Can Heaven Or Hell Exist If There Is No God?

Discuss philosophical questions regarding theism (and atheism), and discuss religion as it relates to philosophy. This includes any philosophical discussions that happen to be about god, gods, or a 'higher power' or the belief of them. This also generally includes philosophical topics about organized or ritualistic mysticism or about organized, common or ritualistic beliefs in the existence of supernatural phenomenon.
tommarcus
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Re: Can Heaven Or Hell Exist If There Is No God?

Post by tommarcus » September 20th, 2018, 9:01 pm

It is satisfying to see how many constructive issues this question has raised.

The consensus seems to be that heaven and hell exist in some way and that they are not necessarily a direct result of God. As stated by some, I too believe that these states exist now. But I don't believe that they are two discreet states. It is not either or. If we come back afterdeath, or if we are existing in them now, they are graduated from worst to best and everything in between. This is because, our actions don't fall neatly into two categories and therefore neither could we.

Almost all societies have created this hope that a Heaven exists which will be free from all pain and we will be totally blissful forever. This means that for them a Hell must exist because we want justice for those who don't deserve Heaven.

Burning ghost rightly focused on my use of the word "form" which was my way of saying something will be different about us, but I am not sure what. That is a safe bet, since we will all die and the physical world in which we live is changing and may someday completely disappear. Steve 3007 rightly makes reference to my word "enlightened" By this I mean that, at a minimum, whatever consciousness we have is no longer completely constrained by a physical body which has had to be changed in some way. But for us to truly live after death, our memories and actions must come with us. But to have memories we must have some form of our brain and body. To have our body, there must be an environment for it to exist in. Take any living thing and put it into an extremely different environment, and it too will eventually change into something different. So afterlife not only implies that we will come back but so must our world.

Some comments rightly segway to what is good or bad behaviour since that would theoretically determine whether we would go to Heaven or Hell. This is a whole topic in itself. If you suddenly see things in an enlightened way, what you thought was good is suddenly not good. If you thought killing someone who had a different religion was a moral obligation and now see that the oppoisite was true, how will you deal with this? You may have had a tumor in your head or was just brainwashed. But this realization would probably not be enough to relieve your guilt.

There must continue to be searching as to what is morally right and wrong which would be in accordance to how we were made. If we act contrary to the morals which are consistent with how we are made, we will be like a machine with no oil. We will be constantly living with the feeling that something is wrong. This will affect us in this world and the next.

Finally I agree that we may never know exactly what God is. And this discussion begs for a definition of what is meant by God. But I think it is time that we seriously debate certain beliefs about God which contradict the concept of God. I believe that God must be a conscious being. To be otherwise, means this God is just a thing. This would make it something less than ordinary human who has awareness. God cannot do everything. God cannot do things which contradict reason. God cannot be less virtuous than the most virtuous being possible. That would also make God a less than supreme being.

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Greta
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Re: Can Heaven Or Hell Exist If There Is No God?

Post by Greta » September 20th, 2018, 9:15 pm

I think you may have touched on an important aspect above.

What is an afterlife without memory of the last one? Just a different life it would seem.

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Re: Can Heaven Or Hell Exist If There Is No God?

Post by Mark1955 » September 21st, 2018, 11:33 am

Belindi wrote:
September 20th, 2018, 4:41 pm
I'd say that aimless pursuit of pleasure is the picture of not knowing who one is.
I know I'm being a bit pedantic but you can't aimlessly pursue something, you have an aim, to pursue whatever it is you're pursuing. I suspect those who then say my pursuit is aimless mean they don't agree with it and think I should pursue something more worthy.
If you think you know the answer you probably don't understand the question.

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Re: Can Heaven Or Hell Exist If There Is No God?

