A leading Scottish churchman has spoken of his genuine surprise that so many celebrities and politicians had freely spoken of the musical legend David Bowie going to heaven.

The Free Church Moderator David Robertson said it reveals that people still have a longing for heaven, and suggests the nation was unwilling to abandon God altogether.

Mr Robertson added that only the Bible could bring lasting peace to people with complex lifestyles, and that the “nihilist existentialism of atheistic naturalism” had no comfort for those mourning.

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He said: “What really interested me was the number of spokespeople who made comments about David Bowie being in heaven. I hadn't realised that so many of the great and good believed in heaven. And that set me thinking – what do we really think about heaven?

“I thought that in this naturalistic, materialist world we could be all grown up and just say, ‘He's gone, he had a good life, did a lot of daft things, did a lot of good things, we will miss him, but he's gone’."

Taking a swipe at an outspoken non-believer Mr Robertson continued

“I haven't checked but I almost expected Richard Dawkins to tweet, ‘He's gone. There is nothing left of him but his music and family. He's not in heaven’."

“But it appears that in popular culture, we still cannot face up to the nihilist existentialism of atheistic naturalism. It seems that the Bible was right about eternity being in our hearts.”

The Dundee minister revealed his own “real and frustrating sorrow” over Bowie’s death, observing that the “musical genius” appeared to be seeking peace from God.

Mr Robertson continued: “Bowie, like most human beings was a complex man, who experienced many changes in his life. He cannot just be simply pigeonholed according to what we want to be true."

“I didn't know David Bowie and I am in no position to pass any judgement upon him. I do think he was a musical genius and much of his music was also part of the soundtrack of my early life."

But he said there was no doubt Bowie was not an atheist and that was on the record talking about his "undying belief in God’s existence."