Thesis: Pessimistic View of Eternal Life the Flawed

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¶ … Pessimistic View of Eternal Life

The Flawed Barnes Concept of Eternal Existence

The image of Heaven that Barnes offers in the Dream is one where one eventually becomes bored with the perpetual availability of everything that one could possibly desire. In his case, Heaven consists mainly of sex, golf, and on-call cuisine, and the opportunity to meet famous individuals. Barnes concludes that such an existence would eventually become completely unsatisfying because it is primarily the difficulty of obtaining specific goals that apparently gives them their value.

According to Barnes, without the difficulties and challenges normally associated with achieving desired goals, one cannot derive any pleasure from achieving them, or even appreciate life. Actually, Barnes conclusion is false; it is largely a function of his conceiving his view of Heaven in terms of inherently shallow goals as well as his narrow-minded inability even to imagine how those goals could be met in a more satisfying way.

Refutation

Ignoring for the sake of argument that the very concept of an eternal "afterlife" is fundamentally nonsensical, Barnes's conception of Heaven is inherently patently flawed. It may be true that endless golf, continual holes in one, sexual fulfillment without the prospect of rejection, and the perpetual availability of everything one desires in life could become less desirable without any challenge in achieving those goals. However, that does not necessarily lead to the conclusion that eternal life (or "afterlife") is incapable of being fulfilling.

By definition, Heaven would not provide what one desired in such abundance or without sufficient challenge to render what was once pleasurable boring. In fact, that simplified description of Heaven has been used by science fiction writers, such as in the plot of the Twilight Zone episode "A Nice Place to Visit" (1960) in which the protagonist falsely assumes that he is in Heaven until struck by the same realization characterized by Barnes that life without any sort of challenge would be torturously boring rather than pleasurable.

Assuming there were such a thing as "Heaven" and also assuming that one would desire the same in the "afterlife" as one desired in life, Heaven would not provide so much of whatever one desired in life to make it unsatisfying. Rather, the concept of Heaven would, by definition, mean that the availability of whatever one desired or enjoyed would be available in precisely the quantity (and under the circumstances) that corresponded precisely to maximum possible enjoyment.

For example, if insufficient opportunity to play golf in life and insufficient skill to make it highly rewarding were addressed in Heaven, the solution would not be perpetual golf consisting… [END OF PREVIEW]

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