A heavenly conundrum. . .

Here is a philosophical question about heaven and hell. Assume for this question that there actually is a heaven and hell. This is merely a philosophical excercise – I am not arguing for or against the actual existence of such places.

Two people love each other a great deal. One is worthy of heaven (person A), the other is evil and is going straight to hell (person B).

If heaven is a perfect, happy place then person A, in order to be perfectly happy, needs to spend their blissful eternity with person B who they love very much – yet person B is now rotting in hell for the evil deeds they committed.

How can it be “heaven” for person A if the one person they truly loved in the world, person B, is never going to be with them?

I am sure heaven could “fake it” and create a replica of person B, but that wouldn’t be Person B and thus not “perfect” for Person A’s heavenly reward.

If they send person B from hell to heaven to make person A happy, then then person B gets out of their just punishment in hell.

Is there a solution to this heavenly conundrum?

Sure. You won’t have the same personal attachments in Heaven that you have in life. So Person A no longer needs Person B to be happy.

The “solution” I’ve heard is that essentially person A forgets all about person B. That doesn’t strike me as very heavenly, but what do I know?

My understanding of Christian belief on this question is that in heaven the source of joy is communion with God, not a continuation or resumption of earthly relationships. Being in our intended eternal relationship with God will be sufficient for our happiness.

Yeah, what Crotalus said.

Which neatly skirts the rather awkward dilemma of what happens to a couple in which the guy envisages heaven as eternal companionship with his girl, while to the girl that’s a pretty good description of hell.

The people sipped their wine
and what with God there, they asked him questions
like, “do you have to eat or get your hair cut in heaven?”
“And if your eye got poked out in this life
would it be waiting up in heaven with your wife?”

And God shuffled his feet, and glanced around at them
The people cleared their throats, and stared right back at him.

(Crash Test Dummies: God Shuffled his Feet)

That is indeed what I learned in my Catholic education, too.

I’m not a religious person myslef, but couldn’t they both go to a neutral spot (Purgatory?)

More interesting to me is that God is judged evil (killing all those first born children :eek: ) and sent to Hell.

For that he’d have to die (impossible) and be subject to his own power (uncertain) or choose to be sent to Hell (unlikely).

While the whole “making one partner forget about the other” solution does mess around with free will, it’s probably the best way to go about it. Plus it’s got he added benefit of causing extra pain to the partner in Hell.

If you believe that you lose your individual personality and memories once getting to heaven (something that I believe MUST be the case if it is truly a heaven), then the question becomes null. You just blend with all the other personality-ness souls in eternal communion with God, never thinking about anything that happened on Earth (think Dante’s Paradise). And if you do retain memories, how is it heaven?

I’ve read a suggestion that we would retain our memories, but that their importance would be diminished to insignificance by contact with God.

Cf. the Passion Accounts in the Gospels, along with Paul’s comments on Christ’s Descent. “Taking all sins on Himself, and dying to atone for them” is not just pretty poetry.

I personally don’t agree with the supposition of the OP, so any answer would be purely an intellectual game for me. Given that, the concept set forth here, which Catholic theologians have thought through, is probably the best answer.

For another variation, involving why fundamentalism inevitably implies Gnosticism, see Heinlein’s Job: A Comedy of Justice – which sets forth precisely this conundrum. The solution Heinlein comes up with is, well, devilishly clever, and involves a relatively famous quote from Voltaire that encapsulizes the book yet is never overtly mentioned.

My approach involves a loving God who does not play the sorts of games with people’s feelings that the OP postulates. But that’s not an acceptable answer to the question as asked.

Yep, the rest of eternity praising the Lord your God.

That’s eternity.

For ever. And ever.

And ever.

Praising Him.

All the time. For all time.

(Whew. This is Heaven we’re talking about, isn’t it, and not the Other Place?)

When you think about it long enough, the entire concept of an afterlife is pretty depressing.

Sooo, heaven consists of mindwipe and being reduced to a grinning vegetable ?

The OP raises a few related questions, questions that remain important whether or not you believe in Heaven and Hell. Such as,

Are you saying that one person can need another particular person in order to be happy, so that without that person you can never hope to be happy again?

Is it possible for a truly good person and a truly evil person to love one another (not just be infatuated or unhealthily attached to one another)? From the point of view of the good person, what is there in the evil person to love? And is an evil person capable of loving?

If they did love one another, would such love motivate Evil Person to become good (if that were possible) in order to be with Good Person (or vice versa)?

Christianity, if you look at it the right way, is all about solving this problem, with Jesus in the role of Person A and us sinful human beings in the role of Person B.

Please consult the theology of Spider Robinson on this topic. I trust you’ll disagree once you grasp the full concept. (“Hey Jude, don’t take it bad…”) :stuck_out_tongue:

I’ve read most of his stuff; while most of his future utopias involve a group mind,the people in the groupmind most certainly don’t lose their individuality and memories; they become Me + Groupmind, not Me = Groupmind.

I frequently argue this one with my more fundamentalist brethren.

If there is no continuation of memory, desire, purpose, personality, tastes & preference, etc, then:
-what’s the point of all those things here?
-in what sense would it be ‘me’ going there anyway?
-how are we supposed to desire heaven if it’s utterly unlike (or empty of) everything we desire here?

Good point, but if God has/will/does exist for all time, and he’s only done this once, I’d say it was still pretty unlikely.