Tuesday 4 June 2019

Paradise versus Heaven (what's the difference?)

Lots of religions 'offer' Paradise as their goal or reward; only Christianity offers Heaven.

So Christianity is a 'better deal' IF (of course) it is regarded as true, and if Heaven is what you want (in which case, God offers Paradise as an alternative).

But what is the difference between Paradise and Heaven? 

Paradise is the perfect place for passive enjoyment. It is like a permanent (and perfect) holiday; a place where all the things that happen to you are enjoyable. A key is that phrase 'happen to you' - in the sense that Paradise is about things happening-to you.

Whereas Heaven is about active participation in the work of God's creation. It is therefore about becoming a god - in Christianity this happens by following Jesus through death and 'out the other side' to become an immortal resurrected Man.

Note: Some Christians regard Heaven as if it were merely Paradise - this may be due to a misunderstanding, or because Paradise is really what they would prefer. After all, not everybody wants to grow-up to become a god - and I see no reason why God would not make provision for such preferences. So there are also permanent children in Heaven, for whom Heaven is Paradise - and these may perhaps outnumber the grown-up gods.


dearieme said...

'Paradise versus Heaven (what's the difference?)"

Paradise is a football stadium in Glasgow.

Bruce Charlton said...

@d - By that analogy Paradise is watching your team win the cup final - Heaven is playing for them.

Wm Jas Tychonievich said...

Etymologically, paradise is a walled garden, while heaven is the boundless sky, so I guess that works.

Bruce Charlton said...

@WmJas - Apparently the Old English word - Neorxnawang - used to translate Paradise means something-meadow - perhaps no-working-meadow.


David said...

Would it be fair to sumarise your belief as 'we get what we most wanted in life, in the afterlife!'

So the Viking gets Valhalla, the buddhist nirvana, the lustful an eternal playboy mansion, the nihilist gets nothingness, etc.

But be careful what you wish for! And therein lies the rub. The spiritual challenge is the wisdom to chose wisely for eternity.

Bruce Charlton said...

@David - Overall yes, but not literally. Many people 'want' the literally impossible, for example the contradictory; or their wants would involve the misery of others.

I would also modify 'in life' to include some significant level of choice at either the point of biological death or after; at the very least a moment to confirm that (for instance: a clear regonition moment: "Now that your life is over, and you can look back and forward; are you really sure that you really want permanent extinction of consciousness".

And indeed it may be possible to delay the 'final choice' - to remain uncommitted (perhaps this may lie nehind some instances of reincarnation).

But in a broad sense, the best way to think of it is to remember that God is our loving Parents - they would naturally therefore try to accomodate the deepest wishes of their children (even when these are disappointing) to allow them the greatest possible long-term happiness.

But this would not, of course, be allowed to be at the expense of God's many other beloved children.

Such long term happiness could, of course, (as with this world parents) involve the Tough Love of inflicting short term suffering in order to encourage learning and benefit the long-term.