A couple of years ago I did a review of an atheist book someone sent me, Answering Baggini's Short Intro to Atheism, (Monday, 17 Nov. 2008) Julian Baggini was the author. Today Chris Andrea sent me a comment to that post asking some questions about my views on it.
A main question I have(reply here if you wish) is about his statement that the idea of "eternal life" cancels the notion of a purposeful life. He says that this is true for 2 reasons
1)Everything that has a beginning must have an end in order to be meaningful, for example a movie, a book, a football match
2) If life was eternal and not short, we would cancel things for the next day. We wouldnt run to accomplish aims in our lives and maybe it would be boring.
Also something I thought on my own. If everyone was happy, full and satisfied and no wars or fights for spiritual or material goods (that we were missing) were held, would it be boring then? I mean does "fight" for something gives a meaningful life, in contrast with someone who already lives in paradise and possesses whatever it wants? Could life in paradise be boring?
....As an overview on both questions I would say that he is considering the matter as though eternal life means a never ending continence of life as we know it on earth. So he's measuring the idea by the standards we know of temporal existence. Of cousre that would not fit. If eternal life is timeless then it would never get old or seem stale becuase it would be lived out with no reference to time. We would be there as long the first second as a billion years. Those would in fact be meaningless references.
....As to the first of the two statements: Everything that has a beginning must have an end in order to be meaningful, for example a movie, a book, a football match
(1) of course look what he's comparing it to: football, movies, temporal things of this life. If we are going by a life transformed by God in eternity how can it compare? it's judged by earthly life.
(2) It's a kind of arbitrary point. All we have to judge it by is temporal existence and that's where you have beginning and endings. Judged by temporal life.
(3) how can we know that eternal life has a beginning? Paul says we are seated in heavnly place, we are already there. The lamb is already slain from the foundation of the world, we are already chosen. Not that I'm not a Calvinist but there is something to be said for the timeless perceptive of God, which we can't understand.
....The second point he makes: If life was eternal and not short, we would cancel things for the next day. We wouldnt run to accomplish aims in our lives and maybe it would be boring. That's a really goofy one becuase it assuming that life is set up in the after life as it is here. We would have appointments and time limits in an eternal existence. Why would we need that if we are freed form the bonds of time? Talk of boredom assumes temporal existence. We will be transformed by eternal life, we have resurrection bodies (if indeed they are actual bodies at all). We wont be flesh and blood, we want the same capacity for boredom or the same needs for stimulation. Most importantly of all we will be beholding God directly, that in itself will be enough to keep us busy always.
....The point Chris makes is along the same lines of my thinking. We wont be bored becuase we will be transformed by God and the eternal nature of it all. Boredom is a function of temporal existence. the idea of struggle giving meaning is true of this life, but would we need that to have meaning in the next life when we would have direct communion with the source of all love and goodness and meaning? We would be directly in the presence of meaning itself so to speak. Not that meaning is a platonic form but God is the basis of all meaning. Besides the fact that our struggles would be validated by salvation would be enough to feel complete becuase we would have the pay off.
....I think think there is something wrong with atheists who try make these kinds of arguments and try to judge eternity and God by the what we know of the temporal. Is there some missing dimension form their thinking that makes it hard for the really conceptualize anything different from what they know?
....Speaking of that I will take this opportunity to into my own private fantasy about haven. This is not something I claim to prove, although if I looked I might find a basis for it. I've sort developed a sneaking suspicion that the classic streets of gold and playing harps wont be the thing. Those are metaphors. Although I do hope there will be an eternal praising God session in a literal throne room, that would be like a great charismatic worship service, those are fun. I see it now, "back after never going away, by popular demand, more parsing God!" yea! I think we will be hooked up together telepathically and able to travel across the universe in an instant. We can watch crab nebula form one minutes and speed across the universe to watch a super nova the next. We will drink ambrosia in celestial coffee shops, where angles waitress. Heavenly advertizement: "Could 9 Ambrosia is cloud grown the richest kind."
who knows? who cares. I don't give a damn if i have to scrub the floors, I'm going!