Since many atheists love to put Christians on the defensive, assuming that we can’t answer their questions, I love to ask them thought-provoking and soul-stirring questions. For example, I’ll ask, “Do you really believe death belongs in life?” Most atheists prefer not to discuss death.
In a secularized society the very word “death” is almost profane. The very “unnaturalness” of death constitutes a Third Reason to Believe in Life After Death.
R.C. Sproul bluntly declares: “Death is obscene. It runs counter to the vibrant flow of life. When we encounter it we shrink from it in horror.” There is, in point of fact, an absolute and unequivocal human revulsion towards death!
In a very real sense, there is no such thing as a natural death because we instinctively feel it is everything but natural. C.S. Lewis adds: “Nothing will reconcile us to – well, [death’s] unnaturalness. We know that we were not made for it; we know how it crept into our destiny as an intruder.”
No matter how many funerals I conduct, no matter how many cemeteries I walk, deep inside the very fiber of my being I believe that death is all wrong and out of place. Like cancer, like evil of any and every kind, it is obviously not what was intended. I suspect this is never more clear than when we stand in the shadow of death immediately after the loss of a close relative or friend.
C.S. Lewis expressed this experience so well when he wrote: “No event has so corroborated my faith in the next world as William’s did simply by dying.” I get that corroboration when I stand beside an open grave that is ready to receive a person’s body. There have been times when I am conducting a committal service for a person I have known, liked, and even loved that I can almost shout with Emerson how a person is not “just an animal that dies in a hole” as atheists would have us believe!
An agnostic graduate student attended a dinner at Oxford University where the guest of honor was a renowned scientist. She was most attentive when during a conversation about belief in God he was pointedly asked what he believed.
He replied: “The more I discovered of the scientific world, the more it convinced me of the amazing interconnectedness and brilliancy of God’s design. People tend to think of science as being at odds with faith, but nothing could be further from the truth.” She was then shocked when the scientist drew a noted American heart surgeon into the conversation by asking: “How do you reconcile God and science?”
The doctor’s answer reached a climax as he said: “When I see death, I know it is wrong … really, really wrong. In-my-gut wrong. It was not meant to be… Everything in my body, at a cellular level, let alone a metaphysical one, twists against it.”
In a very real sense, there is no such thing as a natural death because we instinctively feel it is everything but natural.
R.C. Sproul shares a most personal and poignant testimony about the birth of his son on July 1, 1965 when “all of the dynamism of life seemed to be captured in … this newborn child.” The first visitor to the hospital was his mother who then spent the night with him. The next morning he found her lifeless body.
He explains: “Within the space of a few hours I witnessed the birth of my son and the corpse of my mother. As I stood stunned by her bedside, a sense of surreal came over me. I thought, ‘This is absurd. A short time ago she was a living, breathing, dynamic human being, filled with warmth and vitality. Now there is only coldness and silence.’ Within my soul I protested, ‘This does not make sense.’”
It does not make sense unless there is, as Paul Harvey once said, “the rest of the story”: life after death.
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