Gary: Welcome to Search the Scriptures 24/7, a radio ministry of The Berean Call. I’m Gary Carmichael. Thanks for joining us. In today’s program, we begin a four-installment series of classics from our Search the Scriptures Daily archives with the late founder of The Berean Call, Dave Hunt, and TBC executive director Tom McMahon. This week, they address the question: “Is Man Eternal?” And now, here’s Tom.
Tom: Thanks, Gary. You’re listening to Search the Scriptures Daily, a program in which we encourage everyone who desires to know God’s truth to look to God’s Word for all that is essential for salvation and living one’s life in a way that is pleasing to Him. Presently in this first segment of our program we’re going through a new series featuring Dave Hunt’s book Seeking and Finding God. It’s an unimposing book of about 150 pages that he wrote as a follow-up to send to those who are interested in the conversations he’s had with people that he meets on his travels, and with whom he’s had fruitful conversations. Now, if the book sounds like it might be interesting to you, or if you would like to follow our discussion with the book in hand, later in the program Gary will tell you how you can obtain a copy.
Now, Dave, last week we covered one opposing view to your claim that life continues on after death because of man’s nonphysical parts – his spirit and soul – their eternal elements that are not affected by death; that’s your position. And the opposing view is, “Well, there’s nothing to prepare for. When you’re dead you’re dead, and that’s the end of it all.”
Now, today we want to consider another opposing belief that death is followed by unconditional acceptance, and it constitutes the next step in the progression of our existence. It’s really spiritual advancement. But before we get into that, I really want to go over something we didn’t get to last week….
Dave: Let me interrupt you, Tom, for a second, if I may.
Dave: Christopher Hitchens – maybe some don’t even know him; he’s one of the foremost atheists, very sharp. I’ve listened to quite a few debates (he’s going around debating Christians). But he comforts everybody with these words – he says, “Well, don’t be frightened of death. When you’re dead you won’t know anything. It’s okay.” Now that’s the comfort of the atheist.
And yet Richard Dawkins, who is really the leader of the new atheists, he says (I’ve heard him say it a number of times), “It’s a great privilege – I really feel it’s a great privilege to be alive.” Well, what does that mean? Is he going to live a hundred years, maybe? He might, but what is that in the cosmic calendar? I mean, he’s not even a blip, and this whole universe is heading for death, destruction, and he’s glad to be alive? I mean, what is the significance of his life? His books will be gone, his voice will be gone, his memory will be gone – nothing left but dead stars out there. I don’t fathom these atheists!
Tom: Mm-hmm. Dave, the thing we didn’t get to last week – I mean, you sort of implied, and I guess outright said, that man is an eternal being.
Tom: Well, that’s what I want to go over today. When you say that man is an eternal being whose life doesn’t end when his body dies, that raises some questions about eternity. The Second Law of Thermodynamics seems to deny eternity, pointing to the end of everything, so…Well, moreover, it also implies a beginning, which also denies eternity. So what’s the basis for eternity?
Dave: Well, of course, Genesis begins, “In the beginning.” Now, that’s not the beginning of God, but it’s the beginning of time, space, and matter. And the scientists have finally come to that conclusion. The astronomers, they resisted it for a long time. But you can’t say that energy was here forever because of what you just said: the Second Law of Thermodynamics. It runs down like a clock. The Law of Entropy, it becomes less and less useable. So we know for sure that energy has not been here forever. Now that means that energy didn’t exist before what they called the “Big Bang,” which, in my book Cosmos, Creator, and Human Destiny, I give you a whole lot of reasons why there was not a Big Bang.
Tom: Of course, the book’s not available yet.
Dave: Right, but…
Tom: Lord willing…
Dave: …hopefully it will be in a few months. But energy couldn’t have been hanging around forever, to wait to gather itself together into the entire universe about the size of an aspirin pill, and then suddenly explode. It would have entropied before it banged, so there had to be a beginning. But that is a contradiction, Tom, also of the first Law of Thermodynamics, which says, “Energy can neither be created nor destroyed.” Well, if it can’t be created, energy must have been here forever. Well, if it had been here forever, it would have entropied by now, and it wouldn’t be useable at all. None of it would be useable, so we have a problem right at the very beginning. What are we going to do? Where did the energy come from?
But anyway, we are not only physical beings, but we also – we must be nonphysical. You cannot escape that. Ideas – as we’ve explained many times on this program – ideas, thoughts, are not physical. Your brain is not running the show! Your brain doesn’t tell you what you want to have for lunch today. Your brain does not originate your thoughts. If your brain – I’m talking about the physical matter in the brain…
Tom: Yeah, sometimes people get “mind” and “brain” confused.
Dave: Right, right.
Tom: They’re just not thinking clearly on that.
Dave: If your brain originates your thoughts, you’re a prisoner of your brain! I mean, what is my brain going to think of next? I mean, “Does my brain really want to do this math problem?” you know, a student could say. Or, “Does my brain really want me to be in this school?” No, that’s ridiculous! You are the person living in the physical body, but you’re a nonphysical being because you have nonphysical ideas, and a physical brain cannot come up with non-physical ideas. I mean, this is pretty well-established now: logic will tell you that. It’s taken the neurologists and scientists a long time to come to this conclusion. I don’t remember.
