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← Many Americans Say Other Faiths Can Lead to Eternal Life

Many Americans Say Other Faiths Can Lead to Eternal Life - Comments

Big City's Avatar Comment 1 by Big City

So now they're picking and choosing from other Holy Books, as well?

Fri, 19 Dec 2008 11:36:00 UTC | #289412

firstelder_d's Avatar Comment 2 by firstelder_d

Even though none of these options lead to eternal life, I find it funny that the 'Atheists' and 'People with no religious faith' have different numbers, and that they were separate groups to begin with.

Fri, 19 Dec 2008 11:36:00 UTC | #289413

thewhitepearl's Avatar Comment 3 by thewhitepearl

Dunderheads, all of them.

Fri, 19 Dec 2008 11:41:00 UTC | #289414

prettygoodformonkeys's Avatar Comment 4 by prettygoodformonkeys

By what sleight-of-hand can you qualify:

"I am the Way, the Truth, and the Light; no man comes to the Father except through Me"


"Or through that other guy. Or one of the other ones."

I guess as long as you believe in something you will live forever, doesn't really matter what.

Fri, 19 Dec 2008 12:09:00 UTC | #289422

Ygern's Avatar Comment 6 by Ygern

What an utter waste of time and money this poll was.

All it shows is that those who responded to the survey are
1) not the keenest critical thinkers &
2) think that being 'open-minded' means aspiring to woolly-headed multiculturalism at its most bone-headed.

Also possibly
3) dingbats

Fri, 19 Dec 2008 12:16:00 UTC | #289424

IaninPA's Avatar Comment 5 by IaninPA

I've said it before; in some ways I have more respect for the fundamentalists - at least they stick to their 'principles'.

The mental gymnastics that the middle ground faithful go through to try and reconcile their superstitious nonsense with the secular values they grew up in, (whether they know it or now), makes me sick.

Fri, 19 Dec 2008 12:16:00 UTC | #289423

JFHalsey's Avatar Comment 7 by JFHalsey

Despite the numbers being lower than from any other faith, the fact that Atheism had postive numbers at all in the "Can X lead to Eternal Life'" question surprises me greatly. That means that There are actually Evangelicals who think that atheists can get to heaven' Wow.

Fri, 19 Dec 2008 12:23:00 UTC | #289429

MrPickwick's Avatar Comment 8 by MrPickwick

Is this really a surprise? Anybody really thought Obama would be significantly different? Wishful thinking never dies...

Fri, 19 Dec 2008 12:58:00 UTC | #289441

Neuro's Avatar Comment 9 by Neuro

Ian Bamlett

I agree with you on the fundamentalists at least sticking to the book and NOT cherry picking.

I've always said that I have a shred more respect for fundamentalists than moderates, who, for the sake of believing and being "good girl/boy", tend to mash religions and not even practice religions.

At least if the Bible says you should stone someone for 'X', fundamentalists do it.
How the hell can you "interpret" stoning to death as something different?

Fri, 19 Dec 2008 12:59:00 UTC | #289442

epeeist's Avatar Comment 10 by epeeist

Comment #303779 by Big City

So now they're picking and choosing from other Holy Books, as well?
Well all the other holy books are either pre-echoes or echoes of the bible depending on whether they came before or after it.

And yes, that is an argument I have seen advanced in all seriousness.

Fri, 19 Dec 2008 13:37:00 UTC | #289461

s.k.graham's Avatar Comment 11 by s.k.graham

This notion that "at least fundamentalists stick to their principles" somehow makes them more deserving of respect than more moderate, less literal believers is one of the most idiotic memes bouncing around in atheist/secular circles.

Having grown up as a 'moderate' christian (prior to coming to agree 99% with Dawkins & co), I assure you that as a teenager my liberal opinion that the bible was not literal truth and that "all religions have some degree of truth" were very principled stands, and were the most rational opinions possible until such time as I was ready to wholly discard various supernatural assumptions handed down to me by prior generations.

