Category Archives: Paradise

Perfection and glory of the human active life as distinct from heaven.

Heaven and Paradise As Regards Time

There is an important difference between contemplation and action regarding time.

Both in heaven and in paradise, there will be events, and hence time in its "before and after" aspect. Even in the disembodied heaven, I will learn X first and Y second, and I will be aware of the sequence, i.e., of what comes first, second, third.

However, time in its aspect of the duration or amount of time between events will exist in paradise only.

Thus, in heaven I might contemplate something for a "million years," but I will in no way notice the passage of time. Thus, heaven is somewhat timeless.

But in paradise, I will be acutely aware how much time exactly any act of production and consumption will take. Time may even remain a factor of production, and waiting for pleasures of the active life will have disutility. Hence, paradise is in the here and now.

Freedom in Paradise

I have suggested that in the next life, Jesus will act as a central planner both for the contemplative life in heaven and for the active life in paradise.

This, however, presents a problem. Freedom would seem to be a great human good. Yet if God is running the paradise economy, how can we say that freedom will exist there? Why, moreover, do we libertarians fight for freedom and capitalism in this life, when comprehensive socialism will be the order of the day in the next?

The objection is as follows. Jesus' "central plan" can never be understood by a human being, not only with regard to the whole communion of saints but even regarding one's own life, because He comprehends the entire infinitude of our everlasting lives, while a human can only know a finite amount. Then there is the possible nature of God's knowledge as "uncountable." You can only obey while trusting that Jesus' edicts are reasonable. Even if Jesus puts you to work maintaining hellfire by shoveling coals into the divine hell-furnace for a million years while listening to the incessant screams of the damned, you will need to trust that this is all for your own / the greater good.

Since the reasons for any particular command of God or allocation of resources by God cannot be understood, no command can be questioned, either, since presumably Jesus is optimizing total happiness for an infinitely long future. Jesus can always tell you to know your place and leave central planning to the central planner.

In the starkest possible terms, is it the case that "under the pretext of economic expediency, [Jesus] has full power to relegate every citizen He dislikes to the arctic or to a desert and to assign him 'hard labor' for life"? (Mises, HA, 287)

Now work in paradise will be a labor of love with no disutility of labor attached to it. It will still have a cost, understood as the delay of some satisfaction of the other saints who have an interest in enjoying the things you build as soon as possible. With perfect charity, their pleasure will be your own, and it will still pay to work efficiently. Production in paradise also has two opportunity costs: contemplation in heaven and consumption in paradise. Completing any project quickly will minimize these costs even for the producer.

So, no, God is not an arbitrary omnipotent despot but is good. He will not assign to any saint work that he hates.

The second question can now be answered, too. The reason why we fight for freedom and capitalism is precisely that we learn to obey no man but only God who is uniquely qualified to be the "central planner," unlike indeed a finite human being who is perfectly unqualified to be one. A man who wants to be socialist dictator is a pretender to the divine throne who would falsely, viciously, and disastrously usurp God's authority.

Therefore, it is not enough for us to reject socialism in this world. It is necessary to acknowledge that while man completely lacks the competence to exercise "central planning," God in fact can do it and ought to be given this job. We proudly refuse to obey any human tyrant but for all that freely and rationally obey God and trust His infinitely deep providential insight. The libertarian project is not complete without conceding the proper and natural sovereignty of the Son and His right to rule from on high.

Manifestations of Christ’s Resurrection

After His resurrection, Jesus appeared to disciple Thomas with wounds on His body: "Put your finger here and see my hands, and bring your hand and put it into my side, and do not be unbelieving, but believe." (Jn 20:27) Now how could a glorified body have wounds? If a man dies by being shot, will he rise with a hole in his chest? If he dies a senile and decrepit old man, will he likewise rise senile and decrepit? (St. Thomas argues that "all will rise again in the youthful age.") A permanent cripple like Stephen Hawking surely will not rise with any disability. Well, that's actually an easy problem to solve. Jesus' mission was not fully completed at resurrection. It remained to prove two things to the world: (1) that He was truly resurrected, and (2) that He was glorified. As regards (1), it was useful that Jesus' post-resurrection but pre-ascension body had enough integrity to live but was not perfect in make-up. He postponed going to heaven until such proofs had been supplied, at which point the physical integrity of His body was fully restored.

