Heaven may refer to the physical heavens, the sky or the seemingly endless expanse of the universe beyond.The term is used to refer to a plane of existence (sometimes held to exist in our own universe) in religions and spiritual philosophies, typically described as the holiest possible place, accessible by people according to various standards of divinity, goodness, piety, etc.


The modern English word "Heaven" derives from the word "heven" around 1150, which developed from the Old English "heofon" around 1000 referring to the Christianized "place where God dwells" but earlier meaning "sky, firmament" [The Anglo-Saxons knew the concept of Paradise, which they expressed with words such as "neorxnawang", lit. (place of) no toil nor worries.] (attested from around 725 in "Beowulf"); this is cognate with other Germanic languages - Old Saxon "heƀan" ("sky, heaven"), Middle Low German "heven" ("sky"), Old Icelandic "himinn" ("sky, heaven"), Gothic "himins", and possibly with the addition of an "-l" suffix; Old Frisian "himel", "himul" ("sky, heaven"), Old Saxon "himil", Middle Dutch and modern Dutch "hemel", Old High German "himil" and modern German "Himmel", all of which derive from the reconstructed Proto-Germanic *"Hemina-".Barnhart (1995:357).]

General origins

While there are abundant and varied sources for conceptions of Heaven, the typical believer's view appears to depend largely on his religious tradition and particular sect. Some religions conceptualize Heaven as pertaining to some type of peaceful life after death related to the immortality of the soul. Heaven is generally construed as a place of happiness, sometimes eternal happiness. A psychological reading of sacred religious texts across cultures and throughout history would describe it as a term signifying a state of "full aliveness" or wholeness. In ancient Judaism, the belief in Heaven and afterlife was connected with that of "Sheol" (mentioned in Isaiah 38:18, Psalms 6:5 and Job 7:7-10). Some scholars asserted that "Sheol" was an earlier concept, but this theory is not universally held. One later Jewish sect that maintained belief in a Resurrection of the dead was known as the Pharisees. Opposed to them were the Sadducees who denied the doctrine of Resurrection (Matt. 22:23). In Christianity, heaven is either an eternally blessed life after death or a return to the pre-fallen state of humanity, a second and new Garden of Eden, in which humanity is reunited with God in a perfect and natural state of eternal existence and generally they believe this afterdeath reunion is accomplished through faith that Jesus Christ died for the sins of humanity on the cross, was resurrected and "bodily" ascended into heaven. Examples of the different terminology referencing the concept of "heaven", in the Christian Bible are:

the kingdom of heaven (Matthew 5:3), the kingdom of the Father (Matthew 13:43), life (Matthew 7:14), life everlasting (Matthew 19:16), the joy of the Lord (Matthew 25:21), great reward (Matthew 5:12), the kingdom of God (Mark 9:45), the kingdom of Christ (Luke 22:30), the house of the Father (John 14:2), city of God, the heavenly Jerusalem (Hebr., xii), the holy place (Hebrews 9:12; D. V. holies), paradise (2 Corinthians 12:4), incorruptible crown (1 Corinthians 9:25), crown of life (James 1:12), crown of justice (II Timothy iv, 8), crown of glory (1 Peter 5:4)
The diversity of references make it probable that the term refers to a direct experience of full spiritual aliveness or unity with God.), and the Good Thief was the first to enter.

Various saints have had visions of heaven (; secondly, the New Heavens and New Earth, referred to in Revelation 21 and 22. This millennialism (or chiliasm) is a revival of a strong tradition in the Early Church that was dismissed by Augustine of Hippo and the Roman Catholic church after him.

Not only will the believers spend eternity with God, they will also spend it with each other. John's vision recorded in Revelation describes a New Jerusalem which comes from Heaven to the New Earth, which is a seen to be a symbolic reference to the people of God living in community with one another. 'Heaven' will be the place where life will be lived to the full, in the way that the designer planned, each believer 'loving the Lord their God with all their heart and with all their soul and with all their mind' and 'loving their neighbour as themselves'(adapted from Matthew 22:37-38) —a place of great joy, without the negative aspects of earthly life.

"(The Greek "hê basileia ton ouranon", usually translated as "the Kingdom of Heaven", is indeed more literally "the rule of the skies (or heavens)", with "the skies (or heavens)" being a codeword for God, reflecting the respect shown for God's name in first century Judaism.)"

