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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Can Heaven Or Hell Exist If There Is No God?

Post by tommarcus » September 14th, 2018, 9:47 am

The concepts of Heaven or Hell are typically associated with a God who makes judgement on people's action during their life. But assume that God doesn't exist does that mean that there is no Heaven or He'll?

I maintain that Heaven or He'll is a function of whether we have an after life. This too does not have to be a function of the existence of God. Rather it is a function of our entire physical and metaphysical existence. It is certainly possible that our existence does not end when we die regardless of whether there is a God to make it happen. So then the question is what would that existence be?

It is possible that our type of existence will be a function of our actions on earth. I don't believe that it will be the Middle Ages concept of forever floating angels in Heaven or eternally burning bodies in Hell. But if we come back with all of our thoughts and memories and with an enlightened view of our world, then the consequence of our actions could force us to exist in a form of heaven or hell. It is not God's judgement, it becomes self judgement.

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

Post by Burning ghost » September 14th, 2018, 9:55 am

Tommarcus -

For what it’s worth I view heaven and hell as being very real. The difference is I don’t imagine as something happening in an “after life” (unless you simply mean “future”/“tomorrow”: I can get onboard with that!)

As for the question of an “afterlife” I stick tend to lea heavily toward what Socrates said, it is an unopen gift, inside we can but only guess as to the contents, and it may even be completely empty. That last part may scare some, not knowing may scare some more even more, and so some settle for choosing to believe something else entirely.
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Re: Can Heaven Or Hell Exist If There Is No God?

Post by Steve3007 » September 14th, 2018, 10:05 am

tommarcus wrote:But if we come back with all of our thoughts and memories and with an enlightened view of our world, then the consequence of our actions could force us to exist in a form of heaven or hell. It is not God's judgement, it becomes self judgement.
This appears to be quite a commonly held view: that we are not judged by an external agent, but that we create our own heaven or hell by our actions. We are judged by a more enlightened version of ourselves.

If this were true, then presumably, being enlightened, we would fully understand the reasons for all of the actions we took in our life. So presumably we'd forgive ourselves and see no reason to "beat ourselves up" about it?

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

Post by tommarcus » September 14th, 2018, 10:13 am

I appreciate your thoughts on this, Burning ghost.

Do you think that such heaven or hell existence is inescapable? That is, if we are to exist beyond our current form, we must exist with all of our memories and thoughts since these are an important part of who we are. Without them, then we become someone else. But then our actions will be with us forever. Or is it totally unknown? What do you think?

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

Post by tommarcus » September 14th, 2018, 10:38 am

Steve3007,

You make a good point regarding full meaning of enlightenment. Do you think it would be possible to forgive ourselves no matter what the reason or consequences of our actions? I imagine myself awakening as Hitler or some other tyrant and trying to forgive myself, even if I had a tumor in my head which caused all of my crimes.

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

Post by Burning ghost » September 14th, 2018, 12:48 pm

tommarcus wrote:
September 14th, 2018, 10:13 am
I appreciate your thoughts on this, Burning ghost.

Do you think that such heaven or hell existence is inescapable? That is, if we are to exist beyond our current form, we must exist with all of our memories and thoughts since these are an important part of who we are. Without them, then we become someone else. But then our actions will be with us forever. Or is it totally unknown? What do you think?
Of course it’s inescapable. We exist beyond our “current form” every flowing moment. We’re not static.

I do understand you’re refrring to something else when you say “current form” though. I’m not in the habit of playing that game anymore; been there, done that, and found nothing fruitful in it.

By all means you can, and maybe should, imagine some hypothetical “beyond human experience” and/or “after life”. Whatever grounds you is certainly not to be taken lightly.

Loke I’ve already said, if there is some “existence” beyond this “form” I obviously have no access to it until the time comes (if ever!) I see no good reason to concern myself with it and would rather pursue my own path through life and keep on trying to “improve” as I best see fit.
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Re: Can Heaven Or Hell Exist If There Is No God?

Post by Thinking critical » September 17th, 2018, 6:01 am

The idea of heaven and hell are metaphorical, they exist in our minds.
Hell is the place where we mentally torture ourselves. It is the manifestation of guilt.
Heaven is the natural high we feel after we have done a selfless act in order to benefit someone.
These two places represent states of mind of living conscious agents, heaven and hell are right here on earth.

As for an afterlife.....well dreams are free, if people want to believe in one I guess the bonus is they won't have to experience the disappointment of being wrong.
This cocky little cognitive contortionist will straighten you right out

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

Post by Mark1955 » September 17th, 2018, 7:30 am

I'd suggest that if there are two places, one good one bad, you have to have something putting you in one or the other. Imagine discovering there is an afterlife and being offered the choice of a place representing all the things you like or not, not really a long decision making process. By definition for those who are religious that thing would be god, even if it didn't look like an aged white man with a long beard.
What interests me more is, if there is only one heaven, how many people will actually enjoy it. Suppose heaven is teetotal, no sex for fun, lots of church services, how bad would hell have to be for you to want to give it a go.
One theory of hell is that it is where the evil are punished for their sins. OK I'm not perfect but I reckon I can cope with with some come back for what I've done, and the satisfaction of seeing those who really deserve it getting their just deserts might make it quite a reasonable place.
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Re: Can Heaven Or Hell Exist If There Is No God?

Post by Burning ghost » September 17th, 2018, 11:00 am

Mark -

This is something that pops up again and again. What is “good” now may be “bad” later. If the detriment of some act is worse than the benefits then we can happily say it’s worth is “bad”. Yet if one struggles and pains through life only to reap an over all “good” then we can say the struggles and pains were over all beneficial to our becoming a “better” person.