Jesus showed His wounds to attest to the truth of the resurrection, but His power to come and go through locked doors, to be seen or not seen at will belonged to the glory of His body. St. Thomas quotes Gregory: "The Lord manifested two wonders, which are mutually contrary according to human reason, when after the Resurrection He showed His body as incorruptible and at the same time palpable." (ST, III, 55, 6, reply 2)

I believe there was a certain inevitable if not 100% truthful trick to the manifestations. It concerns the personal identity of the risen human beings with who they were in this life. St. Thomas insists that it will be the "same" body that rises that also died. "For we cannot call it resurrection unless the soul return to the same body, since resurrection is a second rising, and the same thing rises that falls: wherefore resurrection regards the body which after death falls rather than the soul which after death lives. And consequently if it be not the same body which the soul resumes, it will not be a resurrection, but rather the assuming of a new body." (Supplement, 79, 1) I am not fully sure what he means here; perhaps he thinks that the new body will be made of the same type of matter. But it may be that he thinks it will be very much like our bodies in this life.

I believe this is wrong for two reasons. First, in the state of glory, the soul has complete and perfect control over the body; this is precisely one of the two things that make the body impassible. But if the soul is in this sense supreme, then it is "pure act" to the body's 100% passive power. As a result, the soul's personal identity cannot be affected in any way by the resurrection. The identity between the wayfarer in this life and the person in heaven / paradise is maintained solely through the soul and not in the least through the body, except after the resurrection as the risen saint goes on with his blessed life. For personal identity and continuity of consciousness it is therefore irrelevant whether it will be the "same" body in whatever sense that rises or a different one.

Second, the resurrected body cannot possibly work exactly as a normal body would. Now Adam's body was normal but maintained artificially by unique divine graces. A glorified body is different from both pre- and post-original sin bodies in that it suffices itself. Even if some of its amazing powers, such as "impassibility, subtlety, agility, and clarity," are due to "the dominion of the glorified soul... over the body," still the functioning of the body in paradise will have to be vastly different from our exceedingly complex and weird anatomy and biochemistry that are contingent on the specific design of this world.

(E.g., of what use will our present immune system be in paradise? The über-complex process of blood clotting? The colony of good bacteria in the gut?)

I even entertained the idea that each saint will simply create his own body as he pleases in the state of glory. (This would safeguard maximum freedom of the individual in the communion of saints.) However, there are three decisive objections to this. First, if people have complete freedom to make their own bodies, what's to prevent them from trying on for size crazy bodies? Perhaps in order to build a certain complex machine in paradise, it would be most efficient if I assumed a lizard's body to make work easier. But this seems grotesque. There have to be people in paradise, not hideous chimeric monstrosities. Second, if merit determines the beauty of the body, then complete freedom seems to take away the proper gradations of glory of the body. If, on the contrary, there is no such freedom and one's body is given to him once and for all, then we have the fitting incentive to lead holy active lives here. (This is still consistent with my idea that people can switch between disembodied heaven and embodied paradise at will.) Third, this comes dangerously close to the idea that the body is a mere tool united to the soul accidentally as a hammer to the hand, rather than as an essential aspect of humanity.

But even upon abandoning this hypothesis, it seems that it would have been sufficient for a successful redemption for Jesus to have some human body, as this would adequately indicate that He consented fully to keep human nature, both soul and body, united to Godhead after finding us worthy of His love despite our crimes.

Consider further that a man whose body was burned and whose ashes were scattered, or who was eaten by wild beasts, cannot be resurrected as Jesus was, whose body happened to be relatively intact. If the circumstances had been different, and, say, Jesus had been cut into several pieces, each of which was buried separately, then no resurrection similar to what we find in the Gospels would have been possible. That Jesus had the "same" body was a contingent and "lucky" fact. Why then was it necessary for Him to have it?

I think for two reasons. First, so that He could be recognized physically. For example, "he appeared in another form to two of them walking along on their way to the country" (Mk 16:12), but that might not have worked everywhere. Perhaps having a different even if "better" face, etc. would have hindered Jesus from proving that He lived.

Second, in order to over-demonstrate and make abundantly clear the continuity of personal identity after general resurrection, whenever that will be, since we know that the body is so important for it in this life. Mental illness or dementia or brain damage can destroy one's sense of identity. A senile person may not even know who he is. Jesus suggested forcefully that we will be self-same in heaven as we are here.

There was nothing special, however, about the way Jesus' post-resurrection body looked otherwise.

Industrial Accidents in Paradise

I.e., in what way will the resurrected bodies of the saints be "impassible"? The following is based on St. Thomas' opinions of this matter in (ST, Supplement, 82).

Impassibility means immunity from any injury, sickness, or death. The ultimate cause of this is twofold: first, the human soul will be perfectly subject to God and will be free from any sinful desires or mental illness. Second, the human body will be under complete and exhaustive control of the soul. As a result, the soul will want to live and enjoy its reward with great and single-minded desire and, with no aspect of bodily life outside its control, will with perfect effectiveness command the body always to live, never get sick, prosper, act, and exercise its power over the material objects in paradise.

