A new survey shows that in a number of Western nations, the population no longer believes in Heaven or Hell, even if they also claim to believe in God.
The global survey from Ipsos, called “Perils of Perception,” found that a small percentage of the population in those countries believe in Heaven or Hell.
"Some countries significantly overestimate belief in Heaven: Japan guessed that 42 percent of people believe in Heaven when the actual figure is just 19 percent. In South Africa, the pattern is the opposite; their average guess is that 67 percent believe in Heaven, but actual survey results show belief in Heaven is 84 percent," the report said.
"Guesses on how many people believe in Hell follow a similar pattern of big errors in both directions. For example, people in Spain think that 43 percent of Spaniards believe in Hell, when actually only 19 percent say they do.”
A minority of the population in Germany, Norway, Great Britain, Australia, Denmark, Sweden, Canada, Spain, France, Japan and Belgium said they believed in Heaven or Hell.
"It's difficult to reconcile some of them. Quite a large proportion identify as Christians and yet quite a small proportion believe in Heaven and Hell, so you wonder what those who identify as Christian actually believe,” said Graham Nichols, the director of Affinity, a network of Christian organizations.
"In terms of the Christian message, it's important that people believe in both. They're both things that Jesus talked about a lot. Part of what He spoke about was both Heaven and Hell — Hell to be avoided and Heaven to be entered into,” he added.
The survey included 29,133 interviews in 38 countries.
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Publication date: December 8, 2017