10:10 AM I found tonight's Barbara Walters special on Heaven: Where Is It? How Do We Get There? to be strangely moving. After watching her interview a vast array of people, you are left with the overpowering sense that God hard-wired the desire for heaven into the human heart. Most people believe in heaven, and most people think they are going there. If you concentrated on the points of difference expressed, you might go away thinking there is nothing but mass confusion out there. But underneath it all is the bedrock belief that this life is not all there is, that death is not the end but the beginning, that God made us for himself and we will never know lasting happiness until we dwell eternally with him. These are profoundly biblical concepts reflected (in various ways and in varying degrees) by almost everyone on the program. The woman president of the American Atheists stood out as an exception, yet her words seemed unconvincing, and even she admitted she was sorry to believe that this life is all there is. She left me thinking that atheism is the most unnatural philosophy in the world. You have to deny reality in order to deny God. Or said another way, God is the ultimate reality, and if you deny him, you have missed the central fact of the universe. It showed on her face.
I enjoyed listening to the Dalai Lama chatter away about reincarnation even though I don't believe a word of it. I am not sure if he really believes the part about good dogs and bad dogs. The would-be suicide bomber who believes his successful compatriots will receive 72 virgins in heaven had a strange gleam in his eye. As for the folks with near-death experiences, I have no particular explanation and none is necessary. Their experiences by definition are not transferable.
The central question was left unanswered. Everyone (or almost everyone) believes in heaven and that is good. But as the old spiritual says, not everyone talking about heaven is going to go there. Doing good won't open the doors of heaven because no one can ever be good enough. And no one can be reincarnated enough to pay for their own sins. Only Jesus can pay that price, and he paid it 2000 years ago, on a bloody Roman cross outside the Jerusalem walls. It is good to want to go to heaven, but you have to know the Way.
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