|Afterlife for All, Paradise for Few|
The most fundamental units
of the universe are events, not matter or forces.1 Events develop
from interaction of entities in their environment. Identities are based
on an individual particle's or organism's relationships, or interactions,
within the environment. All entities of the universe are created for connections
and interrelationships with others, something that must be understood before
one can understand oneself, others and the entire cosmos. Interactions
force responses by all participants involved, and for human beings interactions
are essential for their lives to have meaning and significance.
Human beings, creating events as do all other matter and forces in God's creation, can interact in three ways. First, people interact with themselves. Second, they can interact with other humans and with nonhuman matter. Third, people have the opportunity to interact with God. The Holy Spirit is important in this interaction. God sends the Holy Spirit to believers in order for Him to instruct them and keep their minds on God. In eternal life interactions can continue with ourselves, others, and God.
God created us for life and not for death. He created us for forever and not for just now.2 His creation is the ultimate act of love. And as much as we might love ourselves and its earthly existence, God loves His creation, all of it, even more.3 When we have had interactions with God on earth they continue during eternal life. God did not create us to merely have a brief earthly interlude for interacting with Him. God did not send the Holy Spirit to work in an endeavor without consequences where all human existence ends in death manifested by complete nothingness.
Belief in immortality has always existed.4 It is likely a part of the "natural religion" that God puts in every person's heart. We perceive God in everything we see and comprehend, a gift that God gives to every human being. Our perception rather than our senses allow us to comprehend that because of God we have intrinsic value and purpose that are lasting. In Romans 1:20 Paul indicates that we know this: "For since the creation of the world God's invisible qualities--his eternal power and divine nature--have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse." Eternal life cannot be reasoned from our earthly experiences, merely from our interactions with ourselves and others; we know it as part of God's revelation to us, something He puts in everyone's heart.
Interactions in the Afterlife
After a person dies the spirit's interactions with living human beings cease (Few people believe that the dead can communicate with the living). The spirit without a physical body also has no means to interact with nonhuman matter. With belief in some form of existence after death a spirit's interaction must continue with at least oneself or no form of afterlife would be possible. If it is true that the most fundamental units of the universe are events, that truth should continue for human spirits in the afterlife. Interactions' events with other human spirits should also be possible in the afterlife. For those with belief in God, interactions of human spirits with God continue in the afterlife. Unbelievers choose to deny any interaction with God during life on earth. What can they expect from an afterlife offering paradise that is in essence God?
Eventlessness of Noninteraction
When human beings refuse to interact in a meaningful way with God or other people, afterlife offers no more than nothingness and isolation, an essentially eventless state where interaction is only possible with oneself. That might be what happens when matter or energy enters into and becomes part of a black hole.5 Black holes may be states where there is perfect symmetry of matter and forces, a condition where different entities do not interact. With no interactions, fields or spheres of influence or occupancy do not exist; none are needed because individual entities do not interact with one another. All entities are compacted as noninteracting particles having no need for any forces. Instead of the asymmetry that the entire creation shows because of interaction, the choice of noninteraction results in symmetry with no interactions.6 When people refuse to interact with God and with others, they exist in a "black hole" where interactions are only possible with themselves, the black hole of meaningless and insignificance. If interactions with others are essential for meaning and significance in our lives, we can find no value and importance by interacting only with ourselves.
Evolutionary Forces Produce No Paradise
There are many problems
for people with belief in afterlife but not in God. If human spirits in
the afterlife interact with each other in a godless eternity, peace and
serenity are no more likely there than they were during peoples' earthly
existence. Afterlife does not offer paradisiac relations for human spirits
unless they believed in God and His promises during their earthly existence.
For those with no belief in God but having belief in afterlife (even atheists
believe in afterlife 7), the conditions of their afterlife should
be determined by evolutionary forces that are believed by godless people
to dictate all events in the universe. Those forces cannot produce environments
that hold a promise for eternal peace and rest; there is no hope for a
paradise prepared by God.
