Saturday, May 18, 2019

The mother of all buyer's remorse

[Part of an ongoing series of exchanges with Jimmy Weiss.]

Jimmy Weiss responded to my post on teleology and why I reject Jimmy's wager (not to be confused with Pascal's wager) nearly a month ago.  I apologize to Jimmy and anyone who has been waiting with bated breath for my response (yeah, right) for the long delay.  Somehow, life keeps happening while I'm not paying attention.

So, finally, to the task at hand.  Jimmy writes:
Ron presents the right kind of argument here.  He argues that an infinite reward is impossible, because, in his words, “an infinite reward is fundamentally incompatible with human nature.”  Ron “can hardly imagine a worse fate than to be immortal.” 
There is an important sense in which I quite agree with Ron’s statement here.  I absolutely agree that “an infinite reward is fundamentally incompatible with human nature.”  Human beings are, in the core of our nature: ignorant, proud, lazy, fearful, and restless.
I'm happy to hear that I'm presenting "the right kind of argument" and that we've found a bit of common ground.  That is my overarching goal in this effort, and for an atheist to find any common ground with a YEC is something I would have given you long odds against not so long ago.  (For those of you following this exchange, I think it's worth noting the fact that the age of the earth has not entered into the discussion at all.  I think that's salient.)

I have only a minor quibble with Jimmy's characterization of the situation: yes, humans are ignorant, proud, lazy (at least I am) fearful, and restless.  But I would not say that these things are in the core of our nature.  What is at the core of our nature is that we are living things.  Like all living things, we were born, and we will die, and yes that kind of sucks, but that's the way it is.  Would I like to live longer that I likely will?  Yeah, probably.  Would I like to live forever?  No.  Absolutely not.
Ron’s argument for the impossibility of the infinitude of God’s reward depends on the fixity of our nature.  But as far as I can see, there is no reason to assume fixity concerning those aspects of our nature that impede our ability to perceive, pursue, and enjoy goodness.
My argument against the desirability of immortality doesn't demand that our nature remain fixed.  I'm a very different person today than I was 10, 20, 30... years ago.  But I do think it's important that heaven not require us to change so much that we cease to be human, and the more I think about it, the more I come to believe that that is exactly what it does require.  I don't see any way that we could be immortal and still be human.  Mortality is an essential part of being human, indeed an essential part of being alive at all.

More than that, I want to argue here that being imperfect is an essential part of being human.  Consider the first adjective that Jimmy chose to characterize us: ignorant.  I imagine he intended it to be pejorative, and of course he's right.  Ignorance is not generally a good thing.  We should not seek to be ignorant, nor should we seek to remain ignorant.  The quest for knowledge is a noble one, one might even say that this quest is a core aspect of our nature.

But imagine what it would be like if we were to actually succeed in our quest not to be ignorant.  Ignorance means to lack knowledge, so by definition, to be not ignorant is to not lack any knowledge.  It is to be omniscient, to know everything.  In that respect we would become like God.

Would that be a good thing?  I don't know, but I do know this: if it were to happen, we would lose an essential aspect of our humanity because there would no longer be any point in engaging in our quest for knowledge.  If we succeed in totally eradicating ignorance, there would no longer be any point in reading a book; everyone would already know the contents of all possible books.  The value of reading a book is entirely dependent on ignorance of its contents.  If you are not ignorant of the contents of a book that means that you already know its contents.  You have memorized it word-for-word.  If you haven't, if there is any lack of knowledge about the contents of the book for which you have to actually go back and refer to the book itself, then you are still ignorant, at least of that aspect of the book's contents.

So a non-ignorant being cannot read a book.  A non-ignorant being cannot engage in a conversation with another non-ignorant being because both of them would already know what the other was going to say.  The whole point of reading books and engaging in conversations is to communicate information and that presupposes that the information is lacking somewhere.  Ignorance is necessary if communication is to have any point at all.

Let's consider Jimmy's next two adjective: "proud" and "lazy".  Again, I'm pretty sure he intended these to be pejorative.  But I am lazy, and I am proud of being lazy.  My laziness has been a powerful motivator for me to find more effective ways of accomplishing goals so that I don't have to work so hard to accomplish them.  I've built a highly successful career on that laziness, and I'm proud of that.  Is that bad?  I don't know.  What I do know is that both my laziness and my pride are essential components of who I am.  If you took those away, I wouldn't be me any more.

