If you were totally given the option, unconditionally, would you rather go to heaven or to hell?

Atheists definitely invited to participate here...you can just speculate theoretically, or something...which actually leads to a second question: What if it turned out that hell DOES exist, even if God does not?

As I happens, the Dalai Lama has already answered this question, according to the Vajra Dakini Nunnery (which is in Maine). His Holiness says: "I would much rather go to hell than heaven. I can solve more problems there. I can help more people there." 

And of course Buddhism does discourage the idea of a Supreme Being...anyway atheists and everyone invited to this Q!


20 Answers

Jann Nikka Profile
Jann Nikka answered

I choose to live on our beautiful beautiful beautiful 🌳 (clean-up) earth. I love love love, Louie Armstrong's song "What a Wonderful World"🤗.

Ancient Hippy Profile
Ancient Hippy answered

If either one exists, I'd prefer heaven. I'd like to see my wife, son, father and all of my dogs again. They were such good people and animals, I'm sure they deserved heaven.

If I was guaranteed, I would choose heaven because if there is a supreme being, he/she may not open the door for me without that guarantee.

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Virginia Lou
Virginia Lou commented
Hippy...if I recall, you identify with atheism?
If so my question for you...is this...don't you have a sense that somehow things are just okay? I spent 30 yrs as an atheist (as i seem to tell that on here frequently), and even though I don't call myself atheist anymore, not much has changed, really...

I felt things were okay then, and still do now, and in much the same sense...the sense of relationship to life is not dependent on religion, is what I mean? What do you think?
Ancient Hippy
Ancient Hippy commented
I agree Virginia. I was raised protestant with a protestant father and a Jewish mother. My mother never practiced her faith but told me all about it. My dad was a wonderful man and truly practiced Christianity throughout his whole life. While I was exposed to Christianity for most of my adolescence and studied the Jewish faith with my mom, I was never confused between the two. My parents were my "religion", I wanted to be the kind of person that both of my parents were............kind, generous, loving and treated everyone equally.
My parents had money, lots of it, but my they didn't let that influence the way they lived, treated others or the way they raised my sister and I.
So, my religion is the Religion of Ruth and Bill.
Virginia Lou
Virginia Lou commented
Yes oh yes oh yes...so beautiful too
Didge Doo Profile
Didge Doo answered

I couldn't possibly improve on Sam Clemens's comment: "Hell for company; Heaven for climate." I'll opt for a place near the Devil's bonfire.

Here's a modern parable that suggests both might be the same place anyway.

A young man, totally decadent, had an elderly uncle who spent his time going to church, reading his Bible, and berating the lad for his sinful lifestyle.

Eventually the uncle died and many years later the nephew followed.

When he reached the Pearly Gates he asked for directions to find his uncle and when he arrived at his heavenly home he was unsurprised to find him still reading his Bible, still with a stern look on his face. But what DID surprise him was the sight of three almost-naked houris draping themselves over the old man, caressing him, kissing him, offering themselves to him.

Nephew was delighted. "Uncle," he asked, "are these girls your reward?"

"Don't be revolting," said the uncle. "I'm their punishment."

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Virginia Lou
Virginia Lou commented
Dozy, I am still contemplating that intriguing idea from the parable that "both may be the same place anyway."
Didge Doo
Didge Doo commented
It's not worth thinking about Virginia. Just a joke. Waldorff made a much better case for it.
Virginia Lou
Virginia Lou commented
He truly made a great case there...
Aldrich Ames Profile
Aldrich Ames answered

We have no idea what heaven and hell are like. I'd like to see both places first. Heaven sounds like a good place from what I've heard from religious people.

Woof Woofy Profile
Woof Woofy answered

the biblical hell is just the grave... And a place of "eternal hellfire" is not taught in the bible.
Rather, it teaches that the unsaved will be destroyed in a similar matter to sodom and gomorrah, they will be permanently eradicated at the final battle of armageddon (at the end of the 1,000 year period) when the holy city comes down to the earth from heaven.. The wicked will be raised at that time (the second resurrection, for the wicked). Satan will gather the wicked to battle-to capture the holy city.. God will rain fire down from heaven (like Sodom and Gomorrah) and will completely destroy them Revelation 20:7-9.. And than God will recreate the earth fresh and new.. (mind you. The first resurrection for the saved happens at the start of 1,000 year period).

