Tuesday 21 January 2020

What's wrong with trying to make Heaven on Earth?

The utopian project to make Heaven on Earth reached its zenith in the middle 20th century with the triumph of Communism in many nations; but has never been officially or explicitly abandoned - and in a covert and incoherent fashion still motivates the political Left (which now rules the world; sometimes operating under other such flimsy disguises as conservatism, republicanism, capitalism etc.).

The contrast drawn is between - on the one hand - Christianity which offers resurrected eternal life in Heaven - only attainable on the other side of that transformation that is biological death (aka. 'pie in the sky'). And on the other hand; mainstream, materialistic socio-political Western ideology; amplified by the promises of transhumanistic technologies, which offers a positively transformed Heaven on Earth.

Of course, any such thing is currently blocked by the inevitability of disease, ageing and death and the limitations of human intelligence and emotions. Also the inevitability of suffering.

But (so the utopian hopes go) assuming these can be cured by (waving of hands at this point...) advances in technology (drug progress, genetic engineering, computer-brain interfaces... whatever); then why wait for something as uncertain as Heaven-beyond-Death when we can have Heaven-Now

All assuming that humans can live forever, without ageing or disease; without suffering or misery (unless they want it; and then only as much as they want for as long as they want) - and with as much happiness and pleasure as they desire. Potentially a life of bliss...

Who wouldn't want that

And even if Christians can have Heaven after death - what about everybody else?

What about those (presumably a vast majority) who do not want to follow Jesus; including those who do not believe Jesus, who hate Jesus; who are bored, indifferent or hostile to Christian ideas of Heaven - especially if these require onerous restrictions on lifestyle (especially sexual expression)?

Assuming it is achievable; a techno-Leftist utopia promises a Heaven for everybody! And here and now and for-sure.  

That is the special appeal of Heaven on Earth; that is why so many people regard HoE as morally superior to the Christian Heaven.

Universal happiness forever... Better by far, yes?


Not better, but in fact Hell on Earth, rather than Heaven.

But why so?

Leaving aside issues of feasibility (and I do not believe it is possible to do these things - indeed I anticipate a continuation of the already-happening collapse in human capability) there is a basic reason why Heaven on Earth is actually Hell; and that is that any actual Heaven on Earth must be based on compulsion.

Why? Because Heaven on Earth is only possible with universal cooperation.

It would not be Heaven if people were free to exploit, parasitise, destroy, foment discontent; and from everything we know about human beings, universal assent and support to anything is attainable only by universal and irresistible compulsion.

When people believe that they are engineering universal happiness and immortality (even or especially if this really were possible) then the end would justify any and every deployment of effective means.

Humans would be compelled to be whatever was required for Heaven, for their own good; and/ or humans would be replaced by something better-than (at any rate different-from) humans - who would go along with utopia.

Heaven on Earth must be utterly unfree - hence Hell.

Because Hell is not correctly defined as miserable, but as a state of permanent spiritual enslavement. Hell is still Hell even when its denizens are compelled-irresistibly to be happy - because then the denizens are no longer Men.

The condition of absolute unfreedom is the obliteration of the self, the person, the Man in essence. 

Such a state may be chosen, Hell is apparently what some people - perhaps many people - want. But when Hell is imposed, as it would need to be to make 'Heaven on Earth', then Hell would become universal. 

I'm not saying that this is possible, indeed I believe it to be impossible. The creator has not set-up creation to allow Hell to be imposed.

But I simply point-out that wanting Heaven on Earth is actually wanting universal Hell: it is to take sides with the agenda of the demons; with those who oppose God, the Good and Creation. 

What about the Christian Heaven and its selectivity? Why can't Heaven be for everybody?

I hope that the above will help make clear why. My understanding is that selectivity is the only way that Heaven can be Heavenly, and at the same time free.

Selectivity is the only way that the denizens of Heaven can be real Men, with real selves, real agency; really participating in the work of divine creation (bringing their own distinctive, additional contribution to creation).

Death and resurrection is the means by which we can make a free and permanent choice for real-Heaven. That is why Heaven cannot be attained in mortal life, in this world.  

Also; if Heaven is to be Heavenly, it must be freely chosen. If it is not freely chosen it is Hell.

You may, of course (you are free to do so) prefer happiness to freedom; in that case you have made your choice - which, as such, is neutral. But when you desire to impose that choice universally, you have chosen evil.


Anonymous said...

Wow. This is excellent. Was this restatement/paraphrase of the "Grand Council in Heaven" scene in the Book of Abraham intentional? If not, did you see the parallels as you wrote it?

This is what I like about a lot of your writing -- you're making an excellent case for the Restored Church and its doctrines using logic and third party sources (Arkle, Steiner, Barfield) and not having to quote LDS source material. As if you were a stealth apologist/missionary.

