Taller Things Entry 7

Entry #7: "The Good Place" and Revisiting the Concept of Heaven – Part 2

This is Part 2 of the Heaven series. Click here to read Part 1

In the previous post, we’ve discussed the concept of heaven admission; why the good old “keep the goodies in and the baddies out” doesn’t work, and how the admission system could be designed to be more fair for everyone.

We’ve really only scratched the surface about the whole heaven discussion. So here’s what I’m gonna cover in this post: why we should believe that heaven exists or at least, why we should behave as if heaven exists (this blog is religion-free so don’t worry about that). Sounds fun? Sure does! After all, what could be more fun than thinking what happens after we die?

Why We Should Believe that Heaven Exists

If you can still remember math classes in high school, you will be familiar with the name Blaise Pascal, or at least Pascal. He’s that guy you kept bumping into when deciding how many probabilities there are if you have x number of balls with y number of colours. He also came up with what we know today as Pascal’s triangle to find combinations. Anyway, theory of probability is not the point here.

Blaise Pascal was more than a mathematician, he’s also a philosopher. And his philosophy regarding heaven is, as you would have guessed, hinging on probability. According to Pascal, we are wagering a bet with our lives on whether heavens exist or not.

Pascal argues that a rational person should live as though God exists and seek to believe in God. If God does not actually exist, such a person will have only a finite loss (some pleasures, luxury, etc.), whereas if God does exist, he stands to receive infinite gains (as represented by eternity in Heaven) and avoid infinite losses (eternity in Hell)

– Blaise Pascal”, Columbia History of Western Philosophy, page 353.
Photo by Bahador on Unsplash

Let’s break down some scenarios to make things easier to visualise.

SCENARIO #1: YOU DO GOOD AND HEAVEN EXISTS

Say you’re someone with a strong moral compass and have lived your life to fulfill the ‘good person’ checklist, and it turns out that heaven DOES exist. Thanks to your good behaviour in this life, you have secured yourself a seat in heaven given that you continue your good deeds on earth.

Outcome: infinite gains (eternity in The Good Place/ heaven)

SCENARIO #2: YOU DO BAD AND HEAVEN EXISTS

You enjoy the spoils of life. You stop at nothing to enjoy all the pleasures in this world. You knock down others on your way up and give little thought of your own morality. And it turns out that heaven does exist and you score too many negative points, barring you to enter heaven for eternity.

Outcome: infinite loss (eternity in The Bad Place/ hell)

SCENARIO #3: YOU DO GOOD AND HEAVEN DOESN’T EXIST

Well, you may miss out on some crazy parties. The upside is that you avoid hurting other people and your moral compass is a consolation prize for a life well-lived. Bonus: if heaven doesn’t exist but reincarnation does happen, you can be a really cool spirit animal or a wise tree in your next life!

Outcome: finite loss (missing out on earthly pleasures)

SCENARIO #4: YOU DO BAD AND HEAVEN DOESN’T EXIST

Well, good for you! For about 70-80 years of your current life at least

Outcome: finite gain (cashing out some earthly pleasures)

So, by the maximising gain and minimising loss perspectives, clearly then the best bet is to behave as if heaven does exist.

Photo by Mzwandile Dube on Unsplash

In conclusion…

According to many behavioural studies, we are hardwired as a species to minimise pain as much as possible, even if that means sacrificing some form of happiness/ gain. So by this logic, acting as if heaven exists minimise the chance that we’ll encounter infinite loss (a.k.a hell) and establishes our chance of gaining infinite gain (a.k.a heaven). And the only downside of acting good is missing out on some earthly pleasures, which if you’re lucky, you get to enjoy for only 50 years or so anyway.

That’s it for Part 2! Hope you enjoyed this series so far. In the next (and final, I promise) part, we’ll talk about what happens after we enter heaven and what needs to be done so eternal bliss doesn’t become so boring.

Stay tuned and please leave your thoughts in the comments below.

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