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Heaven/Paradise is divided up so that each religion believes they are the only ones who got there.

Good atheists simply die and don't exist any more as they would expect. Bad people of all types end up in the hell that they deserve. The baddies are all in it together. They can see Heaven 'eternally' on TV while they are being punished.

How can Heaven be divided up without creating suspicion that the other religions are there? If there are walls, people will naturally be curious about what is on the other side. They might try to throw messages or shout very loudly.

Note that Heaven is very much like an ideal theme park on an ideal Earth where everyone is healthy and happy and have everything they could possibly want. It doesn't have any extra dimensions.

How can the gods divide Heaven into religions without arousing suspicion in their followers that their religion might not be the only one? How can they soundproof it to prevent harp music or rejoicing leaking through? If they don't have walls, how can they prevent people seeing each other?

Perhaps most importantly, how can they prevent followers escaping to a better looking heaven than their own? This would mess up the final score (see below).


Clarification

Our universe is a game-board. It is finite and in fact what we see outside our solar system is fake. The players (gods) live in a 3D universe much like ours. Their world and ours have very similar laws of physics.

The gods are competing to get the most possible followers before the final day of judgement. Heaven is just a very large flat area (relative to the tiny souls) in one corner of the game-room where souls are placed for counting purposes. They are kept happy until the end of the game.

At the day of judgement, the gods will count up their scores and a winner will be declared. At this point the Universe, Heaven and Hell etc. will be cleared ready for a new game.


Note: I have had to add extra details to prevent the question being closed. Unfortunately the answer by @Zeiss Ikon pre-dated these details. Please do not penalise Zeiss Ikon for this. Thank you.

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  • $\begingroup$ Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat. $\endgroup$ – L.Dutch - Reinstate Monica Sep 2 at 9:34
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    $\begingroup$ Obligatory: youtube.com/watch?v=MV5w262XvCU $\endgroup$ – fraxinus Sep 2 at 9:47
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    $\begingroup$ Isn't there an editing guideline not to invalidate existing answers? $\endgroup$ – Zeiss Ikon Sep 2 at 11:05
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    $\begingroup$ @Zeiss Ikon - I wasn't sure how to deal with this. I could have deleted the question myself or wait for it to be closed thus invalidating other people's answers than yours. I considered doing this, following up with an almost identical question but with the extra constraints. If you have a way forward please let me know - I'm always open to suggestions. Otherwise please feel free to vote to close. $\endgroup$ – chasly - supports Monica Sep 2 at 11:13
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    $\begingroup$ Okay, I fixed my answer. Carry on. $\endgroup$ – Zeiss Ikon Sep 2 at 11:35

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The very existence of Heaven is a miracle, so what's one more miracle?

Each division or province of Heaven is infinite in extent. No matter how far you walk (or fly), or how fast, you can never reach the divide between your province and the next. Therefore you'd have no way to know there are other provinces (unless someone on the staff slips up).

Now, in a finite "game board", this is still a possibility -- via (simulated) asymptotic distances as you approach a wall. Just as the "rapidity" value derived from the Lorentz contraction equations allows arbitrary amounts of perceived acceleration without ever reaching the speed of light or losing the ability to accelerate more, asymptotic distance would permit arbitrary amounts of travel without ever reaching (or even coming in sight of) the actual wall.

This gives the effect of each Heaven being infinite, but keeps the whole setup finite and bounded.

