October 15, 2017

Maybe Your Deceased Loved One is Looking Up On You

hell fire
I'm sure you've noticed that people often refer to deceased loved ones as “looking down” on them. The implication, of course, is that their loved one is now in heaven. This strikes me as more than a little presumptuous. How do they know where their loved one now resides? It seems like there are plenty of cases where it would make more sense to describe one's deceased loved one as “looking up” on them instead. Strangely, I don't believe I've ever heard someone say that. Have you?

This raises an interesting question. If we assume for a moment that Christians are right about heaven and hell, wouldn't we have to suspect that the majority of humans who have lived and died now reside in hell? I mean, wouldn't it be a fairly safe bet to think that all the non-Christians would be there? Maybe not.

I imagine the answer a Christian would give to this question depends on what sort of Christian he or she is. I've known Christians who confidently assert that almost everyone goes to heaven and only the truly horrible end up in hell (e.g., people who disagree with their political views). On the other hand, I've known Christians who confidently claim that most people will spend an eternity in hell because only those few who practice the same brand of evangelical fundamentalist Christianity they themselves practice have any realistic shot at heaven.

Clearly, there are versions of Christianity out there that barely resemble one another. If something as basic as the nature of their heaven and hell has this much disagreement around them, I'm not sure they should be considered part of the same religion. Shouldn't they have worked this out by now? In any case, I'd love to see a nationally representative poll of U.S. Christians that asked what percentage of people are in heaven vs. hell. I'm sure that would raise more questions, but it would still be interesting.