Within Christianity, there are several notable belief structures on the means by which Man may enter heaven. See:

eventh-day Adventist

The Seventh-day Adventist understanding of heaven is based on Biblical writings which set out the following:
* That heaven is a material place where God resides.
* That earth and all the animate and inanimate things therein and within its celestial space are products of God's creative work.
* That God sent His Son, Jesus Christ to earth to live as a human being, but who "perfectly exemplified the righteousness and love of God. By His miracles He manifested God's power and was attested as God's promised Messiah. He suffered and died voluntarily on the cross for our sins and in our place, was raised from the dead, and ascended to minister in the heavenly sanctuary in our behalf." [General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists, [http://www.adventist.org/beliefs/fundamental/index.html Adventist Fundamental Beliefs, Fundamental Belief # 4: The Son] , 2006] .
* That Christ promises to return as a Saviour at which time He will resurrect the righteous dead and gather them along with the righteous living to heaven. The unrighteous will die at Christ's second coming. [General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists, [http://www.adventist.org/beliefs/fundamental/index.html Adventist Fundamental Beliefs, Fundamental Belief # 26: Death and Resurrection] , 2006] .
* That after Christ's second coming there will exist a period of time known as the Millennium during which Christ and His righteous saints will reign and the unrighteous will be judged. At the close of the Millennium, Christ and His angels return to earth to resurrect the dead that remain, to issue the judgements and to forever rid the universe of sin and sinners. [General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists, [http://www.adventist.org/beliefs/fundamental/index.html Adventist Fundamental Beliefs, Fundamental Belief # 27: Millennium and the End of Sin] , 2006] .
* "On the new earth, in which righteousness dwells, God will provide an eternal home for the redeemed and a perfect environment for everlasting life, love, joy, and learning in His presence. For here God Himself will dwell with His people, and suffering and death will have passed away. The great controversy will be ended, and sin will be no more. All things, animate and inanimate, will declare that God is love; and He shall reign forever." [General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists, [http://www.adventist.org/beliefs/fundamental/index.html Adventist Fundamental Beliefs, Fundamental Belief # 28: New Earth] , 2006] . It is at this point that heaven is established on the new earth.

Jehovah's Witnesses

Jehovah's Witnesses hold the belief that Heaven is the dwelling place of Jehovah God and all of His spirit creatures, the seat of His power as Sovereign of the Universe, and the place where 144,000 chosen faithful followers of Christ will reside ruling over the resurrected Earth alongside the anointed King, Jehovah's son Jesus Christ. [cite book|title=Reasoning From The Scriptures|year=1989|publisher=Watchtower]

Revelation 14:1, 3: And I saw, and look! the Lamb standing upon the Mount Zion, and with him a hundred and forty-four thousand having his name and the name of his Father written on their foreheads..... And they are singing as if a new song before the throne and before the four living creatures and the elders; and no one was able to master that song but the hundred and forty-four thousand, who have been bought from earth.

Not all good people go to heaven and the ones who remain on earth can look forward to a happy life in the future.

Acts 2:34: “David [whom the Bible refers to as being ‘a man agreeable to Jehovah God’s heart’] did not ascend to the heavens.”

Matt. 11:11: “Truly I say to you people, Among those born of women there has not been raised up a greater than John the Baptist; but a person that is a lesser one in the kingdom of the heavens is greater than he is.” (So John did not go to heaven when he died.)

Ps. 37:9, 11, 29: “Evildoers themselves will be cut off, but those hoping in Jehovah are the ones that will possess the earth . . . The meek ones themselves will possess the earth, and they will indeed find their exquisite delight in the abundance of peace. The righteous themselves will possess the earth, and they will reside forever upon it.”

Rev. 21:1-4: “I saw a new heaven and a new earth . . . I heard a loud voice from the throne say: ‘Look! The tent of God is with mankind, and he will reside with them, and they will be his peoples. And God himself will be with them. And he will wipe out every tear from their eyes, and death will be no more, neither will mourning nor outcry nor pain be anymore. The former things have passed away.’”

Mic. 4:3, 4: “They will not lift up sword, nation against nation, neither will they learn war anymore. And they will actually sit, each one under his vine and under his fig tree, and there will be no one making them tremble; for the very mouth of Jehovah of armies has spoken it.”

Matt. 5:5: “Happy are the mild-tempered ones, since they will inherit the earth.”

