As we edge closer to Holy Week, the following parable about God and about life after life is from the Hungarian writer Utmutato a Leleknek (cited by Gene Edward Veith in his blog “Cranach.”)
In a mother’s womb were two babies. One asked the other: “Do you believe in life after delivery?”
The other replied, “Why, of course. There has to be something after delivery. Maybe we are here to prepare ourselves for what we will be later.”
“Nonsense” said the first. “There is no life after delivery. What kind of life would that be?”
The second said, “I don’t know, but there will be more light than here. Maybe we will walk with our legs and eat from our mouths. Maybe we will have other senses that we can’t understand now.”
The first replied, “That is absurd. Walking is impossible. And eating with our mouths? Ridiculous! The umbilical cord supplies nutrition and everything we need. But the umbilical cord is so short. Life after delivery is to be logically excluded.”
The second insisted, “Well I think there is something and maybe it’s different than it is here. Maybe we won’t need this physical cord anymore.”
The first replied, “Nonsense. And moreover if there is life, then why has no one ever come back from there? Delivery is the end of life, and in the after-delivery there is nothing but darkness and silence and oblivion. It takes us nowhere.”
“Well, I don’t know,” said the second, “but certainly we will meet Mother and she will take care of us.”
The first replied “Mother? You actually believe in Mother? That’s laughable. If Mother exists then where is she now?”
The second said, “She is all around us. We are surrounded by her. We are of her. It is in her that we live. Without her this world would not and could not exist.”
Said the first: “Well I don’t see her, so it is only logical that she doesn’t exist.”
To which the second replied, “Sometimes, when you’re in silence and you focus and you really listen, you can perceive her presence, and you can hear her loving voice, calling down from above.”
This parable from the womb illustrates how limited our perceptions can be and, therefore, how wrong our assumptions can be about what lies beyond our immediate perception.
The second infant observed that “life after delivery is to be logically excluded,” but it is a fallacy to draw conclusions based on ignorance.
Conclusions should be based on the best available evidence, even if that evidence contradicts one’s original premise.
If the question is about life after life, then the best evidence we have is from the one who has actually come back from the dead.
Yes, all religions make truth claims, but Christianity is unique in that it alone seriously interacts with history, and it interacts with history in such a way that it can be falsified (proven false) or verified (proven true beyond a reasonable doubt) based on examination of the available evidence.
All one need do to prove Christianity false is to produce the bones of Jesus, and many have tried.
Many have tried to disprove the resurrection only to come away convinced that Jesus actually rose from the dead, for there is more primary documentary evidence, extra-biblical evidence and circumstantial evidence for the resurrection than for any other fact in ancient history.
We need not live in ignorance concerning life beyond this life, least of all should we deny even the possibility of life beyond the grave based on such ignorance.
God reveals himself in history through the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, who dies for sinners and rises again to prove that our debt of sin is already paid in full.
If anyone is qualified to speak to the issue of life after life and if anyone deserves to be taken seriously on such matters, it is that one who overcame death and the grave for us all.
The Rev. John Armstrong is pastor of Columbus’ Grace Lutheran Church and may be reached at gracecolumbus.org.