I know many Christians see themselves as firmly grounded in the Bible, and, the Bible as the firmly grounded truth handed down from God (or some variation of this). Looking at it from the outside, however, it appears to change to fit the contemporary culture.
One of the areas where change is afoot is the concept of “heaven”. The April 16th issue of Time reviewed several scholars including New Testament scholar, N. T. Wright, a former Anglican bishop in England. He thinks the Bible’s message describes heaven as being located here on earth, after the Almighty returns. All the wrongs will be made right. Heaven is not a separate place.
Thus, the task of believers is to start preparing by making things right now. While the scholar, Wright, is definitely a believer, and would not claim to be anywhere close to unbelievers, his view seems not far from that of Freethinkers.
Most Freethinkers feel their responsibility is to make the here and now better. They would not agree they are preparing for the coming of some spiritual being, but are preparing the world for future generations.
The Time article runs through the many concepts of heaven and the afterlife believed by Christians over time. Slaves waited for the chariot to take them from their misery. Billy Graham says it will even better than our current affluent life here.
Atheists seem not to have changed as much as Christians–but the revised view of “heaven” by Christians is one I like.