The New 51% Rule

The 51 percent I am referring to is not the same as “majority rules”.  This one refers to the afterlife.

According to an article I read in ChristianPost.com today, 51 percent of the people in the world believe in life after death.  To me, this is an amazing statistic, not because it is so large, but because it is so small.

The selling point of, so far as I know, all religions that exist today and have ever existed is this, “Follow me and you will have ever-lasting life. ”  Of course, the gods that are supposed to deliver on this promise are as different as night and day.  But, the promise of a happy afterlife is in them all.

We all need a feeling of self worth.  That is why, in my opinion, the afterlife promise sells.  It feeds the listener’s premessage belief that his/her life is so important it must not and cannot end.

The message I would take from this 51 percent is that there must be some strong streak of rational thinking that circles the globe.  That billions are spent by many faiths to convert the “unwashed” and still half the world’s population appears to be unreachable is remarkable.

Apparently,  whether the afterlife is sold in a church, a mosque, a synagogue or at the barrel of a gun, half the customers will not buy.

Avatar of Jon Lindgren

About Jon Lindgren

I am a former President of the Red River Freethinkers in Fargo, ND, a retired NDSU economics professor and was Mayor of Fargo for 16 years. There is more about me at Wikipedia.com.
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37 Responses to The New 51% Rule

  1. Wanna B Sure says:

    Jon; I know that Atheists justifiably and strongly believe in scientific evidence. What is your position on the possibilities of quantum mechanics, string theory, and paralell universes / dimensions?

  2. You write: “The message I would take from this 51 percent is that there must be some strong streak of rational thinking that circles the globe. ” Why does a disbelief in the afterlife imply rational thought?

    • Avatar of Jon Lindgren Jon Lindgren says:

      Shane 1:56 I use the word “rational” because there is not evidence of an afterlife. Certainly, there is belief in it, but we are yet to know that it exists. Where am I wrong here?

  3. Hey Jon. I would be inclined to come at it like this. The notion of an afterlife is not at all difficult (and perhaps even to be expected) if there is a God. (Obviously, this would not be the case on a nontheistic/naturalistic worldview.) So, I’d say the questions can be framed to hinge on the existence of God. From that standpoint, I’d go this direction: Given the existence of things (as opposed to nothing), the order of the universe, the existence of objective morals, the remarkable life of Jesus of Nazareth and the accounts of miracles (both in the contemporary world and in ancient accounts), the evidence is much more aligned with theism. In that case, the existence of an afterlife would not be at all unlikely.

    I haven’t seen the article you mentioned. Do you happen to have a link to it. I’d like to glance at it.

    BTW, my men’s group at church has been praying for you lately … For your salvation, not for fire and brimstone to rain down on you ;-)

  4. Wanna B Sure says:

    I’m still waiting for Jon’s thoughtfull response to the question of the possibilities of quantum mechanics, string theory, and paralell universes / dimensions.

    I’m not talking about the protagnanist’s use of this to prove the evidence of God, but of the possibilities of the science.

    • Avatar of Jon Lindgren Jon Lindgren says:

      Wanna 1:26 I afraid I don’t have the time or interest in this issue to post anything. I never been interested enough in Star Wars to watch even one episode. Trying to link it, or something else, to reality is just not on my radar. This is not directly related, but I do know that there are scientists, like Richard Dawkins, who think the remaining questions about the origins of the universe will be established scientifically in the next generation or two.

      • Wanna B Sure says:

        So then, you deny the scientific/mathmatical possibilities. Interesting in that it doesn’t fit into your models, and claimed integrity.

      • Wanna B Sure says:

        Jon; As in the case of all zealots, where they selectively choose documentation to validate their position , they also discard anything that isn’t supportive of that position. In your case, you choose some science and history that agrees with you, and deny the science that may even remotely create doubt to that position. “The farce is strong in this one Luke Skywalker”.
        A zealot is a zealot no matter how hard one tries to disguise him.

