When a conversation arises on important worldview issues we tend to default to the perspective of the particular worldview that is socially accepted. Since Darwinism and Big Bang cosmology are taught with no competing worldview in the schools, it has become the default many fall back on. Even if you are not an atheist you may end up assuming either there is nothing after death or it’s so unknowable it should not even come into consideration.
Even as a Christian I find myself falling back into that mindset. I was a product of the public school system and so the theories they taught are what affected my assumptions for many years. The reason this is important is because the inference of life after death should have a profound impact on the answers given in discussions on just about every issue. The most popular topics like the problem of evil and the character of God are especially effected by whether or not there is life after death.
For instance, if we discuss the topic of evil assuming there is no life after death, then evil will be whatever disrupts the quality of living. It automatically becomes a catch-all definition that only takes this life into consideration. You will find that in this view that any kind of suffering, hardship or disaster is automatically assumed to be evil. Something as minuscule as getting a demotion at work or your car breaking down can be perceived as an evil. With this catch-all definition, there is no easy or even faithful way to resolve the problem of all this supposed evil. But, if there is life after death, especially assured life after death, then the entire definition of evil changes.
If Christianity is true, death is only the point which we shed our earthly bodies and our souls then continue to live on in a place for an eternal (unlimited) amount of time. There are only two places you can spend that eternal life, heaven or hell. From this perspective the time after this life is over far outweighs the short time spent here. The issue then becomes figuring out which destination you will spend your eternal life. When one compares the time we spend here to the time spent in eternity, you see that there really is no legitimate comparison.
We tend to be easily short-sighted by the socially accepted naturalistic view of no life after death, though. It’s difficult to imagine a future that never ends, so we all default back to death being the end. This is a problem that needs to be considered since it has profound implications on the answers we give.
For instance if the bulk of our existence, with an eternal life in mind, will not be spent in this life enduring sufferings, hardships or disasters, then all of those issues must be reconsidered in the light of them being a temporary endurance taking place in a minuscule time-frame. Taking God’s revelation into consideration, many of the things that fall under those categories can also be defined as tests which refine and define a person’s character. Immediately small things like the examples above cannot easily fall into the definition of evil. Evil gets more narrowly defined. Evil becomes the choices and the consequences of evil actions made by individuals. A child suffering in a third world country may appear evil at first glance but may be a complex result of actions by evil men in power, consequences from actions of generations which came before, and the lack of natural resources directly due to the ongoing curse of sin.
God’s character and his actions (or inactions) also fall under a very different light when life eternal is considered. God could allow a natural disaster to happen for many reasons, all of which could include morally sufficient reasons which we will never know unless He chooses to reveal them. God by definition is all-knowing, and therefore if he knows something we do not, the event would be very different from His perspective. It could be that God took the lives of many people in this hypothetical disaster to spare them from a far more painful life (or death). One could postulate many different possible, legitimate, and sufficient moral reasons, all of which could be easily explained when taking the life of the individuals including their eternal destination into consideration. None of those particular answers may be known though, and none of them necessarily need to be when a continuation after this life is a certainty.
One might say, at this point, “Well this is just a scapegoat! This is an easy way to get out of all the problems atheists pose to the Christians!” Actually it’s not at all. If Christianity is true, all naturalistic assumptions can be disregarded. You cannot evaluate Christianity in the box of a this-life-only perspective. It’s like trying to fit an elephant into a bird cage, it just isn’t going to work! They are completely different worldviews from the foundation up. This thought exercise shows the importance of examining our presuppositions (or pre-assumptions) when discussing worldview issues.