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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Dante and Beatrice gaze upon the highest heavens; from Gustave Doré's illustrations to the Divine Comedy.

In religion, Heaven is the English name for a transcendental realm wherein human beings who have transcended human living live in an afterlife. The term "heaven" may refer to the physical heavens, the sky or the seemingly endless expanse of the universe beyond, the traditional literal meaning of the term in English.

Since at least the 11th century, it has also typically been used to refer to the plane of existence of an afterlife (often held to exist in another realm) in various religions and spiritual philosophies, often described as the holiest possible place, accessible by people according to various standards of divinity, goodness, piety, faith or other virtues.



The modern English word Heaven derives from the word heven around 1159, which developed from the Old English heofon around 1000 referring to the Christianized "place where God dwells" but earlier meaning "sky, firmament"[1] (attested from around 725 in Beowulf); this is cognate with other Germanic languages - Old Saxon heƀan "sky, heaven", Middle Low German heven "sky", Old Icelandic himinn "sky, heaven", Gothic himins, and existed in variation with a related word having an -l suffix: Old Frisian himel, himul "sky, heaven", Old Saxon/Old High German himil, Dutch hemel, and modern German Himmel, all of which derive from the reconstructed Proto-Germanic *Hemina-.[2]

Basic concepts

While there are abundant and varied sources for conceptions of Heaven, the typical believer's view appears to depend largely on his religious tradition and particular sect. Some religions conceptualize Heaven as pertaining to some type of peaceful life after death related to the immortality of the soul. Heaven is generally construed as a place of happiness, sometimes eternal happiness. A psychological reading of sacred religious texts across cultures and throughout history would describe it as a term signifying a state of "full aliveness" or wholeness.[citation needed]

In ancient Judaism, the belief in Heaven and afterlife was connected with that of Sheol (mentioned in Isaiah 38:18, Psalms 6:5 and Job 7:7-10). Some scholars asserted that Sheol was an earlier concept, but this theory is not universally held. One later Jewish sect that maintained belief in a Resurrection of the dead was known as the Pharisees. Opposed to them were the Sadducees who denied the doctrine of Resurrection (Matt. 22:23). In most forms of Christianity, belief in the afterlife is professed in the major Creeds, such as the Nicene Creed, which states: "We look for the resurrection of the dead, and the life of the world to come."

The following are examples of the different terminology in the Bible often considered to reference the concept of "heaven":

the Kingdom of Heaven|kingdom of heaven (Matthew 5:3), the kingdom of the Father (Matthew 13:43), life (Matthew 7:14), life everlasting (Matthew 19:16), the joy of the Lord (Matthew 25:21), great reward (Matthew 5:12), the kingdom of God (Mark 9:45), the kingdom of Christ (Luke 22:30), the house of the Father (John 14:2), city of God, the heavenly Jerusalem (Hebr., xii), the holy place (Hebrews 9:12; D. V. holies), paradise (2 Corinthians 12:4), incorruptible crown (1 Corinthians 9:25), crown of life (James 1:12), crown of justice (II Timothy iv, 8), crown of glory (1 Peter 5:4)

In Buddhism there are several heavens, all of which are still part of Samsara (illusionary reality). Those who accumulate good karma may be reborn[3] in one of them. However, their stay in the heaven is not eternal—eventually they will use up their good karma and will undergo a different rebirth into another realm, as humans, animals, or other beings. Because Heaven is temporary and part of Samsara, Buddhists focus more on escaping the cycle of rebirth and reaching enlightenment (Nirvana). In the native Chinese Confucian traditions Heaven (Tian) is an important concept, where the ancestors reside and from which emperors drew their mandate to rule in their dynastic propaganda, for example.

Some faiths teach that one enters heaven at the moment of death, while others teach that this occurs at a later time (day of judgement). Some of Christianity along with other major religions maintain that entry into Heaven awaits such time as, "When the form of this world has passed away." (*JPII) One view expressed in the Bible is that on the day Christ returns the righteous dead are resurrected first, and then those who are alive and judged righteous will be brought up to join them, to be taken to heaven. (I Thess 4:13-18)

Two related and often confused concepts of heaven in Christianity are better described as the "resurrection of the body", which is exclusively of Biblical origin, as contrasted with "the immortality of the soul", which is also evident in the Greek tradition. In the first concept, the soul does not enter heaven until the last judgement or the "end of time" when it (along with the body) is resurrected and judged. In the second concept, the soul goes to a heaven on another plane immediately after death. These two concepts are generally combined in the doctrine of the double judgement where the soul is judged once at death and goes to a temporary heaven, while awaiting a second and final physical judgement at the end of the world.(*" JPII, also see eschatology, afterlife)

In some early religions (such as the Ancient Egyptian faith), Heaven was a physical place far above the Earth in a "dark area" of space where there were no stars, basically beyond the Universe. Departed souls would undergo a literal journey to reach Heaven, along the way to which there could exist hazards and other entities attempting to deny the reaching of Heaven.

One popular medieval view of Heaven was that it existed as a physical place above the clouds and that God and the Angels were physically above, watching over man. Heaven as a physical place survived in the concept that it was located far out into space, and that the stars were "lights shining through from heaven".

Several works of written and filmed science fiction have plots in which Heaven can be reached by the living through technological means. An example is Disney film The Black Hole, in which a manned spacecraft found both Heaven (or another dimension) and Hell located at the bottom of a black hole.[4]

Many of today's Biblical scholars, such as N. T. Wright, in tracing the concept of Heaven back to its Jewish roots, see Earth and Heaven as overlapping or interlocking. Heaven is known as God's space, his dimension, and is not a place that can be reached by human technology. This belief states that Heaven is where God lives and reigns whilst being active and working alongside people on Earth. One day when God restores all things, Heaven and Earth will be forever combined into the 'New Heavens' and 'New Earth'.

Entrance into Heaven

Religions that teach about heaven differ on how (and if) one gets into it, typically in the afterlife. In most, entrance to Heaven is conditional on having lived a "good life" (within the terms of the spiritual system). A notable exception to this is the 'sola fide' belief of many mainstream Protestants, which teaches that one does not have to live a perfectly "good life," but that one must accept Jesus Christ as one's saviour, and then Jesus Christ will assume the guilt of one's sins; believers are believed to be forgiven regardless of any good or bad "works" one has participated in.[5]

Many religions state that those who do not go to heaven will go to a place "without the presence of God", Hell, which is eternal (see annihilationism). Some religions believe that other afterlives exist in addition to Heaven and Hell, such as Purgatory. One belief, universalism, believes that everyone will go to Heaven eventually, no matter what they have done or believed on earth. Some forms of Christianity believe Hell to be the termination of the soul.

Many people who come close to death and have near death experiences report meeting relatives or entering "the Light" in an otherworldly dimension, which share similarities with the religious concept of Heaven. Even though there are also reports of distressing experiences and negative life-reviews, which share some similarities with the concept of Hell, the positive experiences of meeting or entering 'the Light' is reported as an immensely intense feeling state of love, peace and joy beyond human comprehension. Together with this intensely positive feeling state, people who have near death experiences also report that consciousness or a heightened state of awareness seems as if it is at the heart of experiencing a taste of 'Heaven'.[6]

In the Bahá'í Faith

The Bahá'í Faith regards the conventional description of heaven (and hell) as a specific place as symbolic. The Bahá'í writings describe heaven as a "spiritual condition" where closeness to God is defined as heaven; conversely hell is seen as a state of remoteness from God. Bahá'u'lláh, the founder of the Bahá'í Faith, has stated that the nature of the life of the soul in the afterlife is beyond comprehension in the physical plane, but has stated that the soul will retain its consciousness and individuality and remember its physical life; the soul will be able to recognize other souls and communicate with them.[7]

For Bahá'ís, entry into the next life has the potential to bring great joy.[7] Bahá'u'lláh likened death to the process of birth. He explains: "The world beyond is as different from this world as this world is different from that of the child while still in the womb of its mother."[8] The analogy to the womb in many ways summarizes the Bahá'í view of earthly existence: just as the womb constitutes an important place for a person's initial physical development, the physical world provides for the development of the individual soul. Accordingly, Bahá'ís view life as a preparatory stage, where one can develop and perfect those qualities which will be needed in the next life.[7] The key to spiritual progress is to follow the path outlined by the current Manifestations of God, which Bahá'ís believe is currently Bahá'u'lláh. Bahá'u'lláh wrote, "Know thou, of a truth, that if the soul of man hath walked in the ways of God, it will, assuredly return and be gathered to the glory of the Beloved."[9]

The Bahá'í teachings state that there exists a hierarchy of souls in the afterlife, where the merits of each soul determines their place in the hierarchy, and that souls lower in the hierarchy cannot completely understand the station of those above. Each soul can continue to progress in the afterlife, but the soul's development is not entirely dependent on its own conscious efforts, the nature of which we are not aware, but also augmented by the grace of God, the prayers of others, and good deeds performed by others on Earth in the name of that person.[7]

In Buddhism

According to Buddhist Cosmology the universe is impermanent and beings transmigrate through a number of existential "planes" in which this human world is only one "realm" or "path".

These are traditionally envisioned as a vertical continuum with the heavens existing above the human realm, and the realms of the animals, hungry ghosts and hell beings existing beneath it. According the Jan Chozen Bays in her book, Jizo: Guardian of Children, Travelers, and Other Voyagers, the realm of the Asura is a later refinement of the heavenly realm and accordingly was inserted between the human realm and the heavens. One important Buddhist heaven is the Trāyastriṃśa which resembles Olympus of Greek mythology.

Additionally, in the Mahayana world view, there are also pure lands which lie outside this continuum and are created by the Buddhas upon attaining enlightenment. These should not be confused with the heavens as the pure lands are abodes of Buddhas, which the heavens are not. This confusion can be made worse when writers use such words 'paradise' to denote such pure lands.

One notable Buddhist pure land is the Pure Land of Amitabha Buddha. Rebirth in the pure land of Amitabha is seen as an assurance of buddhahood for once reborn there, beings do not fall back into cyclical existence unless they choose to do so to "save" other beings, the goal of Buddhism being the obtainment of enlightenment and freeing oneself and others from the birth-death cycle.

One of the Buddhist Sutras states that a hundred years of our existence is equal to one day and one night in the world of the thirty-three gods. Thirty such days add up to their one month. Twelve such months become their one year, while they live for a thousand such years though existence in the heavens is ultimately finite and the beings who reside there will reappear in other realms based on their karma.

In Chinese Faiths

Chinese Zhou Dynasty Oracle script for Tian, the character for Heaven or sky.