        • Avatar of PK PK says:

          Wanna, there has been much work in quantum physics that suggests that the universe is effected by a concious mind. Observation and intent actually changes the data being recorded. Jon is stuck in an 1800s model of the universe where it’s a machine that runs itself and we just happened to evolve from mud and are now living in it. New physics suggests that we’re not just living here, but that life has a special connection to the universe on the quantum level.
          It’s sad he’s invested his entire worldview into science and the material universe, and thinks quantum physics is science fiction. Quantum computers have been built, it’s a proven science. At least certain aspects of it.
          “Strong, in this one, the farce indeed.”

          • Wanna B Sure says:

            Sure. “Flatlanders” live in a two dimensional world. We live in a three dimensional world. There are indications of more dimensions. The question is “what would that mean for Jon’s rigidity, and his “ism’s”? Jon is behaving like the Vatican in the denial of the possibility of a solar centric system, ala Galileo. If he were the Pope, he would probably put all the quantum physicists under house arrest, or deny that they even exist. I haven’t even mentioned “God”, yet he is very defensive. I wonder why.

          • Wanna B Sure says:

            PS; I should have said “entered “God” into the equation”. I did say “God” but the context was outside of the subject at hand.

          • Avatar of Jon Lindgren Jon Lindgren says:

            Wanna 8:41 So, you and PK have proof there is a third world of the unseen and unheard. You are correct that I am not aware of the evidence, know nothing about it but I am interested in learning what you know about it. I will make the prediction that there is strong evidence that its source is God. Now, admittedly I have not heard this from you–it’s just a guess.

          • Wanna B Sure says:

            Actually not “third world”, deminsion. Again , I haven’t entered “God ” into the equation. Some of the quantum physicist have proposed the possibility of up to eight or more levels of deminsion. Admittedly, I am just a humble farm boy that isn’t a quantum physicist, but with your stature in acedemia, you surely must have access to someone who knows one. I would expect there may be various schools of thought on this within that community. They are at least asking the question. This has been on various TV channels, so this hasn’t been happening in a void. If I remember, it was approached by an astro physicist examining the possibilities. (space-time stuff). Enough to ask the question, not avoid it.

          • Avatar of Jon Lindgren Jon Lindgren says:

            Wanna 9:51 Thanks for elaborating on what you are asking about. I’m relieved because what you wrote before sounded a little new agey and I was beginning to be concerned. We have a couple of Ph.D. physics professors as well as a couple in other science fields. I will ask them their views on all of this.

        • Wanna B Sure says:

          Ask several. They may not all agree.

          • Wanna B Sure says:

            “New agey”??? Come now Jon, would you expect an accordion player to be “new agey”? I didn’t care for the Age of Aquarius, or the group the 5th Dimension, but I can where “dimension” may have thrown you off. Spiritualism and animism doesn’t work for me neither. However harmonics is an interisting factor. Scientifically speaking.

          • Avatar of Jon Lindgren Jon Lindgren says:

            Wanna 10:32 It sounds like we share a dislike for other dimensions, “the force” and perhaps spiritual vibes.

          • Avatar of PK PK says:

            The new age movement does use some of this new science to promote their ideas. From what i’ve seen, many have the pagan practices of worshipping the sun and other celestial bodies. Some even use ancient names like Ra.

  5. Avatar of Long John Long John says:

    Shane, What contemporary miricles are you refering too ?

  6. Hey LJ. I’m at work now. I’ll get back to you with a couple of examples later in the week. Thanks for inquiring.

    • Here are some examples things I take to be miraculous. There are many others, but these are some that come to mind. I can supply contact information for these if there is interest in verifying them further.

