Could God demonstrate the afterlife?

Hello good people of Biologos, hope you are all well. I’ve just had a weird idea I’ve been thinking about, I thought of mentioning it here to see if it was interesting to anyone. I hope I’m not going out on too far out on a limb with that one, lol.

Something that often seems to come up in discussions is mechanisms by which God could hypothetically prove his existence to people, non-believers specifically, usually. I don’t really find it hard to imagine some ways that might happen, myself, though some might differ.

What I’m thinking though, is that even if God could do that, how might he demonstrate that an afterlife existed and what its nature was? This seems harder to imagine to me. It is important, and I can imagine some negative hypothetical situations that might not be good for eternity :slight_smile:

I guess one short answer to this is, he can’t. We don’t have any access to the afterlife, so how could he? That would just be it then, and a little boring :slight_smile: (I’m not trying to say that should bother anyone necessarily, to be clear.)

But God can do anything right? So I guess another short answer would be that he could do it in some way which we cannot now imagine but which be totally demonstrative. Ok, then that’s it too, and equally boring! (Whether someone might doubt any possible explanation that was presented isn’t the point either, I think.)

Both are just a little unsatisfying to me for some reason, just thought someone might have some insights or think it was interesting. I can’t recall hearing it mentioned, but I guess it’s probable that books have been written about it :slight_smile: Cheers.

Hi John,

I’m not completely certain what your question is, but I’m pretty sure you’re wondering if there’s some mechanism by which God could prove the existence of the afterlife in a way that would satisfy 100% of human beings because it’s so darned indisputable.

I suspect – in fact, I’m pretty convinced – that the answer would be no, not because God is incapable of doing what needs to be done, but because human beings have free will, and no one can be forced to believe in the afterlife if he/she has made up his/her mind that God, the soul, and the afterlife don’t exist.

There are many first hand accounts by human beings who’ve had direct experiences of God’s presence and/or temporary experiences of the afterlife. These first hand accounts go back for thousands of years, and are found in all cultures, religions, and time periods. So it’s not new. Even the Bible contains a few such accounts, though many of them appear to our modern eyes as mere metaphors rather than first hand accounts.

Maybe what you’re hoping for is definitive proof that will convince you personally? I think lots of people hope for such proof, but unfortunately, I doubt any “proofs” of the kind available to us as human beings would ever be enough to persuade a skeptic.

I say that as a practising mystic who’s had many experiences of God’s presence and glimpses of what lie beyond the Veil. It’s important to me personally, but it’s not proof to anyone else. I recommend you stick to what you can experience through your own human senses, as that’s how God communicates with us during our time on Planet Earth.

It’s not boring to learn how to experience God’s love through human experiences. God has given us infinite wonders to share in even though we’re just ordinary human beings. Our job is to recognize those wonders and ask what they might tell us about the image of God.

Hope this helps. God bless.

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He’d say He already has, in, as Jesus, in whom all have it. And that we are to get on with living in the light of it. We’re all saved, act like it.

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Some people certainly believe that God can do so and has done so with near death experiences. As for me, I always very much hesitate to say there is anything God cannot do. What I will say is that God’s omnipotence certainly does not mean God can do anything you say by whatever means you dictate – that leads to contradictions which is just meaningless nonsense. In other words, God cannot do things without consequences.

I suspect God cannot demonstrate His existence (any more than He has already done) without negative consequences in religion, making theists even more self-righteous and destructive than they already are. So I don’t believe making people believe in His existence is God’s highest priority. A belief in God is hardly any kind of panacea for human problems and is in fact part of some people’s psychopathology.

I think demonstrating an afterlife (any more than He has already done) would also have some severe negative consequences for human life. Atheists believe that the whole notion of an afterlife is damaging to human morality and life, and I do not think they are entirely wrong about that. In other words, there are both positive and negative effects of this belief and this is a basis for thinking that demonstrating this too strongly would have bad effects on human life.

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I just caught the tail end of “It’s a Wonderful Life” on TV, and now the local PBS station is showing a Christmas music special, so this has reminded me to say . . . though God doesn’t show up like a Macy’s Thanksgiving parade to reveal what the afterlife is like, there are always hints if we’re paying attention. The hints are more like a Christmas stocking than a big parade – small gifts, each one specially chosen, presented without a lot of fanfare, but sometimes the best part of Christmas Day because there are no overwrought expectations. A stocking is about thoughtfulness and showing other people how much you know them and love them in the small ways that make them unique and cherished.

