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Heaven: A fool's paradise - Comments

Cents's Avatar Comment 1 by Cents

Am I first? Finally read this wondeful insightful article. Couldn't agree more. The fact that we are all alive means we are in our own Heaven. There is a one in a Kajillion chance of life and we all hit it!
We all won the lottery!

Tue, 20 Apr 2010 23:52:00 UTC | #461388

ramfalls's Avatar Comment 2 by ramfalls

My heaven is manchester united losing in the last second every game.
oh and a grey haired old man with long robes doing magic tricks. good ones though not those rubishy las vegas amateurs.

Wed, 21 Apr 2010 00:13:00 UTC | #461391

gumby gumby's Avatar Comment 3 by gumby gumby

I don't like John Lennon so much... I think Paul McCartney is a bit better.

Wed, 21 Apr 2010 00:20:00 UTC | #461392

LittleFluffyClouds's Avatar Comment 4 by LittleFluffyClouds

I just want to praise Dawkins... forever.

Wed, 21 Apr 2010 00:25:00 UTC | #461395

TwitterTribeVoltaire's Avatar Comment 5 by TwitterTribeVoltaire

Hari really is a young Hitchens!

Wed, 21 Apr 2010 00:48:00 UTC | #461397

Ignorant Amos's Avatar Comment 6 by Ignorant Amos

Heaven is that place I go when I'm off my tree. Sometimes it's the place I'm at during that climactic moment of sex. Or is it in the park on a sunny day with the wee grandson on the swings? BBQ and beer with some mates? Having a pee when ya've been bursting to find a toilet? Lying in a field at night watching the stars, stoned? Learning something on RD.net?
So many heavens to choose from, I could be here all day.

Wed, 21 Apr 2010 00:55:00 UTC | #461398

Janus's Avatar Comment 7 by Janus

Johann Hari is a great writer, and speaker.

Wed, 21 Apr 2010 01:00:00 UTC | #461399

Monkey Man's Avatar Comment 8 by Monkey Man

"they bragged that hundreds of thousands of Arabs would soon be slaughtered there while George Bush and his friends are raptured to heaven as a reward for leading the Arabs to their deaths"

Wow. Just, wow.

Wed, 21 Apr 2010 01:35:00 UTC | #461402

prolibertas's Avatar Comment 9 by prolibertas

Great article. I'd just like to add that beliefs about Hell reveal as much as those about Heaven. People of the Middle East had to contend with the heat of their climate, and so their Hell was a place of eternal fire and brimstone. The ancient Norse had to contend with the snow and cold, and so their Hel (one 'l') was a place of eternal ice and shadows. I've even heard some evangelists, being the sexual prudes they were, describing Hell as being 'just like Sodom and Gomorrah, only worse'- in other words, a place full of whores and sexual liberals. I thought 'sweet'. One person's Hell is another person's Heaven, I guess, and it reveals the sexual attitudes of both the evangelists and myself.

Wed, 21 Apr 2010 01:53:00 UTC | #461403

Lion IRC's Avatar Comment 10 by Lion IRC

I think quantum physics has helped the cause of belief in Heaven.
Worm holes, parallel universes, time travel, holographic projections.....
Woo.........it really does send shivers up my spine.
Who knows, there might even be Higher Beings ..."Out There"
Lion (IRC)

Wed, 21 Apr 2010 02:20:00 UTC | #461404

prettygoodformonkeys's Avatar Comment 11 by prettygoodformonkeys

Heaven for the weather, Hell for the company.
My afterlife will have a 'summer place'.

Wed, 21 Apr 2010 03:15:00 UTC | #461412

SaintStephen's Avatar Comment 12 by SaintStephen

Very enjoyable stuff from Johann Hari.

Wed, 21 Apr 2010 03:17:00 UTC | #461413

k_docks's Avatar Comment 13 by k_docks

It's no wonder people can so easily be deceived reading articles like this by someone who obviously has no idea on history or what's written between the covers of a Bible!