I think maybe we did quote Sir Arthur Eddington last week. But he puts it very simply, and I like the way he says it. He says, “If you say that this idea of calling ideas nonphysical is nonsense, tell me what is the physical basis of nonsense? Would you describe nonsense in physical terms?” And then he says this, and I love the way he says it: “There’s a difference between physical laws that must be obeyed….” You can think they don’t have to be obeyed and step out of an airplane at 37,000 feet and say, “I don’t believe in this Law of Gravity.” Well, you’ll find out the Law of Gravity is true. You must obey. You can’t get away from it. You put two chemicals together in a test tube, the reaction that will result – you have no control over it, all right? And he says, “There’s a difference between physical laws that must be obeyed, and moral laws that ought to be obeyed.” And he says, “ought” puts you outside of chemistry and physics. That’s a very succinct way of saying it. So, I don’t think we can argue with that.
So if we are really nonphysical, the laws of thermodynamics don’t have any control over the soul and spirit – have no control over ideas. You can’t give me a basis on which you would say that the real person that is inside the body who initiates the thoughts – the real thinker who made the decisions – I challenge you, give me proof that that person will be gone.
Tom: Mm-hmm. Dave, when we’re talking about eternity, some people understand that to mean that we have existed forever. So even the nonphysical part that you’ve just made a case for, has that existed forever?
Dave: No, because it was created by God. God has existed forever. He is without beginning and without end, but we are without end – that is, our soul and spirit. We will go on forever and ever, and that’s a solemn thought, because this is why Jesus said, “Those who persist in their rebellion against God will be cast into outer darkness. There will be weeping and wailing and gnashing of teeth, and they will be in torment forever and ever.” That wouldn’t be possible if “when you’re dead you’re dead.”
Tom: Dave, you also point out in this first chapter of the book [that] scientists and even theologians point to a force, or some kind of energy. The – let’s say the scientists for energy, some theologians for a force out there. Couldn’t that have, or…and you’ve already dealt with energy; that couldn’t have existed forever. But what about a force, or a nonphysical spiritual entity?
Dave: Well, Tom, you have to – it’s like when you’re debating with an atheist – he doesn’t believe in God. Well, I don’t believe in the god he doesn’t believe in either. What are you talking about – what do you mean by this god that you don’t believe in? Okay. So now, what do you mean by a force? What is a force? You see, I wouldn’t know how to define a force. You talking about electrical power? Are we talking about a nuclear force? Well, where did this force come from, and how do we describe it? I wouldn’t know how to do that. The force – see, that’s the problem, Tom: for the atheist, energy is “God.” I mean when you listen to Dawkins or some of these other people – believe me…
I was listening to a debate, and the evolutionist, who was a university professor, he said, “Nobody believes in Darwinism anymore. We’ve gone way beyond that.” Well, you listen to Richard Dawkins: he worships Darwin. This is the whole thing – this is what made an atheist out of him. So for them, how are we going to explain everything?
“Well, there was a big bang.”
“Well, why did it bang then? And how do you get all this…”
“Well, never mind: energy.”
In fact, they don’t like “why, why?” They don’t like you to ask that question, because they cannot tell you.
Now, this is one of the things that Stephen Hawkings, the genius in the wheelchair, he asked the question: “Why does the universe go to the bother of existing?”
And Lee Smolin, who is quite a cosmologist and so forth, he says, “When a child asks us, ‘What is this universe? Why is it here?’ we don't have anything to say.”
So one of my major complaints against the evolutionist is: Look, it’s not fair. You are talking about how things evolve – you can’t tell me what they are! You can’t tell me what energy is; you can’t tell me where it came from. You say everything is made of energy. You can’t tell me: “Well, how did a cell…”
“Look, don’t talk about the cell now, how it works.” The DNA, yeah. Who put the DNA…you know, it’s written instructions – brilliant – and the instruction manual for how to build a body, how to do everything, to operate the nano-chemical machinery. But wait a minute, where did the energy come from? You talk about DNA, and Francis Collins, who, unfortunately – he claims to be a Christian, he may well be – still believes in evolution. But he just marvels, “Wow, the DNA: that molecule is so fantastic.” But wait a minute, where did it come from? So it’s like they’re trying to build the structure, a high rise, without the foundation. I want to know, “Look, if you don’t have the foundation, why should I believe any of the rest of this stuff?”
Tom: Mm-hmm. Well, Dave, let’s move over to the theologians. We did a series on, remember, The Secret, and what kind of god were they coming up with? Well, they called it an impersonal mind. All right, this is consistent with Hinduism. And then later in this country, the religious sciences, mind sciences, and so on, what about that?
Dave: Well, Tom, I don’t know how a mind can be impersonal. A mind thinks, and there must be a thinker. You don’t have some blob of protoplasm that thinks, your nerve endings, or whatever. So, I would have a problem with that. A mind? There must be a mind behind the DNA, because DNA, as we just mentioned, it’s in a written language. It is in writing, it is encoded! And Richard Dawkins – again, I refer to him because he’s probably the best known atheist out there – Richard Dawkins says, “It is a digitally organized data base!” And he repeats it. He says, “I mean it is literally digitally organized.” Now, it takes a mind to do that, and that lays out thoughts, the instruction manual.
