A Pastor and a Philosopher Walk into a Bar

What Happens When We Die?

October 06, 2021 Randy Knie, Kyle Whitaker Season 2 Episode 6
A Pastor and a Philosopher Walk into a Bar
What Happens When We Die?
Show Notes Transcript

Heavy. Weighty. Decentering.

In this episode we discuss the afterlife. What happens when we die? Kyle takes us on a journey through historic philosophical thinking about afterlife and why we just don't know what happens when we die. Randy mixes in some pastoral and spiritual insights here and some possible heresy there...delicious.

Content Warning: If the idea of the possibility of there being no life after death is too disturbing at this moment to consider, please don't listen to this episode. We've got lots of other episodes for you to catch up on.

The whiskey we tasted in this episode is Ezra Brooks 99 by Lux Row Distillers.

Support the show (https://www.patreon.com/apastorandaphilosopher)

NOTE: This transcript is for the unedited video version of this conversation, so what you see here will not match the audio-only podcast version exactly. For the video version, see here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pdug1rl6yR0&t=1s

[Music]

00:04

well hello and welcome friends to a

00:06

pastor and a philosopher walk to a

00:08

bar

00:09

we're excited to share this time with

00:10

you we have for you a

00:12

a solo episode we call them when we

00:14

don't have any guests it's just us

00:16

talking this is kind of the idea of the

00:18

podcast when we started and uh guests

00:20

just started happening so

00:22

we are going to talk about a heavy one

00:24

today yeah yeah today we're talking

00:26

about afterlife what happens

00:28

when we die and i got to tell you

00:31

i want to let you know this is the

00:32

pastoral thing

00:34

this is heavy business and it's cutting

00:35

straight to the heart of most religious

00:37

people's deeply held beliefs

00:39

and

00:40

kyle in particular but we're gonna we're

00:43

gonna consider some things that

00:45

might challenge you quite a bit and so

00:48

we're gonna suggest some difficult

00:49

things to think about we're gonna try to

00:51

do it as respectfully reverently gently

00:54

as we can but

00:56

it might be too much for you if if

00:58

questioning the afterlife and thinking

01:00

that holding the idea that perhaps and

01:02

after the afterlife doesn't

01:04

exist

01:05

if that rocks your boat just hearing

01:07

about that yeah no it's good okay

01:10

just

01:15

if the idea that the afterlife might not

01:17

exist if that

01:19

rocks your boat way too much even just

01:21

me saying that makes your skin crawl and

01:23

it makes you all sorts of uncomfortable

01:25

please push pause and just move on to

01:28

the next episode don't listen to this

01:29

because it's not going to be helpful for

01:30

your journey yeah

01:32

but

01:33

we're going to talk about the afterlife

01:35

from both a philosophical and a

01:36

religious point of view and really

01:38

kyle's going to be kind of guiding us

01:39

through the philosophical point of view

01:42

stronger than

01:43

should i start restart that sentence

01:46

okay

01:47

let me get the nun

01:50

i do not disturb

01:57

we're going to be thinking about the

01:58

afterlife from both a philosophical and

01:59

religious perspective but we're really

02:01

going to be hammering in and kyle's

02:03

going to do it he's going to take us on

02:04

a journey through that philosophical

02:06

perspective of afterlife is there an

02:08

afterlife what happens when we die and

02:11

i'm excited to dive in and be challenged

02:14

i just reading this outline i was

02:15

challenged kyle so yeah now it

02:17

challenges me too frankly and

02:20

something i think about every time i

02:22

have a friend or a loved one pass away

02:24

or every time i teach it in class right

02:26

and death is always a unit that we cover

02:27

in my intro classes so something i've

02:29

thought about for a long time and

02:30

something that still keeps me awake at

02:32

night frankly yeah yeah and it's

02:34

something that's

02:35

been interesting on this journey of this

02:37

podcast that i've noticed about you is

02:39

i've i've known your relationship has

02:41

been you know well friends but also

02:44

pastor and you're you're you're part of

02:46

my church

02:47

the church i lead and um i've noticed

02:50

over the course of this podcast in our

02:52

conversations that you if you have to

02:54

pick between

02:55

thinking as a philosopher or thinking as

02:57

a follower of christ as a christian you

02:59

usually choose thinking like a

03:01

philosopher

03:02

and that's very interesting and that's

03:04

going to come up in this episode a bit

03:06

can you yeah you can tell us about that

03:07

just a little bit i try to i try to keep

03:09

those consistent that's that's one of my

03:11

main pursuits really is to figure out

03:13

how those can go together so that's

03:15

interesting to hear he said

03:16

well maybe revisit that at the end of

03:18

this and we'll see how you think i did

03:20

all right all right keeping those

03:22

together so kyle the afterlife

03:24

afterwards what happens when we die

03:27

uh

03:28

let's let's dive in yeah this could be a

03:30

super short episode if we wanted it to

03:32

be we just say i don't know

03:36

cue the music

03:36

[Laughter]

