New York Times columnist Ross Douthat has an interesting column this week on the flip side of bliss: hell.
His column comes in the wake of the firestorm among evangelicals about the new book by one of their own, preacher Rob Bell. In Love Wins: A Book About Heaven, Hell and the Fate of Every Person Who Ever Lived, Bell suggests there is no hell.
"Even in our supposedly disenchanted age, large majorities of Americans believe in God and heaven, miracles and prayer. But belief in hell lags well behind, and the fear of damnation seems to have evaporated," Douthat writes.
Indeed, a 2008 Pew Forum survey of more than 30,000 Americans found 74 percent of the general population believes in heaven, while 59 percent believes in hell.
Muslims, evangelical Christians and those who attend historically black churches have the highest belief rate — 80 percent to 82 percent — while 59 percent of Mormons and 60 percent of Catholics believe in hell.
The data is in the fine print of the U.S. Religious Landscape Survey.
Hell's "weakening grip," the Times columnist says, is a consequence of growing pluralism and a comfortable society's inability to reconcile a good creator with suffering.
But making God more humane makes human life less fully human, Douthat argues.
"Atheists have license to scoff at damnation, but to believe in God and not in hell is ultimately to disbelieve in the reality of human choices. If there’s no possibility of saying no to paradise, then none of our no’s have any real meaning either. They’re like home runs or strikeouts in a children’s game where nobody’s keeping score."
|1.||Transformers 4 trailer has Dinobots and Mark Wahlberg in it|
|2.||Mormon women to try again to get into priesthood meeting|
|3.||Satirical musical ‘The Book of Mormon’ set to play Utah theater|
|4.||‘Cosmos’ re-emerges on Fox with the help of Seth MacFarlane|
|5.||Two South Valley restaurants closed for health violations|
|6.||At the Utah State Prison, the tie that binds|
|7.||LDS leader tells Mormons to embrace their history, keep their faith|
|8.||Five days left: Seizures, sleeplessness as Utah families await cannabis oil bill|
|9.||Market Street Broiler near Utah campus adds an Oyster Bar|
|10.||Kirby: The truth about Mormon tithing|