Re: [asa] Attaining heaven -- a poll

From: David Clounch <>
Date: Sat Dec 27 2008 - 15:02:50 EST

Its an interesting survey. As George points out, a survey on ignorance? :)

Maybe I am simple minded, but I look at it in a very practical way. Lets
assume God doesn't exist. That means that the very best a person can hope
for is to spend a few years on this planet, and then spend the rest of
eternity six feet under. And everyone you know will reach the same fate.
Whether they were good or bad doesn't matter - all will be pushing up
daisies. Thats the very best we can hope for. I think that is rather
grim. Its certainly grim enough. I'll call that option I.

(BTW, two days before Christmas I finalized the cremation of my mother. This
isn't a theoretical matter. Its real).

It could be worse. One possibly could live on - and be subjected to
horrible situations that make one wish for death. You don't need hell for
that. Just being forced to live with tyrants for which there are no limits
to their actions, with no consequences, can lead one to want to escape into
death. I'll call these undesirable situations option II.

Are any other options available?

OK, along comes someone like God who can save us from that grim reality of
the very best we could look forward to, which is Option I. A smart
person would jump at the opportunity!!!! But what do people do instead?
They complain about how unfair it is that their benefactor doesn't suit
their whims. That would be like the millionaire reality show where the
undercover millionaire writes a check for $100,000 to you, and you slap his
hand and blame him for being a millionaire - and refuse to cash the check to
spite him. Would that be dumb, or insane?

Death is a good thing given the consequences of sin and the natural human
condition. Who would want to be dying of cancer for 100,000 years? Whether
you were good or bad has nothing to do with it.

All religions exist because people have a yearning for something other than
their natural condition. That shows how bad they think their natural
condition really is. But how does blaming the solution change their
natural condition? I think it is the unbeliever who is engaging in wishful

But, as I said, I must be sort of simple minded. I see the Christ as
absolutely WONDERFUL. If someone thinks there is another way besides the
Christ, what they need to show is that the other way gets the job done.

-Dave C

On Sun, Dec 28, 2008 at 11:02 AM, John Burgeson (ASA member) <> wrote:

> Of course, a poll that says most folks think that Jesus is not "the
> only way" has no effect on the truth or falsity of that claim. But it
> is interesting..
> Published: December 26, 2008
> In June, the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life published a
> controversial survey in which 70 percent of Americans said that they
> believed religions other than theirs could lead to eternal life.
> Earl Wilson/The New York Times
> Charles M. Blow
> This threw evangelicals into a tizzy. After all, the Bible makes it
> clear that heaven is a velvet-roped V.I.P. area reserved for
> Christians. Jesus said so: "I am the way, the truth and the life: no
> man cometh unto the Father, but by me." But the survey suggested that
> Americans just weren't buying that.
> The evangelicals complained that people must not have understood the
> question. The respondents couldn't actually believe what they were
> saying, could they?
> So in August, Pew asked the question again. (They released the results
> last week.) Sixty-five percent of respondents said again that
> other religions could lead to eternal life. But this time, to clear up
> any confusion, Pew asked them to specify which religions. The
> respondents essentially said all of them.
> And they didn't stop there. Nearly half also thought that atheists
> could go to heaven dragged there kicking and screaming, no doubt
> and most thought that people with no religious faith also could go.
> What on earth does this mean?
> 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.
> Now, there remains the possibility that some of those polled may not
> have understood the implications of their answers. As John Green, a
> senior fellow at the Pew Forum, said, "The capacity of ignorance to
> influence survey outcomes should never be underestimated." But I don't
> think that they are ignorant about this most basic tenet of their
> faith. I think that they are choosing to ignore it ... for goodness
> sake.
> --
> Burgy (In the above, I'd object to the claim that "the Bible makes it
> clear.")
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Received on Sat Dec 27 17:37:38 2008

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