To have ever believed the bible literally would have been a gross violation of my principles.

It makes no sense to hold the liberal or moderate christian in contempt for failing to stick to someone else's (i.e. fundamentalist) principles. And the beliefs of moderate christians are more rational -- one must generally dig deeper to expose logical inconsistencies or assumptions made with no evidence. This does, of course, vary on an individual basis.

Fri, 19 Dec 2008 13:50:00 UTC | #289473

daveau's Avatar Comment 12 by daveau

Raised presbyterian in the US, I believed that most religions were different paths to the same god. Most of my friends of different faiths (yes, even a few actual non-christians) felt the same way.

Fri, 19 Dec 2008 13:58:00 UTC | #289477

Don_Quix's Avatar Comment 13 by Don_Quix

That's not *my* God!



Fri, 19 Dec 2008 14:03:00 UTC | #289480

FatherNature's Avatar Comment 14 by FatherNature

This result is not surprising. My own research has found that 91% of all Americans are complete lunatics. The figure for Christian Americans is approximately 99.8%

Fri, 19 Dec 2008 14:08:00 UTC | #289485

Sarmatae1's Avatar Comment 15 by Sarmatae1

Caudimordax on another thread just posted a link to an Obama interview about his religous belief. He does just this sort of theological acrobatics, where he says;

You don't believe that?

I find it hard to believe that my God would consign four-fifths of the world to hell.

I can't imagine that my God would allow some little Hindu kid in India who never interacts with the Christian faith to somehow burn for all eternity.

That's just not part of my religious makeup.

Really are you christian or not? All his answers in the interview were geared toward stating that he is in fact a christian, then backing off from that statment.
This is probably why he was so popular here in the states. Many people want to claim affiliation with the in crowd then spend the remainder of their time proving they arent crazy.
Caudimordax' link:

Fri, 19 Dec 2008 14:23:00 UTC | #289490

IaninPA's Avatar Comment 16 by IaninPA

Comment #303842 by s.k.graham

This notion that "at least fundamentalists stick to their principles" somehow makes them more deserving of respect than more moderate, less literal believers is one of the most idiotic memes bouncing around in atheist/secular circles.

I don't like liars, hypocrites or dissemblers and the moderates have all three in spades and then some. We can see the fundies coming a thousand miles off and take the appropriate action to avoid them or combat them.

The insidious 'moderates' really are the ones I despise because in my opinion most of them are just sheep who don't have the guts to admit they are just going along with the crowd.

Fri, 19 Dec 2008 14:46:00 UTC | #289501

GBile's Avatar Comment 17 by GBile

A religious (protestant) friend of mine thinks that we atheists will have 'eternal life', but must spend it 'outside the presence of the deity'.

He thinks this is bad in some way.

Well, never mind.

Fri, 19 Dec 2008 14:49:00 UTC | #289502

rod-the-farmer's Avatar Comment 18 by rod-the-farmer

Cringe/grimace. I can't agree with the idea that fundies deserve even some respect for being "true" to their beliefs. Nah. Can't go for that. Not at all. Take one of them aside, and start going through the old testament line by line, and ask them point blank if they agree with some of the more gory bits. Try to pin them down on all the ethnic cleansing massacres, the stonings, etc., but of course saving the young women for yourselves business. I have yet to find a single one who will sign up for all of it, chapter & verse. Most of them have never read the whole thing anyway. They just put post-it notes on the passages they have been told are significant. No one ever showed them the glaring inconsistencies, the mutual contradictions, and all the other bafflegab the OT contains, let alone the similar but lesser stuff in the New Testament.

Once you do that, and get the foot-shuffling response, then you can decide if they are deserving of any respect.

