The End of Heaven: Disaster and Suffering in a Scientific Age, 1st Edition (Paperback) book cover

The End of Heaven

Disaster and Suffering in a Scientific Age, 1st Edition

By Sidney Dekker


106 pages

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In this unique book, Sidney Dekker tackles a largely unexplored dilemma. Our scientific age has equipped us ever better to explain why things go wrong. But this increasing sophistication actually makes it harder to explain why we suffer. Accidents and disasters have become technical problems without inherent purpose. When told of a disaster, we easily feel lost in the steely emptiness of technical languages of engineering or medicine. Or, in our drive to pinpoint the source of suffering, we succumb to the hunt for a scapegoat, possibly inflicting even greater suffering on others around us. How can we satisfactorily deal with suffering when the disaster that caused it is no more than the dispassionate sum of utterly mundane, imperfect human decisions and technical failures? Broad in its historical sweep and ambition, The End of Heaven is also Dekker's most personal book to date.


'Drawing as it does on key thinkers and writers in theology, philosophy, history, science, anthropogy, sociology, psychology and political economy, among others, this book is both impressively researched and challenging.'

Dr Elizabeth Bluff, BSc (Hons), MAppSc (OHS), PhD, Visiting Fellow, School of Regulation and Global Governance, The Australian National University.

‘In this remarkable, absorbing and - at times - discomforting book, Sidney Dekker looks at a specific range of safety literature in which people give their experiences of having lived through disaster… Rarely has this reviewer muttered and expostulated so much over a book: it made me mad yet drew me in, especially by those very personal vignettes of the author. Don’t read this if you want an easy introduction to the idea of disaster and suffering but if readers are up for a challenge this is the book for them.'

The RoSPA OS&H Journal

'At once wretchedly fascinating and intellectually demanding, and following the footsteps of Cicero, Plutarch, Calvin, Darwin, Leibniz and Marx, he engulfs the reader in what feels like encyclopaedic knowledge brought to bear on one spot…this is an interesting read, which, in Dekker’s own words, seeks to “tell, to tease, and to tickle” the reader into reflection. Given the patience, concentration and open-mindedness it requires, I believe it will do just that.'

Andrew Sharman CFIOSH, IOSH Magazine

Table of Contents

Preface Chapter 1. Disaster, religion and science Chapter 2. Son of a preacherwoman Chapter 3. The entitled class Chapter 4. Existential dread Chapter 5. Human error Chapter 6. A question of faith Chapter 7. Killing death Chapter 8. Returning to dust Chapter 9. Grief without a god Chapter10. The end of death Chapter11. Resurrecting heaven Coda Bibliography Notes

About the Author

Sidney Dekker is Professor of Humanities and Social Science at Griffith University, Australia, an institution founded on a commitment to social justice. He holds two Dutch degrees in psychology and a PhD (1996) in cognitive systems engineering from the Ohio State University, USA.

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
FAMILY & RELATIONSHIPS / Death, Grief, Bereavement
PSYCHOLOGY / Cognitive Psychology
PSYCHOLOGY / Grief & Loss
RELIGION / Christian Life / Death, Grief, Bereavement
SCIENCE / Chaotic Behavior in Systems
SCIENCE / Philosophy & Social Aspects
SCIENCE / Cognitive Science
SELF-HELP / Death, Grief, Bereavement
SOCIAL SCIENCE / Death & Dying
TECHNOLOGY & ENGINEERING / Industrial Engineering
TECHNOLOGY & ENGINEERING / Industrial Health & Safety