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April 21st, 2014
11:00 AM ET

What Hollywood gets wrong about heaven

Opinion by Drew Dyck, special to CNN 

(CNN) - The 4-year-old boy sees angels floating toward him. They start out as stars, then slowly become more visible, wings flapping behind orbs of white light.

As they approach, they sing a melodious song. The boy cocks his head, squints into the sky, and makes a strange request. “Can you sing ‘We Will Rock You’?”

The angels giggle.

So do people in the theater.

The scene is from “Heaven is for Real,” the latest in a string of religious movies soaring at the box office. Based on the best-selling book of the same name, the film tells the real-life story of Colton Burpo, a 4-year-old boy who awakens from surgery with eye-popping tales of the great beyond. The film took in an estimated $21.5 million in opening on Easter weekend.

Even Colton’s religious parents (his dad, Todd, is a pastor) struggle to accept the celestial encounters their son describes: seeing Jesus and his rainbow-colored horse, meeting his sister who died in utero, and talking to his deceased great-grandfather, “Pop,” who, Colton exclaims, has “huge wings.”

The book and film are part of a larger trend. Depictions of journeys to heaven have never been more numerous or more popular. There’s “90 Minutes in Heaven,” “To Heaven and Back,” “Proof of Heaven,” and “The Boy Who Came Back From Heaven,” just to name a few.

Does God have a prayer in Hollywood?

So what should we make of such accounts? And what does their popularity say about us?

Some may be surprised that the Bible contains not one story of a person going to heaven and coming back. In fact Jesus’ own words seem to preclude the possibility: “No one has ever gone into heaven except the one who came from heaven - the Son of Man” (John 3:13).

Scripture does contain several visions of heaven or encounters with celestial beings, but they’re a far cry from the feel-good fare of the to-heaven-and-back genre.

In Scripture, when mortals catch a premature glimpse of God’s glory, they react in remarkably similar ways. They tremble. They cower. They go mute. The ones who can manage speech express despair (or “woe” to use the King James English) and become convinced they are about to die. Fainters abound.

Take the prophet Daniel, for instance. He could stare down lions, but when the heavens opened before him, he swooned. Ezekiel, too, was overwhelmed by his vision of God. After witnessing Yahweh’s throne chariot fly into the air with the sound of a jet engine, he fell face-first to the ground.

Perhaps the most harrowing vision belongs to Isaiah. He sees the Almighty “high and exalted,” surrounded by angels who use their wings to shield their faces and feet from the glory of God. Faced with this awesome spectacle, Isaiah loses it. “Woe to me!” he cries, “I am ruined!” (Isaiah 6:5)

New Testament figures fare no better.

John’s famous revelations of heaven left him lying on the ground “as though dead” (Revelation 1:17). The disciples dropped when they saw Jesus transfigured. Even the intrepid Saul marching to Damascus collapsed before the open heavens - and walked away blind.

How different from our popular depictions. And it isn’t just “Heaven is for Real.” In most movies angels are warm, approachable - teddy bears with wings. God is Morgan Freeman or some other avuncular presence.

Scripture, however, knows nothing of such portrayals. Heavenly encounters are terrifying, leaving even the most stout and spiritual vibrating with fear - or lying facedown, unconscious.

When God plays the villain

Yes, the Bible teaches that heaven is a place of ultimate comfort, with “no more death or mourning or crying or pain” (Revelation 21:4).

But it is also a place where the reality of God’s unbridled majesty reigns supreme - and that’s scary.

Did a 4-year-old boy from Nebraska really visit heaven? I don’t know. My hunch is that the popularity of such stories tells us more about our view of God than the place in which he dwells.

Ultimately I believe we flock to gauzy, feel-good depictions of heaven and tiptoe around the biblical passages mentioned above because we’ve lost sight of God’s holiness.

I fear we’ve sentimentalized heaven and by extension its primary occupant. I worry the modern understanding of God owes more to Colton Burpo than the prophet Isaiah. And I think this one-sided portrayal diminishes our experience of God.

We can’t truly appreciate God’s grace until we glimpse his greatness. We won’t be lifted by his love until we’re humbled by his holiness.

The affection of a cosmic buddy is one thing. But the love of the Lord of heaven and earth, the one who Isaiah says “dwells in unapproachable light,” means something else entirely.

Of course it means nothing if you think it’s all hokum. If for you the material reality is all the reality there is, any talk of God is white noise. But if you’re like me, and you think heaven is for real, well, it makes all the difference in the world.

Drew Dyck is managing editor of Leadership Journal and author of “Yawning at Tigers: You Can’t Tame God, So Stop Trying.” The views expressed in this column belong to Dyck.

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Art • Belief • Bible • Christianity • Heaven • Media • Movies • Opinion

soundoff (2,107 Responses)
  1. Doc Vestibule

    Fill in the Blank
    There is only one God and is His prophet.

    a) Muhammad
    b) Joseph Smith
    c) Ahura Mazda
    d) Bahá'u'lláh
    e) Kamu Kapauku

    April 22, 2014 at 9:35 am |
    • G to the T

      Zoroaster?

