If Naturalism is true, everything ends in death. All matter and energy are subject to the law of entropy, so even the universe will eventually die. We come from nothing, for no reason, and we end the same way. Finding meaning, value, and purpose in life becomes a real challenge, with nihilism (meaninglessness) as the most logical conclusion. As it turns out, freedom from God means no freedom at all, for without God, all is determined (fatalism).
But thankfully, there is more to it than that. A spiritual reality forces its way into consistent thinking. We might ask, “Is there anything about us that is not physical, and therefore not subject to the law of death?”
First on the list is the reality of human free will. In philosophical language, we could have done otherwise. If that’s true, a significant part of our future is not determined. In an attempt to be consistent, evolutionary biologist E.O. Wilson claims that we only have the illusion of free will, given by the mental preparation of the brain processing stimuli. We don’t actually make choices, or have a moral conscience that forces us to choose between competing instincts. But nobody, even Wilson, lives as if that is true. He says, “We took a wrong turn when we began to abuse the environment. But a strong moral case can be made for saving the creation.” If we have no will, how can we take his advice?
Atheism cannot live by its own logic. If my beliefs are physically determined, I am a believer or an atheist in the same way that I have blue or brown eyes, not through reason and choice. But most would agree that this idea is absurd. We know that our relationships, our human history, our use of intelligence and reason to make scientific discoveries, and what we had for dinner last night are greatly influenced by our choices, not just an inevitable result of the physical forces put into play by the Big Bang.
Once you admit the reality of free will, the lid is off. The essence of who I am, the real me, is not merely a matter of biology, physics and chemistry. Why should I not conclude, then, that there is indeed something about me, the most important part, that is not physical and not subject to physical death?
The door swings open even wider. Concepts of good and evil, justice, love, compassion, all the result of choice, are not just illusions. The blind, mindless force of nature neither knows nor cares about such things. And though I am all for trying, we know that none of the above values will triumph in this life.
There are many different beliefs about life after death. But there is also good reason to bet your life that youwill long outlast your body.