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Who comes from heaven?

In the opening paragraphs of an article, it’s important to capture the reader’s attention and provide some quick context before diving deeper into the topic. Let’s start by answering a few key questions:

What is heaven?

Heaven is generally defined as the dwelling place of God and other divine beings, as well as the abode of the blessed dead in the afterlife. It is often depicted in religious and cultural texts as an eternal paradise or utopia of supreme happiness, though interpretations vary across religions and denominations.

Where is heaven located?

The physical location of heaven is ambiguous and undefined in most faiths. Some conceptualize it as existing in a separate plane or dimension outside the material universe. Others see it as more of a state than a place – an intimate spiritual connection with the divine. A few traditions specify mythological locations like atop Mount Olympus or above the clouds.

Who goes to heaven?

Opinions differ on the criteria for entering heaven. Many religions teach that only the righteous and faithful will ascend to heaven. Some emphasize deeds and moral behavior, others right belief and devotion to God. Catholicism introduced the idea of Purgatory – a place where souls are purified before rising to heaven. Reincarnation religions view heaven as a temporary destination before rebirth.

Do angels come from heaven?

Angels are common figures in the Bible and Quran as spiritual messengers and servants of God. Though their origins are vague, many scholars agree angels were created by God and dwell with him in heaven. Descriptions of winged angels around God’s throne reinforce the heavenly abode idea. Their ability to travel to earth implies heaven transcends the physical realm.

Did Jesus come from heaven?

The Bible presents Jesus as the Son of God, identified with God yet distinct in personhood. John’s gospel describes Jesus as pre-existent and co-eternal with the Father. 1 Corinthians and Philippians describe Jesus emptying himself and taking human form, implying a pre-earthly heavenly existence. Most denominations teach Christ descended from heaven through virgin birth.


Views on heaven and its origins vary, reflecting humanity’s limited understanding of the divine realm. But many traditions share the idea of heaven as an elevated state close to God, inhabited by angels and the souls of the righteous departed. Jesus is widely affirmed as coming from this heavenly abode to take human form on earth according to God’s redemptive plan.

Origins of the Concept of Heaven

The idea of heaven as an afterlife destination has ancient roots across cultures and religions:

Ancient Mesopotamia

The Sumerians and Babylonians believed in a netherworld paradise for the immortal souls of kings and heroes. This appears in writings like the Epic of Gilgamesh from around 2100 BC.

Ancient Egypt

Egyptian mythology envisioned several paradisiacal afterlife realms like the Field of Reeds for those declared righteous in the Weighing of the Heart trial.


This pre-Islamic Persian faith developed an elaborate celestial geography: Good souls ascend to the House of Song while evil ones descend to the House of Lies.

Classical Philosophy

Plato’s Phaedo presents philosophical arguments for an eternal and immaterial soul that ascends to the divine realm at death. This influenced later Western thought.

Abrahamic Religions

The Abrahamic faiths of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam developed more formalized doctrines of heavenly paradise and hellish punishments in the afterlife.

Dharmic Religions

Indian religions like Hinduism and Buddhism promulgated karma and reincarnation cosmologies, with intermittent heavens between rebirths for good karma.

Across these ancient cultures, notions of paradise after death took shape, laying foundations for modern heavenly concepts.

Biblical Depictions of Heaven

The Christian Bible contains various images and descriptions of the nature of heaven:

Passage Description
Revelation 4 God’s throne room with rainbows, gems, scrolls, and lampstands
Ezekiel 1 Heavenly cherubim and whirling wheels around God’s throne
Revelation 21 The New Jerusalem city with gold streets, crystal river, and jeweled walls
John 14:2 Many rooms and mansions in God’s house
Matthew 22:30 No marriage, like angels who cannot die
Revelation 7:16 No hunger, thirst, heat, tears, or pain

These visions mix exotic, gemstone imagery with promises of comfort, closeness to God, and an end of earthly suffering. They profoundly shaped later Christian expectations of heaven.

Heaven in Other Faith Traditions

Concepts of paradise and higher spiritual realms exist across religions:

Hinduism and Buddhism

Both envision temporary celestial heavens (called svarga or devaloka) where souls experience good karma’s rewards between reincarnations. Moksha or nirvana represent ultimate liberation from the cycle.


Paradise with gardens, fountains, banquets, and virgins await righteous Muslims, while hellfire punishes the unrighteous. Location is in the heavens, possibly above the seven layers of earth.


Mormon cosmology includes three heavenly kingdoms achievable based on one’s righteousness and acceptance of Mormon gospel principles during life.

Jehovah’s Witnesses

Only 144,000 chosen faithful join Jesus to rule from heaven over a paradise earth restored in God’s image. Many righteous will enjoy everlasting life on the renewed paradise.


Through deep auditing and training, Scientologists aim for eternal spiritual freedom and godlike abilities, rather than a specifically defined heaven.

This small sample reveals diverse cultural and theological visions of heavenly realms and what is required to attain them.

Scientific Perspectives on Heaven

Modern scientists and philosophers offer critical perspectives on religious heavens:


Reductionists see heaven as a simplistic, wishful myth of eternal life constructed to comfort those facing mortality.