      April 22, 2014 at 11:56 am |
    • joey3467

      Joseph Smith, obviously.

      April 22, 2014 at 1:47 pm |
    • neverbeenhappieratheist

      The answer is "I".

      There is only one God and "I" is His prophet.

      April 22, 2014 at 4:47 pm |
  2. thefinisher1

    The lies of atheism shows everyday and atheism is growing weaker and weaker! 😄☺️☺️😊

    April 22, 2014 at 9:31 am |
    • Dyslexic doG

      don't feed the trolls.

      April 22, 2014 at 9:35 am |
      • thefinisher1

        Asinine.

        April 22, 2014 at 9:41 am |
        • gulliblenomore

          Finished....what do you expect when you come on a blog site with mostly intelligent people and spout the stupid things you do? I agree....you are asinine....

          April 22, 2014 at 9:45 am |
      • bostontola

        Maybe it's just me but this person is so out there and behaves so non Christian that it makes me think it is an atheist screwing with all of us.

        April 22, 2014 at 9:41 am |
        • thefinisher1

          Who says I'm a Christian? You? Proof? Evidence? Or is it a baseless assumption? Atheist? LOL. You can't be that stupid! My sides! 😄

          April 22, 2014 at 9:43 am |
        • mk

          I don't know, boston. If he acts like a non-christian and talks like a non-christian, he is probably a christian.

          April 22, 2014 at 9:44 am |
        • thefinisher1

          Wrong. Your stupidity is showing, kiddos!

          April 22, 2014 at 9:46 am |
        • bostontola

          I didn't say you were Christian, I said you behave non Christian.

          April 22, 2014 at 9:47 am |
        • thefinisher1

          You don't behave like a rational and logical atheist. You act like a child. That's how most internet atheists act anyways. Logic and reason is dead in today's atheism. Atheism=joke. 😃

          April 22, 2014 at 9:49 am |
        • gulliblenomore

          Wow, finished....you really are an idiot aren't you? Logic and reason are the basic tools of atheists. Christians are taught not to question, so reason goes right out the window for them. I don't really expect intelligent remarks from you based on your other moronic posts, but I just thought you might want to understand logic and reason from a more thoughtful perspective.

          April 22, 2014 at 9:58 am |
        • kudlak

          bostontola
          There isn't a single character representing themselves as a "Christian"here that I don't sometimes wonder is actually a bored atheist trying to stir up the conversation.

          It also wouldn't surprise me if a few of our avowed atheists here posting very intelligent arguments against theism actually turned out to be religious folks either finding their way towards atheism, or just indulging in the forbidden pleasure of voicing doubt.

          Of course, some of the really idiotic posters on either side could easily just be malicious trolls simply out to cast the other side as stupid, or unfeeling.

          Best to just treat everyone here as an online character, eh?

          April 22, 2014 at 10:31 am |
  3. midmomood

    What all this means to me is that this little boy probably had a sincere interest in finding out if God exists. God responded by giving him the knowledge in such a way that he may not forget. The knowledge is meant as a guide which unfortunately, most of us reject in favor of our lie factory human guidance system. As we go through life and struggle with various temptations, somewhere along the line most of us choose our own motives over divine intent. Then we're left with only our own knowledge, which is never as important as it seems. What we lost is far more precious than we believed. Life plays that trick on us, the price of our folly.

    April 22, 2014 at 9:14 am |
    • bostontola

      Why are there tricks? If God wanted to send a message, why deliver it to an unconscious patient instead of direct to all people in the conscious world? God wasn't shy about that in biblical days.

      April 22, 2014 at 9:19 am |
      • neverbeenhappieratheist

        I don't think mom means tricks, she means "the force"...

        "in favor of our lie factory human guidance system"

        I wonder what the pyramids would look like if the engineers were told to close their eyes and trust in the force instead of using our "lying" human guidance...

        April 22, 2014 at 4:43 pm |
    • Dyslexic doG

      ahhhh the workings of a cult addled mind ...

      April 22, 2014 at 9:20 am |
    • Doc Vestibule

      "Divine intent" is largely inscrutable.
      Every god has their own demands.
      Even in the monotheistic religions, the Creator demands different behaviours at different times from different people.

      If I've said it once, I've said it a million times:
      If the One True Deity, shaper and ruler of The Universe, wishes their words to be transmitted and adhered to, they should have been a bit less ambiguous. Expecting people to select "The Truth" out of limitless possibilities on faith alone seems a sloppy way to run things – especially if the punishment for a wrong choice is eternal torment.

      April 22, 2014 at 9:22 am |
    • gulliblenomore

      A sincere interest....from a 4 year old? At 4, his only interest is not crapping his pants.

      April 22, 2014 at 9:25 am |
    • igaftr

      " God responded by giving him the knowledge in such a way that he may not forget"

      Way to leap to an unjustifyable conclusion.
      The boy had a NDE. Peaople have been shown to hallucinate/dream/delude while the brain tries frantically to grasp something familiar.
      There is STILL no indocation of any "god" enit!ties.
      Your post is from belief, nothing more that wild speculation.