03:39

yeah but neither do you and then there's

03:40

more to say right yeah

03:42

yeah

03:43

so let me let me tell you a i'm going to

03:46

try to make it brief a philosophical

03:47

story

03:48

about death

03:50

all right i'm going to tell this in two

03:51

parts so part one starts in ancient

03:54

athens so you have socrates who i know

03:56

i've mentioned before on the podcast

03:58

you're going to get tired of hearing

03:59

about him eventually

04:00

socrates goes out into the city of

04:03

athens and he does a couple of things

04:05

simultaneously that piss everybody off

04:08

uh one thing he does is that he

04:10

questions the religion of the city

04:13

this is something you're not supposed to

04:14

do he wasn't the first to do that there

04:15

were some philosophers ahead of him that

04:17

did similar things but he was very

04:18

public about it and had a method for it

04:21

that uh he just wouldn't relent and and

04:24

really made people mad questioning the

04:26

religion of the city

04:27

and

04:28

part of the religion of the city was a

04:30

certain view of the afterlife

04:33

and he questioned that view he would go

04:34

and talk to the poets and he would ask

04:36

them you know how do you know the gods

04:37

are like this and how do you know this

04:38

is what it's going to be like and turned

04:40

out they didn't that couldn't give a

04:42

good justification for that uh but

04:44

interestingly you might think that he

04:46

would then have rejected

04:48

an afterlife or that we could have any

04:49

knowledge of such a thing but he didn't

04:51

he's very famous for making some

04:53

arguments for the existence of an

04:55

afterlife

04:56

he thinks that we are immortal that we

04:58

have souls which maybe we can talk about

05:00

in another episode

05:02

uh and that those things are

05:04

immortal they don't pass away when we

05:06

die they continue forever and that

05:07

that's what we fundamentally are so our

05:09

thoughts and

05:10

you know how we understand ourselves and

05:12

all the things we cared about and

05:13

believed that's all going to continue

05:15

when the body dies and decays and he

05:17

gave some reasons for that but

05:19

interestingly they weren't religious

05:21

reasons

05:22

they weren't because homer said so which

05:24

is what everybody kind of expected

05:26

they were philosophical reasons which

05:28

means they appealed to premises that any

05:30

reasonable person should be able to

05:32

understand and get behind and see the

05:34

truthfulness of

05:36

so he was simultaneously questioning

05:38

religion but affirming an afterlife

05:39

except he was doing it for philosophical

05:41

reasons and what this does is take this

05:44

traditionally religious discussion what

05:46

happens when we die

05:48

and puts it squarely in the realm of

05:50

reason

05:51

and we're now demanding justification

05:53

for what the religions have taught us

05:55

and if and if we can't get it right or

05:57

if or if the justification we get isn't

05:59

satisfying or if it just reduces to so

06:02

and so said so

06:03

then

06:04

it's within our

06:05

rational rights to reject such reasons

06:09

uh and and

06:10

see if we can do better by going out

06:12

into the world and exploring and making

06:14

better arguments

06:15

so that's one thing he does

06:18

he also uh starts with what we can

06:21

establish just with our reason

06:24

so

06:25

one of the one of the reasons he ends up

06:26

with his view that there is an afterlife

06:29

is because he thinks knowledge is

06:31

possible and try not to get too

06:33

complicated here the goal of philosophy

06:35

is knowledge we want knowledge he thinks

06:38

we can have knowledge that there is

06:40

there is such a thing as knowing things

06:42

right we could know that two plus two

06:43

equals four for example we can be really

06:44

damn sure about it

06:46

but he thinks and

06:48

this this would take us too far into

06:49

tangent to explain fully but he thinks

06:51

that

06:52

we don't know things like that with our

06:54

bodies

06:56

you can't know that two plus two equals

06:57

four with your body

06:59

in fact your body can only get in the

07:01

way of that kind of knowledge

07:04

because our senses they tell us things

07:06

about the world that are sometimes wrong

07:08

right and we can discover that they're

07:09

wrong and

07:11

we can be fooled and we can reason

07:12

poorly and stuff like that so he really

07:15

thinks and he starts this long tradition

07:16

of people thinking that the body just

07:18

kind of gets in the way where philosophy

07:20

is concerned what we really want is pure

07:23

reason which is an activity of the mind

07:27

and so plato was one of the first

07:28

dualists somebody who thinks that

07:30

there's a material world and there's a

07:32

mental world and the mental world is

07:34

eternal and unchanging that's what

07:37

that's where we properly live and the

07:39

material world is changing and fleeting

07:41

and temporal and that's all going to go

07:43

away and it's going to dissolve and if

07:44

we were just that then we would go away

07:47

and we would dissolve and that's it but

07:48

he doesn't think we're just that we're

07:49

more than that we're a soul we have

07:51

reasoning powers

07:53

and he believes that for

07:55

reasons again that he didn't get from

07:56

religion it's all philosophical for him

07:59

so that's story number one and it

08:01

doesn't end with plato that continued

08:03

for thousands of years of philosophical

08:05

history and there are still people today

08:06

who

08:07

take that view they would call

08:08

themselves platonists

08:10

actually story number two so sometime

08:14

around the modern period

08:18

or what philosophers call the modern

08:19

period begins about with descartes

08:21

in the 17th century continues through

08:24

kant

08:25

in the 19th century

08:27

you have a bunch of philosophers

08:30

questioning a lot of things they're

08:32

questioning pretty much everything that

08:33

came before

08:35

they're trying to put knowledge on a

08:37

firmer footing than what they thought it

08:39

was on before they're questioning

08:41

religion in a big way this is where the

08:42

enlightenment happens and you know the

08:45

the credo of the enlightenment taken

08:47

from kant which says think for yourself

08:49

this is where that all gets birthed and

08:51

so you have modernists people like

08:54

descartes but more more prominently

08:57

people like locke or

08:59

barkley or david hume or various others

09:03

and kant himself as well

09:05

and you have another tradition that

09:06

emerges around this time and continues

09:08

through the 20th century and that is

09:11

existentialism

09:12

kind of based on this modernist period

09:14

and these people do a couple things they

09:17

question religion too

09:19

very much in line with what plato was

09:21

doing yeah

09:23

they don't question it quite the same

09:24

way many of them especially the

09:26

existentialists are just dismissive

09:29

they just they don't even think that's a

09:31

question worth conversation with having

09:33

anymore right they're just kind of hand

09:34

wavy well that's obviously false so

09:36

let's start on the presumption that

09:37

that's false

09:39

um and so

09:41

they're doing what plato is doing there

09:42

but when it comes to the question of an

09:44

afterlife they reject it

09:47

not without exception there are debates

09:49

of course but most of them reject it

09:52

certainly most of the existentialists

09:53

and again for philosophical reasons

09:56

and that tradition is alive and well

09:58

today as well in fact probably most

10:00

philosophers today would take more from

10:02

those traditions the modernist and

10:03

existentialist traditions than they

10:05

would from the ancient platonic

10:06

traditions

10:07

which implies that most philosophers

10:09

today would probably reject an afterlife

10:11

which is i think true

10:13

um so let's call these two

10:15

traditions that i just kind of

10:18

really quickly went through the

10:19

optimists and the pessimists where where

10:21

the afterlife is concerned so you have

10:23

the platonus or the people that followed

10:24

plato and other ancients let's call them

10:27

optimists they don't know for sure and

10:29

plato's socrates really clearly doesn't

10:31

know for sure

10:32

but they at least think there is some

10:33

philosophical reason to think that that

10:36

when we die and our bodies decay that's

10:37

not the end there's more

10:40

they have historically kind of lost the

10:42

argument in terms of numbers but they're

10:44

still around and then there's the

10:46

pessimist the people that follow some of

10:47

the modernists

10:49

actually some ancients too including

10:50

aristotle

10:52

but mostly the existentialists and a few

10:54

modernists who think that

10:56

we we don't have an afterlife and part

10:58

of the reason they think this is because

11:00

they tend to be materialists

11:02

or physicalists which means they think

11:04

that the world is made up of atoms and

11:06

uh things that obey laws of nature and

11:09

we're part of that and so one of the

11:10

things we know about the laws of nature

11:12

is entropy and things die and decay and

11:14

that's that

11:15

so if we're part of that whole story

11:17

then you know we're not an exception so

11:20

let's call those people the pessimists

11:23

now one thing that both of these sides

11:26

are agreed about interestingly is that

11:28

this is a question religion shouldn't

