The growth of science has changed many things. In the area of mortality, so much has undermined the ability of humans to believe in the afterlife. Flight, telescopes, space travel and vision from satellites has repudiated the notion of a heavenly destination for the floating dead. Heaven is dying.
There is no observable heaven in this solar sysTtem. Many of us choose to ignore that evidence and that is fine and dandy, but the evidence is there for us all to behold. We live in a heaven-free zone.
Surveys of even committed believers have shown that only a minority of people in the West (other than the US) believe in the afterlife.
Advertisement: Story continues below
Given the waning beliefs, religions have had to adapt. Religions could compete by making heaven appear more and more attractive. But that would undermine the plausibility even more.
Some believers cope with the plausibility crisis by fudging their beliefs with qualifications and vagueness. There is a tendency in some faiths to recalibrate their ‘‘heaven offering’’ by making the offer incomprehensible. Here is a Catholic example where the description of Heaven is so unintelligible that it almost masks the fact that it is unbelievable.
Pope Benedict XVI conceded this in a homily in August last year. If you can understand what it means you are a miracle worker.
''All of us today are well aware that by the term 'heaven' we are not referring to somewhere in the universe, to a star or such like; no. We mean something far greater and far more difficult to define with our limited human conceptions. With this term 'heaven' we wish to say that God, the God who made himself close to us, does not abandon us in or after death but keeps a place for us and gives us eternity. We mean that in God there is room for us . . .
''It is his love that triumphs over death and gives us eternity and it is this love that we call ‘heaven’: God is so great that he also makes room for us. And Jesus the man, who at the same time is God, is the guarantee for us that the being-man and the being-God can exist and live, the one within the other, for eternity.''
To me that is meaningless. But if I can discern one clear meaning from it, it is the Papal concession that heaven is not a place anywhere in the universe. Heaven is not a geographic entity as such. Heaven is not spatial but a relationship with God and eternity. And because that means we are granted some sort of eternal life, it is wish fulfilment utterly unconfirmed by evidence. As you can imagine, such notions are difficult for this little atheist to get his limited head around.
It also confirms my feeling that often when people talk about their beliefs in heaven, that belief is never defined and made certain. I take that lack of definition to indicate that the belief itself has little or no power. So while people aver that they believe in heaven, their actual beliefs are so ill-defined that you really wonder about the genuine power of that belief. At least the Pope was honest enough to concede that heaven is not a place. It is as close as one could expect to a Papal concession that heaven does not exist.
Pope Benedict is appearing to say that heaven is just a seed of hope in some magical outcome. I can believe in a speculative seed of hope because it is such a diluted belief. It is not so much a belief but nothing and a nothing heaven is something that even an atheist can believe in! Or am I just confusing myself? Perhaps I’d better go back to saying that there is no evidence for heaven and so like the Pope, I don’t believe in it.
I congratulate the Pope for his honest (albeit opaque) refutation of heaven. Maybe his homily is not a refutation. Maybe it is a poetic and metaphysical heaven that my brain is too limited to know? Maybe it is just a lot of bollocks?
What is your view? Do you believe in heaven?
What is your definition of heaven?
If the notion of heaven consoles humanity, does it matter if it is correct or not?
Did the Pope, by conceding that heaven is not a place, concede that it does not exist or did he open new possibilities of its existence?
Is metaphysics a reasonable intellectual approach given the advances of our understanding of the physics of the world?
Over to you guys.
- Posts : 43
Join date : 2012-04-04
Permissions in this forum:You cannot reply to topics in this forum