This article from the Huffington Post circulated in a work email-chain today. It sparked a few thoughtful responses (from my friends) and the following silly rant (from me).
I am thinking about the dramatic possibilities that this presents…
I will explore them now:
Imagine, just imagine, an entire planet populated by entities that are doomed by the actions of another…
What will this mean for them? These entities, these beings, this species that has only just began to form.
Will the inhabitants of Gliese 581 grow up knowing that no matter what they do they’re going to burn? Will they know somehow, the way that birds know how to fly and dogs know how to feed from their mothers that they are going to hell?
Will this knowledge make them evil?
Will it make them hate us? Will it make them develop really kickass technology so they can come hunt us down and kill us and torture us for damning them for all of eternity when we, we are the ones who committed the sin???? I mean, why not? It doesn’t matter what Gliese 581 does right? They’re all going to hell anyway.
Or will they go the other way…
Will this knowledge make them saints? Martyrs? Divine somehow?
Because the inhabitants of Gliese 581 are free from the burden of heaven, will they stop worrying about it? And about what happens when they die? Will they instead, focus their worries and their efforts, on what happens while they live? Will the knowledge of their future horrific afterlife inspire them to make their time on Gliese 581 beautiful, glorious, and filled with love and life and fullness and everything you want a temporary existence to be?
Can the inhabitants on Gliese 581 lead a fulfilling life without hope? Is hope really necessary? Is faith? Can this doomed, this damned species, still find a kind of separate peace? Are they perhaps the perfect ones do so? Are they perhaps, the only ones that can do so?
Here on earth many believe in the possibility of heaven. But what if there was no heaven? What if this wasn’t a possibility? What would we do then? Would our planet be the combination of heaven and hell that it is today? Would we spend our time here any differently?
There will never be a heaven on earth. Humans are incapable of creating such a thing. We’re simply not the species to do it.
But what about a heaven on Gliese 581?
A temporary heaven. A mortal heaven. A living, breathing, evolving heaven that does not go on forever. A heaven that knows nothing of eternity. A heaven that knows only about here. Now. A heaven that realizes just how very beautiful and precious and short, so very very short, existence can be.
A heaven on Gliese 581.
I like the sound of that. That could almost make sense. That could almost be true.