sometimes several that disagree.

    Here is an interesting question… My 1st wife was a so/so Catholic. But she cheated on me, does that mean she will be in heaven on hell? I would need to think carefully before deciding on my eternal destination. Oh wait, I can always reincarnate. Think I will come back as a vibrator next time, that way I will always have fun (:

  • Cozmo the Magician

    Nope. Before I was born YOU did not exist. And once I am gone you will no longer exist. I think therefore you is,

  • bill

    I like to ask religious zealots/preachers a simple question – “Are there toilets in heaven?” The reactions and spluttering responses are very entertaining!

  • skywires

    something I’ve always wondered, after too many years in Catholic school: what if one person’s heaven is another person’s hell?
    our mom would consider heaven to be an eternity with her hubby and kids, while for the rest of us (including dad), that would most certainly be hell…now, if we didn’t deserve to end up in hell, who wins this one?
    of course, believing in neither heaven nor hell takes some of the pressure off, but still… … …

  • Mythblaster

    We’re all going where a candle’s flame goes when the wax is all burned and the wick blinks out…

    It ain’t as purty an image as the Golden Gates, but it’s reality. The flame gets smaller and smaller, then… poof. It is no more.

  • Chamber

    Cerebus, the 3 headed Hell hound. Awoooo.
    My question is this. If you have multiple personalities but only 1 is an atheist & the rest are xian does the entire soul go to Hell, would an exception be made, would they be split into separate entities in order to save the “godly few & damn the none one? Hmmmm…..

  • towercam

    It’s been pointed out that there can be no ‘heaven’ if heaven is a place of pure joy.
    Those going would know of those not going, and there would be SORROW.
    BOOM….no heaven.

  • Flint8ball

    Very thought provoking. I would like answers to all of those!

  • Dhammarato

    when well understood, heaven is more like nibbana, a cool relaxed mental state, free from want (even the want for food and sex just now), free from hate, free from want, worry, doubts, and all fears. A mental heaven is contented, satisfied, safe, secure, successful, wealthy, enjoyed in this present moment. But that mental state is not you, not your mental state, and you are correct that a lobotomy is not to answer. There is one, it takes training, skill development. One must develop the skill of joy and satisfaction, comfort and ease. This mental development is sometimes wrongly called meditation. and every one who practices well, changes and are not the same as in the past, full of desires for food, sex and dogs. Let satisfaction set in and you too can find heaven; a Basilica theos, the kingdom of god within taught by JC in Luke 17.

  • Dhammarato

    While free will is suspicious expensive will is doable. Mostly folks live habit driven lives based on instincts and gut feelings they do not understand. In this case, just a Sam Harris insist, there is no free will. However, someone can develop the mind to come out of those silly old bad habits that define who we are and can cause us pain. Mental training to watch the breath, watch those feelings, bring them under conscious control, be free to do as you see (wisdom eye) fit. but that mental training is hard work for some, maybe takes years sitting facing a wall. In any case that free will is not actually free, it was an expensive training. But well worth the expense. Free at last free at last! There is no god almighty, free at last.

  • Dhammarato

    Sounds like you got that from some western Buddhist book, and not from the suttas or the Pali. the clue is your word nirvana,and not nibbana. Your idea of nirvana smacks of magical thinking, and not practical at all. You make a distinction without a difference. a straw man of sorts.

  • Dhammarato

    Every one who lives, dies. those of us alive now will die. we too will die, of this there is no doubt. Yet many cling to life and want to live, fearing death. This is massive crowd of fools who will then cling to stories of not dying, going to heaven of hell or up down sideways so long as the “I” survives. The story of heaven is such a delicious story to those who fear death. But we know it is coming and real and no Christian stories well do. Death is coming for me and for you. Better to get ready for it so we can greet it happily, no possibility to fight. be ready to go, because you will go. and let us hope the republicans go first. 😀

  • Dhammarato

    Eternal bad feelings is hell. Ability to control ones mind moment by moment into a long future, not o much. no need for comparisons of calendars.

  • Dhammarato

    Or you could spend some of that time to investigate, understand and overcome mental states like bored or frustrated or something. Heaven is what you make of it and most make heaven into a hell. Just read some of the above post. BTW there are two dogs laying here on the porch underfoot, and they are both in heaven. Its a dogs heaven and all dogs go to dogs heaven (humans not so much they lost the touch of relaxation). But me not so much, I’m onstage as a stand-up comic here online just now. But going back to heaven in a few minutes. Have a heavenly chuckle on me, even a little nibbana.