      - My father is a pastor. This story comes from him. When he was the pastor of the Kenton (Tennessee) Church of God, there was a woman connected with his church who had given birth to a baby named Faith Ladd. When the baby was born, the doctors found an obstruction in one of her nasal passages. When they probed into the passage with an instrument, the instrument would come back bloody. They flew the child via helicopter to Labonner Childrens Hospital in Memphis (the nearest large town near Kenton) . They found the same thing there. My dad said, “I felt like the Lord wanted me to come down and pray for the baby.” So he did. He went into the room. The baby was asleep. Per typical Christian practice, he laid his hand on the child. As he prayed for her, she jerked suddenly. The next time they tested for the obstruction, it was clear. They put a story about the event in the Union City (a town near Kenton) Daily Messenger and called it a “Christmas Miracle,” according to my dad.

      - This one also comes via my father who is now a missionary. He was taking a a mission group on a ministry trip in Peru. A man named Vic York grew ill and began having diarrhea. That’s a significant issue, of course, as it can lead to dehydration and they were about to leave the area for the ministry portion of their trip. After seeing Peruvian doctor in Pulcapa, the diarrhea stopped and he appeared to be improved.Dad had concerns about the man, but they headed on a boat down the Amazon River to continue with the trip as planned. The next morning, after they had been on the boat travelling on the river for about 12 hours, York was having problems again. His conditioned worsened through yhe day. A pinch test of his skin administered by Kenneth Stanley (a chiropractor on the trip) and other symptoms showed extreme dehydration. The chiropractor told my father that if he didn’t get York out and get an IV of fluid into him, the man would die. Dad gave the boat captain the order to turn the boat boat back around and head back to where they could get medical attention. Someone suggested that they pray for York, which they did. Right before the prayer, the chiropractor examined York again and found him to still be dehydrated. Within 5 minutes after the prayer he was almost completely rehydrated, according to my father. The chiropractor, called it a miracle.

      -I know a man named Billy Petty from West Tennessee. It’s my understanding that he was immediately freed from alcohol when he became a Christian. As I understand it he was the sort of dude who needed to keep a flask with him all the time.

      - When my uncle, Bill Scoggins, was young, he developed an unidentified illness. He was sick enough that it was painful for him to be moved. A neighbor, Pap Sliger (sp?) was so struck by the severity of the illness that he said if they didn’t get him to a Dr. he would die. As the day went on, Bill grew worse, and my grandmother grew concerned and prayed for him. She believed that God spoke to her that the women of the church were going to come and pray for my uncle. (It was ladies prayer meeting night). My grandmother was so convinced of this, that she went out on the porch and waited for them. They did, indeed, show up and pray for my uncle who was healed. My uncle Bill believed he should go and tell Sliger that he’d been healed. Sliger was plowing a field (I believe) and, when he saw Bill, he feared that he was a ghost (presumably because the boy had been so ill). Bill told the man that he had been healed and the man knelt and became a Christian at that moment. Years later, as an adult, it’s my understanding that he went to a dr. who, upon examining him, asked when he’d had surgery in the area where one’s appendix is located. He’d never had a procedure in that part of his boy (at least by human hands).

  7. entech says:

    Pk. I have always thought the anthropic principle was one of the better arguments for a creator or designer. The counters are a bit trite – like if it wasn’t like this we wouldn’t be here to talk about it, or, the speculations about multiverses and multi dimensions. One version I think it is called the participatory model says that the conditions are not only required for life to exist but that life is a requirement of the anthropic universe. This is based, as you say, on the concepts of the observer affecting the observed and the quantum idea of a particle existing in a cloud of possibility and not having a fixed position until an observer tries to find its position. This is not new age nonsense; it is seriously discussed by serious and well regarded scientists. Some aspects of eastern religion entertain the idea of people being the universes way of looking at itself, or perhaps, the creator needing intelligent creations to observe his own work. To quote Professor JBS Haldane “the universe is not only stranger than you think, but stranger than you can think”.

