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Thursday, October 2, 2014

On Life After Death

How can knowing the location of your ultimate "home"  affect your attitude toward aging? How can it encourage you to be more hospitable to others now?  (Serendipity Bible Fourth Edition, page 1609).

I certainly have no systematic understanding of comparative religion; however, throughout my life I have heard that others throughout history have in one way or another believed in life after death. I feel a kinship with all these people because my religion, Christianity, believes in eternal life and an eventual home of happiness, creativity, health, and productive work in which death and sin have no place. My religion freely admits that there is a great deal of mystery surrounding the full ramifications of life after death. But this ambiguity seems to bother no one. For belief is not dependent upon prescience regarding exactitude of execution so much as accepted purposeful significance and its current practical impact upon life.  It is a common phenomenon widely displayed throughout life that a lack of detail understanding has little or no impact upon practical use so long as faith in one form or another is present. (For example, I don't have to be an engineer to cross a bridge.  It is enough that I have faith and trust in the engineers who designed it.  Human affairs simply could not proceed without a good measure of optimism in the face of a widespread dearth of complete knowledge.)

In this way, it is quite satisfactory that belief in life after death is filled with mystery so long as it provides a necessary degree of faith to get on optimistically with the business of life. Humanity at least theoretically understands that at some point life will end for each individual. For those of a starkly bare frame of mind, this can introduce a certain depression, even cynicism, in their view of life. Others seem quite resistant to the human need for long-term significance, and they thus readily accept the transience of friendships and kinships--of love itself. 

Whether belief in life after death is a merely a human coping mechanism or exists in fact will not be proven until after we die. The main point to grasp is that it is not a weakness to believe in eternal life if such a belief supplies one of life's major strengths.

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