Your Definitive Guide to Heaven in 2009 (and 2010, 2011…)

February 25, 2009

Most religious individuals will concede that they can’t say much about what heaven is like. Perhaps they’ll refer to some passage from the Bible or Koran that gives a snippet of information, but these passages provide a very incomplete picture, to say the least.

This reluctance about describing heaven appears to be based on the unchallenged premise that one has to experience something in order to describe it, and, of course, only the dead experience heaven. This supposed necessary connection between being dead and possessing the ability to describe heaven has resulted in a couple dozen books being published in recent decades about "near-death" experiences. Indeed, just a couple of years ago, there appeared The Big Book of Near-Death Experiences.

But these near-death encounters are not very helpful. Most of them result in some vague description of a feeling of peace and seeing an intense white light. Great, so heaven is like smoking a joint in a room with a few too many 250-watt light bulbs. Plus, I’m sorry, but being nearly dead is like being nearly employed or nearly pregnant. It just doesn’t count. So, I guess that means no one can describe heaven, right?

Wrong!

Some great thinkers never allowed niggling complaints about the lack of empirical evidence to stand in the way of their pronouncements on a given topic. One of these bold thinkers was that great double-dome Thomas Aquinas. Although some of his unkind contemporaries claimed Aquinas was dead, the reality is that this theologian, utilizing only the uncanny powers of his reason and logic, was able to provide us with an exhaustive description of heaven, without ever having to leave the monastery kitchen.

The key to Aquinas’s conclusions about heaven is that he was "Mr. Natural." Everything has a natural purpose, and once one understands something’s purpose, one can describe what it would be like under certain conditions.

Let’s consider sex. After the General Resurrection, we’ll be reunited with our bodies. We will keep our genders and our genitalia, according to Aquinas, because that’s only natural. However, there will not be any sexual activity because sex serves the purpose of procreation (you knew that already, right?), and there is no need for procreation once we’re in heaven. So don’t pack the Viagra.

The lack of sex may be a bit disappointing, especially when one realizes we’ll all be pretty buff. Everyone will look as though they were thirty. Why? Because that’s roughly the age Jesus was resurrected and he was the perfect guy; we’ll be perfect in heaven; therefore, we’ll all be thirty.

Wow. That Aquinas had a razor-sharp mind.

Just as there will be no sex because it would serve no purpose, there will be no consumption of gourmet meals because nutrition will serve no purpose. So don’t worry if you forgot your toothbrush.

Now the fact that we will not be eating or drinking posed a problem for Big Tom because when we are resurrected, we come with all of our body parts, including our intestines. The "natural" state of the intestines was to be full, according to Aquinas. (Does this imply something about a constipation problem among medieval monks?) But it wouldn’t do to have intestines full of waste matter in heaven, and we won’t be eating anything to generate waste anyway. How to solve this conundrum? Again, Aquinas’s incomparable analytical skills come to the rescue. Our intestines will be full, but with "goodly humors."

No, I am not making this up.

So far, I have described what we will look like in heaven, but what do we do in heaven? Essentially nothing except watch God. We will all enjoy the "Beatific Vision." Don’t bother hunting for the remote. This program will be on every channel, 24/7, for all eternity. Enjoy.

Apparently, even Aquinas sensed that the Beatific Vision, as wonderful as it might be, could become a little tiresome. So he hypothesized that we could occasionally take a break from the BV to watch something else, namely the torture of the damned - in which we will rejoice. This is what is known as Christian charity.

Aquinas had much more to say about the afterlife. For those who want more information, consult the supplement to part three of the Summa Theologica, questions 69-99. The Summa is widely available on the Internet, and a good translation may be found   here .

In closing, let me note that it is reassuring to know that someone with Aquinas’s profound intellect remains the most honored theologian in the Catholic Church.

 

Comments:

#1 Colin (Guest) on Thursday February 26, 2009 at 4:15am

“I’m sorry, but being nearly dead is like being nearly employed or nearly pregnant. It just doesn’t count.”

I got a kick out of that…  Great stuff.  Although I feel inclined to stand up for the millions of us who are in a constant state of ‘near employment.’  It’s a common condition these days.

Refreshing as it would be for the elderly to suddenly become 30 yrs old again, wouldn’t it be weird for toddlers?  Or did they hang out in limbo according to Tom?

#2 Personal Failure (Guest) on Thursday February 26, 2009 at 8:33am

So, my biggest pleasures in life are, in no particular order, sex, food and video games, and heaven involves none of those?

Why do I want to go there again?