11:29

decide okay

11:31

uh that it should be plucked out of the

11:34

purview of religious belief whether that

11:37

be monotheistic or polytheistic or

11:38

whatever

11:39

this is a question best left to the

11:41

philosophers and there are many reasons

11:42

religion shouldn't decide i'm just going

11:44

to list some of them for you here

11:46

basically religion can't be trusted to

11:48

answer a question like this

11:50

and the reason is

11:51

some reasons are

11:53

that one religions have a vested

11:55

interest in the answer

11:57

right

11:58

they want followers

11:59

and telling people that this is the end

12:02

is not a good way to get followers but

12:04

telling people that hey we actually have

12:05

some inside knowledge and this is not

12:07

the end and there's a whole lot more

12:08

happening and we can even actually tell

12:10

you about it and it's going to be really

12:11

good if you xyz

12:13

that's a really good way to get

12:15

followers so

12:16

kind of one of those first rules of

12:18

critical thinking if you're dealing with

12:20

someone who has a vested interest and

12:22

the outcome of your dialogue you should

12:24

be a little suspicious of that person so

12:25

that's one reason philosophers have been

12:27

suspicious of religions their existence

12:29

and their payroll kind of depends on

12:31

people having a certain view of this

12:33

right so that's one reason another

12:35

reason to be suspicious is that

12:38

religions and religious thinkers have a

12:40

tendency to maybe not follow the

12:42

argument where it leads

12:44

they have a tendency to follow the

12:45

argument right up to the point where it

12:47

starts to get uncomfortable

12:48

and then to kind of batten down the

12:49

hatches and say uh and here's uh

12:52

revelation right or here's authority or

12:54

whatever um often if the argument is

12:57

gonna lead outside your tradition

12:59

religious people are not willing to

13:00

follow it so that's another reason to be

13:02

suspicious

13:04

uh some philosophers like hume famous

13:06

skeptic in the modern period argued that

13:09

the evidence we get from religion about

13:12

afterlife and what it's like

13:14

actually cancels itself out because the

13:16

christians say one thing and the muslims

13:18

say another thing and the jews say

13:20

another thing and those are just the

13:21

monotheisms and then we have the hindus

13:23

that say a different thing in the

13:24

buddhists that say a different thing and

13:25

the sikhs and the jainists all of it and

13:29

they're contradictory they can't all be

13:31

right you know and they're all appealing

13:32

to different kinds of authorities

13:34

and you know specific revelations that

13:37

they claim happen in their histories

13:39

and if the christians are right then the

13:40

muslims are just mistaken

13:42

and vice versa

13:44

and if the buddhists are right then all

13:45

the monotheisms are mistaken and and so

13:47

him says you know as kind of a neutral

13:49

observer who are we supposed to believe

13:51

here

13:52

it seems like what the buddhists tell me

13:54

has just as much behind it is what the

13:55

christians tell me i have i wasn't there

13:57

to observe any of these events and so

13:59

if i'm going to trust one over the other

14:01

i need to have a good reason and i don't

14:02

so maybe they just cancel each other out

14:04

so that's another reason to be

14:05

suspicious

14:07

so

14:08

my question here would be

14:10

do philosophers think that religion

14:12

should decide

14:15

that's a anything question

14:18

uh yeah so

14:21

obviously there's not broad agreement

14:23

about that or i shouldn't say unanimous

14:25

agreement about that

14:27

there are religious philosophers

14:29

uh they're minority but they're out

14:30

there i think i'm one of them

14:33

um

14:34

things that are strictly within the

14:35

purview of religion would include

14:37

doctrine you know uh defining yourself

14:40

and the tenets of your faith and what

14:42

your practice should look like and all

14:45

the philosophers i know don't have any

14:46

interest in getting involved in those

14:49

kinds of discussions but when religions

14:51

pronounce on things that are of

14:53

universal human interest

14:55

like

14:56

what's the world like fundamentally you

14:58

know where did it come from how old is

15:00

it can we know much about its nature uh

15:03

what happens when humans die how should

15:05

humans

15:06

behave towards one another ethics

15:10

uh then philosophers are

15:13

like their hackles go up a little bit

15:15

now now it's not to say you know

15:16

theologians or whoever shouldn't

15:18

participate in those conversations i

15:20

think

15:20

most of the philosophers i know would

15:23

welcome that but they would welcome it

15:25

kind of on terms of philosophical

15:27

argumentation right you can't just bring

15:29

in your tradition and say qed here it is

15:32

because the bible said yeah yeah you

15:33

need to you need to be able to back that

15:35

up sure that's fair yeah

15:37

uh so just couple more reasons that uh

15:40

maybe we should be a little bit

15:41

suspicious of religious claims about

15:42

these things

15:44

um religions and again this is not

15:46

universal there are clear exceptions to

15:47

this but they tend to hold on to

15:49

antiquated notions of human nature

15:51

despite new evidence to the contrary

15:54

so we could name several times in

15:57

church history or the history of various

15:59

religions where this sort of thing has

16:00

happened

16:01

uh darwin would be

16:03

a very big one probably the big one

16:05

right

16:06

um and so it makes you wonder why they

16:08

would do that it makes you wonder if

16:10

maybe they really are open to learning

16:12

the truth about this if they were you'd

16:14

think they would incorporate all new

16:15

evidence as it came rather than trying

16:17

to kind of hold on to a tradition that

16:20

might be in conflict with it and let me

16:22

just say for right there because

16:24

people hear this and they think we're

16:26

saying things that maybe we're not um

16:29

you're not inherently saying

16:31

it's

16:32

you're dumb or

16:34

it's a terrible thing to not believe in

16:36

evolution and to believe in you know

16:38

create a design and six day creation the

16:40

whole deal i mean you don't agree with

16:42

that but i think you would say and other

16:44

philosophers would say as long as you

16:46

believe in that and say the reason that

16:49

i believe that is because i i give the

16:51

bible authority over and above science

16:53

right like that's that's okay you would

16:56

say well it's not okay it's intellectual

16:57

suicide it's a mistake but it's honest

17:00

it's honest

17:01

yeah yeah and that happens you know i've

17:04

um i've read and heard of

17:07

young earth creationists for example who

17:08

will argue in that way so some of whom

17:10

are convinced by scientific arguments

17:13

that the earth appears to be old you

17:15

know the universe appears to be

17:17

in the way that science describes it but

17:19

the my reading of the bible says

17:21

otherwise and i'm going to privilege

17:22

that because that's my thought yeah you

17:24

do occasionally run across like really

17:26

honest

17:27

um justifications like that but it's

17:30

it's not the norm i think that's the

17:31

exception

17:33

yeah to the rule

17:34

the rule tends to be no no no the

17:37

the tradition is obviously true yeah and

17:39

the you know the scientific consensus is

17:43

either

17:44

some kind of conspiracy

17:46

or the the product of sin or something

17:48

we talked about all that

17:50

evolution episode

17:51

the point i'm trying to make now though

17:53

is just that there you know religions

17:54

have a track record

17:56

of

17:58

having a particular sometimes niche view

18:01

of what a human being is and not wanting

18:03

to let go of it yeah even when you know

18:05

the consensus of experts changes

18:08

and then

18:09

lastly

18:10

i'll make this my last reason to be

18:12

suspicious i feel like thank you

18:14

yeah word vomiting here um so

18:19

religions religious thinkers tend to be

18:22

unable to give

18:25

an ultimately

18:26

non-psychological reason

18:29

to believe in an afterlife

18:31

that would be compelling to a neutral

18:32

observer

18:34

a neutral observer being somebody who

18:35

wasn't already committed to a particular

18:38

religious view what i mean by

18:39

non-psychological is

18:41

there are clear psychological reasons to

18:43

believe that heaven is real and then i'm

18:45

going to go there when i die it makes me

18:48

happy

18:49

right it alleviates the despair that i

18:52

would feel if i thought that weren't

18:53

true

18:54

it

18:55

helps me deal with the death of loved

18:57

ones like real practical

18:59

you know psychological

19:01

uh benefit to believing these things

19:05

and it's not that i'm not even saying

19:06

that psychological reasons aren't good

19:08

reasons i think they are good reasons

19:10

but often usually maybe almost always

19:14

religions do not present their reasons

19:16

for belief in an afterlife in purely

19:18

psychological terms

19:20

they don't limit themselves to that

19:22

right now there have been some

19:23

philosophers like william james who

19:24

suggests that

19:26

look it's perfectly acceptable to choose

19:29

to believe in an afterlife for

19:31

psychological reasons

19:33

but there are some caveats

19:35

one caveat is that the independent

19:37

evidence has to be neutral on the