Heaven is a key concept in Chinese mythology, philosophies and religions, and is on one end of the spectrum a synonym of Shangdi ("Supreme Deity") and on the other naturalistic end, a synonym for nature and the sky. The Chinese term for Heaven, Tian (天), derives from the name of the supreme deity of the Zhou Dynasty. After their conquest of the Shang Dynasty in 1122 BC, the Zhou people considered their supreme deity Tian to be identical with the Shang supreme deity Shangdi, much as the Romans identified the Greek Zeus with their Jupiter.[10] The Zhou people attributed Heaven with anthropomorphic attributes, evidenced in the etymology of the Chinese character for Heaven or sky, which originally depicted a person with a large cranium. Heaven is said to see, hear and watch over all men. Heaven is affected by man's doings, and having personality, is happy and angry with them. Heaven blesses those who please it and sends calamities upon those who offend it.[11] Heaven was also believed to transcend all other spirits and gods, with Confucius asserting, "He who offends against Heaven has none to whom he can pray."[11]

Other philosophers born around the time of Confucius such as Mozi took an even more theistic view of Heaven, believing that Heaven is the divine ruler, just as the Son of Heaven (the King of Zhou) is the earthly ruler. Mozi believed that spirits and minor gods exist, but their function is merely to carry out the will of Heaven, watching for evil-doers and punishing them. Thus they function as angels of Heaven and do not detract from its monotheistic government of the world. With such a high monotheism, it is not surprising that Mohism championed a concept called "universal love" (jian'ai, 兼愛), which taught that Heaven loves all people equally and that each person should similarly love all human beings without distinguishing between his own relatives and those of others.[12] In Mozi's Will of Heaven (天志), he writes:

"I know Heaven loves men dearly not without reason. Heaven ordered the sun, the moon, and the stars to enlighten and guide them. Heaven ordained the four seasons, Spring, Autumn, Winter, and Summer, to regulate them. Heaven sent down snow, frost, rain, and dew to grow the five grains and flax and silk that so the people could use and enjoy them. Heaven established the hills and rivers, ravines and valleys, and arranged many things to minister to man's good or bring him evil. He appointed the dukes and lords to reward the virtuous and punish the wicked, and to gather metal and wood, birds and beasts, and to engage in cultivating the five grains and flax and silk to provide for the people's food and clothing. This has been so from antiquity to the present."

Original Chinese: 「且吾所以知天之愛民之厚者有矣,曰以磨為日月星辰,以昭道之;制為四時春秋冬夏,以紀綱之;雷降雪霜雨露,以長遂五穀麻絲,使民得而財利之;列為山川谿谷,播賦百事,以臨司民之善否;為王公侯伯,使之賞賢而罰暴;賊金木鳥獸,從事乎五穀麻絲,以為民衣食之財。自古及今,未嘗不有此也。」

Mozi, Will of Heaven, Chapter 27, Paragraph 6, ca. 5th Century BC

Mozi criticized the Confucians of his own time for not following the teachings of Confucius. By the time of the later Han Dynasty, however, under the influence of Xunzi, the Chinese concept of Heaven and Confucianism itself had become mostly naturalistic, though some Confucians argued that Heaven was where ancestors reside. Worship of Heaven in China continued with the erection of shrines, the last and greatest being the Temple of Heaven in Beijing, and the offering of prayers. The ruler of China in every Chinese dynasty would perform annual sacrificial rituals to Heaven, usually by slaughtering two healthy bulls as sacrifice.

In Mesoamerica

The Nahua people such as the Chichimecs, Toltecs and the Aztecs believed that the heavens were constructed and separated into 13 levels. Each level had from one to many Lords living in and ruling these heavens. Most important of these heavens was Omeyocan (Place of Two). The thirteen heavens were ruled by Ometeotl, the dual Lord, creator of the Dual-Genesis who, as male, takes the name Ometecuhtli (Two Lord), and as female is named Omecihuatl (Two Lady).

In Christianity

Christianity has taught "Heaven" as a place of eternal life, in that it is a shared plane to be attained by all the elect (rather than an abstract experience related to individual concepts of the ideal). The Christian Church has been divided over how people gain this eternal life. From the 16th to the late 19th century, Christendom was divided between the Roman Catholic view, the Orthodox view, the Coptic view, the Jacobite view, the Abyssinian view and Protestant views. See also Christian denominations.

Roman Catholics believe that entering purgatory cleanses one of sin (period of suffering until one's nature is perfected), during agony in which makes one acceptable to enter heaven. This is valid for venial sin only, as mortal sins can be forgiven only through the act of reconciliation and repentance while on earth[13]. Some within the Anglican Communion, notably Anglo-Catholics, also hold to this belief, despite their separate history. However, in the Eastern Orthodox, Oriental Orthodox, and Eastern Catholic Churches, it is only God who has the final say on who enters heaven. In the Eastern Orthodox Church, heaven is understood as union (Theosis) and communion with the Triune God (reunion of Father and Son through love).

In Protestant Christian sects, eternal life depends upon the sinner receiving God's grace (unearned and undeserved blessing stemming from God's love) through faith in Jesus' death for their sins, see atonement, his resurrection as the Christ, and accepting his Lordship (authority and guidance) over their lives. Some Protestant sects also teach that a physical baptism, or obligatory process of transformation or experience of spiritual rebirth, is further required. Also, Protestantism is divided into groups who believe in the doctrine of eternal security (once a person becomes a Christian, s/he remains one forever, also referred to by the slogan "once saved, always saved") and those who believe that a person who sins continually without any repentance or penitence was never saved in the first place. Some sects do believe that those who continually sin can lose their salvation, though it is generally believed that it shows that the individual was not fully committed in the first place.

Early Christian writing

From the early second century, we have a fragment of one of the lost volumes of Papias, a Christian bishop, who expounded that "heaven" was separated into three distinct layers. He referred to the first as just "heaven", the second as "paradise", and the third as "the city". Papias taught that "there is this distinction between the habitation of those who produce a hundredfold, and that of those who produce sixty-fold, and that of those who produce thirty-fold".

In the 2nd century AD, Irenaeus (a Greek bishop) wrote that not all who are saved would merit an abode in heaven itself.

Christians in the first century, such as Paul of Tarsus, believed that the Kingdom of God was coming to earth within their lifetimes.[14] They looked forward to a divine future on earth.[14] After the Kingdom of God did not arrive, Christians gradually refined their hopes, so that they came to look forward to a reward in heaven after death rather than to a reward in an imminent, divine kingdom on earth;[14] while continuing to use the major creeds' statements of belief in the Resurrection.

In Orthodox Christianity

Eastern Orthodox icon depicting Christ enthroned in heaven, surrounded by the ranks of angels and saints. At the bottom is Paradise with the Bosom of Abraham (left), and the Good Thief (right).

The teachings of the Eastern Orthodox and Oriental Orthodox communions regarding the Kingdom of Heaven, or Kingdom of God, are basically taken from scripture, and thus many elements of this belief are held in common with other scriptural faiths and denominations. Some specific descriptions of this Kingdom as given in the canon of scripture include— (this list is by no means comprehensive):

  • Peaceful Conditions on a New Earth — Is. 2:2–4, 9:7, 11:6–9, 27:13, 32:17–18, 33:20–21, 60:17–18, Ez. 34:25–28, 37:26, Zech 9:10, Matt. 5:3–5, Rev. 21
  • Eternal Rule by a Messiah–King — Ps. 72, Jer 31:33–34, Zech 2:10–11, 8:3, 14:9, Matt 16:27, Rev 21:3–4
    • an heir of David, Is. 9:6–7, 11:1–5
  • Bodily perfection — No hunger, thirst, death, or sickness; a pure language, etc. – Is. 1:25, 4:4, 33:24, 35:5–6, 49:10, 65:20–24, Jer. 31:12–13, Ez. 34:29, 36:29–30, Micah 4:6–7, Zeph. 3:9–19, Matt 13:43
  • Ruined cities inhabited by people and flocks of sheep — Is. 32:14, 61:4–5, Ez. 36:10,33–38, Amos 9:14

Eastern Orthodox cosmology

Eastern Orthodox cosmology perceives heaven as having different levels (John 14:2), the lowest of which is Paradise. At the time of creation, paradise touched the earth at the Garden of Eden. After the Fall of man, paradise was separated from the earth, and mankind forbidden entry, lest he partake of the Tree of Life and live eternally in a state of sinfulness (Genesis 3:22-24). At his death on the Cross, the Orthodox believe Jesus opened the door to Paradise to mankind again (Luke 23:43), and the Good Thief was the first to enter.

Various saints have had visions of heaven (2 Corinthians 12:2-4). The Orthodox concept of life in heaven is described in one of the prayers for the dead: "…a place of light, a place of green pasture, a place of repose, whence all sickness, sorrow and sighing are fled away."[15]

In Roman Catholicism

The Roman Catholic Church bases its belief in Heaven on some main biblical passages in the Hebrew and Christian Scriptures (Old and New Testaments) and also the books of the apocrypha and collected church wisdom. Heaven is the Realm of the Blessed Trinity, the Blessed Virgin Mary (also called the Queen of Heaven), the angels[16] and the saints[17]. According to the dogma of Assumption of the Virgin Mary, the Virgin Mary "having completed the course of her earthly life, was assumed body and soul into heavenly glory", which implies that heaven must have some facility to support human bodies as well as souls or that the experience of heaven is to be understood as a spiritual (soul) experience while still on earth.

The essential joy of heaven is called the beatific vision, which is derived from the vision of God's essence. The soul rests perfectly in God, and does not, or cannot desire anything else than God. After the Last Judgment, when the soul is reunited with its body, the body participates in the happiness of the soul. It becomes incorruptible, glorious and perfect. Any physical defects the body may have laboured under are erased. Heaven is also known as paradise in some cases. The Great Gulf separates heaven from hell.

The Roman Catholic teaching regarding Heaven is found in the Catechism of the Catholic Church: "Those who die (generally understood as physical death as opposed to "body level," ego identity) in God's grace and friendship and are perfectly purified, live forever (defined as immortality of the body as opposed to eternal aliveness in the psychological sense). This perfect (divine) life with [God] (Father Deity rather than concept of "perfect goodness") is called heaven. [It] is the ultimate end and fulfilment of the deepest human longings, the state of supreme, definitive happiness, full aliveness. The Catholic Church teaches that only those baptized by water (symbol of purification/internal cleansing), blood (symbol of martyrdom), or desire (explicit or implicit desire for purification) may enter heaven and those who have died in a state of grace may enter heaven.[18]

Upon dying, each soul goes to what is called "the particular judgement" where its own afterlife is decided (i.e. Heaven after Purgatory, straight to Heaven, or Hell.) This is different from "the general judgement" also known as "the Last judgement" which will occur when Christ returns to judge all the living and the dead.

It is a common Roman Catholic belief that St. Michael the Archangel carries the soul to Heaven.[citation needed] The belief that Saint Peter meets the soul at the "Pearly Gates" is an artistic application of the belief that Christ gave Peter, believed by Catholics to be the first Pope, the keys to Heaven.

