Bionic Commando (radiumx) wrote,
Bionic Commando

Theology 1

A: "If there's a loving god, why is there war and suffering on Earth?"

B: "Because god gave humans free will"

A: "So, will we have free will in Heaven?"

thoughts from the religious?
Tags: free will, god, religion
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So I'm not what you would probably call 'religious', but perhaps Heaven is only supposed to be populated with people who only chose to make Earth a more pleasant place, and whom your deity of choice believes will continue to make those choices in the afterlife? So that Heaven will be devoid of war and suffering?
I actually find this to be a much more plausible, egalitarian, and sensible view of Heaven. There's sort of a 'Sinner's Sieve' (Judgement), and when you die, you'd go to a place populated with like minded individuals. With each successive 'reincarnation', you sort up (towards a place with more positive-minded individuals) or down (towards a place with less scrupulous fellows) according to your inclination. Thus, free will is preserved, but the realm still retains the qualities of the largest proportion of souls. To quote Jean-Paul Sartre, "L'enfer, c'est les autres" - "Hell is other people."

Not that I believe in reincarnation, but if I were God, that's how I'd run the show.
This is where believing in reincarnation comes in handy.

Here's the theory I have based on my personal beliefs:

Assume: There is a god, are gods, or some kind of other self-perpetuating universal force, including a higher human consciousness we don't or can't get in touch with.
Sub-assume: That force is benevolent, or at least neutral to fair regarding sentient life.

Assume: Free will exists, and humans have it. It is either a 'gift' from abovementioned universal force or an awareness that has developed through evolution in concert with the spiritual aspect of the human mind. Possibly both.

I believe we all go through many stages of spiritual evolution in the form of physical incarnations. On the physical plane, war, suffering, etc. are most commonly results of cultural prejudices, unfair advantages, and advantages taken on the part of the people in power. The point to all the incarnations is to help us realize that we're all alike, all connected, and all going in the same direction.

In short, yes, we have free will in 'Heaven,' if that's what we're going to call it. It's just that there's no conflict in Heaven, not because we've all subscribed to one rigid belief system, but because we've accepted that we're all on The Big Path/Stairway to Heaven/Endless PCH/Whatever you want to call it, and while our differences might be real, they just add to the general kick-assery of the universe.

Plato puts forth the Theory of Forms, wherein everything physical and tangible is a "shadow" of its ideal (the ideal can be a spiritual/metaphysical or intellectual concept, I've heard it both ways). According to that theory, all tables are tables, and although they all may have different qualities and aspects, they all share a universal tableness which comes from the ideal TABLE. The ideal TABLE doesn't and can't exist physically because to be physical is to be limited.

I believe that Heaven/the Summerland/Valhalla, whatever, is the UNIVERSE WITH A BIG U AND ALSO EVERYTHING ELSE. Therefore, once we get to the UNIVERSE WITH A BIG U AND ALSO EVERYTHING ELSE, we'll have all the same qualities and conflicts and confusion we have here on Earth, but we'll also have a lot *more* things. Perspective, for example. Hopefully some humility, some trust, and a lot of love.


Oddly though, Western thought seems to think "reincarnation = second chance, good thing, happy, do-over" whereas the original concept was "reincarnation = not good, stuck in the same old grind, better to escape the spiral and go elsewhere."
Well, Western thought has that whole "Dude, this guy rose from the dead and HE'S OUR SAVIOR." thing going.

I prefer to think that reincarnation is what you make it--it can rule or totally suck.
Sometimes reincarnation can be good according to non Western schools of thought. Being a beetle in this life and getting reincarnated as a human is pretty good, because humans can hear the dhamma and achieve nibbana, whereas beetles cannot.
How do lower lifeforms with no thought process achieve a higher state of reincarnation? How is one dung beetle "more ethical" than another dung beetle? Do they have to fulfill the role of an 'ideal dung beetle' more completely than their neighboring beetle? And if reincarnation to a higher form has nothing to do with ethical considerations until you reach human level, what is the point of lower-life-form reincarnations where there are no ethical considerations?
I'm not sure how all of that is supposed to work. Your karma is never supposed to go away between reincarnations. It's not something I believe in or am terribly interested so I have never asked. I know you can have a bad rebirth if you've accumulated bad karma in a lifetime, but I don't know if being reborn as a beetle is bad enough, so that nexttime you're in a better realm... I was told a few months ago that these "souls" for lack of a better word have always existed so the cycle of karma goes around infinitely.
Maybe we don't reincarnate as dung beetles or trees or whatever--maybe they just have spirits, but not the stereotypical "soul." I dunno.

I'd much rather believe that people who commit harm against others are made victims of the same harms, but I obviously don't know for sure. This is NOT to say that people who are victims of, say, child molestation, or who are killed by drunk drivers, were pedophiles and/or drunk drivers in their past lives--how would they learn from that?

The big rule in Wicca basically sums up to "Whatever you put out into the universe, you'll get back times three." This isn't to say that if you loan a buddy $1000 you'll end up making $3000, but more that if you gave that money in the spirit of trust and generosity, that spirit will come back to you x3. So if you put negative energy into the world, it'll come back and bite you on the ass.

I think the whole reincarnation deal is about trying to understand other people so you'll genuinely want to help them, thus bettering your karma and their lives. Hard to imagine a dung beetle doing good works for other dung beetles...
This is NOT to say that people who are victims of, say, child molestation, or who are killed by drunk drivers, were pedophiles and/or drunk drivers in their past lives--how would they learn from that?

This is a fairly decent way to learn if your faculties permit it. If we could all feel the pain our actions caused other people, we'd certainly go out of our way to avoid doing hurtful things.