      April 22, 2014 at 9:28 am |
    • igaftr

      midmo
      " our own motives over divine intent"
      You have no idea if the is any "divine" or what the intent is if there is any.
      All men act according to his own desirtes. No sign of any gods...that is just illogical belief.

      April 22, 2014 at 9:32 am |
    • mk

      So what about others who have a "sincere interest". Are they ignored by your god? Does he pick and choose who gets this special preview?

      April 22, 2014 at 9:34 am |
      • Doc Vestibule

        Scottish nutbar Benjamin Creme says that Jesus (aka Maitreya) will soon be making a global television announcement!
        "The Christ will come on the world's television channels, linked together by satellite. All those with access to television will see... He will establish a telepathic rapport with all humanity simultaneously. Hundreds of thousands of 'miracle' cures will take place simultaneously."

        Just ignore the fact that he got the same divine, telepathic message back in 1982, 1997 and 2010.

        April 22, 2014 at 9:42 am |
        • mk

          Maybe he's not a true Scotsman?

          April 22, 2014 at 9:46 am |
        • fintronics

          ""The Christ will come on the world's television channels, linked together by satellite. All those with access to television will see... He will establish a telepathic rapport with all humanity simultaneously. Hundreds of thousands of 'miracle' cures will take place simultaneously."

          Oh wow... that is way too funny!!!!!

          April 22, 2014 at 2:27 pm |
  4. Keith

    I heard the preacher talking about this yesterday, he is a nut case. I feel sorry for his son who is now 15 and says he doesn't remember much of what his father says he said or saw

    April 22, 2014 at 9:08 am |
  5. Reality

    Carl Sagan addressed this issue. He noted that we have looked out 10 billion light years and still have not found heaven.

    Of course when you cannot see something, the religious revert to the spirit state as did JPII and Aquinas in defining the Christian views of heaven and hell. And remember the "holy ghost" now the "holy spirit". The idiocy of it all !!!

    April 22, 2014 at 7:50 am |
    • bostontola

      The picking and choosing of scientific ideas of the religious apologist is also inconsistent with fair use. They challenge highly verified tested scientific facts like the Big Bang and evolution, then turn around and try to support the spirit world as part of other dimensions that are scientific hypothesis with little verification. This picking and choosing is highly aggressive confirmation bias, keep whatever supports your belief and reject whatever conflicts with your beliefs.

      April 22, 2014 at 8:42 am |
    • Dyslexic doG

      retreat into mysticism is the first refuge of the cornered fool

      April 22, 2014 at 9:21 am |
  6. freedomnurse

    Heaven is for real, but this book and the movie are deceptions and directly contradict the bible!

    The Bible clearly states that the “dead know nothing … nevermore will they have a share in anything done under the sun” (Ecclesiastes 9:5, 6). The Bible also teaches that immortality comes not at death, but at the resurrection at the end of time (1 Corinthians 15:52)

    http://www.truthaboutdeath.com/

    April 22, 2014 at 5:03 am |
    • TruthPrevails1

      Stealing advertising is a sin (not that sin really exists but according to Gullibles Travels aka the bible it does). Heaven has never been proven outside of stories to exist and thus there is no justification for any rational minded educated person to accept it.
      Grow up, stop living in fear of that which can't be proven and enjoy the only life you are ever going to be guaranteed of...after this one you will return to being stardust-it's all you are guaranteed of.

      April 22, 2014 at 5:10 am |
    • Dyslexic doG

      go and peddle your lies somewhere else!

      April 22, 2014 at 9:41 am |
    • igaftr

      nurse.
      The bible contradicts reality.

      April 22, 2014 at 10:20 am |
      • fintronics

        The bible even contradicts itself.

        April 22, 2014 at 10:26 am |
  7. lamestreamdoc

    When Steven Spielberg decides to honor Barack Obama at the upcoming fundraiser for his Holocaust-survivor testimony video archive, then you know Hollywood and the lame-stream media are completely devoid of reality. Then again, it's highly possible that religion is also quite devoid of any reality. Man-made items: sometimes, they're amazing; sometimes, they suck.

    April 22, 2014 at 3:06 am |
  8. jonasmcgreggor

    Haha yep keep shelling out them big bucks to see your most cherished beliefs spit on by hollywood hucksters.
    Well people have been using religion to bilk other people out of massive amounts of money since...well since religion was invented.

    April 22, 2014 at 3:00 am |
    • flightfromfrostmtn

      Yes much better that your cash is used to build 2 million dollar mansions and opulent trappings for your holy men so they can put on quite the show for you on sunday.

      Hollywood actually might be staving off the rabid atheists with their evil reason and their insidious truths just a bit longer.

