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Is Heaven a Celestial North Korea?

Will heaven consist of eternal boredom? Some unbelieving thinkers assume it will. For example, in his best-selling book, Heavens on Earth: The Scientific Search for the Afterlife, Immortality, and Utopia, atheist Michael Shermer wonders if there are tennis courts and golf courses in heaven. Shermer explains:

In other words, are there any challenges? If there is no disease, sickness, aging, or death in heaven, if there are no obstacles to overcome and nothing to work for, what is there to do? Forever is a long time to be blissfully bored. If the Christian version of heaven is correct and you get to spend eternity with an omniscient and omnipotent deity who knows and controls everything you think, do, and say, then as Christopher Hitchens famously opined, that would make heaven a “celestial North Korea” from which “you would never be able to escape,” a “place of endless praise and adoration, limitless (self-denial) and (depreciation) of self.”

As Hitchens told an audience in one of his last public speeches just shortly before his death in 2011:

It will happen to all of us that at some point you get tapped on the shoulder and told not just that the party’s over, but that the party is going on and you have to leave. That’s the reflection I think that most upsets people about their demise. Alright, then, let’s pretend the opposite. Instead you’ll get tapped on the shoulder and told there’s great news. The party’s going on forever and you can’t leave!

Possible Preaching Angle: Joy; Heaven; Hope; Meaning; Christians do not need to “pretend there will be good news” of a meaningful life after death. Scripture reveals the reality of heaven where there is no death, pain, or sorrow (Rev 21:4). Where there is “fullness of joy with eternal pleasures at your right hand” (Ps. 16:11), in the joyful company of saints and angels (Heb. 12:22).

Michael Shermer, “Heavens on Earth: The Scientific Search for the Afterlife, Immortality, and Utopia, (Henry Holt and Company, 2018), page 64

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