Could God demonstrate the afterlife?

Nope. Not only was I too young at the time but unlike some people he deserved it. He was a freakin communist through and through – and pushing it on students in high school – in Utah! It is more a source of amusement to him as well as to me. If there was a saving grace involved, it is that going into social programs he came to realize that communists were all ideology and talk with no interest in trying to help people who were actually in need. He eventually turned to Taoism before He died… his interest changing from Mao Tse Tung to Chinese mythology and religion.

I guess that shows that context is important! I was thinking more of blacklisting without cause, as we’ve been seeing on many university campuses recently (at least, in Canada it’s become a problem for professors to speak up if they have an independent mindset rather than a “woke” mindset). But what you’re describing about your dad sounds a bit different.

I know that I’m convinced. But what would convince you?

(I should probably put a warning sticker here :confounded: and say to you, based on personal experience, that you should be careful what you ask for if you’re determined to be convinced. You’ll get what God decides is the “best method,” not what you decide is the “best method.”)

If the claimed consequences of our actions on our afterlife are too much different than the consequences on our lives that we can see for ourselves then something is seriously wrong with those claims! In fact, I would suggest that this sounds a great deal like a con (swindle, racket, fraud, scam).

I am reminded of the parable Jesus told on this topic…

Luke 16:27 And he said, ‘Then I beg you, father, to send him to my father’s house, 28 for I have five brothers, so that he may warn them, lest they also come into this place of torment.’ 29 But Abraham said, ‘They have Moses and the prophets; let them hear them.’ 30 And he said, ‘No, father Abraham; but if some one goes to them from the dead, they will repent.’ 31 He said to him, ‘If they do not hear Moses and the prophets, neither will they be convinced if some one should rise from the dead.’”

Now whether the Bible by itself is sufficient warning, I have my doubts. But this still suggests that we are all sufficiently warned already – and that tells me that we can already see the consequences in life. Heaven and hell are right here on earth – just look around. People create these by the way they treat one another. The question is which of these do you want to be – one of those who creates heaven around him or one who makes life a living hell? If the results right here on earth are not enough for that decision, then I have my doubts that an extension into an afterlife will change all that much.

I don’t know! I guess that’s the whole point of me posting this thread, in a way.

I’m not determined to be convinced; that sounds like a bad idea to me :slight_smile: I will let the chips fall where they may.

It would have to be as I apparently have no idea about the best method or maybe even any method :slight_smile:

Yeah, I guess I should be clear that I don’t see convincing evidence for an afterlife of any kind.

I think I see your point. I am certainly more focused on what’s happening now than a potential afterlife. I’m not thinking about the afterlife here to gain any context into larger issues. I’m more interested that some level of faith or trust would seem to be required to believe in it. That may also be true of belief in God in general or many other things or even everything. But believing in an afterlife or a particular nature of afterlife seems like it could be on a bit of a separate level, which I find interesting.

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Nor do I but I also don’t see the point except perhaps for a desire for some sort of cosmic justice for moral rectitude. But mostly I’m not much interested in either vengeance or coercion. Is a never ending story really superior to one that does end? If only for novelty’s sake reincarnation with amnesia toward past lives might be better than unending stories.

That’s an honest statement, one I don’t dispute. In other words, you’re not really wondering about the afterlife; you’re wondering about the human faculty of faith, and specifically the question of why some people trust and some people do not.

Fair enough. In my view, it’s an important question, because trust lies at the heart of a major rift within humanity’s self-image, a rift that has long plagued our ability to find peace.

On one side of the rift are the people for whom the ability to stop trusting anyone but themselves is seen as a plus, a sure sign of strength, conviction, intelligence, shrewdness, deservedness, and the right to claim the mantle of saviourhood. In place of trust, they rely on “the right to be right” (i.e. the right to never be told they’re wrong about anything), which often carries them a long way towards outer success in life because all actions towards others can be justified as an attempt to “save” others. In other words, the emphasis on rights, as opposed to responsibilities, is the dominant theme underlying all choices, especially the right to use knowledge and ideologies as weapons against others in the quest to “save” them. This human paradigm is represented in Genesis 2-3 as choosing the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil in isolation from and in preference to God’s other gifts.