  • Dhammarato

    That’s the right question, and the answer is there is no point! There is no meaning, it is all empty, empty of meaning. If the human wants meaning in something, he has to manufacture (work up a feeling about) that meaning and then apply it. This allows something to take on multiple contradictory meanings. But when we drill down through the layers of human imposed meanings, all is empty. nothing substantial, all will rot and die and fall away. Oh boundless joy to find at last there is no happiness in this old world of meanings.

  • No, eternal existence is hell. Eternity is not the same as a “long future”.

  • Why should there be no happiness?

  • Mythblaster

    It bears saying again, only louder… “let us hope the republicans go first.” With these two at the head of the line.

    https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/fa82537bd46e8d024047821ef9b3493f1f5f4b202faf9bf90168c9b19f23ab95.jpg

  • Silverwolf13

    The best takedown of heaven I’ve seen is Mark Twain’s Letters from the Earth.

    Twain posits that the three things humans most enjoy are sex, variety of experience, and exercising their minds. The human-created heaven has none of these. He also posits the three things humans most dislike: Church, monotony, and singing in groups. Heaven has all of these. Everyone spends 24 hours per day, every day, for eternity singing “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God Sabbaoth,” over and over and over again ad infinitum. Note that over 90% of the people would never in their lives have had a single musical lesson of any kind, much less instruction in harp playing or singing. The result would be unimaginable cacophony, fully realizing anyone’s worst nightmare of hell.

  • Phil

    Still haven’t had an answer to what happens to all the babies that get killed. Do they get a free pass to heaven without going through all that testing of free will etc? What makes them special to get away with it? Do they then spend eternity going “ga… ga…. ga…”? Or do they automatically go to hell which would be a bit harsh.

  • Sue Smith

    I know several serious true-belivers (acquainces) who purport that their greatest fear is not going to heaven. I’m not totally sure of their honesty or if they think they have to say this. I can’t wrap my head around the thought that one would spend the short time on earth living in fear of what might or not happen. One actually said “better safe than sorry.”

  • TheNuszAbides

    “Leave your lands to the Crown, and when you’re dead, you’ll have the time of your life!”

  • HairyEyedWordBombThrower

    Agreed. Twain was brilliantly sardonic on this.

  • TheNuszAbides

    Even the RCC’s answers about that have changed. See “limbo”.

  • Brianna LaPoint

    Well, im a non christian but not an atheist. its always fun discussing these things with christians, since my afterlife has a bit more flavor and diversity. Heaven? Hell? do good cause it is good, and dont focus on heaven, because only self serving twits do that.

  • Brianna LaPoint

    Youre a douche. I can tell. my douchemeter went off.

  • Brianna LaPoint

    id love to think so. theres a lot of people id love to take a dump on.

  • Phil

    To me it is the same as being drugged up but without all that law enforcement hassle.

  • Dhammarato

    “No, eternal existence is hell.” Then heaven is hell. we’ve know that for long time.

  • Agreed. The eternal aspect of Heaven makes it a nightmare.

  • Dhammarato

    To you, it is drugged because you never did it, stop taking the drugs of the church and go within as JC told you to do. It will take you a long time because you are too drugged up with the hate taught you by your churches. Religion is the drug of the masses. So you are already drugged, so drugged up you think a clear mind is just more drugs.

  • Dhammarato

    you have a douchemeter built in? were you born with a douchemeter or did you have it surgically installed? where is it? in the pelvic area? ever have false positives? Do you feel all clean after a douche? ever have a mental douche, they are the cats pajamas. let me know if you need a bigger bag. That way you can have two douches together, like a couple.

  • DingoJack

    ‘Hell isn’t a place – it’s other people!’

  • DingoJack

    I hear that It’s [always] Christmas in Heaven:
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tTUGDhPvJw0

  • Phil

    Wow! I honestly have no idea what you are trying to say. I see a lot of words but no sense.

  • Dhammarato

    Sorry for the veiled reference to Carl Marks, assumed you had a high school education, but thanks for admitting you ignorance, Also the reference to Luke 17 “go within” was missed? Sometimes it is hard to communicate with Christians due to their overall lack of education. We can call that part of the drugged up nature of Christians. A mind full of crap is better than a brain on opioids? Both are drugged up. both need a clean up.

  • Phil Baldwin

    You assume a lot without evidence. First mistake, assuming I am an xian. Then based on this assumption you throw insults. Nice.

  • I think that’d be too much Christmas for me.

  • Dhammarato

    The operative word is “drugged”. Because you were so very wrong about this, so wrong that only a christian wold be so stupid, that connection was made. I offer apologies for using real evidence to go one step too far. And I must say thank you for enjoying the jokes tossed your way like little greenaids. Yes they are quite nice, thank you.