Let me start by saying I am an atheist. However, I had to go to a funeral a few days (now weeks I guess) back, and there was a discussion regarding how the person who died would be so happy in Heaven. I started to think, if Heaven does exist, what is the process of getting there? I have read numerous times on the God Is Imaginary web site about the complexities of what the Bible says regarding heaven.
Is your whole body transported there, or just your spirit? If it is your whole body, then why is there still a body in the ground back here on earth (assuming that you were buried and not cremated)? Or, if it is just your spirit or sole, then do they give you a new body? Does the new body look exactly the same as your body was here on earth? Which body -- the one you had at 20, or the one you had at 80 (assuming you lived that long)? I see this whole "spirit transfer" thing much like when you get a new cell phone. They hook up your old cell phone to a computer device, and hook up the new cell phone, then they transfer your contacts from old phone to new phone. Certainly, you'd want that, to transfer all of your memories from life on this earth to your new brain and body, wouldn't you?
When I got back home, I did some searches on the Internet regarding how many people die every day on planet earth. I will let you do that search for yourself if you desire, but the answer I got was about 150,000 to 155,000 people per day. That is a pretty large number.
So, here are these 150,000 (approx) people per day that are arriving at the gates of heaven. Let's assume their spirit (or, more accurately, all of their memories of life on earth) are transferred to a new body, that looks like their old body. I'll leave it to you to decide if that was their body at 20, 80 or something in between. If I get a choice, I think I'd like to have the body I had at about 25 or 30 but that is just me.
One image that you might have is the pearly gates and a line waiting to meet St. Peter. But wow, 150,000 people in line every day? That doesn't sound too good. I think in terms of "queue management." Think Disneyland or when you fly from one country to another and have to go through immigration. You can't just have one line. There are 86,400 seconds in a day. Thus, the throughput needs to be about 2 people per second, so that the line is not growing.
So, St. Peter cannot process 2 people per second all by himself, 24x7x365. The process has to be more complex than going through immigration at LAX. Remember, "you can't take it with you" and that includes your passport. You have no "papers" to identify yourself. Now, maybe heaven is a pretty advanced place, where they have a fingerprint scanner or a retina scanner or similar. I guess this would assume that angels come down at night and do a scan of you, say shortly before you die, then upload that information to a database, so when you get there, they can quickly identify you. Of course, they needed to make that new body they gave you have the same fingerprint and/or retina as your current body. But, lets assume that for sake of argument.
Now, not all people that are dying are Christians. Again back to the Internet, about 31.5% list themselves as Christian. Let's call that 1/3 for easy math. About 23% (call it 1/4) are Muslims and 15% (call it 1/6) are Hindi.
So, one way to help with the queue management issue is to put up some signs. At LAX, for example, there is one line for returning Americans, and another line for those coming from countries that we don't require a visa, and another line for those countries where we do require a visa. The same could work in heaven. Only the Christians go to the St. Peter line, and there are other lines for the Muslims, Hindi and other religions. For us nonbelievers, I'm not sure what happens. Do we get a chance to get in, or is there a sign "go to hell, go directly to hell, do not pass go, do not collect $200?"
I'm not sure if there are different heavens for the different religions or is there just one heaven? Let's assume there are different gates for different religions. After you go through the gate for your religion, either that leads to "your heaven" or it leads to "heaven." If it is multiple heavens, then it is like Disneyland, except that when you go through the main gate, you are immediately in tomorrowland or Frontierland (in heaven you are in Christian heaven or Muslim Heaven). There is no "main street" immediately behind the gate. Or, maybe it is like that, but you are required to branch off to "your heaven." Also unclear is whether you are allowed to go from one heaven section to another. I don't know what heaven section I am going to be assigned to, but I have friends here on earth of all faiths and I would like to be allowed to go from section to section to visit them, or have them visit me. Just like at Disneyland, Tomorrowland might be my favorite, but I want to visit all "lands."
