Sunday, April 12, 2020

The lesson of the Resurrection

The lesson of the Resurrection is that the significance of our bodily life and its sufferings should be neither overstated nor understated.  It is to see the middle ground between materialism and Platonism.  In our decadent sensualist age, the anti-materialist message is perhaps the more obvious one.  The secularist can see no fate worse than unfulfilled earthly ambitions, unhappy marriages, unpaid bills, poor health, and the deathbed.  And no greater good than the avoidance of such things.  Woody Allen captures the mindset well: “Life is full of misery, loneliness, and suffering – and it’s all over much too soon.” 

This is pathetic.  Whether your hero is Socrates, St. Polycarp, or that glorious mashup of both, St. Justin Martyr, you know that there is no one so blind as he who cannot see the perpetuity beyond our three score and ten.  Death ends only our time in the waiting room.  Some waiting rooms are excruciatingly boring and uncomfortable.  Some are so filled with entertainments that you’re disappointed when it’s time to leave.  Either way, they’re just waiting rooms, and so is this life.

But that is not because we have immortal souls, and it is not because worldly things don’t matter.  To be sure, we do have immortal souls, and worldly things don’t matter in themselves.  But an immortal soul is not a person, full stop.  It is the remnant of a person, and the loss of its body is a grave injury rather than a liberation.  And the soul’s perpetual port-mortem character is determined by what we did and what we suffered in this life. 

This is where the anti-Platonic message comes in.  We are embodied by nature rather than by accident.  The soul is not whole without the flesh.  Nor is it destined to be purged of all traces of the individual that lived and breathed and suffered and died, like the impersonal atman of Hinduism.  The lesson of the Resurrection is not that death is not the end of your soul.  It is that death is not the end of you as an embodied individual.  And it tells us, not that the sufferings of this life will be forgotten, but that they will be redeemed.  A perpetual good will be drawn out of a finite harm, like wine out of water. 

The resurrected Christ carries his wounds perpetually, as trophies, Aquinas tells us.  They are like the scar that an athlete wouldn’t dream of correcting through cosmetic surgery, lest he be deprived of a reminder of what he has earned.  Similarly, the lesson of the Resurrection is that the broken heart you suffer now, the smashing of your worldly hopes, the pain of a loved one’s death or of your own failing body – the memory of all of that will, after death, be like one of Christ’s wounds.  It will take on a radically different character, and indeed be seen for what it always truly was, part of the purging and perfecting of a spiritual athlete. 

For those who love God, anyway.  For there is a frightful flip side of the Resurrection, insofar as the wicked no less than the righteous have their bodies restored to them, and their characters too are perpetually set by what they set their hearts on in this life.  The memory of their illicit pleasures, of their attachment to mammon, of their lust for fame and power, will ache like a perpetual hangover, an unending reminder of their stupidity and shortsightedness.  “Assuredly, they have their reward.” 

That is a reward more to be feared than death.  But death is indeed frightful.  I love and honor Socrates, as any philosopher should.  But his death, noble as it was, was not the death of a man who knew death for what it really is.  To be sure, his partial truth is far closer to the whole truth than the partial truth of the materialist.  Better by far to be a pagan of the Platonist stripe than that sad, contemptible thing Nietzsche called the “Last Man,” the comfort-seeking individualist of liberal secular modernity. 

Still, judging from the Phaedo, you’d think that death is essentially a matter of falling asleep during a philosophical conversation with friends.  But the reality of death is better captured in other images – of St. Ignatius of Antioch in the teeth of the lions, or St. Polycarp in the flames.

And yet, amazingly, they met these ghastly ends in a manner no less sanguine than that of Socrates.  The Last Man tells us: “Death is horrible, so fear it!”  Socrates tells us: “Death is not horrible, so don’t fear it!”  Christianity tells us: “Death is horrible – but don’t fear it!”

Related posts:


  1. Dr. Feser, thank you for sacrificing the hours you do, to provide us with such interesting and erudite commentary on this blog. Happy Easter.

  2. It's always enjoyable to read your easter posts.

  3. Happy Easter to you, your superhero wife and your family, Ed.

  4. Dr. Feser, your theological meditations are as inspiring as your defense of the perennial philosophy, if not more so. Thank you, and Happy Easter to you and yours.