As Heaven is a place where only the pure are permitted, no person who dies in a state of sin can enter Heaven. "Those who die in God's grace and friendship and are perfectly purified live for ever with Christ. They are like God for ever, for they "see Him as he is," face to face." (Catechism of the Catholic Church §1023) "Those who die in God's grace and friendship imperfectly purified, although they are assured of their eternal salvation, undergo a purification after death, so as to achieve the holiness necessary to enter the joy of God." (Catechism of the Catholic Church §1054)

If one were baptized validly and then died, one would go directly to heaven (in the Roman Catholic belief, the sacrament of baptism dissolves the eternal and temporal punishment of all sins). If one never committed a mortal sin and were absolved of all one's venial sins just before death, one would go directly to Heaven.

Most people who would enter Heaven do so through Purgatory (or "process of purification"). In Purgatory, a soul pays off all temporal punishment one deserved for the sins he committed in life. This does not always happen though. If one receives the Sacrament of Penance validly, as well as gains a plenary indulgence, and dies, one would directly go to heaven. There are many ways to get an indulgence, in various Papal decrees or publications[19]. To receive a plenary indulgence, one must receive the sacrament of Confession validly, do one's penance, validly receive Communion, say some specified number of Lord's Prayers, Angelic Salutations and Minor Doxologies for the intentions of the Pope, and then perform some act of gaining the indulgence. Of course, one must remain free from all sin, mortal and venial, while doing all these things.

In Protestant Christianity

The intermediate state (between death and the resurrection) is understood in diverse ways in Protestant Christian thought (see the article on soul sleep), but the following is generally concluded about the eternal life which Jesus promised those who believe in him:

The term Heaven (which differs from "The Kingdom of Heaven" see note below) is applied by the Biblical authors to the realm in which God currently resides. Eternal life, by contrast, occurs in a renewed, unspoilt and perfect creation, which can be termed Heaven since God will choose to dwell there permanently with his people, as seen in Revelation 21:3. There will no longer be any separation between God and man. The believers themselves will exist in incorruptible, resurrected and new bodies; there will be no sickness, no death and no tears. Some teach that death itself is not a natural part of life, but was allowed to happen after Adam and Eve disobeyed God (see original sin) so that mankind would not live forever in a state of sin and thus a state of separation from God.

Many evangelicals understand this future life to be divided into two distinct periods: first, the Millennial Reign of Christ (the one thousand years) on this earth, referred to in Revelation 20:1-10; secondly, the New Heavens and New Earth, referred to in Revelation 21 and 22. This millennialism (or chiliasm) is a revival of a strong tradition in the Early Church that was dismissed by Augustine of Hippo and the Roman Catholic Church after him.

Not only will the believers spend eternity with God, they will also spend it with each other. John's vision recorded in Revelation describes a New Jerusalem which comes from Heaven to the New Earth, which is a seen to be a symbolic reference to the people of God living in community with one another. 'Heaven' will be the place where life will be lived to the full, in the way that the designer planned, each believer 'loving the Lord their God with all their heart and with all their soul and with all their mind' and 'loving their neighbour as themselves' (adapted from Matthew 22:37-38) —a place of great joy, without the negative aspects of earthly life.

(The Greek "hê basileia ton ouranon", usually translated as "the Kingdom of Heaven", is indeed more literally "the rule of the skies (or heavens)", with "the skies (or heavens)" being a codeword for God, reflecting the respect shown for God's name in first century Judaism.)

Within Christianity, there are several notable belief structures on the means by which Man may enter heaven. See:

Seventh-day Adventist

The Seventh-day Adventist understanding of heaven is based on Biblical writings which set out the following:

  • That heaven is a material place where God resides.
  • That earth and all the animate and inanimate things therein and within its celestial space are products of God's creative work.
  • That God sent His Son, Jesus Christ to earth to live as a human being, but who "perfectly exemplified the righteousness and love of God. By His miracles He manifested God's power and was attested as God's promised Messiah. He suffered and died voluntarily on the cross for our sins and in our place, was raised from the dead, and ascended to minister in the heavenly sanctuary in our behalf." [20].
  • That Christ promises to return as a Saviour at which time He will resurrect the righteous dead and gather them along with the righteous living to heaven. The unrighteous will die at Christ's second coming.[21].
  • That after Christ's second coming there will exist a period of time known as the Millennium during which Christ and His righteous saints will reign and the unrighteous will be judged. At the close of the Millennium, Christ and His angels return to earth to resurrect the dead that remain, to issue the judgements and to forever rid the universe of sin and sinners.[22].
  • "On the new earth, in which righteousness dwells, God will provide an eternal home for the redeemed and a perfect environment for everlasting life, love, joy, and learning in His presence. For here God Himself will dwell with His people, and suffering and death will have passed away. The great controversy will be ended, and sin will be no more. All things, animate and inanimate, will declare that God is love; and He shall reign forever." [23]. It is at this point that heaven is established on the new earth.

Jehovah's Witnesses

Jehovah's Witnesses believe that heaven is the dwelling place of Jehovah God and his spirit creatures. Rather than the traditional view that all Christians go to heaven, they believe that only 144,000 chosen faithful followers will be resurrected to heaven to rule with Christ over the majority of mankind who will live on Earth.[24]

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

The view of heaven according to the Latter Day Saint movement is based on Section 76 of the Doctrine and Covenants as well as 1 Corinthians Chapter 15 in the King James version of the Bible. The afterlife is divided first into two levels until the Last Judgement; afterwards it is divided into four levels, the upper three of which are referred to as "degrees of glory" that, for illustrative purposes, are compared to heavenly bodies.

Before the Last Judgment, spirits separated from their bodies at death go either to Paradise or to Spirit Prison based on their merits earned in life. Paradise is a place of rest while its inhabitants continue learning in preparation for the Last Judgement. Spirit Prison is a place of anguish and suffering for the wicked and unrepentant; however, missionary efforts done by spirits from Paradise enable those in Spirit Prison to repent, accept the Gospel and the atonement and receive baptism through the practice of baptism for the dead.[25]

After the resurrection and Last Judgement, people are sent to one of four levels:

  • The Celestial Kingdom is the highest level, with its power and glory comparable to the sun. Here, faithful and valiant disciples of Christ who accepted the fullness of His Gospel and kept their covenants with Him through following the prophets of their dispensation are reunited with their families and with God the Father, Jesus Christ, and the Holy Spirit for all eternity. Those who would have accepted the Gospel with all their hearts had they been given the opportunity in life (as judged by Christ and God the Father) are also saved in the Celestial Kingdom. Latter-Day Saint movements do not believe in the concept of original sin, but believe children to be innocent through the atonement. Therefore, all children who die before the age of accountability inherit this glory. Men and women who have entered into celestial marriage are eligible, under the tutelage of God the Father, to eventually become gods and goddesses as joint-heirs with Jesus Christ.
  • The Terrestrial Kingdom's power and glory is comparable to that of the moon, and is reserved for those who understood and rejected the full Gospel in life but lived good lives; those who did accept the Gospel but failed to keep their covenants through continuing the process of faith, repentance, and service to others; those who "died without law" (D & C 76:72) but accepted the full Gospel and repented after death due to the missionary efforts undertaken in Spirit Prison. God the Father does not come into the Terrestrial Kingdom, but Jesus Christ visits them and the Holy Spirit is given to them.
  • The Telestial Kingdom is comparable to the glory of the stars. Those placed in the Telestial Kingdom suffered the pains of Hell after death because they were liars, murderers, adulterers, whoremongers, etc. They are eventually rescued from Hell by being redeemed through the power of the atonement at the end of the Millennium. Despite its far lesser condition in eternity, the Telestial Kingdom is described as being more comfortable than Earth in its current state. Suffering is a result of a full knowledge of the sins and choices which have permanently separated a person from the utter joy that comes from being in the presence of God and Jesus Christ, though they have the Holy Spirit to be with them.
  • Perdition, or outer darkness, is the lowest level and has no glory whatsoever. It is reserved for Satan, his angels, and those who have committed the unpardonable sin. This is the lowest state possible in the eternities, and one that very few people born in this world attain, since the unpardonable sin requires that a person know with a perfect knowledge that the Gospel is true and then reject it and fight defiantly against God. The only known son of Perdition is Cain, but it is generally acknowledged that there are probably more scattered through the ages.

In Hinduism

According to Hindu cosmology, above the earthly plane are six heavenly planes:

  1. Bhuva Loka
  2. Swarga Loka, a heavenly paradise of pleasure, where most of the Hindu gods (Deva) reside along with the king of gods, Indra.
  3. Mahar Loka
  4. Jana Loka
  5. Tapa Loka
  6. Satya Loka

Below the earthly plane are seven nether planes:

  1. Atala
  2. Vitala
  3. Sutala
  4. Talatala
  5. Mahatala
  6. Rasatala
  7. Pataal

Below these are 28 hellish planes (according to Bhagavata Purana), below which is the Garbhodaka ocean with waters of devastation. Depending on good and bad activities (karma) on an earthly plane, a soul either ascends up to enjoy heavenly delights or goes down to fiery hellish planes depending on sins performed which are judged by the god of death & justice, Yama, who presides along the 28 hells. After the results of good and bad deeds (karma) are delivered, souls return to the earthly plane again as human or animal depending on desires and karma. Thus the cycle of birth and death.

Eternal liberation or freedom from the cycle of birth and death is called Moksha, which can be obtained only in human life by turning attention inwards for uniting the soul with the Supreme Being (Parabrahman, Bhagavan, Ishvar, Krishna) through Yoga - Karma Yoga, Jnana Yoga, Bhakti Yoga etc.

Liberation (Moksha) is of five types as described in Puranas:

  1. Sayujya: Merging into the oneness with the impersonal aspect of the Lord, and hence freedom from all material anxiety.
  2. Salokya: Attaining residence in the eternal abode of the Lord, called Vaikuntha, beyond material universal creation, beyond the six material heavens, a place where only surrendered devotees of the Lord go.
  3. Saristi: Attaining same opulences as the Lord in His abode.
  4. Sarupya: Attaining same beautiful form as the Lord in His abode.
  5. Samipya: Attaining close association of the Lord in His abode.

This abode of Lord is briefly described in the Bhagavad Gita (15.6), "That supreme abode of Mine is not illumined by the sun or moon, nor by fire or electricity. Those who reach it never return to this material world". Further descriptions of Vaikuntha are in the Puranas where the Lord's devotees reside eternally in loving relationship with the Lord.

Furthermore, Vaikuntha residency has following categories:

  1. Shanta Rasa: In neutral relationship of great awe, reveration and constant thinking of the Lord.
  2. Dasya Rasa: Serving the Lord personally to please the Lord as master and soul as servant.
  3. Sakhya Rasa: Serving the Lord as an intimate friend (formal, informal, and many other types).
  4. Vatsalya Rasa: Serving the Lord from a superior position as a caretaker (like motherly or fatherly relations).
  5. Madhurya/Sringara Rasa: Serving the Lord as an intimate conjugal lover including all previous rasas, the most sweet of all, with many further categories.

