Jesus ‘n’ Mo ‘n’ Rectitude

The new Jesus and Mo strip is called ‘which’, and the emailed note says, “It’s the persistence of the problem of human fallibility again!”

2016-07-13

No comment is needed here. I’ll just add date from the 2013 Pew Survey in which Muslims in most Muslim-majority countries were asked a number of questions. Here are the data on those Muslims claiming that only Islam can take you to Heaven:

Screen Shot 2016-07-13 at 7.14.53 AM

(Iran, Saudi Arabia, and Yemen weren’t surveyed.) Note that a majority of Muslims think that only Muslims can attain Paradise, with the majority being overwhelming in the Middle East, Southeast Asia, and sub-Saharan Africa.

The only comparable data I could easily find is from a 2008 Pew Survey of American beliefs, in which 2905 people of various faiths were asked which members of other faiths could go to Heaven. The data:

image0021

I was surprised to see that 42% of all Americans said that atheism (which of course isn’t a religion) can lead to eternal life; won’t we heathens be surprised to find ourselves up there after death, with an eternal supply of kittens, rib tips, and 1961 Petrus!?  69% of Americans thought that even Jews can attain eternal life, and 52% thought the same of Muslims. But of course Catholicism and Protestantism were the religions deemed most likely to land you in Heaven.

The two sets of data aren’t comparable, of course, because the Pew Survey of Muslims wasn’t taken in America. But it’s still interesting to look at these figures.

31 Comments

  1. loren russell
    Posted July 13, 2016 at 8:39 am | Permalink

    Are we certain these Christian respondents are giving the benefit of doubt to other, incompatible belief systems? Or are they just asserting that everyone has an immortal soul — with a very different destination than their own?

  2. Cnocspeireag
    Posted July 13, 2016 at 8:40 am | Permalink

    Of course, to many of the Xtians polled, eternal life for atheists would mean an eternity in the lake of fire.

    • Posted July 13, 2016 at 9:30 am | Permalink

      Yes, they certainly believe in eternal damnation and rejoice in the thought of non-believers suffering forever.

      • Posted July 13, 2016 at 1:41 pm | Permalink

        One of the most disgusting (to me) places in the Koran is about a Muslim who, while alive, tries in vain to convert a non-Muslim friend. When they both die and the Muslim sees the non-Muslim being tortured, he expresses no sympathy – on the contrary, he gloats.

  3. divalent
    Posted July 13, 2016 at 8:42 am | Permalink

    “I was surprised to see that 42% of all Americans said that atheism (which of course isn’t a religion) can lead to eternal life; … ”

    Except as the caption notes: they only asked people that were 1) affiliated with a religion *and* 2) said that “many religions can lead to eternal life”. So the responses are from a subset of religious people that excluded all those that insist that only their religion leads to eternal life.

  4. juan
    Posted July 13, 2016 at 8:50 am | Permalink

    The footnote says that the numbers come from respondents who are affiliated with a religion and who say that many religions can lead to eternal life.
    The previous figure of the webpage you linked to says 65% of those affiliated with a religion say many religions can lead to eternal life.
    So maybe it’s not 42% of all Americans who think atheists can have eternal life, but 27.3% (42% of 65%) of Americans affiliated with a religion.

  5. nicky
    Posted July 13, 2016 at 9:28 am | Permalink

    Despite all the caveats mentioned, I find that second one quite heartening, as much as I find the first one disheartening.
    What makes Kazakhstan so special? Is there something there we could focus on?

    • Posted July 13, 2016 at 11:25 am | Permalink

      On the one side of the coin, Chad is up there too.

      (I have to confess I know almost nothing about Chad; I can’t even think of the capital.)

      • HaggisForBrains
        Posted July 14, 2016 at 4:15 am | Permalink

        C

    • Posted July 13, 2016 at 2:04 pm | Permalink

      In the 1940s, the vast arid spaces of Kazakhstan were used by Stalin to deport various small nations. This was his preferred method of genocide – it reliably destroyed a substantial part of the unwanted population without leaving troublesome evidence like gas chambers. However, many of the deportees, both Muslims and Christians, survived with the help of (Muslim) locals who were themselves in dire straits.

