Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Why Do We Need Heaven?

Writing last night's post kind of gave me an idea for another post. I was going to include it in the post last night but since it goes off of that topic a bit, I decided to make a separate post.

A Little Background 

I was baptized Lutheran (Catholic church wouldn't baptize me when I was born in 1980 because my parents had a civil marriage and my dad's first marriage was never annulled) but my mom had left the church when I was about five. At 10, I went to a Catholic church for the first time. I was enrolled in Catholic school shortly after that and had a crash course in Catholicism in the two weeks from the time I left public school to the time I started Catholic school. I knew nothing about religion really prior to that. I attended Catholic school from the second part of grade 4 through the first part of grade 9. I went back to public school starting the second semester of my freshman year of high school. I attended a Catholic University for three years but did not graduate and for the most part, I had avoided the religion classes. I had already more or less left the Catholic church at this point.

After marrying my husband in 2003, he rejoined his church in 2004. The religion he is part of is called The United Church of God. It is a split-off of a split-off of a split-off from the original Seventh Day Adventist Church. It is a Sabbath keeping church (Sabbath for him is from sundown Friday to sundown Saturday) and keeps Biblical holy days including one called the Feast of Tabernacles. The Feast is an 8 day holy week that is to give an idea of how the millennium of peace will be following the tribulations. The last day of this, the 8th day, is a separate holy day where the focus is on the final judgement of all mankind. I have attended services during a couple of the Feasts I attended (before I finally determined I was an atheist) and have somewhat of an idea about the belief systems here, probably more so than I do about the Catholic's beliefs regarding heaven so that's kind of the direction I'm coming from here.

A Perfect Community

Going back to my last post, regarding the movie, The Giver, I'm struck by the beginning where it goes into the communities following the wars. Forgive me for any spoilers though this doesn't describe the actual plot of the movie. There were wars leading to destruction (as wars tend to). Following these wars, communities were built. These communities are created and everyone is the same. There are no differences, no colors even. There are rules that everyone must follow. Everyone has their place. There is no famine, money, no contests, no winners or losers. Language is to be precise. You say what you mean and you don't exaggerate. You don't lie. Families are assigned. There are no relationships. There are also no animals and the climate is completely controlled. No suffering, no sadness. There is no fear. All needs are met.

Sounds like heaven, doesn't it? And even better, in heaven, you don't die. You live forever. Sounds like the perfect place to be. But, I'll be honest, it doesn't sound that perfect to me. It actually sounds kind of like a nightmare.

There's something to be said for challenges, for struggles. 

The positive and negative experiences of life give us something to live for, to fight against. What would the draw of living forever in the perfect place be? What would there be to live for? You're going to live forever. The kids you have will live forever. Day by day will be the same. You would follow the rules of the Bible day in and day out (ALL the rules, no cherry picking here anymore). Emotions couldn't be allowed. They could become dangerous. Even love because that could leave to jealousy and envy, even hate. We would have to be dumbed down because being overly intelligent would be problematic. Or worse, we would know everything there is to know. There would be no quest to improve things because it's the perfect world. Improving things could cause problems.

I wonder why there is such a need for heaven? I think the biggest reason is that the idea of death is such a frightening thing. We want to know that there is something beyond this life, that we will continue to live on after we die. We especially want this for those who died too soon, for those who didn't even get a chance to live because where is the fairness of that? I think people think of that aspect more so than what heaven would actually be like what heaven would HAVE to be like based on what it says in the Bible.

I don't believe heaven exists. 

And while I do sometimes fear death, fear that point where I no longer exist and struggle a little with that concept, I realize too that it is up to me to make my life one that is worth living because this is it. This is the only life I have and I need to make the most of it. And I think that is what drives us as a human species. DEATH motivates us to LIVE and to make the most of life, to try and answer the questions of the universe to know things we didn't know previously. We want to improve our lives and improve the world. I don't think that a perfect world would motivate us to live in such a way. We all need something to reach for, some reason to LIVE.

Thoughts? Would love to read them.


heidi williams said...

A tricky topic for sure. I know many including my mother who became resentful Catholics. I do believe in god. I consider myself a spiritual person so I have issues with organized religion which has become more business than worship in my opinion

Karen Loethen said...

Great post. :)

Of course you know that I don't believe in any afterlife mythology and, like you, that means that today and each day is the only day that we have. We have to use those days in the ways that mean the most to us.

When I was a Catholic, that lure, that carrot on a stick of Heaven wasn't just a lovely reward, it was also a horrible fear. The fear of NOT going. Because, as most toxic systems do, Christian religions only offer two choices: black or white. Are you with us or against us? In or out.

Leaving Catholicism was the best thing for my mental health EVER. :)