When a man dies…

Question mark made of puzzle pieces

 

Competitor’s Question:

I am doing NCFCA apologetics and I have a question on this statement: “When a man dies, he simply ceases to exist. There is no immortality or eternal life.”

Thanks! Rachel

 

 

Hi Rachel,

Thanks for your question about your NCFCA apologetics competition.

First of all, when answering a competition question, I recommend that you do 3 things.

1.Explain the Christian position clearly.

2. Explain the non-Christian position clearly.

3. Then you need to show which one is preferable – and why it is.

In your actual speech answering this question, you could put either the Christian position first, or the non-Christian position first. Just be sure to include both, no matter the order. And then don’t stop there — that would just be a comparison. To defend the faith, which is what apologetics really is, you have to defend by showing that the Christian viewpoint is in someway preferable. See my blog here if you need help with that part.

What happens to us after we die is a universal question. Almost all human beings wonder this at some point. So what is the Christian position about life after death?

Christian Position

It’s easy to find support in the Bible for life after death. Just do a search of “Bible verses life after death” and see. One site  here has 86 such verses. Choose which ones you want for your support. And then briefly talk about what the selected verses mean.

For example, I Corinthians 15:22 says that “For as in Adam all die, so in Christ shall all be made alive.” The big story of the Bible is:

CREATION – FALL – REDEMPTION

Adam was created in the image of God. Adam started off “very good” according to the Genesis account. But when Adam and Eve disobeyed God, the entire human race fell into disarray. All those born into this world are born into Adam, being a descendent of his, and so they will die, as Adam did. But God loved his creation so much that he made a way (Jesus) to redeem (buy back) those who are of Adam’s race. So if you are only born into Adam, you will die. Dust turns back into dust. But if you are also in Christ – meaning that you have come into relationship with God through his son, Jesus Christ, then you will be made alive. So after death, you will be resurrected to life.

Non-Christian position

This quote itself (in the NCFCA question) provides a non-Christian position – that a person ceases to exist when they die. There is no after-life. In responding to this question, I would look for some particular people or religions that teach this point of view, and gather some quotes or be able to explain a particular viewpoint that  denies life after death. Kansas recorded a song back in 1977 entitled “Dust in the Wind” that purports this viewpoint:

Dust in the wind
All we are is dust in the wind

Same old song
Just a drop of water in an endless sea
All we do
Crumbles to the ground, though we refuse to see

Dust in the wind
All we are is dust in the wind

Now don’t hang on
Nothin’ lasts forever but the earth and sky
It slips away
And all your money won’t another minute buy

Dust in the wind
All we are is dust in the wind

Marshall Brain is the founder of HowStuffWorks.com. He has also reached millions of readers with his high-impact websites like WhyWontGodHealAmputees.com and GodIsImaginary.com. Here is a quote about life after death from his website:
…human beings are big, walking chemical reactions (see this article for a description of how the reactions work). Your “soul” is make believe just like Santa. When the chemical reactions cease, you die. That is the end of it.
Reason to Prefer
Some try to handle this argument evidentially, using reports of experiences of those who have “died” and later revived. Evidence is cited by both those who believe in God, as in the movie “Heaven is for Real,” and by those who don’t believe in God. The article “Scientists Say ‘Life After Death’ May Be Possible, In A Way” published by Huffington Post in October 2014 states:
They found that of 360 people who had been revived after experiencing cardiac arrest, about 40 percent of them had some sort of “awareness” during the period when they were “clinically dead.”

Evidence of brain function continuing after the heart stops beating up to 3 minutes, is interesting, but it still defines “life” in terms biological process. I think a better way of examining this question looks at the explaining power of the entire view point — sometimes called a worldview — on which  either position is based.

The Christian worldview of Creation – Fall – Redemption explains both the greatness of people and the horribleness of people. It explains our longing for everything to be made right (redemption), and our yearning for something beyond this life. That a 3-person God created human beings in His image explains our need to be in relationships. That an intelligent creator created the universe explains why our universe appears to be designed, and how information, like that found in over 3 billion pairs of DNA code in every human cell, not only exists, but exists in the proper order – phenomenon not easily believed to be the product of randomness.

On the other hand, the view of Marshall Brain reduces a human being to his biological processes. This is not a new thought. Back in the late 18th century, physiologist Pierre Cabanis said that “The brain secretes thought as the liver secretes bile.” In other words, the brain gathers impressions, digests them, and produces an organic secretion called thought.  A scientist recently told me that he doesn’t believe anything is real if he can’t see it under his microscope.

This view is known as naturalism, or materialism – that matter and energy are ultimately all that is real. Whereas the Christian worldview has a lot of explaining power, naturalism, in my opinion, reduces a human being to much less than what I can believe of any person or of myself. Is there nothing more to me than my physiological processes? Does my husband love me because his brain secreted that thought? I’m not saying that naturalism has no explanations for life, just that they are incredibly dissatisfying. Earlier today I listened to a song that made me cry. It just takes too much faith for me to believe that my tears were merely a caused biological process. No. I was moved deeply in my soul somewhere. In the me that is beyond physical. In the me that wants every hurt to be healed. In the me that knows DNA isn’t random. In the me that wants to live forever.

For other phenomenon that naturalism doesn’t explain well, think of personality, the origin of the universe, the existence of morals and choice. Check out my earlier blog on this topic here.

And remember my favorite C.S. Lewis quote:

” I believe in Christianity as I believe that the sun has risen: not only because I see it, but because by it I see everything else.”

~ Betsy McPeak

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