    Wanna Be Sure Argumentative; What you expect is like asking the average Christian to discuss the extremes of the Gnostics of Jesus being pure sprit and the adoptionists position of Jesus being all human. Or perhaps ask whether they thought that Marcion was a Gnostic believing in a “spark of the divine” or a docesist.
    Have a couple of aspirin, a nice cup of tea and a good rest.
    David

    • Wanna B Sure says:

      David; Argumentative may be appropriate, but Jon is now going to ask the questions which he had previously dismissed. objective accomplished.

      • entech says:

        “Ask several. They may not all agree.” That is one of the few things we can guarantee. The supporters and deniers can be as extreme in the opposition to each other as you and the JWs.

        • Wanna B Sure says:

          That’s bad? I wouldn’t think so if both sides are willing to discuss the differences.

        • Wanna B Sure says:

          As for the JWs, every time I’ve met with them, (and I’ve had several), any topic or their source- quotes, are questioned and challenged (politely), they excuse themselves immediately. Never willing to examine the anthesis. They are great at mis-quoating, mis-representing other peoples statements and/or only partially quoating, while leaving out the rest of a sentence or paragraph. Resulting in an exact opposite position of the author/s. They use elipses frequently. I have a whole shelf of their material, and where they use elipeses, you can bet most are there for the sake of mis-representation. As I have said before, the average rank and file members aren’t aware of this, and they flee in frustration when presented with the evidence. Sadly, they won’t come back, even when envited. By now, I’m sure they have a big red X on the map on my house, as they never show up anymore.

      • Avatar of Jon Lindgren Jon Lindgren says:

        Wanna 2:00 AM I read a few pages about quantum theory in Richard Dawkins’, The God Delusion. It is too far reaching to discuss here, and, I’m not really capable of doing it. I can only quote from the late and famous physicist, Richard Feynman, “If you think you understand quantum theory…you don’t understand quantum theory.” Really, do we need to more than this?

        • Wanna B Sure says:

          Kinda makes one wonder doesn’t it?

          • Avatar of Jon Lindgren Jon Lindgren says:

            Wanna 2:51 I think you have supernatural predictive powers. The very topic you raised, quantum mechanics, etc. is featured in an article in The Newyorker this week. It is the May 2, 2011, issue. You can read an abstract at http://www.newyorker.com You have to subscribe to get the entire article. I would suggest you find a copy somewhere. I can’t say I understand all, or even much, of it, but it is, as you said, an interesting topic. There are particles two places at one time, a huypothetical computer that can bring understanding to vast questions we can not now fathom. If you would private message me, I’ll photocopy it and send it to you.

          • Wanna B Sure says:

            Jon; And on Saturday night you will consider taking your wife out for a New York Strip Steak to celebrate May Day. (smilie face).

          • Avatar of Jon Lindgren Jon Lindgren says:

            Wanna 12:22 Saturday night is the night before an eight year old granddaughter completes for the MN state bowling championship in St. Paul. That’s BIG. Gotta be there.

          • Wanna B Sure says:

            PS Jon; You could call this quantum thingie a Non-Theological Epiphany.

    • Avatar of PK PK says:

      Yes these ideas are well known to anyone who’s interested in physics. It’s been around for some time now. I’ve observed in the new age movement, they use bits and pieces of this science, then they put their own spin on it.

  8. BTW, I did respond to the request for contemporary miracles above. Also, just wanted to note that in the survey, about a quarter said they simply didn’t know about the afterlife. Looked at it another way, that means that more than three-fourths of people saw it the notion of an afterlife as at least a possibility. Not that that makes it true, but it’s not like the 49 percent dismiss it out of hand either.

    • Avatar of Jon Lindgren Jon Lindgren says:

      Shane 1:21 Good point on the survey. On the people who survived grave illnesses, it seems like there is a never ending stream of stories like this–someone prayed and someone else experienced an unexplained recovery. I always wondered if there are an equal number of unexplained recoveries when no one prayed. I do recall that there was some kind of controlled study of circumstances where there was and was not prayer and no difference in outcomes was measured. I don’t recall the details at the moment.

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