Main | Monday, December 29, 2008

All Dogs Go To Heaven

Charles Blow has an interesting opinion piece in the NY Times about the Pew Forum's recent survey which surprisingly shows that 70% of Americans believe that people from religions other than theirs (and even atheists) can go to heaven.
One very plausible explanation is that Americans just want good things to come to good people, regardless of their faith. As Alan Segal, a professor of religion at Barnard College told me: “We are a multicultural society, and people expect this American life to continue the same way in heaven.” He explained that in our society, we meet so many good people of different faiths that it’s hard for us to imagine God letting them go to hell.

In fact, in the most recent survey, Pew asked people what they thought determined whether a person would achieve eternal life. Nearly as many Christians said you could achieve eternal life by just being a good person as said that you had to believe in Jesus. Also, many Christians apparently view their didactic text as flexible. According to Pew’s August survey, only 39 percent of Christians believe that the Bible is the literal word of God, and 18 percent think that it’s just a book written by men and not the word of God at all. In fact, on the question in the Pew survey about what it would take to achieve eternal life, only 1 percent of Christians said living life in accordance with the Bible.
There's a great discussion going on in the comments to the piece. My favorite is this little poem left by one atheist:
It seems that I was unaware
That to a Place that isn't there,
I'll end, like True believers will,
Ungrateful, unbelieving still!

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