Death is ubiquitous; it claims us all. It is said that death is the only certainty of life. The reality of death has been characterized, personified, and anthropomorphized the world over, from ancient depictions of gods of death like Anubis, to the depiction of Death as the Grim Reaper. Associated with all of these gods or folk tale characters however, is the character’s duty as the guardian or shepherd of the afterlife. There exists no deification or personification of death in the world who leads a person to utter annihilation after killing them. The two ideas, an angel of death, and annihilationism, are diametrically opposed thoughts. If supernatural beings exist, then the afterlife exists.
To the ancient mind, and even just the traditional mind, the body dies and the soul flies. Annihilationism in the public eye is relatively speaking, a very new philosophical idea in world history, although unique individual cases of annihilationism have definitely existed in the past. It is a philosophy which comes only from intense and convoluted human reasoning, not something to be found in a literal understanding of the Bible. This philosophy of nothingness after death has now been widely accepted and propagated by the scientific collective of first world countries, yet this common sense of eternity and life after death continues to persist in the west, no matter how much philosophizing one engages in. This is because to be dogmatic about annihilationism is to be dogmatic about the unknown, which the open-minded understands to be synonymous with close-mindedness.
To quote Gandalf in J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Two Towers, “End? No, the journey doesn’t end here. Death is just another path, one that we all must take.” Yet in our western society, life after death is consigned to the musings of poets or the superstitions of religious groups. The scientific community and media try to convince us that “we all know that life after death is just a mistaken dream. We have now been enlightened by higher science. We know there is no such thing.” The economy thrives on the idea that this life is all there is, and the ultimate moral to follow in our culture is to “live life to its fullest.” There is no arguing this point. For the secular evolutionist, each individual must strive for their greatest good, and the greater good of humanity as a species, without consideration of dated morals or ethereal spiritual phenomena. This is because the consensus of the scientific world is that the furtherance of technology, and the continuance of life on earth are the most important goals to achieve.
This has ramifications on all parts of western life, from how we treat each other in relationships, to how companies and nations are governed. There ceases to be a value in the “ethereal” ideas of kindness, of unconditional love, of personal sacrifice, or of objective moral standards. The true Darwinist does not concern himself with these all too simplistic humanities. If someone were to follow Evolutionism, Nietzscheism, and Darwinism, (each of which inform our current liberal first world mindset) to it’s logical conclusion, their life would mirror that of the highly intelligent and amorally bestial Wolf Larsen in Jack London’s disturbing masterpiece, The Sea Wolf. It meticulously described the truth of what kind of man the “Enlightenment” would produce; someone who can be both incredibly learned, and yet inhumanly cruel. Someone who will maim and kill anyone regardless of age race and gender for his own ends of success and pleasure, and if he cannot accomplish those ends, then suicide is the only logical answer. Someone who would rather die than be at the mercy of others, because all that matters is survival of the fittest.
This is what comes of a mind conformed by annihilationism in a secular context, but is not without influence upon the Christian mind. Indeed I have met and spoken with a surprisingly high number of people who believe in the annihilationist view of soul sleep, in which God merely puts to sleep the souls of those who are damned, never to rise again or taste of the blessings of eternal life which those who receive salvation experience. They say they read the Bible all the way through, and see in it no trace of a literal Hell, nor of eternal damnation, for how could God be good if He sends people to torment forever? This argument comes from the desire to make God merciful at the expense of God being just, and the added expense of sin being sinful, or worthy of punishment. They say this idea comes from their reading of the gospels, but it comes from an imaginative, metaphorical understanding of scripture, and therefore, not a literal, or real one. It explains away passages which speak of worms that die not, of eternal flames, of torturers, and of lakes of fire, with super-spiritual language and inductive reasoning which twists the straightforward message into something ethereal, and therefore not easily understood. If those concrete terms about perdition’s flames are figurative speech for soul sleep, then my third grade essay about my family vacation to the mountains is really a treatise on the doctrine of predestination.
Those who hold to this idea of soul sleep are lobbying for the mercy of God, but what if I told you that God is only truly merciful not in spite of his sentencing humans to Hell, but because of it? And what if I told you that He is merciful enough to speak to those whose sentence has long been passed? These are the truths that I shall address in part the second of this my blog on The Immortal Dead. As always, this blog is intended to spark the intellect, not to spark fights. I am as faulty as any other thinker out there, and therefore just as easily mistaken, so if you disagree with me, tell me why, and I shall seek to become better informed. God bless!