Matt. 6:9, 10: “Our Father in the heavens, let your name be sanctified. Let your kingdom come. Let your will take place, as in heaven, also upon earth.”

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints

The view of heaven according to the Latter-Day Saint movement is based on Section 76 of the Doctrine and Covenants as well as 1 Corinthians Chapter 15 in the King James version of the Bible. The afterlife is divided first into two levels until the Last Judgement; afterwards it is divided into four levels, the upper three of which are referred to as "degrees of glory" that, for illustrative purposes, are compared to heavenly bodies.

Before the Last Judgment, spirits separated from their bodies at death go either to Paradise or to Spirit Prison based on their merits earned in life. Paradise is a place of rest while its inhabitants continue learning in preparation for the Last Judgement. Spirit Prison is a place of anguish and suffering for the wicked and unrepentant; however, missionary efforts done by spirits from Paradise enable those in Spirit Prison to repent, accept the Gospel and the atonement and receive baptism through the practice of baptism for the dead. [Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints [http://scriptures.lds.org/en/dc/128/#18 Doctrine and Covenants 128:18] ]

After the resurrection and Last Judgement, people are sent to one of four levels:

*The Celestial Kingdom is the highest level, with its power and glory comparable to the sun. Here, faithful and valiant disciples of Christ who accepted the fullness of His Gospel and kept their covenants with Him through following the prophets of their dispensation are reunited with their families and with God the Father, Jesus Christ, and the Holy Spirit for all eternity. Those who would have accepted the Gospel with all their hearts had they been given the opportunity in life (as judged by Christ and God the Father) are also saved in the Celestial Kingdom. Latter-Day Saint movements do not believe in the concept of original sin, but believe children to be innocent through the atonement. Therefore, all children who die before the age of accountability inherit this glory. Men and women who have entered into celestial marriage are eligible, under the tutelage of God the Father, to eventually become gods and goddesses as joint-heirs with Jesus Christ.
*The Terrestrial Kingdom's power and glory is comparable to that of the moon, and is reserved for those who understood and rejected the full Gospel in life but lived good lives; those who did accept the Gospel but failed to keep their covenants through continuing the process of faith, repentance, and service to others; those who "died without law" (D & C 76:72) but accepted the full Gospel and repented after death due to the missionary efforts undertaken in Spirit Prison. God the Father does not come into the Terrestrial Kingdom, but Jesus Christ visits them and the Holy Spirit is given to them.
*The Telestial Kingdom is comparable to the glory of the stars. Those placed in the Telestial Kingdom suffered the pains of Hell after death because they were liars, murderers, adulterers, whoremongers, etc. They are eventually rescued from Hell by being redeemed through the power of the atonement at the end of the Millennium. Despite its far lesser condition in eternity, the Telestial Kingdom is described as being more comfortable than Earth in its current state. Suffering is a result of a full knowledge of the sins and choices which have permanently separated a person from the utter joy that comes from being in the presence of God and Jesus Christ, though they have the Holy Spirit to be with them.
*Perdition, or outer darkness, is the lowest level and has no glory whatsoever. It is reserved for Satan, his angels, and those who have committed the unpardonable sin. This is the lowest state possible in the eternities, and one that very few people born in this world attain, since the unpardonable sin requires that a person know with a perfect knowledge that the Gospel is true and then reject it and fight defiantly against God. The only known son of Perdition is Cain, but it is generally acknowledged that there are probably more scattered through the ages.

In Hinduism

According to Hindu cosmology, above the earthly plane are six heavenly planes:
1) Bhuva Loka
2) Swarga Loka, a heavenly paradise of pleasure, where all the 330 million Hindu gods (Deva) reside along with the king of gods, Indra.
3) Mahar Loka
4) Jana Loka
5) Tapa Loka
6) Satya Loka

Below the earthly plane are seven nether planes:
1) Atala
2) Vitala
3) Sutala
4) Talatala
5) Mahatala
6) Rasatala
7) Pataal

Below these are 28 hellish planes (according to Bhagavata Purana), below which is the Garbhodaka ocean with waters of devastation. Depending on good and bad activities (karma) on an earthly plane, a soul either ascends up to enjoy heavenly delights or goes down to fiery hellish planes depending on sins performed which are judged by the god of death & justice, Yama, who presides along the 28 hells. After the results of good and bad deeds (karma) are delivered, souls return to the earthly plane again as human or animal depending on desires and karma. Thus the cycle of birth and death.

