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The Futility of Remembrance without God

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Question:  Although I am very familiar with Christianity, I am not a Christian. It is not so much that I do not believe in God or eternal life; it is just that I see no clear proof of either. It is clear that what matters most to you is eternal life. To explain my position with an analogy, what matters most to NASA is the space station. Both require one to believe in them; to sense on the on hand that eternal life is truly possible and, on the other, that exploring space is truly possible. I have no problem in admitting that each could be rationally possible, but this does not deter me from considering both senseless. What matters most to me is the preservation of memory in the face of our temporariness. There is a Latin proverb: vita brevis, ars longa ("life is short, but art endures"). To my mind, this is the only route to anything lasting, for individually I see nothing beyond the grave.

Response:  Life is short; but time has more than enough eons available to erase even the most noble of human deeds from existence (even if one does not believe in God, or care). One important difference in a space station and eternal life is that building a space station (or writing a play, or etc.) doesn't really put a person one whit closer to the goal of having one's own life beyond the fringe of the short time we have been given. Eternal life, on the other hand, victory over death, is, for this reason, not to be compared to anything else on earth, because there is nothing on earth like it. And that includes any or all deeds or achievements here in time. The only rational reason not to prize eternal life, and not to desire it, in my view, is the belief that it is a myth (or unattainable, which amounts to the same thing). Whether one considers this life a possession or a gift or a blessing or a burden, human beings have a tendency to get on with it, and even to cling to it. In the inglorious history of our kind, one might even venture to say that remaining alive as long as possible has been a, if not the, prime value (maybe not for everyone at any cost, but it seems to be the rule). In the face of this universal desire, there is the reality of death, the eradication of everything we know and see and think and feel. "Oblivion" is the best spin modern secularism can put on the #1 problem of the human race. But does this really make it palatable? The notion of living on through one's deeds and accomplishments and art has been around since the beginning. It strikes me as foolish and disingenuous. Obviously, when one is gone, one will be unable to care (if oblivion awaits). So that, in reality, this particular myth is solely for the living, a bit of anesthetic to help take the mind's attention away from the looming reality (and in this way is no different from false religion).

In the history of the world, there have been many brave men and women who have faced death with courage, choosing to live well and die well. This noble approach to the human condition also has failed to arrest the return to dust or make it any more palatable for those left behind. An appreciation of the essential problem with failing to give one's attention to the futility of live and living apart from God is the really correct response to all contemplation of these things. I believe that this is true from any philosophically honest point of view, because, if one is honest about it, we do not want to die, we do not want to suffer the loss of all we have ever known and loved, and we are most definitely not compensated in any sufficient way for the death that robs us of everything by the paltry promise of memory.

So one of the main issues I have with the failure to recognize that death is in fact the biggest problem we have and the general lack of willingness to even look at it as a problem (even though it is genuinely felt to be the "ultimate concern") is that it allows people to drift through this life without ever coming to grips with the fundamental reason that they are here: to face the question of God.

Therefore "blessed oblivion", no matter that this would be horrible enough in my view, is not the worst of it, because there is no such thing. We are placed here on this tiny planet to put our free will to work vis-a-vis the One who made us and put us here. Denying His existence is frivolous - we all know He exists (or at least did until we de-constructed Him out of minds and out of lives). And we all "instinctively" know the truth of the reality that awaits beyond this veil of tears called life, namely, judgment for what we have done here, and no one is so good and pure as to be able to withstand the judgment of a perfect and perfectly holy God (as we all know Him to be).

There is good news. The good news is that He is a loving God (as we all know Him to be). He did not abandon us to destruction, nor did He leave us without any way to come before Him when this short life terminates. He gave us a gift much more precious than this short life. He gave us His own Son to die for us that we might have life, life eternal. For everyone who receives this good news - regardless of failure and regardless of sin - victory over the grave, the ultimate concern of all willing to admit it, is assured.

Please see the links:

Proving the Existence of God

Unbelief and its Consequences

Atheism and Natural Revelation

Advice for Family Members of Atheists

God's free gift: Salvation through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ

Yours in Him who is the Life, our Savior Jesus Christ,

Bob L.

 


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