#3 Ronald A. Lindsay on Thursday February 26, 2009 at 2:21pm

Don’t get me started on eternity or I will never stop.
Colin is right that being raised to the age of 30 would be weird for toddlers. In fact, one could question whether this “resurrected” 30 year-old is the same person as the infant who died. Will it have the memories and intelligence of a 30 year-old? If so, wouldn’t these false memories and enhanced intelligence convert it into a different person? Preserving personal identity is a problem for anybody in heaven for that matter, and I’m not just referring to the not insignificant problem of reassembling a body from infintessimal, scattered bits and pieces, some of which have become parts of other bodies. We are time-oriented beings. Many theologians, such as TA, have argued that eternity is actually “timeless” not an unending expanse of time. They assert this, in part, to get around the problem of boredom sinking in after the first zillion years. But because we humans are not used to living in a timeless environment, how can we say these heavenly beings are us? And how is a heaven in which we we are not aware of the passage of time fundamentally any diferent from being just plain dead? I could go on and on (I have written elsewhere about this topic), but I will leave it at that.
Limbo, by the way, which no longer forms an official part of Catholic Church doctrine, was reserved for unbaptized infants, that is, those who still had the stain of original sin. Too pure to go to hell (or purgatory), but too impure to go to heaven. Limbo was kind of an eternal daycare center for unlucky kids. Baptized infants go to heaven.

#4 Darsha (Guest) on Thursday February 26, 2009 at 9:24pm

Dr. Lindsay,

Have you ever considered being on the Colbert Report?  (Does CFI have someone who works in PR?)
You certainly would give all of us Colbert and Ronald A. Lindsay fans a wonderful opportunity to see two of the funniest people alive battle it out.  We would generate more interest in CFI and gain new members and donors.  You would get raving revues and we would solicit interest in our beliefs - I mean lack of beliefs - I mean open mind.

By the way, I think if people believe they are going to heaven they should be told they will receive a complimentary video game. They may worry about what they will they do with all their time?

#5 joshualipana on Friday February 27, 2009 at 5:16am

Haha. Very nice.

#6 The~realist (Guest) on Friday February 27, 2009 at 2:50pm

I agree with you Darsha! Dr. Lindsay is America’s new atheist funny man! Heck, with all his fans around the country, Colbert should snatch him right up. Hey, why don’t the six of us who have responded to this blog post write to Colbert and let him know about Lindsay’s super wit! 

I see a win-win for CFI and secularists!

#7 Sasha (Guest) on Saturday February 28, 2009 at 12:51pm

Hi everybody. I just have a question about God.
Is it possible that he could exist? Should I believe in God or not?

Thanks

#8 Steve LOWE (Guest) on Saturday February 28, 2009 at 5:48pm

Dear Sasha: you said: “Is it possible that he could exist? Should I believe in God or not?..”
My answer:  No you should not.  It is highly probable that he (why not a she?) does not exist except in our childlike imaginations.  Read M. D. Faber’s “The Psychological Roots of religious belief” for clarification.

Also:  I also would love to see Ron on the Colbert “shew”. 

As far as Heaven goes, after seeing “Who’s Who in Hell”  I would rather be there!

#9 michael harper (Guest) on Sunday March 01, 2009 at 2:21am

Sasha you could believe in a god but you have to pick which one . There are so many to choose from . The trouble is that they only exist in peoples heads and nowhere else . Having said that if any evidence appears this view might need adjustment , don’t hold your breath . Stick to believing in the power of your brain to do some critical thinking and google the top twenty logical fallacies S.G.U.  . Use these to get to the truth . You don’t need to be told what to think you need the tools to help you to think for yourself .
  Ditch your dogma
        Good luck

#10 James McAvoy (Guest) on Monday March 02, 2009 at 5:07pm

Finally, now I know “the rest of the story”. I hope Mr. Harvey does as well.