19:38

question

19:40

so

19:40

uh it's not like for example choosing to

19:42

believe in creationism because the

19:44

evidence is not neutral right in that

19:47

case so that's why it's an intellectual

19:49

mistake it's a flaw of reasoning to

19:51

choose to believe

19:52

in creationism over evolution because

19:54

the evidence points in one direction

19:55

rather than another we love you

19:58

i'm a creationist

20:00

whatever listen to our previous episode

20:03

if you want to know what he means by

20:04

that he's not really um

20:07

but if let's say something like the

20:09

afterlife we don't have let's i'm gonna

20:11

make this claim and we can hash it out

20:14

if you want we don't have compelling

20:16

evidence one way or another right

20:19

you watch these movies like what would

20:20

happen if we did like you know some site

20:22

i watched one i can't remember the name

20:24

of it some scientist figures out a way

20:26

to like scan the brains of dead people

20:28

and like

20:29

uh come up with images of what they're

20:31

experiencing just after their death

20:32

that's the thing no it's a movie

20:35

but it's it makes for an interesting

20:36

movie because it's like okay well if

20:38

humans suddenly possessed evidence that

20:41

neutral observers would recognize as

20:43

compelling that there is an afterlife

20:45

how would that change how we live and in

20:48

this movie a lot of people start to

20:49

commit suicide

20:51

because they're done with this and they

20:52

want something different now they have

20:54

evidence that it's there

20:56

but people don't behave that way because

20:58

we don't have compelling evidence one

21:00

way or another this is something that

21:02

socrates used uh to argue that we

21:05

shouldn't be afraid of death

21:07

because we simply don't know and why

21:09

would you be afraid of something you

21:10

don't know about to be afraid implies

21:12

you know it's negative when you don't

21:14

nobody comes back to tell us

21:17

we can talk about near-death experiences

21:18

if you want but they're not the sort of

21:20

thing that convince a lot of people

21:22

and so

21:23

james would say if that's your situation

21:26

the evidence doesn't point conclusively

21:28

in one direction or another and that

21:29

does seem to be the case with afterlife

21:32

then why not use psychological reasons

21:35

to choose why not say well okay

21:39

i'm going to choose to think that there

21:41

is something else that maybe i will get

21:43

to see my loved ones again because that

21:45

has all these identifiable measurable

21:47

psychological benefits and james would

21:50

say it's perfectly good reason there's

21:51

nothing irrational about that at all and

21:53

i actually think he's right about that

21:54

so i don't want to denigrate

21:56

psychological reasons the point i'm

21:58

making is that the religions don't

22:00

present themselves typically as giving

22:02

you

22:02

merely psychological reasons they

22:04

present themselves as giving you

22:06

you know this is the truth

22:08

and we can demonstrate it from our

22:10

tradition yeah no i mean

22:12

in

22:13

thinking about this episode in this

22:14

conversation

22:15

it made me realize that

22:18

if it wasn't for my commitment to the

22:20

scriptures and

22:22

trust in christ in the person of jesus

22:24

christ

22:24

i would probably have no reason to

22:26

believe in an afterlife and i probably

22:28

wouldn't and unless i knew a person who

22:31

had an after post-death experience and

22:32

came back you know all that stuff that'd

22:34

be that'd be pretty fun um but that

22:36

probably be the only way i believe in an

22:37

afterlife i don't know why why you would

22:40

yeah and i think most religious people

22:42

are in the same boat that tends to now i

22:45

can i can imagine

22:46

uh i can try to get myself in the

22:48

headspace of an agnostic or something or

22:50

an atheist i mean it's actually not hard

22:51

to do i feel like i think that way

22:53

anyway in many ways

22:55

and i can imagine wondering if like some

22:58

future super intelligence would be able

23:00

to figure out

23:01

you know how to how to map certain

23:03

aspects of space time so that they could

23:05

recreate it and have some kind of de

23:07

facto resurrection or something like

23:08

that just because

23:10

you know we have no idea what is going

23:12

to happen scientifically technologically

23:15

in the next let's say our species

23:16

survives in the next million years i

23:18

mean imagine the difference between

23:21

where we are now and where our species

23:23

was even 200 years ago much less a

23:25

hundred thousand years ago we we simply

23:28

cannot extrapolate what we might be a

23:29

hundred thousand or a million or a

23:31

billion years from now which we could do

23:33

if we don't destroy each other so

23:35

so when i'm in that frame of mind i can

23:37

think who knows maybe something like

23:38

that could be true but it would be due

23:40

to some kind of intelligence i couldn't

23:42

fathom

23:44

but then a religious person could say

23:45

well what's the difference really i mean

23:47

we're still we're still hoping for an

23:49

intelligence that we can't fathom

23:52

to work something out in a way that we

23:53

can't imagine isn't that what religious

23:56

confidence in an afterlife is anyway

23:58

yeah

23:58

i'm honestly barely with you on that one

24:01

i barely understand what you're saying

24:02

but um did want to add in there like we

24:06

talk about the psychological benefits

24:07

that many religious you know

24:08

philosophers would say religious people

24:10

hold to that's the reason why they

24:12

believe in the afterlife and a great

24:14

friend of mine i have the

24:16

story that of the opposite of that where

24:18

a great friend of mine who believed in

24:20

the afterlife believed in resurrection

24:21

all that stuff for his whole life

24:24

then lost his dad yeah and

24:28

that's a moment when i would think a

24:29

person would cling to their belief in

24:31

the afterlife more than anything and

24:32

that where you think where you believe

24:34

in it

24:34

more solidly than ever because you hope

24:36

to see that person again in this person

24:38

this friend of mine did the opposite

24:40

actually he

24:41

went to this place where he said i

24:43

i think all the stuff that we believe

24:45

about the afterlife and

24:47

seeing my dad again i i don't think it's

24:48

real and

24:50

he dropped it like he's

24:52

i don't know if you call it a faith

24:53

crisis or uh you know deconstruction or

24:56

just flat out just is done with it but

24:59

yeah i think

25:00

he he was confronted by the closest

25:02

person to him dying

25:04

and really when that actually happened

25:06

it disrupted him so much he just saw

25:10

the

25:11

what you're talking about really which

25:12

is just we don't know

25:14

we believe it we like to think that and

25:16

it actually had the opposite effect he's

25:18

like i can't do this anymore i don't

25:19

think i'm ever going to see my dad again

25:21

yeah that's really sad it's rough but i

25:23

get it

25:24

i actually had somewhat the opposite

25:25

experience i remember

25:27

i was in the room and my grandfather

25:28

passed this was on my mom's side and

25:30

that would have been

25:33

while i was in grad school first year or

25:34

two i was in grad school and

25:38

i was like everybody kind of looked to

25:40

me to

25:42

like when it happened to like

25:44

pray and do the religious thing you know

25:46

because that might sound weird to you

25:47

now but at the time i was sort of

25:50

looked at as maybe you've known me long

25:51

enough i know a religious person and at

25:54

least that group and yeah i found myself

25:58

talking about resurrection and

26:01

having a kind of

26:02

renewed confidence in it i suppose

26:05

but the more i've thought about it since

26:07

i i still certainly have a hopefulness

26:09

for that but

26:10

i'm not as intellectually committed

26:13

as i once was

26:16

and that uh yeah it makes me sad

26:21

that yeah maybe it's worth pausing this

26:22

is a desperately sad thing we're

26:24

considering here

26:25

right i mean paul said literally if if

26:29

we're not resurrected there's what's the

26:30

point yeah of the whole thing and

26:33

i totally get that i feel that in my

26:35

bones like i think that's

26:37

i think he was right i don't actually

26:39

really no oh let's talk about that why

26:41

not because the way of jesus even if

26:44

there is no afterlife even if there is

26:46

no resurrection even if

26:48

the whole thing is

26:50

just

26:51

a hoax yeah

26:53

i haven't encountered a better way of

26:55

living than following christ and the

26:57

living in the way of jesus and the way

26:58

of agape love and preferring others over

27:00

yourself and the whole deal you can run

27:02

the whole gamut and i would still say

27:04

if you tell me on my deathbed it was all

27:06

all a lie i'd be bummed out and i'd want

27:08

to think my way through it you know live

27:10

long enough to do that but then i think

27:11

i would say

27:13

i still think it's the best way to live

27:14

and i'm glad i did it yeah so let me

27:17

just say you're going on the record here

27:18

disagreeing with the apostle paul to

27:20

strengthen i don't know if paul would

27:22

disagree with that

27:23

paul was

27:24

paul was making an argument

27:27

for and about the resurrection and i

27:29

think it was a really good argument in

27:31

first corinthians 15.

