Heaven. No one knows if it is real or where it is located. Even the Bible is sketchy about Heaven’s exact location. When asked to point to where Heaven is located, Evangelicals typically point to the sky and say “up there.” A popular song taught to Evangelical children years ago went something like this:
10 – 9 – 8 – 7 – 6 – 5 – 4 – 3 – 2 – 1 Blastoff.
Somewhere in outer space, God has prepared a place
For those who trust Him and obey….
Jesus will come again, although we don’t know when.
The countdown’s getting lower every day.
10 and 9, 8 and 7, 6 and 5 and 4.
Call upon the Saviour while you may……
3 and 2 coming through, the clouds in bright array.
The countdown’s getting lower every day.
Somewhere in outer space . . . but where? The James Webb Telescope can look deep into space:
Webb has the capacity to look 13.6 billion light years distant—which will be the farthest we’ve ever seen into space. This image of the galactic cluster known as SMACS 0723 contains thousands of galaxies, some of which are as far away as 13.1 billion light years. (A single light year is just under 6 trillion miles.) Since light takes a long time to travel so far, we are seeing the galaxies not as they look today, but as they looked 13.1 billion years ago.
As of today, the Webb Telescope has not spotted “Heaven.” Yet, Evangelicals, much like Fox Mulder of X-Files, say “The truth [Heaven] is out there.” I am inclined to think that the belief in the existence of Heaven (and Hell) is a relic from our pre-scientific past. Until the Webb Telescope sees the “Welcome to Heaven” sign far, far away, I am inclined to believe that Heaven is a myth.
For the sake of this post, I will assume Heaven is real; that Evangelicals go to Heaven after they die, and everyone else goes to Hell. Talk to enough Evangelicals and you will find that the promise of Heaven is their primary religious motivator. Fearing death and punishment from God, Evangelicals profess fealty to Jesus Christ, hoping that when they die, God will give them a deluxe room in Heaven. Clergymen go to great lengths to promise their congregants that there will be a divine payoff after death if they will believe, obey, and tithe.
The Bible mentions the word Heaven 691 times; 414 times in the Old Testament; 277 times in the New Testament. Some of the verses use the word Heaven to mean the atmosphere or God’s kingdom on earth. Few verses describe in detail the Heaven Evangelicals think they are going to after they die. It seems preachers just expect church members to take their word for it, even though none of them knows any more about Heaven than their members.
Instead of exegeting the Bible verses that mention a far, far away Heaven, I thought I would conclude this post talking about what Evangelicals believe Heaven will be someday.
One of the great selling points of Heaven is that you will get to see your Christian loved ones after you die. Heaven will be one big family reunion. Cue Johhny Cash, Will the Circle Be Unbroken?
The problem with this idea is that the Bible says that there will be no males or females in Heaven; that its residents will be androgynous beings much like angels.
Many Evangelicals believe that they will see their beloved pets in Heaven. Building on the idea that the Bible says that God will one day give Evangelicals the desires of their hearts, it stands to reason that Heaven will contain pets, automobiles, firearms, televisions, and porn. 🙂
Most Evangelicals will live 60-80 years on earth. They will live good lives, fulfilling lives. Yet, when they get to Heaven, everything changes. Sure, there will be no sickness, pain, suffering, sadness, atheists, humanists, pagans, Muslims, Jews, Hindus, Catholics, Buddhists, indigenous people, LGBTQ people, Democrats, liberals, socialists, or any of the other people they consigned to Hell in this life. David Tee will be there. Revival Fires will be there. Pedophile preachers will be there. My violent, abusive grandfather will be there. My uncle who raped my mother will be there. “Salvation is by grace, through faith,” Evangelicals say. Not works, G-R-A-C-E. Thus, serial abuser David Hyles will be there, praising Jesus that he doesn’t have to pay for his crimes. Entrance to Heaven requires one thing and one thing alone: sincere belief in a set of theological propositions. Pray the prayer, and you too can have a room in Heaven after you die. Think about all the vile, nasty, hateful Evangelicals you have met over the years or read about on the pages of this blog. They will all be in Heaven; you won’t.
Thinking that they have won the lottery, Evangelicals believe a wonderful life awaits them after they die. The Bible suggests that Evangelicals — the only people in Heaven — will spend eternity in Heaven doing one thing: worshipping and praising God (Jesus). 24-7; they will be praising the narcissistic lamb of God. Maybe there will be arts and crafts and roller skating in Heaven, but one thing is certain: Evangelicals will spend the bulk of their time praising Jesus for his three-day weekend thousands and millions of years before. (Please see I Wish Christians Would be Honest About Jesus’ Three Day Weekend.)
Heaven sure sounds like Hell to me.
Bruce Gerencser, 65, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 44 years. He and his wife have six grown children and thirteen grandchildren. Bruce pastored Evangelical churches for twenty-five years in Ohio, Texas, and Michigan. Bruce left the ministry in 2005, and in 2008 he left Christianity. Bruce is now a humanist and an atheist.
Connect with me on social media:
You can email Bruce via the Contact Form.
Your comments are welcome and appreciated. All first-time comments are moderated. Please read the commenting rules before commenting.
It sure does sound ridiculous, when you put it that way.
Which is why the relatively new secular internet website ‘OnlySky’ is so named.
Well then, as an androgynous non binary person, I have something in common with those holy angels god created. I guess god decided to get me on that path early? Christians will no doubt be shocked when they end up like me, forever, and ever, and ever…
I do wonder where Christian’s get the country club, jet setting, life of leisure, mansion dwelling concept of heaven when the Bible says the full time, non stop job of hevea ly citizens is to worship god without ceasing. It doesn’t leave much time for strolling the golden streets.
