IN February 1987, an 85-year-old man chose to discontinue the regular kidney dialysis that had been keeping him alive. His death came peacefully at home two weeks later, with his only son at his side.
That final time together provided an opportunity for the two to reflect on a subject they had discussed before: Is life possible beyond the grave? The father, a college-educated man, was a skeptic. He had been influenced by the teaching of evolution and was repelled by the hypocrisy of religion. He called himself an agnostic—believing that the existence of God is unknowable.
The son, desiring to provide comfort and hope, showed his father why life beyond the grave is a real possibility. As death approached, the father acknowledged that living again, enjoying another life with renewed vigor and health, would be desirable.
Comfort in the Face of Death
Most people, if not all, would want to live again if they could do so with restored health and vigor in a world where peace prevails. Humans are unlike animals, which are described in the Bible as “unreasoning,” or as “creatures of instinct.” (2 Peter 2:12; New International Version) We bury our dead. We contemplate the future. We do not want to grow old, get sick, and die. Yet, these are realities of human experience.
We are sobered by death’s approach, whether our own or that of a loved one. The Bible, however, encourages us to face death courageously, saying: “Better is it to go to the house of mourning than to go to the banquet house.” It adds: “The one alive should take it to his heart.” (Ecclesiastes 7:2) Why take death to heart, or reflect deeply on the matter?
For one reason, we have an inborn desire to live and enjoy life in peace and security. Death—nonexistence—is inherently repulsive. It is difficult, if not almost impossible, to accept. The Bible explains why: “[God] has put eternity into man’s mind,” or “in their heart.” (Ecclesiastes 3:11; Revised Standard Version) We want to live—not die. Think about it: Would that desire be so strong if it were not our Creator’s original purpose for us to live forever? Is another life in endless health and happiness possible?
Reason to Believe
Last year, AARP The Magazine, published by the American Association of Retired Persons, featured the article “Life After Death.” Interviews of scores of people who were over 50 years of age revealed that “nearly three quarters (73 percent) agree with the statement ‘I believe in life after death.’” On the other hand, the magazine reported that nearly one quarter agreed with the statement “I believe that when I die, that’s the end.” But is that what people really want to believe?
In the same article, Tom, a Catholic from New York, was reported to have said: “They preach life after death, you know? I just say, hey, people preach a lot of stuff. You just gotta make up your own mind about things. I go to Mass. I live my life like there’s life afterdeath, but I don’t believe there is. If it’s true, well, hey, it’s a plus.”
Like Tom, many are skeptical—as was the father mentioned at the outset, who would often say to his son, “Belief in religion is OK for those who can’t handle the reality of death.” Yet, as he and other skeptics have had to acknowledge, belief in an all-powerful Creator provides an answer to otherwise incomprehensible miracles.
For example, just three weeks after conception, the human embryo begins to form brain cells. These cells multiply in spurts, at times up to a quarter of a million of them a minute! Nine months later a baby is born with a brain that has a miraculous capacity to learn. Molecular biologist James Watson called the human brain “the most complex thing we have yet discovered in our universe.”
When considering marvels like this, are you—as most are—filled with awe? Have such reflections helped you arrive at an answer to the question raised by a man long ago: “If an able-bodied man dies can he live again?” That man answered God confidently: “You will call, and I myself shall answer you. For the work of your hands you will have a yearning.”—Job 14:14, 15.
Surely we would do well to consider evidence that provides reason for us to believe that life after death is possible.