27:33

so i don't think i really

27:35

don't think the apostle paul would

27:36

disagree with me that like hey paul if

27:39

this always

27:40

make believe do you still think it's the

27:42

best way to live i'll bet he would say

27:43

yeah

27:44

interesting so yeah

27:46

now

27:47

i'm not remembering specifically the

27:49

context there but uh maybe he would

27:51

agree that it's the best way to live it

27:53

gives us a really interesting ethic

27:55

although that hadn't quite been worked

27:56

out by his time

27:58

uh jesus's teachings in other words are

28:00

worth following right let's say he's a

28:01

great thinker philosopher a rabbi or

28:03

something

28:04

maybe he's one of the greatest ones and

28:06

maybe paul wouldn't disagree with that

28:08

but he seems pretty strong

28:10

that if if there's not this thing that

28:13

we believe happened to jesus that will

28:15

also happen to us

28:16

he was dead and then god raised him he

28:19

was alive again and he was the same

28:20

person

28:21

and he had an eternal life ahead of him

28:24

paul seems to think that if that's not

28:27

the case if that's not concretely true

28:29

then christians are wasting their time

28:31

yeah no i think

28:33

haven't you ever been in you know tried

28:35

to prove a point

28:37

and gone real hard exaggerated a little

28:39

bit exaggerated a little bit yeah you

28:40

think that's what was happening perhaps

28:42

a little higher i think paul was paul

28:43

was a great debater great you know he

28:45

made great arguments he's very

28:48

very eloquent

28:49

this is funny

28:50

in the face of persecution though i mean

28:52

he's talking about this is the whole

28:54

hope in the future and this is the like

28:56

you're

28:57

putting your eyes on that prize and it

28:59

seems like that's this whole framework

29:00

is that this is only worth it

29:03

if that's true

29:05

isn't that isn't that one of his themes

29:07

that he continues to return to

29:10

um yes

29:12

but i think

29:14

we don't understand the the context and

29:16

the reality of the early church and the

29:18

like how

29:20

unclear so many of the things that we

29:23

take in the churches is just givens and

29:26

like very known very established

29:28

orthodoxy dogma all that stuff um

29:32

in when paul was writing this to the

29:33

church in corinth he was writing to a

29:35

bunch of people who didn't not all of

29:37

them believed in the resurrection and

29:40

argued against it and so he's trying to

29:42

make as compelling the case for the

29:44

resurrection of christ as an apostle as

29:46

one who's met jesus on the road you know

29:48

and um he's he's trying to make this

29:50

argument to a group of people who isn't

29:52

he's not preaching to the choir here

29:54

this is a real

29:55

life debate and so that's how i take

29:58

first corinthians 15 is him just being

30:00

like you guys have no idea how essential

30:02

the doctrine of the resurrection is for

30:04

followers of christ and he's he's kind

30:07

of doubling down on it almost like if

30:09

it's if it's not real walk away from

30:11

this it's not worth it yeah but i really

30:13

don't think you would say that about

30:14

jesus

30:16

yeah well i'm guessing i see that it's

30:18

connected you know the the great hope is

30:21

eventual union with jesus in an embodied

30:23

way like real community the thing that

30:25

the apostles had with jesus that that

30:27

that's available to humans in

30:29

indefinitely

30:31

eventually

30:33

yeah and i mean i think paul had a

30:35

pretty

30:37

beautiful and

30:39

vital connection with christ when he

30:41

would i mean when paul talks about

30:44

living for christ dying is gain when

30:46

paul talks about um

30:48

him

30:49

paul's experience is one where

30:52

one of deep intimacy with jesus

30:54

and i think a lot of his quote unquote

30:57

certainty came out of that intimacy that

30:59

him

31:00

embodied experience where he's he's

31:03

loving and walking with jesus who's

31:05

transformed his life in such a radical

31:06

way that for him is just

31:08

this is it here it is and so i think

31:12

paul's connection to jesus

31:14

brings a lot of the stuff that we talk

31:16

about and that we think about when we

31:18

talk about the apostle paul and his

31:20

doctrine and his theology and what he

31:21

believed when he did and all that stuff

31:23

paul comes off very certain

31:25

right and i think many christians get

31:26

permission from from that to come off as

31:29

very certain but i think it's just a

31:31

result of intimacy with christ

31:33

yeah okay i have three questions for you

31:36

three follow-ups here this is

31:37

interesting none of this was on our

31:39

outline by the way if anybody cares

31:41

um so

31:43

first question would you say that

31:46

the crucifixion and death of jesus would

31:49

have been equally meaningful

31:52

and

31:53

um let's say

31:55

theologically important

31:58

if the resurrection had not happened

32:02

no

32:04

um

32:05

i mean theologically important you said

32:07

i think yeah um

32:09

i mean it's atonement i think you're

32:12

talking about atonement here right i

32:14

mean atonement is a package deal it's

32:15

not like if you if you take the death

32:18

i believe

32:19

and i think this is kind of a scriptural

32:21

atonement theology if you take the death

32:23

of christ away the atonement doesn't

32:25

happen if you take the resurrection away

32:28

full of atonement for sins happens when

32:30

jesus is sacrificed but resurrection and

32:32

new life happens because jesus preceded

32:35

us in that resurrection and new life so

32:37

um

32:38

i mean i think the crucifixion without

32:40

the resurrection is it

32:42

is still the clearest picture we'll ever

32:44

have of who god is and what god's like

32:47

can we say that there's all sorts of

32:48

things you can say about the the

32:49

significance of the crucifixion of

32:51

christ if you take away the resurrection

32:53

but the what what is done for us

32:56

is absolutely not the same without the

32:58

resurrection okay let me ask it a little

33:00

bit differently

33:01

if the story was the same but the

33:03

concrete

33:05

event of the resurrection had not

33:07

happened let's imagine that bart airman

33:09

is correct for example

33:10

and that you know jesus's body was

33:12

stolen or something i don't know if

33:13

that's what he actually thinks but

33:14

people like that you know so there's

33:16

some alternative explanation for the

33:18

empty tomb

33:19

but the story remains the same and is

33:21

handed down through church history the

33:23

same

33:25

do you think that makes a significant

33:26

difference

33:28

difference in what

33:30

in well a couple of things a theological

33:32

difference first but also

33:34

a difference for you as a practitioner

33:37

of the faith

33:38

so

33:40

we have this imaginary scenario where

33:41

i've been

33:42

believing

33:43

in the resurrection the whole time and

33:45

preaching about it and all of a sudden

33:47

somebody comes to me with direct

33:48

evidence that the resurrection really

33:50

didn't happen was a hoax jesus is still

33:51

dead yeah and you're so you're asking if

33:53

that happened to me

33:55

would that change anything would yeah

33:57

would that what would that change for

33:58

you if anything

34:00

i can't answer that uh honestly but

34:03

because let me let me frame that because

34:04

i think that's the same question we're

34:06

dealing with right if

34:08

uh if there's no resurrection for us

34:10

and christianity maintains its integrity

34:14

i don't know what the right word is but

34:15

like it maintains its worthwhileness

34:18

as as a system to be practiced and

34:20

followed and adhered to

34:23

then what couldn't we say the same thing

34:25

about the resurrection of g i mean we

34:26

believe in our resurrection because of

34:28

his right so

34:29

i mean what would change for me is

34:32

the uh the astounding hopefulness i have

34:36

about all of reality about

34:39

where all this is headed about

34:42

the restoration of humanity of

34:44

um

34:45

the restoration of the wrongs that's

34:47

been done to millions and millions and

34:49

millions of people who you know have

34:51

suffered violence and oppression and

34:53

injustice that would change it would

34:54

actually change if there was no

34:55

resurrection um what would not change i

34:58

don't think

34:59

would be me being committed to the way

35:01

of christ and inviting people into it to

35:04

experience

35:05

the life of the trinity or the life of

35:07

the way of christ in the here and now

35:10

because again

35:11

i mean and i think this this bears out

35:13

in my preaching i don't talk about the

35:14

afterlife a ton

35:16

right i don't talk about

35:18

you know

35:20

follow jesus because you're going to go

35:21

to heaven when you die i talk about

35:22

following jesus because it's the best

35:24

way i've talked about following jesus

35:25

because

35:26

the way of jesus fixes what's wrong

35:28

about our world i believe

35:31

am i am i answering yeah yeah that's

35:33

interesting it's funny to me that the

35:36

one of us who is totally fine with

35:38

openly disagreeing with paul ends up i

35:40

think being more conservative on the

35:41

issue this issue than the one who is a

35:43

little hesitant about

35:45

disagreeing with him you don't want to

35:46

disagree with paul i'm fine with it i i

35:48

don't i think i think that i think that

35:51

we actually agree and that he uh

35:54

thinks that resurrection is necessary

35:57

like a concrete event in the future is

35:59

necessary for the meaningfulness or

36:01

worthiness of

36:03

christianity in general but it's just

36:04

funny to me that like you're more

36:06

hesitant about disagreeing with them and

36:08

also you're the one i think

36:09

reinterpreting

36:11

probably yeah

36:12

i mean paul's a real person does i mean

36:14

i know you guys think have had these

36:16

thoughts but i mean i really want to

36:17

know what's behind paul what what's

36:19

behind paul's thinking when he writes

36:21

about women or when he writes about

36:22

sexuality when he writes about you know

36:25

the afterlife when he writes about

36:27

what's important what's not important or

36:28

kicking out the immoral brother all that

36:30

stuff i i want to know