Eternal liberation or freedom from the cycle of birth and death is called Moksha, which can be obtained only in human life by turning attention inwards for uniting the soul with the Supreme Being (Parabrahman, Bhagavan, Ishvar, Krishna) through Yoga - Karma Yoga, Jnana Yoga, Bhakti Yoga etc.

Liberation (Moksha) is of five types as described in Puranas:
1) Sayujya: Merging into the oneness with the impersonal aspect of the Lord, and hence freedom from all material anxiety.
2) Salokya: Attaining residence in the eternal abode of the Lord, called Vaikuntha, beyond material universal creation, beyond the six material heavens, a place where only surrendered devotees of the Lord go.
3) Saristi: Attaining same opulences as the Lord in His abode.
4) Sarupya: Attaining same beautiful form as the Lord in His abode.
5) Samipya: Attaining close association of the Lord in His abode.

This abode of Lord is briefly described in the Bhagavad Gita (15.6), "That supreme abode of Mine is not illumined by the sun or moon, nor by fire or electricity. Those who reach it never return to this material world". Further descriptions of Vaikuntha are in the Puranas where the Lord's devotees reside eternally in loving relationship with the Lord.

Furthermore, Vaikuntha residency has following categories:
1) Shanta Rasa: In neutral relationship of great awe, reveration and constant thinking of the Lord.
2) Dasya Rasa: Serving the Lord personally to please the Lord as master and soul as servant.
3) Sakhya Rasa: Serving the Lord as an intimate friend (formal, informal, and many other types).
4) Vatsalya Rasa: Serving the Lord from a superior position as a caretaker (like motherly or fatherly relations).
5) Madhurya / Sringara Rasa: Serving the Lord as an intimate conjugal lover including all previous rasas, the most sweet of all, with many further categories.

The Lord lovingly relates to every soul in a multitude of modes and varieties of relationships as desired by the soul. The Lord from there sometimes descends into material universe, along with His associates, to redeem suffering souls and perform His pastimes. He comes either Personally (Svayam Bhagavan) or as His part incarnations (kala, amsha) or sends His messengers/prophets. There are many incarnations of the Lord mentioned in scriptures, 10 of which are famous, the most popular ones are Rama Avatar and Krishna Avatar.

In Buddhism

According to Buddhist Cosmology the universe is undergoing cycles and beings are spread over a number of existential "planes" in which this human world is only one (though important) "realm" of life. In Buddhism the gods are not immortal, though they may live much longer than the earthly beings. They also are subject to decay and change, and the process of becoming. The intensity and the manner in which these processes take place however may be different and involve longer periods of time. But like any other beings, they are with a beginning and an end.

However, all heavenly beings are regarded as inferior in status to the Arhats who have attained Nirvana. The gods were also from the lower worlds originally, but slowly and gradually graduated themselves into higher worlds by virtue of their past deeds and cultivation of virtuous qualities. Since there are many heavens and higher worlds of Brahma, these gods may evolve progressively from one heaven to another through their merit or descend into lower worlds due to some misfortune or right intention. One notable Buddhist paradise is the Pure Land of Pure Land Buddhism.

The gods of Buddhism are therefore not immortal. Neither their position in the heavens is permanent. They may however live for longer durations of time. One of the Buddhist Sutras states that a hundred years of our existence is equal to one day and one night in the world of the thirty three gods. Thirty such days add up to their one month. Twelve such months become their one year, while they live for a thousand such years.

In Islam

The Qur'an contains many references to an afterlife in Eden for those who do good deeds. Heaven itself is commonly described in the Qu'ran in verse 35 of Surah Al-Ra’d: "The parable of the Garden which the righteous are promised! Beneath it flow rivers. Perpetual is the fruits thereof and the shade therein. Such is the End of the Righteous; and the end of the unbelievers is the Fire." Since Islam rejects the concept of original sin, Muslims believe that all human beings are born pure. In Islam, therefore, a child who dies automatically goes to heaven, regardless of the religion of his or her parents. The highest level of heaven is Firdaws (فردوس)- Pardis (پردیس), which is where the prophets, the martyrs and the most truthful and pious people will dwell.