Wed, 21 Apr 2010 03:23:00 UTC | #461414

Enlightenme..'s Avatar Comment 14 by Enlightenme..

In the subheading;
"Why do the majority of Britons still believe in life after death?.."

..but the article itself says:
"..and 51 per cent of Brits say they believe in heaven" (which incidentally is rather more specific than 'life after death' - even I like to hope that I might make it to 2029!)

Even amongst confirming responders, we can probably extrapolate that a fair proportion meant 'have faith in', rather than 'believe'.

I really do think that the number of people living in Britain in the 21st century that truly believe in the existence of a biblical 'Heaven' would be little different from the number that truly believe chariot wheels will be found in The Red Sea, and an ark will be found on Mount Ararat, whatever they might profess to believe.

Wed, 21 Apr 2010 03:26:00 UTC | #461415

Balstrome's Avatar Comment 15 by Balstrome

What always interested me, is how close the religious areas are, you can just buy a ticket and travel to heaven or hell, no special things need to be done. It all seems like a foreign country, the same as here, just that they speak a different language and eat strange foods.

One would think that the priest cast when making this stuff up, would at least put some effort into making it interesting or really weird, something like getting served by the colour blue, or being forced to pear one's nails with seas of literary criticism.

That to me sounds like an improved concept of heaven and hell.

Wed, 21 Apr 2010 03:44:00 UTC | #461419

William T. Dawkins's Avatar Comment 16 by William T. Dawkins

Great article! Seems to have a similar developement pattern as many of the creation myths.

Wed, 21 Apr 2010 03:52:00 UTC | #461420

Roland_F's Avatar Comment 17 by Roland_F

So when the expectations of specific attributes of heaven are showing the desires and dream of the believers … so what on earth does it mean someone whishes to be sitting totally bored on a cloud playing harp all day ??

Wed, 21 Apr 2010 03:55:00 UTC | #461421

Anonymous's Avatar Comment 18 by Anonymous

Comment Removed by Moderator

Wed, 21 Apr 2010 05:14:00 UTC | #461427

JemyM's Avatar Comment 19 by JemyM

To a religious person, heaven is what you have been told.

Religions train a mindset to see beliefs and truths as the same thing.
Who ever train the mindset also teach the beliefs that are to be held as true.
In practice what you have been thaught is also the truth.

Establishing truth through research is a very different mindset. The benefits of a such approach to knowledge is not self evident nor intuitive and is blocked by the above training. The most important thing with this mindset is that it's so well trained that it will not even examine or research it's own beliefs. Questioning is a breach of trust, lojalty and faithfulness, both to the religious idols (make God/Jesus disappointed) but also to family and friends. Since our survival instincts are often connected to staying on the good side with those we rely on it's essential to not break that relationship. Thus it will not speculate on heaven, it will not discuss nor debate nor question it's morality system, IT WILL MOST OF THE TIME NOT EVEN READ NOR RESEARCH THE BIBLE OR SCRIPTURE!
It will continue to believe what it have been thaught to believe and will treat that belief as truth.

Thus, heaven is "a reunion with your relatives in the light" and that is the only truth that mindset is able to perceive as truth.


The only thing we can do about is to focus on whatever supports training that mindset in our society. Training every child that truth is gained through research would be absolutely devastating to "belief systems".

Wed, 21 Apr 2010 05:27:00 UTC | #461428

passutoba's Avatar Comment 20 by passutoba

'It's no wonder people can so easily be deceived reading articles like this by someone who obviously has no idea on history or what's written between the covers of a Bible!'

And yet, k-docks, you offer absolutely nothing in the way of a concrete rebuttal of anything he said, just a vague, weasly sideswipe.

thewarsofatheism....you post this crap everyday and it always says it will be 'crystal night' tonight......does breaking a glass in the dishwasher count? If so, it was my crystal night last night, but I feel fine today.

great article btw, have always thought of heaven as one of man's oldest methods of mind control...those murals of heaven and hell in medieval churches spring to mind. You can imagine the congregation being in abject fear and wonder in combination with the rantings of the preacher and the sense of power from the building.