The Wiccan rules are often nice in thought, but not in practice. Too many people exploit others and life happy, successful lives with their ill-gotten gains.

I do agree that your attitude and behavior both reflect back upon you in the form of other people's actions - a view largely supported both by science and philosophy.

I mainly have issue with the idea that unrelated 'fortune' is caused by attitude. If I kick puppies, there's no direct correlation between that behavior and a tree falling on my car. However, if someone sees me kick a puppy and then heaves a cinderblock through my windshield because I'm an asshole, that's more in line with my idea of a consistent, applicable concept of 'real-world karma".
While I'm not necessarily an Orthodox Christian or even a Christian, it's the religion I've studied the most. According to Tradition and Scripture, Heaven has various levels, the lowest being Paradise, mentioned by Christ to the thief on the Cross, and the thief was the first to enter Paradise upon his death. When Christ died, He descended into Hades to bring the righteous up to Paradise and to unite the Divine with Creation, so we may through right belief and right action move in accord with God and in fact become more and more "God" and less and less "self" through Deification.

"Heaven" is in turn fully united with the New Earth upon the day of Judgment, where the Messiah reigns and God again becomes as intimate with Creation as he was with Adam and Eve in the original Paradise of Eden. The soul is united with the body and the righteous live forever on this New Earth, so in actuality, the most traditional ideas of "Heaven" resemble nothing like modern Christianity.

To answer your question though, the simplistic answer is yes, individuals will have free will, yet they will be incapable of sin. Sin is a product of a flawed creation, and with creation restored, the capacity to sin will not exist. This doesn't change the definition of free-will much, which is generally taken to mean the ability to choose from all possible choices. Free-will doesn't mean I can choose to fly or breath underwater. Therefore, in a creation where sin is nonexistent, the free-will of the creature is in no way diminished, as they still have the ability to choose from all possible options.
Point to consider -- generic Protestant thought does not have Heaven in multi-levels. If that is found in Orthodox tradition, then you would know more about that than me. But it definitely seems a common thought in Catholic tradition, and in a different parallel universe in the Mormon tradition. (I'm making no claims to whether Mormon tradition falls within the borders of "typical Christian" thought, but most Protestants and Catholics would say Mormon is not Christian; and most Mormons would claim they are the "correct" version of Christian.)
Yea, I was raised in a fairly typical Protestant Church setting and knew nothing about the levels of heaven. Orthodoxy doesn't have a specific schema, but they draw from Jewish tradition and 2 Corinthians 12:2 as foundation, as far as I know.
individuals will have free will, yet they will be incapable of sin.

This is my issue with the core concept, all definitions of 'afterlife' aside. If you're unable to sin, you don't have the choice to sin, the same way a quadriplegic doesn't have a choice to walk.

If you take someone's choice away, they do not have 'free will'. If you take away mankind's ability to sin, they no longer have a choice whether or not they will do so.
Yes, but in a world where sin isn't possible, it's still possible to choose from all available options. To use your example, in a world where everybody is quadriplegic, the choice to walk isn't a choice to begin with, so the ability to do what is impossible within a possible world shouldn't diminish our definition of what a choice is. As I said, free-will is the ability to choose from all possible options-- impossible options that don't exist can't possibly count if we are to take the notion of free-will seriously....

..which is certainly also an option to examine.
free-will is the ability to choose from all possible options-- impossible options that don't exist can't possibly count if we are to take the notion of free-will seriously....

God, however, is saying "You are not able to sin." It's by his direct action that people aren't *allowed* to. Something that human beings - by their very nature - are given as an option, is being curtailed by the will and agency of an external entity.

To continue with the bizarre Quadriplegic World analogy, let's imagine that people *used* to be able to walk, but Superman decided having appendages was the source of all the world's troubles, so he flew around and cauterized everyone's limbs off with his heat-vision. Walking is now impossible, but the people would have had the option to walk if Superman hadn't been such a dick.

On the other hand, if everyone in Quadriplegic World had been a quadriplegic from birth, the analogy would hold just fine, since no external agency was responsible for altering the state of anyone's permissible choices.
I used to maintain the soul was part of or harbored a "spark of divinity" - the soul is a fragment of God. If this is the case, there would be no free-will in Heaven because Heaven (afterlife, ascension, whatever you want to call it) is really re-incorporation. God would not want God¹ to cause internal strife if God is to maintain perfection.

I'm not sure I really hold to this position anymore.
so for what it is worth (which is not much I realize) I always thought of it this way yes we would have free will. I have a strong idea (dogma reference anyone?)most conflict (much like sidelong says) comes from the want of things i.e. a understanding of the world and that we need more of X in it. once we enter heaven we have access to teh knowledge of how everything and everyone works...the sort of ability to grasp all concepts. Similarly we shouldn't have many needs and what we do need should be able to be provided. if you can understand everything the other person is saying from all their angles and you have no physical needs what is their to get angry about?
mabye it only makes sence ot me but it seems like infinite understanding and careing should hlep out a lot in conflicts of intrest. (wow that whent on longer than I wanted)

and now the funny part: ::redneck:: I sure hope so bar fights are some of my fav-or-ite things when I'm not donating ot charity!
A: And if there is free will in heaven, then why doesn't war and suffering ensue there? Is heaven really a wonderful place? Or what if there is no free will in heaven? Isn't this notion of free will that differentials us from all other species of life?
The biblical Christian view of heaven sounds more like Hell to me.... or a fucked up version of mind control. I suppose singing praises eternally in mind-slavery to God would be a fitting - even desirable - reward for people who believe religious claims unquestioningly, but I'm not that vindictive.