Bringing together non-believers …
By Kennedy Karuga (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Even while I still believed in God, Heaven had long lost its appeal to me. As my preferences and my perspective of life matured along the course of growing up, so did my ideas of bliss and happiness. As a child, it appeared to me, like it did to many of us, that the heavens of traditional theology could not be matched by anything imaginable. Heaven had been described to me, with the assistance of a red book that my grandfather had bought in 1974 containing a vast number of heavenly pictures captioned in Kiswahili, as a place of unlimited pleasures. The book showed big orchards, a beautiful family seated under a big tree in a vast, green park, and running their hands over lions, butterflies, beautiful girls with rosy cheeks and ballerina dresses, a beautiful sky, and clean paths running through all the green. It was a place that, as a child, I found totally irresistible.
By when I was approaching ten, however, I was becoming less enthusiastic about heaven. It began when I came across verse fifteen of Revelation 22. “Outside are dogs, sorcerers, the sexually immoral, murderers, idolaters, and everyone who loves and practices falsehood.”
It is the dogs that had me disturbed.
I have always loved dogs immensely, and I could not understand for what reason a dog would be locked out of heaven with those ‘evil’ categories of people. My dog was a gentle dog, and I struggled to see why a just God would keep such a sweet animal out of heaven and relegate him to the moral class of sorcerers and idolaters. Through the next five years or thereabout, I totally lost interest in the Biblical heaven. Notwithstanding its supposed beauty, it evaded explanation how one could possibly enjoy heaven knowing their friends, parents, and children were being tortured with fire at a different establishment in the basement.
Then of course there was the thought of singing and praising for eternity, which, I extrapolated from my dislike of church services, would be dead boring. At this point, there wasn’t much difference between heaven and hell.
Since I cleansed myself of religious bunkum, I have come to believe that the heavens of traditional theologies should only appeal to the feeble-minded: those whose biggest concerns in life are the very basic human needs such as food, shelter and sex. I often idealize what a perfect heaven would look and run like.
Heaven for me would be far from the kind of heaven peddled by theology. Forget the 72 virgins, the servants, the palaces, the gold and the orchards. Of course some of those would be there, but it is not them that would define my heaven. Heaven for me would be a place of total freedom; free of totalitarian governments, communism, taboo, social conventions, censorship, restraints, and certainly, religion. It would be a place of rational thought, where people did not believe in witchcraft, conspiracy theories, astrology, spirits, horoscopes, psychic abilities, gods and messiahs, and a lot of other supernatural tripe.
People like Deepak Chopra wouldn’t make millions from selling lies. It would be a place where every claim, every assertion, would be followed by “can you back it with evidence?” Politicians would not go around dispensing propaganda- well, maybe they would, but nobody would buy it anyway. Children would be taught how to think critically from the moment they spoke their first syllables. No discipline or body of information would be immune to scrutiny, doubt, criticism, even derision.
In heaven, no person would be derided or harmed because they were of an untypical sexual orientation. Neither would women be prohibited from doing certain things, solely on account of being women. There would be no authority, no law, and no judiciary. They would not be necessary, anyway. There would be no poverty, hunger, disease or war, and there obviously would be no antithesis to my heaven where people were tortured eternally. Intelligence would prevail in heaven. There would be colossal libraries on every street with billions of volumes, and we would all have a better facility for understanding. There would be beautiful landscapes with all of nature contained, and we would have access to powerful cameras, through which we would take and share pictures of the wonders of heaven.
Heaven would be a place of talent: painters, writers, playwrights, sculptors, singers, dancers, illusionists and actors would be plenty in heaven. At breakfast, Eric Clapton would sing ‘You look wonderful tonight’ or any of his other numbers except ‘Tears in Heaven’ because nobody in heaven would know a thing about tears, including Clapton himself. Phil Collins would take over at dinner, although he too wouldn’t sing ‘something happened on the way to heaven’.
Drawing comparisons between my heaven and the theological heavens advertised from mosques, churches and shrines, you can begin to understand why the latter would not get me to salivate. Condescending as this may sound to many, I think Heaven is for the simple-minded.
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