The Lord lovingly relates to every soul in a multitude of modes and varieties of relationships as desired by the soul. The Lord from there sometimes descends into material universe, along with His associates, to redeem suffering souls and perform His pastimes. He comes either Personally (Svayam Bhagavan) or as His part incarnations (kala, amsha) or sends His messengers/prophets. There are many incarnations of the Lord mentioned in scriptures, 10 of which are famous, the most popular ones are Rama Avatar and Krishna Avatar.

In Islam

The Qur'an contains many references to an afterlife in Eden for those who do good deeds. Regarding the concept of heaven (Jannat) in the Qu'ran, verse 35 of Surah Al-Ra’d says, "The parable of the Garden which the righteous are promised! Beneath it flow rivers. Perpetual is the fruits thereof and the shade therein. Such is the End of the Righteous; and the end of the unbelievers is the Fire."[Qur'an 13:35] Islam rejects the concept of original sin, and Muslims believe that all human beings are born pure. Children automatically go to heaven when they die, regardless of the religion of their parents. The highest level of heaven is Firdaus (فردوس)- Paradise (پردیس), to which the prophets, martyrs and other pious people will go at the time of their death.

The concept of heaven in Islam differs in many respects to the concept in Judaism and Christianity. Heaven is described primarily in physical terms as a place where every wish is immediately fulfilled. Islamic texts describe immortal life in heaven as happy, without negative emotions. Those who dwell in heaven are said to wear costly apparel, partake in exquisite banquets, and recline on couches inlaid with gold or precious stones. Inhabitants will rejoice in the company of their parents, wives, and children. Texts also refer to "pure consorts" (houris), with whom sexual relations are said to be "a hundred times greater than earthly pleasure".

Verses which describe heaven include

Islamic texts refer to several levels of heaven:

  • Firdaus or Paradise
  • 'Adn
  • Na'iim
  • Na'wa
  • Darussalaam
  • Daarul Muaqaamah
  • Al-Muqqamul Amin
  • Khuldi

In Judaism

Judaism offers no clear teaching about the destiny which lies in wait for the individual after death and its attitude to life after death has been expressed as follows: "For the future is inscrutable, and the accepted sources of knowledge, whether experience, or reason, or revelation, offer no clear guidance about what is to come. The only certainty is that each man must die - beyond that we can only guess."[26]

While the concept of heaven (malkuth hashamaim מלכות השמים, the Kingdom of Heaven) is well-defined within the Christian and Islamic religions, the Jewish concept of the afterlife, sometimes known as olam haba, the World-to-come, is not so precise. The Torah has little to say on the subject of survival after death, but by the time of the rabbis two ideas had made inroads among the Jews: one, which is probably derived from Greek thought,[26] is that of the immortal soul which returns to its creator after death; the other, which is thought to be of Persian origin,[26] is that of resurrection. The Mishnah says, "This world is like a lobby before the World-To-Come. Prepare yourself in the lobby so that you may enter the banquet hall." Jewish writings refer to a "new earth" as the abode of mankind following the resurrection of the dead. Originally, the two ideas of immortality and resurrection were different but in rabbinic thought they are combined: the soul departs from the body at death but is returned to it at the resurrection. This idea is linked to another rabbinic teaching, that men's good and bad actions are rewarded and punished not in this life but after death, whether immediately or at the subsequent resurrection.[26]

It is the predominant view of Judaism, that the righteous of all nations have a share in the afterlife, the World-to-come.[27]

Unlike other world-religions, Judaism is not focused on the quest of getting into heaven. Judaism is focused on life and how to live it.[28]

In Kabbalah Jewish mysticism

Jewish mysticism recognizes Seven Heavens.

In order from lowest to highest, the seven Heavens are listed alongside the angels who govern them:

  1. Shamayim: The first Heaven, governed by Archangel Gabriel, is the closest of heavenly realms to the Earth; it is also considered the abode of Adam and Eve.
  2. Raquie: The second Heaven is dually controlled by Zachariel and Raphael. It was in this Heaven that Moses, during his visit to Paradise, encountered the angel Nuriel who stood "300 parasangs high, with a retinue of 50 myriads of angels all fashioned out of water and fire." Also, Raquia is considered the realm where the fallen angels are imprisoned and the planets fastened.[29]
  3. Shehaqim: The third Heaven, under the leadership of Anahel, serves as the home of the Garden of Eden and the Tree of Life; it is also the realm where manna, the holy food of angels, is produced.[30] The Second Book of Enoch, meanwhile, states that both Paradise and Hell are accommodated in Shehaqim with Hell being located simply " on the northern side."
  4. Machen: The fourth Heaven is ruled by the Archangel Michael , and according to Talmud Hagiga 12, it contains the heavenly Jerusalem, the Temple, and the Altar.
  5. Machon: The fifth Heaven is under the administration of Samael, an angel referred to as evil by some, but who is to others merely a dark servant of God.
  6. Zebul: The sixth Heaven falls under the jurisdiction of Sachiel.
  7. Araboth: The seventh Heaven, under the leadership of Cassiel, is the holiest of the seven Heavens provided the fact that it houses the Throne of Glory attended by the Seven Archangels and serves as the realm in which God dwells; underneath the throne itself lies the abode of all unborn human souls. It is also considered the home of the Seraphim, the Cherubim, and the Hayyoth.

In Polynesia

In the creation myths of Polynesian mythology are found various concepts of the heavens and the underworld. These differ from one island to another. What they share is the view of the universe as an egg or coconut that is divided between the world of humans (earth), the upper world of heavenly gods, and the underworld. Each of these is subdivided in a manner reminiscent of Dante's Divine Comedy, but the number of divisions and their names differs from one Polynesian culture to another.


Among the Māori, the heavens are divided into a number of realms. Different tribes number the heaven differently, with as few as two and as many as fourteen levels. One of the more common versions divides heaven thus:

  1. Kiko-rangi, presided over by the god Toumau
  2. Waka-maru, the heaven of sunshine and rain
  3. Nga-roto, the heaven of lakes where the god Maru rules
  4. Hau-ora, where the spirits of new-born children originate
  5. Nga-Tauira, home of the servant gods
  6. Nga-atua, which is ruled over by the hero Tawhaki
  7. Autoia, where human souls are created
  8. Aukumea, where spirits live
  9. Wairua, where spirit gods live while waiting on those in
  10. Naherangi or Tuwarea, where the great gods live presided over by Rehua

The Māori believe these heavens are supported by pillars. Other Polynesian peoples see them being supported by gods (as in Hawai'i). In one Tahitian legend, heaven is supported by an octopus.


An 1869 illustration by a Tuomatuan chief portraying nine heavens.

The Polynesian conception of the universe and its division is nicely illustrated by a famous drawing made by a Tuomotuan chief in 1869. Here, the nine heavens are further divided into left and right, and each stage is associated with a stage in the evolution of the earth that is portrayed below. The lowest division represents a period when the heavens hung low over the earth, which was inhabited by animals that were not known to the islanders. In the third division is shown the first murder, the first burials, and the first canoes, built by Rata. In the fourth division, the first coconut tree and other significant plants are born.

In Theosophy

It is believed in Theosophy that each religion (including Theosophy) has its own individual Heaven in various regions of the upper astral plane that fits the description of that Heaven that is given in each religion, which a soul that has been good in their previous life on Earth will go to. The area of the upper astral plane of Earth in the upper atmosphere where the various Heavens are located is called Summerland (Theosophists believe Hell is located in the lower astral plane of Earth which extends downward from the surface of the earth down to its center). However, Theosophists believe that the soul is recalled back to Earth after an average of about 1400 years by the Lords of Karma to incarnate again. The final Heaven that souls go to billions of years in the future after they finish their cycle of incarnations is called Devachan.[31]

Criticism of the belief in Heaven

Atheists reject the existence of heaven. Some atheists have viewed the notion of heaven as an "opiate of the masses"—tool employed by humans to cope with their lives' misery—or "opiate for the masses"—a tool employed by authorities to bribe their subjects into a certain way of life by promising a reward after death.[32]

The anarchist Emma Goldman expressed this view when she wrote, "Consciously or unconsciously, most atheists see in gods and devils, heaven and hell; reward and punishment, a whip to lash the people into obedience, meekness and contentment."[33]

Many people consider George Orwell's use of Sugarcandy Mountain in his novel Animal Farm to be a literary expression of this view. In the book, the animals were told that after their miserable lives were over they would go to a place in which "it was Sunday seven days a week, clover was in season all the year round, and lump sugar and linseed cake grew on the hedges".[34][35] Fantasy author Phillip Pullman echoes this idea in the fantasy series His Dark Materials, in which the characters finally come to the conclusion that people should make life better on Earth rather than wait for heaven (this idea is known as the Republic of Heaven).

Some atheists have argued that a belief in a reward after death is poor motivation for moral behavior while alive.[36][37] Sam Harris wrote, "It is rather more noble to help people purely out of concern for their suffering than it is to help them because you think the Creator of the Universe wants you to do it, or will reward you for doing it, or will punish you for not doing it. [The] problem with this linkage between religion and morality is that it gives people bad reasons to help other human beings when good reasons are available."[38]

Pseudo-scientific ideas on the existence of Heaven

The Omega Point is a term used by Tulane University professor of mathematics and physics Frank J. Tipler to describe an idea regarding what he maintains is a necessary cosmological state in the distant future of the universe.

Tipler describes a final singularity and a state of infinite information processing as analogous to a god figure. This would be brought about by an ultimate cosmic computer running a computer simulations of all the intelligent life that had ever lived (by re-creating simulations of all possible quantum brain states within a master simulation).

According to Tipler's Omega Point Theory, as the universe comes to an end at a singularity in a particular form of the Big Crunch, the computational capacity of the universe would accelerate faster and faster. In principle, then, a program run on this universal computer could continue forever in its own terms, even though the universe would last only a finite amount of proper time--this simulation (virtual reality environment) will, according to Tipler, be what is commonly referred to as Heaven. Dr. Tipler suggests that in this Heaven, each person will have their own alternate universe that pleases them the most.[39]

Researcher Anders Sandberg [3] has stated his view of this theory as: "Tipler claims that Omega will resurrect everyone into an immortal life in what could only be called paradise."[40]

According to George Ellis's review of Tipler's book in the journal Nature, Tipler's book on the Omega Point is "a masterpiece of pseudoscience ... the product of a fertile and creative imagination unhampered by the normal constraints of scientific and philosophical discipline",[41] and Michael Shermer devoted a chapter of Why People Believe Weird Things to enumerating what he thought to be flaws in Tipler's thesis.[42]

Heaven in popular culture


Computer games

  • Afterlife, a 1996 god game released by LucasArts that places the player in the role of a semi-omnipotent being known as a Demiurge, with the job of creating a functional Heaven and Hell to reward or punish the citizens of the local inhabited planet. In order to do so, the player must keep tabs on these citizens' sins and good deeds.