That what my glimpses beyond the Veil feel like to me.

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As I said in my poem:
To live forever
is the art
to learn to live
in Jesus heart

those who want to be the eternal self live in eternal sin, as it is the separation of the self from being part of God that is the fall, the poetic description of puberty in the rejection of the authority over the self, the resurrection being the opposite, becoming one with God again by giving your self back in his hands. As Mitch put it so well, the imagination of the afterlife can be part of the pathopsychology of people. That is what hell is all about, the eternity it takes to die, when we learn that we loose the ability to move energy at will, (which is what life is) and we can not accept the “thy will be done” bit.

I am definitely not an atheist, quite the opposite, but I also belief that the physicalist view of an afterlife is damaging to our soul or psyche as it turns humans into Klingons clinging on to the eternal self. It is perhaps seen in its strongest manifestation when promising testosterone fueled humans that it involves the provision of seral virgins to them, thus reinforcing their concept of a physical heaven.
When God stated that when you eat from that tree “you will surely die” he did not - as some believe - say that “if you do that I will have to kill you” but state the logical consequence of the action. This is why in eating from the tree of life, e.g. the cross, you can become one with God again in being part of his will, thus regain that eternal life.

Well, not necessarily 100%, but something that would be a clear demonstration that a reasonable person would accept.

I understand you, but that’s not what I mean. Let’s say I’m thinking of me. I strive to be an open-minded person who stays open to anything depending on the evidence. So what might convince me, for example.

Yes, I see. I understand many people are convinced based on their own experience and such accounts. But many people would not find that convincing. As an example of what I mean, just off the top of my head, if God were to write “I am God, I exist” across the skies and elsewhere so that everyone could read it in their own language, and healed all sick people at the same time, I think a lot of people might find that very convincing evidence that God indeed existed, me included. To be fair, I’m sure I would consider things like whether it could be the work of some other intelligence, or if my senses were failing me, or the like. But I really do believe that I could be convinced in time. I’m not saying God should do that, to be clear, and I understand there could be good reasons why he wouldn’t. I’m just saying that it would hypothetically be convincing, and I’m trying to think if there could be any kind of analogous demonstration of an afterlife and its nature.

Well, I would not say I’m hoping, as much as wondering if it’s even possible.

Thanks! I hear you 100%.

Yes, thanks again for answering and hope you are well!

I see, I understand that too. That seems to kind of put everything in the same basket in a way, in that we’ve been told in a package, and we should believe it all. Perhaps I’m guilty of being too analytical and technical about this, but it’s my nature.

Sure, I do see what you’re getting at here. As I said above, I’m not trying to say that God in some sense “should” necessarily do this. Sometimes I feel like I would appreciate it though :slight_smile:

Maybe it would! I’m more wondering about the “could” though. Could it be done, and if so how? I understand it’s a narrow technical kind of question that may not be important to a lot of people for various reasons, but I think it’s kind of interesting. I think the best I have is that even if God were by his will to prove his existence to me, I would still have to trust him about the afterlife. And I well might :slight_smile:

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This makes it sound as if there’s only one notion of an afterlife and one way in which human morality can be damaged by our beliefs. But notions of an afterlife cover a wide spectrum of belief, ranging from highly positive beliefs (where a loving Heaven exists but Hell does not) to highly paranoid, fear-based beliefs (where only the elect get into Heaven and pretty much everyone else can expect to end up in eternal Hell). There’s a whole range of other beliefs in between these two extremes, some of which form the basis of schisms between different sects of Christianity. So if we’re going to have a debate about the afterlife, we need to be honest about the many different afterlife theories and their relationship to religious cosmogonies.

Second, if we’re going to have a debate about the theories of the afterlife and their relationship to psychopathology, then it’s only fair that we be fully honest about how any kind of cosmogonical theory – including purely atheistic theories – affect how an individual’s brain is wired. It’s true that frightening theories about Hell can have negative impacts on a person’s mental health, but sometimes it’s the other way around, so that a person’s predisposition towards paranoia, hallucinations and delusions, extreme lack of self worth, and so on (caused by biological major mental illness) can mean that a negative depiction of the afterlife (i.e. the torments of Hell) seems perfectly logical to him/her, whereas a loving Heaven does not seem logical because he/she can’t relate to such an idea. And sometimes, because of the intertwining of cultural, familial, and religious teachings, both realities can create a vicious cycle (i.e. negative afterlife teachings repeated over and over damage the brain’s ability to see the universe through any other lens, which can contribute to major mental health issues, which in turn contribute to an intensified tendency to see God as an avenging, wrathful, revenge-seeking judge who looks forward to punishing people in Hell).

