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Old 09-16-2009, 07:04 AM   #21 (permalink)
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The early Christian heaven seems to have evolved out of the Israelites fear of a Greek or Mesopotamian afterlife. Greeks believed that everyone, regardless of morality or social stature, went to Hades together and spent eternity just sort of wandering around doing chores for Hades, while the Mesopotamians believed that the afterlife was like a "house of dust", where everything was sort of intangible and in darkness. Of course Christians decided that they weren't going to the same place after death as their enemies, or anyone who they deemed of low moral character. Thus the idea of Heaven was created, so that early Christians could rest easy knowing that anyone who disagreed with them was bound for sandy doom while they would be perched up above with their invisible giant in the sky.
Hm, not sure I believe all this. I don't know mesopotamian faith very well, but as far as I know, the greek also had an equivalent to heaven where the virtous and heroic would spend the afterlife - which was Elysium or the Elysian fields.

The concept of reward or punishment in the afterlife is such a crucial and familiar concept to so many religions. It's obvious these ideas in some overall way help people believe in or behave in line with their respective religions, making them more successful. By successful I mean it helps them gain believers and help believers from losing faith. If you wipe the slate clean and start with a new religion, some kind of reward/punishment in the afterlife idea would be likely to evolve I think as a natural consequence of our psychology.
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Old 09-16-2009, 07:11 AM   #22 (permalink)
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Going from one side of Heaven to the other is like going from Des Moines, IA to Reno, NV.
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Old 09-16-2009, 07:36 AM   #23 (permalink)
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Going from one side of Heaven to the other is like going from Des Moines, IA to Reno, NV.
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16 And the city lieth foursquare, and the length is as large as the breadth: and he measured the city with the reed, twelve thousand furlongs. The length and the breadth and the height of it are equal.
Must suck to measure all that with a reed. Length and width is one thing, but then there's the damn height as well.
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Old 09-16-2009, 07:41 AM   #24 (permalink)
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If I could see my grandmother again in heaven, that by itself would make it a great place. Unfortunately I see no reason to believe that such a place exists, it would be nice if it did though.
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Old 09-16-2009, 07:42 AM   #25 (permalink)
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Hm, not sure I believe all this. I don't know mesopotamian faith very well, but as far as I know, the greek also had an equivalent to heaven where the virtous and heroic would spend the afterlife - which was Elysium or the Elysian fields.
The Elysian fields have been widely misinterpreted as a the Greek equivilent of Valhalla, which it is in no way like. What I mean when I say everyone goes to the same place is that both the most immoral kings and purist peasants both went to the Underworld, where Elysium is located. Even Achilles, when he died, said that he would rather have lived in obscurity forever than to die young and famous. Greek mythology had no moral values, it had no central text, and it certainly didn't have the gods handing down orders like most Judeo-Christian religions. Most of the ideas concerning the judgement of man comes from Roman interpretation of ancient Greek myths. It's really only in Virgil's Elysium that we see the idea of a pleasant afterlife in Greek mythology.
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Old 09-16-2009, 08:04 AM   #26 (permalink)
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The Elysian fields have been widely misinterpreted as a the Greek equivilent of Valhalla, which it is in no way like. What I mean when I say everyone goes to the same place is that both the most immoral kings and purist peasants both went to the Underworld, where Elysium is located. Even Achilles, when he died, said that he would rather have lived in obscurity forever than to die young and famous. Greek mythology had no moral values, it had no central text, and it certainly didn't have the gods handing down orders like most Judeo-Christian religions. Most of the ideas concerning the judgement of man comes from Roman interpretation of ancient Greek myths. It's really only in Virgil's Elysium that we see the idea of a pleasant afterlife in Greek mythology.
Considering how little is really known about these beliefs, you seem to be making some sketchy assumptions I think. I agree that as far as I know, morality wasn't as central a theme in greek mythology, but that doesn't mean it wasn't at all important.

From Wikipedia's article on Greek Underworld :

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Philosophers such as Plato and the mystic Orphics and Pythagoreans include the concept of the judgement of the dead. Spirits were assigned to one of three realms: Elysium for the blessed, Tartarus for the damned, and Asphodel for the rest. Further, they believed in reincarnation and the transmigration of souls.
So after dying, you are judged and that decides where in the Underworld you end up. It doesn't say here that the blessed are necessarily those of strong moral fiber, but there are stories like that of Sisyphus who was an "evil" king who got sent to Tartarus where he famously had to spend eternity rolling a boulder up a hillside. It's a story about an evil man who got punished by Zeus and that implies moral values.
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Old 09-16-2009, 11:35 AM   #27 (permalink)
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Yeah, Christianity did steal a lot of it's concepts, more than most religions I can think of. It's like the Family Guy of religions.

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I would like to know where this description of heaven comes from. Growing up, I can't remember hearing anyone really describe heaven. The idea that you lose your memories and so on is all completely new to me.

Are there any "authorative" descriptions of heaven in the bible or is this all fantasized by believers?
Isaiah 65:17 - For, behold, I create new heavens and a new earth: and the former shall not be remembered, nor come into mind.

Well that's more about the so called new age after the second coming, but then some Christian's don't believe they will go to heaven until after the second coming, before that they're just... dead.

So yeah what I'm talking about does have a biblical source.
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Old 09-16-2009, 11:50 AM   #28 (permalink)
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Yeah, Christianity did steal a lot of it's concepts, more than most religions I can think of. It's like the Family Guy of religions.
But not nearly as funny, sadly.
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Old 09-16-2009, 12:02 PM   #29 (permalink)
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Reading extracts from the bible makes it so much clearer just why there are so many different interpretations.

The extracts Unfan posted were very descriptive. I thought I'd check up on wikipedia quickly to see if this city was mentioned elsewhere and I didn't dig around much, but I found this little piece in the article for heaven.

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From the early second century, we have a fragment of one of the lost volumes of Papias, a Christian bishop, who expounded that "heaven" was separated into three distinct layers. He referred to the first as just "heaven", the second as "paradise", and the third as "the city". Papias taught that "there is this distinction between the habitation of those who produce a hundredfold, and that of those who produce sixty-fold, and that of those who produce thirty-fold".
So here, although I saw no biblical source to support it, there are three layers which includes a city. I found the description of the city from Unfan's extracts quite intriguing actually and I thought someone must have tried to paint or illustrate it so I did some clever google searching .. Not much came up, but I found this!



Which is funny because it's almost exactly what I had in mind after reading those extracts.
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Old 09-16-2009, 12:05 PM   #30 (permalink)
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Reading extracts from the bible makes it so much clearer just why there are so many different interpretations.

The extracts Unfan posted were very descriptive. I thought I'd check up on wikipedia quickly to see if this city was mentioned elsewhere and I didn't dig around much, but I found this little piece in the article for heaven.



So here, although I saw no biblical source to support it, there are three layers which includes a city. I found the description of the city from Unfan's extracts quite intriguing actually and I thought someone must have tried to paint or illustrate it so I did some clever google searching .. Not much came up, but I found this!



Which is funny because it's almost exactly what I had in mind after reading those extracts.
So heaven is a giant golden Gamecube?

What does that make hell? A PS3?
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