If our lives are just a brief interlude before eternal bliss or torture, what does that do for the value of human life on earth? Taking the idea of divine judgment and eternal life to its full conclusion has implications many people do not consider.
Is anyone rejoicing in death?
For something that was supposedly created to be a brief interlude, it seems more than a little odd that people value it, at least their lives and those of their loved ones, as much as they do. Even the most faithful, utterly convinced God is on their side, have run in fear in battle or go through the utmost extremes with medical care to prolong their lives (even when they have become little more than suffering in some cases). Why is it that so very few seem to be truly convinced (since they do not act as if they are) that their lives on earth are just a brief interlude before something much better?
Devaluing of life on earth
Even the longest human lifespan is nothing in comparison to millions, let alone endless trillions of millennium. In comparison to such time frames, any life on earth is less than a blink of an eye. Furthermore, the value people put on things is inversely related to its relative quantity. While a loaf of bread is not going to mean much to a billionaire, it would mean a whole lot to a starving child. Therefore, the promise of eternal life can only cheapen the value of life to people today.
There is putting aside the question, as discussed in eternal heaven or hell, of how anyone could really enjoy everlasting life.
Winning the life lottery
This raises an important question. If life on earth is just a brief test, and babies or others who die young are not sent to eternal torture, is not the death of the young something to be rejoiced in (see, why torture for all eternity)? Surely, some of those aborted fetuses and other children who died young would have made the wrong choices in life and went to hell if they had lived longer. By dying young and sacrificing a brief life on earth, a life that may bring considerable pain, they are gaining an eternity of bliss and avoiding the possibility of being sent to the most sadistic eternal torture. There is nothing anyone could ever give a person that could compare to that. There is no greater prize anyone could win. With this in mind, why don’t people rejoice at the death of children and aborted fetuses?
Twisted fairness and morality
This is putting aside questions of divine justice and why any god would allow anyone to skip his most important test imaginable. How could such a system be the perfect creation of a god?
On a more immediate level, all of this can create the most twisted morality. What could possibly be worse than being sadistically tortured for all eternity? Would not almost any crime, including murder, be justified if it saved someone from such horror? There are stories of Spanish conquerors babtising Indian babies and then smashing in their brains. In addition, there have been cases of religious people killing their own children to save them from the sins of the world and the danger of them going to hell.
This is not to say that religion is teaching people to murder their children and babies. However, it is giving them a rational for it. If hell is real as described, then baby killing is, in fact, an act of mercy since is saving at least some of them from eternal torture with fire (at the cost of a brief life on earth and replacing it with bliss). Why would God create a system in which the cold blooded murder of the most innocent is preventing a much worse horror and infinitely less painful?
If all life is precious
In a world where everyone believes the life they have on earth as all there is, life, in fact, becomes much more precious. Taking someone’s life is taking the only one they will ever have. Bad or psychotic people will still commit crimes and murder, but people without empathy, goodness and foresight are not the type to let future, unproven promises of torture to moderate their behavior anyway, as history has shown. However, normally good people will no longer be able to justify actions that may lead to someone’s death with thoughts that those who die are simply going on to meet their maker.
Until we have hard evidence there is something beyond the lives we are living, it makes the most sense to treat the lives we have as all we got. If there is a god that judges us for some kind of afterlife, surely that god would put more emphasis on what we do over simple belief.