An Experience Guaranteed To Change Any Atheist

No one sees life in the right perspective until we see it from its end. In order for a life of significance to be achieved, we must see life itself from its end. This story will help.

The 19th century novelist Fyodor Dostoyevski experienced this first hand. He was imprisoned and condemned to 8 years of hard labor. After being in custody for a time, his sentence was changed to execution by firing squad. He was marched with other condemned prisoners through snow on a cold day to the beat of a death march on the drums. He watched the priest administer last rites to the three guys in front of him. He would be next. The men were then marched forward and tied to a stake. Their eyes were covered, the firing squad took aim, but nothing happened. Amazingly, the drums sounded a retreat, the rifles were lowered, and Dostoyevski and others were spared.

Dostoyevski was changed. He wrote a letter to his brother: “When I look back on my past and think how much time has been lost in futilities, errors, laziness, incapacity to live; how little I appreciated it…” By seeing life from its end, Dostoyevski was changed.

When an atheist or anyone for that matter, sees life from its end, they never are the same. Death actually gives meaning to today. It awakens us out of the sluggishness of everyday life, out of shallow idealogies, out of apathetic spiritual interests, and out of our intellectual pride. Without death, we would squander life, would not appreciate our years, and would never cherish the meaning of today.

Like they say at the end of the movie, Tuck Everlasting: “Do not fear death; fear rather the unlived life. You don’t have to live forever, you just have to live.” And living is not possible, true living, until we see life from its end; and when you do, you will never be the same.



Filed under Atheism, Atheist, Death, Life Purpose

24 responses to “An Experience Guaranteed To Change Any Atheist

  1. I’m unconvinced to say the very least.
    Faced with death, the ol’ self preservation instinct goes into overdrive and starts trying to grasp onto anything that will improve the immediate chances of survival.

    That’s it.

  2. But this was more than survival. With the crisis past, Fyoder lived differently; he saw life from its end.

    Absolutely convinced that his life was going to end, he had to face his own mortality. When life was given back to him, it wasn’t survival then – it was more about if I ever face that situation again I want to know that I’ve given my life to those things that really mattered. And that’s what he did and what most atheists would do, if they faced a similar situation.

  3. A near death experience would certainly bring my appreciation for life into sharper focus, but it wouldn’t make me delude myself about the reality of death.

    I’m confused by the title of this post. I don’t see why you think this sort of thing would convince someone that something existed after death.


  4. It’s not so much that I’m presenting an argument for life after death; it’s more about “life before death.” (Although, I do believe that we are body and spirit and that life continues on after death, even though a body may cease to function. Plus, there is One who died and came back to tell us about it – so yes, there is life after death, but this is more about life.)

    When we have an experience like Dostoevsky, though, it forces our hand at life’s deeper questions: how have I lived? what have I given myself too? what “explanations” ;o) have I been preoccupied with? what questions have I helped answer? have I given myself to what really mattered? what is better because i lived? who is better because I lived? did i strive after the right things? did i chase after the important things in life, like love, service, beauty, justice, joy, peace, community, etc… The reality is – someday, we will die and our family will probably sell our most prized possessions at a garage sale for a dollar! But we inevitably ask these questions (some pretend that they don’t but we know better). Who put the questions there? Why this obsession with significance, with eternity? Why does life and legacy and meaning matter to us so much?

    I suggest that the one primary reason that life and these questions matter is: God. If God exists and my life is evaluated someday, then how I live today matters. The very concept of God as a discussion point and a topic of debate among we humans, is strong evidence that God exists. If He truly didn’t exist, we wouldn’t even know to have the debate. It would be a non-issue. We would live and bury, live and bury, and never question. But that’s not what we do. We have “eternity” written into our hearts.

    Convincing people that God doesn’t exist, or stale-mating on your spiritual journey because God didn’t make you happy with more evidence, or denying the very concept that stands behind the beauty, love, justice in our world is not going to cut it when we like Dostoevsky face that moment when life on earth as we know it comes to an end.

    Atheism can’t answer the deeper questions of life. As a worldview (and it is a worldview), it is not livable and it is not true to what we know about human experience.

  5. aforcier

    Hi Joey,

    i thought i would come and see what you were up to.

    It seem to me that you are always trying to convice your mind that there should be a “God”. – for the dude from heaven does not come down to his favorite planet very often and say “Hey, look at me , I’m here”.

    Yes, every person facing death wants to take another breath of air. It why we do not see the “i can’t wait to go to heaven and meet with the lord” crowd too anxious to exist good old earth.

    Death occurs to all things that exist. Period.

    It is – NATURAL – life that all forms, all beings, are attached to, including yourself, Joey.

    Even though tickets for good seats in heaven are sold every day to the multitudes – about the afterlife, no one, honestly, knows anything.

  6. Hope the “log”is still working. ;o) Where I live, it’s really cold right now, so I am having to settle for a Lazyboy.

    I said nothing about “I can’t wait to go to heaven.” In fact, eventually heaven is wedded to earth. What we see and you enjoy so much here on earth, is a preview, an echo of what is to come. Aim for earth only, and you miss heaven. Aim for heaven, and you get the earth thrown in for free.

  7. aforcier

    We have a choice to make here.

    This is like being married to one person and desiring another one. For the present one is only an echo of the bliss the second one will bring us!

    Does not work to well.

    You cannot have your eyes (senses) on earth and in heaven.

    and the scars of earth shows humanity’s disassotiated state of mind.