Role-playing games

  • In Nomine, Heaven is the home location for all Angels. It is divided into several subdivisions called Cathedrals, each run by one or more Archangels. Interestingly enough, an area called Higher Heaven exists, where God and Souls seeking their ultimate reward go. Most Angels, save the eldest ones, have never seen it and anyone who goes, does not come back down.



Works of fiction, especially in the modern fantasy genre, have included numerous different conceptions of Heaven and Hell.

  • Chalion, a series by Lois McMaster Bujold suggests five Gods (Father, Mother, Son, Daughter, and Bastard) with a mention of Heaven and a more graphic version of The Bastard's Hell as formless chaos.
  • Chariot of Fire, the 1977 fantasy novel by E.E.Y. Hales has an extensive description of the afterlife in heaven, purgatory, and hell.
  • Chronicles of Narnia, a series by C. S. Lewis offers a description of Heaven at the end of the sequence in the 'Last Battle', depicted as a lush green land surrounded by mountains under the rule of a lion, Aslan.
  • Elric and Eternal Champion, two series by Michael Moorcock, is one of many who offer Chaos-Evil(-Hell) and Uniformity-Good(-Heaven) as equally unacceptable extremes which must be held in balance.
  • Incarnations of Immortality, a series by Piers Anthony, portrays examples of heaven and hell via death, fate, nature, war, time, good-God, and evil-Devil.
  • Job: A Comedy of Justice, a book by Robert A. Heinlein, offers a yin-yang version of hell where there is still some good within. Heinlein also offers the Schrödinger-type of heaven, hell, and universe which is entirely the creation of the mind and thereby infinitely changeable in The Cat Who Walks Through Walls and others.



The two most famous descriptions of Heaven are given in the following two works:


  1. ^ The Anglo-Saxons knew the concept of Paradise, which they expressed with words such as neorxnawang, lit. (place of) no toil nor worries.
  2. ^ Barnhart (1995:357).
  3. ^ (but no soul actually goes through rebirth; see anatta)
  4. ^ Does The Black Hole still suck? Movie review by Joshua Moss, June 2, 2000.
  5. ^ "What do you think?". Retrieved 2008-10-05. 
  6. ^ Jorgensen, Rene. Awakening After Life BookSurge, 2007 ISBN 1-4196-6347-X
  7. ^ a b c d Masumian, Farnaz (1995). Life After Death: A study of the afterlife in world religions. Oxford: Oneworld Publications. ISBN 1-85168-074-8. 
  8. ^ Bahá'u'lláh (1976). Gleanings from the Writings of Bahá'u'lláh. Wilmette, Illinois, USA: Bahá'í Publishing Trust. pp. 157. ISBN 0-87743-187-6. 
  9. ^ Bahá'u'lláh (1976). Gleanings from the Writings of Bahá'u'lláh. Wilmette, Illinois, USA: Bahá'í Publishing Trust. pp. 162. ISBN 0-87743-187-6. 
  10. ^ Herrlee Creel "The Origin of the Deity T'ien" (1970:493-506)
  11. ^ a b Joseph Shih, "The Notion of God in the Ancient Chinese Religion," Numen, Vol. 16, Fasc. 2, pp 99-138, Brill: 1969
  12. ^ Homer Dubs, "Theism and Naturalism in Ancient Chinese Philosophy," Philosophy of East and West, Vol 9, No 3/4, pp 163-172, University of Hawaii Press: 1960.
  13. ^ Roman Catholic Catechism section #982
  14. ^ a b c Ehrman, Bart. Peter, Paul, and Mary Magdalene: The Followers of Jesus in History and Legend. Oxford University Press, USA. 2006. ISBN 0-19-530013-0
  15. ^ Book for Commemoration of the Living and the Dead, trans. Father Lawrence (Holy Trinity Monastery, Jordanville NY), p. 77.
  16. ^ Treated extensively in C. S. Lewis, The Discarded Image: An Introduction to Medieval and Renaissance Literature (1964).
  17. ^ See discussion at, where a.o. Hebrews 12:22-24 is quoted.
  18. ^ "The Necessity of Baptism". Catholic Answers. Retrieved on May 7, 2008.
  19. ^ For example, see and
  20. ^ General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists, Adventist Fundamental Beliefs, Fundamental Belief # 4: The Son, 2006
  21. ^ General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists, Adventist Fundamental Beliefs, Fundamental Belief # 26: Death and Resurrection, 2006
  22. ^ General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists, Adventist Fundamental Beliefs, Fundamental Belief # 27: Millennium and the End of Sin, 2006
  23. ^ General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists, Adventist Fundamental Beliefs, Fundamental Belief # 28: New Earth, 2006
  24. ^ Reasoning From The Scriptures. Watchtower. 1989. 
  25. ^ Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints Doctrine and Covenants 128:18
  26. ^ a b c d Nicholas de Lange, Judaism, Oxford University Press, 1986
  27. ^ [1]
  28. ^ "Some people look at these teachings and deduce that Jews try to "earn our way into Heaven" by performing the mitzvot. This is a gross mischaracterization of our religion. It is important to remember that unlike some religions, Judaism is not focused on the question of how to get into heaven. Judaism is focused on life and how to live it." Olam Ha-Ba: The World to Come Judaism 101; websource 02-11-2010.
  29. ^ The Legends of the Jews I, 131, and II, 306.
  30. ^ The Legends of the Jews V, 374.
  31. ^ Leadbeater, C.W. Outline of Theosophy Wheaton, Illinois, USA:1915 Theosophical Publishing House
  32. ^ Animal Farm Character Profiles at Charles' George Orwell Links.
  33. ^ Goldman, Emma. "The Philosophy of Atheism". Mother Earth, February 1916.
  34. ^ Opinions: Essays: Orwell's Political Messages by Rhodri Williams.
  35. ^ Background information for George Orwell's Animal Farm at Charles' George Orwell Links.
  36. ^ The Atheist Philosophy
  37. ^ Quote by Albert Einstein at Quote DB.
  38. ^ Sam Harris at the 2006 Beyond Belief conference (watch here).
  39. ^ Tipler, The Physics of Immortality: Modern Cosmology, God and the Resurrection of the Dead (New York: Doubleday, 1994), ISBN 0198519494. 56-page excerpt available here.
  40. ^ Anders Sandberg, My Thoughts and Comments on the Omega Point Theory of Frank J. Tipler [2]
  41. ^ George Ellis (1994). "Review of The Physics of Immortality". Nature 371: 115. doi:10.1038/371115a0. 
  42. ^ Michael Shermer (1997). Why People Believe Weird Things. W.H. Freeman. ISBN 0-7167-3090-1. 



  • Barnhart, Robert K. (1995). The Barnhart Concise Dictionary of Etymology. HarperCollins ISBN 0062700847
  • Bunyan, John. The Strait Gate: Great Difficulty of Going to Heaven Liskeard, Cornwall: Diggory Press, 2007. ISBN 978-1846856716.
  • Bunyan, John. No Way to Heaven but By Jesus Christ Liskeard, Cornwall: Diggory Press, 2007. ISBN 978-1846857805.
  • Craig, Robert D. Dictionary of Polynesian Mythology. Greenwood Press: New York, 1989. ISBN 0313258902. Page 57.
  • Ginzberg, Louis. Henrietta Szold (trans.). The Legends of the Jews. Philadelphia: The Jewish Publication Society of America, 1909–38. ISBN 0801858909.
  • Hahn, Scott. The Lamb's Supper: The Mass as Heaven on Earth. New York: Doubleday, 1999. ISBN 978-0385496599.
  • Jorgensen, Rene. "Awakening After Life - A Firsthand Guide through Death into the Purpose of Life". BookSurge, 2007, ISBN 1-4196-6347-X / ISBN 978-1419663475
  • Moody, D.L. Heaven. Liskeard, Cornwall: Diggory Press, 2007. ISBN 978-1846858123.
  • Young, J.L. "The Paumotu Conception of the Heavens and of Creation", Journal of the Polynesian Society, 28 (1919), 209–211.


External links


Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikiquote

The heavens declare the glory of God ; and the firmament showeth his handywork. ~ Psalms 19:1

Heaven may refer to the physical heavens, the sky, the seemingly endless expanse of the universe beyond or to an afterlife plane of existence (often held to exist in another realm) in various religions and spiritual philosophies, often described as the holiest possible place, accessible by people according to various standards of divinity, goodness, piety, faith or awareness.