Sage–Great minds think alike! (Ha, ha!) I wondered whether being a trans woman gave me a head start. Maybe it does, but not like yours!
Anyway, nothing ever made the Christian (or almost any other idea) of Heaven seem more ridiculous than Mark Twain’s depiction of it in Letter II of “Letters From The Earth.” https://www.sacred-texts.com/aor/twain/letearth.htm
Sage, I don’t mean to be offensive, but the apparent reason behind the commonplace representation of angels as androgynous beings instead of, say, the OT Merkavah (‘chariot’), is because Eastern Roman (“Byzantine”, if you prefer) artists took inspiration from court eunuchs when painting angels, and the mode spread from the ERE all across Europe. At least, that’s what I recall.
I read a joke somewhere where st peter was giving all the new arrivals to heaven a tour and one of them asked about a big grey skyscraper. Peter calmly replied that that was where all the evangelicals were kept. He also mentioned that they also thought they were the only ones there with a wink and a sly smile.
All sorts of creeps will be there, it’s true. Plenty of serial killers as well. This reminds me of a short excerpt from my book, which I’ll share here if you don’t mind. This paragraph follows on from a discussion of Chick tracts.
“In this same heartwarming style, the serial killer Ted Bundy had been brought home to glory by the public-school-despising lobbyist against porn and gayness and founder of Focus on the Family, Dr James Dobson. Ted had confessed his sins to James mere hours from execution, confirming everything that Dobson wanted to hear. Namely that his murderous necrophilia was a direct result of having stumbled upon some magazines of violent pornography in an alleyway as a child. From there it had been an escalating desensitization lubricated by alcohol, until Bundy had no choice but to start making his fantasies meet reality. James was visibly stimulated by the narrative, going so far as to nod that pornography was in many ways the real culprit here. Ted went on to ask the Lord to enter him. And shortly thereafter also received over two thousand volts into his body, a pleasure he’d really been hoping to avert with Jesus’ help. Now Bundy sat at His right hand enjoying a tall draught of cool water, tutting down at his unsaved victims burning eternally with unquenchable thirst.”
Rereading this now, some of his victims must have also been ‘saved’. Meaning they now pass each other on streets of gold and…what exactly? Heaven makes no sense.
Many people long for immortality, and are bored already with this life.
If we define a conversation as any set of words smaller than War and Peace, then there are only so many conversations that can be had. In eternity, after you have repeated every possible conversation millions of time, what is there to talk about?
If a person is looking at his watch to see when church is over–I bet you saw this from the pulpit, huh?– what are they going to do in a church service that lasts forever? When one stands in front of church looking at people who obviously don’t want to be there, one wonders why they want an eternal church service.
One can enjoy the thrill skiing down the hill knowing one eventually comes to the bottom. Likewise, one can enjoy this life, knowing eventually we will come to the end of the run. A ski slope that ends is more fun than a theoretical ski slope that never ends.
Don’t forget the billions of fertilized eggs and embryos that never even got to the fetus stage. Since “ life begins at conception” these clusters of cells will inhabit the heavenly kingdom along with the Son of Sam killer and Ted Bundy. Since it appears that people will become automatons for Jesus in heaven these cell clusters who never developed a personality will have an advantage over full formed humans.
Christians would talk about heaven being great, with mansions, amazing food, jewels, gold, etc. However, I remember one pastor saying we would just be singing (ok with me) and worshiping God/Jesus/Holy Spirit all the time (not fun). The alternative was eternal conscious torment in hell. Heaven and hell didn’t seem that much different in my opinion.
I can’t imagine why God would choose to doom himself to spending all eternity with such a bunch of shitheads.
Back when the Bible was written, when the authors still believed the Earth was flat (though some in other cultures like Eratosthenes had figured it out), heaven was just the night sky. We can’t see it anymore because putting up a light pole and illuminating it from dawn to dusk is relatively cheap and no one these days even knows what they are missing, but it used to be quite the thing.
Science has progressed, we know that there is no heaven and earth, just a cosmos where all nature’s laws are pretty much the same no heaven or hell. (According to theology) When a soul goes to heaven does it take time? Does it cover a distance? We are essentially dead during sleep, our soul doesn’t need a heavenly abode then, why is the last breath yields paradise but sleep only dreams?
Let’s face it heaven is just a childish fantasy to help us with the rather off-putting notion that there will be future that won’t include us. It is like the stork bringing babies or Santa bringing presents. Ok for kids, but adults need to get a grip.
I wonder where the scene depicted in this post’s illustration takes place. It it a well lit roller rink or a Broadway stage? Did J.C. make his grand entrance down those stairs with the angels tap-dancing on either side of him? And what about the music? I suspect it was this: https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=scixjBIHmHY.
Sir Ian McKellen said recently that half of Holywood is gay, so another atheist blog commenter and I agreed we could look forward to some fabulous and sparkly floor shows and meeting one another in hell to enjoy them. And Neil Patrick Harris, the wonderful Alan Cummings in your clip and many more….heaven with the likes of Theissen, Steve Anderson et al….not so much!
Tildy, book us front row center seats for the hottest show in Gehenna! 🔥
Looking forward to that KG!! See ya there! Along with all the other regulars here and our leader and Polly of course!
I wouldn’t even want to eat ice cream with brownie crumbles for all of eternity. And I love ice cream with brownie crumbles.