Although sharing some similarities, the concept of heaven in Islam is different in many respects to that found in Judaism and Christianity. Chiefly, Heaven (Jannah) is described in physical terms, using jewellery, and food. The Islamic texts describes life for its immortal inhabitants, one that is happy — without hurt, sorrow, fear or shame — where every wish is fulfilled. Traditions relate that inhabitants will be of the same age (32 years for men as the same age when Jesus ascended), and of the same stature. Their life is one of bliss including: wearing costly robes, bracelets, perfumes; partaking in exquisite banquets, served in priceless vessels by immortal youths; reclining on couches inlaid with gold or precious stones. Other foods mentioned include meats, scented wine and clear drinks bringing neither drunkenness nor rousing quarreling. Inhabitants will rejoice in the company of their parents, wives, and children (provided they were admitted to paradise) — conversing and recalling the past. Texts also relate "pure consorts" (houris), created in perfection, with whom carnal joys are shared — "a hundred times greater than earthly pleasure".

In Judaism

Judaism offers no clear teaching about the destiny which lies in wait for the individual after death and its attitude to life after death has been expressed as follows: "For the future is inscrutable, and the accepted sources of knowledge, whether experience, or reason, or revelation, offer no clear guidance about what is to come. The only certainty is that each man must die - beyond that we can only guess." [Nicholas de Lange, "Judaism", Oxford University Press, 1986, p.126]

While the concept of heaven ("malkuth hashamaim" מלכות השמים—The Kingdom of Heaven) is well-defined within the Christian and Islamic religions, the Jewish concept of the afterlife, sometimes known as "olam haba", the world to come, [The Mishnah says, "This world is like a lobby before the World-To-Come. Prepare yourself in the lobby so that you may enter the banquet hall."] seems to have been disputed between various early sects such as the Sadducees, and thus never set forth in a systematic or official fashion as was done in Christianity and Islam.Fact|date=January 2007 The Torah has little to say on the subject of survival after death, but by the time of the rabbis two ideas had made inroads among the Jews: one, which is probably derived from Greek thought, [de Lange, "ibid".] is that of the immortal soul which returns to its creator after death; the other, which is thought to be of Persian origin, [de Lange, "ibid".] is that of resurrection. Jewish writings refer to a "new earth" as the abode of mankind following the resurrection of the dead. Originally, the two ideas of immortality and resurrection were different but in rabbinic thought they are combined: the soul departs from the body at death but is returned to it at the resurrection. This idea is linked to another rabbinic teaching which is not found in the Bible, that men's good and bad actions are rewarded and punished not in this life but after death, whether immediately or at the subsequent resurrection. [de Lange, "ibid".]

Some Jews believe in reincarnation, in which case the soul of the dead passes into the body of a newborn person, with no memory of its previous existence. Judaism does, however, have a belief in Heaven, not as a future abode for "good souls", but as the "place" where God "resides".

In Kabbalah Jewish mysticism

Jewish mysticism recognizes seven heavens.

In order from lowest to highest, the seven Heavens are listed alongside the angels who govern them:

# Shamayim: The first Heaven, governed by Archangel Gabriel, is the closest of heavenly realms to the Earth; it is also considered the abode of Adam and Eve.
# Raquia: The second Heaven is dually controlled by Zachariel and Raphael. It was in this Heaven that Moses, during his visit to Paradise, encountered the angel Nuriel who stood "300 parasangs high, with a retinue of 50 myriads of angels all fashioned out of water and fire." Also, Raquia is considered the realm where the fallen angels are imprisoned and the planets fastened. ["The Legends of the Jews" I, 131, and II, 306.]
# Shehaqim: The third Heaven, under the leadership of Anahel, serves as the home of the Garden of Eden and the Tree of Life; it is also the realm where manna, the holy food of angels, is produced. ["The Legends of the Jews" V, 374.] The "Second Book of Enoch", meanwhile, states that both Paradise and Hell are accommodated in Shehaqim with Hell being located simply " on the northern side."
# Machonon: The fourth Heaven is ruled by the Archangel Michael , and according to Talmud Hagiga 12, it contains the heavenly Jerusalem, the Temple, and the Altar.
# Machon: The fifth Heaven is under the administration of Samael, an angel referred to as evil by some, but who is to others merely a dark servant of God.
# Zebul: The sixth Heaven falls under the jurisdiction of Zachiel.
# Araboth: The seventh Heaven, under the leadership of Cassiel, is the holiest of the seven Heavens provided the fact that it houses the Throne of Glory attended by the Seven Archangels and serves as the realm in which God dwells; underneath the throne itself lies the abode of all unborn human souls. It is also considered the home of the Seraphim, the Cherubim, and the Hayyoth.