St. Thomas distinguishes between "natural" and "spiritual" alterations of the body. An example of the former is "when the hand is heated by touching a hot object, or becomes fragrant through contact with a fragrant object." Contrast this with the latter, wherein the eye, in seeing whiteness, does not itself become white. He claims that natural alterations will be impossible for glorified bodies, but spiritual alterations will continue.

Now this is unsatisfactory. Why, for example, can't there be a fireplace in a "mansion" in paradise, such that both its heat and sight will cause pleasure to some people? It is far better and simpler to argue that the body will be impassible to the full extent the soul wills it to be impassible but also only to that extent. Hence there will be sensation and sensual delight in paradise, whether brought about by natural or spiritual changes. A perfected saint can surely be trusted to allow the reception of useful and happy sensations and to block annoying, damaging, or painful ones as he prefers it.

"Thus it was with the body of Adam," comments St. Thomas, "which could neither be burned by fire, nor pierced by sword, although he had the sense of such things." But it remained Adam's power and choice to distinguish between the pleasures of fire and the pains of fire and to welcome the sensations of the first and easily and competently wave aside and impede the second. It may be, for example, that the heat that one saint will find pleasant will be painful to another saint; yet both will be satisfied by virtue of their sublime self-control to make the body passable or impassible at will.

When thereby willed impassible, the body of a saint will be stronger than any merely material object due to the body's connection with and empowering influence of the soul. Therefore, no "industrial accident" could over occur in paradise.

Human happiness due to contemplation will differ, asserts St. Thomas, depending on (1) their charity and possibly (2) the strength of their intellect. (I, 12, 6) But people will differ in the quality of their active lives, too. Their power over the body will differ; hence their creative power over the material nature in paradise exercised through their bodies will differ as well. Some people will contemplate better than others in heaven; some will build and act and produce and consume better than others in paradise.

Likewise, things like bodily beauty, gracefulness of motion, keenness of senses, athleticism, manual dexterity, intensity of bodily pleasures, even height (Supplement, 81, 2) will differ depending on one's merits, as well.

Finally, all senses will be in act in paradise, including even taste, since I see no reason why there cannot be an everlasting improvement in the quality of donuts in the life to come. I will discuss the question of whether Homer Simpson, whose only interest consisted in devouring donuts, would be allowed in the kingdom of God later.

Mary’s Body vs. Jesus’

I fully agree with the authoritative teaching of the Catholic Church laid down on 8 December, 1854 by Pius IX that the Blessed Virgin Mary "in the first instance of her conception, by a singular privilege and grace granted by God, in view of the merits of Jesus Christ, the Savior of the human race, was preserved exempt from all stain of original sin."

I differ somewhat in the understanding of this article of faith. Now it seems to me that a human soul develops naturally during pregnancy until it is ready to accept the rational faculty which is infused into the fetus by God (the rational soul may be created brand-new or pre-exist and descend from heaven). Though the soul is fully constructed, owing to the primitiveness of the body, it is at first deaf, dumb, and blind; it acquires its proper powers, i.e., recovers or remembers, slowly as the body develops both before and after birth.

In order to conform to the Catholic teaching, however, we need to posit that Mary's soul, including its rational part, was unusual in coming to be fully present with the body at the instant of conception. As a result, it could be sanctified immediately.

St. Thomas raises the issue, if Mary never contracted the original sin, nor ever sinned actually, why did she need redemption by Christ? This question assumes the "punishment" theory of the Incarnation which I rejected in the previous post and elsewhere.

I have argued that the Incarnation was much more about God the Son than it was about us. It was a brutal gauntlet, a test for Him, whether He would accept the Holy Spirit's grace of love for mankind despite our ultimate injustice against Him personally. We rejected the Son, our greatest benefactor, king, and friend, without whom neither heaven nor paradise could be open to us, utterly and murdered Him. In response, He loved us and brought us unto Himself. I, for example, could not do it. Only the true God could and did.

Again, before the Incarnation, the Son literally did not know whether we were worthy or not, since the opportunity to decide this matter once and for all for Himself, the way to demonstrate His preference in action would arise only in the future at His death. Hence He had no authority to guide the evolution of the communion of saints over the entire duration of their everlasting life. In particular, no finite saint could choose what to study or contemplate in heaven from the Father among an infinitude of all possibilities unaided. Further, paradise is mostly empty in its original state. As I suggested, the first things to be built in it would be "replicators." But what would Moses, say, know about these things? He'd have to learn about them in heaven. Since contemplation could not occur without Jesus, neither could active life: what would be the purpose of allowing people to wander around an empty paradise aimlessly? Keeping the souls awake in Limbo would have been cruel and dangerous, too. So the souls of the dead slept before Christ.