The effects of major ideologies on our brain wiring can work in the opposite direction, though. If we’re taught, and if we choose to continue to believe, that the afterlife and its relationship to human life is a positive thing – a source of encouragement, strength, hope, and healing – then the lens through which all Creation is seen becomes a moral filter of empathy, forgiveness, patience, purpose.

In other words, beliefs in the afterlife can cut both ways. So there’s no one-size-fits-all response.

clearly the different interpretations of life after death can have serious implications for ones mental health, as can the absence of it. As I view life as the ability to move energy of matter at will i can see how someone can be alive even if physically dead. It is in the awareness of the lords prayer as in “thy will be done” that we can find our way back to God and can in the end understand in Jesus how this will includes the acceptance of our earthly death.

If God killed us all then would that not demonstrate the existence of an afterlife to every single one of us? This is a simple demonstration of how you cannot separate out the issue of consequences. Yes God CAN demonstrate an afterlife – of course He can! But NO God cannot do so without consequences. Whether conscious of it or not you are somehow adding on a restriction of no consequences and so it is a question of what you are putting on that list. For example… can God demonstrate the existence of an afterlife WITHOUT killing us. As I said above the answer is still yes, but obviously in a much limited way that a lot of people will not accept. Another thing you may or may not put on that list is whether God can demonstrate the afterlife without altering the laws of nature – that will put a HUGE restriction on God as well – and likely is mostly the situation we have now. Obviously the consequences of altering the laws of nature are enormous.

Me too John. But it’s that simple.

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Yup. Afterlife isn’t a “place,” in the way humans envision “place,” but seems to be energy fields that interact with consciousness in ways that are starkly different from the interaction of consciousness with 3D baryonic matter. The physics of it is way beyond what the human mind can grasp. But God is the great scientist, so I’m pretty sure it’s okay to trust God on the physics of the afterlife! :grinning:

Physics of the afterlife? total contradiction of terms that. Physics is all about looking at the world in mathematical terms. I believe in this religious stuff precisely because I don’t think this could ever capture the totality of reality – but that there are things, real things which are not mathematical. So I guess what you mean by this is how it works. Mathematics may be how the physical world works but I don’t think this the case for any afterlife… or… to get down to the crux of the matter… how God Himself functions.

NO! Scientists making God in their own image? PLEASE DON’T! The God of the Bible is the great shepherd! Not scientist or watchmaker or intelligent designer, ultimate computer or any of that crap. Remaking God and the Bible into scientist and science text is all wrong! Replacing the Bible with stuff like that is another religion – a religion which is worse in so many ways. No thank you!

The beforelife is far more important now. Life after birth, not death. That’s all taken care of.

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I’m not trying to make God in the image of scientists. I’m just acknowledging that God must surely be the source of everything we describe as science and mathematics, as well as art and poetry and music and on and on and on.

I’m in no way trying to belittle God, but simply hoping to give credit where credit is due. I see no conflict between talking about BOTH the science and the mystery intertwined in all the many aspects of God’s Creation that we don’t understand but still feel great reverence for.

We can see both the science and mystery in the world around us on Planet Earth. Does a spectacular sunset speak any less clearly to the soul because we can explain the science of it? There’s no conflict between the two unless we artificially create a conflict.

For me, difficult concepts such as the afterlife are also intricate interweavings of both science and mystery, all the more amazing and worthy of our appreciation because of – not despite – that interweaving.

Our God is a wondrous God whose beauty overflows into everything. Even into science and mathematics. :wink:

This also represents a fundamental understanding of what is science. It is not just knowledge and the ability to accomplish things. For that the word engineer is better. Science is about discovering things about the universe from the objective evidence. But in that case this doesn’t apply to God at all. God already knows everything about the universe – He created it. Someone with eidetic memory having read a complete encyclopedia of science is not a scientist. Thus to call God “the great scientist” is not only a disservice to God but also to science.

