Thursday, June 26, 2008

All Roads Lead to the Same Place, but Which Place?

Recently, the Pew Research center presented some statistics on religion in America. One of the interesting findings to me was that a great number of evangelicals believe that there is more than one to heaven (or the after life). Here is the data (copied from Although many Americans are highly religious, they are not dogmatic in their faith. Seventy percent of Americans with a religious affiliation say that many religions – not just their own – can lead to eternal life. Most also think there is more than one correct way to interpret the teachings of their own faith.
This puzzles me, because of the major world religions (Christianity, Buddhism, Hinduism, Judaism and Islam), there are differing views of the afterlife. So many of us believe that there is more than one way to heaven, but there are different views on what heaven is. So, either all of us are wrong, one of us is correct, or we all are going to get to the same place, but we really don’t have any idea what it is going to be when we get there.

Hinduism: Heaven (and hell) are illusions. They are temporary stopping points for the soul in between reincarnations. They believe that when a person dies, their sould escapes through a hole in the head and will either be reborn in to higher life form (or lesser if their karma during life was bad). The goal is liberation from the body (or material) forever.

Buddhism is somewhat similar to Hinduism in that after death the soul is either reincarnated into a body or release into Nirvana. Only those who have attained enlightenment (buddhas) will attain Nirvana. We are not really sure what Nirvana is, but the term literally means “to extinguish” that is to be release from the cycle of suffering.

In Islam, persons are resurrected and their good deeds are weighed against their bad deeds on a scale held by the angel Gabriel. There are seven levels of hell. In Hell the damned will be broiled, beaten with red-hot iron maces, suspended by their tongues, forced to drink boiling water and molten copper, and will have their brains boiled and their flesh cut with scissors of fire. True believers, lying on couches in Paradise, will see the damned suffer and laugh at them scornfully. All male inhabitants of heaven will become fair, beardless, curly-haired, 90 ft. tall, and 33 years old. Black-eyed houris, or nymphs, of perfect beauty, free from excretions of any kind, await them in pavilions of green cushions. Other beautiful damsels will refrain from beholding any but their own spouses. Every man in Paradise will marry 500 houris, 4,000 virgins, and 8,000 nonvirgins.

Judaism – the Hebrew Bible (the OT) is not as clear on the afterlife as the NT is. In Judaism, there is, for the most part, a belief in a resurrection (although there are sects of Judaism that reject the resurrection of the dead). There is a place for the righteous dead as well as a place for the wicked.

Since these world view all have differing views of what comes next as well as differing views as to how one gets to the afterlife, then like I said, either we are all wrong, one is right or there is an afterlife but none of us really know what it is.


The MAN Fan Club said...

I went ahead and bought my ticket to Heaven on Stubhub. Had to pay a 10% commision plus the extra for printing the ticket online.

I saw the statistics in the USA Today and it was really just a blurr. People say one thing and really don't know what they believe. And Oprah said that it is kind of narrow minded thinking that Jesus is the only way to Heaven.

Don't know if I acknowledge the true topic of your blog.

billy v said...

Oprah needs to define heaven. Like I said, it doesn't look like we are all ending up in the same place.