"Then the LORD rained down burning sulfur on Sodom and Gomorrah--from the LORD out of the heavens. Gen 19:24

Wicked at the end
"So shall it be in the end of this world. The Son of man ... shall cast them into a furnace of fire." Matthew 13:40-42. "They (the wicked) went up on the breadth of the earth, and compassed the camp of the saints about, and the beloved city: and fire came down from God out of heaven, and devoured them." Revelation 20:9"Fire came down from God out of heaven, and devoured them. And the devil that deceived them was cast into ... the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death." Revelation 20:91021:8.

he condemned the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah by burning them to ashes, and made them an example of what is going to happen to the ungodly; Peter 2:6

Wicked at the end
"Behold, they shall be as stubble; the fire shall burn them; they shall not deliver themselves from the power of the flame: there shall not be a coal to warm at, nor fire to sit before it." Isaiah 47:14.

"For, behold, the day cometh, that shall burn as an oven; and all the proud, yea, and all that do wickedly, shall be stubble: and the day that cometh shall burn them up, saith the Lord of hosts, that it shall leave them neither root nor branch.3 And ye shall tread down the wicked; for they shall be ashes under the soles of your feet in the day that I shall do this, saith the Lord of hosts." Malachi 4:1-3

"The day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night; in the which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up." 2 Peter 3:10.

"See, I will create new heavens and a new earth. The former things will not be remembered, nor will they come to mind. IS 65:17

Then I saw "a new heaven and a new earth," for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea. Rev 21:1


With the few  verses that talk about  "day and night, forever and ever",  "unquenchable fire", and "eternal fire" etc.. i can easily debunk those- no problem  (christian use such verses to prove their case of eternal hellfire but they are twisting those verses to make it mean something that it doesn't)

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Virginia Lou
Virginia Lou commented
Hi Skunky, I loved those Biblical verses...and was carried along by their power and rhythm...

If you would not mind, I think you are saying there is no eternal hellfire? Is that right? The Bible verses have a wonderful meaning for me, but I am interested in how you express their meaning too?

Anyway thank you this is so beautiful.
Jemise Ms
Jemise Ms commented
I was reading in John 11:chapter it is the account about Lazarus, a friend of Jesus. In that chapter Jesus compares death to sleep(vs 11-13). And the Bible hells is just the grave. So hell is not hot, nor torturous. It's just the grave, and as Ecclesiastes 9:5,10 shows, when a person dies they are just dead. And when it comes to heaven. Heaven is not for humans, and the
purpose for going to heaven is for ruling as kings and priest. (Revelation 5:9,10) But to answer your question, Id say "C" to live on Earth. Why? The reason is because of what God purpose for the future, which is Psalm 37:9, 19, 29.
Maurice Korvo Profile
Maurice Korvo answered

Depends what heaven or hell are like. Doc Melhorn , in Steven Vincent Benet's story "Doc Melhorn and the Pearly Gates" found he didn't like the heaven he arrived at, so he left and went to live in hell. (at least for a bit)  I would like a choice and a chance to see both as he did.

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Virginia Lou
Virginia Lou commented
Yes! Project Gutenberg...I loved it Korvo
Maurice Korvo
Maurice Korvo commented
I am always surprised by how few Americans has read Benet. His prose is primarily American history fiction. Devil and Daniel Webster, Freedom's a Hard Bought Thing etc. I had read them all before my teens.
Virginia Lou
Virginia Lou commented
Korvo, I read from his works in high school, and not much since then!
However I loved his writing then, and I find one of the joys of this site is the reintroduction to long-forgotten loves such as him.

And I had never encountered this story, was not aware he took on such a topic...although maybe THE DEVIL AND DANIEL WEBSTER does indicate his willingness.

No, wait! Actually I remember re-reading his D & Dan Webster around 1990. I was engrossed in the Joseph Campbell series around then, and found the Benet story relevant so looked it up...
Call me Z Profile
Call me Z answered

I have long found it curious that there is so little usable description of heaven, beyond it being the "up there" counterpart to "down here", where God and the stars reside and from where such things as stones, fire, wrath and insubordinate angels are cast down; yet hell is cast in grim detail by many sources. What accounts exist are given by none who've ever been to either place.

Given these same vague sources indicate that heaven is the preferred eternal destination of the pious and devout, people for whom I have no use in this life, there is no impulse to spend all eternity among them, in what is barely depicted as the most dreadfully boring place imaginable.

Since I have no compulsion whatever to seek absolution for living my life apart from the dictates of a deity I hold no belief in, it would stand to reason that hell, though merely rumored frightful and bleak, would provide more allure and, I'd suspect, more compelling company.

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Virginia Lou
Virginia Lou commented
Oh Zee...that is so beautifully stated, and totally unassailable logic too...
Thank you very much
Call me Z
Call me Z commented
It took a moment to articulate as I wanted, but time well spent.
Jann Nikka
Jann Nikka commented
Good points. I LOL about the folks going to heaven you don't associated here, why forever in heaven.
Tom  Jackson Profile
Tom Jackson answered

I think that each of us is in the process of becoming some "type" of person as we live.

