Everlasting Life Changes Everything

One of the issues that’s come up in some of the discussions I’ve had with the FB group promoting dialogue between theists and atheists, is our attitude toward life. In one thread the topic of abortion came up, though the originator of the post hadn’t intended that aspect to take center stage. The thinking of many of the atheists fit closely with their belief in relative morality—if society says abortion is OK, then it’s OK. Because . . . no soul. An aborted fetus would not know existence, so it can’t miss something it doesn’t know about.

In another conversation, the idea that the Christian has a different outlook because of the hope for life after this life, became very apparent. To the atheists, anything that God allows that brings suffering is considered His moral failure, because this life is all we have. There’s no point to suffering that conforms us to the image of Jesus Christ, because they don’t believe there’s anything beyond the grave.

The point is simple. Belief in everlasting life has an enormous affect on a person’s world view. It can dictate what a person thinks about abortion, euthanasia, suffering, the purpose of life, the death of a loved one, views on a “just war,” and more.

Because, put simply, if this is the only life we have, and it comes to an end when this body stops breathing and the brain waves cease, then this body, this life is the one we ought to value above all else. But if this body merely houses an eternal soul, then what happens to the soul should be of supreme importance.

Maybe other people have known all along that this fundamental rift exists between theists and atheists, but I don’t think I did. I’ve said more than once, we Christians are no different than any other sinner. And I think that’s true on one level. But that doesn’t mean that we think the same way.

Oh, sure we may all reason, and study, and deduce the same (though often Christians are accused of somehow turning off our logic), but our fundamental starting places are different. Think about geometry, if you ever had to take the subject in school. At some point you had to use the laws of geometry to construct certain “proofs.” You had a starting place known as a “given” and from that to a stated conclusion, you had to show how the laws of geometry, lead you to the conclusion.

But what if not everyone in the class had the same “given” statement? Could you all successfully prove the desired conclusion? Of course not. A “given” is a statement that needs no proof, either because it is fundamental, like a definition, or because it is a measurement made before hand. So a problem might start by saying, if A, B and C are points on a line (definition), and AB=BC (a predetermined measurement).

However, if some of the class have a different “given,” the steps they take and the conclusion they reach will be very different from everyone else. What if their “give” stated AB=BC-2? Clearly, a starting point that is skewed, can’t arrive at the same conclusion.

In the same way, the important things in life like purpose and values and destination and significance, hinge on what a person understands about life and life after life.

In that regard, theists do have a common starting point—and that point is very different from the one atheists have.

The stark differences between theists and atheists do make for lively debate, I’ll accede to that. But I question if there’s much else we can ever agree upon if some of us believe humans have souls and some don’t.

We won’t think the same about “animal rights,” for instance, or human rights either. Although, I continue to believe that much of the beliefs that those who reject God hold, come from Christian underpinnings.

No one can tell me, for instance, why one person should sacrifice himself for another, as did those teachers at the horrific school shooting last week. Why would they do that, if their life would come to an end? Did they think a young life was more valuable than an old life? On what basis? Or did they act because of some other reason, some other fundamental belief? Would atheists ever sacrifice themselves for another? If so, why?

I tend to think Christianity has informed our society so that sacrifice is something we admire, that we incorporate into our own thinking, whether we embrace Christ or not.

As far as practical take-away from this idea, I think those who do believe that life will continue after this life (and a 2014 Pew Research study indicates that’s as high as 72% of Americans), need to think seriously about that next life, that everlasting life. What, where, and how are questions that come to mind.

Of course those are beyond the scope of scientific study. We’re trafficking now in the realm of the spiritual. And it seems to me to be a wise investment of time to nurture our spiritual life even more than we do our physical life.

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Published in: on February 19, 2018 at 5:34 pm  Comments (6)  
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6 Comments

  1. Becky, you ask, “Would atheists ever sacrifice themselves for another? If so, why?” And “I tend to think Christianity has informed our society so that sacrifice is something we admire, that we incorporate into our own thinking, whether we embrace Christ or not.”

    I find it hard to believe Christian bias goes this far, by actually believing Christianity informed people it was admirable to sacrifice themselves for another life. This is strange thinking that has no ounce of truth.

    You Appear to be saying over the time humans existed before Christianity people would never have known the concept of sacrificing themselves to save another life?

    Obviously, emotional acts such as nurturing and protecting your own children may go as far to involve sacrificing your own life. These traits are part of our inbred survival skills naturally evolved from the primitive beginnings of life that are true for most animal species on Earth, and it has nothing to do with Christianity.

    Some scientific facts here.

    http://www.justscience.in/articles/mothers-protect-young-even-risk-lives/2018/01/09

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    • Steve, there’s no way for you to judge what western society would look like apart from the influence of Christianity. The fact is, as Jesus stated, people might die for a good man, but even that’s questionable. Jesus died for us while we were yet sinners. He set the bar higher by loving the whole world, something that the Yale study of babies I wrote about shows is not in our nature. We have to “learn” to be different, to be like Christ.

      You can talk about “embedded survival skills” all you want, but that doesn’t account for someone laying his life down for a neighbor or a stranger or an acquaintance—someone that isn’t part of your family which you “naturally” want to nurture and protect.

      So I still ask, why, if not for the example of Christ, would an atheist sacrifice his life?

      Becky

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  2. You have nailed this again, Becky, thank you. In the evolutionary model as I have heard it stated repeatedly, the overriding imperative is to survive, breed and make this life the absolute best. Meaning…please me now. The very idea that one person would willingly give themselves for another is completely foreign under this model. In fact, one being willing to do that would indicate that they are an expendable life under that model. The view of evolutionary morality is incoherent, inconsistent and contradictory.

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    • Exactly, Wally. Apart from the example of Christ, atheists couldn’t have arrived at the concept of self-sacrifice. It flies in the face of “survival of the fittest” and “evolving to survive.” There really is no basis for morality stemming from atheism. Those with whom I’ve discussed this basically say society sets the moral compass, which is why it can fluctuate with the changing mores of the group. But that Christianity informs the moral compass of western society seems to be lost on them. Their very sense of right and wrong has been informed from Scripture, but they don’t know it.

      Becky

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  3. Becky, so much food for thought. I do believe that like the animals we have inborn reflexes to protect and save our loved ones. I do not believe you intended to say that an atheist would not. An atheist has no hope for eternal life so our view of partaking of this life are vastly different. As Christians we strive throughout our life here to live as much like Jesus as possible. Our goal is to stay in God’s grace. Different goals.

    Thanks for the great read!

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  4. I believe that evolution, which is used to support atheism, is based on a philosophy of death. It is a dead bone philosophy, one not really worth arguing over because the bones used to support it are dead. They are like idols. They cannot talk to us.

    To believe in Jesus Christ is to believe that His life conquers death. We must therefore take a stand for life and refuse to back down.

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