What about "fearful" and "restless"?  Well, I'm fearful on occasion.  For example, I'm fearful that climate change will destroy civilization.  This fear motivates me to overcome my laziness and moves me to act.  Restless?  That also motivates me.  If I give in to my laziness and sit on my duff for too long then I become restless and feel the need to do something like write blog posts.

All of these things are essential parts of me.  If you took them away, I wouldn't be me any more.

But I like being me.  Becoming the person I am has taken 54 years of work, sometimes very hard and painful work, and I'm generally pretty happy with the result so far.  This is not to say that there isn't room for improvement.  I'm still a work-in-progress, but even that on-going project is an essential part of being the person I have become.  I would be very reluctant to give that up.

Even my mortality is an essential part of who I am.  Railing against death like Lear against the storm is part of being human.  If you think about it, taking the prospect of heaven seriously means that saving someone's life is not a noble act.  You aren't saving their life, you are delaying their entry into heaven!  (Jehovah's Witnesses and Christian Scientists actually take this seriously!)

Accepting that death is the end removes the moral ambiguity from saving someone's life (which, if you think about it, is actually an oxymoron.  You can't save someone's life, you can only extend it.)  And this, too, is an essential part of being human.

Being human is fundamentally about struggling because being alive is fundamentally about struggling.  The key to living a good life is not to seek and end the struggle, but to find the right balance so that the struggle doesn't break you but sustains you instead.

So... maybe heaven is an eternity of having just the right amount of struggling, just the right amount of ignorance, just the right amount of laziness and pride and restlessness?  Well, yeah, maybe.  But this doesn't sound to me like what's on offer in Christian heaven.  In Christian heaven, ignorance and pride and laziness and fear and restlessness are unalloyed evils and so are banished forever.  So it's not just that I would get bored after a few trillion years of bliss and then be screwed for all eternity.  I would have to give up some essential parts of my identity on day one.

I suppose a Christian would say: yes, you're exactly right, in order to enter heaven you do have to give up some parts of your identity, specifically, you have to let go of sin.  But to me, the things that I would have to let go of don't feel like sins, they just feel like imperfections.  I don't want to let those go because my ongoing struggle against my imperfections and those of my fellow man is what gets me up in the morning.  If those went away, I honestly don't know what I would do with myself.

So while I can understand the appeal of a promise of eternal bliss, especially for someone who has not been as incredibly fortunate as I have to find the right balance of struggle in their lives, it still feels to me like a bad deal even on its own terms.  And if I'm right and it is a bad deal, then it's worth figuring this out before you get to heaven because once you get there it's too late.  You're screwed.  There is no way out.  It's not like buying into a time-share where you can just write off the loss, learn the lesson, and get on with your life.  Once you get to heaven, that is your life.  Forever.

Be very careful what you wish for.  Especially if the offer is non-refundable.

26 comments:

Peter Donis said...

While I don't know whether I agree or disagree with your overall argument that living forever is inconsistent with being human, I do have a few specific comments on things you say:

The value of reading a book is entirely dependent on ignorance of its contents.

You mean you've never re-read a book you particularly like? I have re-read plenty of books I like. So for me, at least, the value of reading a book is not entirely dependent on ignorance of its contents.

More generally:

The whole point of reading books and engaging in conversations is to communicate information

I don't think this is true; communicating information is one purpose of these activities, but not the only one.

I think a more general idea of "lack of novelty" as a downside of living forever could be formulated, but I don't think it's quite as simple as the quotes above suggest.

Ron said...

> You mean you've never re-read a book you particularly like?

Of course I have, but only because I didn't retain everything the first time around. To banish all ignorance of the content of a book would be to memorize it word-for-word, at which point there would be no point in re-reading it.

Peter Donis said...

To banish all ignorance of the content of a book would be to memorize it word-for-word, at which point there would be no point in re-reading it.

Then your experience of re-reading books is different from mine. Which means you should be extremely cautious in generalizing from your experience.

Ron said...

> Then your experience of re-reading books is different from mine.

How so? What is your experience like? Have you actually memorized a book word-for-word and then still gotten some value out of re-reading it?

Peter Donis said...

Have you actually memorized a book word-for-word and then still gotten some value out of re-reading it?

I've come pretty close to that with some books I really like (examples: Lord of the Rings and other Middle-Earth works of Tolkien, some of Rex Stout's Nero Wolfe mysteries, the Lord Peter Wimsey mysteries). I can't say I've memorized them all word for word, but I know them extremely well, to the point that I can spot small errors in extended quotes from them (for example in online reviews), and my enjoyment of them certainly doesn't seem to decrease with my increased knowledge of them. So I am extrapolating somewhat, but not, I think, without basis.

