Is Heaven For Real?

May 27th 2011

Stephen Hawking finds no room for heaven in his vision of the cosmos. In an interview with The Guardian Newspaper, hawkingthe famous theoretical physicist says that the human brain is like a computer — he doesn’t indicate if it’s a mac or a pc — that will stop working when its components fail. He says: “There is no heaven or afterlife for broken-down computers; that is a fairy story for people afraid of the dark.” This isn’t a new thought from Hawking, in his book “Grand Design,” he declared that it was “not necessary to invoke God … to get the universe going.”

Hawking’s views on religion and heaven appear to be somewhat consistent with that of Europeans in general, but according to research from the Pew Research Center’s Forum on Religion and Public Life, Americans have a different perspective.

According to a 2007 Pew study of religious beliefs across the country, 92 percent of Americans said they believe in a god or universal spirit, and 74 percent said they believe that there is a heaven. “The first thing to know about the U.S. is that the U.S. is a nation of believers,” said Greg Smith, a senior researcher at Pew. When asked about their views on an afterlife, 74 percent of Americans affirmed their belief, with 50 percent saying they believed with “absolute certainty.” 50% of us are absolutely certain about heaven.

That point of view has turned the book “Heaven Is for Real” — the account of a 4-year-old son of a pastor who enters heaven during emergency surgery and survives to tell the story — into a national bestseller. The book is written by the boy’s father Todd Burpo, and recently held the #1 on The New York Times’ list of bestselling combined print and e-book NONFICTION.

  • – 74% of us believe that heaven is real.
  • – 50% of us are absolutely certain it is real.
  • – Harold Camping believes that all Christians are bound for heaven on October 21st.
  • – Stephen Hawking believes that heaven is a fairy tale for people afraid of the dark.

Now I know that the reality of heaven is not dependent upon a Pew Research vote. Just because a lot of us believe it’s real, doesn’t make it real. And, if I had to choose between Camping or Hawking for a night of stimulating conversation, it would be Hawking all the way.

But here’s what I think — the day will come when Stephen Hawking’s views are seen to be even crazier than Harold Camping’s views. How’s that for ironic?