Tom, furthermore, while we’re talking about this, because we began talking about the beginning, you have to have the plans before you begin to build the building. You have to have the plans for the body. So they would say, “Well, you know, it began with a little bit of wiggling in slime or whatever, the soup back there.”
But wait a minute, this thing doesn’t know where it’s going.
“Well, it doesn’t have to know where it’s going. That’s the marvel of it, you see. Genes don’t think, they don’t plan, and so forth.”
Yeah, but you’ve got it written out. Now, you’re going to write this thing out, you’re going to write these instructions out as you kind of evolve? “No, evolution, natural selection, cannot write out instructions, it just happens!” And it can’t just happen in such a fantastic way. It would take the most brilliant mind in the universe to lay this out, and natural selection can’t do that.
Tom: So we’re brought back to – logically, we’re brought back to an infinite person of supreme intelligence, power, and so on. We’re back to – we’re at God. Before anything was created there must have been a person, not a thing…
Tom: …not a power, not a force, but a person that creates this.
Dave: Amen, amen, because He created personal beings. A force cannot create personal beings, and the Bible clearly says, “God made man in His image,” His moral and spiritual image so that He knows right and wrong, He can make choices, but not in His physical image, because God is a Spirit.
Tom: So the person that thinks, “When you’re dead you’re dead, it’s over,” and so on, I think we’ve given some reasons, some very good reasons, for them to question that idea. And of course the problem for many of them, all the men that you mentioned, these brilliant scientists, they’re really trying to evade accountability.
Dave: Exactly, exactly. And, Tom, I remember the nuclear physicist, I probably mentioned it – I’ve never given his name – probably mentioned what he said. But he was raised – he had a Christian grandmother. He was an atheist, and he was going to commit suicide. But he said the thought came to him, “Well, but Grandma says there’s a place out there called hell. Suppose I get out there and I can’t get back. I’d better hang on a little longer.”
Now, he was going to a psychiatrist, but when he got saved (just… ot from this psychiatrist but from reading the Word of God and being in contact with Christians), he went to his psychiatrist and he says, “Look, I don’t need you anymore, you need me.”
But the problem was – and Francis Collins, I mean, it reminded him again who he is: head of the Human Genome Project, probably the leading geneticist in the world, who at the age of 27 turned from atheism to Christianity, but yet still believes in evolution. Nevertheless, he confesses, it was the fear of what might happen, that, “Maybe this isn’t true, and maybe I’m going to face judgment.” That was what gave him pause.
Tom: Now, Dave, let’s talk about that just for a second. Some people out there who are listening, watching, may say, “Well, wait a minute, this is sort of a coercive religion if you’re sort of introduced to it on the basis of fear, and you commit to it on the basis of trying to avoid hell. You know, what’s that? How worthwhile is that?”
Dave: Well, that’s what Christopher Hitchens says, whenever you get to that point. “You talk about free will. This is a free choice? I don’t think it’s a free choice. If I don’t do this…”
Well, it is a free choice, and they have freely chosen: they hate God. They wouldn’t want to be in heaven, but it’s a free choice.
Tom: It’s based on a reality. You know, it’s not like somebody conjured this up to force people in; that is the reality.
Dave: Right, you have a choice, but what is the choice? It’s not just heaven or hell, but it’s to be delivered from yourself, your self-centeredness, and to get back in touch with God, which Adam and Eve originally were, and to know God. What could be greater than to know God?
You know, I was having a discussion with an atheist on a plane coming from New York. And he claimed to be an atheist. He said his wife was a Christian, but it didn’t make any sense. And I said, “You…” In fact, he was the head of a research center for a scientific corporation, one of the big ones. And I said, “You mean to tell me that if science came up with an absolute proof, they made a discovery, and nobody can deny it, that God exists, that that would not be the greatest discovery science ever made?”
“Well,” he said, “yeah, I guess it would be. Because,” he said, “it doesn’t really matter, does it? What if there is no God? I don’t see the difference.”
I said, “Look, this would be the greatest discovery science has ever made.” And for someone to say, “I’m forced into this—What! You’re forced into knowing the God who created the universe, who is offering you His love and His forgiveness? I don’t see how that could be coercion. What, somebody wants to—they write out a check for a hundred million dollars, and they say, “Look, it’s your choice: you can have it or not.”
“Wow, he’s coercing me into taking this check!” I don’t think so. I think they are a little bit warped in their perception.
Gary: You’ve been listening to a special edition of Search the Scriptures 24/7 with Dave Hunt and T.A. McMahon, a radio ministry of The Berean Call. We offer a wide variety of resources to help you in your study of God’s Word. For a complete list of materials and a free subscription to our monthly newsletter, contact us at PO Box 7019 Bend, Oregon 97708. Call us at 800-937-6638, or visit our website at thebereancall.org.
I’m Gary Carmichael. Thanks for tuning in, and we hope you can join us again next week. Until then, we encourage you to Search the Scriptures 24/7.