02 July 2009

Free will v. Heaven

Once again I am reading Dostoyevsky's The Brother's Karamazov. As a philosopher, this is a seminal reading, and ranks with Hegel's Philosophy of Right and Sarte's Being and Nothingness, amongst others. The chapter known as rebellion (mistakenly referred to the Grand Inquisitor, which is the following chapter) attacks the notion of suffering and faith and the limitations of god's power. But it is not suffering that I will allude to.

Philosophers in general have missed the implication of Ivan rejecting heaven entirely. Let me draw from this version: http://www.whitworth.edu/Core/Classes/CO250/Readings/fr_dost.htm.

While there is still time, I hasten to protect myself, and so I renounce the higher harmony altogether. Note: emphasis added It's not worth the tears of that one tortured child who beat itself on the breast with its little fist and prayed in its stinking outhouse, with its unexpiated tears to `dear, kind God'! It's not worth it, because those tears are unatoned for. They must be atoned for, or there can be no harmony. But how? How are you going to atone for them? Is it possible? By their being avenged? But what do I care for avenging them? What do I care for a hell for oppressors? What good can hell do, since those children have already been tortured? And what becomes of harmony, if there is hell?

At the minimal, the catholic belief system has heaven and hell. Purgatory was added at a later date, to try to reconcile that most people were damned to hell if their family name was not on the original list. This makes 3 possible afterlives. Dostoyevsky has added an interesting twist. If we, as humans and with free will, renounce heaven ("higher harmony"), refuse at death to go there even if we are allowed to do so, what happens? Surely no such person would go to hell, or even to purgatory. As Dostoyevsky wrote: I would rather be left with the unavenged suffering. I would rather remain with my unavenged suffering and unsatisfied indignation, even if I were wrong. The unavenged suffering is here and now.

The fourth possibility is to not enter heaven, hell, nor purgatory, but to remain here, on Earth. If free will exists, we are perfectly within our allowance to choose to remain here. Since matter can not be destroyed nor created, we remain as ghosts. Was Dostoyevsky, even by accident, accounting for ghosts? Did he manage to reconcile free will, the rejection of an afterlife as outlined in a bible, with the folklore of ghosts?

Logically this makes sense. Where do the atheists and agnostics go after death? They don't believe in the heaven/hell/purgatory thing, and if they have free will, there must be another option (pending a god exists). Dostoyevsky's Ivan specifically stated he acknowledged god's existence.

How does this all jibe with my conclusion that if free will exists in heaven, there must be evil in heaven? My summation is this: if there is a heaven and heaven has free will, there must be both evil in heaven, thereby making heaven and hell the same, and there must also be somewhere for those that reject heaven, as matter must exist.

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