A blog post from humanity+ makes the assertion that a future in which Artificially Intelligent entities take care of every human need and want will be boring. I couldn’t agree more. Image Imagine a future in which AI does more than perform all menial tasks for humans. They also do all the challenging tasks. They innovate, create, invent, discover. In that future there is no risk, no failure, no adventure. Let’s call it the boring future.

It’s also a reaction I’ve had when listening to theists talk about heaven. What would an eternity with no adventure, risk, and reward be like? Traditional images of heaven are scary boring. More recently, Christians are gravitating to the idea that heaven is not created by God for humans. God created the Earth for humans… and perhaps by extension the Universes too. Perhaps there’s an implication that we have lots more adventure ahead of us.

I find it interesting that both techno-utopians and Christians have some of the same misgivings about the future.

Both, I think, are pondering the question about our nature, human nature. Can there be happiness for us in an existence that is perfectly free of success and failure, predator and prey, evil and good, search and discovery? Or are we designed to be happiest when pursuing the ideals?

What do you think?


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5 responses to “If it Exists, Would’t Heaven be Boring?”

  1. Daniel de Waal Avatar
    Daniel de Waal

    Wow, hitting a theological nerve here, Alex. This is quite a challenge for Christians. The very being of the Christian message is based on the resurrection. And if resurrected, where will we go, or be? And of course, why?

    The challenge with ‘heaven’ as a physical place is a challenge because if God is spirit and omnipresent, He cannot be contained in limited space or location.

    Heck, no matter how we try to answer this question, it remains very vague. I tend to opt for a new created earth where we will spend eternity. As to our purpose in terms of the bigger picture you mentioned, I really can’t figure it out. So much of the Christian message is based on old Greek and Middle East mythology that it impossible to separate the two.

    Suppose we’ll have to wait till we each die to find out.

    1. alexandermcmanus Avatar

      Thanks Daniel. An interesting thing about the resurrection is that it is a bodily resurrection. In other words, it is not a “spiritual” event if by spiritual we mean not physical. The resurrection has much to do with earth. If biblical theology centered on a non-physical resurrection, than heaven would be fine. But a physical resurrection opens up the possibilities … Thanks again.

  2. Nic in LA Avatar

    Alex, I agree: all this “heavenly mumbo jumbo” was a real sticking point for me to come to faith. Clouds and harps and neverending chorales undercut the credibility of the rest of the message (which I also got wrong at first, btw).
    But fearless exegesis leads us to three excellent truths through which we can peer into the mystery ahead:
    1. bodily resurrection, new “heavens” and new earth, “heavenly city of God” being established on a redeemed and restored planet: that’s how the end game is laid out for us. No weird floaty incorporeality, or harps, etc. just “incorruptible” bodies and a tangible, familiar, amazing planet and universe to explore, which leads to
    2. plenty of work to do, plenty of fun to enjoy, plenty of time together, plenty of time to worship Jesus in all sorts of ways and occasions, and a vast universe too. The speed of light is no longer a barrier to interstellar travel if there’s no biological clock ticking towards your death, and you are sure to enjoy the journey however many years it takes. (And that’s assuming a worst-case scenario, that c remains insuperable) This absolutely depends on one more assumption that’s bombproof for me:
    3. God is infinitely creative, imaginative, and happy, and wants to share that with as many people as possible, forever.
    The problem with “traditional images of heaven,” the thing that indeed makes them “scary boring,” is that God seems impersonal, unimaginative, unhappy, or dull. At least two of those qualities (depending on the trope!) seem to be a prerequisite for any traditional idea of heaven to be possible.

    1. alexandermcmanus Avatar

      Thanks for the input, Nic. Your comment inspired a thought. Images of a “peaceful place to rest” work as images of heaven for those who live in a war zone or under a constant and lifelong burden… like so many humans that have gone before us. Perhaps our images of an idealized human existence are projections of what we need most. And, if so, what do our images of heaven say about us!? Thanks again.

  3. geoffreybaines Avatar

    I’ve had conversations recently out of a blog I put together telling of Bhutan’s decision to identify gross national happiness as another way of defining/measuring their wealth. The idea of defining happiness wasn’t to some reader’s fast, though, this is to miss the point about what we mean by happiness, which is more about contentment and satisfaction – and, as someone else pointed out (and here’s the link with what you’ve shared, Alex) this has usually been present in some of the most demanding and challenging times he’s been involved in. It is doubtful we can feel satisfied and fulfilled without challenge.

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