What items of thougt like “heaven and hell” are useful for is helping us to envision the possible “best” and “worst” worlds. Like you mention above to contemplate the actuality of some supposed “heaven” or “hell” would necessarily make them less idealised. We cannot envision tomorrow much more accurately thawe can yesterday. We live extended across time holding onto fears and hopes and often carrying them forwards with us - sometimes we pick the wrong fears and hopes and learn brutally honest lessons, and sometimes such honesty is more often than not a painful experience. What we wish for never comes without a cost and often (to be honest I’d say always) the wish is useless if brought into full fruition.

People who wish to “improve”, and I’d say everyone does, often stops there and just hopes for things to fall merrily into place. They hope for miracle of happenstance rather than actually putting in some effort and grinding out a path for themselves. It’s tough making choices. It’s no wonder we fear making them and putting ourselves up for culpability and potential disaster at our own hands.

As Belinda Carlisle said “Heaven is a place on Earth” yet she omitted that “hell is a place on Earth” :) it’s all just circle in the sand ;)
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Re: Can Heaven Or Hell Exist If There Is No God?

Post by Belindi » September 17th, 2018, 11:14 am

Life after death would not depend upon a personal God. A personal God is not a necessary prerequisite for life after death.

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

Post by Mark1955 » September 17th, 2018, 11:20 am

Belindi wrote:
September 17th, 2018, 11:14 am
Life after death would not depend upon a personal God. A personal God is not a necessary prerequisite for life after death.
I agree, although I think some sort of god concept is necessary for heaven/hell concepts unless you simply translated heaven as 'somewhere I'm happy' and hell as 'somewhere I'm unhappy'.
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 Belindi » September 19th, 2018, 9:44 am

Mark1955 wrote:
September 17th, 2018, 11:20 am
Belindi wrote:
September 17th, 2018, 11:14 am
Life after death would not depend upon a personal God. A personal God is not a necessary prerequisite for life after death.
I agree, although I think some sort of god concept is necessary for heaven/hell concepts unless you simply translated heaven as 'somewhere I'm happy' and hell as 'somewhere I'm unhappy'.
Well, the sort of God would not have to be a conscious entity that makes plans and so on. It may be sort of like Karma---nothing more personal than cause and effect.

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

Post by Mark1955 » September 19th, 2018, 2:13 pm

Belindi wrote:
September 19th, 2018, 9:44 am
Mark1955 wrote:
September 17th, 2018, 11:20 am

I agree, although I think some sort of god concept is necessary for heaven/hell concepts unless you simply translated heaven as 'somewhere I'm happy' and hell as 'somewhere I'm unhappy'.
Well, the sort of God would not have to be a conscious entity that makes plans and so on. It may be sort of like Karma---nothing more personal than cause and effect.
Hypothesis, during life we build up piousons and sinions depending on whether we behave well or badly. At death if the piousions/sinion ratio is > 1 our non-corporeal essence feels happy, if the balance is < 1 it feels miserable. Invitations for moderately believable hypotheses are invited for a) how pious or sinful actions cause these particles to accrue in the body, b) how the particles generate the sense of happiness or misery in a non corporeal entity.

Funny aside - I was originally going to use the terms pion and sinon, but apparently a pion is a meson having a mass approximately 270 times that of an electron and a sinon is a person who deceives and betrays by false tales. Every day a learning day.
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Re: Can Heaven Or Hell Exist If There Is No God?

Post by Belindi » September 20th, 2018, 4:41 pm

Mark, happiness is the motivating power, and I endorse your second option in your
I think some sort of god concept is necessary for heaven/hell concepts unless you simply translated heaven as 'somewhere I'm happy' and hell as 'somewhere I'm unhappy'.
Knowing who one is , is necessary for happiness. Knowing who one is is about knowing the path one is on and includes personal change.Knowing who one is , is a lived experience which may be unselfconscious or alternatively it may also involve the intellect. I'd say that aimless pursuit of pleasure is the picture of not knowing who one is.

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

Post by Greta » September 20th, 2018, 6:39 pm

Hell is in essence gasping for air and heaven is the experience of plenty of fresh air. Both physically and metaphorically. We are locked in an eternal balancing act, trying to lever the optimal balance between connection and freedom at any given moment for equilibrium.

When these are out of balance, we become restless and agitated and are thus spurred into action. When in balance we are more calm and stable. What we call "free will" is the human meta capability to defy these impulses for a longer term goal (driven by the same impulses towards relative balance, but applied strategically).

So yes, heaven and hell is right here, just as the ancients said it was. Some took the ancients literally, and others used those literal interpretations to manipulate the masses, eg. 'I speak for the Lord so if you do not do as I say you will go to Hell'.

As for the existence of God, I entirely agree with Socrates and Burning Ghost. We cannot know.

By the same token, we cannot know if the spirits of ancestors remain in the Earth as per indigenous beliefs. No God is necessary in that model, or at least "reduced" to Earthly scale. What if planets, stars and black holes were/have spirits (that we might not be able to observe or comprehend)?

For all we know, our God might be Sagittarius A*, the supermassive black hole in the centre of the Milky Way, which created the Sun, that had created the Earth, which created us. Aside from creation, Sag A* is, along with other supermassive black holes, is absolutely humongous, powerful beyond our imaginings and the most immortal entity in the universe. Despite creating all of the galaxy, it is in itself an impenetrable realm that is beyond space and time at its centre.

Supermassive black holes tick more "God boxes" than anything else that we know.

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