Ron said...

> I've come pretty close to that with some books I really like

> I can't say I've memorized them all word for word

Then your experience is not a counterexample to my thesis. "Pretty close" is not good enough in this case. If you're only "pretty close" then there are still some things about the content of the book that you have not internalized (i.e. about which you are still ignorant) and it's unremarkable that you get some value from gleaning those last remaining details. (Geeky, but unremarkable. ;-)

Try this experiment: pick your favorite passage of LoTR and read it and re-read it until you actually do know it word-for-word, until you can recite it forwards and backwards and every nth word from memory. *Then* come back here and tell me you still get some value from re-reading it yet again. I don't see how that could be possible.

Peter Donis said...

Try this experiment: pick your favorite passage of LoTR and read it and re-read it until you actually do know it word-for-word, until you can recite it forwards and backwards and every nth word from memory. *Then* come back here and tell me you still get some value from re-reading it yet again. I don't see how that could be possible.

There are already particular passages in LoTR for which I can come very close to this. Here's one from Chapter 2 of Book I, The Shadow of the Past. Gandalf has been telling Frodo about the finding of Gollum. I am quoting from memory; Frodo is speaking first:

"Do you mean to say that you, and the Elves, have let him live on after all his horrible deeds? Now at any rate he is as bad as an Orc, and just an enemy. He deserves death."
"Deserves death? I daresay he does. Many that live deserve death. And some that die deserve life. Can you give it to them? Then do not be too eager to deal out death in judgment. Even the very wise cannot see all ends."

I just checked myself against the text, and I'm off by one word (it should be "For even the very wise cannot see all ends"). The text I'm using is the 2004 50th anniversary Houghton Mifflin edition, the ebook version available from Google books.

Granted, this is a short passage, and I haven't quite met your criterion (yet). But once again, the value I get from re-reading has not decreased as I've gotten to know the work better. If you want my best current hypothesis about why, it is this: the book itself has not changed--the words are the same--but I have changed every time I re-read it. So there is indeed new information involved; it's just not in the book, it's in me. The functions the book serves are various, but the obvious one that does not require the information in it to be new is escape--re-reading allows me to spend time in a familiar world which has some desirable properties that the real world does not have. Familiarity actually helps with this--Middle-Earth is Middle-Earth just as it was when I first read LoTR in eighth grade, even though the real world has changed a lot (and in some ways has deteriorated markedly, at least in my view).

All this suggests to me that the real question involved if we want to assess whether or not living forever is a good thing is whether we ourselves can keep changing forever, or whether there must come a point where we stop changing--where we have had all the experiences we can possibly have and there's nothing more new in store. If we are limited to being finite physical systems, as we are in our current form, then the answer to this is that there are only a finite number of possible states we can be in, so at some point we will have been in all of them and there will indeed be nothing new in store. But if we are not so limited--if there is a way for us to continually increase the state space accessible to us while still maintaining whatever in our personal identity we consider essential--then it could be possible for us to have an infinity of future experiences without ever repeating any. (Which is not at all to say that the latter claim is the claim orthodox Christianity is making about heaven--that's a separate question.)

Peter Donis said...

I just checked myself against the text, and I'm off by one word

Correction: off by two words (it should be "Deserves it!" not "Deserves death?").

Peter Donis said...

your experience is not a counterexample to my thesis

I should probably clarify that I'm not really arguing against your overall thesis; I'm more trying to restate it in a way that seems to me to better capture the essential elements. I don't know whether the condition I gave in a previous post--of being able to continually expand the state space available to oneself so as to be able to have an infinite number of distinct future experiences without losing one's essential personal identity--is actually possible.

Ron said...

> the value I get from re-reading has not decreased

What value do you get out of re-reading it that you don't get from simply reciting the words (which you claim to have memorized) back to yourself?

> there is indeed new information involved; it's just not in the book, it's in me

OK, but then you are still ignorant of something related to the text, even if it's not the raw contents of the text. If you have truly banished ignorance then *by definition* you have nothing left to learn.

> if there is a way for us to continually increase the state space accessible to us while still maintaining whatever in our personal identity

That's one question, but in this post I'm raising a *different* question: Jimmy cited ignorance as a human failing and implied that in heaven it would be banished. I'm saying that the banishment of ignorance *in and of itself* would rob us of our humanity *even if* we have infinite capacity. When it comes to learning, the *process* has at least as much value as the end result. The journey *is* the destination.

Peter Donis said...