It is for that reason that no one, including Mary, could enter heaven or paradise before the Incarnation. It is irrelevant to this fact that Mary was free of both original and actual sin.

To get back to the title of this post, the Catholic Encyclopedia argues that Mary "was not made exempt from the temporal penalties of Adam -- from sorrow, bodily infirmities, and death." This, too, is at least in part problematic. For Mary had to be gifted not only with a massive amount of grace but also with remarkable bodily health for the sake of her mission as mother of God. Just as her virtue insured Jesus from being aborted, so her physical health insured Him from being miscarried. God could not play dice with the Incarnation. Mary had to be perfectly physically fit for her exalted role.

Therefore, neither Mary nor Jesus contracted any bodily defects through the original sin. However, Jesus assumed those defects of His own free divine will, as suggested in the previous post, while Mary did not. It follows that Mary's earthly body was superior in health and beauty to Jesus' pre-resurrection body. Perhaps like Eve before her sin, she was not going to die of old age through the special solicitude of the Holy Spirit.

Nuns

What do Catholic nuns do? They are human, so they have to act, to pursue happiness. How can happiness be attained in the course of a 100% boring and purposeless life in which nothing happens? On a typical day, does a nun hang around? Does she stare at the wall? Does she occupy herself by watching the grass grow? What else is there to do in a convent? "How was your day, sister?" "Uneventful." And every day is like this.

Perhaps nuns aim to imitate Mary. But this is completely hopeless. We may grant that Mary has Perpetual Virginity; I find that entirely plausible. But she was married! To two "men": God the Father and Joseph. Again, she may not have had sexual relations with Joseph, but for all we know, they still cuddled. Far more incredible, she produced fruit. And what fruit! God the Son made flesh! Mary had adventures. She felt enormous joys for which she paid with equally enormous sorrows. Nuns pale in comparison.

Now regarding Mary's perpetual virginity, the Catholic Encyclopedia writes: "As to Mary's virginity after her childbirth, it is not denied by St. Matthew's expressions 'before they came together' (1:18), 'her firstborn son' (1:25), nor by the fact that the New Testament books repeatedly refer to the 'brothers of Jesus.'" Well, perhaps.

Regarding Mark 6:3, the Catholic New American Bible comments: "in Semitic usage, the terms 'brother,' 'sister' are applied not only to children of the same parents, but to nephews, nieces, cousins, half-brothers, and half-sisters... While one cannot suppose that the meaning of a Greek word should be sought in the first place from Semitic usage...," etc., concluding matter-of-factly, "The question of meaning here would not have arisen but for the faith of the church in Mary's perpetual virginity."

I think it makes a lot of sense, despite the disputed meaning. God the Father was her "husband," and it is bizarre to believe that He would share her with anyone, before or after Jesus' birth. But God would not let Mary stay in an unbecoming condition as a single mother or shouldering the burden of raising Jesus alone or without Joseph's patronage. Her human family had to be complete, and Jesus probably needed a human step-father, anyway, if only for physical protection as a child, such as against Herod (the angel of the Lord appeared indeed to Joseph with the message to flee to Egypt).

Finally, there is the "virginity" of the nuns. The Catholic Encyclopedia relates that "the Church... has always considered the state of virginity or celibacy preferable in itself to the state of marriage, and the Council of Trent pronounces an anathema against the opposite doctrine." This extremely dubious teaching is justified as follows: "The state of virginity means a signal victory over the lower appetites, and an emancipation from worldly and earthly cares, which gives a man liberty to devote himself to the service of God. ... experience bears witness to the marvelous spiritual fruit produced by the example of those men and women who emulate the purity of the angels."

What purity of the angels? The angels are no more pure than rocks. They, too, may be male and female, but they have no sex drive. They do not reproduce. They were not told, as both Adam and Jacob were, to "be fruitful and multiply." They literally cannot marry. And, as I have pointed out, human beings are explicitly distinguished from angels by having and requiring their bodies for a meaningful happiness, both here and in the life to come, and an active life. Contemplation in heaven and action in paradise for humans are united in a most sublime and spectacular way; but however pleasurable the contemplation of God will be in itself, its ultimate purpose will be practical.