I see Heaven's glories shine,
And Faith shines equal, arming me from Fear. ~ Emily Brontë
All the way to heaven is heaven; and as those angels, which came from heaven hither, bring heaven with them, and are in heaven here, so that soul that goes to heaven, meets heaven here. ~ John Donne
The redeemed shall walk there. ~ Isaiah 35:9
To everything (turn, turn, turn)
There is a season (turn, turn, turn)
And a time for every purpose under heaven. ~ Pete Seeger
  • I cannot be content with less than heaven;
    Living, and comprehensive of all life.
    Thee, universal heaven, celestial all;
    Thee, sacrjd seat of intellective time;
    Field of the soul's best wisdom: home of truth,
  • If our Creator has so bountifully provided for our existence here, which is but momentary, and for our temporal wants, which will soon be forgotten, how much more must He have done for our enjoyment in the everlasting world?
    • Hosea Ballou, as quoted in Biography of Rev. Hosea Ballou (1854) p. 261
  • Heaven will be inherited by every man who has heaven in his soul. "The kingdom of God is within you."
    • Henry Ward Beecher, in Life Thoughts: Gathered from the Extemporaneous Discourses of Henry Ward Beecher
  • To see a World in a Grain of Sand
    And a Heaven in a Wild Flower,
    Hold Infinity in the palm of your hand
    And Eternity in an hour.
  • No coward soul is mine,
    No trembler in the world's storm-troubled sphere:
    I see Heaven's glories shine,
    And Faith shines equal, arming me from Fear.
  • Heaven does not make holiness, but holiness makes heaven; because if you do not give yourself in sympathy to goodness, goodness cannot give itself in influence to you.
  • All the way to Heaven is heaven because He said,"'I am the Way."
    • St. Catherine of Siena, as quoted in My God and My All: The Life of St. Francis of Assisi (1959) by Elizabeth Goudge, p. 107
  • Howling is the noise of hell, singing the voice of heaven; sadness the damp of hell, rejoicing the serenity of heaven. And he that hath not this joy here, lacks one of the best pieces of his evidence for the joys of heaven; and hath neglected or refused that earnest, by which God uses to bind his bargain, that true joy in this world shall flow into the joy of heaven, as a river flows into the sea; this joy shall not be put out in death, and a new joy kindled in me in heaven; but as my soul, as soon as it is out of my body, is in heaven, and does not stay for the possession of heaven, nor for the fruition of the sight of God, till it be ascended through air, and lire, and moon, and sun, and planets and firmament, to that place which we conceive to be heaven, but without the thousandth part of a minute's stop, as soon as it issues, is in a glorious light, which is heaven, (for all the way to heaven is heaven; and as those angels, which came from heaven hither, bring heaven with them, and are in heaven here, so that soul that goes to heaven, meets heaven here ; and as those angels do not divest heaven by coming, so these souls invest heaven, in their going.) As my soul shall not go towards heaven, but go by heaven to heaven, to the heaven of heavens, so the true joy of a good soul in this world is the very joy of heaven
    • John Donne in Sermon LXVI in The Works of John Donne: With a Memoir of His Life (1839) edited by Henry Alford, p. 177
  • He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain that which he cannot lose.
    • Jim Elliot, The Journals of Jim Elliot (28 October 1949)
  • Heaven is the day of which grace is the dawn; the rich, ripe fruit of which grace is the lovely flower; the inner shrine of that most glorious temple to which grace forms the approach and outer court.
    • Thomas Guthrie, in Christ and the Inheritance of the Saints (1859), p. 22
  • The number of levels in Heaven is the number of verses in the Qur'an. Thus, when a reciter of the Qur'an enters into Heaven, it will be said to him: 'Go up one level for every verse that you can recite.' Thus, no one will be in a higher level than the one who has memorized the entire Qur'an.
    • Muhammad, Biharul Anwar, Volume 92, Page 22; note that the Qur'an has 6,236 verses.
  • He who seldom thinks of heaven is not likely to get thither; as the only way to hit the mark is to keep the eye fixed upon it.
  • The redeemed shall walk there.
  • Heaven will be no heaven to me if I do not meet my wife there.
    • Andrew Jackson, in a statement shortly before his death, as quoted in Life of Andrew Jackson (1860) by James Parton, p. 679.
  • Blessed is the pilgrim, who in every place, and at all times of this his banishment in the body, calling upon the holy name of Jesus, calleth to mind his native heavenly land, where his blessed Master, the King of saints and angels, waiteth to receive him. Blessed is the pilgrim who seeketh not an abiding place unto himself in this world; but longeth to be dissolved, and be with Christ in heaven.
  • The generous who is always just, and the just who is always generous, may, unannounced, approach the throne of heaven.
    • Johann Kaspar Lavater, as quoted in Laconics: or, the Best Words of the Best Authors (1929) by John Timbs
  • Through death Christian's soul goes to—1st. Perfect purity 2dly. Fullness of joy. 3dly. Everlasting freedom. 4thly. Perfect rest. 5thly. Health and fruition. 6thly. Complete security. 7thly. Substantial and eternal good.
  • The heavens declare the glory of God ; and the firmament showeth his handywork.
  • To everything (turn, turn, turn)
    There is a season (turn, turn, turn)
    And a time for every purpose under heaven.
  • Heaven, as conventionally conceived, is a place so inane, so dull, so useless, so miserable, that nobody has ever ventured to describe a whole day in heaven, though plenty of people have described a day at the seaside.
  • Heaven's not a place that you go when you die, it's that moment in life when you actually feel alive
  • Yet stay, heaven gates are not so highly arch'd As princes' palaces; they that enter there, Must go upon their knees.
  • If Christians have the monopoly of salvation, over whom will they rule? And how will this promise be fulfilled, that to faithful servants is given the authority over five or ten cities (Luke 19:17-19)? It is no fun to be king over empty towns. So they will be populated by those who have not been faithful servants. We Christians will be in the heavenly Jerusalem, but there will also be nations walking in its light (Revelation 21:24). The leaves of the tree of life will serve for the healing of the nations (Revelation 22:2), which means that there will be in the life beyond people who need a cure for their souls.

Dictionary of Burning Words of Brilliant Writers (1895)

Reported in Josiah Hotchkiss Gilbert, Dictionary of Burning Words of Brilliant Writers (1895).

  • O rest of rests! O peace serene, eternal!
    Thou ever livest, and Thou changest never!
    And in the secret of Thy presence dwelleth
    Fullness of joy, forever and forever.
    • Mrs. H. B. Stowe, p. 299.
  • We are born for a higher destiny than earth; there is a realm where the rainbow never fades, where the stars will be spread before us like islands that slumber on the ocean, and where the beings that pass before us like shadows will stay in our presence forever.
    • Bulwer Lytton, p. 299.
  • When this passing world is done,
    When has sunk yon, glowing sun,
    When we stand with Christ in glory,
    Looking o'er life's f1nished story,
    Then, Lord, shall I fully know —
    Not till then — how much I owe.
  • No wearisome days, no sorrowful nights; no hunger or thirst; no anxiety or fears; no envies, no jealousies, no breaches of friendship, no sad separations, no distrusts or forebodings, no self-reproaches, no enmities, no bitter regrets, no tears, no heartaches; "And there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain; for the former things are passed away."
    • Randolph Sinks Foster, p. 300.
  • No more fatigue, no more distress,
    Nor sin nor death shall reach the place;
    No groans shall mingle with the songs
    That warble from immortal tongues.
  • Christ and His cross are not separable in this life, howbeit Christ and His cross part at heaven's door, for there is no house-room for crosses in heaven. One tear, one sigh, one sad heart, one fear, one loss, one thought of trouble cannot find lodging there.
  • "A little while," and the load
    Shall drop at the pilgrim's feet,
    Where the steep and thorny road
    Doth merge in the golden street.
  • After the fever of life — after wearinesses, sicknesses, fightings and despondings, languor and fretfulness, struggling and failing, struggling and succeeding — after all the changes and chances of this troubled and unhealthy state, at length comes death — at length the white throne of God — at length the beatific vision.
    • Newman, p. 301.
  • And then, the quiet of the green, inland valleys of our Father's land, where no tempest comes any more, nor the loud winds are ever heard, nor the salt sea is ever seen; but perpetual calm and blessedness; all mystery gone, and all rebellion hushed and silenced, and all unrest at an end forever! " No more sea;" but, instead of that wild and yeasty chaos of turbulent waters, there shall be the river that makes glad the city of God, the river of water of life, that proceeds "out of the throne of God and of the Lamb."
  • An everlasting tranquillity is, in my imagination, the highest possible felicity, because I know of no felicity on earth higher than that which a peaceful mind and contented heart afford.
    • Zimmerman, p. 301.
  • Selfishness, eager for a heaven of enjoyment, is quite a different thing in the soul from love and purity and truth, yearning together for what is their natural element.
  • What tranquillity will there be in heaven! Who can express the fullness and blessedness of this peace! What a calm is this! How sweet and holy and joyous! What a haven of rest to enter, after having passed through the storms and tempests of this world, in which pride and selfishness and envy and malice and scorn and contempt and contention and vice are as waves of a restless ocean, always rolling, and often dashed about in violence and fury! What a Canaan of rest to come to, after going through this waste and howling wilderness, full of snares and pitfalls and poisonous serpents, where no rest could be found.
  • O, land of rest, how near thou art! O, judgment-seat of Jesus, how thin are the clouds that veil thee! Through the rifts of cloudland shine rays from this righteous crown. It is "laid up" for him whose hope can never be satisfied with less than the presence of the King.
    • Stephen H. Tyng, Jr, p. 302.
  • One should go to sleep as homesick passengers do, saying " Perhaps in the morning we shall see the shore."
  • And looking back upon " the sea that brought us thither," we shall behold its waters flashing in the light of that everlasting morning, and hear them breaking into music upon the eternal shore. And then, brethren, when all the weary night-watchers on the stormy ocean of life are gathered together around Him who watched with them from His throne on the bordering mountains of eternity, where the day shines forever — then He will seat them at His table in His kingdom, and none will need to ask, "Who art Thou?" or, "Where am I?" " for all shall know it is the Lord," and the full, perfect, unchangeable vision of His blessed face will be heaven.
  • In our Father's house it will not be the pearl gate or the streets of gold that will make us happy. But oh, how tran- scendently glad shall we be when we see our Lord. Perhaps in that "upper room," also, He may show us His hands and His side, and we may cry out with happy Thomas, "My Lord and my God!"
  • Oh, heaven without my Saviour
    Would be no heaven to me;
    Dim were the walls of jasper —
    Rayless the crystal sea.
    He gilds earth's darkest valleys
    With light and joy and peace;
    What then must be the radiance
    When night and death shall cease?
    • Helen L. Parmlee, p. 303.
  • Perhaps heaven may not be so far away as we fancy; and if our eyes were not holden, we should see angels ascending and descending, and blessed spirits thronging all about us.
    • Arthur Henry Kenney, p. 304.
  • There is not such a great difference between grace and glory after all. Grace is the bud, and glory is the blossom. Grace is glory begun; and glory is grace perfected. It won't come hard to people that are serving God down here to do it when they go up yonder. They will change places, but they won't change employments.
  • I change my place, but not my company. While here I have sometimes walked with God, and now I go to rest with Him,
    • Dr. Preston, p. 304.
  • Every Christian that goes before us from this world is a ransomed spirit waiting to welcome us in heaven.
  • What we sow here, we reap there! Can it be supposed that the soul will enjoy a reward or endure a retribution for deeds of which it has no recollection? Is the thing possible? Will it enjoy the bliss of heaven, praising Christ forever as its great Saviour, without any remembrance of the sins and sufferings from which He redeemed and saved it? The idea is absurd.
    • Randolph Sinks Foster, p. 305.
  • Death must obliterate all memories and affections and ideas and laws, or the awakening in the next world will be amid the welcomes, and loves and raptures of those who left us with tearful farewells, and with dying promises that they would wait to welcomes us when we should arrive. And so they do. Not sorrowfully, not anxiously, but lovingly, they wait to bid us welcome.
    • Randolph Sinks Foster, p. 305.
  • With Christ, and like Christ, and not love our friends! Impossible! when He loves them so tenderly. Going into the fuller presence of Him whose very name is "Love" can never make our hearts less loving.
    • Arthur Henry Kenney, p. 305.
  • I shall know the loved who have gone before,
    And joyfully sweet will the meeting be,
    When over the river, the peaceful river,
    The angel of death shall carry me.
    • N. A. W. Priest, p. 305.
  • Then re-united to the friends with whom vve took sweet counsel upon earth, we shall recount our toil, only to heighten our ecstasy; and call to mind the toil and the din of war, oniy that, with a more bounding throb and a richer song, we may fee! and celebrate the wonders of redemption.
  • Blessed loves! how happy they have made us on the earth; what will they be when they have deepened through ages, with no alloy of envy or suspicion or selfishness or sorrow?
    • Randolph Sinks Foster, p. 306.
  • God would never have let us long for our friends with such a strong and holy love, if they were not waiting for us.
  • They are kings and priests unto God. They wear crowns that flash in the everlasting light. They wear robes that are spotlessly white. They wave victorious palms. They sing anthems of such exceeding sweetness as no earthly choirs ever approach. They stand before the throne. They fly on ministries of love. They muse on the top of Mount Zion. They meditate on the banks of the river of life. They are rapturous with ecstasies of love. God wipes away all tears from their eyes.
    • Randolph Sinks Foster, p. 306.
  • In heaven, knowledge shall be commensurate with the enlarged powers of the glorified soul.
  • The joys of heaven are not the joys of passive contemplation, of dreamy remembrance, of perfect repose; but they are described thus: "They rest not day nor night." "His servants serve Him, and see His face."
  • Man has in his power, now developed, nothing more than a mere hint or initial sign of what is to be the real stature of his personality in the process of his everlasting development. We exist here only in the small, that God may have us in a state of flexibility, and bend or fashion us, at the best advantage, to the model of His own great life and character.
  • It doth not yet appear what we shall be. We lie here in our nest, unfledged and weak, guessing dimly at our future, and scarce believing what even now appears. But the power is in us, and that power is finally to be revealed. And what a revelation will that be!
  • Will not this be the description of our future being — "reaching forth unto those things which are before?" I believe that we shall thus live through all the eternities that are before us, growing wiser, nobler, stronger, greater; plunging deeper into God, and being more and more filled with more and more of Him. So we shall move forever as in ascending spirals that rise ever higher, and draw ever closer to the throne we compass and to Him that dwells alone; ever perfect, yet ever growing, for we have an inexhaustible Saviour to absorb into our hearts, and we have hearts that never reach the ultimate bound and term of their indefinite possibility of receiving.
  • Heaven is endless longing, accompanied with an endless fruition — a longing which is blessedness, a longing which is life.
  • As we look up into these glorious culminations, how grand life becomes! To be forever with the Lord, and forever changing into His likeness, and, still more, forever deepening in the companionship of His thought and bliss, "from glory to glory," — could we desire more?
    • Randolph Sinks Foster, p. 308.
  • We should carry up our affections to the mansions prepared for us above, where eternity is the measure, felicity the state, angels the company, the Lamb the light, and God the inheritance and portion of His people forever.
  • Yes, it is a truth that for a good man,— honored, beloved, useful,— with all around him that God ever gives to His children here;— nay, with all that God could give him of earth, it would be " gain " to die. Heaven is a better, a happier, a more desirable world than this is or can be.
  • Beyond the smiling and the weeping,
    I shall be soon;
    Beyond the waking and the sleeping,
    Beyond the sowing and the reaping,
    I shall be soon!
    Love, rest, and home —
    Sweet hope! Lord, tarry not, but come!
  • Oil, when shall the night be gone, the shadows flee away, and the morning of that long, long day, without cloud or night, dawn.
  • Rejoice, oh! grieving heart,
    The hours fly past;
    With each some sorrow dies,
    With each some shadow flies,
    Until at last
    The red dawn in the east
    Bids weary night depart,
    And pain is past.
    • A. A. Proctor, p. 309.
  • When the day of toil is done,
    When the race of life is run,
    Father, grant Thy wearied one
    Rest for evermore!
    When the heart by sorrow tried
    Feels at length its throbs subside,
    Bring us, where all tears are dried,
    Joy for evermore!
    • C. C. Scholefield, p. 309.