#11 Dr.Rahul Kumar (Guest) on Saturday March 07, 2009 at 10:30pm

Beloved Christ
      My name is Dr.Rahul Kumar belongs to India. I am a Doctor was born in the strong Christian family. In child hood I love Jesus, and was 6 years old when I accept Jesus as my Savoir. In my studies I never forgot my Lord Jesus. The Lord blessed my studies.
      Presently my family was middle class my father is railway employee his salary monthly nearly 30000. Once upon a time my family there was so many problems in health and financial problems the god heard our problems. Lord Jesus had done so many miracles our lives so my whole family scarified our lives to service god. Holy sprit is talking with me. And I recognize God has some plans for me in His services. I am also ready to work in His vineyard. I have burden to win more Notorious Hindu souls for our Savoir Jesus Christ in India. So I started a organization on 2002 registered on 2004 my details is
      THE EMMNUEL MINISTRIES
        Regd No-686/004
a)    Mathew 4; 17-251.jesus began to preach
2. The calling of the first disciples
3. Jesus heals the sick
b) Mark 16; 15-18   1.go in to all the world and spread to good news to all creation
2. Whosever believes and is baptized will be saved
3. But whosoever does not believe will be perished
c) Isaiah 58; 7-11   1.to loose the chains of injustice
2. To share food with the hungry
3. To provide the poor wanderer with shelter
4. To clothe the naked
The Emmanuel ministries (TEM) are non-profit, volunteer Christian organization working solely by faith. Its goal is spread the gospel in love
            MAIN OBJECTIVES;
1) Proclaim the good news of Christ to the nation
2) Plant churches and outreach programs
3) Spread the world of god via Christian crusades campaigns, youth conferences
4) Provide bible education, discipleship training
          FAITH OF THE MISSION;
1)    We believe in the holy bible, which is the fully and uniquely inspired word of god, the only infallible, sufficient and authoritative rule of faith and practice
2)    One god who is eternally existent in three people%u2019s father, son and Holy Spirit
3)    The deity of our lord Jesus Christ, his virgin birth, his sinless life, his victorious death and atonement through his shed blood, hi bodily resurrection, his ascension, his editorial intercession and his personal return in power and glory. He is the only savior of mankind
4)    The salvation of lost and sinful men through regeneration by the Holy Spirit. Salvation is by grace through faith.
5)    The resurrection of both the saved and the lost; they that are saved unto the resurrection of life and they that are lost unto the resurrection of damnation
6)    The spiritual unity of all believers in our lord Jesus Christ, who comprise the church, which is the body of Christ
                                                                                                                                                   
                             
          OUTREACH MINISTRIES;
1) Hospitals
2) Secular and vocational schools
3) Orphanages
4) Home less shelters
5) Home for the elderly
6) Literacy centers
      THE EMMANUEL MINISTRIES AND FINANCE;
The motto of this ministry is found in Matthew 4; 17-25.it rests four pillars vision, faith, hope, sacrifice and love TEM is nonprofits organization sustained by god and supported via the contribution of individuals throughout in India. TEM is not sponsored by any other country (Galatians 3; 12) we praise the lord for this faith ministry
HOW YOU CAN BE A PART OF THE EMMANUEL MINISTRIES;
1. If the lord is calling you, you can offer yourself to TEM for missionary service
2. You can introduce this ministry to your relatives, friends and others in your town and you can start a prayer group today in your home or in your church, for TEM
3. You can give sacrificially of your monthly income towards the support of missionary work. You can also others to support TEM through their gifts
4. You can contribute towards these TEM projects;
a) Missionary children’s education found
    b) Missionaries medical Aid
    c)  Orphanages and old aged homes.
    d)  Outreach literature
    e)  Built churches in all rural areas
You can use the annexed from to write and tells us your intention, with the lord%u2019s help, how you will share in the ministry of THE EMMANUEL MINISTRIES
Yours Jesus servant
Dr.K.Rahul Kumar
            (President of TEM)
Pastor.K.Raghu veer
            (Founder of TEM)
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#12 Zombiwulf (Guest) on Thursday March 12, 2009 at 3:29pm

After glancing at the post above, I can see how one would need an eternity to wade through the woo… what a dis-endorsement of dogma.

Life is short my fellow humans, don’t make it any shorter with bronze age thinking… we get to have all the advantages of classical thinking with enlightenment followed by scientific advancement and now social reform and expansion of ‘planitary ethics’

Don’t wait to be saved - save yourselves.
>>>start by listening to ‘Point of Inquiry’<<<

#13 Zombiwulf (Guest) on Thursday March 12, 2009 at 3:52pm

...and to entangle this inherited intellectual/emotional baggage with charitable projects!!! sugar coated stealth missile (or should that be missive)...

#14 opentoreason on Tuesday March 17, 2009 at 5:19pm

.....so now we can add stealth jesus to stealth jihad as the two main threats to a meaningful future for our children (or non-children).  Richard Dawkins hit the nail on the head with the title of his book “The God Delusion” a must for anybody to read especially Sasha I recommend this book to you, it will free you from doubt forever, I can (probably) guarantee it.  Enjoy….. But to come back to the thread, heaven is in the arms of a good lover, of whatever persuasion, me I prefer the opposite sex.  But whatever floats your boat.  Death is final, and am I glad about that, I have no wish to sit praising the Lord or whatever he calls himself for all eternity,  a video game would be a useful distraction. And, any god who would condemn his creations to eternal torture is not a god I want any part of.  By the way I like this site a great deal, well done.

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