We don't have to ride a golden staircase to Heaven. It's already here.
Heaven is described almost universally as a place of complete bliss, delight and peace, the abode of souls that have gained salvation, and the home of God and the angels. It is also known as nirvana, shangri-la, eden, and paradise. Religious people, depending upon their degree of commitment, are known to spend virtually their entire lives in efforts to assuage guilt to be worthy of salvation to spend eternity in heaven. If asked, some would dispute the harsh terms of this statement with an opposing statement of love for their savior being their entry ticket, but guilt assuagement for salvation is the bottom line. Keep the eye on the prize. It’s not in this world. It lies beyond death, in the Great Beyond. This life is only a passage to better things in the Hereafter. Amen!
I would like to suggest that this is at the least, a deficient and unappreciative way to look at the gift of life and the intelligence it has evolved. The short of it is that there are so many ways to be dead or non-existent as compared to being currently alive that to have won this lottery of life is a miracle that puts all other claims of miracles to shame. Consider if you will, working backwards, how many possibilities there were for some non-existent sibling or cousin of yours to exist right now instead of you. Think of all those forty eight million other sperm that might have met with the egg that your lucky one did. If any of them had done the job, you would not have been here now, rather some other person would now be occupying your space and you would be a hole in the fabric of being, the same as he or she is now.
If, on the other hand, in one of the nine months preceding your conception, your mother’s previous eggs had had the occasion to meet with a different sperm from your father, or for that matter, of another man, and she had conceived on one of those occasions, you would not have been conceived when you were, and you would not now exist. Instead, perhaps a sibling or half-sibling of yours would now exist instead.
These are just two of the myriad of possible circumstances which might have interfered with your coming into existence. Suppose the same type of thing had occurred instead to one of your grandparents, or great-grandparents. What if it had happened a hundred generations ago? A thousand generations ago? What if one of your potential ancestors a hundred generations ago had been eaten by a saber-tooth tiger or they had fallen off a cliff before having children?
I’ve only given examples in the human part of the chain, but this same principle applies as well to the part of the tree of life before humans. The chain extends backward as far as cause and effect applies to life itself.
If the meteor that hit the Yucatan peninsula some sixty-five million years ago had found itself on a course that bypassed the Milky Way Galaxy, in all probability the dinosaurs would still dominate the earth and life would be different. I speculate that you and I would not exist, for mammalian life would not have had the chance to evolve into humans. By the same token, had that meteor been only one fourth the size it was, chances are that life would have taken a different turn due to the advent of other forms of life and we still would not have existed. Had it been four times the size it was, chances are that life, when and if it recovered from the eons of lifelessness, would have taken yet a different turn. It might only still be at the bacteria stage of development.
In any of these situations, you, or I would not now exist. It could be that none of us would have existed. But given that life does exist, the miracle is that you and I exist. You, and I have been given, through the phenomenal miracle of multiples of pure chance, our precious gift of life. It could just as easily have been one of our siblings or cousins that exists in our place, and none would be the wiser about the lineage that didn’t take place as opposed to the one that did.
The miracle of life peeps from the darkness at each glistening reflection, absorbs each glimmer, snowballs with knowledge of the light, growing stronger, knowing the world, loving the world, measuring the world, being in the world, being of the world. How could the fantasies of Heaven possibly offer more than this?
© 2006 R. Leland Waldrip