On the other side of the rift are the people for whom the ability to stop trusting anyone else is seen as a warning sign, a sure indication that the balance between Heart and Mind, responsibilities and rights, has been lost (at least temporarily). This human paradigm is represented in Genesis 2-3 as the Tree of Life thriving in balance with the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil. In other words, to be in a relationship of trust with God, both Trees are necessary. When “life” is abandoned in favour of pure knowledge, trust is broken and relationship is no longer possible.

It’s often assumed that it’s only relationship with God that’s no longer possible if you can’t trust anyone but yourself. But when you think about it, you realize it’s pretty hard to have a healthy, loving, mature relationship with anyone – your family, your neighbours, your planet, your God – if you always have to right even when you’re demonstrably wrong.

Trust means you believe that Heart and Mind must always be kept in balance. Trust helps you through the times when basic logic, reason, and knowledge don’t have all the answers. Trust doesn’t ask you to abandon reason, merely to be patient until the answers become clear (which may not even happen during your human lifetime, but will happen when you die and return Home to be with God).

Trust can be restored between an individual and God at any time during a human lifetime. When it happens, it’s the feeling we call redemption.

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Hi Mark,

I know your understanding of the afterlife has probably been influenced by traditional Christian thoughts about cosmic justice (and goodness knows Western culture has been saturated in dualistic notions of Heaven versus Hell), but there is another possibility for thinking about the afterlife that ties in with current cosmological research.

This easy-to-read article about dark matter just caught my eye. It emphasizes the huge holes in our understanding of what dark matter is and how it affects the creation of galaxies.

Near the end, there’s this rather felicitous quote:

The truth is, when it comes to a lot of fields of scientific progress, we’re in the middle of the story, not the end. The lesson is that truth and knowledge are hard-won.

As you spoke in your comment about stories that end, compared to never-ending stories, I thought you might be interested in an article that reminds us of the never-ending nature of human understanding.

Just because we don’t yet understand dark matter doesn’t mean we should stop trying to gather the building blocks of insight. And just because we don’t yet understand the physics of the afterlife (which may eventually be explained as an aspect of dark matter) is no reason to settle for the cruel and unjust things spoken about Heaven throughout most of Christianity’s history.

I personally don’t see Heaven as a place of cosmic justice, rewards, or vengeance – just as a continuation of a journey. So you can say you know one Christian who sees the afterlife as a natural extension (from a physics perspective) of God’s good Creation.

As with dark matter, we can’t yet say anything for sure about the afterlife, but what an adventure!

I always appreciate getting your perspective, Jennifer.

Yes I am glad to know a Christian who has more faith in the capacity of the natural to encompass and account for the grandeur and wonder of the cosmos, including our very lives. The supernatural, in my book, is another name for magic and unfit to count for any kind of explanation of anything at all.

Truly there is something about the transformation of our universe from chaos to discrete forms of energy and matter, to forms of life with ever more cognitive ability and self awareness which suggests that the cosmos is building toward something intentionally. I can’t deny it, but I’m disinclined to anthropomorphize what that may be. It is above my pay grade to know. We as a species seem inclined to understand what that is by imagining it as though it operated as we do. But whatever it is it has brought about every way of being of every creature that does or has ever existed here and wherever else life may exist. Perhaps if the cosmos actually does possess a kind of intentionality regarding what it has become then the nature of God has a facet for every one of its creatures.

All I know is that there is something which interfaces with my soul from within. I’m not concerned with pigeon holing what that is into any religion’s conception. Is it related to the apparent intentionality which has shaped the unfolding of our universe? How should I know? Do I think anyone else really knows? Heck no. But it is what it is and that’s good enough for me.

I’m done icing and elevating my knee and want to get outside now before it gets dark but I look forward to looking that over. Assuming we don’t blow ourselves up or mishandle an even more deadly pandemic, perhaps human understanding can remain never ending … at least to some greater degree than our own allotment. I like the quote from Sir Isaac Newton that goes:
“If I have seen further it is by *standing on the shoulders of Giants.” The understanding of those giants supported his further advancement of humanity’s desire to understand the world around us, but those giants themselves do not still exist, at least not in this world in their old form. I think if God were a being like us then His understanding would be growing right along with our own. Perhaps the understandings of individual mortals collectively grow the mind of God? But really I’m doubtful that God is any more immortal than we are. I think if there is a God, He is born and dies with each one of us. I don’t think we all carry the very same God onboard, but again this is an awfully big question for a human being to be considering. The truth is I just don’t know.

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