    1. Perennial philosophy? I don't think you're using that term correctly.

    2. I was using the term in the sense and to the extent that it is used in, for example, this context, as would undoubtedly be intelligible for the person I was addressing this comment to (i.e. Dr. Feser) as well as many of this blog's regular readers:

    3. No, it's an established usage. Just try a search for "perennial philosophy" + Aquinas. You'll find plenty.

      As is so often the case, there are more than one usage out there.

  5. Be the Maccabee! This reminds me of a podcast by Timothy Gordon and Taylor Marshall on Halloween and the macabre. The Christian middle-ground is the virtue of courage which is flanked by the vices of cowardice and despair in the one hand and foolhardiness on the other hand.

  6. One thing I'm confused about. You've said before that hell is eternal because the soul separated from its body can no longer change its affections. Why can it not after the resurrection, though? (I'm not disagreeing about the eternity of hell, but am confused about this rationale for it.)

    1. Upon death, the souls rational faculty is no longer bound by the material. As such, it's consideration and choice for hell over salvation even includes the rational knowledge of what it will be like after the ressurection. Therefore, the ressurection does not pose any new information or experience that the soul did not already consider in its choice for hell.

    2. There are (at least) two ways to address this. First, in order to change your mind, you have to undergo some kind of change in stimulus. It is not clear that there is any change in hell to constitute a change in stimulus, to initiate a change in your mind. Actually, it is not clear that we will experience time in heaven or hell as we do now, with awareness of a passing "now" in which a change might occur. If it is perceived as a constant "now" that is fixed, one would be unable to envision changing one's mind.

      Secondly, in order to change your mind from hatred of God to love of God, it takes supernatural grace from God. In this life, God is constantly making it possible to make that change by constantly giving us the opportunity to receive that grace. But once a person dies, the opportunities cease, no further opportunity to receive supernatural grace is being presented. So a person no longer can change in that basic orientation.

      These are, of course, not total answers, and there are naturally objections unanswered and additional points that can be addressed.

    3. @Tony,

      About experiencing time in Heaven, while the idea we may not experience time passing while our souls are separate from our bodies, we will most likely continue to experience time in the New Earth when we get our resurrected glorified bodies.

      Just to clarify, lest we think that we won't go through time forever - we are still temporal beings, and to not experience time is contrary to our nature.

    4. Joe, I agree that we will be temporal in some sense. With bodies, and bodies that can move, some sort of time seems right.

      On the other hand, we will have the Beatific Vision, and thus be joined (again, in some sense) to God's a-temporal perspective.

      How? I have no idea: the eye has not seen, and the ear has not heard what God has in store for us. I don't think we are fully prepared to even imagine what it will be like. Suffice it to say: it might not be like what we imagine of temporal passage.

  7. Happy Easter,

    I'm not yet convinced of the existence of the soul or its immortality. Can anyone direct me towards such material?

    1. Book "The Immortal in You" by Michael Augros.
      Book "The Soul" by J. P. Moreland.
      Much of the second half of John Haldane's book "Reasonable Faith" (not to be confused with the book of the same name by William Lane Craig)
      "Kripke, Ross and the Immaterial Aspects of Thought" by Edward Feser, as well as the chapter on psychology in his book "Aquinas".
      David Oderberg's "Hylomorphic Dualism" (you can probably find it online) as well as his discussion of the storage problem in Real Essentialism.
      "Aquinas on the Human Soul" by Edward Feser.

      That should be enough.

    2. In addition to the material suggested by Atno, you may also look at Near Death Experiences. For one (not “the”) Roman Catholic group’s perspective and collection of scholarly researched on it, google
      “ NDE: The Definitive Guide to Near Death Experiences by Magis Center”

      johannes hui

  8. OP
    "This is pathetic."
    Is living an evidence based life pathetic?

    Unlike the other arguments from Aquinas that begin with what is manifest and evident to our senses (which is commonly available) and attempt to apply deductive logic (which is also commonly available) the stories about the resurrection are derived from scripture, a highly questionable source that has no repeatability in evidence to us today.

