Heaven and Homicide

In Heaven and Philosophy. Lanham: Lexington. pp. 255-269 (2018)
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I address the questions of whether or not the very existence of heaven provides a motivation for killing. If universalism is true, then anyone killed will end up there, as will the killer. And given that heaven is infinitely better than earth, killing would be, on this view, the greatest gift possible to the “victim.” But if universalism is not true, there is perhaps an even greater incentive to kill one’s loved ones if one knows them to be currently heaven-bound: that is, to save them from the risk of an infinitely terrible fate, that of somehow damning themselves between now and their natural death. This is an issue that we have all surely wondered about: if we’re going to heaven, what’s so bad about death that it must be condemned? But I think there is also a less-discussed problem raised by the very existence of heaven: that the existence of earth is thereby made redundant. What is earth but an annoying antechamber for heaven, one that we all wish we could bypass? I consider various attempts both to forestall the motivation for altruistic killing and to provide a justification for earth as more than a poor version of purgatory, and fail to find any that are truly compelling. I conclude that the existence of earth is therefore itself an argument against the existence of heaven.

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Simon Cushing
University of Michigan - Flint


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