Many religions have a version of heaven. A place where you go after death, if you did behave a certain way while you lived of course. I mean, if you plundered, pillaged, shared you mead with the gods, and died by the sword, you’d go to Valhalla, where you could fight all day, and feast all night! At least if you lived in a Nordic country some thousand years ago. I’m not sure if today’s Asatru believers die by the sword to be able to go to Valhalla… I’ll ask my friend who is a gode (a priestess) of the Asatru religion.
This is a “familiar” heaven: A pearly gate, with a man or angel, clouds, harps, white robes, a throne with a bearded man, another throne to his right for his son, choirs singing, no pain, no sorrow, and your family and friends are there too. Yes, the christian heaven. I’ve always wondered: since I don’t believe, I don’t get to go. My mum does believe, so she’s going the second she passes. But, she’s been promised she’ll meet all her friends and family, and I’m not coming. How does this work out?
I’ve got a few theories. (Of course I do!)
Theory 1: The Virtual Me. God makes a virtual copy of me, he is after all allmighty, but a copy without the atheism. A fake me, to keep my poor old mum happy.
Theory 2: God wipes her memory. It’s like I never existed. Bad god!
Theory 3: There is no heaven.
I must admit I don’t know much of the muslim heaven. It’s also a happy place for the true believers, where everybody is the same age (around 33 years old I think), and they have banquets, and stuff. The whole 72 virgins thing is as far as I know only for martyrs, people who have sacrificed a lot, for instance through jihad. (It’s not from the Qua’ran though, but the Hadith (traditional sayings traced to Muhammad.)) Well, I suppose there are more to the muslim version of heaven, but I’ll have to read up on it. I doubt I’d get an invite anyway…
In judaism, the holy book, the Torah, doesn’t really mention an afterlife. What happens when jews die? Apparently, their soul waits patiently for the messiah. After the return of massiah, and god’s judgement, all righteous jews, both living and dead, will live in Olam Ha Ba – sort of earth 2.0. In other words, an idyllic version of earth.
There is also the story of heaven and hell, but not from the Torah, where people sit at huge banquets. Trouble is, nobody can bend their elbows. Thus, the selfish bastards in hell starve, while the righteous in heaven eat as they help each other. Funny twist, if I may say so!
To sum this up, here’s a clip from youtube. It’s a panel that discusses heaven, and it ends rather abruptly with an atheist’s statement. Enjoy!