Each human person is born woefully incomplete and requires, for any kind of tolerable existence, union with his or her complements. No one is born self-sufficient. Special God's grace may grant a reprieve from the sorrow for being unmarried, but this signals almost always a priestly vocation, a unique job, and has nothing to do with "victory over the lower appetites," which have always been meant to be controlled, not destroyed.

Here's what I mean: some people end up cultivating a peculiar form of charity, namely one that's more universal in scope. To combine it with the deeply particular love for and loyalty to a spouse and children may be difficult. One may decide to renounce marriage for the sake of his service to "humanity." However, neither kind of charity is superior to the other. A government bureaucrat is not morally better than an entrepreneur, even if the bureaucrat looks after some "public goods." A modern "social justice warrior" is far more likely to be a contemptible creature than a man who minds his own business.

It may be argued that a Catholic clergyman ought to exhibit precisely this sort of "universal" charity. But again, a male priest does actual work. He celebrates mass, he hears confessions for the sake of the people. What, to reiterate, do nuns do?

In short, service of God consists in serving fellow man and improving in virtues as a result. But man finds happiness in the active life, including marriage. "Service" to others is then ordered toward and for the sake of this sort of happiness. The means are inferior to the end; hence the service of the religious, just as the service of everyone else, consists in promoting the true happiness of mankind in all its forms. Simply to renounce the world and the "worldly and earthly cares" is a monstrous act of contempt for one's mission in life. If you hate living here, what makes you think you'll suddenly develop a taste for life in the hereafter? What natural drive is stronger than sexual desire? If you casually despise that, then you are indifferent to life, and then who are you? A robot that just sort of goes through the motions while waiting for death? What is there about you that's worth saving? I wonder how many nuns ask themselves this very question.

Production in Paradise: Objections

1. In one account of a near-death experience, the person saw a group of folks with Zeus-like physiques who were playing some kind of game which involved a ball. Where did this ball come from? If humans in paradise acquire a power to simply have things wished for magically appear, then they become equal to the Father who can create ex nihilo. This is impossible; besides, such absolute power would corrupt everyone (but the Father).

(St. Thomas' argument proves this last proposition decisively: "God's power is His goodness: hence He cannot use His power otherwise than well. But it is not so with men. Consequently it is not enough for man's happiness, that he become like God in power, unless he become like Him in goodness also." (ST, II-I, 2, 4, reply 1) But the latter is not possible. Hence, neither is the former, and not even close.)

2. Could those players have asked the Father to create a ball for them? This, too, is grotesque, because humans already have their own power to control the material world. This life is partly about subduing the earth and learning to tame wild nature for our own benefit. The idea that such a major aspect of human existence as mind over matter would just disappear so completely in paradise is difficult to take seriously.

Even worse, we would be dependent on the Father for everything. We'd have to beg Him to give us toothbrushes. But humans are noble and self-sufficient creatures. It is completely unbecoming for us to grovel before God for basketballs.

3. Another possibility is that we won't need any goods at all in paradise. Perhaps life will consist of endless carousing: parties, sex, consuming those nectar and ambrosia (this is really the only way to get food without harming the plants). But I think this would become boring quickly. Everlasting life cannot consist of an endless stream of identical experiences.

4. Finally, perhaps there is no paradise; only heaven, where there is nothing but the Thomistic "contemplation of God seen in His essence." This, however, is a most perverse opinion, because humans are not angels, and they differ from angels precisely in having (and needing) an active life. As such, humans fill a unique niche in the hierarchy of being and essence, and help complete that hierarchy together with the angels.

Paradise: Kreeft’s Version

Compare my vision of the afterlife with Peter Kreeft's:

There are six earthly activities that continue in heaven. These six things are the reason we are here on earth in the first place. They are our fundamental task, the meaning of life: ...

  1. To understand God
  2. To love God
  3. To understand others
  4. To love others
  5. To understand yourself
  6. To love yourself

(Handbook of Christian Apologetics, 263)

Much as I respect Kreeft, this is a pathetic and embarrassing proposal. It sounds like we'll all be perpetually jerking each other off!

Or perhaps we'll be floating around aimlessly and endlessly in Kreeft's paradise like souls in the Hades' underworld, "loving" each other.

Meh.

Production in Paradise, 2

Many Christians have propounded fantastic and absurd ideas about the conditions of glorified life (or at best refused to speculate altogether), and as a result caused great embarrassment to the Church, enabling atheists like Mises to dismiss the matter entirely:

There are no such things as perfect happiness, perfect men, eternal bliss. Every attempt to describe the conditions of a land of Cockaigne, or the life of the Angels, results in paradoxes.

