What is the nature of Heaven?

Are dead relatives able to watch your every moment, like the dead grandparents from the Family Circus, or the 50’s Phantom Zone criminals? I mean, am I going to have to spend eternity avoiding eye contact with my parents?

Hoo boy, that’s a big subject to unpack. I think it’s very difficult for us to imagine being conscious for eternity. Especially in a setting where everything is wonderful and perfect. Think about it. Life is change. Perfection, by definition, is the absence of change. An eternity of perfection would drive one insane, assuming our consciousness is more or less the same, like the Family Circus grandparents. So I would assume that we either evolve into some higher or more abstract form of consciousness, become “one with the universe”; or more likely, we simply cease to exist after we die. We return to the state we were in before we were conceived.

Everybody can dunk a basketball. And poop smells like chocolate cake.

Oh, you meant the traditional version? I think we all get our own cloud, and play a harp for some reason. I’m pretty sure we also spout wings and wear a white robe.

Which heaven?

With the possible exception of Mick Jagger.

Since Heaven is imaginary, you can make it is whatever you want it to be. When my father died my niece said she was happy since he would now be watching over her from Heaven. I quietly mentioned that he could watch her in the shower, on the toilet, and in her most intimate moments with her boyfriend, and she gave me a look of horror. You have to take the bad with the good.

Laurie Anderson says that paradise is exactly like where you are now, only much, much better.

No theologian I, but isn’t Heaven supposed to be a place where you are free of earthly concerns. That would include those you left behind, right?

Which traditional version would that be? Christian theologians speak of salvation and redemption and rewards and union with the divine nature, but how many of them are specific about what heaven will supposedly be like?

I’ve always wondered what form the inhabitants take. If it’s our earthly form, is it how you were at time of death? Are the lucky people who died young walking around all buff, while the 99 yo guy attached to tubes lays in bed for eternity? How about amputees- do they get their appendages back? So many questions.

Looney Tunes, I think. Or maybe Merrie Melodies. I don’t know, I watched a lot of TV growing up.

Hopefully protected from DDoS* by Cloudflare.

*(Diabolical Demons of Satan)

You mean like Santa Claus (who “sees you when you’re sleeping. He knows when you’re awake”) and Ceiling Cat?

I don’t assume that there’s much of anything about heaven that’s easy, or even possible, for us to imagine. But as for this, what many people have said, which makes sense to me, is that eternity (in the sense of Heaven or The Afterlife) is not an infinitely long time, but rather, timelessness: being outside of time, or not being subject to time at all.

And, yes, that’s not something we can easily imagine. But if you’ve ever had the experience of being totally engrossed in what you were doing or experiencing at the moment, without thinking at all about how long you’d been doing it or what you were doing before or what you’d be doing after, I imagine it might feel something like that.

This is timely for me because I just finished watching The Good Place.

Despite being firmly atheist and my strong suspicion that when we die it’s simply lights out, I really enjoyed this show and have been thinking a lot about the scenarios it posits. I don’t wish to spoil it for anyone, so I’ll blur the rest…

In the final season we see the characters finally make it to the Good Place, only to find it’s very problematic due to bureaucratic bumbling. That alone is interesting - even in the afterlife things get screwed up and complicated.

It turns out everyone being able to get everything they want at any time has made everyone into unfeeling zombies. This problem is solved by introducing a way to “die” by choice, thereby introducing the possibility of and end point. This helps them create meaning in their afterlife existence, which permits them to essentially see and do anything at all.

So we then check in on them some 100,000 years later when some of the characters do choose to leave. What’s interesting to me is what they’ve been doing all that time. I relate to Tahani’s desire to learn to do as much as possible. That would be my heaven. But 100,000 years doesn’t sound like all that long. I wonder if I’d get bored in that short a time. It would be an interesting exercise just to structure my time and all the tings I’d want to do. Many of them would be multi-year projects. Fun to think about.

I don’t suppose they mentioned the availability of Wi-Fi and weed in the afterlife?

Actually… yes on the weed!

If you can’t see your loved ones, so much for watching over them. If you can, a guy who died early will see his wife have fun with her next boyfriend. Or you might see your kids in danger and not be able to do anything about it.
Any art? No art driven by desire, obviously, so if there is any, it would be boring. I can take only so many masses.
Do you know all the secrets of the universe? Are you allowed to do research if not?

I went to Catholic elementary school, and I never “got” the concept of heaven. It seemed really boring to me. Probably one of my first steps on the road to atheism. I was over the whole religion thing by the time I was 9 or 10. My younger sister was so shocked by me. I just laughed. Of course, she’s an atheist now, too.

This seems to depend on your own theological beliefs? As an atheist, I don’t think ‘heaven’ exists.

But a related question: what would you LIKE heaven to be IF it existed? Suppose for example you were uploaded neuron by neuron into a massive quantum computer. So there are no more physical limitations.