LOS ANGELES -- An overwhelming majority of Americans continue to believe that there is life after death and that heaven and hell exist, according to a new study. What's more, nearly two-thirds think they are heaven-bound.There's a bunch of stuff in there about what people believe Heaven and Hell are like, but what's interesting to me are the contradictions that the poll found.
On the other hand, only one-half of 1% said they were hell-bound, according to a national poll by the Oxnard-based Barna Research Group, an independent marketing research firm that has tracked trends related to beliefs, values and behaviors since 1984.
"Americans don't mind embracing contradictions," he said. "It's hyper individualism. They're cutting and pasting religious views from a variety of different sources — television, movies, conversations with their friends. Rather than simply embrace one particular viewpoint, and then trying to follow all the specific precepts or teachings of that particular viewpoint, what Americans are saying is, 'Listen, I can probably put together a philosophy of life for myself that is just as accurate, just as helpful as any particular faith might provide.' "That is... most people are just flailing around in the dark, without any substantial confidence when it comes to what may (or may not!) be the most crucial question of existence.
Pollster George Barna, a former minister who founded the research group, noted that one out of 10 born-again Christians — those who believe entry into heaven is solely based on confession of sins and faith in Jesus Christ — also believe in reincarnation, which violates Christian tenets. Nearly one in three claim it is possible to communicate with the dead, and half believe a person can earn salvation based on good deeds even without accepting Christ as the way to eternal life.
Many who describe themselves as either atheistic or agnostic also harbor contradictions in their thinking, Barna said. He said that half the atheists and agnostics surveyed believed that everyone had a soul, that heaven and hell existed and that there was life after death. One in eight atheists and agonistics believe that accepting Jesus Christ as savior probably makes life after death possible.
(Found via Drudge.)