Writing About Heaven
When I started writing my, soon to be four, book manifesto on the nature of the afterlife, I had no idea where it was going. The concepts of a life beyond were limited by my exposure to dogmas and religions over my lifetime. Brought up in a quasi-protestant home, my interests in the subject went through many iterations until I settled on non—belief. So as a nonbeliever, the notion that I would someday write 300,000 plus words about living in the afterlife seemed remote.
However, faith in things we cannot know persists. The history of all of man is filled to overflowing by the ebb and flow of religious debate and reference. No other topic has been discussed so thoroughly and with as much consequence as this one. My own life has been in constant intersection with people of faith, people without faith and people talking about faith. It is all consuming of our civilizations and what Mortimer Adler called “The Great Conversation.”
So, while writing the first book, “God’s Motive,” it dawned on me that, as individuals, we are free to believe whatever we will, only in this modern age. It also dawned on me that what we choose to believe has every bit the same validity of anything anyone else chooses to believe. But only in our own mind. While faith is a deeply personal matter, the cultural underpinnings of certain beliefs run deep. In western civilizations the idea of a perfect afterlife or paradise is rampant. That got me to thinking.
What would be the perfect afterlife for someone like I. As a confirmed cynic, skeptic and introverted intellectually curious individualistic human, what would paradise have to look like to be perfect. So, the ideas started coming. I had to think about how a view of the universe would have to change in my science addled mind. That is where I came up with the idea of standing still in space. In my books, when we die, we stop moving. Everything in our universe has velocity because it has mass, the soul wouldn’t have mass, so it would stop moving.
Then I thought about how boring eternity might become if all we ever knew is what we know now. How many hundreds of years before we exhausted all our memories? What then would we think about for the millions of years to come? That gave me the idea of the great download of memories and sensations from all the people who had come before me. Endless possibilities. Yet, something was still missing. Thought alone would not sustain me through an eternity. I am a creature of sensation. So I came up with the idea of free will as an absolute. As biological creatures we have free will and it is only mitigated by consequence. We can decide to fly, but consequence limits the distances and velocity, right into the ground. In my afterlife, consequence is removed. Free will without consequence is omnipotence.
Standing still in the place where I died, with the knowledge of all who came before me, with free will without consequence suddenly became a treasure trove of ideas. An omnipotent being with unlimited cognitive ability and source materials could create lives to live. Such a being could also create facsimiles of others complete with consciousness. I could even grant them free will so they wouldn’t be boring and predictable. I then set about thinking about what such lives would look like. I soon realized that the things a limited singular human would make them look like would be pedestrian in nature. But an omnipotent being with an unlimited view could create both spectacular and unlikely scenarios. Such a creature could also control his own perception of time.
Paradise could take many forms and such a creature would have an eternity to find the perfection even if that perfection was ever changing.
Needless to say, explaining what I was thinking and writing to my family was a tad problematic. My son thought his dad, the supply chain consultant, was off his rocker. But I took the ideas and wrote them down anyway. Being a man of limited science, as men are, I also made my imagined universe finite. I don’t really believe in the “infinite” outside of the progression of time and mathematics. My afterlife as the perfect omnipotent being ends after a billion years and he finds himself finding purpose. Then he moves on to the next level where he’s reunited with the rest of humanity as they come out of their billion-year paradise.
This brought me to the end of my writings. But the possibilities for describing what comes next have now grown exponentially.
Phillip J Hubbell is a project manager with expertise in warehousing, distribution, supply chain, inventory control, process improvement, etc... He is also a writer/author living in the Midwest U.S.