What value do you get out of re-reading it that you don't get from simply reciting the words (which you claim to have memorized) back to yourself?

To quote a character from another of my favorite books (and I'm again quoting from memory here): "The fact that a man is capable of lifting five hundred pounds, does not mean he wants to do so continuously."

Or, to put it another way, the value is in the process. See below.

then you are still ignorant of something related to the text, even if it's not the raw contents of the text.

This is why I posted the clarification that I'm not really arguing against your overall thesis; I'm just trying to restate it in a way that seems to me to better capture the essential elements. What you are calling "ignorance", I am calling "ability to still have new experiences". We're both basically saying the same thing.

I'm saying that the banishment of ignorance *in and of itself* would rob us of our humanity *even if* we have infinite capacity. When it comes to learning, the *process* has at least as much value as the end result.

Ok, that makes things clearer: you're interpreting "banishment of ignorance" to mean putting you in a state where you have already had all the possible experiences you are ever capable of having, even if the set of such experiences is infinite. I would be interested to see how your YEC interlocutor would respond to that description of what "banishment of ignorance" entails.

Ron said...

> What you are calling "ignorance", I am calling "ability to still have new experiences".

Well, maybe. Ignorance is the absence of *knowledge*, and hence it is a pre-requisite for *learning* new things. If you already know it, you can't learn it any more. The opposite of ignorance is omniscience.

But to me this is distinct from "having new experiences" because there are all kinds of experiences besides learning, and many of them *are* worth having more than once. For example, I already "know" what it's like to eat chocolate. That doesn't mean I wouldn't want to do it again. It's possible that in heaven no one ever reads a book (because everyone already knows everything) but everyone has an eternally blissful existence of chocolate binging. The proposition that you'd eventually get tired even of chocolate is a separate argument from this one, which is about what happens if you take seriously the idea that ignorance is unconditionally bad (along with the other adjectives on Jimmy's list).

But reading, it seems to me, is not like eating chocolate. Once you have a text memorized, I really don't see *any* value in *reading* it any more, unless it's something like reveling in the beauty of the typography.

As a practical matter, what are people in heaven actually reading? The Bible, obviously, which some people memorize even while they're still on earth. What else? Do they read the Quran? The Satanic Verses? Lady Chatterly's lover? Lolita? Story of O? (And if the latter, do they get off on it? And, as long as I'm on this particular tear, do people watch torture-porn movies like "Saw" in heaven?)

The more I think about it, the more convinced I become that including ignorance on a list of human failings is a huge mistake.

Peter Donis said...

I already "know" what it's like to eat chocolate. That doesn't mean I wouldn't want to do it again.

I don't see how this is any different from "I already know what it's like to read LoTR. That doesn't mean I wouldn't want to do it again." Different people have different preferences; you might not enjoy re-reading books you've already read, but that doesn't mean other people can't.

reading, it seems to me, is not like eating chocolate

And I'm perfectly fine with the idea that it seems that way to you. But it doesn't seem that way to me. That just means, as above, that we happen to have different preferences (or personalities, or whatever you want to call the difference) in this respect.

Ron said...

> > I already "know" what it's like to eat chocolate. That doesn't mean I wouldn't want to do it again.

> I don't see how this is any different from "I already know what it's like to read LoTR.

For me there are two different aspects of "what it is like to read". The first is the subjective sensations associated with reading any text: holding the book (or the e-reader) in your hands (or hearing the words read to you), turning the pages, admiring the typography. Let's call that a type-1 experience.

The second aspect is the experience of learning or acquiring the information in the text. This aspect is entirely independent of the physical embodiment of the text. It doesn't matter whether the book is printed on paper on on an e-reader, what font it's in, what color the ink is... the experience of acquiring information is independent of the embodiment of the information. Let's call that a type-2 experience.

Eating chocolate is purely a type-1 experience. It doesn't have a type-2 aspect at all. There is nothing of value in a chocolate bar independent of its physical embodiment the way there is in a text. Reading has both, of course, but to me the type-2 aspect is the more important. (But different people may have different preferences of course.)

Type-1 experiences can be enjoyed despite already knowing "what they are like." Type-2 experiences can't. Reading is (mainly) a type-2 experience and chocolate is (exclusively) a type-1 experience. The only reason that reading the same text repeatedly is worthwhile is because you didn't absorb it all the first time. But there are inherently diminishing returns with every iteration.

That's how reading is different from eating chocolate, at least for me.

Peter Donis said...

For me there are two different aspects of "what it is like to read".

