FOOD4THOUGHT: Who gets to go to heaven?

Most of us Christians were taught that only those who share our beliefs get a heavenly pass. Everyone else go to Hell. Amazingly, Having taken four graduate degrees in theology, I have never come across any discussion or reading about what heaven and hell actually refers to. This got me thinking, and thinking, and thinking.

I am a third generation & lifelong Christian, yet I find this logic disturbing. If only Christians get go to a topological heaven, then Hell must be a pretty jam-packed place.

According to the BBC news (2012) & the Wolfram Alpha estimate, over 107 billion people lived & died in the past 50,000 years alone. From the time of Jesus, about 60 billion were born, of which over 7 billion are alive today & 53 billion have been pushing daisies or recycled to become your Shake Shack burger or Ratatouille.

Even if every human on the planet became a Christian when they heard the Gospel, the population of Hell would be at least 57 billion non-Christian souls because they lived & died before Christianity existed.

But, today, the maximum “claimed” number of Christians from all 42,000 denominations is 2 billion or 28%, and falling. This means that of the 60 billion post-Nativity humans who were ever born, no more than 17 billion could possibly have made it to heaven, probably less as we now have the greatest percentage of humans identified as Christians, thanks to international missions.

This makes Hell pretty ‘hellish’ with minimally 90 billion poor souls compared to maximally 7 billion saved souls in Heaven.

Do you now see how this rough calculation alone raises important questions about any literal interpretation of heaven and hell as ontological realities?



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Ron Choong

I am an independent, interdisciplinary investigator of the geohistory and philosophy of science and religion