    "To be sure, we do have immortal souls"
    How can one be sure of having a soul at all, much less an immortal soul?

    What is the soul made of? Nothing? Then in what sense does it supposedly exist? Something? Then in what sense is it not then material?

    If the soul is the source of our intellect why is our intellect subject to alteration by drugs or physical damage to the brain?

    If the soul somehow were to exist what evidence is there that it continues to exist after the brain dies?

    Rather than pathetic, I find life just the opposite, an exciting wonderment in which I am amazed we can consciously learn anything at all, most of the universe clearly being incapable of consciousness in any sense.

    The pursuit of happiness is hardly pathetic, rather, it is a natural expression of human nature. We atheists tend to make the very most of our lives precisely because we do not consider this life to be "just a waiting room" of little consequence other than to avoid offending the gatekeeper of heaven.

    The suicide bomber is perhaps the most radical practitioner of the "waiting room" concept of life, since he revels in destroying his own life while imagining the consequences of that act will be looked upon with such favor in heaven that the gates will surely be opened for him.

    We atheists have no intention of squandering our lives in such a radical manner, or in the lesser manners I have observed many theists to do, always looking forward to an imagined afterlife in heaven, not engaging fully in this one brief life of reality.

  9. @StardustyPsyche

    You seem to believe that our (as nonbelievers / skeptics) highest goal in life should be to enjoy our earthly existence as much as we can.

    However, it seems to me that just like believers, we still ought to live our lives for something transcendental that's much greater than us and that we also ought to go as far as to sacrifice ourselves (all of our worldly desires and ambitions and even our own life if we really have to) for such a thing.

    Since that transcendental thing wouldn't be God for us, I guess it would have to be some set of obviously and undeniably good values such as "truth", "justice" and "goodness" - which are really all connected when you think about it.

    If a human being lives solely (or even just *mostly* or *primarily*) for his or her own happiness, then I guess there cannot be anything honorable about that person, can it?

    As for God, I really don't see why it is that I should love Him, let alone worship Him.
    Great white sharks and mosquitoes, the Black Death and leprosy, tsunamis and earthquakes, poverty and psychopaths, hell... they're all created by Him, right?
    What kind of "loving" father produces children knowing perfectly well that they will have to fend for themselves in an incredibly ruthless world and that most of them will end up suffering eternally after they die?
    Now *that's* pathetic.

    1. He's a troll...don't feed him...

    2. AJ!
      "However, it seems to me that just like believers, we still ought to live our lives for something transcendental that's much greater than us"
      The sense of ought is personal. If you feel you have identified some sort of transcendental and that you ought to pursue it and that is what gives life meaning, at least in part, for you, ok, that is up to you.

      The pursuit of happiness is identified in the founding documents of the USA along with life and liberty, as human rights. Hardly a "pathetic" aspect of life.

      "obviously and undeniably good values such as "truth", "justice" and "goodness""
      Actually, there are those that deny truth and justice are good. Each individual defines what is good in their own sensibilities. Those who claim to be following a book to define good have simply decided individually that following that particular book is good.

      There are no demonstrably absolutely true moral propositions yet identified in general circulation.

    3. @ StardustyPsyche

      "The sense of ought is personal"
      If people know the truth, they can act in accordance with reality and as a result, they become able to produce something fruitful.
      If they do not know the truth, they do not and even cannot act in accordance with reality, so the only thing they can produce is mistakes, so negative consequences necessarily arise.
      Therefore, Truth is a highly respectable transcendental value that is worth pursuing for knowing it sets us free (gotta love *some* biblical passages) while ignorance and falsehood enslave us all.
      That truth is always better than its contrary and greater than each and everyone of us individually seems therefore rather obvious to me.
      There's hardly anything "personal" here.

      "The pursuit of (...) Hardly a pathetic aspect of life".
      When I said "Now *that's* pathetic", it is very clearly *not* to the pursuit of happiness that I was referring to.

      "Actually, there are those that deny truth and justice are good".
      There *is* some excruciatingly idiotic people out there, I'll grant you this much.