      April 22, 2014 at 3:10 am |
  9. aevangelista7

    Well, you can't trust people who are asleep. And you can't trust the Bible. And you can't trust Hollywood. At the same time, there is more going on here than meets the eye. See my eBook on Amazon/Kindle, "Visitations from the Other Side."

    April 22, 2014 at 2:27 am |
    • Doc Vestibule

      "Don't trust them.... trust me!"
      What a sales pitch!

      April 22, 2014 at 8:07 am |
    • thefinisher1

      And you definitely can't trust atheist fundies either! 😄

      April 22, 2014 at 9:42 am |
    • fintronics

      and blog spammers....

      April 22, 2014 at 3:44 pm |
  10. T. Sriram Rao

    Its the difference between the way a primary school child will view the principal and the way a high school student will view him.

    The difference in depiction of heaven is due to the difference in spiritual levels of the people. People today are much more spiritually evolved than many people of the past. People today are much more humane and universal in their outlook than the people of the past. Fear shows insecurity. Love and happiness shows a greater comfort level.

    April 22, 2014 at 1:06 am |
    • TruthPrevails1

      Fear is what keeps Christians believing...fear of the unknown; fear of death; fear of their gods wrath.

      April 22, 2014 at 5:20 am |
      • sam stone

        not to mention the fear of being wrong.

        fear is a very powerful motivator

        April 22, 2014 at 5:25 am |
        • TruthPrevails1

          Powerful and sadistic...Stockholm syndrome; battered wife's syndrome-both hold similar qualities to that of Christianity.

          April 22, 2014 at 6:26 am |
  11. RichardSRussell

    What Hollywood gets wrong about heaven? The delusion that it's real.

    April 22, 2014 at 12:49 am |
  12. abcontador

    I love how christians feel they can cherry pick and choose (and subjectively assess) items out of the bible and simply ignore the parts they don't like. Its also quite funny how they interpret bible passages to their liking.

    April 21, 2014 at 11:38 pm |
    • midmomood

      People can't be expected to demonstrate understanding if they have none. The general populace entertain the rest of us by continually trying to disprove this fact. It is true and always has been that no real contribution is made to any culture except by those who first value order over chaos. The highest sense of order does not come from within us of our own accord and never will. What naturally comes from within man is his own desires and they are always impure, have always been and always will be. People instinctively recognize fundamental truth. Pretending otherwise can be extremely costly.

      April 22, 2014 at 8:56 am |
      • Doc Vestibule

        Can you provide an example of a universally recognized fundamental truth?

        April 22, 2014 at 9:10 am |
      • igaftr

        " always impure"

        There is no purity, so there is no impure. That is a ridiculous standard.
        People do not always recognize "fundamental truth".

        April 22, 2014 at 9:18 am |
  13. truthfollower01

    If the past is infinite, why would this universe have just come into being a finite time ago?

    April 21, 2014 at 10:48 pm |
    • Blessed are the Cheesemakers

      Are made up answers really "answers"?

      April 21, 2014 at 11:08 pm |
    • Bootyfunk

      why would god just come into being?

      April 22, 2014 at 1:32 am |
    • flightfromfrostmtn

      the big bang wasn't an actual beginning so much as it is our current earliest chosen point reference – its actually quite arbitrary.

      all the matter in the big bang existed before the bb, it was simply x amount of matter collected at a single point was needed to meet the requirements for the bb – once they were met a reaction happened that is sending that matter back out (maybe to other collection points?). Its a natural process that we have yet to stick our labels and names to.

      April 22, 2014 at 2:49 am |
      • truthfollower01

        "it was simply x amount of matter collected at a single point was needed to meet the requirements for the bb"

        Why did that matter just collect at a single point 13 or so billion years ago if the past is infinite? Why not 13 trillion years ago? Do you see the problem with the concept of an infinite past?

        April 22, 2014 at 2:06 pm |
        • gulliblenomore

          Frost....and god waved a magic wand and created life. See what's wrong with that belief?

          April 22, 2014 at 2:09 pm |
        • G to the T

          "Why did that matter just collect at a single point 13 or so billion years ago if the past is infinite?"
          The most appriopriate answer is "We don't know".

          "Why not 13 trillion years ago?"
          Maybe it did. There would be no way for us to know because it happened outside of our time line, but there's nothing in physics that would prevent it.

          "Do you see the problem with the concept of an infinite past?"
          Our past isn't infinite because time is a property of space (the space/time continuum). But there's nothing to say that time/space couldn't have existed before the singularity, we just cannot access it from within our timeline.

          April 22, 2014 at 2:44 pm |
      • flightfromfrostmtn

        gulliblenomore,

        I suppose they do shoehorn god in there, but that is completely unnecessary. God and the supernatural are the suspension of the laws that govern our existence. Not once has this actually occurred – we see evidence all the time of this – trust prayer instead of modern medicine? your chances of dying rises dramatically.

        April 22, 2014 at 4:28 pm |
    • AtheistSteve

      The universe is expanding. Sam Harris made an interesting prediction about the information that will be available to observers billions of years from now. At some point in the far distant future our galaxy, the Milky Way, will be so far removed from the next closest galaxy that it will be beyond our observation horizon. Observers in this far flung future will see only this single island galaxy surrounded by a seemingly endless black emptiness. For them the entire universe will appear to consist of only them. The other billions of galaxies would be entirely unknown and their view of what IS would be wrong. Our perspective from within our universe is like that. We can never peer beyond the observable horizon of our own universe let alone determine how many others there may be out there. It is entirely conceivable that there are an infinite number of other universes.

      April 22, 2014 at 8:32 am |
      • truthfollower01

        Steve, this doesn't answer the question I posed. Also, an infinite anything material leads to absurdities.

        April 22, 2014 at 2:08 pm |
        • believerfred

          No, existence is eternal and anything infinite is within that which is eternal which is not an absurdity. Non existence is where you find absurdity as to time and space.

          April 22, 2014 at 3:14 pm |
        • flightfromfrostmtn

          for our purposes it is infinite – yes it all had a beginning somewhere sometime, but you and I would probably not recognize any of the conditions – the forces completely beyond anything the human mind can describe or comprehend – certainly beyond the scope any god we ever imagined.

          the power of even a small black hole is beyond human comprehension – it actually warps space time ... the largest we have spotted is several hundred of our solar masses in size... and one of these is less than a pin point on our star compared to the the monster event that is the Big Bang.

          April 22, 2014 at 4:42 pm |
        • believerfred

          flightfromfrostmtn
          I assume you are referring to our universe when you say "it".
          Beginning implies causation or better yet requires it in some form. Advancing the notion that we cannot comprehend beginning or causation because of known and unknown forces sidesteps what is known about existence. There are only two possibilities of existence (existence and non existence). Suggesting infinite beginning implies a constraint on time and space

          April 22, 2014 at 5:43 pm |
        • AtheistSteve

          First a correction. It was Lawrence Krauss, not Sam Harris.
          Second your question doesn't make sense. The past cannot be infinite if time as we measure it began along with our universe.
          Third who said anything about an infinite material anything? Matter is illusory in a sense. It is nothing more than bound energy. In quantum mechanics if you start with nothing you always get something. The universe has a net energy of zero and the existence of positive energy is balanced by a negative component. A quantum fluctuation is all that's needed to produce a universe from nothing.

          But just for kicks let me ask you this. The universe is expanding but expanding into WHAT? An infinite nothingness? How does God fit into an infinite nothingness that existed for an eternity before the formation of our universe? God was lord over absolutely nothing into the forever past until just 13.7 billion years ago? Or it it expanding an infinite number of zero net energy quantum fluctuation universes? The first would suggest an impossible anomaly whereas the second agrees with the laws of quantum mechanics.

          April 23, 2014 at 6:43 am |
        • believerfred

          Atheist Steve
          "In quantum mechanics if you start with nothing you always get something."
          =>What? This is a nonsense statement as you must define the landscape you intend to populate then we can begin to observe amplitude (i.e. your "something"). Your statement is nonsense even if we assume an unchanging zero energy state to be "nothing".

          " The universe has a net energy of zero and the existence of positive energy is balanced by a negative component. A quantum fluctuation is all that's needed to produce a universe from nothing. "
          =>The observation of a pattern of balance within a closed system is unrelated to a speculative quantum fluctuation that is dependent on strong and weak force symmetry of a graviton. Your attempt to tie these two statements together is baseless.

          "The universe is expanding but expanding into WHAT? An infinite nothingness?"
          =>infinite nothingness.............are you drinking? If so, is this the inverse of a void?

          April 24, 2014 at 5:45 pm |
    • midmomood

      Your problem with a creator doing something you didn't sanction proves you a heathen. Keep it over there. Or get thee behind me.

      April 22, 2014 at 9:00 am |
      • Doc Vestibule

        Heathen??? Where?!?!
        Better call the local Inquisitor and tell him to warm up the Judas Cradle.

        April 22, 2014 at 9:36 am |
      • fintronics

        "Or get thee behind me." ... no thanks, your farts stink!

        April 22, 2014 at 2:32 pm |
    • bostontola

      Truth,
      We only know that the observable universe started a finite time ago.

      April 22, 2014 at 9:37 am |
      • truthfollower01

        The question is, if the past is infinite, why did the observable universe start a finite time ago? Why didn't it start 13 trillion or 13 zillion years ago if the past is infinite?

        April 22, 2014 at 2:11 pm |
        • gulliblenomore

          Follower....we don't know how to cure cancer yet either. That doesn't mean we give up searching for answers and just making up a-ssumptions

          April 22, 2014 at 2:15 pm |
    • believerfred

      Tensors cannot have conflicting boundaries when populating a landscape if you are attempting to describe a quantum field. Put another way you cannot equate pre Big Bang cosmology with the post Big Bang cosmology due to lack of symmetry otherwise you have a null set for singularity.

      April 22, 2014 at 3:06 pm |
      • gulliblenomore

        Fred....is that your way of saying a wizard waved a magic wand and 'poof'?

        April 22, 2014 at 3:12 pm |
        • believerfred

          No, if I wanted to introduce God in terms of a quantum field or known particle physics I would first need to prove exact unbroken supersymmetry. FYI it is no secret that physicists believe in the supernatural most simply do not believe in God.

          I even doubt God consists of known elementary particles and I am a believer. Although mathematical abstracts appear more likely to represent the substance of God there is no evidence outside of metaphysics which is more philosophical than "real"

          April 22, 2014 at 3:34 pm |
        • gulliblenomore

          Fred....the entire concept of belief in a god is philosophical, since there is no evidential proof that one even exists.

          April 22, 2014 at 4:02 pm |
        • believerfred

          I agree with you, however what is accepted as evidence is a matter of scientific discipline and consensus not fact.

          April 22, 2014 at 4:20 pm |
        • gulliblenomore

          Fred...scientific discipline and consensus makes it a fact.

          April 22, 2014 at 4:25 pm |
        • igaftr

          fred
          " physicists believe in the supernatural "

          False. Supernatural by definition is not naturally occuring. There are NO scientists that think anything is supernatural. Unknown energies, unknown particles...unknown many things, but NEVER supernatural.

          All that exists exists naturally.

          April 22, 2014 at 4:26 pm |
        • believerfred

          gulliblenomore
          In case you failed to notice "facts" have a very short life span. The sun will rise tomorrow morning given certain assumptions. Things are as they appear only because natural laws are extremely fine tuned for existence. Our universe, galaxy, sun and earth are in motion at surprisingly high speed. The fact you think you are not moving is in conflict with current scientific consensus.

          April 22, 2014 at 4:43 pm |
        • believerfred

          igaftr
          "There are NO scientists that think anything is supernatural"
          =>Time for an Einstein quote "The more a man is imbued with the ordered regularity of all events the firmer becomes his conviction that there is no room left by the side of this ordered regularity for causes of a different nature. For him neither the rule of human nor the rule of divine will exist as an independent cause of natural events."

          =>"most scientists do not argue that the natural world is the only world, they assume it."-K. Mitch Hodge, M.A., Ph.D.

          =>Spinoza two main arguments: 1.Every possible substance necessarily exists. 2.God is the only possible substance.

          April 22, 2014 at 5:10 pm |
        • fintronics

          "It was, of course, a lie what you read about my religious convictions, a lie which is being systematically repeated. I do not believe in a personal God and I have never denied this but have expressed it clearly. If something is in me which can be called religious then it is the unbounded admiration for the structure of the world so far as our science can reveal it."

          Einstein

          April 23, 2014 at 10:56 am |
  14. Concert in an Egg

    Ironically, if there actually were a heaven and we understood it, Hollywood would still get it wrong. But in this case it is quite impossible.

    April 21, 2014 at 10:02 pm |
  15. primatica

    BTW...Whi is it that they don't talk about the greater percentage of near death survivors that don't see jack when they where down...

    April 21, 2014 at 9:57 pm |
  16. primatica

    This is what irks me the most about the righteous.....not a shred of concrete evidence and they still insist that they know what happens after death.....It is a power grab when they claim to know the unknowable.

    April 21, 2014 at 9:47 pm |
    • truthfollower01

      Concerning evidence, two such "shreds" are the existence of objective morality and the historical data surrounding the events after the crucifixion of Jesus that point to the resurrection.

      April 21, 2014 at 10:51 pm |
      • Blessed are the Cheesemakers

        Biblical objective morality is not "morality".

        April 21, 2014 at 11:10 pm |
        • truthfollower01

          Says who?

          April 21, 2014 at 11:11 pm |
        • Blessed are the Cheesemakers

          Says me....and you because you have admitted genocide is not always wrong. Following orders is obedience.....it is not practicing morality.

          April 21, 2014 at 11:20 pm |
        • truthfollower01

          "Says me….and you because you have admitted genocide is not always wrong. Following orders is obedience…..it is not practicing morality."

          Are you claiming that objective morality is grounded in your opinion? If not, your opinion of what is moral is only as authoritative as the next persons. As I have indicated in the past, an act such as Noah's flood, where God carries out judgement on the guilty is a morally good act and can be nothing to the contrary.

          April 21, 2014 at 11:24 pm |
        • Blessed are the Cheesemakers

          "where God carries out judgement on the guilty is a morally good act and can be nothing to the contrary."

          Defining all actions of your god as "good" does not indicate or point to objective morality. It points to special pleading. If objective morality actually existed it would apply to all behavior regardless. Creating a special catagory for your god is not the least bit impressive (which is itself nothing more than YOUR opinion).

          April 21, 2014 at 11:42 pm |
        • truthfollower01

          Blessed,

          Do you think that when a judge carries out judgment on the guilty, he/she is acting immorally?

          April 21, 2014 at 11:52 pm |
        • Blessed are the Cheesemakers

          That depends on the actions of the judge. Just because a person is guilty of something does not mean every possible sentence would be moral. If a person steals a loaf of bread issuing a death sentence would be immoral. Your argument is so simplistic it can be rejected out f hand.

          April 22, 2014 at 12:05 am |
        • Doris

          The judge could be acting immorally, but what we hope is that the judge is upholding the common law that we live by – for our local jurisdiction, state constitution, and the U.S. Constitution.

          April 22, 2014 at 12:06 am |
        • Doris

          And I see no evidence of objective morality. Prove your God first and then the side dishes might make sense.

          April 22, 2014 at 12:09 am |
        • truthfollower01

          Let me put it this way. When the judge gives a just judgement on the guilty, is he/she acting immorally?

          April 22, 2014 at 12:09 am |
        • Blessed are the Cheesemakers

          "When the judge gives a just judgement on the guilty, is he/she acting immorally?"

          How do you determine what is a "just judgement"?

          Your argument seems to be that absolutely any judgement by a judge is automatically "just" ....only on the basis that it was given by a "judge".

          April 22, 2014 at 12:16 am |
        • Doris

          "When the judge gives a just judgement on the guilty, is he/she acting immorally?"

          The answer to that would be an opinion. A subjective opinion. Of course there is collective subjective opinion: representation for those who feel strongly enough to cast their votes from their opinions. Prove that there is anything but subjective opinions regarding morals.

          April 22, 2014 at 12:17 am |
        • Doris

          True, Blessed. truthf should be prefacing "just" and "immorally" with "objective" or "subjective", but wants the reader to agree to an unqualified value so that they can claim that they've demonstrated an "objective" truth.

          April 22, 2014 at 12:22 am |
        • sam stone

          tf: you are going by the subjective opinion of iron age (or older) man and calling it obective morality

          April 22, 2014 at 5:31 am |
      • Blessed are the Cheesemakers

        "the historical data surrounding the events after the crucifixion of Jesus that point to the resurrection."

        The bible is not "historical data"....and without the bible you have nothing that historically points to a resurrection.

        April 21, 2014 at 11:22 pm |
        • truthfollower01

          Surely you know that not every skeptical scholar or historian automatically "throw out" the Bible because of its supernatural content. They treat the books of the Bible as they would other ancient docu-ments of the time. I can again list some of the statements that nearly 100 percent of scholars who were studying the subject as of 2009 agree to. This includes Bart Ehrman.

          April 21, 2014 at 11:33 pm |
        • Blessed are the Cheesemakers

          I can name 3 that are not even convinced that Jesus is anything more than myth. And Bart Ehrman does not believe the resurrection actually happened. There is zero extra biblical contemporary writings that even mention any of the claims of the events surrounding the resurrection and considering the outlandish claims the bible makes someone would have taken notice. If people are climbing out out of graves (and I don't mean Jesus) the local historians would have written that down. It is BS.

          April 21, 2014 at 11:51 pm |
        • truthfollower01

          Blessed,

          Who are the 3?

          Also, keep in mind that we have two first century sources, Josephus and Clement who report the deaths of Peter, Paul and James, the brother of Jesus. These followers were dying for their faith.

          April 21, 2014 at 11:56 pm |
        • Blessed are the Cheesemakers

          Robert Price, Richard Carrier and David Fitzgerald.

          Someone dying for something they believe indicates nothing of the truth of the belief...it only indicates that probably believed it...so what. Ever hear of the Heavens gate cult? They believed a spaceship was behind a comet and they could enter the spaceship through suicide. Does that make their belief true?

          April 22, 2014 at 12:11 am |
        • truthfollower01

          Blessed,

          Here's the HUGE difference. Some early believers were in a position to KNOW if Jesus truly had risen from the dead. Liars make poor martyrs.

          April 22, 2014 at 11:39 am |
        • igaftr

          belief follower.
          The people of that time did not have anything devices to detect life ( and we still do not), he could have actually been alive, it may have been a trick, it could have simply been an over embellished story, Since none of that can be verified, it remains a baseless story, dubious at best.

          April 22, 2014 at 11:51 am |
        • G to the T

          Josephus – "The general scholarly view is that while the Testimonium Flavianum is most likely not authentic in its entirety, it is broadly agreed upon that it originally consisted of an authentic nucleus, which was then subject to Christian interpolation or forgery" – Wiki

          Clement – You will excuse me if I don't trust a biased source when the object of his belief is the matter of discussion.

          April 22, 2014 at 2:50 pm |
        • truthfollower01

          G,

          Concerning Josephus, what you quoted refers to a section where Josephus talks about Jesus as being God, not about James, the brother of Jesus being stoned.

          April 22, 2014 at 4:49 pm |
        • truthfollower01

          My apologies. Jesus is referred to as the Messiah in the Josephus passage in question.

          April 22, 2014 at 10:36 pm |
        • G to the T

          Josephus – If he wrote that section (which is in doubt) as I undestand it he onlyreported that it was the Christians that called him Messiah. Very different from saying he was.

