Thank you for your response. I appreciate your feedback. Let me put it in religious terms:
For thousands of years humans unknowingly used religion as a coping mechanism to deal with the sadness and pain experienced while living. When family and friends die, many people need to believe they will reunite with family and friends in an afterlife, because, as many of us know, the loss of someone we love can negatively affect our functionality and make it difficult to cope with living. Religion is a vital coping mechanism for most people; however, the percentage of total humans who adhere to a religion is decreasing.
Consider this: what percentage of scientists, do you believe, use religion to cope with life? In addition, do you believe this percentage is increasing or decreasing? Moreover, whom do we look to as role models in this modern age?
TIME magazine recently featured a headline-making story “What If Hell Doesn’t Exist” by Pastor Rob Bell, a well-known religious leader who initiates congregational conversation rather than typical doctrinal teachings. Bell supports an interesting perspective and one following the lead many people and groups believe today which is: the percentage of people who still buy into Hell and Heaven is rapidly decreasing. You can read Bell’s TIME magazine article at time.com/time/nation/article/0,8599,2065080,00.html.
Some people may believe we are living in the worst of times because of dwindling allegiance to religions. However, are these really the worst of times? The way I see it: we have greater security in acquiring healthy food than in a majority of our history. We have made tremendous advances in curing and controlling diseases. We are capable of using clone organs to replace our own organs. We have advanced technology resulting in access to less-biased news. There is more transparency in how our governments and economies operate. Many countries of the world are becoming interconnected and unified, resulting in greater harmony and sympathy between diverse cultures. As a whole, there are more options available to flee prejudice and join like-minded communities. We also have improved life expectancy. Moreover, I believe my improved life expectancy is not a reward for “abandoning God”, rather I see it as a reward for being a member of a society not abandoning me.
People learn religious tolerance in the public realm, but behind the scenes religions often teach followers there is only one truth, theirs. In addition, religions indirectly preach the hundreds of other religions must therefore teach false truths. One question: what do some religions claim are the consequences of following a false truth? Most profess the loss of supposed benefits such as going to Heaven, reaching enlightenment, reuniting with a creator and loved ones etc.
Number of followers for the most populated religions in the world:
Christianity— 2,000,000,000 - 2,200,000,000
Islam —1,500,000,000 - 1,700,000,000
Hinduism— 800,000,000 - 1,000,000,000
Buddhism —800,000,000 - 1,000,000,000
Billions of people believe they are following the only truth. Let us keep in mind each religion divides into hundreds to thousands of sects. Each sect continuously makes overall changes, to their respective teachings, reflecting the changing times in modern societies. Why do religions not have unanimous support for all of their ideologies and doctrines? Even stranger: religions are conforming to their followers and the changing times. Do you believe it should be the other way around? The big question then comes into play: if religions taught the absolute truth, why is there room for compromise and/or diverse opinions?
Do you believe Gandhi is in eternal Hell for not accepting Jesus as his lord and savior? Does a murderer or rapist, who finds Jesus seconds before his execution on death row, go to Heaven? Does “God” give more favor to Catholics or Protestants? What is the difference in God’s favor between a devout Catholic and an occasional believer? What are the requirements for entry into Heaven or Hell and what is this belief based on? Regardless of your answer, you should be aware the answers to these questions lead to beliefs promoting conflicts and divisions among humanity.
Many devout practitioners of religion do not have a firm grasp on all of their beliefs and choose to label full review of their beliefs as sinful, pointless, succumbing to a lack of devotion, a sign of weakness, the work of the Devil, etc. Please visit: youtube.com/watch?v=sNDZb0KtJDk&feature=player_embedded for an additional perspective. In light of a lack of consensus and an inability to empirically-test the validity of specific claims, it is reasonable to conclude there is no Heaven or Hell and we all go to the same place when we die. That said: it takes courage to challenge supposed eternal damnation without fear.
Reasonably claiming: people who believe they can influence the type of afterlife they will go to, believe in a fantasy helping them cope with life. If there is a fair/just intelligent designer, it did not create a world where some people start life with a 0% probability of entering, a supposed, utopia at death or start life with a 100% probability of entering, a supposed, dystopia at death.
We need to move on and not allow the fear of Hell or promise of Heaven to distort our realities. We should not allow religion to damage our cultural relationships or hinder us from reaching our potential. Humans should not succumb to lifestyles dividing us, but conform to lifestyles uniting us. Faith is not only a personal issue in societies where everyone has an equal vote.