Wed, 21 Apr 2010 06:15:00 UTC | #461433

MartinHowe's Avatar Comment 21 by MartinHowe

I'd say "The Horrors of Paradise" has been touched on at least twice before. The song "Utopia" by Hawkwind deals with boredom and one sequence in the film "The Matrix" deals with an impossibly perfect world. I'd be willing to bet that philosophers have debated the idea long before that.

Nevermind getting to Paradise, what would the term even mean? While not a practical consideration right now, if ever any form of totally immersive virtual reality technology becomes commercially available, the question will become pertinent. For me an ideal world is "this world, but where life IS fair", but is there a better definition?

Wed, 21 Apr 2010 06:31:00 UTC | #461434

pranatibanerjee's Avatar Comment 22 by pranatibanerjee

Fully agree with the Article.

The same thought occurred to me when I was reading the Quran and analysing it in by blog. It also helped me a historical insight.

The Muslims saw for the first time lush green fields and a plethora of rivers and waterfalls when they invaded India in the 8th century. And for that reason perhaps they gradually settled in the country.

Instead of being grateful to the country which offered them 'Heaven' in their lifetime, they plundered it and imposed and continued a barbaric culture on its inhabitants for nearly one thousand years.

Wed, 21 Apr 2010 06:37:00 UTC | #461435

Follow Peter Egan's Avatar Comment 23 by Follow Peter Egan

In my Catholic school we had a very firm grasp of hell. However, heaven was always a bit sketchy and sounded really boring. Sitting on a cloud playing a harp and being nice to everyone for an eternity didn't sound that great to me, so I was more than happy to bin the idea.

Wed, 21 Apr 2010 06:53:00 UTC | #461436

Ygern's Avatar Comment 24 by Ygern

Hari gets it exactly right when he calls it: "projecting our lack into the sky". But that is why so many people so desperately want it to be real.

Much as I agree with the sentiments expressed by Cents (first post in the thread) life is all too often hellish for thousands of people alive today, who do not share our freedoms and our choices. And for someone in that position the belief in heaven is very often the thing that makes living endurable.

Wed, 21 Apr 2010 07:25:00 UTC | #461438

Nunbeliever's Avatar Comment 25 by Nunbeliever

Show me your heaven, and I'll show you what's lacking in your life.


That was a very profound and thoughtful comment. I will remember that...

Wed, 21 Apr 2010 07:32:00 UTC | #461439

Stafford Gordon's Avatar Comment 26 by Stafford Gordon

I like the sighting of the different culture bases for heaven; it's a perfect example of how religions differ and therefore all but one must be wrong, and even that one's wrong.

Wed, 21 Apr 2010 07:44:00 UTC | #461440

SaganTheCat's Avatar Comment 27 by SaganTheCat

I think I read another review of this book that put me off it a bit. after demolishing the grounds for life after death the author goes a bit accomodationalist but it is a great idea putting the concept into a historical context

I see it this way, If life is like the ultimate concept album, heaven is when you get to the end, put the needle on the best bit of your favorite guitar solo and listen as the needle gets stuck

Wed, 21 Apr 2010 07:46:00 UTC | #461441

at3p's Avatar Comment 28 by at3p

This is a good article. And I've seen a great comedy produced on this basis... http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1058017/ - a fine story with satire, arguments and the ridiculous.

Wed, 21 Apr 2010 07:52:00 UTC | #461443

Net's Avatar Comment 29 by Net

my heaven is a world free of sport

Wed, 21 Apr 2010 08:06:00 UTC | #461444

keithapm's Avatar Comment 30 by keithapm

Great article.

Mr. Hari is certainly a good writer. I've often thought the exact same things but there was never much of a hope I'd have been able to express those ideas in as coherent a manner as he does.

Wed, 21 Apr 2010 08:12:00 UTC | #461445