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  1. Stephen Hawking Was an Atheist. Here’s What He Said About God, Heaven and His Own Death
  2. 2. Does God say that one religion will replace another?
  3. heaven | Description, History, Types, & Facts |
  4. Ancient Words Ever True
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A happy afterlife, however, could take place in any number of locations: in the fertile Field of Reeds, as a passenger in the solar bark, in the extreme west or east, or among the circumpolar stars. The Pyramid Texts envision a happy afterlife for royalty alone; the dead king is identified with Osiris as well as with the triumphant rising sun. The Sun, Moon, and stars were set in the firmament, and windows could open to let down rain, snow, hail, or dew from the celestial storehouses.

God, the maker of heaven and earth, was enthroned in the highest reach of heaven; from there he intervened in the affairs of his creatures and revealed through Moses and the prophets his sovereignty , providential care, and cultic and moral demands. Surrounding the divine throne was a heavenly host of solar, astral, and angelic beings. These celestial beings shared many attributes with the gods and goddesses of Canaanite and Mesopotamian polytheism , but the emerging monotheism of the Hebrew Scriptures demanded exclusive commitment to one God, referred to as The Lord, to whom all powers in heaven and on earth were subject.

Stephen Hawking Was an Atheist. Here’s What He Said About God, Heaven and His Own Death

In ancient Judaism, as in other Middle Eastern religions of the period, the cosmos had a three-story structure. God dwelt in heaven and was also present in the Temple of Jerusalem , his palace on earth. During the postexilic period, the experience of foreign rule intensified longing for future deliverance, encouraged speculation influenced by Persian and Greco-Roman models of cosmology , angelology, and immortality, and produced martyrs whose claim on a heavenly afterlife seemed particularly strong.

Thus the Book of Daniel , considered the latest composition in the Hebrew Bible, contains this prophecy:. Many of those who sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt. Those who are wise shall shine like the brightness of the sky, and those who lead many to righteousness, like the stars for ever and ever.

2. Does God say that one religion will replace another?

While belief in a heavenly afterlife became widespread in the Hellenistic Age —30 bce , no single model predominated, but rather a profusion of images and schemes, including resurrection of the dead, immortality of the soul, and transformation into an angel or star. Traces of this heaven mysticism can still be found in the Jewish prayer book siddur. After death, righteous souls await the resurrection in the heavenly Garden of Eden or hidden under the divine throne. Christianity began as one of many Jewish apocalyptic and reform movements active in Palestine in the 1st century ce.

These groups shared an intense conviction that the new heavens and new earth prophesied by Isaiah Isaiah were close at hand. They believed that history would soon find its consummation in a world perfected, when the nations would be judged, the elect redeemed, and Israel restored. Jewish and Christian conceptions of heaven developed side by side, drawing from shared biblical and Greco-Roman sources. The Virgin Mary , regarded as Queen of Heaven, tirelessly intercedes for the faithful, including sinners who seek her protection.

Traditional Christian theology teaches that communion with God is the chief end for which human beings were made and that those who die in a state of grace are immediately or after a period of purification admitted to the bliss of heaven, where they become like God 1 John , see God face to face 1 Corinthians , and see all things in God.

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With the resurrection of the dead, beatitude will embrace the whole person—body, soul, and spirit. The social dimension of this beatitude is expressed in the last book of the New Testament, Revelation to John , with its vision of the blessed multitudes adoring God, who dwells in their midst, in a city of bejeweled splendour 21— Worship, fellowship, and creative pursuits all form part of the composite Christian picture of heaven, but the emphasis on domestic happiness and never-ending spiritual progress in heaven is largely a modern innovation.

When the earth was just formed and the sky a mere vapour, God commanded them to join together, and they willingly submitted sura — God then completed his creation by forming the sky into seven firmaments, adorning the lower firmament with lights, and assigning to everything its just measure.

Before the resurrection, the souls of the dead are thought to dwell in an intermediate state, experiencing a preview of their future condition of misery or bliss. On the Day of Judgment , heaven will be split asunder, the mountains will crumble to dust, the earth will give up its dead, and each person will undergo a final test. The righteous, with faces beaming, will pass the test easily, passing through hell with ease.

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heaven | Description, History, Types, & Facts |

In gardens of bliss they will recline on royal couches, clothed in fine silk and shaded by fruit trees of every description. Immortal youths will serve them cool drinks and delicacies, and ever-virgin companions with lustrous eyes will join them. They will also be reunited with their faithful offspring, and peace will reign. In Hinduism a comparatively modern term that covers manifold religious practices and worldviews of the peoples of South Asia , heaven is the perennial object of myth , ritual practice, and philosophical speculation.

The most ancient religious texts, the Vedas — bce , depict heaven as the domain of sky gods such as Indra , the thunder god; Surya , the Sun; Agni , the sacrificial fire; Soma , the heavenly elixir embodied on earth as an intoxicating plant ; Varuna , the overseer of cosmic order; and Yama , the first human to die.

Rebirth in heaven depended upon having male householder descendants to sponsor the necessary rites. During the period of the early Upanishads — bce , a group of itinerant sages turned from the sacrificial ritualism of Vedic tradition to develop the rudiments of classical Hindu soteriology the theological doctrine of salvation. These sages taught that the entire phenomenal world is caught up in an endless cycle of birth and death samsara propelled by desire. To be reborn in heaven svarga is pleasant but impermanent; even the gods must eventually die.

The ultimate goal is to escape this perishing life and attain union with the infinite spirit brahman.