Fri, 19 Dec 2008 14:49:00 UTC | #289503

Border Collie's Avatar Comment 19 by Border Collie

Whew! I guess I'll be able to sleep tonight afterall.
Seriously, when I was a kid going to the Baptist Church of the Tax Break in rural Texas, we were told in no uncertain terms that we were the only ones going to heaven. Even the other Christian cults weren't going. And, don't even think about Jews, Hindus, Buddhists, Muslims, Mormons and other assorted religous trash. And, atheists ... we didn't even say the word ... we knew when they died the Earth would just open up and swallow them on the spot.

Fri, 19 Dec 2008 14:51:00 UTC | #289505

IaninPA's Avatar Comment 20 by IaninPA

Comment #303871 by GBile

A religious (protestant) friend of my thinks that we atheists will have 'eternal life', but must spend it 'outside the presence of the deity'.

He thinks this is bad in some way.

Sounds like a win to me if you adhere, as I do, to the Hitchens proposition that an eternity in servitude to a heavenly dictator would be the worst imaginable form of slavery.

This way, we get to have eternal life but never actually have to come face to face with that evil shit of a god.

Fri, 19 Dec 2008 14:53:00 UTC | #289508

Vaal's Avatar Comment 21 by Vaal

The "eye of the needle" is turning into a raging waterfall.

Maybe there is a credit crunch in heaven?

God repossessing for the new influx of non-Christians? Maybe he is getting bored with all that tedious worship and wants a bit of new blood.

I can see the new street signs going up, "Pagan valley", "Ra street", "Odin avenue", and yes, this week only, a special offer "Atheist corner", or maybe "Dawkins" Boulevard? :-)

Fri, 19 Dec 2008 14:54:00 UTC | #289509

Eric Blair's Avatar Comment 22 by Eric Blair

I’m with S.K. Graham on this one. I find these results pretty optimistic – it shows Americans are a lot less dogmatic and intolerant in their religious views than I would have thought.

Part of this reflects the nature and history of Christianity, which is much more flexible and diverse than Islam and Judaism. It would have been interesting to ask these same questions of religious Jews - and Muslims even more so.

The fact many American Christians have vague beliefs and interpret the Bible in a variety of ways may be inconvenient and frustrating to atheists trying to challenge and "debate" them, but it’s not a bad thing. Would it be better if they were all Creationists?

This survey reflects what people claim to believe, not “arguments” about why religion is true or important. There are no “rules” that say Christians have to believe everything in the Bible – it was never supposed to be the literal word of God and has been “interpreted” almost from the get-go, starting with St Paul. Fundamentalists” are actually a recent aberration, and viewed with suspicion by most mainstream Christians.

It may not be popular to say here but “modern” moderate Christianity, while not strictly rational in that it considers un-testable ideas and principles in some sense real and significant, is nonetheless more “reasonable” than literal versions of Christianity and certainly Islam.

As others have said, modern Christianity has tried to adapt to the implications of the Enlightenment and the secular “public square.” Whether or not they have been successful under close rationalistic scrutiny, this is generally a good thing for the communities and societies they live in.


Fri, 19 Dec 2008 15:00:00 UTC | #289514

Tzsak's Avatar Comment 23 by Tzsak

I love how Atheists and People of no religious faith are in separate groups.

Hmm, slightly enlightening.

Fri, 19 Dec 2008 15:07:00 UTC | #289517

AdamMil's Avatar Comment 24 by AdamMil

Perhaps the questions were poorly chosen.

Christians, Muslims, Jews, etc. generally believe that everybody has eternal life, including atheists. How many go to heaven is a different story. Of course atheists have eternal life. In hell!

Fri, 19 Dec 2008 15:30:00 UTC | #289526

Eshto's Avatar Comment 25 by Eshto

Well all the other holy books are either pre-echoes or echoes of the bible depending on whether they came before or after it.

And yes, that is an argument I have seen advanced in all seriousness

I had a friend who was a fundamentalist Christian, and he started dating a girl who was very eclectic, but mostly New Age or Wiccan. I was very interested to see what would happen. Would they each realize how different and incompatible the other person's belief system was, and maybe come to some rational conclusion that maybe both were wrong?