  6. Ken Elliott
    Posted July 13, 2016 at 9:40 am | Permalink

    What’s been going through my head of late are the arguments from some Muslims, mainly acquaintances on Facebook or Twitter, about the correct reading and/or interpretation of the Koran, in which they trot out scripture that is about love or what have you, supposedly proving the Koran, and Islam, are a religion of peace, love, and salvation. My question is, who determines which lines of scripture ARE good, and which are bad/evil? How is that determination made? Doesn’t the fact that a determination is needed negate the book entirely? The same can be said for the Bible, of course. I realize my cognitive abilities are limited, so I’m sure there are aspects of this I haven’t yet gleaned , so if anyone has input I’m all digital ears.

    • Sastra
      Posted July 13, 2016 at 9:51 am | Permalink

      The problem with glittering generalities in religion is that there’s no telling what concepts like “love” or “goodness” are going to look like when viewed within a framework which considers the natural world a corruption which needs to go.

      Killing off infidels can be considered an act of humble obedience and sincere love of God. Peace results when the wicked are purged. Mercy is killing with such cruelty that one’s enemies fall down in fear and surrender. God can do no wrong, and His standards aren’t measured by the ways of Men.

      Unless He’s a humanist — in which case what’s the point of divine revelation? Faith in God is first and foremost faith in oneself. Everybody thinks they can borrow a little infallibility from God when it comes to God.

      • juan
        Posted July 13, 2016 at 11:11 am | Permalink

        A very insightful comment. Three very good points, one of which I’d never considered, expressed in just three short paragraphs. I’m in awe.

        • darrelle
          Posted July 13, 2016 at 2:31 pm | Permalink

          Sastra has a habit of doing that. I think if she wrote a book it would do well.

          • Posted July 13, 2016 at 9:22 pm | Permalink

            Hear hear! Or just a bl*g. I hear bl*gs are a popular way of promulgating one’s ideas to the wider world.

    • Heather Hastie
      Posted July 13, 2016 at 2:42 pm | Permalink

      The Qur’an, of course, is different to the Bible in that all its revelations were made to one man, Muhammad.

      Within Islam there is a law that says that if two verses contradict one another, the one that was revealed to Muhammad later is the correct one.

      In the early part of Muhammed’s life when he was still trying to establish Islam, there are many verses about tolerance etc.

      However, Muhammed spent the last ten years of his life largely dominant in battle and he was far from merciful towards his enemies.

      This is how Islamists justify their interpretation of the Qur’an that allows them to behead, burn enemies alive etc.

      • Ken Elliott
        Posted July 13, 2016 at 2:48 pm | Permalink

        Thanks, Heather. I was dimly aware of this timeline of events, that basically all the peace and love stuff from the early years in Mecca were unsuccessful so he moved to Medina and adopted the warlike stance that is the Koran we all know and hate. And I realize this is a gross simplification at best. This would seem to suggest, then, that the peace and love stuff has been superseded with brutality and murder for the most part, again grossly stating the conditions of the book as a whole.

        • Heather Hastie
          Posted July 13, 2016 at 2:56 pm | Permalink

          My personal opinion is that Muhammad was the Joseph Smith of his time.

          It’s something you often see with these charismatic leaders I think – the more power they get, the more the saying about power corrupting people becomes true.

          What kind of man does it take, for example, to tell everyone that he has had a “revelation” that unlike all other men, God has told him he deserves and can have more than three wives.

          • Ken Elliott
            Posted July 13, 2016 at 2:58 pm | Permalink

            I would bet you’re right.

  7. Historian
    Posted July 13, 2016 at 9:44 am | Permalink

    Take a look at the Pew Poll from November 2015 entitled “U.S. Public Becoming Less Religious.” On pages 62 and 63 there is a section entitled “Paths to Eternal Life.” It has recent data on what people of one religion think about people of other religions going to heaven. The questions from the 2015 poll are not directly comparable to the 2008 data, but I think they are still relevant.