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    $\begingroup$ Doesn't even need to be infinite distance. Many people in the northern hemisphere nowadays think Australia is a hoax. $\endgroup$ – The Square-Cube Law Sep 1 at 19:54
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    $\begingroup$ @Renan Australia's a hoax???!!!??? You mean I wasted an entire crush on Kylie Minogue in my teens for NOTHING???? NNNOOOOO!!!!! $\endgroup$ – JBH Sep 1 at 20:01
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    $\begingroup$ The idea that people believe Australia is a hoax is obviously a hoax. Everyone knows the real hoax is New Zealand. $\endgroup$ – candied_orange Sep 2 at 5:26
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    $\begingroup$ @chasly-reinstateMonica I see a way to avoid invalidating this answer while keeping your universe finite: give each partition of Heaven hyperbolic geometry. No matter how far you walk, you will never get to the end, but the whole thing is still finite. (Alternately, if you don’t like that, you could give it spherical geometry instead: if you walk far enough you will find yourself back to where you started, so there is no need for any visible barriers.) $\endgroup$ – bradrn Sep 2 at 8:46
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    $\begingroup$ @JBH - As any fule kno "Australia" is just a special case of "Scotland". Just look at it: everything over there is named after a Sturt, a Stewart or a Macquarrie; there's an above-average number of red-headed people; and a strange and impenetrable dialect designed purely to confuse normal English-speakers. The whole lack-of-rain thing is just a rather obvious disguise. Kylie Minogue is, therefore, just the second iteration of Clare Grogan, so crush away to your heart's content. $\endgroup$ – Spratty Sep 2 at 9:43
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Each province of Heaven is raised on a huge plateau of continental proportions many tens of thousands of feet high with vertical cliffs falling into surrounding waters of the firmament. The atmosphere is pressurised so that the pressure on the plateau is exactly 1 atmosphere. Consequently the atmospheric pressure at sea level is very high. There is no way down to the sea and anyone foolish enough to try to climb down would fall. This is especially likely as the lower they go and the longer it takes the more likely it is that they would be overcome by oxygen toxicity in the higher pressure atmosphere.

The next nearest Province is 500 miles away and is not visible over the horizon. Anyone who falls off and "dies" is reincarnated by god and given a stern warning about not leaving heaven. If it happens again or god is having a bad day they are not reincarnated.

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    $\begingroup$ this version of heaven makes me glad I'm an atheist $\endgroup$ – nonthevisor Sep 2 at 13:51
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    $\begingroup$ What about air travel? In heaven, people "have everything they possibly want", so if anybody wants a plane, the next province is only an hour's flight away. $\endgroup$ – Nuclear Hoagie Sep 2 at 16:18
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    $\begingroup$ Well if they can have everything they want then what if they want to be in the next Provence? $\endgroup$ – Slarty Sep 2 at 22:23
  • $\begingroup$ @Slarty If they know about it you already failed, and if they don't then they can't want it. $\endgroup$ – Grault Sep 3 at 0:52
  • $\begingroup$ Yes, exactly - in response to Nuclear Wang - if they don't know about any other provinces and have been told not to leave why would they want to fly off into the wide blue yonder? $\endgroup$ – Slarty Sep 3 at 7:03
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This answer was written before Chasly added the clarification that everything we see outside our solar system is fake. From that moment, my answer became a frame challenge in that it is not necessary for anything outside the solar system to be fake at all.

Earth is just one planet in an entire Universe, why isn't Heaven?

Is heaven something less than mortal Earth? Of course not! It's absolutely something better. But just like Earth is just one planet in a universe of billions of planets — so, too, is heaven.

In fact, since there are no extra dimensions in heaven, you have no choice but to make heaven just another planet(s) in another part of the universe (otherwise heaven, itself, would be an extra dimension, which violates your own rule).

Yeah, but what if someone in heaven builds a rocket to travel to another planet? They're immortal, right? But they'd need an awful lot of fuel... and it would stink having to breathe a vacuum all the way there, so they'd need huge oxygen tanks and recycling... And that assumes that anyone would actually want to leave heaven, right? Sounds like proving to one's self that there might be another heaven out there when it's so much simpler to look around and say, "huh... none of those [fill_in_the_blank]s made it here... looks like we were right after all!"

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    $\begingroup$ That is actually the mormon idea of heaven. $\endgroup$ – The Square-Cube Law Sep 1 at 20:03
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    $\begingroup$ @Renan No, it's not. It's a caricature of the Mormon idea of heaven, just like people lounging around on clouds and playing harps is a caricature of Protestant heaven. $\endgroup$ – Logan R. Kearsley Sep 1 at 20:11
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    $\begingroup$ @LoganR.Kearsley: Caricatures are nothing but a concise rendition of the essence of a subject... $\endgroup$ – AlexP Sep 1 at 21:12
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    $\begingroup$ OK, Since I am LDS: (a) This is one aspect of the LDS perception of heaven. BUT! Taken by itself, outside of context, it's incredibly misleading. Therefore, the short answer is no, this isn't the LDS concept of heaven. (b) It's unfair to claim it's a caricature because I wasn't actually thinking about that when I wrote this answer. Frankly, it just seemed like an obvious solution based on the "no extra dimensions" rule. Since it can't be anywhere else but here, it must be here. (c) I get the fact that I'm obviously influenced by my beliefs, consciously or not. $\endgroup$ – JBH Sep 1 at 21:23
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    $\begingroup$ @cowlinator It doesn't change it at all. Renan's original observation neither adds nor detracts from the question or answer as they stand. Frankly, it's an irrelevant comment thread. It's Renan's fault. If you're willing to help me beat him with limp noodles, I'll bring the noodles. $\endgroup$ – JBH Sep 1 at 21:36
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The border between each heaven is a huge abyss. You can't see another heaven from the edge even if you climb a high place.

