A Good Place without God?

THE GOOD PLACE -- Pictured: "The Good Place" Key Art -- (Photo by: NBCUniversal)

Spoiler Alert: To those who haven’t watched the NBC show, The Good Place, and are planning to watch it one day, this article contains spoilers. If you do watch the show but aren’t fully caught up yet (at least through the beginning of the fourth season), then read on!

The Good Place has set itself apart from all other sit-coms past and present. It’s centered around something real. Eternal salvation and its counterpart… eternal damnation. We have followed the characters for four seasons now as they grapple with the question, “how good enough do we have to be to get into the good place?” But, if you’re a person of faith you have probably thought: Where is God in the Good Place

So far, we haven’t yet encountered a divine being who’s responsible for all of creation, the good place, and the bad place. We’ve only met the demons who run the bad place, all of the Janets that act as an afterlife version of Siri, Neil the head of accounting, Jeff the doorman, and Gen the judge. None of them, as far as we know, are gods. 

The lack of a god or gods would explain why there is a fluke in the points system which results in nobody getting into the good place in over 500 years. It would account for all the imperfections that we have seen so far in the afterlife. One could ask, “who cares if there’s no God? At least there’s still the good place!” But what is the point of the good place? Is it simply to reward those who do the most good in their earthly lives? Or is it much more than that?

For the Christian, the end or the goal of life is eternal salvation and the point of eternal salvation is to finally see God face-to-face and to be united with Him forever. It isn’t so that we can have all the unlimited frozen yogurt we could ever want, to be able to fly, or to be able to ask Janet all the questions we didn’t know the answers to while on earth. Sure, all of that sounds awesome and it would be fun, but the point of eternal salvation is to be with God. 

For many believers, it would be a huge let down if they died and learned that God doesn’t exist; that they spent their earthly lives anticipating to finally see God only to find out that He’s not there. Could we really be happy in that kind of good place? Or would it basically be Earth 2.0 and our hearts would still be restless? 

All we’ve seen of the good place is the inside of the mail center, but just from that short glimpse we know how unappealing it is. Every single person in the good place is over-the-top nice to the point that they let others basically walk all over them. The committee, so dedicated to doing their due diligence, will spend hundreds of years just selecting the right committee members to investigate the case of the bad place tampering with the points system. Even if one were to get into the good place, it wouldn’t take long for them to probably lose their sanity.

The reality is, nothing and nobody other than God could ever satisfy the desires of the human heart. The good place would not be a good place without the God who made it. While the writers of The Good Place have given us a nice idea of what eternal life could look like, the reality is heaven is still something beyond and better than our wildest imaginations. 

Who knows, maybe in this final season of The Good Place, our friends who are working so hard to save humanity’s chances of eternal life will finally meet their maker and all these things will be sorted out. We shall see. I at least hope they do.

 

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