Nope, quite the opposite. They actually absorbed each other's beliefs. The girl had believed in fairies and spirits, but became convinced that angels and demons were real as well. And my friend came to believe that all myths and religions were true. For example he told me that Odin existed and that he was "another Christ."

Fri, 19 Dec 2008 15:38:00 UTC | #289528

ridelo's Avatar Comment 26 by ridelo

No, no, no! Everybody goes to heaven as long as you do what you think is the right thing. Even Hitler sincerely believed that he was serving the German people, I suppose. He's now playing cards with Churchill.

Fri, 19 Dec 2008 15:40:00 UTC | #289529

Hellene's Avatar Comment 27 by Hellene

"That's just your opinion man"

The Dude

And hey if they ain't YEC we can work with them, right?

Fri, 19 Dec 2008 16:29:00 UTC | #289535

JasonG's Avatar Comment 28 by JasonG

Of the 46% of American Christians who claim to believe that atheists are ineligible for eternal life (whatever that means), what percentage genuinely believe this ineligibility to be a good thing? I know that there are Christians who claim to be perfectly content with the idea of non-believers being sentenced to hell (Fred Phelps and his clan come to mind; Louis Theroux's documentary on them is quite chilling in this regard) and justify it by yielding all moral authority to God's supposed "Word" (arguing that whatever God says and does is necessarily good), but I very much hope that these people are in the minority. In the extraordinarily unlikely event that a fundamentalist Christian managed to convince me that God does in fact exist and has sentenced non-Christians to eternal torment after death, I could not imagine feeling anything other than revulsion and rage toward a being capable of that level of cruelty.

I am torn about how to view the results of this survey. On the one hand, I find it difficult not to bang my head against a wall in frustration toward the more liberal Christians, who will happily cast aside specific doctrines they believe to be flawed without considering whether the whole system of Christianity might be equally so. On the other hand, I wonder whether the rejection of an exclusivist theory of salvation is an indicator that compassion and a sense of justice have scored some degree of victory over dogma in at least a few minds. Ideally, I would hope that the injustice of the doctrine of eternal damnation might prompt more people to reject Christianity altogether; nevertheless, I would still prefer to confront Christianity of the attenuated, wishy-washy sort than that of the toxic, my-way-is-the-only-way-and-THOU-SHALT-OBEY sort. (The former is less likely to motivate its adherents to attack the lives and liberties of their fellow citizens in its name.)

One result that I find deeply and unreservedly disheartening, however, is the distinction between "people with no religious faith" and "atheists." It appears that a significant number of American Christians would prefer that their atheist compatriots remain in the closet.

Fri, 19 Dec 2008 16:39:00 UTC | #289536

Ed-words's Avatar Comment 29 by Ed-words

A song we used to sing in grade school --

"Oh, you can't get to Heaven,
On roller skates. . ."

(Anyone know the rest? I don't.)

Fri, 19 Dec 2008 17:11:00 UTC | #289542

sarah95's Avatar Comment 30 by sarah95

This was how I "rationalized" my faith when I was a moderate Christian. Little by little I admitted that more and more religions and types of people were deserving of "salvation" that it eventually became meaningless and I could see through my own excuses. I actually believed that instead of believers dying and going to heaven and non-believers(non-christians) going to hell, that after each person died, they met Christ who gave them one last chance. That way, in my mind, only truly grumpy folks who really wanted than pain of hell would get it. It was really quite sad and pathetic. Glad I was able to "come up for air" as it were, and get over my many superstitions.

And speaking of "my god" versus "your god", this reminds me of the pilot episode of The West Wing, in which Deputy Chief of Staff Josh Lyman started a PR nightmare for the white house when he got into a shouting match with a Christian Right lady:

lady: you don't believe in any god I pray to!!
josh: lady, your god is too busy being indicted for tax fraud!

Later in the episode when the fundagelicals in question come to the white house, the prez kicks them out, great scene.

Fri, 19 Dec 2008 18:13:00 UTC | #289553