So, if we have multiple "gates" and only the Christians go to the St. Peter gate, then the Muslims can go to the Muslim gate. That certainly helps St. Peter, as he now only has to process about 50,000 people per day instead of 150,000. Still, he has less than 2 seconds per person to correctly identify you and decide if you meet the criteria for entry. Again, think back to LAX and the Customs and Boarder Patrol (CBP) agents. They scan your passport, wait for the computer results and kind of look you over while you are waiting. Looking to see if you are sweating, I guess. My understanding is that the airlines provide electronic data to CBP about who is on their airplanes so that the CBP can be ready to intercept an incoming person who they don't want in the United States. Similar processes are possible. While they are giving you your new body -- which who knows, could take days or weeks -- they could also be identifying you and helping to route you to the appropriate line (queue).
Now, maybe St. Peter is like the director of Homeland Security? He doesn't personally screen each incoming person, he has agents that do that. However, that makes you wonder, if you die, do you get assigned a job in Heaven? Who gets assigned the job of being the equivalent of the CBP agent? I thought when I died, if I went to heaven, that things were going to be, well, heavenly. Nobody ever said anything about having to WORK there. There are worse jobs here on earth than a CBP agent, but that really isn't my first choice. Yet, it would seem that there is a need for consistency in the job, so you'd want the same people doing the job day after day. Is there some group of people who have to serve as CBP agents, maybe for a year or so? Is that what they call "limbo" when you are not in heaven nor hell? But then again, would you want the people that came from earth who weren't the best people on earth to be the CBP agents, deciding who gets in and who doesn't? Maybe being the CBP agent of heaven is actually one of the most coveted positions? It just boggles the mind, doesn't it?
Now, some people coming to the gates of heaven are, if you believe religions, not going to get in. Just like the CBP agent, if you are on the "watch list," you get sent to secondary screening and ultimately sent back to the country you came from. At heaven, they call that being sent to "hell." (Again, we are assuming such places exist, for the purpose of understanding how the process might work, toward the ultimate goal of deciding if such a process is possible at all, giving us a clue as to whether such a place might exist).
Queue management might be further refined at various religious gates. Over at the Muslim gate, there might be a VIP line (much like at LAX where there is a special line for those who flew first class). The VIP line there would be for jihadists. They would get a special welcome, thanking them for dying for Allah. I am not sure if the 72 virgins are assigned to them or do they pick from a pool of available virgins?
It is important to note, for this group (the jihadists), that a "body" is absolutely necessary. Wouldn't it be a cruel joke on the jihadists if they actually did get 72 "virgins" but all the entities in heaven were merely the spirit of the person and not the actual person, complete with his body? When I think of "spirits" I think kind of the "wisps" that you might have seen in the movie "Brave." Also (again, playing along with the very unlikely scenario that jihadists actually get 72 virgins in heaven), it would be a cruel joke on them if they did not get a body that functioned sexually as we think of it here on earth. Because, what would be the point of having 72 virgins if (a) the jihads didn't have a sexually functioning body and (b) the virgins didn't have sexually functioning bodies? Remember that the jihadists are supposed to be good boys here on earth, never having sex, saving that until they got to heaven, and then having better sexual experiences in heaven than they could ever have with these "dirty" women here on earth. However, it is said that the 9/11 guys did visit a Las Vegas strip club before flying the airplanes into the twin towers in New York. Not sure exactly why they did that, as the Las Vegas strip club girls, while some having nice bodies, are certainly not the type of women that any good Muslim boy would want to be with.
Also thinking about that, where do these 72 virgins come from? Are these women that died here on earth? Certainly any jihads would only want a good Muslim woman, not a Christian woman that might at some time here on earth would have exposed her ankle or worse yet, a part of her thigh or breast to a man. Were these girls that died young (say age 15 or less) and they keep them around at the Muslim gate, waiting for one of these jihadists to show up? Do the virgin girls get to volunteer to be part of the available pool, does Allah decide which ones go to the pool, or exactly how does this work?
I hope that the above gives you a chance to think about whether heaven and/or hell exists and if it does, what those first few steps into it are like. Your additional thoughts are appreciated.