  • Name something you like. I bet it's not in heaven. Sex? Sorry, lust is a sin. Can't have it. Your career? Nope. There's no money in heaven; nobody needs to work. Besides, as far as I can tell from studying the scriptures, all you do in heaven is pretty much just sit around all day and praise the Lord. I don't know about you, but I think that after the first, oh, I don't know, 50,000,000 years of that I'd start to get a little bored.

External links

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Travel guide

Up to date as of January 14, 2010
(Redirected to Space article)

From Wikitravel

Adventure travel at its finest - and at around $40 million, its most expensive
Adventure travel at its finest - and at around $40 million, its most expensive

Space is – as Star Trek puts it – the "final frontier". Commercial Space tourism is still a tiny market by anyone's standard, but it has definitely arrived – for those who can afford it.


Driven to prove their superiority during the Cold War, as well as to gain a strategic advantage, the U.S.A. and the U.S.S.R. began the "Space Race" during the 1960s. In an astonishingly short time period the U.S. Apollo program landed human beings on the moon and the Soviet Salyut program kept them in orbit for months at a time. Probes began to explore the solar system. Space seemed very close; at one point tickets to the moon and to as-yet-non-existing Space stations were being sold.

After the Space Race ended, a new sense of reality set in. The wild dreams of the 60s and 70s died, and humanity turned its attention Earthward again. Space travel beyond Earth's orbit became the exclusive domain of mankind's robotic explorers, and high-profile tragedies both reaching and returning from orbit provided sobering reminders of the risks of Space travel. By the end of the 20th Century travel into Space was still exclusively the domain of governmental organizations.

However, necessity changed the situation with the dawn of the 21st century. Desperate for funds, the Russian Space Agency began to sell seats on Soyuz launches. Businessman Dennis Tito became the first pay-to-fly Space tourist in April 2001, and since then a handful has followed in his footsteps.

Get in

Although physical fitness remains a concern, the main obstacle to reaching Space is the depth of your wallet. In increasing order of both cost and distance from the Earth:

On the Earth

There are quite a few space-related places on the Earth itself.

  • Baikonur, Kazakhstan. The rocket launch site of Sputnik 1 and Yuri Gagarin in Kazakhstan, and to this day the main Soyuz launch site. Long strictly off-limits, but now open to limited tourism.
  • Huntsville, Alabama, USA. Astronaut training facilities and International Space Station design and construction.
  • Cape Canaveral, Florida, USA. The site of Space Shuttle launches.
  • Houston, Texas, USA. Mission Control for Space Shuttle and International Space Station activities.
  • Kourou, French Guiana. The launch site for ESA's Ariana satellites.
  • Mojave, California, USA. The first FAA-certified Spaceport and the home of Scaled Composites' private spaceflight program.
  • Star City, Russia. Cosmonaut training facility northeast of Moscow.
  • Tanegashima, Japan. Japan's main launch site. Free exhibits and tours, public viewpoints for launch days.


While not actual Space travel, the weightlessness experienced in orbit can be duplicated (for durations of less than a minute at a time) with a calibrated parabolic aircraft flight, which alternates low g-forces at the heights of its arcs with high g-forces at the bottoms. The parabolic flights are notoriously nausea-inducing, leading to the nickname Vomit Comet, but commercial operators claim that their shorter flights (15 parabolas) are considerably gentler than lengthy research flights (40-80).

  • Incredible Adventures, 6604 Midnight Pass Rd, Sarasota, FL 34242, +1 941-346-2603 (), [1]. Books flights with Zero Gravity Corp and on the Russian Space Agency's similarly equipped IL-76 MDK, departing from Moscow.  edit
  • Zero Gravity Corporation, 5275 Arville Street, Suite 116, Las Vegas NV, 1-800-937-6480, [2]. Flights from Las Vegas (Nevada) and Cape Canaveral (Florida) on a modified 727 with a large compartment suitable for weightless tumbling, including several brief simulations of freefall, Lunar gravity (1/6 Terran), and Martian gravity (1/3 Terran). $3,675/person.  edit
  • Space Travellers International, D-56323 Waldesch, Wiesengrund 5, Germany, +49 2628-987420 (, fax: +49 2628-987419), [3]. Offering flights with Russian Ilyushin 76 MDK (Training airplane of the Cosmonauts) departing from Moscow and also zero-G flights in US with Boeing B-727-200. Russian Zero G-Flight with a 4-day program: 5.800,- Euro.  edit
  • MiGFlug, CH-6404 Greppen, Dorfstrasse, Switzerland, +41 44 500 50 10 (), [4]. Offering flights with Russian Ilyushin Il-76 MDK (Special training airplane for Cosmonauts) departing from Moscow and also ZERO-G flights in the US with Boeing a B-727-200. Zero G-Flight: €3.500,00 per Person.  edit

Edge of Space

Flights at altitudes of less than 100 km do not qualify as true Space flight, but it is possible to see the curvature of the Earth from altitudes as (comparatively) low as 25 km.

  • Space Travelers International, D-56323 Waldesch, Wiesengrund 5, Germany, +49 2628-987420 (, fax: +49 2628-987419), [5]. Arranges flights on Russian MiG-31 Foxhound jet flights up to 25,000 meters. Estimated price tag: €21,500 per flight included 4-day program in Russia.  edit
  • MiGFlug, CH-6404 Greppen, Dorfstrasse, Switzerland, +41 44 500 50 10 (), [6]. Offering supersonic flights with a Russian MiG-31 Foxhound jet up to 25,000 meters, departing from Russia and supersonic flights with a Russian MiG-29 Fulcrum jet up to 23,000 meters, departing from Russia. Also offers supersonic flights with a English Electric Lightning jet up to 23,000 meters, departing from South Africa Edge of Space stratospheric flight: €16.500,00 per Person.  edit

Sub-orbital flight

Sub-orbital flight is defined as flight at altitudes higher than 100 km but at speeds insufficient to achieve orbit. While there are currently no operators offering sub-orbital flight, the privately funded and built SpaceShipOne in 2004 demonstrated that this is a possible market and the race is on to commercialize it.

  • Virgin Galactic, [7]. Founded by who else but Richard Branson, Virgin Galactic is selling tickets for sub-orbital flights on SpaceShipTwo, planned to start in 2011, for a cool $200,000 a pop. Flights will go up to 110 km and reach speeds of Mach 3, but while total flight time is 2.5 hours, weightlessness will only last for about six minutes. The company has placed an order for five second-generation spaceships from Scaled Composites [8], the builders of SpaceShipOne. Initial flights will take place from Mojave, California (US), but later flights will move to Spaceport America near Truth or Consequences, New Mexico (US) and Kiruna, Sweden. Departures will first be weekly, and eventually climbing to once or twice daily. Three-day training will be available on site.  edit
  • Xcor Lynx, [9]. Selling $95,000 tickets for suborbital flights already, but they haven't even managed a test flight yet. If all goes well, the first test flight will be in 2010 and commercial flights just might start in 2011.  edit
a view of Europe from low Earth orbit
a view of Europe from low Earth orbit

All that sub-orbital stuff is pretty nifty, but these days no one's really ready to accept that you were "in Space" until you've been in orbit around the Earth. There's no single altitude for this (it depends on your orbital velocity), but due to atmospheric drag it's only practical above 350 km. Commonly known as Low Earth Orbit, this is currently the exclusive domain of U.S. Space Shuttles, Russian Soyuz vessels, Chinese Shenzhou craft, and the International Space Station. This itinerary is likely the most expensive in the world.

