Weblog of a Christian philosophy student

Weblog of a Christian philosophy student. Please feel free to comment. All of my posts are public domain. Subscribe to posts [Atom]. Email me at countaltair [at] yahoo.com.au. I also run a Chinese to English translation business at www.willfanyi.com.

Location: Melbourne, Victoria, Australia

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

What is eternal life and why would it be good?

"Wowbagger the Infinitely Prolonged, having seen and done everything there is to see and do, decides to dedicate the rest of his existence to insulting every single living being in the universe - in alphabetical order. It is interesting to note that the Guide points out that those who are naturally immortal are born with the psychological capacity to cope with immortality and would not suffer from this trope; Wowbagger's immortality was thrust upon him by accident, which is why he has such a hard time of it."

-From TVTropes

Douglas Adams' makes an interesting point in the Hitchhikers series about immortality and happiness. He points out that being immortal would actually have a lot of downsides. Although perhaps the first few hundred years would be pretty interesting, eventually it would get tedious.

Perhaps one of the reasons for this is that humans are not naturally immortal. We are finite beings who live on earth for a short period of time. We get bored rather easily and I suspect we aren't naturally able to cope with eternity.

But even if we never died physically we would still not be eternal in the way that God is. Even if we never died physically and 'continued' forever we would still exist within time. So we could never say that we had actually lived for an eternity, like God can (Psalm 90:2), even if we were immortal.

God is naturally eternal and outside the restrictions of time, so surely God is naturally able to cope with eternity; with living forever. Whatever happiness God has must be an eternal happiness that never gets boring or pointless, otherwise God would not be able to 'cope' with His own nature (and that would be strange).

This may explain why the Bible talks about eternal life (God's plan for humanity) as experiencing God's happiness:

Romans 14:17: For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking, but of righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit

Psalm 16:11: You have made known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand.

Psalm 36:8-9: They feast on the abundance of your house; you give them drink from your river of delights. For with you is the fountain of life; in your light we see light.

Because God is naturally able to cope with living forever, God's happiness is an eternal happiness that never becomes monotonous. That is, eternal life. So giving that happiness to humans would be giving humans eternal life, a life that is fulfilling and pleasurable for eons; forever.

The only problem is that according to the Bible, failing to do what is right separates us from God strongly enough that God cannot give us eternal life (Rom 6:23). God cannot be that close to sin. That's why Jesus died on the cross for us (Rom 6:6), where God did a 'character swap', exchanging our moral failures for Jesus' perfection, to be fully manifested after we die.

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