Post by Mark1955 » September 21st, 2018, 11:43 am

Greta wrote:
September 20th, 2018, 9:15 pm
What is an afterlife without memory of the last one? Just a different life it would seem.
Quite, otherwise we might be in the afterlife now. Logically if then move on to the afterafterlife without any memory what we're describing is reincarnation.
If you think you know the answer you probably don't understand the question.

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Re: Can Heaven Or Hell Exist If There Is No God?

Post by tommarcus » September 21st, 2018, 12:22 pm

Greta, I like your thoughts on free will, balance, the current existence of heaven and hell and the possible spiritual content of things. I believe that the interelationship of these concepts provides insight into our existence.

I do believe that everything, living and non-living, has a non-physical form . Some may refer to it as spiritual. I look at it as a dimension which is existence itself. Everything must have it in order to exist. This dimension existed and exists beyond our physical world. As a result, it is not subject to the laws of cause and effect. Living things can "see" this dimension through the capability to be self-aware. All living things even plants. Further, this capability releases living things, humans in particular, from the chains of determinism which would be in effect if the physical world was total existence. Hence this "meta" capability or free will exists because of it. Our own self-awareness provides evidence that this dimension exists.

This dimension exists now. And it will exist when we are physically gone. Our existence, or our existence in this dimension, cannot be destroyed by the elimination of the physical dimensions. Our impact on the existence dimension is like throwing a rock through a window. It can't be reversed. Not even God could undo something that happened.This world, as you imply, is our heaven or hell now and forever. The only thing that could change is how our perspective and that of existence changes.

I like your use of the term "balance". As I said, we need to live according to the way we were made. If we were made to kill and murder, then we will only be happy if we do that. If we were made to love, then we must do that. If we don't, then we will be out of balance. Something will not seem right, We will feel this physically but also in our existence dimension. The farther out of balance we are, the closer to hell we will be in this world and hereafter. But we can exercise free will to get ourselves into balance.

How we were made is another issue. I also agree that God is not a necessary component of the above theory. However, dialogue on God's existence and nature are necessary to shed further light on our entire nature. Art can be appreciated without knowing the artist. But, we can much more fully understand the meaning of a painting when we have better knowledge of the painter.

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Re: Can Heaven Or Hell Exist If There Is No God?

Post by Cosmogenes » September 21st, 2018, 1:09 pm

"Heaven" and "Hell" are spiritual fantasies created by human consciousness having become aware of death and imagining that the personality survives in some form after one dies.If that happens, then what kind of existence would be likely? Well, you may reincarnate in some form, or you may "live" in some kind of environment, and if you were a "good person" then it would be some sort of "heaven" (72 virgins?) or some sort of "hell" if you were a "bad person", however your fantasy might imagine those environments.
The other alternative is the "resurrection", according to which you rest in peace for some time until some "savior" appears who brings you back to life in some sort of improved body.
As for me, the old Epicurean saying says it best:
I WAS NOT, I HAVE BEEN, I AM NOT, I DON'T CARE.
Meantime, as advised in the Hebrew book of KOHELETH (Ecclesiastes):
Go, eat your bread with joy
and drink your wine with a cheerful heart.
Enjoy life with your beloved
all your fleeting days.
For this is your portion in life
and in your labor under the sun.
Whatever you find to do with your hands, do it with all your might,
for there is no work or planning
or knowledge or wisdom
in the realm of the dead,
where you are going.

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Greta
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Re: Can Heaven Or Hell Exist If There Is No God?

Post by Greta » September 21st, 2018, 5:57 pm

Mark1955 wrote:
September 21st, 2018, 11:43 am
Greta wrote:
September 20th, 2018, 9:15 pm
What is an afterlife without memory of the last one? Just a different life it would seem.
Quite, otherwise we might be in the afterlife now. Logically if then move on to the afterafterlife without any memory what we're describing is reincarnation.
Well, energetically at one stage we were all hot plasma. It would seem we've come a long way. I like to think that it's been an improvement of sorts :)

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Greta
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Re: Can Heaven Or Hell Exist If There Is No God?

Post by Greta » September 21st, 2018, 6:17 pm

Cosmogenes wrote:
September 21st, 2018, 1:09 pm
"Heaven" and "Hell" are spiritual fantasies created by human consciousness having become aware of death and imagining that the personality survives in some form after one dies.If that happens, then what kind of existence would be likely? Well, you may reincarnate in some form, or you may "live" in some kind of environment, and if you were a "good person" then it would be some sort of "heaven" (72 virgins?) or some sort of "hell" if you were a "bad person", however your fantasy might imagine those environments.
The other alternative is the "resurrection", according to which you rest in peace for some time until some "savior" appears who brings you back to life in some sort of improved body.
As for me, the old Epicurean saying says it best:
I WAS NOT, I HAVE BEEN, I AM NOT, I DON'T CARE.
Meantime, as advised in the Hebrew book of KOHELETH (Ecclesiastes):
Go, eat your bread with joy
and drink your wine with a cheerful heart.
Enjoy life with your beloved
all your fleeting days.
For this is your portion in life
and in your labor under the sun.
Whatever you find to do with your hands, do it with all your might,
for there is no work or planning
or knowledge or wisdom
in the realm of the dead,
where you are going.
Great poem, he might be right. Or he might not.

Still, it's still possible that subjective afterlives may still exist but not as envisaged. For instance, consider what happens in the brain while dreaming. While tests have shown that the timing of events in dreams are one-for-one with the external environment, there can be a considerable subjective sense of time dilation.

How can that happen? Via compression, in the same way as MP3 and JPG are compressed from WAV and TIF files. The unimportant information is thrown away. That is why in dream you will be suddenly 'teleported' from place to place; you won't tend to dream about finding your keys, locking the door, walking down the path, saying hi the neighbour, getting in the car, checking for traffic, safely pulling from the kerb etc etc. No, one minute you are at Aunty Mabel's place eating cupcakes and the next moment you find yourself in the midst of a battle at sea.

Thus must be how subjective events unfold during near death experiences, where the revived dying have often reported all manner of events that seemingly had occurred in a matter of minutes or hours. It may not be such a stretch to imagine that that compression would increase as the brain increasingly shut down.

Now Aunty Mabel and the sea battle are deprioritised and the compression continues. Now only the big things are there, the most emotionally resonant things. The conceptions of the mind will hone down further, the subjective time stretching as the mind is reduced to its most basic sensibilities, only containing that which it considers most resonant. And then again, at which point there would be an extraordinarily deep inner focus. I like the idea that a person can be subjectively experiencing years of wonder and weirdness in the few minutes that doctors or relatives look sombrely down at them before wheeling them out.

Or, given that we don't seem to have apprehended the true nature of time very well, and perhaps are not even physiologically equipped to do so, maybe life after death is caused by an unknown aspect of time? Then there's the 'block universe', which appears to just be an effective working model rather than a true description of physical reality, but maybe it isn't?

Or there may be 'unknown unknowns' we could not imagine.

Or, as you suggest, we might just snuff it and it's 'lights out'.

Hopefully none of us find out soon.

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Re: Can Heaven Or Hell Exist If There Is No God?

Post by Greta » September 21st, 2018, 6:45 pm

tommarcus wrote:
September 21st, 2018, 12:22 pm
Further, this capability releases living things, humans in particular, from the chains of determinism which would be in effect if the physical world was total existence. Hence this "meta" capability or free will exists because of it. Our own self-awareness provides evidence that this dimension exists.

I like your use of the term "balance". As I said, we need to live according to the way we were made. If we were made to kill and murder, then we will only be happy if we do that. If we were made to love, then we must do that. If we don't, then we will be out of balance.
You are talking about life. I think you will it's all still cause and effect. You only exert your 'free will' a certain way because you are inclined a certain way. However, the knock on effects become so deep and complex that you'd need to be a galactic supercomputer to work it out. In that, the net effect for me is that I feel blameless, and that others are also blameless. Just because we can't work out the knock on effects that were ultimately set up by our environments lead us to be who we are does not mean they aren't there.

