How Heaven LOST
the following article contains spoilers... of your religious
Oh, you are
FUCKING KIDDING ME.
else who watched it, I spent the
last year pissed off about the final episode of LOST.
Not only was
it stupid and
logically inconsistent for the flash-sideways to turn out to be Heaven,
retroactively invalidated the entire show.
failed to explain a bunch of stuff we wanted answers to. But the problem was bigger
than that. An
ending of “Surprise! Everyone’s in
Heaven!” doesn’t just fail to answer
questions — it eliminates the necessity of asking them to begin with. If everybody just ends up
in Heaven, who cares what the Smoke
Monster was, or
why there was a polar bear, or what the big deal was about Walt or
baby? In fact, if
everybody just ends up
in Heaven, who cares about anything? Who even cares that all of these people died?
I was pretty damn pissed off.
That is, until
I realized that you can just take
these same exact objections word-for-word, apply them to real life, and
invalidate religion. That
cheered me up
a little bit.
realize that I’m not the first
skeptic to stumble upon the “If Heaven exists, why are we sad when
dies?” argument. I
know someone has hit
upon that fairly obvious question every time I hear the sound of a
old getting slapped by his mom at a funeral.
But LOST did
more than just raise this specific
dramatized every logical
extension of it over a six-year period during which people didn’t know
was going to end up and so didn’t have their resistance raised. A certain percentage of
LOST fans had to have
been believers. And
maybe a lot of them
were even psyched on some level when the last episode ended up signing
religion (though, it must be said, not
religious people aren’t stupid enough to
think that the end of LOST was good.
They may have been satisfied as believers, but
they must have been
outraged as people who just wasted six fucking years giving a shit
Now here’s the
thing: Take that
outrage and go right ahead and
apply it to your religious beliefs themselves.
Because you know how the last episode of LOST
completely shit on the
entire rest of LOST? Well,
exactly what belief in an afterlife does
to life. Remember
how you felt about
the writers of LOST after watching “The End?”
Well, that’s how rationalists have felt about
religious people every
fucking day for the entire history of human civilization. Maybe not quite as bad,
since the writers of
the last episode of LOST never actually went so far as to burn anyone
stake for pointing out that it was bullshit, but you get my point.
refresh, for people who weren’t paying
attention: the Island wasn’t the afterlife “the whole time,” no-one was
“the whole time,” etc. Within
continuity of the show, the Island was real, everything that happened
really happened, and everyone’s dramatized death was really their
(except for the re-deaths of people who re-died in the flash-sideways
Keamy, and by the way why the fuck was
Keamy even running around Heaven shooting at people to begin with
target stay on target). All
stuff actually happened in the actual mortal world of the show.
There’s just no
reason to give a shit.
As the last
episode of LOST emotionally proved in
anyone who was invested in the show, the existence of Heaven doesn’t
we shouldn’t be sad when someone dies—it means we shouldn’t be anything when anything. Why go to school? Why seek love? Why cure diseases? Why track down murderers
and put them in
jail? Heck, why not
existence of Hell answers that last part — we shouldn’t do bad things
you do bad things you go to Hell (or become a whisper) instead of
Heaven. But it only
answers that last part. It
doesn’t explain why we
should care when other
people do bad things.
That dude just machine gunned my whole family? Sweet, they’re in Heaven.
still makes sense to have sympathy for
the physical pain people go through while dying in painful ways, the
of Heaven would mean that only the pain matters, not the death. So we shouldn’t have any
more sympathy for
someone who dies a painful death than we do for someone who, say,
root-canal surgery. It
sucks for a few
minutes, and then you’re fine. Better
off than you were before, in fact.
whatever. In 30
seconds you’ll be a
doctor in Heaven.
So, you know
that argument religious people have
been making for as long as there have been religious people? The one about how without
God there can be no
morality? The one
that they think is
their number-one trump-card single best
argument? The one
that they keep using
to “prove” that atheism is inherently a maleficent philosophy that will
inevitably lead to utter moral decay, because if
you atheists believe what you say you believe then logically there is
for you to believe in ethics at all?
back at you.
turns out — as you know in your heart if
you spent six years watching LOST and were then pissed off by the last
episode — that religious people have had this precisely backwards the
time. There is
actually no reason to
believe in ethics if you aren’t an
there is a reason to fear
punishment from God, but that’s not the same thing.
It certainly doesn’t give us a valid reason
to have laws and courts and punish criminals ourselves.
That would be like a little kid taking it
upon himself to ground his brother in addition to the grounding their
are going to give him. What’s
You could say
that we put murderers in jail simply to protect ourselves from them,
but if we carry belief in an afterlife to its logical conclusion,
actually a terrible
idea. Someone killing you before you have a chance to do
anything bad yourself would be the best thing that could possibly
happen to you. It’s the religous equivalent of catching the
Golden Snitch: game on, boom, game over, Heaven, nothing else matters.
In a way, those lunatics who refuse to go to the
doctor, give away all their stuff, and just lie down in some cult
compound and wait to die aren’t the craziest religous people — they’re
crazy religous people. The only ones whose beliefs and
actions are logically consistent are those people and atheists.
Everyone in the middle is just contradicting themselves.
This seems like
such a simple realization, and yet
believers and unbelievers alike are so inculcated by a society that
unquestioningly regards an afterlife as good and death as sad that it
occur to us that these two positions are massively mutually exclusive. How hard is it to notice? I spend all
my free time thinking up arguments against religion and it
took me a year.
But what is
infinitely more ludicrous is that the
fictional characters who happen to actually be walking around in
Heaven seem to have trouble grasping this.
scene where Christian Shephard
gently and gradually breaks the news to his son Jack that they are in
dead and in Heaven. Very
all… but why the crap is the news that you are in Heaven something that
would have to “break gently” to someone?!
Here’s the scene as it existed:
why are they all here now?
here’s how it should have gone:
is no “now” here.
Something something who gives a shit.
dead? I’m dead? (stumbles around in tears)
DUDE, GUESS WHAT?
YOU ARE IN
FUCKING HEAVEN!! YOU
DIED BUT THAT
NOT MATTER AT THE FUCK ALL!! EVERYTHING
YOU EVER WORRIED ABOUT WAS JUST A LOAD OF BULLSHIT, SO GET READY TO
REST OF ETERNITY BANGING AN AGELESS EVANGELINE LILLY!!
Jack: LIKE A
Okay, maybe the
semantics are up for debate, but
in general I’m pretty sure that my reaction to finding out that I was
and in paradise alongside an absurdly hot and equally immortal
would be some variant of “Woo-hoo!” rather than some variant of
around in tears. You
could try to argue
that, as a man of science, Jack is pissed that he had been wrong about
all this time, but I don’t think so.
That’s like trying to argue that, because I
have repeatedly stated that
real lightsabers are impossible, I would be pissed if tomorrow I got
one in the
an inappropriate reaction.
ever believed, just like anything you
ever did, or loved, or hated, would be rendered completely and
there are reasons
to be upset in this situation, but the fact that you are dead is not
a minute, why is Sayid out there next to Shannon, who he dated for like
that other chick he was in love with his whole life?
Fuck if I know.
Just be glad he’s
not out there with a polar bear.