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Imagine there's no heaven...

In ancient times, men supposed that the earth, a flat disc, was at the center of all that existed. Above the earth was the sky, of course, and above the sky was a vast sphere, a dome, upon which shone all the stars. This dome appeared to be just several miles above us. If you go out into the night, in a place without lights, such as in the desert, you can see this dome. Imagine it as the ancients did, and you will see that they were correct in their assumption. They said it was a dome, because it looks like a dome. It was observed that some of the stars wandered about; they followed back-and-forth paths across the sky, all in the same region, known as the ecliptic. These wandering stars were called wanderers, naturally. In the language of the ancient Greeks, the word “planet”[1] means wanderer.

The moon was also a planet, but in a separate class from the other planets, because they were simply points of light. The sun, the most spectacular of them all, traveled around the earth once daily, along with all the stars.

Once humans began to think scientifically, and no longer thought of the sun, the moon, and the planets as gods, or vehicles of gods, they realized that these objects were not actually part of the great dome of the sky, but traveled on their own paths, inside the great dome. The great Greek astrologers/astronomers developed a scientific theory explaining the motions of the heavenly bodies. It was a good theory, considering the core beliefs of their day, which were assumed to be true, simply because they appeared to be true.

However, since the actual nature of the planets was not known until recent times, it was assumed that some supernatural, intelligent force commanded the sun, moon, stars, and planets to move about. This supernatural force was God, of course.

Now the theory of the heavenly bodies was only partly scientific. Much or most of the theory was pure speculation and mythology. If the outermost part of the sky was the dome of stars, then what lay beyond the dome? Why, the heavenly kingdom of God; what else? This place, where God himself dwelled, just a few miles above us in the sky, came to be known as Heaven, which originally was the name of the dome itself; also known in the Bible as the Firmament.

Now many stories about Heaven developed over the centuries. I won’t go into that history here, but now it appears that Heaven (with a capital H) is a wonderful place of peace, love, joy, and happiness, that awaits the souls or spirits of all those who lived a good life and obeyed the commands of God.

Now, however, we know that things are not so. The earth is not a flat disc, even though it appears so. It is a sphere, about 8,000 miles in diameter. The moon does revolve around the earth, so the ancients got that one right. The sun, however, does not. Nor do the stars. The earth spins on its axis once each 24 hours[2], making it appear from the surface that the sun and stars revolve around the earth. The earth also revolves around the sun, which, due to the tilt of the earth, creates the seasons, and the varied length of daylight throughout the year. Each of the planets, it turns out, is not a god, nor a god’s means of transportation, and not a point of light. They are spherical bodies of various substances, all revolving around the sun. Just like the earth. Therefore, the earth itself is a planet.

And the dome of heaven? There is no such thing. It just appears to be there. The stars are actually objects similar to our own sun, only very far away. So far away, that they appear as mere points of light in the sky. So our sun turns out to be a star! The stars, of which there are literally billions, actually billions of billions[3], are all very far away, some closer than most. The closest ones still appear as points of light, but they are generally brighter points that the average. And the dimmest ones? They are generally the ones farthest away from us. Modern astronomers have ways of estimating the actual distance to many of the stars in the sky. It turns out that because the stars are at various distances, they are not stuck to some great spherical dome. There is no dome! It doesn’t exist! It is just an illusion!

These facts came from science, by the way, not from a supernatural being communicating with a prophet.

So, let’s review: Earth is a planet. It is not flat. The sun is at the center of our system of planets. Planets spin on their axes. This makes the sun, other planets, and stars appear to move across the sky from the surface of any of these planets[4]. The moon revolves around the earth. The stars are at various distances from us, billions of miles, trillions of miles, billions of trillions of miles.

What did the ancients get right? The moon. What did they get wrong? Everything else!

So then, where is Heaven? There is no Firmament, no Celestial Sphere, and no dome. Heaven has no place to exist. It doesn’t exist, except in the imagination of superstitious men. It doesn’t exist! Look up. There is only sky above us. A gaseous atmosphere, then empty space, except for objects floating around in a near perfect vacuum, at unimaginable distances from us. Gas, dust, rocks, planets, stars. But mostly, nothing at all. A vacuum. In all of space, these objects are so far apart that space is nearly empty. Empty, unused space. Heaven is not there. It is not there! Use your eyes. Use your brains! Think, people, think! No Heaven.

[1] Merriam-Webster says: planet, Middle English planete, from Anglo-French, from Late Latin planeta, modification of Greek planet-, planes, literally, wanderer, from planasthai to wander.
[2] Actually, it spins once every 23 hours, 56 minutes, 4.1 seconds on average. This is known as the sidereal day. Due to the fact that the earth is also rotating around the sun, 24 hours is the time for the sun to appear at the same celestial longitude the next day.
[3] However, we can only see a total of about 4,000 individual stars without a telescope.
[4] Except for Mercury, which is locked in a combination orbit/rotation that makes the same side of the planet face the sun. From Mercury, the sun appears to stand still in the sky.


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