I agree that these two aspects are there.

For me there is also a third aspect, which I'll call imagination for now although that's probably not the right word. As I'm reading LoTR, for example, I'm imagining what's happening as I'm reading it: I'm picturing the scenes and locations, imagining what the voices of the characters sound like, etc.

For me, this type-3 aspect of reading, like the type-1 aspect, can be enjoyed despite already knowing what it is like. A question I'm not sure I have an answer to is why it seems necessary, at least sometimes, to actually re-read a text one already knows very well in order to have, or at least to enjoy, the type-3 experiences. But for me, at least, it does at least sometimes seem necessary.

Ron said...

> For me there is also a third aspect, which I'll call imagination

Ah. OK, I totally get that. I would call that a type-1 experience, kind of like how you can enjoy watching a movie despite knowing exactly what is going to happen, or looking at a painting that you've seen a zillion times before.

Remember there are two separate arguments in play here. The first has to do with type-1 experiences, the second with type-2 experiences. This post was about type-2 experiences. It was about ignorance, i.e. the absence of knowledge. The argument is that ignorance is a pre-requisite for learning which, for me, is an essential part of being who I am.

BTW, there's also a third type of experience: being surprised. That's a subjective experience similar to type-1 experiences except that they can only be experienced once. These "type-3" experiences also depend on ignorance. That's why "spoiler alerts" are a thing.

Jimmy Weiss said...

Ron,

Good post. I still see some very valuable common ground here.

I'm not sure if all I have to say requires a full post, of if I can just drop a few clarifications in comments.

For example, following your post, I would clarify that "ignorance", in and of itself, is not what is evil or what will be eliminated on "day one". As you say, ignorance is just he lack of knowledge, and I see no reason (scriptural or philosophical) to suppose that we shall ever have an intellect which does not lack some knowledge.

Instead, the truly problematic quality is the kind of ignorance which is closed-minded, resistant to correction or edification. Remember, I said ignorance prevents us from perceiving and enjoying goodness when we don't recognize that goodness is before us. In order to circumvent that evil, we need not do away with ignorance per se, but rather we would just need to be correctable. In other words, as long as we trust (have faith in) God, to the degree that we will always seek to enjoy that which HE calls good, rather than sticking only to what we already perceive to be good, then there would be no goodness to which we could not gain access in eternity.

So while it is certainly the case that we will have to let go of certain aspects of our selves which we perceive to be essential to our identity, I think a more careful consideration will reveal the possibility of retaining that which really is essential to glorious living. I believe C.S. Lewis once said, "Whatever God takes away from us with His left hand, He gives back with His right."

Maybe I will find more nuances to be brought to light. If so, I will have to consider whether comments or a dedicated post will be appropriate.

I might also engage with your assertion that mortality is a necessary feature of life. I see no reason why that should be the case, nor do I see that you have provided any reason to believe that it should be the case. Even the assertion that all biological life (which is the only kind of life to which we have laboratory access) does, in fact, end, does not lead to the conclusion that all possible kinds of life need to have an end. I can, of course, see how that conclusion arises from a verificationist position. So, maybe we should move the conversation (more) in that direction?

Anyways, good to have you back. Talk soon!

Ron said...

@Jimmy:

> I'm not sure if all I have to say requires a full post, of if I can just drop a few clarifications in comments.

Your call. If you think an adequate response fits in a comment I'd say that's a good thing. It means we're converging.

> the truly problematic quality is the kind of ignorance which is closed-minded, resistant to correction or edification

OK, I totally agree with that. But then I *disagree* with your assertion that all humans are that way. I certainly try very hard not to be that way. It's also worth noting that what you've just said can be seen as essentially a re-statement of Popperian epistemology, so I think it's fair to say that all Popperians try very hard not to be that way.

> I might also engage with your assertion that mortality is a necessary feature of life. I see no reason why that should be the case

I haven't defended that very well. I got caught up on the topic of ignorance and ran out of steam. I'll add that to my to-do list.

But the general idea is that without mortality many of the activities that we consider noble and worthwhile become moot: curing cancer. Saving people from burning buildings. Wearing seat belts.

I also presume that there aren't poor people in heaven, and there is no physical pain in heaven. So: no feeding the poor (because no one is poor and no one is hungry). In fact, no charity of any kind because no one wants for anything. Right?

Peter Donis said...

I would call that a type-1 experience

Yes, for this discussion at least that seems fine, the key is the common feature of being able to enjoy it even though you already know what it is like.

