So I was at a buddy's last night. This friend of mine is also an atheist, so we speak freely between us about our ideas on religion. There were other people there to listen, but nobody decided to argue with us so we were either
a) surrounded by like-minded individuals
b) not offensive enough
Anyway, my friend went on a tangent that reminded me of something interesting. I can't remember his exact words but the gist of it had to do with how death is a great thing because it makes us appreciate life more. If not for death, we'd all be miserable, said he.
Well, maybe there's an argument to be had there. But suddenly I was reminded of John Mackie's essay: Evil and Omnipotence. If you haven't read it, I really suggest that you do; it outlines a logical problem of evil by pointing out incompatibility of a god who is both omnipotent and actively involved in destroying evil with the existence of evil.
In essay, he addresses a rebuttal to the classical problem of evil (that is to say, an attempted theistic excuse for why evil necessarily must exist even if a god were both omnipotent and actively involved in destroying evil). This is the part of the essay I was reminded of when Paul (my friend) announced that death makes life more appreciable: Some theists, according to Mackie, have attempted to excuse the existence of evil by insisting that the world is a "better place" because evil exists, that evil is necessary for a "higher level" of good. Mackie to address this rebuttal, eventually claiming that it is fallacious.
So an idea struck me then, when I first read the essay, and last night. My idea came in the form of a question: "If our existence while living is made better and more rewarding by the necessary existence of evil or death, and if we are to believe that neither of these things (evil, death) exist in heaven, then doesn't this naturally lead us to conclude that life is better than the afterlife, and that existence in any sort of heaven would be a punishment in comparison?"
I asked this question to a theist once, and it spun his head around a bit :D I just thought that I would share it with you, in case it hadn't struck any of you before.
Yeah, and that's the heart of the problem. If evil exists than it's incompatible with the sort of God some people believe in, that is to say, one who isn't malevolent or impotent.
I thought everything had been said about death and the afterlife, and that the eschatological debate was essentially recycling of old arguments, but this is new (to me at least), and, I must say, brilliant!
Well, that could be, but wouldn't he be short-selling people who expected an eternity of happiness eh? Haha.
I could imagine someone living a pious existence, going to heaven, getting booted down to hell anyway, and wishing they had more sex or tried some illicit drug just once.