Belief in afterlife without God looks forward to the probability that the conditions of an evolutionary-force-created universe are the same for a spirit in the afterlife as for a living human being. For any who expect something meaningful after death, afterlife's perceived values must be created by evolutionary forces (value cannot come from such). There is no basis for evolutionary forces to create a place of "eternal peace and rest" for spirits in the afterlife. Others suggest that humans "explore the possibility of conceiving of an afterlife in terms that might make more sense within the framework of an evolutionary world-view."8 But the evolutionary forces creating a godless universe must be responsible for its evil and suffering, and human spirits in any afterlife must remain in a godless universe's time and space.
If afterlife is viewed as a continued desire to have the things of our present life, we cannot ignore that this life's environment is recognized for being random, contingent, blind, disastrous, wasteful, indifferent, selfish, cruel, clumsy, ugly, struggling, and full of suffering.9 Cravings for things of this world cannot lead to peace and serenity in the afterlife. Even though the world's environments show constructive attributes in being orderly, prolific, efficient, exuberant, complex, diverse, and capable of selecting for adapted fit and of regenerating life generation after generation, they cannot be expected to offer us a heaven of eternal rest and peace in the afterlife. Evolutionary forces would produce the same difficult situations in the afterlife as found in a human's life on earth.
Doing It My Way
Most interactions of
human spirits during life are with themselves. Interaction with only oneself
is determination to achieve autonomy, is self-will and greed, and is contempt
for interactions with other human beings and God. Truth and reality are
that we are created by God for interactions with God and human beings other
than ourselves. If we deny truth and reality of interactions responsible
for the most important events, we live a life based on the greatest lie;
we follow the father of lies. If we deny the reality and truth of interactions
with God and others during our earthly lives, we will continue interactions
limited to ourselves in the afterlife. We suffer in an incompleteness God
never intended for us.
The father of lies rejoices when we are discouraged and bitter in our incompleteness, the cure for which is to seek truth. Truth is found by seeking interactions with God for He is the Reality, the whole Truth. Truth is not found by merely interacting with ourselves, by following the desire for autonomy and self-will and by denying that we need interactions with God and other human beings. Belief in "truths" learned merely from our reason, from interactions with ourselves, is the greatest lie. The Holy Spirit is sent to help us learn God's truths. If we ignore the Holy Spirit we do not interact with God but only with ourselves and other humans. We cannot be discouraged and bitter when we interact with God and are one with Him.
Craving Versus Loving God's Creation
Romans 8:8 tells us that to be totally involved in cravings for this life, the fruits of autonomy, makes it impossible to please God: "Those controlled by the sinful nature cannot please God." Sin is alienation and hostility to God where man remains in his own weakness and mortality. But does this imply that God's creation is so bad that we must escape from it? Our cravings for this world do not show a love for it as reflected in what God told Ezra: "Thou comest far short of being able to love my creation more than I."3 Our cravings for the world are driven by our biological inheritance, not our spiritual gifts from God. Human beings living only for their biological inheritance are not empowered for what they ought to do socially, morally and spiritually. Upon death they lose the fruits of their biological inheritance. It is up to them whether spiritual gifts will survive to support an afterlife of peace and serenity.
New Bodies and Paradise or Suffering
Scripture tells us that
believers will have new bodies in the afterlife. For any eternal body to
suffer physical punishment in forms of eternal agony that we can understand,
that body needs to be like the ones we know. Although our present body
is made to experience suffering of pain, God does not intend pain to be
used for punishment. He designed pain for protective functions, to preserve
His creation. Human beings, not God, use pain as a means of punishment.
People freely determine a punishment worse than pain when they alienate
themselves from God.
Only belief in God and Heaven, that is Him, offer an afterlife without evil and suffering. Romans 8:6 tells us "The mind of the sinful man is death, but the mind controlled by the Spirit is life and peace. The sinful mind is hostile to God." Unbelievers cannot appreciate this because Paul tells us in 1Corinthians 2:14: "The man without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him, and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually discerned." Afterlife's nothingness (death) comes from sin that is alienation from God.
Eternity without God
Unbelievers by definition
choose to be alienated from God. A human spirit alienated from God at the
time of death cannot expect to interact with God in the afterlife. That
spirit cannot be in God; it is separated from Him. The degree of separation
can be determined by God's judgment of the degree of denial during one's
earthly existence. The separation may be abandonment to the far reaches
of space-time. Alienation from God during one's life is a self-willed
commitment. Why should such alienation be any different in the afterlife?