36:31

what was going on around paul that made

36:33

him say that and

36:35

yeah what were his biases and what were

36:37

what was he grumpy about you know and

36:39

what what brought him life i want to

36:41

that's the kind of thing that i think

36:42

about when i yeah in these conversations

36:44

no i love it i love your response it

36:46

wasn't at all what i expected so that's

36:48

that's one of the reasons people just

36:50

left my church

36:52

more heresy after the break

36:56

now can i issue my complaint about the

36:58

framing of this conversation going back

37:00

to

37:01

i think your your initial

37:03

structure was basically uh religion

37:06

can't be trusted to approach with any

37:09

real rational evidence this issue of the

37:12

afterlife

37:15

to which i would say

37:16

in my tradition

37:19

faith is a virtue

37:20

yeah and it seems to be one of those

37:23

things where

37:24

not seeing and believing is actually

37:26

something to be

37:27

upheld jesus kind of said it

37:30

so

37:31

if you say well you don't have any

37:33

rational evidence for that and i say

37:35

i'm supposed to have faith it feels like

37:36

we're entering the conversation through

37:38

different doors and neither of us is

37:40

really going to care what the other

37:41

person has to say at the end of the day

37:43

yeah no that's great

37:45

yeah so i'm i was speaking there on

37:47

behalf of uh mo well i shouldn't even

37:50

say

37:51

most a lot of historical philosophers

37:53

who have been very influential right um

37:55

and i'm trying to explain

37:58

by doing that why

38:00

probably most philosophers nowadays

38:02

including many religious ones

38:04

interestingly

38:06

would reject an afterlife at least in

38:08

the classical sense

38:10

so most philosophers tend to be atheists

38:12

most philosophers tend to be

38:14

physicalists in the sense that they

38:15

believe the world is made of

38:17

atoms indescribable by the laws of

38:18

nature and there's no such thing as a

38:20

soul or a spirit or any disembodied and

38:22

you know immaterial existence to people

38:24

it's all these philosophical reasons

38:26

that

38:27

philosophers have to reject this

38:30

including the epistemic reasons we were

38:32

just going through we just don't have

38:33

sufficient evidence

38:35

but there have been

38:36

a lot of philosophers more recently

38:39

since say the mid 20th century

38:42

who want to make a place for faith

38:44

actually goes back a little further than

38:46

that if you want to include kierkegaard

38:47

who is one of the fathers of

38:48

existentialism although he's kind of an

38:50

outlier in his own tradition um

38:53

who who want to make room for faith in

38:55

the sense that

38:56

it's not

38:58

it's not an irrational disposition you

39:00

don't have to sacrifice your intellect

39:02

to be a person of faith

39:04

but it's also

39:06

not motivated just by reason it's

39:08

something that happens after reason has

39:10

kind of run its course

39:11

kind of what james is doing because

39:13

james wanted to make make space for

39:15

religious faith too he just thought you

39:17

know faith can kind of pick up where

39:20

the evidence runs out

39:22

when the evidence points in a direction

39:24

i have a responsibility

39:26

but when it doesn't and the question is

39:28

still live and important and has

39:29

concrete practical consequences

39:32

then faith picks up there i think that's

39:34

a pretty healthy way of thinking about

39:36

faith it's not the full story of course

39:38

but i don't think of faith as being

39:40

something contrary to reason i think of

39:42

it as

39:43

being something that goes beyond the

39:45

balance of the reason in the sense that

39:47

it involves

39:49

action

39:50

right it involves practice it involves

39:53

putting my trust

39:55

in a being or a group of people or an

39:57

institution maybe

39:58

to behave in a certain way towards me

40:02

beyond what i have good evidence to

40:04

guarantee

40:06

right will happen not now i have some

40:08

evidence

40:09

i believe that

40:10

afterlife is possible

40:12

all right i have these stories from the

40:14

new testament

40:16

that's some evidence and i don't think

40:18

it's necessarily even defeated evidence

40:19

like overcome by other better evidence

40:22

i think that the people who testify to

40:24

jesus resurrection were probably telling

40:26

the truth

40:27

and that gives me some reason to believe

40:29

it but it also like really directly

40:31

contradicts all of my other experience

40:33

so i also have some reasons to be

40:35

suspicious of it a little bit

40:37

um and so i think the evidence there is

40:39

indecisive

40:40

doesn't point firmly in one direction or

40:42

another so i think there's room for

40:43

faith in that sense i can

40:45

trust that if god exists and loves me

40:49

then this is something he would want my

40:51

continued existence with him you know as

40:54

me and he wouldn't uh allow this thing

40:57

to happen where

40:59

a whole tradition is based on a promise

41:01

that ultimately wasn't a promise

41:02

you know but but but i also admit that

41:04

that's

41:05

that's something i'm choosing to believe

41:07

at the end of the day i think that's

41:08

what faith is it's something you're

41:09

choosing to believe not on the basis of

41:12

bad evidence but

41:14

on the basis of trust in the character

41:16

of a person

41:17

so and there are a lot of philosophers

41:18

who want to who want to incorporate that

41:20

into

41:22

into their philosophical practice

41:24

that that's not the majority

41:27

but they're out there for sure so

41:29

yeah i don't want to discount that does

41:31

that help at all yeah yeah i mean here's

41:34

why i'm perfectly okay with you know

41:36

your tree ties the first thing that you

41:38

said

41:39

that philosophers

41:40

don't think religious people should

41:43

get to be the authority on the afterlife

41:45

i'm completely comfortable with it

41:47

because it's probably true from an

41:49

intellectual

41:50

in reason perspective

41:52

from a logical perspective um my

41:56

faith in the afterlife is not based on

41:59

concrete evidence or logic or you know

42:02

reason the reason i believe in it is

42:04

because

42:05

of all the reasons that i still choose

42:06

to give authority in my life to the

42:08

bible in some way shape or form the the

42:10

reason is because

42:11

i see the way of jesus and it's just so

42:14

strikingly the best way i've ever seen

42:15

to to live that it makes me trust the

42:18

the other stuff more you know and it's

42:20

kind of like this thing that you build

42:22

and so it leads me to this place where i

42:23

say i can still listen to you and still

42:25

listen to all these philosophers and say

42:27

that's great and it makes sense actually

42:30

but i still choose to believe in the

42:31

afterlife in afterlife i still choose to

42:33

believe in a resurrection and it really

42:36

is helpful for me and here's where i

42:37

think

42:39

i mean i think

42:41

this fits within the scripture the

42:42

narrative of the scriptures i mean you

42:44

have matthew i believe it's matthew 28

42:47

where matthew's putting a bow on his

42:48

gospel

42:49

and jesus is about to ascend into heaven

42:52

and matthew says hey we all went up to

42:54

this you know this top of this hill hung

42:56

out with jesus resurrected jesus right

43:00

we all saw him die we know he he died he

43:02

was dead and all the stuff we're hanging

43:04

out with jesus now and it still says but

43:07

some still doubted yeah that's one of

43:10

the most hilarious verses in the bible

43:12

that i know of that you're hanging out

43:14

with the resurrected jesus and some

43:16

people are looking at it and be like

43:17

nah

43:19

nah didn't i don't believe it i'm seeing

43:21

an aberration um

43:23

matthew included that for one thing

43:24

that's incredible if we even if we

43:26

believe in the inspiration of the

43:27

scriptures

43:29

god saw fit to include people's raw

43:31

process of being face to face with the

43:32

resurrected jesus and still saying

43:34

i don't buy it you know but it just

43:36

tells me this conversation has a place

43:39

and we can actually work it out together

43:41

and i can still

43:43

choose to believe in afterlife and

43:44

resurrection in the face of a really

43:45

brilliant philosopher and i'm not

43:47

talking about you i'm just saying a

43:48

hypothetical one who doesn't believe in

43:50

it

43:50

because you believe like you choose to

43:52

believe in the afterlife i think more

43:53

than not um and i could be looking in

43:56

the face of a philosopher who thinks i'm

43:58

foolish for it but i can stay that's

44:00

fine but i still choose to believe it

44:02

yeah yeah that's that's one of the

44:04

things i love most i think about the new

44:07

testament and it always gave me solace

44:10

when i was struggling through

44:12

what i thought about these things was

44:13

that it includes stories like that it

44:14

includes thomas you know it makes makes

44:16

kind of a point actually out of

44:18

including thomas and his doubts and

44:20

that becomes an important part of church

44:22

tradition as well and yeah i always

44:24

identified with that i get it if i was

44:26

there and saw it i would still wonder

44:28

that some kierkegaard wrestles with too

44:30

if people that were contemporary with

44:32

christ had any leg up on anybody else

44:34

and he thought they didn't

44:37

because because there's only so much

44:38

like direct perceptual evidence or any

44:40

kind of objective evidence can do

44:43

in relation to faith

44:45

it can get you so far but it's just as

44:47

likely to get in the way

44:49

because you're going to end up believing

44:51

for the wrong reasons if if the point of

44:53

the whole thing is to open yourself up

44:55

in an ethical way in a personal way

44:58

to this other being who has demands on

45:00

you and how you should live

45:02

then the objective evidence for you know

45:04

what's the concrete truth what's really

45:05

going to happen blah blah blah blah

45:07

that's just as likely to distract you

45:09

from the point as it is to get you there

45:11

that was kierkegaard's whole thing so

45:13

um so yeah i always loved the emphasis

45:15

on you know it's okay to doubt that

45:17

