“Heaven Is For Real” vs Academic Heavies

If Heaven Isn’t Real
Why Worry About It

They may not believe Heaven is for Real but academic heavy hitters are lining up to take a swing at Colton Burpo.

Susan Jacoby, for one, suggested the American public’s infatuation with his book proves they are immature minded and this isn’t a new trend for her. In a February 2008 article she referred to the same group as “dunces.”

About Colton’s book, she quips, “only in America could a book like this be classified as nonfiction.”

I’m not sure if “immature” represents an improvement or is the reason she thinks we are dumb, but you get the feeling things would change if we would just read a few books on Reason – starting with her’s, of course. She’s written several and you could almost map the road to reprobation in the titles:

  • Freethinkers: A History of American Secularism – 2004.
  • The Age of American Unreason – 2008.

Not that that matters to her. She doesn’t believe and is proud to say so.

The real issue is, Colton’s book has sold over a million copies – and counting – and is breaking all the records at Thomas Nelson publishers. And, as a non materialistic atheist, who apparently doesn’t appreciate people suggesting she or her kind writes books for money, she doesn’t hesitate to suggest the Burpo’s did just that, accusingly, as if there is something wrong with making money.

Her cynicism doesn’t slur it gushes arterially.

I will say that it’s good she doesn’t write for profit because her books don’t sell that well.

According to Novel Rank, her book, Freethinkers, is ranked 419,239 in the UK (20,979 in the US). Those numbers don’t represent a financial windfall but no worries. According to her most recent book, Never Say Die, if she had made a lot of money she would share it equally with others anyway. Never Say Die is ranked 124,143 UK and 28,703 US. Still not good.

But, those numbers are interesting because it was the difference between US and the UK rankings for “Heaven Is For Real” that was the basis for suggesting Americans are gullible. Burpo’s book reached number 1 on the NY Times best seller list and the highest UK ranking was only 248, the obvious inference being UK’ers are more stout intellectually than Americans.

Interestingly enough, another of her more recent books, The Age of American Unreason, performed even worse, ranking over 2.5 million in the UK – at this writing – so there is no help there. All three of her books, like Colton’s, ranked much higher in the US, so if her academic “method” is valid the numbers would suggest, again, that UK’ers are savvy enough to know a silly book when they see it and they apparently consider her’s more silly than Colton’s.

Her book sold so poorly there wasn’t enough statistical data to register. We don’t know the highest or lowest ranking although I doubt they can get much lower.

It must be frustrating for such a clever person to be surrounded by so many people who just don’t get it.

But, she isn’t the only, or even the most prominent academic chiming in. In response to Colton’s book Stephen Hawking said heaven “is a fairy story for people afraid of the dark.” It was actually a part of a video interview/debate which follows.



In one not so obvious way Stephen is definitely superior to Colton. He has considerably more faith.

Aside from all that, I would like to ask a question. If heaven isn’t real and there is no after life to anticipate; if this really is silly nonsense, why bother saying anything at all? The more squawking there is, the less credible naysayers sound.


  1. says

    I admit being playful with my response but it was more fun than caustic. Nothing personal intended.

    And if an answer is to be given why not start with her arguments and proceed accordingly. She was the one drawing conclusions about the book based on comparisons between sales in the USA and sales in the UK. I was just following her lead.

    But, since you are here and talking do I understand you to mean that mankind is responsible for the development of all recognized peaceful moral standards? And a follow up question is, how can people who don’t follow these standards very well, Christian or not, be the source of such standards? Just asking…

    Thanks for the visit and the observation.

  2. Joost says

    Just when I thought you might be somewhat reasonable I go and click on the ‘Answering an Atheist category… So your argument for her being wrong is that her books aren’t selling? What does that have to do with anything? This whole piece seems to be just an acerbic childish response. Sure, in her interview she may have acted the same way. That doesn’t mean, however, that you should immediately leave all reason behind and drop down to this level. In fact, I encourage you all to embrace reason and all of the peaceful moral standards humankind has developed.

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