Skip to comments.What lies beneath
Posted on 08/05/2008 6:52:21 PM PDT by forkinsocket
LIFE IS HELL, or so the expression goes, but, for many Americans, the afterlife is looking up.
Last week's release of a sweeping study by the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life confirmed a long-developing trend in popular cosmology: belief in heaven is outstripping belief in hell.
The Pew survey, significant for the breadth and depth made possible by its unusually large 35,000-person sample, found that 74 percent of Americans say they think there is a heaven, "where people who have led good lives are eternally rewarded," while just 59 percent think there is a hell, "where people who have led bad lives, and die without being sorry, are eternally punished."
At first blush, the idea of a God who rewards good but does not punish evil seems counterintuitive, after centuries in which one of the key benefits of eternal salvation - and one of the promises of conversion to Christianity - was the avoidance of eternal damnation.
But hell experts - and yes, there are scholars who spend this life studying the next one - say the underworld has been losing favor for some time. Since the Enlightenment, a liberalizing trend in religion has favored conceptions of God as benevolent, rather than judgmental. But also, there are peculiarly American characteristics to this emerging hell gap: an insistent optimism, perhaps a kind of cultural self-contentedness, and a tolerance born of diversity that makes damning the other more problematic.
"Hell is for nonbelievers, and most Americans don't believe there are nonbelievers next door, even if their religion is different," said Alan F. Segal, a professor of religion at Barnard College and the author of "Life After Death: A History of the Afterlife in Western Religion."
(Excerpt) Read more at boston.com ...
Religion is useless without a hell of some sort involved.
Can you imagine how this makes the intellectuals at the “Pew Forum for Religion and Public Life” feel? Decades of “G-d Is Dead” propaganda, billions of words and millions of hours of television time, all for naught.
“belief in heaven is outstripping belief in hell”
Yeah, that’s not actually a good thing. What it means is a lot of people believe (wrongly) that they’re going to heaven when they die simply for existing.
Feel-good religion for the Obama generation. Play now, pay later.
I can't say I agree. The Creator gets to make things up the way He chooses. For us, he chose there to be a Hell. My opinion about whether it is useful or not pretty much doesn't matter. It is.
There's more to it than that. Read your Bibles, people!
Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.
Certainly hell on earth exists so it is only logical that, if there is an afterlife, hell would also exist there too. Also, unless evil people suddenly change upon death to good people, they would be bringing hell (evil) into heaven with them thereby causing heaven to become hell.
Most of the serious researchers documenting near-death experiences note that at least 30 to 40% of those experiences involve hell of some sort, either being in hell or observing hell from a safe vantage point.....so to speak.
“Just” nearly two-thirds of us believe in Hell. I wonder if this was written from the perspective that it would be nice for “Old Kennedy” if there were no hell?
I don't think there is one without the other. Is there an up without a down?, a hot without a cold?, a left without a right? You can whistle past the grave yard if you want, there is still the stark, dead, cold reality of the grave yard.
"I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No man comes to the Father but through me."
This is extremely good news, especially if you are into dualistic notions of cosmology.
Personlly I believe in karma, or kizmet. You simply die and then your soul seeks its own subsequent place, based on the kind of life you have led, how much suffering caused, and what ones life causes ones soul to be atracted to after death. That place may not be heaven or hell, but one of many , (maybe about 6)possibilities, more or less. I believe there are 4 other realms in addition to heaven and hell.The hell realm, realm of the gods ( heaven), Realm of the jealous gods ( I like your heaven better than mine), the animal realm, the realm of hungry ghosts, and the human realm.One can be reborn in any one of them.
But the fact that people believe in heaven also means that they believe that humans are unconditionally good, and have the opportunity to manifest goodness in life, and attain the state of heaven.
That is very good news indeed. Evil is losing. Perhaps one day it will cease to exist.
The Bruce Greyson Lecture from the International Association for Near-Death Studies 2004 Annual Conference
Peter Fenwick, M.D., F.R.C.Psych. Institute of Psychiatry, Kings College, London, U.K. Mental Health Group, University of Southampton Retrospective Studies of NDEs
"The phenomena reported during NDEs included 66 percent who reported an out-of-body experience, 76 percent pastoral landscapes, 38 percent seeing deceased friends and relatives, 12 percent life reviews, 24 percent a barrier of some sort, and 72 percent a decision to return. Only 4 percent had hellish experiences."
Case in point: all the folks I heard saying of George Carlin -- "He's in a better place" (after he spent the last 20 years crudely bashing God, Heaven, everything holy.
They made an agreement that whoever dies first, must come back and tell the other all about it.
Pat ups and suddenly dies.
He appears to Mike 3 days later.
Mike: Is that you Pat ?
Pat: Sure it is.
Mike: does heaven exist ?
Pat: Sure it does
Mike: Well ?
Pat: There's good news and bad news.
The good news: there are golf courses as far as the eye can see. Greener than any green you can imagine. You can't lose a ball, the greens roll true, there's nary a boonker or pond in site.
Mike: The bad news ?
Pat: you're teeing off with us tomorrow at 10:30
Reminds me of this:
11 For it must needs be, that there is an opposition in all things. If not so, my first-born in the wilderness, righteousness could not be brought to pass, neither wickedness, neither holiness nor misery, neither good nor bad. Wherefore, all things must needs be a compound in one; wherefore, if it should be one body it must needs remain as dead, having no life neither death, nor corruption nor incorruption, happiness nor misery, neither sense nor insensibility.
(Book of Mormon, Second Nephi, ch 2)
12 Wherefore, it must needs have been created for a thing of naught; wherefore there would have been no purpose in the end of its creation. Wherefore, this thing must needs destroy the wisdom of God and his eternal purposes, and also the power, and the mercy, and the justice of God.
13 And if ye shall say there is no law, ye shall also say there is no sin. If ye shall say there is no sin, ye shall also say there is no righteousness. And if there be no righteousness there be no happiness. And if there be no righteousness nor happiness there be no punishment nor misery. And if these things are not there is no God. And if there is no God we are not, neither the earth; for there could have been no creation of things, neither to act nor to be acted upon; wherefore, all things must have vanished away.
14 And now, my sons, I speak unto you these things for your profit and learning; for there is a God, and he hath created all things, both the heavens and the earth, and all things that in them are, both things to act and things to be acted upon.
15 And to bring about his eternal purposes in the end of man, after he had created our first parents, and the beasts of the field and the fowls of the air, and in fine, all things which are created, it must needs be that there was an opposition; even the forbidden fruit in opposition to the tree of life; the one being sweet and the other bitter.
16 Wherefore, the Lord God gave unto man that he should act for himself. Wherefore, man could not act for himself save it should be that he was enticed by the one or the other.
I have read books and studies with higher numbers of hellish experiences but cannot find the references as I have forgotten the names of the writers. It used to be a hobby of mine to keep track of this phenomenon, but that was many years ago. Also many of those who have heavenly expriences observe hell without actually being in it. In any case, 4% or 40%, hell exists either way, provided that what these people have experienced represents the afterlife.