      "Each individual defines what's good in their own sensibilities".
      So goodness is subjective, right.
      I imagine then that Albert Fish dismembering and eating children wasn't that bad after all since he *personally* thought it isn't, right?

  10. Happy Easter, Dr. Feser. Thanks again for all the love you have shown your readership over the years. May God bless you and your family.

  11. God is Truth, Justice, and Goodness. He is more than that, He is also a person as well.
    He is Truth and He speaks it.
    He is Justice and He practices it.
    He is Goodness and He shows it.
    God so loved the world that he gave His only Son to save it.
    Sharks, mosquitoes and death itself are all consequences or punishments of sin.
    Due to God's goodness, death cannot keep us from Heaven and evils cannot keep us from God.

  12. FWII: what StarDustyPsyche writes is against the beliefs of the majority of participants in this board. But it is the writing of no troll I have ever encountered in 16 years of such boards/forums/blogs. He puts his mind into writings this of substance, whether they are seen as true by the majority or not. On this Easter Monday, I ask whether the group consensus about SDP ought to be set in abeyance, and whether Prof. Feser might want to consider SDP's most recent posts afresh.

    1. "Troll" is used as a thought-terminating cliché. What "troll" literally means is a big green ogre, so it's basically saying Shrek waltzing in & disrupting the harmony of the hidden elf village which is this combox.

    2. Is it really likely that years of trollishness will just disappear? His first posts do sometimes seem relatively lucid but when he's engaged the trolling quickly begins.

      Also what post are you reading? It seems like the same arrogant, ignorant nonsense he usually posts. Sure, if he was content to just leave this post of boilerplate internet atheism and go, whatever. But he won't.

    3. "On this Easter Monday, I ask whether the group consensus about SDP ought to be set in abeyance, and whether Prof. Feser might want to consider SDP's most recent posts afresh."

      There are two questions here. Speaking for myself alone and not as a member of "the group", however one identifies it, the answers are: definitely not, hopefully not.

      May I suggest that if your opinion, as you state it, is contrary to "the consensus of the group" then maybe it is you that needs reconsidering?

    4. Balanced, do you allowed there are such things as trolls? Surely if there are SP is one of anyone is.

    5. Balanced, do you allowed there are such things as trolls? Surely if there are SP is one of anyone is.

      SDP is a crank and the personality type that cranks emerge from is as common as dirt. Some cranks focus on Orgone energy and chakras, some get into academia, some write about ancient aliens, and SDP is the one that gets into academia.

      See Nobel disease as proof that cranks go all the way to the tippy-top of human civilization.

    6. SP is a troll as everyone who has ever tried to engage him here has discovered. How about you bow to this universal consensus and stop defending trolls again?

    7. You're entirely right. He's criticised here because he asks questions that believers can't answer. But it's perfectly clear he's an insightful and astute person who actually goes to great pains to address people's arguments. What I see constantly from him is an effort to engage, only for the interlocutor to go silent, or for them or someone else to dismiss him as a 'troll', whatever that means.

    8. @Darryn:

      "You're entirely right. He's criticised here because he asks questions that believers can't answer. But it's perfectly clear he's an insightful and astute person who actually goes to great pains to address people's arguments. What I see constantly from him is an effort to engage, only for the interlocutor to go silent, or for them or someone else to dismiss him as a 'troll', whatever that means."

      In the name of the holy spaghetti monster, you must be right! The consensus emerged because Stardusty, an "insightful and astute person", poses questions that "believers" cannot answer. It is not that anyone here ever bothered to engage him, it is that we are first, awed by the mighty intellect of Stardusty, and second, not wanting to see the truth we just dismiss him and call him a "troll" -- an apparently meaningless concatenation of letters -- because, against such insight and astuteness we are just intellectually powerless. Can I ask you a favor? Would you spare us your insights and astuteness as well, because, I do not think we are worthy, or even capable of withstanding, so much insightfulness and astuteness from such an insightful and astute person as yourself. Not that I would be able to recognize one of course, I am just a believer, as I just think you two make a nice pair of ignorant dumbasses, but what do I know right?

  13. Dear Ed,

    A very happy Feast of the Resurrection to you!

