There is a conference scheduled to be held to try and bring together Catholics and Evangelicals to see if they can resolve their differences on heaven, hell, and purgatory. The announcement says:
The final end of humanity and the universe is a subject of perennial interest, especially for Christians. What are we promised? How does that promised end relate to history? Will anyone finally be left out of God’s intentions to bless humanity? What sort of transformation will be needed to enter the presence of God? These questions have been at the heart of Christian teachings about last things. The 2013 Pro Ecclesia conference of the Center for Catholic and Evangelical Theology will focus on the theme “Heaven, Hell, . . . and Purgatory?” Topics will be examined from a variety of perspectives, representing a variety of Christian traditions.
I find it in incredible that grown people who seem to be quite rational in other areas of their lives, actually take such questions seriously. All that time devoted by Jewish, Islamic, and Christian scholars to pore over their texts seeking to find answers to questions that make no sense to be even asked strikes me as a colossal waste of intellectual effort.
But having said that, I cannot afford to be too judgmental. I am embarrassed to admit that at one time in my life, when I was a believer, I too would have thought these types of questions were important and merited discussion, although concerns about the end of humanity were not that high on my list of concerns. But it shows how narrow one’s view can become when one is deep inside a well.
Fortunately I realized the error of my ways before too much of my life was wasted. I can still see the appeal of such discussions if they are done purely in terms of historical, sociological, and textual analysis of religion, where people examine the origins of such beliefs and how it came to be that people took them seriously. But as real concerns? No.
What would be fun is to have panel discussions along the lines of this one from That Mitchell and Webb Look to very quickly resolve such issues.