Near-death experiences of tunnels and white lights likely reflect oxygen deprivation of brain cells, not real glimpses of an afterlife.


Dreams and hallucinations shaped premodern concepts of heavenly realms and encounters with God.

Evolutionary Theory

Belief in heaven evolved as adaptive behaviors to allay existential anxiety and reinforced social morality codes.


The cosmos is immense, mysterious, and largely inhospitable to life, with no evidence of invisible realms inhabited by gods.

While dismissing the literal existence of heaven, most scientists acknowledge its enduring power as a metaphor for hope and human imagination.

The Soul’s Journey to Heaven

Many faith traditions teach intricate processes for the soul’s ascension to heaven:

Egyptian Weighing of the Heart

If judged pure, the deceased’s heart ascended to the Field of Reeds; if impure it was devoured by a beast.

Tibetan Bardo

For 49 days after death, the soul inhabits intermediate bardo states before reaching enlightenment.

Catholic Judgments

The dead undergo individual judgment, followed by purgation of venial sins or mortal sins repented before death.

Spiritualist Ascension

Depending on one’s spiritual development, the soul gradually ascends through multiple planes and sub-planes unto its destined paradise.

Stoic Cosmopolitanism

The wise soul dissolves into the cosmic Logos instead of persisting in an individual heavenly afterlife.

Routes and trials mapping the soul’s journey reflect cultural ideals of moral development and ultimate liberation.

Heavenly Life and Activities

Visions of heavenly life often reflect worldly experiences:

Banquets and Feasts

Abundant food and drink at heavenly meals (Christianity, Islam, Norse, Ancient Egypt).

Music and Art

Beauty and creativity perfected and elevated (Christianity, Hinduism, ancient China).

Nature and Architecture

Paradisical gardens, fields, buildings of precious materials (Christianity, Islam).

Learning and Contemplation

Pursuing knowledge and understanding beyond human limits (Judaism, Buddhism, Baha’i).

Community and Relationships

Idealized social connections of family, friendship, and intimacy (Mormonism, spiritualist religions).

Oneness with God

Loss of ego and mystical union with the Divine (Hinduism, Buddhism, Taoism).

These offer inspirational glimpses of heaven’s joys beyond mundane existence.

Heaven on Earth? Utopian Ideals

Heavenly paradise visions have inspired utopian movements aiming to transform earthly life:

Communist and Socialist Utopias

Karl Marx called religion an “opiate” but admitted it expressed enduring hopes that communism also aimed to realize.

Early American Experiments

Colonial communes like the Shakers and Oneida saw themselves as building God’s kingdom on earth.

Transcendentalism and Spirituality

Ralph Waldo Emerson and others combined supernaturalism, philosophy, social reform, and utopianism.

Architectural Utopianism

Reformers like Ebenezer Howard designed utopian cities emulating heavenly ideals of nature, light, and community.

Science Fiction Utopias

Sci-fi novels like Ursula K. Le Guin’s The Dispossessed extrapolate utopian speculations into imagined futures.

Technology and Transhumanism

Transhumanists aim for tech-powered evolution to a heavenly state free of disease, aging, and death.

Though often secular, reformers and revolutionaries frequently invoke heaven while pursuing earthly perfection.

Modern Cultural Depictions of Heaven

Visions of heaven continue influencing modern culture in diverse ways:

Heavenly Ascent in Film

Films like Wings of Desire (1987) and What Dreams May Come (1998) envision the passage to heavenly realms.

Satirical Heavens

The Good Place TV series and humor books spoof heavenly bureaucracy and paradigms.

Heaven Tourism

Books recounting near-death experiences like Heaven is For Real and 90 Minutes in Heaven are popular, if controversial.

Music About Heaven

Songs about heaven appear across genres from gospel (I’ll Fly Away) to hip-hop (Heaven at Nite).

Heaven in Fine Art

Classical and modern works depict mythological heavens, mystical ascents, and sublime light.

Magick, Mysticism and Heavens

Occult systems like Theosophy articulate complex heavenly spheres accessible via astral projection.

These widespread references reveal heaven’s ongoing resonance with spiritual sentiments and human imagination.

Problems and Paradoxes of Heaven

Despite its appeal, the concept of heaven prompts thorny philosophical issues:


Some argue endless heavenly existence would eventually grow tedious without contrasting experiences.


Preferential entry for one religion’s adherents seems unfair and divisive to others.


If heaven is real, would a loving God deny it to sincerely good unbelievers?

Loss of Identity

Nirvana and union with the Absolute implies destruction of individual personality.

Absurd Perfection

Heaven centered around banquets, gemstones, and choirs seems silly compared to life’s real joys.

science and spirits

The scientific worldview argues against life after death and non-material realms like heaven.

These enduring debates prompt reexamination of assumptions about selfhood, justice, happiness, and existence.


The idea of heaven has transfixed humanity across cultures and history. Despite divergent doctrines, it universally represents a transcendent realm of sublime joy, fulfillment and closeness to the Divine. Images of heaven inspire awe, yearning, ethical behavior, and creative fantasies that enrich life. While heaven remains controversial in secular times, it continues reflecting deep spiritual intuitions and metaphysical questions that lie at the core of human experience.