    Nice that you appreciate your earthly “lazyboy”. Now if you could only connect all of your senses to earth…

  8. There is in every human heart a longing for home. One author even described it as being “homesick at home.” No experience on earth even by image-bearing human beings can satisfy the deep longing we have to be finally home. God has placed a homing device deeply embedded inside your heart that longs for this day.

    Don’t think of it as rejection one wife in favor of another. Think of it as one world merging with another to create a whole series of relationships that surpasses the most intimate relationship that we can imagine – marriage.

  9. aforcier

    Joey, perhaps, this longing for “the” real home is the harshest price the “religious’ mind has to pay for its escapades in irreality.

    the day i realized that home was were i was, i stopped longing.

    I have never felt better.

    I am at the center of the “source”.

  10. What are you talking about?

    There is in every human heart a longing for home.

    Prove it. Never heard of nor experienced any such thing.

  11. That entry actually proves nothing. You used no sources or evidence of any sort; nothing but a rather vague statement by CS Lewis who really isn’t an expert on … well, anything but writing fiction.
    I suggest you try again.

  12. First, prove to me that heaven and/or god exists then we can actually start talking about what heaven might be like.
    Ah, that’s right … you can’t.

  13. I’ve been sending a few folks here for basics on epistemology.

    We come to know things in 3 ways…personal experience, revelation, and scientific investigation. One method of “knowing” is inadequate: it takes all three to address what we know.

    Heaven exists; it’s been revealed by One who is historically verifiable.

  14. Personal experience is not a reliable way to ‘know things’. If it was, all those insane people in asylums really would be Julius Caesar or Napoleon.

    Revelation … nope. For pretty much similar reasons.

    Scientific Investigation. Now you’re onto something but sadly it doesn’t support your case, it tends to support mine. Guess I win.

  15. It’s not about anybody winning anything. It’s about truth. You will never know all that you need to know merely by scientific investigation.

    God is life and reconnecting fallen humanity back to Him is one of the key purposes of this blog. If you will exercise a “full epistemology” (read the link I already gave you again), you will find the truth to be far better than winning a debate.

  16. aforcier

    to understand. to know. to know how to understand.

    we know …. when …. thoughts, dream, even facts add up to…. “revelation”. Suddenly something is sensed known. but is the known true? funily enough, to nature it does not matter. yet we go about our revelations as if they were matters of life or death. (and they are). like every thing else our revelations exist for a moment or two and then they vaporize.

    what we knew ages.

    i know, joey, that you will say that “God” is the truth. ageless. immutable. eternal. but that is your personal cup of revelation. and you cultivate it. and feed it. and defend it. for it is the essence of your existence.

    but it too is a revelation bound to the great void that is left behind as time passes by.

  17. You strike me as a poetic-mystic – someone being true to their humanity, but with a twinge of existentialism and pantheism thrown in (with a little “happy juice” to top things off at times ;o)

    God has self-disclosed beyond “my personal cup.” Does God exist? The evidence certainly points in that direction. Has he self-disclosed? Yes – his fingerprints are all over the Cosmos. Then, what can I learn about God and his self-disclosure. As I’ve said before, He who is beyond explanation, explains. What He has revealed makes sense of the world; not that it all has to be understood, but a larger story emerges as the Divine Suspect shows his hand in nature and the written word. It’s an enduring revelation – no evaporation here.

    The Word, “now in flesh appearing” (John 1). This is not a vapor, a vision, a spirit – “in flesh” appearing – a real human being – the God-Man, much more than a Gnostic apparition.

  18. aforcier

    ok joey,

    i have the occasional glass of beer and wine. and don’t do drugs. i am a conscious and sober entity.

    the – mysticism – is brought upon by having a deep connection (acceptance) of the world – as it is.

    the mind is free my friend.

    to go back to (john 1). what is the “word”? and what a beautiful thought when interpretting “word” as being energy becoming flesh … like you, and me.

  19. God has spoken through a creative word (the world), a written word (the Bible), and a living Word (Jesus Christ). John 1 is a play off of Genesis 1. As in Genesis, all things were spoken into existence and Adam and Eve were created; in John, a new creation has begun, a living Word has arrived, only this New Creation is “God in flesh appearing.” A New Adam, a new humanity – wherein our humanity and natural world was embraced.

    Flesh is a very crude way for John to reference Christ; he was writing about 40 or 50 years after the incarnational life of Christ. Many were denying the bodily existence of Jesus. John heads this off in no uncertain terms. “Flesh” – something touchable, feelable, seeable.

  20. aforcier

    in john 1 you have the – natural – world of essence becoming substance.

    now the other way around; moving from – natural -substance to essence. a quote from st thomas (i paraphrase):

    “cut a piece of wood and – there in – you will find me.” (jesus)

    now joey, have a cup of green tea. natural of course. and receive nature’s essence. think of no god. just of the tea.

  21. But I don’t like tea. And the Gospel of Thomas (a Gnostic gospel) cannot be trusted.

    Honestly, I think we have lost our sense of mystery, and quite frankly, you seem to be passionate about recovering at least some of this. I give you that. You are a very spiritual person in that you pursue this aspect of life, rather than deny it.

    But mystery without orthodoxy leads to heresy. Orthodoxy without mystery leads to fanaticism.

    Lose yourself in the mystery…yes…but keep both feet on the ground.

  22. Babu

    thats how fyodor sees life, from the vantage point of death.

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