If this "spills the beans" about your tactics, just delete this comment.


Wm Jas Tychonievich said...

This is, no surprise, a Mormon doctrine. See Moses 4:1-4.

“And I, the Lord God, spake unto Moses, saying: That Satan, whom thou hast commanded in the name of mine Only Begotten, is the same which was from the beginning, and he came before me, saying—Behold, here am I, send me, I will be thy son, and I will redeem all mankind, that one soul shall not be lost, and surely I will do it; wherefore give me thine honor. . . . Wherefore, because that Satan rebelled against me, and sought to destroy the agency of man, which I, the Lord God, had given him, and also, that I should give unto him mine own power; by the power of mine Only Begotten, I caused that he should be cast down; And he became Satan, yea, even the devil, the father of all lies, to deceive and to blind men, and to lead them captive at his will, even as many as would not hearken unto my voice.”

Bruce Charlton said...

@BS and Wm

Mormon theology is my basic background and structure, because I regard it as inspired and true (and, indeed, one of the greatest philosophical/ theological 'breakthroughs' in human history - comparable in magnitude with the best of the most emiment philosophers).

But - in this Romantic era - we need to experience things for our-selves, personally, intuitively, to know from the inside.

The Pearl of Great Price books of Abraham and Moses were Not in my mind when I was thinking about the subject of this post - I haven't re-read them for a few years. But I am pleased that my line of thinking converged on them according to your interpretations.

For me, the problem is always attaining a kind of revelatory understanding, which is the only way to attain 'certainty', or sureness.

Another example would be Heavenly Parents, Father & Mother in Heaven - my understanding of this was pretty feeble when I merely read it as Mormon doctrine, I was sympathetic but sceptical. But when I converged on the idea from Arkle's direction, I began to believe it might be so, and then I worked through the whole thing inuitively, including asking for specific revelation in prayer; and only much later realised that the dyad of Heavenly Parents (man and woman) is the 'key' to Mormon metaphysics, the key to Creation - this being the explanatory basis of Love.

So far as I know, I am the only person who explicitly believes this - since it is not Mormon doctrine, although implied by it, and I haven't read it elsewhere.

@Books - No, that isn't my motivation; I am a compulsive philosophical truth seeker; and my 'interest' in the CJCLDS is that the theology is true (and radically different from any other). As you know, I am Not a member of the Mormon church, and indeed I (somewhat) support a large evangelical Anglican church (Jesmond Parish Church) with which our family has been engaged to varying degrees. My brother is ordained a Church of England priest.

Lucinda said...

Along these lines, I believe eternal freedom entails eternal differences in relationships. Which is why I think forgiveness, meaning trusting the Father’s judgments to be the final say, and obedience to God, which should mean something more like heeding God’s counsel, are necessary for Heaven.

I realize that these words get seriously abused by people whose interpretation of God is as the ultimate tyrant, so it takes a strong understanding of a loving Father-God who won’t be fooled by abusers for the words to have the meaning they are supposed to have. Personally, I don’t listen to most people who use the words obedience and forgiveness, because I believe they don’t mean the same thing to them as to me.

Which I guess leads me to believe that a better shared language will be important in Heaven.

(As an aside, some comments made here made me think the word “virgin” in the scriptures is better understood as “marriageable woman”, though with modern assumptions even that translation doesn’t capture it. Still I was glad for it as I teach my children, to help them understand that creepiness in the scriptures is often a matter of unavailability of sufficiently descriptive words. I want to remove potential hazards that might get in the way of being taught by the Spirit. Over at JrGanymede there’s a quote posted about apologetics that captures it. )

Lucinda said...

Here's the quote from Austin Farrer I was referring to:

"For though argument does not create conviction, the lack of it destroys belief. What seems to be proved may not be embraced; but what no one shows the ability to defend is quickly abandoned. Rational argument does not create belief, but it maintains a climate in which belief may flourish.”

Lucinda said...

I think the supposed Heaven on Earth which is actually Hell on Earth would be populated by the living dead, which is probably part of why popular entertainment is filled with zombies and such, as imagination runs ahead and subconciously warns what is being chosen.

Because the gift that God is trying so hard to persuade us toward is Life, courageous freedom being a necessary aspect of that life. Going through the motions and avoiding death are not really living.

Bruce Charlton said...

@Lucinda - Thanks for your comments.

"eternal freedom entails eternal differences in relationships" I agree. That's the grain of truth among the lies of the sexual revolution; that there is a genuine sense in which each successful marriage is unique and develops. Any stereotype or blueprint for (standard) 'Marriage' therefore (nowadays) seems obviously false.