Our bodies degenerate over time (the wages of sin is death?) and we all notice and recognize the common infirmities of old age.  (Let's face it, who's going to climb Everest at the age of 95?)

But what if there is a spiritual "component" of us that is also capable of change, but not simply of degeneration, but alternately, of growth.

And what if the "state" (development) of the soul at the time of death of the body determines whether the soul can exist "properly according to what it has become" in only heaven or only in hell?

In that case, perhaps you have already chosen your option.

The Great Divorce by CS Lewis is an interesting read.

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Virginia Lou
Virginia Lou commented
DarkM, can you give me a YouTube or something that you think reflects well the philosophy of Matt Dillahuntey? I have not even heard of him. And if you like him I prolly will too.

And yes, I think religion is valid, or SHOULD be.
Religion should be able to acknowledge and support each of us in our own unique human experience. And my quarrel is that it does not do that as well as it should...instead religion, too often, inflicts a set of demands for us to conform to.
Darik Majoren
Darik Majoren commented
Sure thing. I will post it under my thread, I think I have bugged Thomas enough.
Sorry Tom for yakking up a storm o your thread.
Tom  Jackson
Tom Jackson commented
Not a problem---and it's not my thread anyway.
dragonfly forty-six Profile

I'm going to make this as simple as I can. I've never been a this or that, black or white kind of girl. I live in the gray. I have found the gray to usually be the best option for me. A little bit of this a bit of that. I would choose to visit both places, because my main objective would be to visit those that I've lost. I can't really say where all of them have gone, not sure about the absolute criteria for entrance of either place. So, that's it...I'm going where my people are....

Walt O'Reagun Profile
Walt O'Reagun answered

To the 2nd question:  What if "an afterlife" exists, even if god doesn't?

If we are part of a computer simulation, that would be possible.  We could find our character carried over to another simulation.  Kind of like NPCs that carry over in game series.

Or, the afterlife could be another dimension.  Once we live through one dimension, our energy (or "soul" if you prefer) is transferred to another dimension - since energy never disappears, it is only transformed.

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Virginia Lou
Virginia Lou commented
Walt O'Reagun! That is actually one of my questions, as I attempt to correlate life with life...since energy does not disappear, couldn't that be consistent with some kind of reincarnation, or at least a continuation of consciousness in some form...or other...?

Those kind of ideas are so persistent through our human millennia...I'm not ready to just toss 'em out, willy nilly...and this kind of transitioning of energy would certainly not require a God concept...

Anyway, thoughtful answer much appreciated, ty
Tom  Jackson
Tom Jackson commented
In "Perelandra" CS Lewis creates a world where God's creation did not "fall."

In that world, as time moves forward, each experience builds on the last and is ever "better" than the last.

I do not think reincarnation is impossible (the bible doesn't specifically address it), but I think it to be unlikely. (I've explained why before.)

If this world is bound by the second law of thermodynamics, why would I want to go through another existence? No matter how many alternate living experience I might have, there would be a maximum level that I could achieve here. Why delay total freedom to be what I was created for by reincarnating on earth when I could do the heavenly version of that sooner or later with a resurrected body?
Tris Fray Potter Profile

I don't know.  Heaven seems like it's very limited on what you can do, and you would be more free in Hell, but then again, Hell is Hell.  So, I'm not really sure.

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Virginia Lou
Virginia Lou commented
Hi Tris Fray, ty for your thoughts...
Jann Nikka
Jann Nikka commented
According to what I understand Heaven will be endless joy with Zillions and Zillions unlimit things to do and endless joy. You would never be bored.
Darik Majoren Profile
Darik Majoren answered

So I guess, I would have to define the idea or concept of both places first. I mean, we have several religions that mention places people might dwell for eternity, based on what they did during their life time.

Some Christian religions consider Hell to be either just a state of being apart from God. The Jehovah Witness believe that if you do not choose to live forever in paradise, then you actually do die . . And stay dead . . . Which is, I believe, their version of hell.

I guess we would have to define what heaven is as well . . . Spending eternity in slaved to service an almighty deity doesn't sound very fun.


Since so many primitive men have created various versions of these places why not have us first define what our Heaven or hell would look like, and then we could go from there.

