The Future and Heaven – ngrams

Last week I looked at our increased interest in the Future, so how does our interest in “The Future” (as some kind of formal entity) relate to our interest in Heaven?

For those just joining my ngram series, an introduction to this fabulous tool can be found here.

Without further adieu…


The trend is simple; we have grown less and less interested in Heaven – fairly steadily, in fact – for the past two centuries. Yet our interest in the Future has steadily increased; really taking off about 1970 or so. In fact, our interest in the Future has not only increased, it has managed to surpass our interest in Heaven. We are now about 50% more likely to talk about the Future than we are to talk about Heaven.

Which provides a bit of a sobering thought. While we have some significant interest in the Future – and that interest is on the rise – our concept of the Future is bounded. It is not eternal. It will come to an end. You and I will die, humanity will die, all life will die. If that is “the Future” without reference to Heaven, then are we talking about it with a sense of eager anticipation, or depressed resignation?

Any progress we make in our lives is ultimately pointless if all our efforts are going to vanish in the heat death of the universe. Without something beyond our present reality to provide fulfillment for this present reality, any progress we make during this present reality is ultimately purposeless.

So perhaps it’s time to start talking about Heaven again?