The Covid Circus of late has prompted many to ponder
death and what comes after.
Fear of dying and the unknown of the hereafter have
moved many to masking and making many other changes to their lives that they
previously would have thought to be unthinkable and maybe even ridiculous.
This is a rational result of an increasing awareness
of the transitory nature of our earthly life, as what could be more important,
crucial and imperative than having an opinion about our after-death experience or,
lack thereof, in ordering our present-day life?
Probably just about everybody wonders about whether
there is life after death and, it is equally probable that most people from
time immemorial have believed that their soul is immortal.
To not be thoughtful about our mortality and our
future eternal state would have to be classified as bordering on mental
Yet, we spend our days preoccupied with our outward
appearance, keeping our bodies healthy through exercise, nutritional eating,
mostly concerned with our physical and not our spiritual self.
Yet, if we believe that we will live eternally,
shouldn’t we be infinitely more concerned with securing our eternal condition
rather than with our lapsing physical state?
Upon reflection, it seems obvious that we should
consider and act upon what we believe to be our eternal situation.
If we believe that when we die, it is over, there is
nothing left, no soul that carries on, the end, period, then shouldn’t we live
consistent with that belief?
Wouldn’t the rational conclusion be to eat and drink
to our hearts content, for tomorrow we die?
Why would we be constrained in our selfishness? Why care that others perceive us as being
‘good’? Why wouldn’t we engage in any
behavior that would benefit ourselves regardless of how it harmed others? Why would we let our conscience interfere
with our self-indulgence?
Yet, other than die-hard communist materialists, we
hardly see anybody acting this way, which would be rational if you believe
there is no after-life. So, it must be
that few really believe this or, they would shape their lives accordingly.
On the other hand, if we consider the odds that maybe
our souls do live eternally, how great would the odds have to be to require us
to give attention to securing our eternal felicity? One chance in ten? One in a hundred? One in a thousand?
What if the chance were only one in a million and we
took our chances and lived as though we didn’t live forever and, we were
wrong? Was it worth spending
eternity…possibly, in hell?
Eternity so dwarfs our limited, short and wispy
earthly live that if there is any chance whatsoever that heaven and hell could
exist, we would be extremely stupid to play the odds – the risk is too great!
What if after we died, we stood on the precipice of
the cosmos, staring into a blackness so deep that no light penetrated it
anywhere, night so intense and without a footing anywhere, an endless void that
we were about to be cast into, forever, with no one to see or, talk to,
floating in nothingness with only our own thoughts, no relationships, no
nothing but our own lonely self…forever.
How often we would wish that we had considered the
possibility and acted rationally upon it yet, no one can hear and there is no
How we would yearn to be able to end our desperate and
hopeless existence yet, powerless to do so.
Some would say that God wouldn’t ever allow a Hell to
exist but, as George Cardinal Pell says, “What about Hitler?”
We count the cost of our endless daily purchases,
whether of things, liaisons and fleeting comforts. To not do the same with a potential eternal
condition has to be an absurd lunacy, a discarding of our human rationality and
a reversion to raw animality.
Those who opt for an eternal soul and act upon that
belief have everything to gain and nothing to lose. They will either be eternally happy for their
decision or, if wrong and there is no after-life, who cares? It doesn’t matter anyway, they have lost
nothing for there was nothing all along.
Those who opt for a strictly materialistic
interpretation of the after-death have everything to lose and nothing to
gain. They gain nothing in the
here-after if they are right and lose everything if they are wrong – they
better be correct in their ultimate cosmic gamble.
By Terry Applegate