    I was surprised to find that 68% of Catholics believe that some non-Christian religions can lead to eternal life. I wonder if the Pope would agree.

    You can go this site and then download the complete report.

    http://www.pewforum.org/2015/11/03/u-s-public-becoming-less-religious/

    • Heather Hastie
      Posted July 13, 2016 at 2:46 pm | Permalink

      The current pope has said that some atheists will go to heaven because they are good people. I can’t remember the exact wording, or whether there were any conditions placed on our, ahem, Hope For Salvation.

      • gravelinspector-Aidan
        Posted July 13, 2016 at 4:30 pm | Permalink

        The current pope has said that some atheists will go to heaven because they are good people.

        They’ve been saying that for a damned long time. It’s the idea of the “noble pagan,” (if I remember the term correctly) who couldn’t be a Christian due to dieing before the ministry of the zombie carpenter.
        Hence, for an example, Dante getting Virgil (died 19BCE) as his “spirit guide” though Inferno.

        • Heather Hastie
          Posted July 13, 2016 at 6:25 pm | Permalink

          Thanks. 🙂

  8. Kevin
    Posted July 13, 2016 at 10:26 am | Permalink

    Consistently 10% of the American survey did not know the answer. Hopefully that group will grow. Doubt usually is the result of better perspective.

    I am not surprised at all that Xians think that atheists deserve heaven. Their thinking is: if it’s real it’s more real if it is assumed all go to it. This is hope within hope that their God is merciful and forgiving; very little, I think, to do with Xians thinking atheists actually deserve a place in paradise.

    • Posted July 13, 2016 at 1:29 pm | Permalink

      “This is hope within hope that their God is merciful and forgiving; very little, I think, to do with Xians thinking atheists actually deserve a place in paradise.”

      I think that the two ideas are connected, because every believer I know considers himself an expert in the thoughts of his G*d.

      • Heather Hastie
        Posted July 13, 2016 at 2:48 pm | Permalink

        Well I suppose to the extent that they’re an expert on their own thoughts, they are an expert on God’s.

    • HaggisForBrains
      Posted July 14, 2016 at 4:37 am | Permalink

      I am not surprised at all that Xians think that atheists deserve heaven.

      That’s not the question they answered. The question was about “eternal life”. The location of that eternal life (heaven or hell) was not specified.

  9. Posted July 13, 2016 at 10:35 am | Permalink

    Interesting that Catholics led every other group in believing that members of other groups could reach eternal life.

    When I was in grade 7 in a parochial school around 1938, the parish priest asked us to raise our hands if we thought we were better in God’s eyes than the non-Catholics in the school up the road.

    Not a single child raised a hand.

    Then he asked, what was the point in being a Catholic if we were not morally superior to non-Catholics?

    Nobody could answer his question.

    Secretly, most might have thought he was nuts. I did.

    Didn’t the priest know that self-righteous pride is the worst sin of all?

    That memory stuck with me for 25 years or so, until I adopted atheism, for Catholics the least worthy of non-Catholic groups.

    The priest was right. If there is no added moral value in being a Catholic (or member of any other religious group) then there is no point in being a member of a religious group.

    However if I must state a religion, required to get a visa to certain countries, I say ‘Church of England’, for I am not a dis-believer, merely an unbeliever.

    If I were in ancient Rome, I would gladly acknowledge the Emperor as a god. Or in Ancient Egypt, my neighbour’s cat as a god.

    A more difficult question would be how to answer a child, not my own, who asks whether or not there really is a Santa Claus.

  10. K2
    Posted July 13, 2016 at 10:54 am | Permalink

    My mother told me that her class on Monday was asked to raise hands if they had not been to church on Sunday (Catholic Ireland 1940’s). This is a public admission of having committed mortal sin, part of the routine cultural brainwashing of the time, being publicly embarrassed into conformity.

  11. Ken Pidcock
    Posted July 13, 2016 at 12:10 pm | Permalink

    Not surprising that so many American mainline Protestants and Catholics are favorably inclined toward atheists, seeing how many actually are atheists. This is where the believers in belief reside.


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