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Monday, 16 November 2020

For those without a reservation

Heaven is only for Christians, non-believers need not apply. Fair enough, it’s a Christian concept. But here’s why.

VR’s brother-in-law, Mike, dying of lung cancer was philosophical. He expected no after-life but admitted he would be content sitting on a cloud, reading, sipping eternally replenished red wine, and being endlessly served cheese-and-pickled-onion sandwiches. I wasn’t able to tell him this was unrealistic.

Pickled onions are powerfully flavoured; the normal human palate would baulk after three. Being able to eat them continuously would require a modified physiology. Thus the contented cloud-sitter would not be Mike as he knew himself. Proof that heaven – which in any case he didn’t believe in – was not for him.

And Christian heaven, as traditionally described, would demand a great deal of personal modification from earthly life as we know it. Anyone for harp-tuning? Christians are presumably OK with this.

But suppose secular heaven existed and I qualified (unlikely, I know). What could I expect? Sitting at a keyboard, rattling off a best-seller with intellectual appeal? That would simply be copy-typing. No uncertainties, stresses or hard-won delights typical of novel writing. Heaven doesn’t deal in uncertainty and stress.

Might I sing Du bist die Ruh like Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau? Uh-huh; it’s the struggle which counts. Heaven dwellers would expect daily perfection plus uninterrupted delivery of The Guardian. Make that The Daily Telegraph.

Even the most placid Earth-dweller struggles. Bad things help make us appreciate good things. My heavens here are fantasies; none, I am told, may comprehend the mind of heaven’s landlord, God. Faith is a given but I prefer Ohm’s Law. The proof is duplicatable.

But could I risk hubris and devise a secular heaven? See my next post.


  1. I just looked at Wiki for the exact definition of Ohm's Law. Just watch out for being mislead by non-ohmic materials.

  2. I'm looking forward to the secular heaven post. Also looking up Ohm's Law.

  3. I could just copy and paste Colette's comment. It is almost exactly what I was going to type.

  4. All: PLEASE READ THIS; IT MAY SAVE YOUR LIFE AND - EVEN MORE IMPORTANT - YOUR TREASURED ASSETS (gardening tools, food processor, TV, laptop, etc).

    I'm wryly amused by general attitudes towards electricity and what it may do for us. That silent, invisible yet essential force may burn down your house with flames that may be impossible to extinguish. It needs cherishing. Instead users grumble about what it costs.

    Ohm's law celebrates the life of Georg Ohm, a handsome if somewhat serious German physicist (Is there any other kind?), who discovered the relationship between electrical current flow and resistance. Which means precisely nothing to 99.9999% of the world's population.

    After using measurement skills and following a highly developed instinct Ohm then proceeded to

    an act of intellectual creation so elegant, so concise and so beautiful it bears comparison with the achievements of Shakespeare, Beethoven and Rembrandt.

    Namely, reducing our understanding of part of the natural world to one terse statement:

    I = V/R

    describing a circuit where I measures electrical current, V the "pressure" of electricity, and R resistance to electrical flow. Years later other scientists paid magnificent tribute to Ohm by decreeing that his surname would be used as the symbol identifying electrical resistance.

    I was a physics ignoramus when the RAF forced me to understand the hard world of electronics. Along the way I was exposed to a variety of magical moments in which the complexities of nature were converted into immutable laws expressable in that most rigorous of languages, mathematics. I am still a physics ignoramus but am now in awe of what intellect may do for us. To me some aspects of a qualified "heaven" are already available here on earth.

  5. Thrilled to see you are still at it! Truly reassuring.

    1. Stella: Wonderful to hear from you, especially in triplicate. You passed out of my ken on September 29 2015 and I was sorry about that. I wrote a moody, over-pessimistic post, aptly entitled A Small Death:


      Ironically it triggered 21 comments (a high score for me), almost all of them serious and reflective. I've re-read them and am moved. I seem to recall you asked me for guidance when you launched your blog and I was secretly delighted when you subsequently blossomed. I hope you are prospering: emotionally, financially and technically. Ave atque vale

  6. Thrilled to see you are still at it! Truly reassuring.

  7. Thrilled to see you are still at it! Truly reassuring.

  8. Thanks for sharing the blog so well and I hope you have something new for me to study.
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