Across all cultures religion has been an infectious concept and has flowed from generation to generation with seeming ease. Even more interesting is the common ends of a proverbial “heaven” – an enticing provision awarded to those who pledge allegiance to religious deities and live in satisfactory subordination to the hierarchy and regulations of their chosen cult. Being that all of these lifestyle-memberships are generally sold on the basis of providing a product such as heaven, which cannot exist in reality, and would therefore seem difficult to believe, I find heaven to be conceptually fascinating.
What is heaven?
While the particulars of heavens differ not only from cult to cult, but from individual to individual, particular themes are abundant. In my experience and research, heavens are conceptually described by the majority of cult-members (most commonly, and not in so many words) as existing within the bounds of these three fundamental codes:
– Destinations at which interdimensional, conscious versions of humans posthumously reside.
– Regions of respective utopian ideals subject to cultural values and relevant to individual preferences.
– Paradises in which all needs germane to reality are either removed from the equation or fulfilled to a degree of hyperbolic contentment.
Some aspects of religious heavens are described in great, varying detail within their corresponding religious texts; however, these three requirements are generally accomplished within the official written descriptions. When assembled, these theoretical codes provide a portentous look at the projections of humans’ first impressions of their environments onto the reality of natural life. This starts the generation of the utmost fantasy of nanny-statism and, if we look closely, allows us to understand the infantile thought process from which our consciousness evolves.
What’s more fascinating than the portrayals themselves is that these concepts were derived in common cross-culturally by humans living very much apart from one another geographically, socially and, in most cases, in time without much (if any) transcultural interaction. So how can this be? Is the concept of heavens’ existence innate?
How are “Heavens” Conceivable, and Why?
As I alluded to above, there are too many parallels between the concept of “heaven” and the infantile consciousness of newborns to ignore. Furthermore, there are too many parallels between the evolution of the human psyche throughout natural life and the evolution of “heaven’s” rewards to overlook, however in the interest of brevity, but without discounting the importance of these complementary developments, I’ll stick to those occurring near infancy. Also, for the record, the following is my response to the above prompt based on some light reading and thought on the matter.
From the moment a baby exits the womb it is for the first time uncomfortable; it needs. A newborn baby has no understanding of the world around it. It has no intelligible appreciation for its environment; therefore, a baby is filled with the most sensational instinct it will ever feel at birth – responses to inexplicable negative stimuli in its environment. At this point a baby has never had a need go unmet, it has never been cold or hot, and it’s never been hungry or full without sufficient pacification of these needs being addressed instantaneous to their onset. Once in the natural world, the baby doesn’t misunderstand anything presented before it; the baby has no knowledge of depth perception, texture, light, shade, functionality, nor does it have the ability to draw distinctions between itself and its surroundings, therefore it cannot understand, nor misunderstand. At the moment after birth a baby must feel completely altered in the most absolute, yet ambivalent, way. It is suddenly cooler than usual, hungrier than usual, in pain as its umbilical-cord is severed and its butt is given a solid “whack”. Its skin is in contact with dry air for the first time, and its lungs are sucking it into themselves – what a sensation it must be to so suddenly be awakened from initial sleep to the full array of life’s most challenging and awe-inspiring sensations.
It’s terrifically difficult to fathom the gravity of this terse and offensive delivery into the natural world. A baby so abruptly travels the spectrum from living in a heaven-like environment in which every need is satisfied before the baby even feels an insufficiency, where all is well, warm, and entirely comfortable mentally and physically… to experiencing pressure, cold, stinging pain (“whack”), slicing pain (cord), fresh air expanding inside unused lungs, smells, tastes, textures, a bewildering display of colors and lights and shadows – a visual representation of three dimensions, and the ability to stretch out largely unused muscles. I mean, this is the moment in which a baby first feels its own weight bearing down on whatever surface it is laid. I assert that human birth has evolved into the unforgiving ordeal we know, because this experience becomes the most fundamental, foundational learning process that we ever endure, and its impressions and lessons are the roots on which we stand to strive throughout our entire lives.
From infancy onward the human experience is one of curiosity and instigation. We are all searching to get back to the place from whence we came, probing to find the paradise we were torn from. We long for a situation in which our every need is met. Of course, throughout our lives we develop desires superfluous to our necessities as well; this is why heavens are often purported to consist of buildings and streets made of precious metals and polished rocks, and to house young women with unused vaginas.
I would assert that this function of birth was naturally selected as it provides a most basic, intuition within us that something better exists, thereby making us constantly, subconsciously aware of our uncomfortable circumstances relative to what once was. This serves to inspire us to incessantly endeavor to achieve better circumstances for ourselves. It would seem that a pleasant and comfortable birth spent gently weaning us off of our heavenly situations within the womb would serve to cause weaker-willed offspring. Whereas, the ruder the awakening – the more urgent our motivation to get back to paradise. This instinct provides an ideal mental state for surviving, planning for the future to survive, and creating a posh environment to aid in providing for and protecting offspring in the future…so they can survive.
Obviously you can see where every decision a person makes throughout their entire life is for the betterment of their situation (until they produce their own offspring). Unfortunately, the side-effect of this natural stimulus is that we are susceptible to delusions of grandeur. When modern Homo sapiens use language to communicate (language which was not in existence, hundreds of thousands of years ago, when this birth-process modification began producing stronger specimens outlasting their lazier counterparts) we are inclined to follow the information which leads us to the ultimate nanny-state. We long to be taken care of and made perfectly comfortable at all times. We want all of our wishes met, etc. Thus, when sociopaths developed in the modern age (geologically speaking), illusions of heavens in which poor people live like kings and everyone sucks down nectar and ambrosia like Zeus-squared sold like hot-cakes; humans became entirely moldable, willing to do whatever it took to make it back to the ignorant bliss of the womb.
This is how we are able to conceive of a place such as heaven when it is spoken of, why we believe it might truly exist; we’ve been there before, and we were divorced from it terribly. Today, people hate each other for chasing the wrong womb-dream or no womb-dream. They offend one another with extreme bigotry in the name of their gods. More unfortunately still, are the ill-fated attempts to be accepted into the heavens via explosive-ordnance-strapped-to-crotch-in-crowded-area. Indeed, modern humans will do pretty much anything to get back into the embryonic sack. Granted, many a malicious threat has been dealt to aid in the rookery of religion; after all, without a disgusting amount of violence the church would fall apart as people would go about seeking genuine solutions to their needs.
Are you living in reality or have you succumbed to the temptation of chasing a womb-dream?