In Polynesia

In the creation stories of Polynesian mythology are found various concepts of the heavens and the underworld. These differ from one island to another. What they share is the view of the universe as an egg or coconut that is divided between the world of humans (earth), the upper world of heavenly gods, and the underworld. Each of these is subdivided in a manner reminiscent of Dante's Divine Comedy, but the number of divisions and their names differs from one Polynesian culture to another.


Among the Māori, the heavens are divided into a number of realms. Different tribes number the heaven differently, with as few as two and as many as fourteen levels. One of the more common versions divides heaven thus:
#Kiko-rangi, presided over by the god Toumau
#Waka-maru, the heaven of sunshine and rain
#Nga-roto, the heaven of lakes where the god Maru rules
#Hau-ora, where the spirits of new-born children originate
#Nga-Tauira, home of the servant gods
#Nga-atua, which is ruled over by the hero Tawhaki
#Autoia, where human souls are created
#Aukumea, where spirits live
#Wairua, where spirit gods live while waiting on those in
#Naherangi or Tuwarea, where the great gods live presided over by Rehua

The Māori believe these heavens are supported by pillars. Other Polynesian peoples see them being supported by gods (as in Hawai'i). In one Tahitan legend, heaven is supported by an octopus.


The Polynesian conception of the universe and its division is nicely illustrated by a famous drawing made by a Tuomotuan chief in 1869. Here, the nine heavens are further divided into left and right, and each stage is associated with a stage in the evolution of the earth that is portrayed below. The lowest division represents a period when the heavens hung low over the earth, which was inhabited by animals that were not known to the islanders. In the third division is shown the first murder, the first burials, and the first canoes, built by Rata. In the fourth division, the first coconut tree and other significant plants are born.

Heaven in fiction

Works of fiction, especially in the modern fantasy "genre", have included numerous different conceptions of Heaven and Hell. C. S. Lewis offers one example of Heaven at the end of his Narnia sequence in the 'Last Battle'. Piers Anthony in his series 'Incarnations of Immortality' portrays examples of Heaven and Hell via Death, Fate, Nature, War, Time, Good-God and Evil-Devil. Robert Heinlein offers in his book 'Job' a Yin-Yang version of Hell where there is still some good within. Heinlein also offers the Schrodinger-type of Heaven, Hell and Universe which is entirely the creation of the mind and thereby infinitely changeable in 'The Cat who walks through Walls' and others. Lois McMaster Bujold suggests five Gods 'Father, Mother, Son, Daughter and Bastard in her 'Chalion' series with a mention of Heaven and a more graphic version of The Bastard's Hell as formless chaos. Michael Moorcock is one of many who offer Chaos-Evil-(Hell) and (Uniformity-Good-Heaven) as equally unacceptable extremes which must be held in balance; most evidently in the Elric and Eternal Champion series.

Criticism of the belief in Heaven

Atheists reject the existence of heaven. Some atheists have viewed the notion of heaven as an "opiate of the masses"—tool employed by humans to cope with their lives' misery—or "opiate "for" the masses"—a tool employed by authorities to bribe their subjects into a certain way of life by promising a reward after death. [ [http://www.netcharles.com/orwell/articles/col-afcp.htm Animal Farm Character Profiles] at Charles' George Orwell Links.] The anarchist Emma Goldman expressed this view when she wrote, "Consciously or unconsciously, most theists see in gods and devils, heaven and hell; reward and punishment, a whip to lash the people into obedience, meekness and contentment." [Goldman, Emma. [http://dwardmac.pitzer.edu/Anarchist_archives/goldman/philosophyatheism.html "The Philosophy of Atheism"] . "Mother Earth", February 1916.]