Gosh, Mitchell, this is a pretty narrow definition of what it means to be a scientist. You mention only the role of knowledge in science, which is important, to be sure, especially for human beings, who are playing catch-up with the universe. But what about the other aspects of being a scientist? The emotional and spiritual aspects? The personality and temperament aspects? The sheer delight that many scientists feel as simple knowledge expands into deeper, richer tapestries of wisdom, love, memory, purpose, relationship?

The way a scientist thinks is different from the way an artist thinks. (Having grown up in a household with a father who’s a chemical engineer and a mother who was an artist, I can attest to this.) A scientist learns through different means and has different ways of solving problems than an artist, but a humble scientist knows there are always new perspectives to be found within older knowledge.

I wonder if you’ve taken the time to think about what you’re saying to God about who God is. I know you’re angry with me, and want to put me in my place, but do you think the best way to do that is to make definitive statements about what God knows and doesn’t know? Do you think maybe that’s overstepping a tiny bit? Argue with me, if you want to, but please don’t drag God’s self-image into it to make your point.

I have no idea what God knows and doesn’t know, but I can infer, based on a universe filled with physics, chemistry, biology, and mathematics, that God not only decided the sciences are useful at a practical level, but may even find them fascinating at an emotional level. Otherwise, it’s kind of hard to explain why there’s so much beauty in the universe. If the only thing that mattered to God was algorithmic utility and efficiency, with poetry, art, music, and beauty playing no role whatsoever, would there even be a need for Love? (As you can tell, I’m no Deist.)

Of course, if you’re convinced that God is only pure computer-like MInd, with no Heart, no feelings, no personality, and no interest in beauty or Love, then you’d be impervious to any suggestion that God could have an aspect of self that we would label “scientist.” Many people believe God is only pure Mind, and a lot of Christian theology over the centuries has relied on this assumption.

Many people have no trouble attaching labels to God such as “judge,” “warrior,” “liberator.” Is it really such a horrible thing to ask if one aspect of God’s own self-image is “scientist”?

The way that a scientist thinks is very different from that of an engineer or a medical doctor. Research and application are two very different things.

But your parents were quite polarized compared to mine, who both majored in psychology and went into teaching (though my father had to switch to social programs when he was blacklisted). Your parents are a little more like my wife and I… maybe… – theoretical physicist and she is now a daycare teacher. On the other hand, my mother was also an artist. That just wasn’t her occupation, though I guess she used art in her teaching as a special ed resource teacher.

Not even the tiniest little bit.

Hardly! A better accusation would be that I am jumping on a soapbox a bit too eagerly.

Shooting down the watchmaker designer God and reviving the Bible image of shepherd has been the focus of my “preaching” these days - one of the things I think we should learn from way the new AI programs have been defeating us all our hardest strategy games.

A great deal actually.

I do not. The fascination of people with knowledge is really very little different than the fascination others have with power. It is a product of their lack of these things and a desire for more. But the fascination disappears when you have it already, is taken for granted, and you start looking for more important things. They just become means to an end. The scientist turns to engineering and the medical researcher turns to using what he has discovered to help people with it.

I don’t think so. I just would like to know it while I’m alive, because our actions when alive may have an impact on what happens in the afterlife. I’m not questioning that God could do it after our lives have ended. I’m just wondering how he might do it now, if he wanted to.

I believe it would have to be, indeed! I suppose God could grant us an experience of what it would be like, in some way, that could be very convincing.

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Hey, I’m totally with you there. A loving God does indeed shepherd rather than just say to us, “Well, there you go. I did all the hard work and now it’s up to you to figure everything out without the instruction manual.”

Yes, the household I grew up in was quite polarized. My mother started out as a professional interior designer (which is to say, she went to college and studied architecture and interior design at a time when many in “proper society” considered such a program scandalous for a woman). Eventually she decided to devote her energies to full-time painting, despite challenges from mild cerebral palsy. When she became a painter, my father was able to partner with her by doing all the technical things he was so good at and she was so poor at (photography, record keeping on the computer, picture framing, and driving my mother all over Canada and parts of the U.S. so she could gather firsthand material for her landscapes and still life pieces). With my father’s devoted help, my mom became quite successful as a Canadian watercolourist.

This is how I first learned that when science-type people come together with art-type people, surprising things can happen.

I know you like to teach, Mitchell, so maybe you have a lot in common with your parents and your wife.

God bless.

P.S. It must have been terrible for you and your family when your father was blacklisted. It will be a fine day when blacklisting becomes a thing of the past.

“Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.” -Colossians 4:6

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