This post was about type-2 experiences

In other words, specifically about experiences where once you know what they're like, you can't enjoy them any more. So "removing ignorance", for this discussion, means "giving you the knowledge of what all possible type-2 experiences you could ever have are like, removing your ability to enjoy them." Got it.

there's also a third type of experience: being surprised.

I would say this is just another kind of type-2 experience, for purposes of this discussion; the key is that knowing what it is like takes away the enjoyment.

Ron said...

> knowing what it is like takes away the enjoyment

I would say that this is a distinction that matters enough to be worthy of having its own label, particularly since the question at issue is whether infinite rewards are possible.

Peter Donis said...

I would say that this is a distinction that matters enough to be worthy of having its own label

Yes, that label is type-2 (as opposed to type-1). :-)

In other words, I don't see a useful distinction, for this discussion, between learning "knowledge" (for example, learning the Einstein Field Equation) and learning "what it is like" in the sense of being surprised (for example, learning by watching a movie what all the stuff in the spoiler alerts one carefully avoided reading was referring to). The key is that you don't want some other entity to decide for you when you have these learning experiences--each such experience is only good once, so you want to be able to decide for yourself when you have them. So being forced to gain all that knowledge by going to heaven, if that's what going to heaven does, would not be a good thing.

Ron said...

[Re-posted to correct a small but significant typo]

I think it's worth distinguishing between three different types of enjoyable experiences:

1. Subjective experiences that can be enjoyed repeatedly (eating chocolate, watching the same movie, being in love)

2. Experiences for which the subjective [1] elements are not primary (acquiring information, learning)

3. Subjective experiences whose very nature makes it impossible to enjoy them more than once (discovery, being surprised)

(I've numbered them to be consistent with my previous numbering scheme. If I were to do this again I'd list the third one second.)

It's all a bit of a moot point because my entire critique of "ignorance" was based on a mistaken assumption, that Jimmy considered the absence of knowledge to be bad. He doesn't. Only "the kind of ignorance which is closed-minded, resistant to correction or edification" is bad. So we actually agree on this point.

My basic position hasn't changed though: in an infinite amount of time you can get sick and tired of *everything*. You can run out of things to be surprised by. You can run out of new things to learn (or at least new things to learn that you actually care about learning). You can even get sick and tired of chocolate. That last one is the hardest case to make, and I don't claim to have actually made it very well (yet) but I hope that simply by thinking about how truly vast eternity is that it might seem *plausible*.

[1] This was the type. I had written "subject" instead of "subjective".

Publius said...

It's not like you get to pick and choose your afterlife.

After your death, you have these possibilities:
1. God doesn't exist --> you cease to exist
2. God exists
A) Selected for Heaven
B) Selected for Hell
C) Selected for Purgatory --> Heaven later

Say you are selected for Heaven. In this scenario, you fail to consider two possibilities:
1) You have an infinite time to create. You can create new things. You can consume the new things created by others.
2) You're assuming Time exists in Heaven. What if Time does not exist. A plausible argument could be made that Heaven is outside of Time, as God must be outside of Time, as He created Time.

You may not experience the passage of time at al in Heaven.

Publius said...

Ron - a new possibility for you, straight from the metaphysical experts over on Reddit:

A comment, replying to the original poster who related a near-death experience:

"OP what you saw were humanity's helpers-they were asking if u wanted to leave the simulation. Life is all a big sim, that's why dying isn't scary. This is just a game for us, in reality we are all gods who got bored w/immortality so we play an artificial human life game."

There you go, Ron -- you could already be a bored immortal god who decided to play the artificial human life game.

Hey, that would also make me a bored immoral god.

I guess you and I are spending eternity together. Hi.

Ron said...

> I guess you and I are spending eternity together.

God help me.

Chimpunzee said...

Coming late to the party, but I've had the same thought about identity being incompatible with heaven as described by most Christians, but from a different angle.

A woman dies in a tragic car accident. She has lived a life of grace and love and devotion to God, and she passes into heaven. There she will spend an eternity in a perfected state of being and bliss at the foot of the Lord.

One problem. Her son also died in the car accident. He was an atheist and a blasphemer who rejected God and institutions that promoted God. His fate is to suffer eternal torment, just as Jesus foretold.

How can the mother live in bliss knowing her son is enduring unending suffering? Or does entering into heaven change her in such a fundamental way that she isn't bothered by her son's fate, and is she then the same person? Or does the "many worlds" interpretation leak into heaven and she get a personalized version of heaven where a copy of her son exists while the "real" son is tormented in all the other ones?