    Wonderful post.

    In the Immaculate,
    John Lane

  14. Relevant to Prof. Feser's OP: for those who haven't seen it, Thomas Nagel's review of Swinburne's defense of substance dualism:

    1. From the link:
      "Swinburne...argue ... a purely mental substance without physical properties."
      What is this soul made of?
      Nothing? Then in what sense is it a substance that exists?
      Something? Then in what sense is it not material?

      Elsewhere the notion of severing the brain is explored. As indicated in the link, indeed, it is incoherent to claim that will somehow result in two identities. It will result almost certainly in death, or at best a grossly degenerated state, because the brain is so highly interconnected such a cut would destroy major networks in the brain.

      Continuity of personal identity does not demonstrate the soul. The sense of a singular constant personal identity is an illusion that breaks down under close examination.

      Has anybody really stayed the same? In truth the complex set of who each of us is, is continually changing as we gain new experiences and forget others.

      There is no unified continuity of the self, only a continuity of incremental changes such that we continually reset who we identify as because each new and different "I" is not much different from the previous "I".

      The continuity of the perception of the self does not demonstrate or necessitate a soul, it simply means that for each of us our particular brain process has a locus that is close to the previous locus, with each new locus considered as our own personal "I".

      The existence of the soul simply does not follow from what is manifest and evident to our senses.

  15. @ Tim the White

    "He practices justice".
    Where and when have you seen any justice down here?
    You think children who grow up in the favelas of Rio de Janeiro or in the slums of New Dehli or Kibera experience justice?
    You think hell is justice?
    Ever burnt yourself?
    Do you seriously believe anyone deserves to burn forever?

    "He is goodness and He shows it because He gave his only Son to save the world".
    He gave nothing at all... He knew all along He would resurrect him three days later anyways so what kind of sacrifice was that.

    "Sharks, mosquitoes and death itself are all consequences or punishments of sin".
    Because a slightly careless 16yo surfer deserves to have his arm chopped off by a great white shark because of the sin of Adam and Eve or because he masturbated a day before.
    Sounds fair.

    Do you even hear yourself.

    1. Relax AJ!

      You know it's all fairy tales!
      It doesn't matter!

      Soon all of us gullible believers will go the way of the dinosaur!
      All of you more evolved hominids will be the stronger for it.

      On a more serious note.

      Your looking at things from the Devils perspective.

      Devil: You created all this! Your responsible!
      What kind of God are you!

      Try look at it from God's perspective.

      I created man in my own image out of infinite love. I gave him a free mind and a free will so he could know me and love Me in return for his benefit since I am already perfect.

      If he says Abba Father, he is united with me in justice and truth.

      If he says with Satan,"Better to rule in Hell than serve in Heaven", he may go with Satan, and be united with him in just punishment for loving a lie.

  16. Surely many saints have viewed death as something to be greeted eagerly, not as something horrible. St Paul comes to mind. Surely too many Socrates-like counter-examples to be ignored?

  17. @ Tim the White

    I'm just gonna ignore what you said up until "On a more serious note" since all of this was rather pointless.


    "You're looking at things from the Devil's perspective"
    No, I'm making statements about how the world really is (about what really happens down here) and about the idea of eternal suffering as being *obviously* incompatible with the idea of a good, "loving" God.

    "I created Man in my own image out of infinite love".
    "Infinite love?"
    This leads us back precisely to my original point about denying God's allegedly "loving" nature.
    Would a "loving" father slaughter tens of millions of his own children with the Black Death and have most of them burn forever?
    Certainly not.

    "A free mind"
    No human mind is perfectly free since no human mind knows everything and since perfect freedom can only come from perfect knowledge.

    "So he could know me"
    So God is *knowable* now?
    Since when is it the case?
    I thought theologians themselves insisted that God is *not* knowable.

    "And love me"
    Again, why would we love such a God given every horrible thing He's created for us and knowing He's prepared eternal suffering for most of us?

    "Better to rule in Hell than serve in Heaven"
    That's the kind of things no one actually ever said.

    Gotta insist also that you answered none of my arguments.