Where there are conditions, there are limitations and not perfection; there are endeavors to conquer obstacles, there are frustration and discontent. (HA, 70)

I've already suggested how the glorified life is going to look:

  1. The essence of everlasting life is switching between contemplation and study of the Father in heaven, and active life that uses the knowledge gained thereby for fun and profit in paradise.
  2. Glorified existence is characterized by mighty charity and mutual indwelling of the saints, angels, and God, making interpersonal utility comparisons possible.
  3. Utility monsters (i.e., spiritual giants) should not be a problem.
  4. Production in paradise will make use of prime matter and be 100% efficient; no physical entropy will interfere with work.
  5. Jesus will act as a "central planner"; and we will see why shortly.

Let's fill in the picture further. The truths to be learned from the Father are infinite in number. Moreover, one's glorified life is without end. Yet each person is finite. We therefore face 2 impossibilities: (1) the impossibility, if the Father is uncountable, of choosing which subjects, out of an infinity of all, to pursue and which forever to set aside; (2) the impossibility of planning out the study over the course of the actual infinity of one's everlasting life. But the Son is equal to the Father (rightly understood), and is united with all humanity though His Incarnation and with each saint through the Holy Spirit. He can solve both problems by designing a curriculum for each saint.

Jesus will do so by considering the interests of each person, the pleasure each will derive from his discoveries in heaven, the fun to him of building the things studied in paradise, and the utility to other saints of using the goods thereby created. His goal will be the greatest good for the greatest number, and in particular the most efficient "economic growth" planned out for all eternity. (I realize that the total utility over the whole everlasting life would seem to be infinite, regardless of whether or not it is achieved "efficiently." But I think Jesus could still optimize it in some way.) Note that Jesus could not take over "production" himself and wait on the humans' every whim, because that would greatly devalue and diminish their happiness rightly understood.

(The third problem is comparing utilities interpersonally among billions of angels and saints, and only God can do this adequately on account of his omniscience and perfect charity.)

Now we come to the most pressing problem, namely the scarcity of the material factors of production. Now basic goods like great climate, nectar and ambrosia, bodies with godlike physiques and physical prowess, will still be there. I suggest that the problem of scarcity will be solved by building Star Trek-like "replicators." Such things are probably impossible as actually depicted in the shows in this world, but why not in paradise? If replicators do not exist in paradise as part of its original furniture, then building them will be the very first task of the first saints. (Since there would in this original state be no other goods to be compete for, scarcity will not exist in a vacuous sense.)

With these machines, the only constraint would be technological knowledge, precisely something that one obtains in heaven. Once programmed in, the replicators will be able to produce any number of copies of objects of arbitrary complexity. (The art of programming them, too, may be one of the things taught by the Father.) The information can then be copied into parcels of matter instantaneously and at no cost.

Even a single replicator can be sufficient, since it can be programmed to output other, perhaps improved, replicators. Of course, with physical perfection, there will be no problem of pollution. Regarding trash, there would presumably soon be machines that would grind unneeded objects back into prime matter.

Scarcity is eliminated; omniscience and "perfect happiness" are still fittingly denied to men, such that their knowledge and happiness can and will increase; and everlasting progress, as time goes on, as the essence of proper human condition, remains.

Is God the Father Countable or Uncountable?

Can He be fully comprehended by a finite creature such as a human saint in the state of glory in heaven over the entire period of his everlasting life?

Or would all the knowledge thereby gained not diminish the mystery of God at all, just as |ℝ| - ℵ0 = |ℝ|?

Note that in either case, the Father cannot be fully comprehended, because a saint's life is merely potentially infinite: it never ends, but at any moment the saint will have actually lived only a finite amount of time, will have had only a finite amount of experiences, etc.

So, if uncountable, then it's kind of a bummer. Each creature will ultimately trace an infinite path through the Father, but the cardinality of this infinity will be smaller than the "cardinality" of the Father.

If countable, then it seems that the Father is not so big after all, being (almost) within reach.

I don't know what the answer is.

Ethos of Family vs. Economy

Cohen can babble all he wants about how one ought to treat fellow citizens in a communist society like relatives. (225)

But none of the problems plaguing socialist egalitarianism afflict the family.

The incentive problem is overcome, because the husband and wife love each other with intense, personal, and intelligent charity-love. Their wills are intertwined: such love is marked, as St. Thomas teaches, by union, mutual indwelling (of souls), ecstasy, and zeal (in acting for the sake of the beloved). Each spouse considers, nay, feels the welfare of the other to be as important as their own. They have no general duty to sacrifice for each other, because they are to a great extent one heart not just one flesh.

The computation problem is overcome, because a typical household economy is technologically exceedingly simple.