That abyss stretching between all heavens like border lines is incidentally hell, and if you fall into it you won't be able to climb back. This should keep curious heaveners away from the edge. Those curious enough to go down won't be coming back up.

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There are walls. Big hulking solid mason walls. On top of these walls are angelic guards. (The walls are wide enough that a different set of guards are visible from each side)

The faithful are told that on the other side of these walls lies Hell.

Anybody who questions this is questioning GOD!

If anybody hears harp music or hallelujahs these are just illusions cast by the Devil to tempt the gullible.

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    $\begingroup$ Nice idea. I like this one. Physical barriers alongside psychological ones. $\endgroup$ – chasly - supports Monica Sep 2 at 10:44
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    $\begingroup$ Or perhaps actually make hell separate those regions instead of wall. Hell is continuous, like an ocean, heavens are like islands sticking out of the water. $\endgroup$ – Zizy Archer Sep 3 at 9:17
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    $\begingroup$ "Hearing Uptown Funk once is pleasant, my child. Hearing it for all eternity is Hell. Travel not beyond my walls." - God probably. $\endgroup$ – IT Alex Sep 3 at 18:52
  • $\begingroup$ @Zizy Archer - Yes, this is actually the solution offered by Renan in their answer. $\endgroup$ – chasly - supports Monica Sep 3 at 18:58
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There are no walls because none are needed. Heaven is pretty big and it is practically empty, so the odds of a wanderer from one belief's village encountering those of any other village are infinitesimally small.

Let's explore the two ideas which make this answer work...

Heaven is pretty big. We've been told that the entire solar system is a game board which we can assume is resting on a table in the middle of the game room. We also know that heaven is "in the corner" of the game room. If heaven is the same size as the game board and instead is rendered as a flat plain (rather than a bunch of dustballs circling a central flaming dustball in a vast field of nothingness) then it is ENORMOUS! Imagine a flat disk with a radius of Pluto's apogee from the sun. Plenty of real estate for every village to have a few hundred million square miles to explore. There is even spare room for new gods to set up their own villages should they come over to visit in the middle of the game.

Heaven is practically empty. Of those religions which even have a heaven, most love their rules. Regardless of specific beliefs, the path to paradise is always more difficult than the slippery slide down to damnation. Does your soul weigh less than a feather? I don't know about mine... I can't find it. Do you have faith as much as a mustard seed? Nope! The mountains seem pretty stationary to me. Even the lawless Wicca have their reed... "And that none are hurt, do as you will." Have you every tried to live even one day without hurting another living being or yourself? It is practically impossible. In any of these faiths, earning access to heaven on one's own merit isn't very likely. And for the few which offer loop holes such as Christian Sanctification, most require sincere confession and a true desire for forgiveness. How many of us would even want forgiveness if heaven wasn't on the line? In that light, "sincere" and "true" are very scary words.

So your game room's heaven doesn't need walls to keeps its sparse occupants apart. Once they learn the full severity of the rules, the few who actually earn entry into paradise will have very little trouble believing that they are all alone there.

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    $\begingroup$ Heaven may be pretty big, but local residents have an eternity to roam around $\endgroup$ – SJuan76 Sep 2 at 9:43
  • $\begingroup$ @SJuan76 - Interesting point. However, although they think they have eternity, they actually only have until the end of the game - see clarification $\endgroup$ – chasly - supports Monica Sep 2 at 10:43
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The strongest barriers are in the mind

Here is the deal the gods struck with each other. They must all be into this together for it to work of course.

Each religious group member receives on arrival beautiful robes. Each group has a different color: Buddhists get orange, Christians get white, Muslims green, Hindus red, and so on.

They will all live in the same place. No need to build a fountain of milk and honey in each separate subdivision. Just make a nice BIG one.

The catch is that at the entrance each newcomer is told a thing or two about how Heaven works. How the Holy and Only True Religion is there. Look around and you will only see people wearing your own holy colors. That is natural as only sinners see different colored robes, because of their twisted, petty soul. And the way for sinners is Hell...