doesn't like disqualify you from the

45:19

point of this

45:21

which is to have a relationship with

45:23

this person and to behave in the way

45:25

that this person

45:26

told you to be

45:28

you know

45:29

and demonstrated yeah i think

45:31

i mean i really i agree with that and i

45:33

think um

45:36

i think a lot of

45:38

faith crises could potentially be a

45:40

little bit smoother

45:42

if we really just drilled down

45:45

again to like why we believe why are we

45:47

why am i on this faith journey and why

45:49

do i say yes to jesus

45:51

and there's i think there's better

45:52

answers than others right i don't think

45:54

all answers are equal and i think the

45:57

more we can drill down and say but if

45:59

this wasn't real would you still follow

46:01

jesus

46:02

and if this wasn't real would you still

46:03

follow if you can keep going down the

46:04

line and just say

46:06

at the end of the day i just

46:08

i like

46:09

jesus and what he's what he said or what

46:11

this person wrote down that this pretend

46:13

jesus person said

46:16

it just works it works and the world

46:18

would be better for it if we followed it

46:20

if that's our baseline then

46:24

then we got a lot of freedom to have

46:26

these conversations and to not feel so

46:28

insecure and i feel like many of us

46:31

we feel like we have to hold on to the

46:33

certainty of afterlife where we have to

46:35

hold on to the certainty of the

46:36

inspiration and fallibility and error in

46:38

inerrancy of the scriptures you can go

46:40

on down the line

46:41

because we've been given this this

46:43

really fragile faith

46:45

that if one aspect of it crumbles then

46:47

the rest of it does too and we can't

46:49

trust it nothing can be trusted if you

46:51

know i can go on down the line that's

46:53

just not a really healthy way to

46:56

construct a faith and many of us were

46:57

given it it wasn't our choice

46:59

it's just it was given to us it was

47:02

built for us we were indoctrinated let's

47:04

be honest

47:05

and now it's our jobs to

47:07

let go of some of that stuff and to

47:09

really ask questions of why do i follow

47:11

jesus why am i following in this way why

47:13

do i think in this way

47:15

these are they shouldn't be like well

47:16

they are earth-shattering questions but

47:19

we should make space for them

47:21

just like

47:23

what happens when we die

47:24

yeah

47:26

so let's talk a little bit about

47:29

misconceptions

47:31

so can i take this a little more in the

47:34

objective direction here

47:37

a lots of christians believe lots of

47:39

things about the afterlife and um many

47:42

of them as you said are

47:45

there are better and worse ways to

47:46

picture this and there are better and

47:48

worse ways to justify your views of this

47:50

so what are some big misconceptions that

47:52

you think christians have about what the

47:54

afterlife is like or why we should think

47:56

it's that way or maybe things that uh

47:59

a lot of people think are in the bible

48:00

but aren't or you know think are in the

48:02

christian tradition or aren't can you

48:03

think of anything

48:06

yep

48:07

um

48:08

i mean

48:09

our our understanding of the afterlife

48:12

and by that i mean

48:15

what heaven is like or what hell is like

48:18

those two things were mostly constructed

48:21

by non-biblical sources

48:24

so that's a problem

48:25

right like what do you mean what do you

48:27

mean let's give a little detail there

48:28

okay so let's start with

48:30

hell this is this is the easy one um

48:34

hell the word hell i don't even know if

48:36

it's actually in the bible there's all

48:38

sorts of different

48:39

words greek and hebrew words for whether

48:42

it's gehenna or whether it's tartarus or

48:45

whether it's there's a there's an

48:47

many words that are used for this what

48:49

we have now is this idea of hell

48:51

but the the concept that we have of

48:53

health fire and brimstone

48:55

um

48:56

all the nastiness it's either in the

48:58

bible it's either a metaphor for a

49:00

literal place in outside of jerusalem

49:02

called gehenna which was a place where

49:04

they would have this fire that doesn't

49:06

go out it's the dump it's the town dump

49:07

outside of jerusalem and it's always

49:09

used in this metaphorical way to say

49:11

this is what happens if you don't follow

49:13

jesus you get kind of thrown into the

49:15

the dump that's good for nothing

49:18

that's metaphorical language i mean

49:20

they're using a literal place it'd be

49:22

like if we named our town dump right

49:24

over here and then you call that you use

49:26

that name for hell right it my cup yeah

49:30

okay

49:31

but the ideas of fire and brimstone and

49:34

um

49:35

are our clear

49:36

things that we think about when we think

49:38

about a pet from hell came mostly from

49:40

dante

49:41

um came mostly from dante's vision of

49:43

hell and all of the angry wrath and

49:46

judgment all that stuff yeah um so

49:47

that's one

49:49

and you might be

49:50

just wiggling in your car seat right now

49:53

and really angry at me

49:55

but just go through the scriptures do

49:56

some scriptural reflection you'll find

49:58

that all of our language about hell is

50:00

metaphorical um

50:02

second thing the idea of heaven has

50:05

gotten

50:06

super

50:07

weird to you know where we have these

50:10

mythological pictures of floating around

50:12

in clouds and you know living in

50:14

candyland and we get to pick our own

50:16

paradise or whatever it's our choose

50:17

your own adventure

50:18

um

50:19

all of that is as well is not scriptural

50:22

yeah it's just not at all the only thing

50:24

that we get about

50:25

maybe one of the only things that we get

50:26

about heaven is jesus saying to the

50:28

thief on the cross today you'll be with

50:30

me in paradise yeah and then we get

50:32

revelation we get pictures of

50:34

saints waiting for

50:36

judgment to happen to be released what's

50:38

a better picture scripturally

50:41

of heaven

50:42

is kind of maybe a

50:44

a waiting pla a place where you wait for

50:46

the resurrection to happen a place where

50:48

perhaps you go paradise with jesus all

50:51

that good stuff but that's not the end

50:53

of the story yet the end of the story is

50:55

resurrection the end of the story is new

50:56

creation the end of the story is

50:58

revelation 20 21 20 all this stuff um

51:01

am i being clear yeah yeah there's

51:02

something in t wright writes about a lot

51:04

right yes

51:05

yes that's his stuff i'm borrowing it

51:07

yeah yeah the idea that uh

51:10

the kingdom of heaven is something that

51:12

jesus inaugurated and you know started

51:14

and when he was here and then it was

51:15

always intended to be a physical thing

51:17

an embodied thing a thing on this planet

51:20

it's now and

51:23

right that makes a big difference right

51:25

because if you think of heaven or hell

51:27

either one as

51:29

something somewhere else then you you

51:31

know it lessens your responsibility that

51:33

you have towards this place and what we

51:36

do to it so it says ecological

51:38

consequences

51:40

yes absolutely i mean

51:41

a prominent pastor said you know a few

51:43

years ago said who cares if i drive a

51:45

humongous suv and burn up the ozone

51:48

layer because this is all burning up and

51:49

in the end anyways yeah that's what

51:51

happens when you have bad scriptural

51:52

reflection yeah

51:54

maybe sometime we'll talk about where

51:56

they where they get that yeah sure why

51:58

they read the bible that way so that's

51:59

just an example of bad ideas within

52:02

chris and dumb about afterlife that's

52:04

really not scriptural yeah on that

52:07

that idea that um

52:09

there's like this disembodied state when

52:11

we die right where

52:13

yeah maybe there's a resurrection out

52:14

there in the future somewhere but i feel

52:16

like a lot of christians maybe even most

52:18

when they think about an afterlife

52:19

they're thinking of

52:20

something like a ghost

52:22

right so some kind of existence where i

52:24

have my consciousness and i have my

52:25

memories and i have my thoughts

52:28

but my body is changed or different or

52:29

maybe non-existent

52:31

and and realizing that that's not in the

52:33

bible and that it that it wasn't even a

52:36

very prominent idea in church history

52:38

right i mean there were debates about

52:39

this sort of thing through the middle

52:41

ages and

52:42

aquinas for example who was an

52:44

aristotelian thought that

52:46

look we're embodied creatures and so we

52:48

need a body to exist and

52:50

so when the body decays that's the end

52:53

of our existence and so if there's going

52:55

to be something in the interim it's

52:56

going to be a miracle of god that we

52:58

can't in principle understand right um

53:01

not not saying he couldn't do that

53:03

couldn't preserve that but like

53:05

the future hope of the church the thing

53:08

that's enshrined in the creed has always

53:10

been a re-embodied existence something

53:12

physical something on this planet in

53:15

this in this world yep and yeah i find

53:18

my my students who are religious have no

53:20

no concept of that

53:22

they think of themselves as disembodied

53:23

spirits which is interesting sure

53:25

and i will say another

53:27

i think extra biblical

53:29

concept that most

53:31

most protestant american christians hold

53:34

is the idea of

53:35

eternal conscious torment

53:39

when you see it in the bible and

53:40

everyone who's trying to defend that in

53:42

their heads right now as i say that is

53:44

thinking about you know g the scripture

53:45

is saying where you know

53:47

where the worm never dies and you know

53:49

blah blah blah

53:50

that's metaphorical language friends

53:52

it's 100 metaphorical language and you

53:55

don't find it all over the scriptures

53:56

it's rare

53:58

i think eternal conscious torment is a

54:00

unbiblical and b now if you believe in

54:03

eternal conscious torment and it seems

54:05

to be important to you right now

54:07

that's okay i love you we can be friends

54:09

we can talk

54:10

but i do think it's a terrible doctrine

54:13

that paints got into being a monster and

54:15

i'm not interested in a god who wants to

54:17

torture people for eternity

54:19