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Darik Majoren
Darik Majoren commented
I think I have heard him (Matt D) refer to himself as a Skeptic Human secularist. He has referenced David Hume as a philosopher he liked, and often references Sam Harris's take on Morality as pretty close to his.
His show has had some interesting callers as well as guest debaters on it.
Virginia Lou
Virginia Lou commented
DarkM...here is an idea I am playing with, and it kinda evolves out of Blurt/Ask discussions...and that is,

When there is something truly authentic, you should be able to state it in both religious and atheist terms. (This DOES get you in hot water with both camps, of course.)

Truly however, if I were to give this fellow Matt my suggestion for him, I would say stop wasting his time trying to "debate" the people he describes. It is pearls before swine, or I know you are familiar with the Bible, "He that hath an ear, let him hear."
Those folks he is trying to debate and talk to, they have no ear.

Matt D just needs to go on and do his own thing...unsubscribe. And it does not matter what he calls himself.

btw I have also loved David Hume, although I read summaries and not Hume directly.
Darik Majoren
Darik Majoren commented
I agree with you, and believe it or not Matt does as well. He has said those people who call in will most likely never change their belief system, but those who watch the show . . . well that is a different story.
Interestingly, his background is almost on par with mine.
Otis Campbell Profile
Otis Campbell answered

Im not sure we have a choice someone may make that choice for us sounds like earth

Pepper pot Profile
Pepper pot answered

1 Corinthians 2:7-9 But we impart a secret and hidden wisdom of God, which God decreed before the ages for our glory. None of the rulers of this age understood this, for if they had, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory. But, as it is written,”What no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the heart of man imagined, what God has prepared for those who love him

2 Corinthians 5:8 Yes, we are of good courage, and we would rather be away from the body and at home with the Lord

Philippians 1:21-23 For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain. If I am to live in the flesh, that means fruitful labor for me. Yet which I shall choose I cannot tell. I am hard pressed between the two. My desire is to depart and be with Christ, for that is far better.

Philippians 3:20-21 But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform our lowly body to be like his glorious body, by the power that enables him even to subject all things to himself.

I had to search how the bible describes heaven and hell, thankfully Skunky described some of it.

The way Revelations describes Heaven, sounds to me like the twelve zodiac signs, and from Ezekiel's vision  Matthew with a Man or Cherub, Mark with a Lion, Luke with a Bull and John with an Eagle all of which can be seen in Catholic churches. I wonder if the 12 tribes of Israel are the 12 signs of the zodiac, 12 hours of the day, 12 months of the year? That possibly the seven lamps are seven planets, I know numbers are important in Jewish mysticism.

Houses are often mentioned in the bible and the zodiac signs are often referred to as houses.  I'm wondering if the story of the bible is told in the constellations, since stars were important as signs.

So, maybe the zodiac represents time, hours, days, weeks, and the zodiac months. Maybe our escape from time and death is what the bible is talking about, (the great serpent, the Ouroboros who swallows his own tail),  and the only way to do that is to not feed into earthly desires which are damaging, the seven sins lust, greed, pride, envy, gluttony, wrath, sloth, which may be considered an all consuming fire. 

If we don't believe in anything more than our animalistic self then we are no more than subject to our animal desires, and for me our conscious mind show's us differently, although I admit this could just be wishful thinking. Somewhere in religion it talks of being more than our bodies, and that we may experience something like a union with God, it sounds like that is what heaven is.

However, since I've been subject to change in my beliefs over many years, I hold ideas loosely, and try to observe. If heaven is a union with a loving God, then I'd choose that. I certainly wouldn't want to be consumed by fire or to reincarnate over and over O_o

KB Baldwin Profile
KB Baldwin answered

Well, as the old joke goes, "OK, break is over. Everybody back on their heads".  .

It is a hard choice.  If all the people who claim to be "Christians" I've rad and heard about over the last 8 or 9 years are going to be in Heaven, I want no part of it.  I found an interesting read about heaven and hell in "Inferno" by Pournelle (Dante's hell updated) and "Waiting for the Galactic Bus", a humourous riff on why we evolved, and the nature of Heaven and Hell. 

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Didge Doo
Didge Doo commented
Haven't heard of the Galactic Bus but it sounds as though it was inspired by C.S.Lewis's "The Great Divorce" in which there was a regular bus from Hell to Heaven for those who wanted to emigrate. Few people ever made the journey.
Virginia Lou
Virginia Lou commented
The choice might not be all that straightforward!
AnnNettie Paradise Profile

I would rather live forever on a Paradise earth. What a joy it will be to welcome back my dear family and friends who fell asleep in death. Most of them have the same hope as I do.

As for hell, even the criminals on death row are not tormented forever. When their day for execution arrives, they are executed, fallen asleep in death and out of existence.  I strongly believe that the bible definition of hell is mankind common grave.  (1 John 4:8)

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