Why Atheists Are Wrong About the Afterlife (Part 2)

In Tough Questions by Antwuan Malone

This is a continuation of a response to a video posted on YouTube by TheThinkingAtheist which featured a collection of thoughts from popular Atheist youtubers regarding life, meaning, and the afterlife. It’s a well produced video (as is many of this channels vids) and after seeing it, I wanted to post some retorts to the points it makes. This is part two of those responses.

For reference, check out the video. This post will begin replying to the comments made from about 2:28 into the video.

1. “To me, living for the afterlife, thoughtlessly following a set of what-not-to-doodles which you cannot question, that’s basically de-valuing your life in favor of worshipping death.”

If there is no afterlife (as this person believes) then it certainly does seem troubling to “live” for the afterlife. And yet, true Christianity is not concerned so much with living now for a better life later. In fact, the whole premise of grace (which we’ll get more into in point 4 below) is that your day-to-day life on Earth matters very little to where we spend eternity. In other words, the “what-not-to-doodles” this person rejects means little. Christians believe we will face a judge who will hold us accountable to the ways we’ve lived. And because that judge’s standard is perfection (and since we are not perfect), we are guilty. Thus, our entry into heaven has little to do with us, but everything to do with Jesus.

No amount of good can counter our bad. This is not unusual even in our courts in America. We wouldn’t expect to escape the paying a traffic ticket by saying, “But your honor, I’ve obeyed thousands of stop lights. Can’t you just give me a break for this one?” or “Okay, your honor, how about I make up the fact that I ran this red-light by obeying 1000 more red lights.”  No go. Nice try, but you’d still have to pay the ticket. In the same way that the traffic light is there to enhance life, Christian “what-not-to-doodles” (which come from God) have more to do with enjoying life on Earth, not for some afterlife reward.

2. “Apart from a lack of evidence of heaven or hell, there is another problem that the concept of an afterlife has. It is to diminish the value that we place on our lives in the here and now.”

This is an immature way to view life. It is, if you will, the teenager who screams they should be able to do whatever they want now, because they are after all, only teens. And to learn the skills, or practice a discipline (like homework), needed later in their adult life “diminishes” their teenage fun and experience. While there are scenarios where this is true (both of life and of teenagers), the mass majority of our comfort and “experiences” have to do with prepping us for the next phase of life. This courses through all of life. And doing so does very little to diminish the “now.” In fact, it is quite irresponsible not to live this way.

So, whether there is indeed a heaven, hell, or whatever after this life, it is perfectly reasonable to consider what comes after. And for those of us who believe this Earthly life is an age before an age, then it further provides good reason to live our lives with a wink toward that afterlife, just as we do all phases of our life now.

3. “An unlimited supply of anything, including life, means that his existence cannot be appreciated. If life is eternal, then there should be no sense of urgency.”

This is a troubling statement. While it is economically true that value is proportionate to scarcity, I’d also say everything has an exception (or at least most things). Life would be such an exception. However, let’s go on to suppose the reasoning in the quote is sound. A few questions. First, is the person suggesting eternal life is a bad thing, or simply that life cannot be appreciated unless it is finite? And if the former, can we conclude, then, that they feel death is good? If so, then a unique answer has been provided to the core of many atheistic problems with God regarding “bad things” or the fact that “death” was allowed in the first place. If death is a good thing, by an atheist’s reasoning, then God’s allowance of death is also good. Which means death speaks more for God than against him.

How interesting a proposition. Because if that were truly the case, eternal life would be appreciated only in death, which is precisely the sort of worldview the Christian believes to be true. The “urgency” has, again, little to do with rules for the sake of afterlife, but again (as described in point 2) for the fullness of life now. Which, as it turns out, is a rehearsal for life after now.

4. “The worst aspect of western monotheism is their system of judgment, wherein it doesn’t matter how good or bad you were in life. You won’t be judged according to your deeds the way it should be. It doesn’t matter what an evil, selfish, sadistic, bigoted, victimizer you were in life. All sins can be forgiven, if you but believe.”

This is the “worst” aspect? I can think of things far worse. Like the tendency to use Christianity (or religion) to boost ego with pride, money, influence and elitism in destructive ways.I’d say the worst aspect of western monotheism is the ease with which it is misused by extremists. Much like the worst aspect of a gun or a needle.

The idea of grace, which is explained so elegantly in this quote, is the most fascinating thing about Christianity. This facet of the Christian worldview sets it apart from nearly every other worldview on Earth. Again, here is a place where the atheists’ arguments turn on themselves. It is often argued that a God of love would forgive (on principle) the sins of us all, and thus all would go to heaven (if there were one). On the other hand, a truly just God would allow the better behaved to reap a better reward, which implies some sort of limitation to His forgiveness. Can’t do both. If God is going to forgive men, then he’ll forgive all of us. That really is the only just way.

If you are an atheist, and you disagree with the quote, then I’d like you to take note of the disagreement. The fact is, atheism does not have a standard of beliefs that all atheists adhere to. Much like Christianity, atheists disagree with each other. They can agree on “no God” but the reasons for that belief differ (and often contradict) each other much like they do in this video. The “moving target” that is atheism almost ensures there can be not definitive resolution… because there is no definitive stance. The ideas differ from person to person.

I digress, let’s go a little further in the video next post. Hope to see you there.

What are your thoughts about these quotes?

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Antwuan Malone is a Ministry Director at ELEVATE Young Adult Ministry (elevateministry.net) where empowers young adults toward Christian leadership. He is passionate about seeing young adults take their place in church history by drawing near enough to God to hear his call on their life, and courageously living in obedience to that call.