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    $\begingroup$ And show everyone they are sinners therefore deserving to be sent straight to Hell? By Jove, no! they won't even acknowledge the presence of each other. $\endgroup$ – Duncan Drake Sep 1 at 21:11
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    $\begingroup$ Okay - I see what you mean. It is like the emperor's new clothes. They see what they are supposed to see. I just didn't understand your original explanation. +1 The way you put it, it sounded to me as though they would really see the same colour as their own robes. $\endgroup$ – chasly - supports Monica Sep 1 at 21:35
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    $\begingroup$ Yes. Makes perfect sense now. Of course if they were truly devout, they might believe they were sinners who had got in by mistake, and admit that to the authorities. Should these ultra-honest people go to hell? $\endgroup$ – chasly - supports Monica Sep 1 at 21:40
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    $\begingroup$ To the bottom of it! Their sin is attempting to spoil the fun of the gods. $\endgroup$ – Duncan Drake Sep 1 at 21:44
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    $\begingroup$ If "my" God told me something like that, I would wonder why "God" has to set rules like that and why "God" wouldnt notice I can see the other colors (or actually, why mention the other colors in the first place? I'm not supposed to see them right?). So I would be guessing that this guy isnt God, and that he might be a Devil of some sort that tries to trick me somehow. Better see what those people in other robes talk about... $\endgroup$ – Demigan Sep 2 at 15:48
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While there are no extra dimension, the borders of each Heaven are (beautifully) hard to get through. Towering mountains, thickets of exquisite roses, winding paths that artfully lead back to the center without being obvious about it, perhaps in mazes, etc.

The souls are given metaphysical explanations for these: the mountains have angelic or otherwise spiritually higher inhabitants, and mere humans, however blessed, can not endure (perhaps angelical beings could gently save any human foolish enough to attempt to climb); the roses and paths indicate the unity of the heavenly souls, the mazes indicate the supreme artistry of the heaven.

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    $\begingroup$ It's really interesting how different these could be for different religions! $\endgroup$ – Blueriver Sep 3 at 0:06
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Pocket Universes

The Gods already interact with our entire universe as a pocket dimension, able to see all of it from their game-board vantagepoint.

Heaven(s) and Hell(s) are much the same, but smaller.
The difference is that where our universe is a vast thing covering most of the board, the rest are something like bubble-wrap or froth around the edges.

From a god's eye view, the result looks something like a fractal.

Each heaven or hell is no more able to interact with another than they are able to interact with the earth itself, and for much the same reason.

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All you need is a smoke machine and faith

Each "zone" is walled off with a pleasant swirling white fog and/or clouds some miles thick and arbitrarily high. I don't know what sort of things you have in your various heavens to determine exactly how much distance you'd need to be unable to hear neighboring ones, but if your gods can make a heaven board about the same size as earth there'd be plenty of space. Anyone who wanders into this zone will quickly become disoriented (they have no visible sun, there are no other markers, and they can't see their own arms let alone their feet because of the fog), and it's a trivial matter to turn them around via some cleverly installed rotating devices on the floor if they don't wander out on their own. They can't see the turntable because of the fog, they're already a disoriented because of the fog, and they're gently turned back towards their own heaven. They have no reason to suspect they're being walled off, and as it's the afterlife all religions I can think of are primed for, you know, miraculous stuff happening in heaven. So it wouldn't be questioned if walking into "the fog of creation" popped you back out still in "your own" heaven. The fog would naturally act as a barrier to vision, and would deaden sound as well. If you wanted you could have a physical barrier like a mountain range or wall buried in the center of the mist to help with sound-suppression. You'd need that barrier hidden by the fog though so as not to ruin the illusion that the Fog is Infinite and Unvaried.

The only problem I can see with this plan is that some people would be surprised to NOT see other religious people there. For example a righteous agnostic. There are agnostics that believe in a god, but believe God is inherently unknowable and thus not worth getting hung up on the details about. (VERY rough approximation. I don't want to get into the weeds because thousands of years of philosophers et al haven't figured it out exactly) So you have a set of "good" people deserving of heaven (unless your gods think agnosticism is just atheism without the conviction and erase them) who, upon arriving, would expect to see righteous Christians, Muslims, Jews, et al in their heaven.... and wouldn't.