This harks back to balance, that each thing we do is driven by either restlessness or contentment.
tommarcus wrote:How we were made is another issue. I also agree that God is not a necessary component of the above theory. However, dialogue on God's existence and nature are necessary to shed further light on our entire nature. Art can be appreciated without knowing the artist. But, we can much more fully understand the meaning of a painting when we have better knowledge of the painter.
Put it this way: you are God to your internal cells and microbes (people forget that cells are actually super sophisticated captive microbes). Now consider your relationship to those cells and microbes. Yet even then the equivalence is not quite there - the cells are bigger in comparison to us than we are within the universe.

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Re: Can Heaven Or Hell Exist If There Is No God?

Post by tommarcus » September 21st, 2018, 9:46 pm

If the seeking of pleasure or even just the lack of worry about anything was our true mission in life, , then we (by "we" I mean a large portion of the world, but unfortunateky not everyone) should be the happiest, most satisfied people in all history. We are not. Actually happiness is a very hard thing for people to attain. Many people who have achievement, wealth, health, fame, and other material things do not necessarily have happiness. Some of this is physical and psychological, but not all. Empirical evidence cannot be ignored.

This is like having a stomach ache but not knowing why. This is our mind and body telling us something is not right. We are not functioning according to the way were made. The more we focus on our own desires and wants, the more they increase and the less they are satisfied. And more unhappy we are. This is the cycle of inward looking selfishness. This cycle would be hard to break if the physical world is all that existed. No matter how complicated, we would be controlled by physical processes only. Our brain is a physical thing. Try doing something without it. Therefore whatever we do would be completely controlled by its physical processes. However, if there is another dimension or type of existence, then we are no longer solely controlled our physical organs. The evidence of that other dimension is right in front of us. Our self-awareness lets us sense our existence and this was not created by our brain. This is our interaction with that other dimension from which we get our free will.

Here again the "balance" that we are looking for comes into play. We can allow ourselves to be driven by selfish desires, not necessarily all material, which are driven by our physical environment. Or we can focus on those drives from the non-physical aspect of our being. So we need to search for what our entire existence craves, not just one side of it. Because we do not exist in a closed system of cause and effect, we have the freedom to discover our true goals and fill them. That will bring happiness here and it will follow us into any afterlife.

We were not made to seek pleasure and were not made to be selfish. As long as we live like we are so made, we will never be truly happy. You will come to this conclusion whether you argue from empirical evidence or theoretical dialectic.

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Re: Can Heaven Or Hell Exist If There Is No God?

Post by Greta » September 22nd, 2018, 1:43 am

tommarcus wrote:
September 21st, 2018, 9:46 pm
If the seeking of pleasure or even just the lack of worry about anything was our true mission in life, , then we (by "we" I mean a large portion of the world, but unfortunateky not everyone) should be the happiest, most satisfied people in all history. We are not. Actually happiness is a very hard thing for people to attain. Many people who have achievement, wealth, health, fame, and other material things do not necessarily have happiness. Some of this is physical and psychological, but not all. Empirical evidence cannot be ignored.
I blame group selection, Tom. The groups that are dominant, that survive to produce offspring like us, tend to be better organised than less successful groups of people. So there was much social pressure for people to contribute. The more relaxed and pleasant societies could not compete or survive natural hazards like their neurotically hardworking counterparts.

It has reached the point where guilt of not doing enough good for others is hardwired into our systems. We either obey or feel restless, uncomfortable. Yet the demands are insatiable - beyond the capacity of most humans! So most of us walk around in a bubble of quiet self flagellation, for not trying hard enough, for making mistakes, for not being as kind, clever, helpful, perceptive, empathetic ... tele-bloody-pathic enough!

