"The traditional, orthodox Christian view was that man was created perfect, innocent, foolish and happy, living naked in the Garden of Even. Then came knowledge and wisdom and the Fall of Man, to which the sufferings of man are due, notably (1) work by the sweat of one's brow for man, and (2) the pangs of labor for women. In contrast with man's original innocence and perfection, a new element was introduced to explain his present imperfection, and that is of course the Devil, working chiefly through the body, while his higher nature works through the soul. When the "soul" was invented in the history of Christian theology I am not aware, but this "soul" became a something rather than a function, an entity rather than a condition, and it sharply separated man from the animals, which have no soul worth saving. Here the logic halts, for the origin of the Devil had to be explained, and when the medieval theologians proceeded with their usual scholastic logic to deal with the problem, they got into a quandary. They could not have very well admitted that the Devil, who as Not-God, came from God himself, nor could they quite agree that in the original universe, the Devil, a Not-God, was co-eternal with God. So in desperation they agreed that the Devil must have been a fallen angel, which rather begs the question of the origin of evil (for there still must have been another Devil to tempt this fallen angel), and which is therefore unsatisfactory, but they had to leave it at that. Nevertheless from all this followed the curious dichotomy of the spirit and the flesh, a mythical conception which is still quite prevalent and powerful today in affecting our philosophy of life and happiness.
"Then came the Redemption, still borrowing from the current conception of the sacrificial lamb, which went still farther back to the idea of a God who desired the smell of roast meat and could not forgive for nothing. From this Redemption, at one stroke a means was found by which all sins could be forgiven, and a way was found for perfection again. The most curious aspect of Christian thought is the idea of perfection. As this happened during the decay of the ancient worlds, a tendency grew up to emphasize the afterlife, and the question of salvation supplanted the question of happiness or simple living itself. The notion was how to get away from this world alive, a world which was apparently sinking into corruption and chaos and doomed. Hence the overwhelming importance attached to immortality. This represents a contradiction of the original Genesis story that God did not want man to live forever. This Genesis story of the reason why Adam and Eve were driven out of Eden was not that they had tasted of the Tree of Knowledge, as it popularly conceived, but the fear lest they should disobey a second time and eat of the Tree of Life and live forever.""Lin Yutang, "The Importance of Living", pg. 15-16.God did not want man to live forever. The Heaven of the afterlife? Immortality?
And what if God has never intended for Man to live forever... in any way or form; That there is no immortality in the afterlife - either Heaven or Hell. That man's soul is not innately immortal... and never will be.
Would Christians still be 'good' and 'do the right thing' if there were no reward, no immortality of the afterlife, no Heaven - no carrot.
What would you do?
And if there was no goal at the end of the race, would we still race? Wouldn't that make us spiritual hedonists? I like Lin Yutang's take on the Garden of Eden story because it answers questions that the more traditionally accepted version doesn't and can't answer.