  • Space Adventures, 8000 Towers Crescent Drive, Suite 1000, Vienna, VA 22182, +1 888-85-SPACE (), [10]. Space Adventures has organized orbital flights to the International Space Station (ISS). Around $35 million per person will buy you basic training and a launch on a Soyuz vessel from the Russian Cosmodrome at Baikonur to the ISS. Participants must also fulfill certain physical fitness requirements to ensure their and the mission's safety.  edit
Earthrise, as viewed from moon orbit
Earthrise, as viewed from moon orbit

Human travel beyond low Earth orbit has not been done since the cancellation of the U.S. Apollo program in 1972. The only programs actively working to re-establish this capability are governmental in nature. However in 2005, Space Adventures announced its intention to work with Russian Spacecraft manufacturer Energia and the Russian Space Agency to offer a roughly one-week two-passenger flight around the Moon (no orbit, no landing) in a booster-equipped Soyuz craft for $100 million per person, as early as 2010. This depends on a customer making a hefty deposit to get the project running, so don't wait for them to announce a flight date to get your name in.

  • The sight of the Earth from Space is reputed to be incomparable.
  • At altitudes above the thick atmosphere, the stars cease to "twinkle".
  • Sunrise and sunset lose much of their multicolored glory, but take on greater intensity and speed at orbital and even suborbital velocities.
  • Freefall (often inaccurately called "zero gravity") is a phenomenon which, while not unique to Space travel, occurs only momentarily on Earth, such as in thrill rides or high-speed elevators. If you experience freefall and don't do some aerobatics and float around the craft, you've wasted a great deal of money.
  • Take pictures – what else are you going to do all day? Don't forget the extra memory cards.
  • Tourists traveling on otherwise scientific missions may be expected to contribute to them, participating in medical observations at the least.
  • Extravehicular activity (EVA). Perhaps better known as spacewalking, this involves exiting the spacecraft to float around in space. This is now available as an option at Space Adventures, but there have been no takers yet: opting for this would cost $20 million extra, requires an extra month of training and has additional fitness qualifications.
  • Space dive – Orbital Outfitters [11] is designing Sub-orbital Space Suit One, a suit to be worn by crew on sub-orbital flights and potentially suitable for "space diving" from 120,000 ft.


Although Space food has come a long way in terms of taste and variety in recent decades, the quality and taste is still not up to standards of most connoisseurs of fine cuisine. Your transportation provider may offer some choice in the foods available, but you will ultimately be limited by their willingness to indulge you.

  • Bigelow Aerospace, [12]. In 2006 they successfully tested the first prototype of an inflatable Space hotel. However, even if everything goes according to plan, the real thing won't be up in orbit before 2012.  edit

Stay safe

While more mature technology has made it safer than it was in the 1960s, Space remains an inherently dangerous environment to put yourself in. Cosmic radiation, extreme temperatures, micrometeorites, engineering mistakes, high speeds, explosive fuels, the distance to terra firma, and the lack of atmosphere make any unplanned situation potentially life threatening.

Get out

What goes up must come down – at least for now.

Fortunately, there are countless opportunities for exploration and discovery down on the surface, in places such as Africa, Asia, Europe, the Middle East, North, Central, and South Americas, and countless islands in between...

This is a guide article. It has good, detailed information covering the entire topic. Plunge forward and help us make it a star!

Source material

Up to date as of January 22, 2010

From Wikisource

by Rupert Brooke

Fish (fly-replete, in depth of June,
Dawdling away their wat'ry noon)
Ponder deep wisdom, dark or clear,
Each secret fishy hope or fear.
Fish say, they have their Stream and Pond;
But is there anything Beyond?
This life cannot be All, they swear,
For how unpleasant, if it were!
One may not doubt that, somehow, Good
Shall come of Water and of Mud;
And, sure, the reverent eye must see
A Purpose in Liquidity.
We darkly know, by Faith we cry,
The future is not Wholly Dry.
Mud unto mud! - Death eddies near -
Not here the appointed End, not here!
But somewhere, beyond Space and Time.
Is wetter water, slimier slime!
And there (they trust) there swimmeth One
Who swam ere rivers were begun,
Immense, of fishy form and mind,
Squamous, omnipotent, and kind;
And under that Almighty Fin,
The littlest fish may enter in.
Oh! never fly conceals a hook,
Fish say, in the Eternal Brook,
But more than mundane weeds are there,
And mud, celestially fair;
Fat caterpillars drift around,
And Paradisal grubs are found;
Unfading moths, immortal flies,
And the worm that never dies.
And in that Heaven of all their wish,
There shall be no more land, say fish.


1911 encyclopedia

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From LoveToKnow 1911

HEAVEN (0. Eng. hefen, heofon, heofone; this word appears in O.S. hevan; the High. Ger. word appears in Ger. Himmel, Dutch hemel; there does not seem to be any connexion between the two words, and the ultimate derivation of the word is unknown; the suggestion that it is connected with "to heave," in the sense of something "lifted up," is erroneous), properly the expanse, taking the appearance of a domed vault above the earth, in which the sun, moon, planets and stars seem to be placed, the firmament; hence also used, generally in the plural, of the space immediately above the earth, the atmospheric region of winds, rain, clouds, and of the birds of the air.

The heaven and the earth together, therefore, to the ancient cosmographers, and still in poetical language, make up the universe. In the cosmogonies of many ancient peoples there was a plurality of heavens, probably among the earlier Hebrews, the idea being elaborated in rabbinical literature, among the Babylonians and in Zoroastrianism.

The number of these heavens, the higher transcending the lower in glory, varied from three to seven. Heaven, as in the Hebrew shamayim, the Greek oipavos, the Latin caelum, is the abode of God, and as such in Christian eschatology is the place of the blessed in the next world (see Eschatology and Paradise).

<< Heating

Christian Friedrich Hebbel >>


Up to date as of January 15, 2010

Definition from Wiktionary, a free dictionary

See also heaven



Proper noun




  1. A female given name of modern usage from the noun heaven.

See also


Bible wiki

Up to date as of January 23, 2010

From BibleWiki

  1. Definitions. The phrase "heaven and earth" is used to indicate the whole universe (Gen 1:1; Jer 23:24; Acts 17:24). According to the Jewish notion there were three heavens,
    1. The firmament, as "fowls of the heaven" (Gen 2:19; 7:3, 23; Ps 88, etc.), "the eagles of heaven" (Lam 4:19), etc.
    2. The starry heavens (Deut 17:3; Jer 8:2; Mt 24:29).
    3. "The heaven of heavens," or "the third heaven" (Deut 10:14; 1 Kg 8:27; Ps 11516; 148:4; 2Cor 12:2).
  2. Meaning of words in the original,
    1. The usual Hebrew word for "heavens" is shamayim, a plural form meaning "heights," "elevations" (Gen 1:1; 2:1).
    2. The Hebrew word marom is also used (Ps 6818; 93:4; 102:19, etc.) as equivalent to shamayim, "high places," "heights."
    3. Heb. galgal, literally a "wheel," is rendered "heaven" in Ps 7718 (R.V., "whirlwind").
    4. Heb. shahak, rendered "sky" (Deut 33:26; Job 37:18; Ps 1811), plural "clouds" (Job 35:5; 36:28; Ps 6834, marg. "heavens"), means probably the firmament.
    5. Heb. rakia is closely connected with (d), and is rendered "firmamentum" in the Vulgate, whence our "firmament" (Gen 1:6; Deut 33:26, etc.), regarded as a solid expanse.
  3. Metaphorical meaning of term. Isa 14:13, 14; "doors of heaven" (Ps 7823); heaven "shut" (1 Kg 8:35); "opened" (Ezek 1:1). (See 1Chr 21:16.)
  4. Spiritual meaning. The place of the everlasting blessedness of the righteous; the abode of departed spirits.
    1. Christ calls it his "Father's house" (Jn 14:2).
    2. It is called "paradise" (Lk 23:43; 2Cor 12:4; Rev 2:7).
    3. "The heavenly Jerusalem" (Gal. 4: 26; Heb 12:22; Rev 3:12).
    4. The "kingdom of heaven" (Mt 25:1; James 2:5).
    5. The "eternal kingdom" (2 Pet 1:11).
    6. The "eternal inheritance" (1 Pet 1:4; Heb 9:15).
    7. The "better country" (Heb 11:14, 16).
    8. The blessed are said to "sit down with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob," and to be "in Abraham's bosom" (Lk 16:22; Mt 8:11); to "reign with Christ" (2 Tim 2:12); and to enjoy "rest" (Heb 4:10, 11).

In heaven the blessedness of the righteous consists in the possession of "life everlasting," "an eternal weight of glory" (2Cor 4:17), an exemption from all sufferings for ever, a deliverance from all evils (2Cor 5:1, 2) and from the society of the wicked (2 Tim 4:18), bliss without termination, the "fulness of joy" for ever (Lk 20:36; 2Cor 4:16, 18; 1 Pet 1:4; 5:10; 1 Jn 3:2). The believer's heaven is not only a state of everlasting blessedness, but also a "place", a place "prepared" for them (Jn 14:2).

This entry includes text from Easton's Bible Dictionary, 1897.

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Simple English

[[File:|thumb|right|The prophet Muhammad going up to heaven]]

File:Paradiso Canto
Gustave Doré's picture of heaven from the Divine Comedy

Heaven is a concept of the afterlife (what happens after you die) in many religions. People who believe in heaven say that it is a place that is perfect (very very good and with no problems.) They believe heaven is where people will go after they die if they have been good. Some people also believe in Hell, which is a place where people will go when they die, if they have been bad. They believe hell is a punishment for being bad. Ideas of Heaven and Hell are not the same in all religions.

Heaven meant sky when it was first used. So the heavens is another way of saying the sky or outer space. This was because early people believed that heaven was a physical place. This place was located in the sky.

According to the Bible, Heaven is the place where God and spirits live eternally. It is another word for the spiritual world, because God is pure spirit. Heavenly just means spiritual, so for instance the Kingdom of Heaven is the kingdom of the spirit. However, the people called prophets in the Bible, like Isaiah, often spoke of a physical Kingdom of Heaven that will occupy a new Earth, and ruled by God (Messiah) in the flesh himself, where we will have physical bodies that do not again die. Many people who believe in Heaven today often have ideas different from the Bible.

According to the Koran and Hadith, Heaven is a place of reward for those believers who accept the true faith and practices the teaching of Prophet Muhammad. The eternal life will be perfect, with thousands of types of food and clothing more beautiful than humans could ever imagine. There will also be no sad feelings, stress or pain and related problems of life.

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