There's another aspect, which is sub-factions of a given religion. (I tried real-world examples but in writing them up I realized it could cause a LOT of arguments around technicalities so I'm going to make up a religion and go from there. But rest assured this sort of thing can be a MAJOR part of denominations for both Christianity and Islam.)

Say Religion A has three denominations, X, Y, and Z. Denomination X believes that Denomination Y are heretics, and excluded from heaven, and Z are righteous believers just like them. Denomination Y believes Y and Z denominations are going to heaven and X are heretics, excluded from heaven. Z Denomination believes all three are acceptable faiths and all going to heaven. They all treat their various views of the other denominations as a fundamental belief. So if a Z believer shows up to a heaven WITHOUT any X believers their whole fundamental worldview is shattered to the point where Religion A no longer makes sense to Z Believers. Meanwhile if a X believer shows up in to heaven and meets a Y believer THEIR whole fundamental worldview is shattered to the point where Religion A no longer makes sense to X believers.

I point this out because any barrier system you install in heaven depends heavily on souls believing that their faith was the True Way to Paradise. Since you can't have any full-on miracle devices keeping people in any serious challenge to this belief will have people wondering "why" and once you get humans wondering "why" the curious little monkeys tend to do things to figure it out.

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    $\begingroup$ Interesing. I hadn't thought of those possibilities. I think that agnostics would find themselves wandering around in permanent fog, so they still wouldn't know the truth. As for different sects - that is a problem. I think there might be an arrangement with glass walls and phones so they could see and tall to other sects. It could be tricky to arrange though. $\endgroup$ – chasly - supports Monica Sep 2 at 16:07
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    $\begingroup$ Another possibility with agnostics is that they could be sorted into the religion that their actions fit best. Then the explanation they'd be given is that that religion was the correct one, and they just happened to be good enough to get into Heaven without specifically believing in the religion (they'd be excluded from religions in which membership is a strict requirement). If they were told Christianity was the correct religion and they happened to be righteous enough, it wouldn't be so surprising to not see Muslims there. $\endgroup$ – Rob Watts Sep 2 at 18:25
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Frame challenge: if "everyone is healthy and happy and have everything they could possibly want" then they don't want to know what's on the other side, because that would be knowledge they want and don't have, which can't happen in the heaven your gods built.

Just build the walls. Tell people heaven ends there. Let your gods' "happy and everything you could possibly want" mumbo jumbo do its thing. Wait, does that mean everyone's wishes aren't actually granted, but rather everyone is brainwashed/mind-controlled into not wanting anything other than what they have? Well, yes, exactly. How else would your heavens work if everyone wishes to spend eternity there?

To get your story going, you just need someone particularly smart/dumb/nihilistic/whatever who isn't affected by the mumbo jumbo to the same degree. All you need a small seed of doubt, possibly implanted in a good person during their life, with plans to let it grow throughout that person's existence in heaven. All you need is someone asking one question, wanting to know one thing, and not knowing the answer. "The echoes of a question will bring down the walls of heaven" even sounds prophetical.

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  • $\begingroup$ You say just build the walls. But if that "one person" with a seed of doubt could destroy the mind-conditioning, surely the gods need a backup plan. They don't want a rebellion - they want to record an accurate score at the end of the game. I suppose a god could cheat by sowing doubt in another god's heaven. But if people started climbing over the walls this is going to ruin the game for everyone - the cheater won't be popular. I agree that your idea would make for a good story but my question was how to prevent the scenario. $\endgroup$ – chasly - supports Monica Sep 2 at 21:35
  • $\begingroup$ Well, the mind-conditioning could simply not fail, or doubters could be wiped clean. There could be guards (angels, servants to the gods, or just an automated system) that wipes the mind of anyone who reaches the top of the wall and teleports them to another place in the same heaven. Maybe they could just load the mind from the moment the person died. Maybe the system wipes all memory of that person from everyone. Maybe every now and then the gods need to perform a The Matrix-style world reset. $\endgroup$ – Blueriver Sep 3 at 0:01
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Looking at it as a scyfy fan, you can:

-Place every heaven in the inner side of a cigarette shaped spaceship, spinning to simulate gravity and full of clouds/fog to hide the true shape of heaven for its inhabitants;

-Place heavens orbiting venus in the height where the temperature is similar to earth, maybe as a floating island in a bigger glass sphere to contain a breathable athmosphere;

-The easy and more believable one, save conciousness/neural configuration/memories (as you choose to explain it) of the deceased, evaluate them and sort them into their respective simulated heaven earth or a common hell.

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