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The Scripture Project

Browse the Bible, Qur’an or Book of Mormon for scriptural criticism, insights and careful annotation.

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‘Heaven is for real’ and the immature American mind

By Susan Jacoby
Posted: April 1, 2011.
Published: March 30, 2011.

Print: The Washington Post

There really is such a thing as American exceptionalism: we are more gullible than the public in the rest of the developed world. Sitting pretty at No.1 on The New York Times paperback nonfiction bestseller list is a secondhand memoir, Heaven Is For Real , describing a four-year-old boy’s visit—when he nearly died from a burst appendix—to a heaven complete with clouds, winged inhabitants, and a baby sister his parents had lost to a miscarriage. Only in America could a book like this be classified as nonfiction.

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Comments (9)

The non-fiction catagorisation is surely a mistake…but wait, where is the bible or qu’ran catagorised??

posted on April 1, 2011
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It really is hard to believe with all the knowledge in the world today that people can believe in such things.  There minds are childish and ignorant.  It is a free world (atleast where this book is written) so lets hope the children born to these people will not be so ignorant and know they can live rational healthy lives.

posted on April 1, 2011
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3. EDUARDO J HIDALGO

Unfortunately most people want to BELIEVE in something instead of LEARNING. Years ago a lot of my friends and many others were CERTAIN that the author of ‘El Caballo de Troya’, J. J. Benítez, traveled in time and witnessed Jesus’ life, even though on the second page of the book that described this events the word “NOVEL” was printed in large fonts. Stupid, right?

posted on April 1, 2011
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Pretty good stuff by Jacoby - the last paragraph reminded me of Harris himself!

“At age four, the inability to distinguish between fantasy and reality is charming. Among American adults, widespread identification with the mind of a preschooler is scary.”

posted on April 1, 2011
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5. Scorpionrat

It appears that with Americans, the inability to distinguish fantasy and reality does not stop at 4 but is a lifelong ailment.

posted on April 1, 2011
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I especially loved the “evidence” that the story had to be true.

Fine, believe in angels floating among the clouds. But believing that a pastor’s son in the US had never seen images of a crucified Christ or angels with wings isn’t believing in the supernatural, it’s believing a ridiculous claim about how *this* world works. That a the child of a pastor never saw images of heaven or Jesus would be a bigger miracle than any weeping or bleeding statue.

posted on April 2, 2011
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Alright Jacoby! she seemed almost to register disapproval when the horsemen were moving books(not like this four-year old admittedly, but still).. hopefully others will see the value in a more “strident” (honest) approach, especially the “I’m an atheist buters”

posted on April 2, 2011
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Would really like to hear what a person [4 years old or 40 years old] would see in a near death experience if they were a non-believer? Wonder what they would “report” back having no brain washing from their upbringing. Is all these “visions” a mere byproduct of constant, relentless babble from a religious upbringing? Would we see something like a energy rush or that “white light”...can science find any evidence that concrete things happen in the brain when we die that could lead less reasonable people to believe that they see these things?

posted on April 7, 2011
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I liked the article until Jacoby makes the ridiculous economic comparison.  There are a lot of economists that can show you very real studies that prove that you can balance budgets by cutting spending. Think about it, just cut spending to zero and leave taxes at current rates. Voila! Deficits go away! By Jacoby’s logic, the existence of god should be just as easy to prove.

posted on September 14, 2011
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