The take home message is: no, you are absolutely fine as you are, and you are free to develop yourself as as much as opportunity, motivation and energy allow. I only realised this with distance gained from retirement, after society squeezed about as much "normal" guilt-driven contribution from me as it was going to manage before the old jalopy broke.
tommarcus wrote:
September 21st, 2018, 9:46 pm
This is like having a stomach ache but not knowing why. This is our mind and body telling us something is not right. We are not functioning according to the way were made.
As above, we are functioning precisely as per manufacturer specs.
tommarcus wrote:
September 21st, 2018, 9:46 pm
The more we focus on our own desires and wants, the more they increase and the less they are satisfied. And more unhappy we are. This is the cycle of inward looking selfishness. This cycle would be hard to break if the physical world is all that existed. No matter how complicated, we would be controlled by physical processes only.
The same lack of satisfaction is present when doing good. You are only as good as your last deed, so you dare not let it fade too far back into the past. Drive drive drive. Push push push. This is what the world wants from you. It must never be satisfied because in the dynamics of evolution satisfaction = hubris = vulnerability. Stay on the job! No excuses! Don't be a weakling/shirker/wastrel/ne'er do well/etc!
tommarcus wrote:
September 21st, 2018, 9:46 pm
Our brain is a physical thing. Try doing something without it. Therefore whatever we do would be completely controlled by its physical processes. However, if there is another dimension or type of existence, then we are no longer solely controlled our physical organs. The evidence of that other dimension is right in front of us. Our self-awareness lets us sense our existence and this was not created by our brain. This is our interaction with that other dimension from which we get our free will.

Here again the "balance" that we are looking for comes into play. We can allow ourselves to be driven by selfish desires, not necessarily all material, which are driven by our physical environment. Or we can focus on those drives from the non-physical aspect of our being. So we need to search for what our entire existence craves, not just one side of it. Because we do not exist in a closed system of cause and effect, we have the freedom to discover our true goals and fill them. That will bring happiness here and it will follow us into any afterlife.

We were not made to seek pleasure and were not made to be selfish. As long as we live like we are so made, we will never be truly happy. You will come to this conclusion whether you argue from empirical evidence or theoretical dialectic.
Your statement here is the product of the remarkable programming job done on the human mind after being refined from generation to generation over millennia. Ever more the world is populated by those desperate to contribute, sometimes even if it meant sacrificing their lives. With all those people keenly contributing a lot can get achieved, and conquests can be made. Note that winners get to tell the tale.

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Re: Can Heaven Or Hell Exist If There Is No God?

Post by Mark1955 » September 23rd, 2018, 10:21 am

Greta wrote:
September 21st, 2018, 5:57 pm
Well, energetically at one stage we were all hot plasma. It would seem we've come a long way. I like to think that it's been an improvement of sorts :)
I'm still not convinced we're not the playthings of the bacteria.
If you think you know the answer you probably don't understand the question.

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Re: Can Heaven Or Hell Exist If There Is No God?

Post by Greta » September 23rd, 2018, 5:20 pm

Nor am I, Mark. However, we are comprised of evolved captive microbial colonies.

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Re: Can Heaven Or Hell Exist If There Is No God?

Post by ThomasHobbes » September 23rd, 2018, 5:32 pm

Mark1955 wrote:
September 23rd, 2018, 10:21 am
Greta wrote:
September 21st, 2018, 5:57 pm
Well, energetically at one stage we were all hot plasma. It would seem we've come a long way. I like to think that it's been an improvement of sorts :)
I'm still not convinced we're not the playthings of the bacteria.
Did you know that sugar loving bacteria are capable of making you crave more sugar?

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Re: Can Heaven Or Hell Exist If There Is No God?

Post by Steve3007 » September 24th, 2018, 6:25 am

Greta wrote:...comprised of...
Ah, I see you're an aficionado of the Cambridge Advanced Learner's Dictionary, like Thomas.

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