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The Upanishadic path of liberation required practicing spiritual disciplines beyond the capacity of ordinary householders. But by the beginning of the 2nd millennium, the mystical asceticism of the Upanishads had been absorbed into the great stream of devotional Hinduism. The result was the appearance of new forms of religious literature, such as the Bhagavadgita and the Purana s, in which salvation takes the form of personal union with the divine, thus opening a broad way to heaven or, rather, to the heaven beyond all heavens to those who entrust themselves to the protection of a deity.

Ancient Words Ever True

Buddhism began in the early 5th century bce in northeast India as a renunciant movement seeking liberation from samsara through knowledge and spiritual discipline. The Buddha Gotama, the founder of the religion , is the paradigm of an enlightened being who has entered parinibbana complete nibbana [Sanskrit nirvana ] , the state in which the causes of all future existence have been eliminated. Classical Buddhist cosmology describes six realms of rebirth within an incalculably vast system of worlds and eons.

One may be reborn as an animal, a human, a hungry ghost, a demigod, a denizen of one of the horrific hell realms, or a god in one of the pleasurable heaven realms. All of these births partake of the impermanence that characterizes samsara. Thus, heaven, in the sense of a celestial realm, is not the goal of spiritual practice. Yet Buddhist tradition speaks of celestial beings of limitless wisdom and compassion, such as Amitabha Buddha and the bodhisattva Avalokiteshvara , who have dedicated their abundant merit to the cultivation of heavenlike Pure Lands for the salvation of sentient beings.

Devotees reborn in these paradisiacal realms find there the ideal conditions for attaining enlightenment. Most, if not all, cultures possess multiple images of heaven and paradise, which coexist in unsystematic profusion. In some traditions, heaven seems to recede into the background. Native American cultures, for example, are oriented toward the totality of earth, sky, and the four directions rather than toward heaven alone.

Although heaven is not typically the abode of the blessed dead in Native American mythology, the stars, Sun, Moon, clouds, mountaintops, and sky-dwelling creators figure significantly. On his way back to the Holy Land, a Crusader named Godfrey of Ibelin Liam Neeson , pauses in France to invite the bastard son he has never known, a blacksmith named Balian Orlando Bloom , to accompany him. Balian demurs at first, but after he murders a priest who insulted his dead wife he decides that relocating a couple thousand miles to the southeast is perhaps not such a bad idea after all.

His companions all die along the way: Some including Godfrey succumb to wounds suffered in defending Balian from capture; the rest perish in a shipwreck. Balian himself survives, however, awakening on a strange shore with his possessions intact and a conveniently unscathed horse tethered to a bit of flotsam nearby. Shortly thereafter, a pair of Arabs try to take the horse from him.

Balian kills one of them and lets the other go free, ensuring that when he arrives in Jerusalem he will be welcomed as a famously peaceable Crusader. He's not the only one. The leprous King of Jerusalem Edward Norton, hiding behind a gilt mask , his sister Sybella Eva Green , and his chief adviser Tiberius Jeremy Irons are all skeptical humanists eager to get along with their Muslim neighbors.

Godfrey, too, shared this liberal mindset before his death, as does his surviving aide-de-camp David Thewlis.

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Indeed, religious tolerance is so nearly ubiquitous that one might infer that the Crusaders' purpose was not conquest or conversion, but rather an early experiment in multicultural integration, a twelfth-century precursor of busing. Sadly, holy wars have a tendency to attract all types, including a few who actually believe in God and in warfare. These designated bad apples are a sneering French aristo there had to be one! The chief conflict in Kingdom of Heaven , then, is not between the Christian and Muslim armies, but between decent, peace-loving agnostics on both sides and the bloodthirsty zealots intent on pushing them into war.

Though, in fairness, these latter are alluded to only in passing on the Muslim side; the real bad guys are all Christian. If one had a mind to--and Scott clearly hopes one does--it would be easy to read the entire exercise as a metaphor for America's current Mideast entanglements. This political updating mangles the film's historical context, of course. But perhaps more importantly it runs badly afoul of the demands of genre and the box office.

Who, after all, wants to see a rousing war epic without any war? So Scott stages some grand battle sequences, culminating with a massive military set piece in which Muslim leader Saladin played by the magnificent Syrian actor Ghassan Massoud lays siege to Jerusalem. But the movie's clumsy politicking has already drained these encounters of any tension. Having been conditioned to deplore the war, we're hard pressed to root for the Christians to win it.

Even the ultimate threat, that if the siege succeeds the entire population of Jerusalem will be killed, rings empty: We've seen too much decency and wisdom from Saladin to sincerely believe he'd let such a slaughter take place. Another awkwardness for Scott is the fact that his protagonist, Balian, is on the losing side of all the military engagements he takes part in: In his first battle, his men are routed and he is captured; in the second, he surrenders. This may be in keeping with the movie's political vision, but it rather undermines Balian's heroic credentials. Scott bolsters these by allowing him to prevail in a couple of individual battles--the fight over the horse, an encounter with Templar assassins sent to kill him--but these victories still fall rather short of the kind of historic manliness everyone in the film keeps ascribing to him.

Indeed, up until the end of the film Balian's greatest skill seems to be saving his own life, often at the cost of those accompanying him. It's an odd conception of an epic hero, but one that flows from the movie's implicit contention that the only justified killing is killing in self-defense, that any larger justification--love, God, country--is a lie and a trap. Casting Orlando Bloom to play Balian was inspired, and I don't mean that in a good way.

There's something passive and indeterminate about him, a lack of conviction that echoes, perhaps unwittingly, Balian's hollowness as a character. Thanks to the success of the Lord of the Rings movies and Pirates of the Caribbean , Bloom has been somewhat typecast as a daring adventurer. But in those franchises he had more emphatic co-stars to push the plot along; on his own, he seems a little listless, as if waiting for a Gandalf or Captain Jack Sparrow to materialize and tell him what to do.