What is worth having faith in? Earlier we said if your existence ends with the death of your body it is virtually inconceivable to us that life has any meaning at all. We may be wrong, but we believe that your existence has meaning only if you continue to exist in some form or fashion after the death of your body.
We believe that if there is to be any reason and purpose to your life you must prove or believe or have faith in an existence beyond the grave. Since it looks like no one can prove they continue to exist after death, the question is whether or not you choose to believe you do. Yet existence beyond the grave lies so far beyond human perception and observation, beyond human comprehension and understanding, that human feelings about such existence are inadequate to base fundamental beliefs on.
Then is this a matter you should have faith in? Your answer to that question, if it is to be more than a casual one which will not last, must be based on what you believe life is “all about”, not only after death but also right now. If you are to have faith in a life after death you need to believe people are more than biologic creatures. To be worth having faith in, to be worth wanting, life beyond the grave must be more than just existing through time. It must offer a hope of something worth living for, of “goodness”, perhaps of joy.
We can imagine many different things about life beyond the grave. We may believe in a metaphysical extension of life, somehow self-perpetuating and dependent only on a communion of some sort of mental energy unique to human beings. We may believe in reincarnation, whereby forms change but human beings never die. There is no limit to what we may believe life after death will be like. As we have said, no one can prove us wrong, or right.
Speculation about the “physical” nature of life after death can be nothing more than guesses, and offers little help in making a decision whether or not we would want to live in such a world. If we are more than our physical selves it would seem that there must be more to look forward to in a life after death than the “physical” aspects of that life. We need to find out if there is something beyond the physical that every human can have faith in if they want to be more than worthless travelers in time.
If we survive the grave does it not seem intuitively likely that the most positive aspects of our life on earth will also be positive features of the world after death? In looking for a reason to believe in an extension of life beyond the grave that is worth living for, and thus worth having faith in, you must look at this world and this life. Life on earth is the only basis we have on which to project what a world beyond the grave might be like. You must find the most positive aspects of this life, you must find in this life a reason to believe life has meaning and purpose.
Perhaps you will find “good” in this world that gives you a reason to believe, or have faith, there is a life after death filled with “joy”. To help you choose what to believe about life, now and beyond the grave, we need to explore our present lives. In the rest of these notes, we will be considering whether there is “good” in this life that makes it worth having faith in a life after death.
If we do continue to exist after our physical deaths, then each moment of our lives, both before and after death, may have meaning and purpose. If we survive death then each of us has been, is, and will continue to be a unique being. What then is the meaning and purpose of life? What should, or must, you do? What choices do you have right now?
Many philosophers, psychiatrists, and others, argue persuasively that self-satisfaction is the most important human goal. A society made up of individuals who maximize their own well being is a society at its best. They conclude that when each of us reaches our own point of maximum pleasure, all of us benefit.
What constitutes the maximization of pleasure is a hotly debated question, answered in countless, totally different ways. Ideas range from doing anything that makes you feel “good”, to espousing intense dedication to such diverse things as political causes, meditation, or simply the pursuit of pleasure.
Many suggest the free market works well in selecting what is worthwhile in life, with various methods of providing pleasure coming and going as demand identifies, supplies, and satisfies needs. Others argue the best society is made up of family groups that seek to maximize the family’s happiness. Some extend the group to include friends and even strangers, but often exclude those outside the group’s geographic and social spheres. Volume after volume after volume has been written describing what various people believe life is all about. Multitudes of people have dedicated large parts of their lives to convincing others of the truth of their ideas and the wisdom of following their examples.
Instead of closely examining and eliminating one at a time what I believe to be the fallacies and follies of humankind, I will suggest to you what many believe life is all about. If you choose to know and understand what is said, I believe you will discover what is true and gives meaning and purpose to life. We are about to look for something in life worth living for, something to have faith in. What many suggest is worth living for is love. Not what we often call love, but that which is the most profound of human experiences.