yeah i'm of the opinion that the problem

54:21

of evil is hard enough let's not have

54:23

doctrines that make it worse yeah

54:26

and i think i think john the apostle

54:28

john is with with me on that and uh i

54:31

think

54:32

i think all of it is yeah um

54:34

but again that's something that we need

54:36

to wrestle with and we need to

54:39

reckon with and hold that maybe these

54:41

things that we see is so essential to

54:44

the faith

54:46

when you actually ask where do you find

54:47

that in the bible and when you actually

54:48

consider how it's said and what

54:51

what genre it's written in and all that

54:53

stuff yeah then all of a sudden it gets

54:55

a little bit less concrete and we can

54:57

have these conversations and hold these

54:58

spaces yeah

55:00

i will say that kind of returning to

55:02

what we were talking about before

55:03

that

55:04

afterlife and resurrection feel

55:06

essential to me whether whether there's

55:09

like a good historical case to be made

55:11

or biblical case or or even

55:13

philosophical like they feel essential

55:16

so what do you mean like

55:18

they're a huge part of my motivation to

55:19

be a christian there

55:21

there's something that i would be

55:23

um

55:25

i don't know the idea that they're not

55:28

true and that christianity ultimately is

55:32

a kind of ethic

55:34

a really good one maybe the best one

55:37

that

55:38

is deeply disturbing to me it makes me

55:41

it makes me think

55:43

it makes me feel like i should say that

55:45

i've wasted a huge chunk of my life and

55:48

that i'm probably going to waste a lot

55:49

more of it

55:51

so i i'm wondering

55:53

how do you how does it strike you

55:56

just psychologically emotionally when

55:58

you think

56:00

that

56:01

when you acknowledge as you have done

56:02

that

56:03

believing in an afterlife believing in a

56:05

resurrection believing that you'll be

56:07

you know reunited with loved ones that

56:09

you'll see jesus face to face all the

56:10

things

56:11

that that's a choice

56:15

what does that do psychologically for

56:16

you because it's super hard for me i got

56:18

to be honest

56:19

something i do it's something that i

56:20

find inevitable actually right because i

56:23

i'm of the opinion that you can't make

56:25

yourself believe things that you don't

56:27

believe there's evidence for so if i

56:28

believe as i do that the evidence is

56:31

inconclusive then

56:33

i can't make myself believe that it's

56:34

not and so i simply don't have the

56:36

confidence i used to possess

56:38

so i find myself saying things like you

56:40

know if somebody asks me if i believe in

56:42

a resurrection or whatever

56:44

i'll flippantly say something like well

56:46

it depends on the day of the week

56:48

which is a you know an offhanded way of

56:51

wriggling out of the question because

56:52

it's really

56:53

difficult yeah

56:55

yeah i mean first of all this is getting

56:58

to be quite depressing

57:01

so

57:02

thanks for hanging with us friends um

57:05

yeah it would be deeply disappointing i

57:06

mean

57:07

profoundly disappointing if resurrection

57:10

wasn't a real thing jesus isn't alive

57:13

and um

57:14

and but i can't speak to what that would

57:17

do to me

57:18

because of a loss of a loved one because

57:20

i haven't lost someone who

57:22

means that much to me i mean i have no

57:24

surviving grandparents all this stuff

57:26

but i haven't lost a parent and i

57:27

haven't lost a spouse and i haven't lost

57:29

my kids

57:30

um so come back to me

57:32

you know hopefully long long time from

57:33

now when yeah when those things happen

57:34

and i could answer that honestly because

57:36

i can't right now but i would say

57:38

the thing that i really hold to

57:41

with the resurrection that

57:43

why i want the resurrection to be real

57:45

so desperately is because again of the

57:48

way it helps me to interact with the

57:50

world around me and the brokenness that

57:52

i see it's the only thing that gives me

57:55

hope it's not the only thing but it's a

57:57

it's the biggest thing that gives me

57:58

hope and it's the biggest thing that

58:00

makes me think

58:01

that little girl who

58:03

was tortured and you know or

58:06

circumcised in africa and you know all

58:10

she knew her four years of life

58:12

was awful torture and then she died

58:16

it give the only reason that i have hope

58:18

in the the

58:20

the reason that i think that can be a

58:22

story can be redeemed is because of the

58:23

resurrection because that those wrongs

58:25

will be rewrited and that to me is the

58:28

idea of judgment in the book of

58:29

revelation where god sets all the wrongs

58:31

to write

58:32

and

58:34

and brings that vengeance of the holy

58:36

one

58:37

that stuff to me would be profoundly

58:39

disappointing if the resurrection isn't

58:41

a real thing um

58:43

because then redemption

58:45

only happens in this life and it just

58:47

doesn't happen enough does that make

58:48

sense yeah

58:53

but i do believe in the resurrection and

58:55

i believe in it

58:58

right now

59:00

really strongly

59:02

and i see hints of the resurrection i

59:05

see signposts as nt wright would say of

59:07

the resurrection

59:08

on a regular basis and i think

59:11

i think you could say objectively even

59:14

the world is getting better

59:16

over the course course of human history

59:20

particularly in the last 2000 years and

59:22

we could do that

59:24

on a statistical data-based methodology

59:28

and say actually the world is getting

59:29

better and i think resurrection in new

59:32

creation the reason reason for that is

59:34

jesus is alive and this is all heading

59:37

somewhere good that all things are being

59:38

made new by

59:40

the holy one of israel so we like to end

59:42

our podcast these days with some version

59:45

of the question what's a better way so i

59:47

think the the version of that that's

59:48

relevant here is

59:50

how should christians be thinking and

59:51

talking about afterlife that is distinct

59:54

from the way they

59:56

have been

59:57

because we both grew up in traditions

59:58

where there was certainty about these

60:00

things and there was heaven and it was

60:02

going to be like this and there was hell

60:03

and it was going to be like that and we

60:04

knew specifically who was going to go

60:05

there and who wasn't you know um and

60:07

it's we're all very sure of it and then

60:10

stuff that we have to deconstruct later

60:12

and that kind of you know drives you

60:14

into despair when you realize probably

60:16

at a funeral that

60:18

gosh i'm saying these things but i'm not

60:19

sure

60:20

so what do you think is a better way to

60:22

talk about these things in our churches

60:25

i mean i wouldn't be having this

60:27

conversation if i didn't think it was a

60:28

healthy conversation to have and a

60:30

healthy thing to consider i wouldn't

60:33

like i would ask us to not air this

60:35

episode so i think this kind of

60:37

conversation is a healthy one um coming

60:40

to a place like we've uh

60:43

a chorus on this podcast a couple of

60:46

courses one is epistemic humility yeah

60:49

and i think we do well to just deal with

60:51

it with less certainty and to reckon

60:53

with the fact that the reason that we

60:55

believe in the afterlife is because we

60:56

believe in the afterlife we don't know

60:59

can't know um

61:00

and

61:01

i think

61:02

dealing with less

61:04

sorry

61:05

i gotta rethink i just said certainty

61:08

there was another thing two things that

61:09

i had in mind

61:10

oh no i said epistemic humility

61:12

certainty is out okay

61:14

and

61:15

this idea of certainty we would do well

61:18

to to just wash it

61:20

from from our consciousness from our

61:22

belief system from our faith journey all

61:24

that stuff

61:26

and i still think that you know holding

61:28

something humbly with less certainty but

61:30

with

61:31

still

61:32

i can i think i can in this moment say

61:34

the same amount of faith i believe in

61:36

the resurrection the same amount is when

61:38

we started this conversation as i do now

61:41

because i'm because i know that that's a

61:42

choice and that's a that's that's a

61:44

thing that i put faith in

61:46

and there's more reasons than that but

61:48

that's really it

61:49

and i think those are healthy

61:50

conversations to have

61:52

um i want to give my kids i've said this

61:54

a couple times but i'll say it again

61:57

me and my wife are trying to give our

61:58

kids a spirituality that doesn't have to

62:00

be deconstructed when they turn 22 or

62:03

18. and i think these kind of kind of

62:05

conversations and saying

62:08

when when my kids ask what happened

62:09

happens to grandma when she dies saying

62:11

well we don't know

62:13

but here's what we think and here's what

62:15

the bible says here's what

62:17

you know we believe

62:18

that's a better way to frame it than

62:20

saying with certainty here's what

62:22

happens when grandma dies here's what

62:24

happens when dad dies

62:25

i guess i'm just trying to imagine like

62:27

what would i have wanted my pastor to

62:29

have said instead of what he did say

62:31

when i was you know

62:32

what did your pastor say whatever

62:35

well i had a slew of different pastors

62:37

one of them i think my earliest was

62:39

would have been honest but i was already

62:41

out of his church by the time i was

62:42

asking these questions

62:44

so i had southern baptist pastors and

62:45

pentecostal pastors who presented false

62:49

confidence

62:52

because i'm about to have a kid

62:54

and he's going to ask me about these

62:56

things someday

62:58

presumably

63:00

and probably early if he takes after me

63:03

and

63:04

i'd like to have a response that doesn't

63:06

crush him

63:12

i don't know how's getting emotional

63:16

it's amazing what parenting will do to

63:17

you one of those times i wish kyle was

63:18

parenting ahead of us instead of

63:20

behind us

63:24

i regret that in my like i still believe

63:26

in the resurrection i call jesus the

63:27

holy one of israel i want to take back

63:29

on that one

63:31

i don't like that i don't think i even

63:33

caught that

63:35

and i said it i was like oh god do you

63:36

want to just say el shaddai

63:42

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