    1. The idea that most of them went to hell is very contentious. I myself believe that the vast majority of people go to heaven, it is only a small minority of very evil and depraved people who choose hell.

      Secondly, it is contentious whether one has to be "perfectly free" in order to reasonably make a free choice that one can be accounted for. In addition, to be perfectly free in an action does not require one to have perfect knowledge of everything, just to have all knowledge concerning that action and what it involves (this even granting your controversial notion that one needs "perfect freedom").

  18. @ Atno

    "The idea that most of them (us) went (i assume you mean "go") to hell is very contentious"

    On the contrary, it seems to me that Jesus himself very clearly says in the NT (and repeatedly so) that most people do go to hell.

    By "the NT", I mean of course "The NT *as it has been translated for centuries by people who were already committed to a certain eschatology*".

    Consider for example the part where Jesus says "Wide is the gate and broad is the way that lead to destruction, and many enter through it, and small is the gate and narrow the way that lead to life, and only a few find it" (Matthew 7:14).

    Consider also all of the passages that suggest that you *have* to be a believer in order to go to heaven, and then those that suggest that not even all of those who *do* believe actually go there.

    Here, what I have in mind is passages such as "Not everyone who says to me, 'Lord, Lord', will enter the kingdom of heaven (etc)", which is also to be found in the Gospel of Matthew.

    Now, 70% of the world's population is not christian so according to such passages, that's already a maximum of only 30% of 21st century humanity *possibly* getting saved.

    If one only counts roman catholics, that's even lower, about 15% of humanity at best.

    I gotta emphasize "at best" here because although your Church has about 1,3b baptised members (including myself), many RCs convert to charismatic protestantism or leave organised religion altogether at some point in their lives.

    I know of no country at all, not even one, where roman catholics have been increasing in terms of percentage of the total population lately.

    Now of course, it is entirely possible that Blessed Julian of Norwich, David Bentley Hart, Robin Parry, Thomas Talbott, etc, are right in thinking that everyone ultimately goes to heaven sooner or later.

    The great contemporary Italian historian Ilaria Ramelli points out in her books that many (if not most) of the greek-speaking Church Fathers, who understood the original Greek of the NT much better than their latin-speaking counterparts, were actually universalists.

    Just take Origen, St Gregory of Nyssa, St Evagrius Ponticus, St Isaac of Nineveh and probably St Macrina the Younger - to cite but a few universalist names.

    However, I'm not attacking universalism but the ridiculous idea of eternal torment here, so...

    Now, your second point may or may not be valid but in any case, there's still a fine difference between "being accounted for the evil you've done consciously" and "being accounted for the evil you've done consciously *in terms of paying a ridiculously disproportionate price for what you've done*".

    1. Again, my view is that it is only a small minority of people who end up damned. One doesn't even have to be a universalist to see that the passages don't mean the majority is damned, etc. I side with pope Benedict XVI in seeing it as more plausible that ordinary people end up in purgatory (and then eventually in heaven), while it is just a small minority who go straight to heaven, and again a small minority who close themselves to all good so as to end up in hell.

      "Paying a ridiculously disproportionate price for what you've done" that's not how I see it, though. First, and this is a minor point, but I am not entirely persuaded that even if we take a "punishment view" it would be unfair, because it seems to me that there are certain sins and evil that are so great and so terrible so as to merit eternal punishment. I'm talking about very specific cases, I take it that I don't have to provide examples of truly grotesque acts of evil, but we all know these exist, and for these cases I am not at all persuaded that an eternal punishment could be "disproportionate", especially considering how they seem to have an infinite gravity of sorts. Maybe it is, but I'm not so sure.

      Secondly, and this is a more important point, God very likely does not allow anyone to damn themselves to hell if there is any way open to Him that could convince that person to freely choose good, love, and redemption. So 1) if someone goes to hell, it was entirely the result of their free, conscious choice; they choose to be eternally separated from God and embrace all hate; and 2) if there was anything God could have done to get that person to freely reject hell and embrace good, redemption etc, God most likely would have done it.

      In this case, it really doesn't strike me as absurd or even weird that God would have created such persons, if they were part of a larger world in which others freely choose Him. Why should God have refrained from creating a world with good creatures who go to heaven, just because a few evil creatures freely and obstinately choose hell despite any of His efforts to convince them otherwise?

