Reading the Could You Believe? topic made me wonder if a similar sort of question could be asked on the other side of the coin, as it were.
(FTR, I would descibe myself as agnostic, although a possibly more accurate description would be “Hey, I’ve been so totally wrong about so very many things about which I was so totally sure…”)
This is the best I could come up with.
Assume a hypothetical situation: Everything (and I mean EVERYTHING) is exactly the same as it is normally with one exception: for some reason, you yourself have no chance of entering Heaven. How would this affect your religious stance/beliefs/attitude?
(Please, no “but that’s not how it works” arguments, I’m just asking you to accept the hypothetical as written.)
(Apologies if this has been hashed over too many times already.)
Not speaking as a believer (obviously), but I think there’s a problem with your question. If you “know” you can’t get into Heaven, that assumes you know there is a Heaven. And if you know there is a Heaven, why stop believing?
If you really want to flip it, you have to ask if there is anything that would change the believers into non-believers. Some action (for example, the death of a child) that is so totally incomprehensible or evil that it would change their minds about the existence of God.
The majority of people will tell you that I already have no chance of “going to Heaven” or achieving Enlightenment, or reaching Nirvana, or Valhalla, or the Happy Hunting Grounds. I do not follow the Laws of Leviticus, nor the Four-Fold Path, nor the teachings of The Prophet, nor do I make the appropriate sacrifices to Chucmal. I tend to treat my Church as a social organization, where I can work and relax with people in my community who share a similar value system and basis for making ethical decisions.
As I am unlikely to be going to Heaven, based upon the opinions of those who claim to know such things, I cannot see where my behaviours will change in any measurable manner.
Dr. Fidelius, Charlatan
Associate Curator Anomalous Paleontology, Miskatonic University
“The idle mind is the Devil’s playground.” -Professor Harold Hill
If I am required to accept your hypothetical as is, then I would have to say that I would already not believe, even with assurances that I will go to heaven.
To your question, I would have to say that I can’t think of anything off hand, except the hypothetical realization that God is not Who He said He was all along. (Like Glitch’s question in the Atheist Religion thread, asking what I would do if God ordered me to do something evil. My answer was that I would stop worshipping it. It would no longer be God.)
But, Lib, suppose God had told you to do something ‘evil’, and whey you asked why, He said,“To forestall something even more evil. I can’t tell you what, because to tell you would be to deny you freedom of action.”
E.G., suppose God transported you to fin de siecle Germany and told you to take a rock and beat the brains out of an entirely inoffensive, rather pleasant young aspiring art student?
If you knew what I know, everything would make sense; and if it didn’t, you’d know enough to know not to worry about it – The God of Somebody Else
Well, it’s a jumbled question prolly because it comes from a jumble of sources. One of them is the handful of times that, on revealing that I am not of a theistic bent, I get asked if I believe that when I die I just rot in the ground or whatever and isn’t that thought just too depressing? I reply that you don’t choose a belief system based on which one tells you the happiest story, but that response is met by shrugs.
The people who are making the most noise about personally going to heaven are the ones trying to convert people, yet the Christians I know (or at least the ones I know whom I think of when I think of Christians) rarely bring that subject up.
Another source of my curiosity is a train of thought inspired by my SIL, who is a Nurse Practitioner and worked for a time in a clininc where she occasionally treated teenagers who were self-confessed Satanists. What surprised her about the ones she talked to is that they all came from the same family backgound - basically their parents were the rigid, “You’re gonna go straight to Hell if you don’t shape up!” type that we’re all familiar with from watching bad movies about the joys of disco dancing or whatever. It struck me that these kids weren’t Satanists at all, but Christians who’d been told their pink slips weren’t valid.
…And I was wondering how others might react.
A poorly thought-out presentation, as I didn’t anticipate responses from Non-Christians!
One problem I have with the OP is that it fails to adequately define ‘heaven’ in a way that fits my experience. I don’t know about other Christians, but I don’t see heaven as something strictly separate from my present reality, but rather as something I’m already linked to.
I would say that it’s simultaneously true that it’s a destination at which I’ve arrived, and one that I’m on my way to. So I don’t think it’s a valid question, because, IMO, it involves splitting things that are irreducible.
But that’s just my opinion, based on what I believe to be my experience.