Years ago, a well-known atheist biologist, D.W. Hamilton, who loved to study Amazonian beetles, had passed away. At the funeral in England, his wife’s eulogy went, in part, like this: “Bill, now your body is lying the Wytham woods, but from here you will reach again your beloved forests. You will live not only in a beetle, but in billions of spores of fungi and algae. Brought by the wind higher up in the troposphere, all of you will form the clouds, and wandering across oceans, will fall down and fly up again and again, till eventually a drop of rain will join you to the water of the flooded forest of the Amazon.”
Floating around in spores of fungi and algae? Not the most thrilling of prospects, or the most glorious ending to a human existence, is it? But what else does life, in and of itself, without something supernatural, without something divine, offer us?
“I stare,” wrote Japanese author Haruki Murakami, “at this ceaseless, rushing crowd and imagine a time a hundred years from now. In a hundred years everybody here—me included—will have disappeared from the face of the earth and turned into ashes or dust. A weird thought, but everything in front of me starts to seem unreal, like a gust of wind could blow it all away.”
If that’s so in a hundred, try a thousand or two thousand years instead. Either way, if we are left to ourselves, our long-term prospects are not good. Worse than “not good.” They are hopeless.
Fortunately, we are not left to ourselves. We have been given not only Jesus Christ, God incarnate (John 1:1-3), but Jesus Christ on the cross, God crucified. “But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8). And He died for us in order that our long-term prospects, far from hopeless, would be more wonderful than we could imagine. “But as it is written:
‘Eye has not seen, nor ear heard,
Nor have entered into the heart of man
The things which God has prepared for those who love Him.’” (1 Corinthians 2:9).