      If a person is truly so evil as to freely, consciously and obstinately choose hell, and God tries His best to change that person (even if He doesn't succeed), why should that stop us from worshipping Him? It's that person's fault, they really just don't want anything to do with God. I see no problem here.

      If you don't think such people are likely to exist, you might become a practical universalist (in the sense that whether or not it had to be that way, all people end up saved). But I actually think there are some people like that. Not the vast majority of unbelievers, of course. But a few people who really are so evil and give themselves in to such despicable acts that I don't think implausible that they'd freely and obstinately reject God to the end.

  19. As for the idea according to which we have the capacity to damn ourselves because it is in the nature of our soul to become eternally *locked* on either good or evil at the moment of death, it doesn't lighten the issue one bit since God remains the one who created our soul with that *precise* parameter while He could've created it without it had He *wanted to*.

    And again : what's the point of creating anyone so that he may experience enormous amounts of suffering in this life (for most human beings have had rather bland and short lives since the dawn of time) while being likely to damn himself forever afterwards?

    Again, why would such a God deserve any sympathy at all, let alone any love and worship?

    1. That's the question I can enver get an answer on from them. Imagine really believing that if you don't believe in Jesus you're going to be condemned to billion year after billion year of unspeakable suffering, with no end, and then deciding they're going to manufacture another sentient being and subject them to the substantial risk they're going to suffer that very fate. I cannot imagine anything more repugnant or indecent.

    2. Imagine really believing that if you don't believe in Jesus you're going to be condemned to billion year after billion year of unspeakable suffering, with no end, and then deciding they're going to manufacture another sentient being and subject them to the substantial risk they're going to suffer that very fate.,

      Why won't the potential benefit offset the risk?

  20. @ Darryn

    How could anyone produce any offspring while believing in any of this.

  21. I'm a bit late, but having discovered this blog post, I feel compelled to give my own two cents on the matter. My perspective is that of an atheist, so beware. A number of thoughts crossed my mind, but the primary one is that it doesn’t seem like Christianity offers a perspective on mortality at all. “Christianity tells us: ‘Death is horrible – but don’t fear it!’” This sentence strikes me as a bit misleading. Should it not read “Death is horrible - but that’s okay because it isn’t real?” Like the Boogeyman in your bedroom closet, mortality simply isn’t a concern for the Christian because it isn’t a fact on this account. This is potentially a very relieving thought, especially in conjunction with the promise of unending paradise. But I’m simply NOT convinced of the prospects for this reality. For me, the lights going out is a plausible and indeed expected outcome at the end of biological life. I know Dr. Feser thinks I’m wrong, but that’s beside the point here. What lesson is the resurrection really offering about death? How can Christianity be “the middle ground” between Socrates and the Last Man (setting aside why allegedly occupying this space is even worth mentioning) when it doesn’t even grapple with a mortal reality? I’m just thoroughly uninterested in what Christians have to say about death because you guys deny its robbing power. You have no philosophy or lessons to offer me on this matter other than convincing me that I am wrong to be skeptical of the likelihood that both consciousness and the features personal identity can transcend bodily destruction in this realm.

    So here is the sort of question I think everyone should ask: what if you changed your mind about immortality? How would you think if you became convinced that death really is the end? Other than probably having to give up Christianity, what would follow from that? Would you fall into utter existential despair? Would you buy into these cheap cliches of nihilism, egoism, and superficial hedonism, cliches that only Christians who surely never seriously ask these sort of questions of themselves invent to vilify nonbelievers? Or would you, like virtually every Christian-turned atheist, recontextualize your view of life and the experiences therein and find some way to come to peace with the seemingly inevitable? It’s too easy, uncharitable, and philosophically sophomoric to say life in the face of death is “pathetic” when you yourself never attempt to really figure things out on that view. Does Dr. Feser ask himself this question? Seemingly not, for this blog post makes him appear inconsistent once you realize that “Death is horrible – but don’t fear it!” really just collapses into the Last Man position despite his stated preference for the Socratic one.