Why would anyone who denies any interactions with God during an earthly
existence want any interactions with God in the afterlife? This human spirit
is left with the possibilities of interacting with only other spirits and
Do alienated spirits remain in space-time as we know it and spirits united with God leave space-time in order to experience it like God? Being with God supports an existence outside of space-time where alienation (separation) from God commits one to remain in space-time. Unbelievers may be alienated from believers by remaining in an afterlife in the world's space-time. That leaves the unbelievers with a possibility for interaction with only other unbelievers and themselves.
With a Godless existence for afterlife in the universe's space-time, interactions between human spirits should be similar to their interactions during earthly life. Death cannot be expected to be a purifying process that changes their spirits to something God wanted them to be during life on earth. Also, in such a space-time so vast, such spirits may be separated so far from each other that they exist in virtual isolation. In one case, interactions between human spirits can be no better than during their earthly existence and in the other, isolation precludes any interactions with other spirits. All that is possible during isolation is interaction of a spirit with itself.
God does not need to design a special punishment for sinful (alienated) human beings. He does not need to create a hell where punishment of man's body by fire and torture continue for eternity. Man chooses the severest possible punishment when he denies (or is denied) interactions with God and with other humans. The worst punishment man inflicts on human beings is complete isolation of a person so interaction with other human beings is impossible. That is worse than killing a person and is manifested in the solitary confinement experienced during imprisonment of human being. The spirit isolated from God and other spirits in the afterlife can interact eternally with no one but itself. No events are possible. How could Hell be more complete? It becomes the "Black Hole" of perfect symmetry where no interactions, no events are possible. The human spirit maintains a consciousness of this nothingness and eternal enslavement to loneliness and a meaningless existence.
Eternal Paradise and Joy
God gives human beings a "Salvation History" that describes how He creates, sustains and redeems all creation. The freely-done creation of human beings is the ultimate expression of His love. As stated earlier, He loves His creation more than we do and so He does not create to destroy. His love for the creation drives Him to insure its protection and death cannot separate us from this love. His Salvation History tells us:
For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 8:38-39.How can God love us if we become nothing at death? We can continue into the afterlife as more than nothing:
Man's beyond is that God is his Creator, Covenant-partner, Judge and Savior, was and is and will be his true Counterpart in life, and finally and exclusively and totally in death.10For believers, heaven is God, is total association with God for eternity, an existence of unending joy. Joy in this life or the next can come only from the Lord. No joy is possible for anyone choosing to be eternally separated from God. The unending joys of heaven are not possible for someone who wants no interaction with God, a self-imposed exile from God's presence.
1. Charles Birch, "Eight Fallacies of the Modern World and Five Axioms for a Postmodern Worldview," Perspectives in Biology and Medicine, 32, (1 Autumn, 1988): 12-30.
2. Ben Haden, "If It Were Your Last One," Changed Lives, (1999): 3-10.
3. Michael Edward Ston, in Fourth Ezra--A Commentary on the Book of Fourth Ezra, ed. by Frank Moore Cross, (Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 1990), 136.
4. Hans Kung. Eternal Life (Translated by Edward Quinn). (New York: Crossroad Publishing Co. 1995), 52.
5. Jean-Pierre Lasota, "Unmasking Black Holes," Scientific American, (May 1999), 40-47.
6. See A Scientific Basis For Reconciling Divine Foreknowledge and Human Free Will at this website.
7. Kung, Eternal Life, 68.
8. Anonymous. "Life After Death?--Immortality within an Evolutionary World-vie," DIALOGOS: An Interactive Journal of the Sciences, Philosophy, and Theology. website: www.freeway.net/~dialogos/
9. Holmes Rolston III, " Does Nature Need To Be Redeemed?" Zygon, 29 (2, June 1994), 205-229.
10. Karl Barth, cited in Kung, Hans. Eternal
Life, (Translated by Edward Quinn). (New York: Crossroad Publishing
Co. 1995), 138.
© Copyright 1999