Is Heaven Really a Reward?
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07-04-2012, 03:37 PM
Is Heaven Really a Reward?
And is Hell really a punishment?

Let me clarify what I'm talking about.

I see reward and punishment as nothing more than behavior correction. E.g. in machine learning, "reward" and "punishment" can be as simple as raising or lowering probabilities of a learner's random actions. For example, while learning to play some board game, a robot makes a wrong move and loses its chip. As a result, the probability of this move is lowered, so the robot is less likely to make the same move again. On the other hand, when the robot happens to win the game, the probability of all its moves is raised.

This is roughly how we bring up our kids. Because they have memory, they can remember which of their actions led to better or worse treatment from us; and because they usually tend to seek a better treatment, they are likely to "behave well" in case they were "educated well". (I suggest not discussing here which kind of education is "bad" and which is "good". I hope everyone agrees that for almost every kid, there exists a certain "good" kind of education.)

The same goes with our pets. If my cat bites me while being flossed, I'd stop flossing her and push her off my knees. If repeated consistently, she associates this discomfort with her bad behavior and ultimately stops it. If, on the other hand, she behaves well, she is rewarded with even more flossing and petting.

If you were fined for driving at a high speed, are you more or less likely to exceed a speeding limit again? Probably less. Because you'll remember the discomfort of parting with your money.

Why is all this possible? Because in all these examples, learners are able to try again and fix their mistakes or further improve their success.

Can you see my point? This is impossible in case of "ultimate reward" and "ultimate punishment", which Heaven and Hell are pictured to be. Hence, it seems impractical for God to both "reward" believers and "punish" unbelievers in such a way, because they will not be able to associate the comfort/discomfort of enjoying Heaven/being burned in Hell with their beliefs/unbelief. They just won't be given a second chance.

From this point of view, Heaven is not any "reward", and Hell is not any "punishment". Hell is rather God's vengeance to those who failed to identify him as their idol, and Heaven looks more like a club for the clan members.

That is why unbelievers like me never learn to believe in God. I respond to simple - that is, finite - rewards and punishments. And I wonder, why God's created system of reward and punishment looks much more primitive and less effective than similar systems created by humans - who are also God's creations?
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07-04-2012, 03:53 PM
RE: Is Heaven Really a Reward?
The only way the concept of heaven or hell make any sense is to assume that ignorant and limited thinking humans who accepted no critical rebuttle made it all up to scare into obedience a society dumber then they were.

The old gods are dead, let's invent some new ones before something really bad happens.
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07-04-2012, 04:02 PM
RE: Is Heaven Really a Reward?
It is mostly an issue of 'positive' and 'negativr' reenforecement. Of which is of great interest in sociology and psychology.

People probably do prefer positive reenforecement, ie...getting a result that I like after I do something. Aren't heaven and hell grand prized for performance though?
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07-04-2012, 04:11 PM
RE: Is Heaven Really a Reward?
Honestly after I watched a youtube video (can't remember which atheist did it....) I have come to the conclusion that both heaven and hell (potentially) are undesirable. You either burn for eternity, or get to worship a god for eternity. Not really a reward there. Really, if hell is just a separation from god or becoming nothing--that's the real reward! Of course I doubt many religious people really think about just how long eternity is, or just how messed up both heaven and hell are.
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07-04-2012, 04:18 PM
RE: Is Heaven Really a Reward?
(07-04-2012 04:02 PM)Aussie Wrote:  It is mostly an issue of 'positive' and 'negativr' reenforecement. Of which is of great interest in sociology and psychology.

People probably do prefer positive reenforecement, ie...getting a result that I like after I do something. Aren't heaven and hell grand prized for performance though?
Negative reinforcement is rewarding negative behavoir. Like giving into a whinny brat so that they will shut up. Now they have been taught that whinning is a means to reward. So Hell would be a reward for stopping being bad and in the end a reward for being bad? I'll take that one. Big Grin

The old gods are dead, let's invent some new ones before something really bad happens.
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07-04-2012, 05:19 PM
RE: Is Heaven Really a Reward?
(07-04-2012 04:11 PM)elemts Wrote:  Really, if hell is just a separation from god or becoming nothing--that's the real reward!

