Thinking Cap #31 - Life After Death?

Life after Death? An interesting and perplexing question. Is there life after death (although the way many people are caught up in the stress and materialism of the present age, they might well wonder if there is life before death)? Clearly, as you read the Scriptures, you have proof and ample evidence of life after death. While the Scripture is sufficient for me, I wonder if one could also demonstrate a case for life after death utilizing other means. Such logic would be useful in witnessing to the agnostic or the non-believer. It would enable you to create cracks in the edifice of their disbelief. Such cracks could develop into fissures of doubt and thus open the door for the Gospel. After all if we don't just "disappear" at death, wouldn't it be wise to prepare for the life to come?

With that in mind, here is how I would argue for the existence of a life after death. I see six basic evidences of such.

1. The Laws of Science (this will be the longest and most complex of the arguments, so please stay with me; or skip ahead to #2). We know as a consequence of the First Law of Thermodynamics that natural processes (physical, chemical) can neither create nor destroy matter or energy. This means that natural processes cannot explain the origin of matter. The Second Law of Thermodynamics teaches that natural processes cannot organize and produce complex structures but can disorganize them. The law decrees that all natural systems move from a state of high order to one of low order through time, never the converse. The universe, like our bodies and our cars is running down and "falling apart." The universe has not yet reached the state of total disorder, as we still see much order and "hot spots" in the cosmos. Therefore, the universe is not eternal (contrary to what Naturalism, Humanism, or Monism might claim). Extrapolating backward in time, the universe would show an increase in order, but not more than the maximum permitted by the First Law. This demands a beginning of the time, mass, and space continuum. Therefore, the universe cannot be eternal but must have been caused.

Since the First Law denies that the universe can cause itself and the Second Law demands a cause, it follows that the First Cause (God) must transcend and pre-exist the universe. So, science predicts the existence of the God of the Bible.

The Law of Probability denies that complex structures or systems can arise by chance. The Law of Biogenesis teaches that natural processes cannot organize nonliving chemicals to create life but that life comes only from pre-existing life. Therefore, natural processes predict an unnatural cause of life.

So, we conclude that God, who created the universe in the beginning, has organized matter/energy into complex cellular material to provide a matrix on which aliveness "rides" much like the information in this Thinking Cap "rides" on the ABC's. Obviously the ink and paper did not write this Thinking Cap. The information is not "in" or "of" the ABC's but "on" them. The information came from a transcending, pre-existing mind. While the ink and paper can be disorganized, the information riding on the ink and paper continues, since the transcending, pre-existing mind continues.

Aliveness is not "in" or "of" the cellular material but "on" it. Natural processes are able to destroy the order and complexity of the matrix (the body), but not the aliveness that "rides" on the matrix. The aliveness abides in the transcending, pre-existing God of the Bible. To concede that aliveness can be destroyed by natural processes is to concede that the creation can destroy its Creator.

If natural processes cannot create matter, energy or "aliveness," and if they cannot destroy matter and energy (First Law), it isn't reasonable to contend that aliveness is an exception and can be destroyed. Therefore, natural processes predict aliveness to continue after disorganization.

2. Analogies from Nature. Plato made his argument for life after death following a visit to his beloved teacher Socrates who was preparing to drink hemlock for execution. Plato explored the question primarily from analogies found in nature. Everywhere he looked he saw cycles. Spring follows winter follows autumn follows summer follows spring, etc. A blossom produces fruit, which produces a seed, which dies, which then produces a plant, etc. Ice (solid) encounters heat and becomes water (liquid) which when heated further produces steam (gas). The "water" is not destroyed, it merely changes form.

If man (body, mind and spirit) ceased to exist, he would be the only thing in the universe that ever did. Scriptures describe the change in form (which Plato theorized upon) that mankind encounters in life and death in 1 Cor. 15:35-36, 51-52.

3. Demands of Justice. Immanuel Kant, one of the most significant philosophers of all time, approached this question from the perspective of justice. First, he observed that all human beings have some sense of moral duty. For that moral duty to be meaningful they must have some system of rewards and punishment. But nowhere did Kant find perfect justice applied. In fact, he often found the righteous suffering and the wicked prospering.

Then Kant reasoned that since justice does not prevail in this life, there must be another time and place in a life hereafter when there will be justice. Then Kant realized that to have perfect justice in the life hereafter, there must be a perfect judge. Moreover, the judge must be all-knowing or he will not have the necessary evidence to judge. In addition, he must be all-powerful or he would not be able to guarantee that the verdict would be carried out.

Kant's life after death sounds incredibly similar to that described in Heb. 9:27. Paul described this for the believer in 2 Cor. 5:8-10. John told what it would be like for the unbeliever in Rev. 20:11-15.

4. The Last Words of the Dying. In every library, there are books of quotations recording the words of people who stood at the threshold between life and death. Such people could see a bit of both worlds on either side of death's door. One was Edward Gibbon, a noted unbeliever. On his death bed he cried out, "All is dark!" Augustus Toplady, who wrote the hymn "Rock of Ages," in his last breath exclaimed, "All is light, light, light!" Stephen, the first Christian martyr, and thousands like him, have been granted a preview of that which awaited them in the realm beyond and in their final words have given testimony of an after-life.

5. Recollections of those Resuscitated. While some may not place a lot of stock in the details of such testimonies, we cannot close our minds to the fact that those resuscitated from death bear witness to a life after death. Dr. Elizabeth Kubler-Ross and a colleague named Dr. Raymond Moody have attended thousands of terminally ill patients (you can also read about them in "Beyond Death's Door" by Maurice Rollins). Some who were pronounced clinically dead were resuscitated and their testimonies were recorded. The credibility of these professionals deserve our serious consideration. People interviewed have described the place from which they returned as either beautiful or terrible.

6. The Resurrection of Jesus Christ. This is the most convincing of all evidence. It is based upon historical facts and it is the testimony of a Person who has visited the realm beyond and returned (thus He is called the "first fruits of those who are asleep" (1 Cor. 15:20).

Dr. Simon Greenleaf, a Royal Professor of Law at Harvard and one of the greatest authorities on legal evidence the world has ever known, examined the evidence for Christ's resurrection. He came to the conclusion that in the most objective, unbiased courtroom of the world, Christ's resurrection would be declared a historical fact.

Closing Thots. The question for mankind today is not whether there is life after death, but where? We will continue to exist somewhere forever. For some it will be a place of bliss. For others it will be an eternity in a never-ending place of torment. So this is not really just another academic question, but one that should drive every person to find an answer to how to reach the place of bliss.

Pleasant Thinking,

Kent Haralson

Dr. Kent Haralson - "Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean
Berean Baptist / GMAU - not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways
West Palm Beach, FL USA - acknowledge Him and He shall direct thy paths."
"The unexamined life is not worth living."


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