          April 23, 2014 at 10:53 am |
      • abcontador

        the good samaritan was not a christian (christ told that story) so how do you explain his morality?

        April 21, 2014 at 11:36 pm |
        • primatica

          Wow...I love it when one get's to use their own texts against them.

          April 22, 2014 at 6:56 am |
      • readerpan

        What historical data?

        April 22, 2014 at 12:18 am |
      • dregonx

        Two problems with your position: 1: There is no objective morality. Name any event in history that was objectively wrong, and I'll tell you when and where it was not wrong. 2: The earliest complete manuscripts we have of Mark (considered today to be the earliest gospel) date from the 4th century and end at the empty tomb. They do not contain any mention of the resurrection. To go from empty tomb -> resurrection using this 'evidence' is akin to me deducing that the missing sandwich in my fridge is proof that the cow in the pasture behind my house was resurrected.

        April 22, 2014 at 1:56 am |
        • Sungrazer

          Now you've done it. He is going to go off on his favorite subject – the Holocaust.

          April 22, 2014 at 10:12 am |
        • truthfollower01

          1. About 9 years ago in Florida, a 9 year old little girl named Jessica was kidnapped, mol-ested multiple times and then buried alive in a plastic bag. According to Wikipedia, after the police found her, "Her body had undergone "moderate" to "severe" decomposition and according to the publicly released autopsy reports was skeletonized on two fingers that Lunsford had poked through the bags before suffocating to death."
          Was the act of the mol-ester objectively morally evil?

          I'll respond to the other shortly.

          April 22, 2014 at 11:42 am |
        • truthfollower01

          Dreg,

          Let's take Paul's 1 Corinthians (one if the seven indisputable epistles of Paul according to Bart Ehrman), written about A.D. 55, about 25 years after the cross. New Testament critic and historian Bart Ehrman indicates that the credal statement in 1 Corinthians 15:3-7 can be traced to 1 year after the cross. I have included the verses below.

          1 Corinthians 15:-7

          3 For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, 4 that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, 5 and that he appeared to Cephas, and then to the Twelve. 6 After that, he appeared to more than five hundred of the brothers and sisters at the same time, most of whom are still living, though some have fallen asleep. 7 Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles,

          If you would like more info on this I would suggest watching "The Resurrection Argument That Changed a Generation of Scholars – Gary Habermas at UCSB" on YouTube.

          April 22, 2014 at 2:16 pm |
        • G to the T

          "Was the act of the mol-ester objectively morally evil?"

          Nope. But probably not for the reasons you think. Firstly, I don't believe in "evil", I believe there are actions/events that we find disagreeable that we label "evil" because it saves us from having to evaluate context. Second, while I certainly believe it was an immoral act, that assessment is based on my subjective moral sense. If the child in question was a peasent in 14th century Europe, I'd be willing to be you'd find people (esp aristocrats) that wouldn't see it as "evil" so much as "unfortunate".

          The reason being is that we base morality off of what we consider "people". In the OT, only Jews were really "people" (thus no compunction about destroying foreign women and children). The same can be found in primitive societies around the world. Amongst themselves (i.e. other "people") they are extremely moral, but that sense of morality does NOT extend to those outside of the group. Over the millenia, we've been able to develop our moral sense so that more and more are considered "people" (to the extent that an organization like PETA exits) but when we feel threatened, our moral circle contracts (as has happend recently wiht the followers of Islam) and those outside the circle are no longer "people" and thus not worthy of our empathy.

          April 22, 2014 at 2:57 pm |
      • TruthPrevails1

        I'll trust a man who has studied the bible and walked away from it before I trust you...biblical morality is a misnomer.
        http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cq2C7fyVTA4

        April 22, 2014 at 6:37 am |
      • primatica

        Morality is evidence of our specie's societal evolution.

        April 22, 2014 at 6:50 am |
    • midmomood

      Everybody who have their heads under water are never going to teach much to those who don't. Pull your head out.

      April 22, 2014 at 9:02 am |
  17. primatica

    How can you get the concept of heaven wrong when it does not exist? There's 100,000 gods, theirs 100,000 heavens then.

    April 21, 2014 at 9:45 pm |
  18. mkmilan0415

    How does Hollywood get something wrong that is not proven. Really?!

    April 21, 2014 at 9:43 pm |
  19. realbuckyball

    If anyone actually had a "experience" that was really unique, it might raise a question. In fact all they ever have is things they already know about from their OWN sets of music, cultural references, ideas they already had been told about, or seen or heard of somewhere. Nothing really "different". It's all pure hogwash.

    April 21, 2014 at 9:19 pm |
    • primatica

      I always argue that if I was taught from birth there are Smurfs in heaven then I would be seeing little blue men on my death bed...

      April 21, 2014 at 10:02 pm |
  20. srichey321

    People arguing over what the easter bunny really looks like. Time for our culture to grow up.

    April 21, 2014 at 9:13 pm |
    • Dyslexic doG

      amen!

      April 22, 2014 at 2:49 pm |
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The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.