I can make such a statement and claim it to be a valid, scientific assertion. To avoid any word play or semantics, I can clarify my statement by defining the Heaven I’m referring to. For example, there is no Heaven as described by the Abrahamic religions of Judaism, Christianity and Islam. In other words, a location where God resides and where human souls can also reside, with God’s grace and favor, for all eternity. This Heaven does not exist.
I’m not suggesting anyone need believe me of course, but I am suggesting that my claim is valid and also has some merit for consideration, for in the thousands of years human beings have been speaking of this Heaven, it’s never been located or shown to actually, objectively exist. Despite the advances in our technology, including for example, the Hubble and Kepler Space Telescopes, no indication of a Heaven has ever been discerned. The reason I can claim my position as a valid, even scientifically valid statement, is that it can easily be shown to be false. Anyone can demonstrate that I am wrong by simply demonstrating that Heaven does exist.
If one were to make the opposite claim, i.e. that “There is a Heaven,” that statement can be shown to be speculative at best, and likely false, by the means I described earlier. We’ve known about this alleged heavenly place for thousands of years but have never seen any evidence whatsoever of its existence. The weight of the evidence against the position is getting pretty hard to ignore. After all, a few thousand years is quite a long time for the pro-Heaven parties to find evidence of it. Many human beings have died in the centuries since Heaven was written about by those claiming its existence, and presumably at least some would have gone to Heaven. Communication from even one of them could be used to shore up the pro-Heaven position, but it’s never happened. Note that we are talking about a definitive declaration that there is a Heaven, not that there might be a Heaven we haven’t yet discovered. It’s the difference between stating there is intelligent life elsewhere in the galaxy, other than our own, versus that there may be intelligent life elsewhere in the galaxy, other than our own.
What we must avoid in order to remain intellectually honest, is creating reasons why Heaven can’t be found, while still claiming that it exists. This would remove any validity to the statement that “There is a Heaven,” because we’ve created a situation where it can’t be tested or verified to be true. It’s like Carl Sagan’s claim that he had a fire-breathing dragon that he kept in his garage¹. It’s an easily verifiable statement because all we’d have to do is go to Carl’s garage and see the dragon. If there is no dragon, his claim is shown to be false. However, if upon arrival Carl claims the dragon is there but invisible, he’s putting up barriers to disproving his claim. That moves his claim of owning a fire-breathing dragon that he keeps in his garage out of the realm of valid claims, and into the realm of nonsense. Let’s say that we accept Carl’s claim for the moment; that his dragon is invisible. We can still try to confirm it’s there. We could lay flour on the garage floor to see the dragon’s footprints. But then Carl tells us the dragon levitates. Well, how about using infrared to see the heat signature from its fire-breathing nostrils? Oh sorry, the fire is heat-less. Carl Sagan has effectively invalidated his own statement that he has a fire-breathing dragon in his garage, because there is no way to show that he doesn’t. His claim can’t be tested. The same would apply to Heaven, if we were to create all manner of protections to keep it from being able to be discovered.
People have claimed to have seen Heaven in near death experiences, and we are all free to believe their claims. But for the same reasons we’ve been discussing, their claims aren’t valid because they can’t be tested. I can say that I went to Heaven last night and got a quick tour of the place before being deposited back in my bed, and you’re free to believe me, but that doesn’t make my claim any more credible than the person who claims to have seen Bigfoot last weekend when camping, or the person who swears the ghost of Christmas past visited them.
Let’s look at the Book of Revelation where the author, believed by some to be John the Apostle of Jesus’ inner circle, describes Heaven, at least in part, quite vividly:
“And he [an angel] carried me away in the Spirit to a mountain great and high, and showed me the Holy City, Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God. It shone with the glory of God, and its brilliance was like that of a very precious jewel, like a jasper, clear as crystal. It had a great, high wall with twelve gates, and with twelve angels at the gates. On the gates were written the names of the twelve tribes of Israel. There were three gates on the east, three on the north, three on the south and three on the west. The wall of the city had twelve foundations, and on them were the names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb.”
John goes on to tell us that the angel giving him the tour had a golden measuring stick and provided John with the exact measurements of the New Jerusalem coming out of God’s Heaven. There was no temple in the city, because God Himself is the temple. There’s no sun or moon to light it, because God’s glory gives it light. It will never be nighttime there, and no bad stuff will go down. Nothing impure, shameful or deceitful.
Now then, what are we to make of John’s claim? How is it any different from my aforementioned claim of getting a tour of Heaven last night? There’s no evidence that anything John wrote is true. He may believe he really had an angel-guided tour of God’s Heaven, but just saying so isn’t very good proof. What’s more likely, that he really went to this magical place with a winged spirit, or that he just dreamt about it or fabricated the whole thing? His claim just can’t be verified so it’s a pretty weak claim. I’d argue that the scope of his assertion is so staggering that without any evidence to back it up, it’s not just nonsensical, but if he insists that it’s true, it’s potentially the ravings of a madman.
There is no Heaven. All anyone has to do to show that I’m wrong, is to produce it.