Myths of Heaven and Hell

…or Where Do We Divide Eternity?

Eternity is generally defined as the totality of time which is without beginning or end: an infinite time.  From this understanding religious practices have promoted the belief in the endless period of time following death; the afterlife; immortality.  This allows the faith system wiggle room to claim special allowance to those who follow their faith system as having a privileged continuation in the abode of God–Heaven.  That imagined reward is always painted as a place of bliss where the souls of sanctified departed (blessed by the faith system) enter their spiritual potential.

Those who are not deemed qualified by the faith system are deemed to be shuffled off to a different locale in eternity, the famous godforsaken Hell.  Hell is always presented as the underworld, which most likely developed out of the caveman notion of an underworld as the abode of the dead.  This belief was a natural conclusion drawn from placing the dead in graves or in caves.  Faith system manufacturers found this to be a convenient angle to build upon, for it provided the means to manipulate through use of threats and/or bribery of some eternal consequence of their faith.  An imagined painful region of eternity was addressed by the priest-authors of Hebrew Scriptures as Sheol (the Pit); in Greco-Roman tradition it was called Hades.

In Jewish mythical cosmology composed c. 8th century BCE, a cherub named Lucifer (the planet Venus), also called Son of Dawn, is said to have walked in Eden and had been designated as Guardian of All Nations by God.  The Garden of Eden apparently encompassed a number of nations!  The colors that are said to have been embodied by Lucifer are actually reference to the comet phase of the object which eventually became Earth’s neighboring planet.  This is acknowledged by stating that his body was afire with carnelian, topaz, emerald, diamond, beryl, onyx, jasper, sapphire and carbuncle.  The myth continued that Lucifer soon became lost in pride and he plotted to “ascend above the stars” where he would become God’s equal.  God did not much care for that idea of rival glory, and cast Lucifer down to Earth, and then flung him into Sheol.  In his fall through the heavens (ala comet-style), Lucifer was said to have shone like lightning, and was reduced to ashes.  All that remained of Lucifer was spirit, which is said to eternally waver about in the Bottomless Pit.  The word Sheol is presented 65 time in Hebrew Scriptures.  It was not until around the 6th or 5th century BCE that the perception arose among the Jews that God also controlled Sheol, and this is mirrored in the re-edited books of Job:6, Psalms 139:8, and Proverbs 15:11.

In the mystical cosmology upon which Hebrew Scriptures were woven, Sheol was imagined as the highest of seven layers of the Fifth Earth, and like the lower layers Sheol held a storehouse of darkness.  The fiery elements of the six layers below Sheol were said to increase to sixty times fiercer than the layer above it.  The six layers below Sheol were: Perdition, Lowest Pit, the Bilge, Silence, the Gates of Death, and the Gates of the Shadow of Death.  With these additions, Sheol then took on the attributes similar to the later Catholic idea of Purgatory where souls pass time until the Last Judgment. 

The imagined underground location of hell as inferred by early Christian writers is also rooted in cosmology of antiquity, which imagined the universe as divided into heaven, Earth and the underworld.  Christianity, developing in the Roman Empire, elaborated upon the Greco-Roman Hades angle, but Hell is mention no more than about a dozen times throughout the New Testament.  Nonetheless, Hell is disproportionately expounded upon in too many sermons. 

The literature known as the New Testament was composed in Roman Empire times between c. 55 and 140 (and the true authors of any of the 27 books have never been satisfactorily answered).  Hellfire—or Gehenna—is defined in the book of Matthew 5:22; and Hell–or Hades—is summarized in the book of Luke 16:23.  The scare tactics of later Christian sects elaborated upon the imagined eternal tortures which Satan allegedly inflicted upon condemned souls. 

In the Catholic faith system there is a formal process that allegedly identifies souls that were regarded fit enough to enter heaven, and the competition is something like an Olympic event in which the gold medal that is given out is the title of “saint.”  That the “saint” race is a rigged event is obvious by the fact that those who achieve that faith’s highest honor have been judged to have in some manner contributed to advancing the institution of the faith system itself, not due to any concern for the sheep. 

The doctrine of damnation or blessedness is more a policy designed for ego manipulation than it is to promote any spiritual truth.  The Augustine-Jerome message of inescapable sin, which became the cornerstone of the Christian faith market, deliberately pushed aside the idea that Jesus died for everyone’s sins to imply that Jesus’ saving power came only through the faith system itself.

The Islamic hell is called Jahannum and, as imagined by Mohammed, is nothing less than Allah’s torture chamber.  There the unbelievers of Mohammed’s faith system (such as the Jews, Christians, Hindus, Sikhs, etc.), called kafirs, burn in eternal agony in God’s inferno.  The Koran does not use the neutral word unbelievers, but applies the word kafir to imply the lowest form of life, and it is okay to cheat them, lie to them, torture and kill them.   Muslim wrongdoers, however, no matter how horrific, are exempt from hell because Mohammed will intercede for his followers on the Day of Judgment.  Those who have remained dedicated to Islam will bypass hell and will enter Jannat (Paradise), which is outfitted with beautiful virgins and young boys to fulfill any desire.  The details of Jahannum (hell) are more broadly presented in the Koran, and numerous inhumane suggestions listed on how Muslim faithful are to treat the kafirs.  This angle is the inspiration for the hateful fanaticism of Muslim terrorist groups.

These faith system concepts of heaven and hell serve only one purpose: to frighten the unwary into servitude to a power structure presided over by the manipulators.  This is a tried and true con game that flourishes simply because personal faith is all about ego.  And the irrationality of eternal blessedness or unending damnation are the tools of ego manipulation—the “I’m saved, you’re not” stratagem.  Unfortunately, these taught judgmental concepts of who is blessed and who is damned serve only as the seeds of hatred and continuing world discord.  Ultimately, with these taught faith system beliefs we all lose.

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9 Responses to “Myths of Heaven and Hell”

  1. […] Myths of Heaven and&#32&#72&#101ll « Time Frames and Taboo Data Blog […]

  2. If you think that you will die and that is the end of it then wait till you read this. You will be surprised to learn that the religious contention that man will rise from the grave is not just a myth or wishful thinking but is based on real scientific principles. Rising up from the grave and coming back alive can happen simply with the reversal of time. The world (but not the universe) can end because of earthquake, tsunami, meteor strike, nuclear war, supernova, and some other natural or man made disaster. These are however just local ends that have nothing to do with The Day of Judgment. End will also not happen on any arbitrary date like December 2012. The end of the universe is an entirely different phenomenon that is built into the laws of the universe by the creator. The contraction of the universe with reversal of time and gravity will commence the beginning of the end which will last for thousands and possibly millions of years. We will be removed from the regressing effects of reversed time as we come back alive in our own time. We will the be taken across many dimensions to beyond this universe. A beautiful natural mechanism that is based on the laws of physics will cause all that to happen. This real end has nothing to do with wishful thinking and predictions of priests or shamans.

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