I will even grant to him that if one could treat citizens like relatives, then it would have to be done. Imagine a society of paradise, a communion of saints in which "there is no loss of individuality, yet such an interdependence that the saints are 'members one of another,' not only sharing the same blessings and exchanging good offices and prayers, but also partaking of the same corporate life..." Imagine further that the omniscient Jesus is the chief central planner for whom the computation problem is not an obstacle. Then, if there is any sort of production going on in paradise, it could well be perfectly efficient socialism.

(It's a rather grotesque example, though, and I don't actually think that's how the heaven / paradise system works.)

Cohen may regret that earth is not heaven; he may even insist that "justice" calls for earth to be heaven; but as he himself fully realizes, reality and facts of life can make justice unattainable.

Equality with Angels Is Promised to the Saints

So says St. Thomas on a number of occasions. But certainly not equality in nature; the angelic nature will remain superior to the human nature.

Could it be equality of dignity or importance in the eyes of God? But we have this equality even now. The good angels serve us as the condition of their beatitude; the evil angels suffer defeat at our hands, and so must acknowledge our greatness.

Further, if Mary is the queen of heaven, then she is above the angels, as well. I think the equality spoken of is of ultimate happiness. It will be impossible to predict, by picking an arbitrary angel and arbitrary human saint, who will be happier. Some angels will be happier than some saints; but some saints will also be happier than some angels. If there is a "hierarchy of happiness," then both angels and humans will be interspersed within it.

Perhaps in regard to the purely contemplative life in heaven, angels will remain superior to and hence happier than humans, but when the happiness from the human active life in paradise is added to happiness from human contemplation, the overall pleasure of glorified life will not necessarily be smaller for a man than for an angel.

Further, our glory is gained ultimately by defeating the demons. But humans and good angels cooperate in equal measure in this battle. Hence, we'll have equality in friendship with each other and in honor, as allied warriors of equal strength and determination.

Another possibility is that equality refers to the good possessed by each, which is God, though the capacity of enjoying Him will be unequal for all creatures.

Production in Paradise

In my Essence of Everlasting Life, I suggested that a saint would learn cool stuff in heaven straight from the Father, and build it for his own and fellow saints' fun and profit in paradise.

Now God is infinite, and the new things to be learned under His tutelage can never be exhausted. But once solidifying into a body upon arriving into paradise, what sort of material world will surround us to enable "production"?

For one, I think the external environment will be exceedingly beautiful and pleasant and entropy-less and permitting 100% efficient machines to be built.

But secondly, I think we'll have full access to prime matter, which is a word for material pure potentiality, a kind of matter out of which it is possible to construct any material object whatsoever with no limitations. Even quarks and electrons, let alone chemical elements, say, in this universe have a definite nature which restricts the nature of the devices built ultimately from them. Prime matter has no nature and can become anything we please, or at least anything we discover from our previous sojourn in heaven.

In this world, prime matter is an abstraction, used, for example, to grasp the idea of creation ex nihilo. God, in creating the world, would hardly consent to being constrained by the pre-existing material essences. So, He must've created and used prime matter to manufacture all those quarks and electrons in the first place.

But in paradise which is as much part of God's kingdom as heaven, I see no reason why we won't be able to use prime matter directly, thereby imitating in small part divine omnipotence.

Essence of Everlasting Life

I've distinguished in regard to the state of glory between the contemplative life in heaven and the active life in paradise.

I think the life of a saint will be something like this: he'll study some interesting to him subject (let's say, computers) in heaven with the Father for a million years, or however long; then move to paradise and design, create, implement, or put into solid reality what he has learned for the entertainment and edification of fellow saints. The machine will provide a million years worth of fun and games, at which point it will have been fully mastered. Then the saint will move to heaven again to learn something new.

One's task in heaven would be to make a possible thing, such as our super-complex computer, conceivable to oneself (and not just to God).

Since the Father is infinite, and His mysteries can never be exhausted, neither contemplation nor action should ever become boring.

Utility Monsters in Paradise, Cont.

I think utility monsters, i.e., saints, would not present a problem in the heavenly communion.

On the one hand, their feelings are stronger than those of the regular folks and so are ranked higher on the universal values scale. On the other hand, their charity is also greater, which means that they feel the whole and other people's feelings more poignantly and so would be willing to experience their happiness more, i.e., to yield goods to others with greater alacrity.

Conversely, a non-saint's feelings are duller, such that he is less suited for eternal happiness, but he is more selfish, feeling the welfare of the whole vine-and-branches less strongly and so is less willing to let go of his own enjoyment for the sake of others.

