Wednesday, 09 December 2009
Can atheists go to Heaven? This is an interesting question to ask Christians. You can ask atheists the same question, but since they do not accept the concept of 'Heaven', they would be at a loss to answer it, or they would say no, since there is no heaven, nobody can go to it anyway.
So what do Christians think? Well one thing is certain: there is no general agreement on this matter. There are many who insist that only adherents to the faith can go to Heaven. For them, nonbelievers go to Hell. They do have dozens of quotes from the Bible to back up their case.
There are some Christians, though, who do not view things so strictly. Some believe that it would be unfair that somebody who has never heard of the Gospel would therefore automatically be excluded from Heaven. After all, that person then never had a chance to become a Christian, so should they be punished by having to go to Hell?
Some Christians and religious leaders will also argue that even members of other religions, in principle, could go to Heaven, just not automatically. It would be more difficult, they say; it would depend on the circumstances. What these circumstances are falls outside the scope of this blog post, but let's just say for now that believers in other religions are not necessarily excluded from Heaven. I am backing this up with a quote from 'Assessment of this Council', which refers to the 'Vatican II' council, and therefore official Roman Catholic doctrine: The non-Christian may not be blamed for his ignorance of Christ and his Church; salvation is open to him also, if he seeks God sincerely and if he follows the commands of his conscience'.
So there it is; if you seek God sincerely then it doesn't really matter whether you are a Christian or not. In fact, research has shown that large sections of the general public who believe in the concept of Heaven, think that "everybody will be judged by God and if you are found to have been 'good', you may well make it to Heaven". I'm at a loss how that would work for a 5-year old, or for a 'bad' person who was just about to repent but didn't have enough lifetime left, but I do not want to be flippant.
Atheists, of course do not believe in God. They do not 'seek God sincerely.' If they would arrive at that 'final judgment', they would obviously realize they were mistaken all along.
So, here's my question to you: do you think 'good' atheists might still go to Heaven?
What is your response to this question? Who do you think will be permitted into Heaven? Do you think there is any way we can know who exactly God will allow in?