Heaven — what does it look like?
That’s a question many have sought to find an answer to, and yet a true description of heaven’s appearance is nowhere to be found.
According to a 2013 Harris poll, 68 percent of Americans believe in heaven. People who believe in heaven are actually happier, according to a new study. But there are naysayers when it comes to the afterlife. The amount of people who believe in heaven is actually down from the 85 percent from a decade ago, according to Fox News. And some, like Stephen Hawking, have called heaven a fairy tale.
But, again, what would it look like?
There have been different ideas of what heaven is. Here’s a look at 10 of those ideas:
Whatever gives you peace
It was earlier this year that the story of Colton Burpo and his images of heaven were explored in the film “Heaven Is for Real.” Based on a book with the same title, Burpo’s image of heaven featured an exceptional presence of Jesus, who had blue eyes, according to Deseret News National. He learned things about his family he didn’t know about — like he had a sister who died shortly after birth. The movie explained that Burpo’s ultimate idea of heaven is whatever gives you peace and solace.
Sweet and funny
The late Robin Williams has his own ideas of heaven. In this video, Williams explained that he wanted heaven to have seating near the front, some Mozart and Elvis playing and just a bunch of laughter. He said it’d be great to hear God tell a joke — even a religious one — to help break the ice between people.
Something nice back home
To each his own, right? Well that’s especially the case for Ernest Hemingway, whose ideal image of heaven included a bull ring and something a little less lavish than one might assume, he wrote in a letter to F. Scott Fitzgerald.
“To me a heaven would be a big bull ring with me holding two barrera seats and a trout stream outside that no one else was allowed to fish in and two lovely houses in the town,” the letter read.
There’s nothing to see
C.S. Lewis spent a good part of his life writing about and discussing religion. And a part of that included thoughts of heaven, hell and the afterlife. His idea of heaven is simple — it’s incomprehensible, according to C.S. Lewis’ website.
“It is totally unspatial and nontemporal; it gives our minds no basis for forming images, gives us nothing even to imagine,” the website explained. Lewis also believed that heaven was a feeling and something to be sensed, and the closest thing we can get to true reality.
Something beautiful and amazing
Crystal McVea died for nine minutes on Dec. 10, 2009, according to the Christian Post. But when she opened her eyes, it wasn’t a room full of doctors she saw. Rather, it was heaven, the Post reported. Her image of heaven had angels, God and images she can’t explain, she said.
"I remember almost every detail. I remember being in the bed. My mother was at my feet, and I remember starting to drift off — and I remember opening my eyes and telling her that I loved her," McVea said, according to the Christian Post. "I remember just closing my eyes in that bed and I opened them and I was standing in the most beautiful tunnel of light I could ever describe."
Family, fields and fantasy
Don Piper died in a head-on car collision. Before reawakening, though, he said he was transported to heaven, which had many of his family members and other people he knew, according to Fox News. He also saw a gate — the gate of heaven.
“In the distance as I was approaching the gate — I'm often asked about this, as you might imagine,” he told Fox News. “There really are a lot of magnificent structures inside the gate. And at the pinnacle of a great hill beyond them is a bright light. I have the distinct feeling that that is where God — and I was headed in that direction when suddenly I was returned to Earth.”
Angels and clouds
This is a common belief — that heaven is a cloudy, bright and angel-filled world. Well, a Harvard neurosurgeon agrees with this idea. According to The Huffington Post, Dr. Even Alexander saw heaven after he fell into a coma in 2008. During his time there, he saw big puffy clouds, came into contact with an angel and heard beautiful sounds, Huff Post reported.
“Toward the beginning of my adventure, I was in a place of clouds. Big, puffy, pink-white ones that showed up sharply against the deep blue-black sky,” he said, according to Huff Post. “A sound, huge and booming like a glorious chant, came down from above, and I wondered if the winged beings were producing it. Again, thinking about it later, it occurred to me that the joy of these creatures, as they soared along, was such that they had to make this noise — that if the joy didn’t come out of them this way then they would simply not otherwise be able to contain it.”
In the movies
Heaven has also been shown in the movies on a variety of occasions. Vulture has a list of different depictions of heaven as seen in films, including how it looks in movies such as “All Dogs Go to Heaven” (dogs floating on a diamond and star walkway) and “This Is the End” (where the Backstreet Boys are singing and dancing).
Heaven on Earth
Like Burpo’s thoughts explain — and people have talked about in regards to hiking or just going on a spiritual journey — heaven can be found right here on Earth. Look no further than The San Francisco Globe’s video from June of this year, where a man stood on top of Spain’s highest mountains and filmed the stars and galaxy. Heavenly images for sure.
Let’s ask the Bible
So what does the Bible think heaven looks like? Well, as the Christian online resource "What Christians Want to Know" points out, there are actually three heavens — one in the sky that covers the Earth, another is in the stars and the last is one that must remain unseen.
“Some who died and came back to life have said they have seen their lost loved ones in heaven, their family, friends and some even their pets,” wrote Jack Wellman for "What Christians Want to Know." “This is difficult to prove, yet the sheer number of those who have seen heaven and came back from death is hard to refute; only they themselves know this for certain.”