In this talk, Jonny Clifton examines the concept of eternal life using ideas drawn from a wide range of thinkers, including Alfred Lord Tennyson, Christopher Hitchens, John Gray, Steve Jobs and Albus Dumbledore. He examines various criticisms of the idea, outlining their consequences and describing the Christian view of eternal life.

Some notes from the talk:

The quoted lines from Alfred Lord Tennyson's poem, 'Tiphonus', are:

The woods decay, the woods decay and fall,
The vapours weep their burthen to the ground,
Man comes and tills the field and lies beneath
,
And after many a summer dies the swan.
Me only cruel immortality
Consumes; I wither slowly in thine arms...

Philosopher John Gray:

Only creatures that live in passing time can know moments of undying value. There are no such moments in a life that can never end. In such a life there's nothing to treasure, nothing that has value because it cannot come again. Our lives have meaning because they are bounded by death.

Drawing on atheist philosophers and thinkers, Jonny concludes that:

  1. Without eternal life, there can be no ultimate meaning.
  2. Without eternal life, there can be no ultimate justice.
  3. Without eternal life, there is no ultimate standard to define right and wrong.

If there is no eternal life, Bertrand Russell is correct when he writes: "We must build our lives on the firm foundation of ultimate despair."

The Christian view of eternal life is good news. The Christian worldview confirms:

  1. our instincts that life is good and that death is an enemy.
  2. that eternal life has continuity from our present life but with significant change.

What evidence is there for eternal life? For someone who does not believe in Australia, meeting someone who visits the place is likely to be the most convincing evidence. If the Christian belief that Jesus rose from the dead is true, then the teachings of Jesus would be the best evidence for what eternal life will be like.

If you would like to examine the evidence that Jesus did rise from the dead, the following two resources on bethinking.org will help you:

'Impossible and Unproven: How can you prove Jesus rose again?' by Adrian Holloway

'After Life? Evidence for the Resurrection of Jesus' by Multiple Speakers

© 2014 Cambridge Inter-Collegiate Christian Union (CICCU) and Jonny Clifton

Image from: By Wolfgang Sauber (Own work) [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons