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Lecture 16

Lecture 16 February 9

Course Code
Joseph Bryant

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SOC250Y1- Lecture 16 February 9, 2011
Notes on the Social Genesis of hell and heaven
The appeals of Heaven – “Pie in the Sky, When you Die?”
Feuerbach:Heaven is the key to the deepest mysteries of religion”
As an ideological stabilization mechanism? All is made right in the afterlife, thus tolerating what
is wrong in this life? Cf. Marxist critiques: promise of “heaven” in the sky sanctions “hell
(exploitation oppression) on the earth – the control theory (Kritias)
To offer consolation for suffering with the promise of amends or justice in the life to come
Afterlife beliefs are regulative for worldly existence; endure poverty, oppression, injustice,
inequality, persecution, ascetic renunciation…
Earth is a different place when it lies between a Heaven and a Hell
Is heaven a place? Or a state of mind/heart?
Chinese proverb:Heaven and Hell are within the heart
Jesusthe kingdom of God is within you”
Afterlife beliefs make sure beliefs and rewards go as they should
Major difference between popular views theological philosophical
The promise of heaven compensates
Promise= people more likely to endure worldly negatives
Consolation for suffering
Afterlife belief promise justice will be done, the wicked will suffer
The concept of the axial age- turning point – codified by Karl Jaspers
Axial Age (800 BCE – 200 BCE) Karl Jasper’s concept (Achsenzeit) for the evolutionary period
in religious-cultural history in the civilization seed-beds of the Orient and Occident- a
millennium of creative thought during which “the spiritual foundations of humanity were laid
simultaneously and independently… And these are the foundations upon which we continue to
live…. (The Origin and Goal of History)
All these breakthroughs were concerned with human meaning, purpose, and destiny
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