I am a bit undecided on this. I do agree with it...in the sense that it's a one way road and after that it's game over, lights out and that is great. On the other hand it means someone is getting to spend eternity enjoying some good stuff....being rewarded gullibility.

I still don't get why god made hell any way.
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10-04-2012, 05:25 AM
RE: Is Heaven Really a Reward?
(07-04-2012 04:02 PM)Aussie Wrote:  It is mostly an issue of 'positive' and 'negativr' reenforecement. Of which is of great interest in sociology and psychology.

People probably do prefer positive reenforecement, ie...getting a result that I like after I do something. Aren't heaven and hell grand prized for performance though?
(07-04-2012 04:11 PM)elemts Wrote:  Really, if hell is just a separation from god or becoming nothing--that's the real reward!
(07-04-2012 04:18 PM)Thomas Wrote:  So Hell would be a reward for stopping being bad and in the end a reward for being bad? I'll take that one. Big Grin

I got a feeling I haven't explained my thoughts clearly enough.

My original idea was, there is no sense in talking about either reward or punishment (whatever form they take) when they are eternal.

Here I am trying to see through the eyes of somebody who rewards (positively or negatively), not somebody who is trying to achieve the reward. I am arguing that the whole nature of any reward (punishment) is correcting one's behavior. That's why it's called "positive (negative) reinforcement" - it reinforces one's behavior.

Therefore, a reward cannot last forever. If it lasts infinitely long, it is not a reward at all. That's why Heaven is not a positive reinforcement. Hell is not a punishment. (Assumed they exist, of course.)

What are your thoughts on this?

(Maybe this topic rather belongs to the "Philosophy" section.)
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10-04-2012, 06:05 AM
RE: Is Heaven Really a Reward?
(07-04-2012 04:11 PM)elemts Wrote:  Honestly after I watched a youtube video (can't remember which atheist did it....) I have come to the conclusion that both heaven and hell (potentially) are undesirable. You either burn for eternity, or get to worship a god for eternity. Not really a reward there. Really, if hell is just a separation from god or becoming nothing--that's the real reward! Of course I doubt many religious people really think about just how long eternity is, or just how messed up both heaven and hell are.

I think that was the thinking atheist who did that video, I think it's "Heaven and Hell, Counting the Days" check it out.
I think that was the thinking atheist who did that video, I think it's "Heaven and Hell, Counting the Days" check it out.


I agree with you heaven and hell sound like primitive ideas. They both don't make any sense.
Also could you even enjoy heaven while knowing people are in hell?
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10-04-2012, 07:35 AM
RE: Is Heaven Really a Reward?
To me, heaven would be spring time and rolling hills and lots of flowers and all my pets who have passed on and all my friends and loved ones who passed on and trees that grow chocolate and lobster cooked to perfection etc. and rivers of wine and beer.

Hell would be worshipping a god forever..

Anyway, I agree with the OP, the religious version of heaven and hell is not reward and punishment, it's revenge and narcissism.

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Science is the process we've designed to be responsible for generating our best guess as to what the fuck is going on. Girly Man
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10-04-2012, 08:21 AM
RE: Is Heaven Really a Reward?
That's not sola fides. Back up you amateurs, let the expert 'spain it. Big Grin

What you describe I define as ethical conditioning - faith + works - whereas morality is faith alone. For me, faith=my Gwynnies. Faith is the impetus; change of inertia brought about by sensory perception. What I can't explain is my "expertise" - drawing that dang Gwynnies and going the fuck away - yet it convinces me that eternity is a rest state of perfect grace (don't let the religious jargon dissuade you). There is only one solution to the equation of "after" - beyond the threshold of eternity is beauty for all.

Those last nine words, "faith" simply being a summation of all my words of why the fuck I get up in the morning; and there it is. Talk about heaven and hell is either meaningless or malicious.

Now then, what are we gonna do today?

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