Thus, there is a parity between saints and non-saints, and tendency toward equality of "distribution," though again the saints feel greater pleasure overall than the non-saints.

Trouble in Paradise?

If my vision of the society of paradise is correct, then do utility monsters ruin it?

It seems that the especially saintly people, marked by the greatest charity, would be most suited for happiness, as well. Are the less virtuous folks, then, though willingly loving these saints in the heavenly communion, nevertheless still in a sense conscripted to serve them, because the saints' desires are so strong, pure, and intense that within the universal values scale they outweigh the desires of the non-saints?

There is, however, a benefit to the strangeness, as in it introduces holy competition between people. I have mentioned the difference between heaven and paradise; so if, when moving from the former to the latter to enjoy some active life, you want the goodies of social cooperation yourself, then strive to be saintly! Each saint still contributes to the welfare of the whole vine-and-branches, so even non-saints benefit from more saints, but the non-competitive competition, if I may put it this way, exists nonetheless.

Or I may be completely off here. Well, I see through a glass darkly.

Hume on Private Property

Hume suggests that the cause of the institution of property is a combination of (1) "selfishness and limited generosity" and (2) scarcity of resources. If either failed to hold, there would be no need to distinguish between "mine and thine."

Regarding (2), even if apples, say, are superabundant, once I pick one off a tree, I've mixed my labor with it, and it would need to count as "mine." An attempt by another person to grab it while I ate it would be unjust. The same goes for air in my lungs and, most crucially, for the physical space my body occupies and my personal space. Further, maybe houses are plentiful, but only a few houses are on the beach, while most are not. There would be competition even within our Eden for such well-positioned houses.

Regarding (1), we might imagine a heavenly society marked by universal perfect charity. All people's wills are intertwined into a single vine-and-branches, with each loving everyone else as strongly as himself, such that each person feels not only his own pleasure but that of the whole. Interpersonal utility comparisons could then be made as easily as ranking one's own satisfactions by each person within his own heart. In such a society, Smith might labor not only to enjoy the fruits of his labor himself but also so that Jones can spend his money. Yet Smith still would enjoy the improved well-being of the whole union. We might indeed imagine all income going into a common storehouse, with distribution being made according to "need," i.e., according to the single universal values scale. Thus, Smith may produce an apple, but if Jones wants it more than Smith, then Jones gets it. Smith, loving Jones, would still appreciate a stronger desire being satisfied, even if it's not his own desire but Jones'. (It's a weird, but once in paradise, you'll get used to it.)

However, this alone does not obviate the need for private property in the means of production, as we'll see in the next post.

Paradise vs. Heaven

Paradise and heaven are different manifestations of the same blessed life.

The difference is that in paradise one has a body, while in heaven he exists as pure love.

Paradise is the perfection of active life: beauty of the body, gracefulness of motion, effortless power over nature, guilt-free physical pleasures.

Heaven is the perfection of speculative life: one contemplates the mysteries of God.

As I pointed out before, this trade-off is fully under control of a saint. As a result, he can switch between the two happy places at will.

Meaning of the Resurrection

To continue with the previous post, in the highest heaven, wherein one is a child of God and is a full-fledged member of His family, it is possible to trade off love for power and vice versa, while fully preserving one's intellect.

A physical equivalent is that an object with a mass can be converted into its rest energy, becoming thereby pure energy; and can possibly coalesce back into a material thing.

So, one can "expand" his being fully into love and subsist in everyone and everything while forsaking the ability to manipulate matter; or one can "solidify" and acquire a body, trading off for this feature some ability to indwell in things by love.

This is done by the blessed at will, as per their enjoyment.

Before the Incarnation and before the Resurrection, souls did not acquire new bodies upon death. Question: Did they therefore exist as pure love? Surely not. Christ had not yet come, and neither, therefore, had the Holy Spirit. So, they must have existed as ghosts, unable to exercise any power over anything; unable even to move! Imagine how your life would be if you were suddenly completely paralyzed yet remained conscious. It (1) would be a horror, and (2) would drive you insane. I'm serious; you'd end up 100% psychotic in no time.

Consequently, the souls of the dead could not have been conscious. They were sleeping, in what is often referred to as the Limbo of the Fathers, the difference being that all the separated souls were there, not just the righteous, and none were in hell.

What Jesus did for us was awaken these souls, gave them lightsome new bodies in whatever lower heaven they ended up, and prepared them for new adventures in this world.

Those who died after the Resurrection and those who die now get such bodies instantly upon death. If they are done here and qualify for the highest heaven, then in addition they acquire the ability to expand and contract as described.