Many people consider George Orwell's use of Sugarcandy Mountain in his novel "Animal Farm" to be a literary expression of this view. In the book, the animals were told that after their miserable lives were over they would go to a place in which "it was Sunday seven days a week, clover was in season all the year round, and lump sugar and linseed cake grew on the hedges". [ [http://www.k-1.com/Orwell/site/$country=us$/opinion/essays/rhodi.html Opinions : Essays : Orwell's Political Messages] by Rhodri Williams.] [ [http://www.netcharles.com/orwell/articles/animal-farm-background-info.htm Background information for George Orwell's Animal Farm] at Charles' George Orwell Links.] Fantasy author Phillip Pullman echoes this idea in the fantasy series His Dark Materials, in which the characters finally come to the conclusion that people should make life better on Earth rather than wait for heaven (this idea is known as the Republic of Heaven).

Some atheists have argued that a belief in a reward after death is poor motivation for moral behavior while alive [ [http://daphne.palomar.edu/mlane/ATHEIST/atheist_philosophy.htm The Atheist Philosophy] ] [ [http://www.quotedb.com/quotes/204 Quote by Albert Einstein] at Quote DB.] , arguing that "It is rather more noble to help people purely out of concern for their suffering than it is to help them because you think the Creator of the Universe wants you to do it, or will reward you for doing it, or will punish you for not doing it. [The] problem with this linkage between religion and morality is that it gives people bad reasons to help other human beings when good reasons are available." [Sam Harris at the 2006 conference ( [http://beyondbelief2006.org/watch/watch.php?Video=Session%209 watch here] ).]

Others have further argued that an irrational belief in heavenly rewards may actually "motivate" believers to do horrible things while on Earth. Richard Dawkins summed up this view by stating "Promise a young man that death is not the end and he will willingly cause disaster." [Dawkins, Richard. [http://www.positiveatheism.org/writ/dawk911.htm "Religion's Misguided Missiles"] . "The Guardian", September 15, 2001.] In his television programme "The Root of All Evil?" Dawkins states, :"...there are would-be murderers all around the world who want to kill you and me and themselves because they are motivated by what they think is the highest ideal [...] the suicide bomber believes that in killing for his god he will be fast tracked to special martyrs’ heaven." [ [http://philippineatheists.org/2006/12/26/reply-to-richard-dawkins-statement-in-the-root-of-evil/ REPLY TO RICHARD DAWKINS STATEMENT IN THE ROOT OF EVIL] at the site Philippine Atheists. This view is echoed by Sam Harris in his book "The End of Faith".]




* Craig, Robert D. "Dictionary of Polynesian Mythology". Greenwood Press: New York, 1989. ISBN 0313258902. Page 57.
* Bunyan, John. "The Strait Gate: Great Difficulty of Going to Heaven" Liskeard, Cornwall: Diggory Press, 2007. ISBN 978-1846856716.
* Bunyan, John. "No Way to Heaven but By Jesus Christ" Liskeard, Cornwall: Diggory Press, 2007. ISBN 978-1846857805.
* Ginzberg, Louis. Henrietta Szold (trans.). "The Legends of the Jews". Philadelphia: The Jewish Publication Society of America, 1909–38. ISBN 0801858909.
* Hahn, Scott. "The Lamb's Supper: The Mass as Heaven on Earth". New York: Doubleday, 1999. ISBN 978-0385496599.
* Moody, D.L. "Heaven". Liskeard, Cornwall: Diggory Press, 2007. ISBN 978-1846858123.
* Young, J.L. "The Paumotu Conception of the Heavens and of Creation", "Journal of the Polynesian Society", 28 (1919), 209–211.
* Barnhart, Robert K. (1995). "The Barnhart Concise Dictionary of Etymology". HarperCollins ISBN 0062700847


* [http://store.aetv.com/html/product/index.jhtml?id=75878 "Heaven: Beyond the Grave"] . A&E Network. ( [http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0804491/ IMDB] )
* "Mysteries of the Bible": "Heaven and Hell". A&E Network.

External links

* [http://www.scborromeo.org/ccc/p123a12.htm Catechism of the Catholic Church "I believe in Life Everlasting"] Explanation of Catholic teaching about Heaven, Hell & Purgatory
* [http://www.many-lives.com/lives/paradise.html Salvation Versus Liberation, A Buddhist View of the Paradise or Heavenly Worlds]
* [http://www.Qu'ranichealing.com/bp.asp?caid=68 Everlasting Life in Paradise according to Qu'ran] Seven Steps rising to the heavens
* [http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/heaven-hell/ Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy entry on Heaven and Hell]
* [http://www.bbc.co.uk/radio4/history/inourtime/inourtime_20051222.shtml Heaven] from In Our Time (BBC Radio 4)

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