Pope concedes Heaven is not a real place


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The growth of science has changed many things.  In the area of mortality, so much has undermined the ability of humans to believe in the afterlife.  Flight, telescopes, space travel and vision from satellites has repudiated the notion of a heavenly destination for the floating dead.  Heaven is dying. 

There is no observable heaven in this solar sysTtem.  Many of us choose to ignore that evidence and that is fine and dandy, but the evidence is there for us all to behold.  We live in a heaven-free zone. 

Surveys of even committed believers have shown that only a minority of people in the West (other than the US) believe in the afterlife. 

Given the waning beliefs, religions have had to adapt.  Religions could compete by making heaven appear more and more attractive.  But that would undermine the plausibility even more. 

Some believers cope with the plausibility crisis by fudging their beliefs with qualifications and vagueness.  There is a tendency in some faiths to recalibrate their ‘‘heaven offering’’ by making the offer incomprehensible.  Here is a Catholic example where the description of Heaven is so unintelligible that it almost masks the fact that it is unbelievable. 

Pope Benedict XVI conceded this in a homily in August last year.  If you can understand what it means you are a miracle worker. 

”All of us today are well aware that by the term ‘heaven’ we are not referring to somewhere in the universe, to a star or such like; no. We mean something far greater and far more difficult to define with our limited human conceptions. With this term ‘heaven’ we wish to say that God, the God who made himself close to us, does not abandon us in or after death but keeps a place for us and gives us eternity. We mean that in God there is room for us . . .  

”It is his love that triumphs over death and gives us eternity and it is this love that we call ‘heaven’: God is so great that he also makes room for us. And Jesus the man, who at the same time is God, is the guarantee for us that the being-man and the being-God can exist and live, the one within the other, for eternity.” 

To me that is meaningless.  But if I can discern one clear meaning from it, it is the Papal concession that heaven is not a place anywhere in the universe.  Heaven is not a geographic entity as such.  Heaven is not spatial but a relationship with God and eternity.  And because that means we are granted some sort of eternal life, it is wish fulfilment utterly unconfirmed by evidence.  As you can imagine, such notions are difficult for this little atheist to get his limited head around. 

It also confirms my feeling that often when people talk about their beliefs in heaven, that belief is never defined and made certain.  I take that lack of definition to indicate that the belief itself has little or no power.  So while people aver that they believe in heaven, their actual beliefs are so ill-defined that you really wonder about the genuine power of that belief.  At least the Pope was honest enough to concede that heaven is not a place.  It is as close as one could expect to a Papal concession that heaven does not exist. 

Pope Benedict is appearing to say that heaven is just a seed of hope in some magical outcome.  I can believe in a speculative seed of hope because it is such a diluted belief.  It is not so much a belief but nothing and a nothing heaven is something that even an atheist can believe in!  Or am I just confusing myself?  Perhaps I’d better go back to saying that there is no evidence for heaven and so like the Pope, I don’t believe in it. 

I congratulate the Pope for his honest (albeit opaque) refutation of heaven.  Maybe his homily is not a refutation.  Maybe it is a poetic and metaphysical heaven that my brain is too limited to know?  Maybe it is just a lot of bollocks?

Author: Dick Gross | Source: WA Today [April 11, 2011]


  1. This is good news. I had read that HELL doesn't exist anymore earlier..perhaps they are releasing these facts step by step so the whole structure of belief doesn't topple down and the Vatican gets sold off to eradicate world poverty – next step, condoms and family planning for all.
    I'm sure that's what Jesus would have done.

  2. The reality of faith is that while it is substantiated through your trust in the veracity of the scriptures, you must except that mysteries are built into the very substance of the scriptures. The Bible describes Heaven in Revelation chapters 3 & 21 about Heaven and calls it the New Jerusalem. You have to either take it or leave it but there isn't any gray area if you except the scriptures in faith (John 10:35). And if you believe in Heaven, then it exists as an opposite expression of Hell, which was never intended for us to experience (2 Pet. 3:9). The larger question: are you ready for Heaven? Accepting Christ as your savior and receiving his Holy Spirit opens the door not only to Heaven but understanding of Him, His Word, that He freely gives. Religion will distort this discussion every time but if you seek him diligently, then he will illuminate us (Matt 6:33).

  3. String theory the leading Scientific theory that unites 'the very small' to 'the very big' speaks of the multi-verse and is quite content to say that it is unverifiable by scientific methods. This multi-verses represents genuine attempts to define the peculiarity of our universe. That man can ponder 'verses' other than this one is nothing less than pondering a heaven(a universe maximized for consciousness) and hell (a universe that is the opposite) for has not man's awareness grown past that which is directly observable through the senses. In mathematics and its equations (the modern equivalent to prophesy)we now speak to the possible and simply wait for science to catch up and fulfill 'the Word'… oh I may be getting ahead of my self… I meant fulfill the equation. The Judeo-Christian paradigm seems especial insightful as to what science may eventually prove.



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