What Would You Do if You Lived Forever?
SCIENTISTS for scores of years have been trying to extend man’s life-span. A hundred-year life expectancy is the goal often referred to.
Many would like to see that goal realized. Yet if the prospect of living forever is mentioned, some say the prospect is ‘undesirable.’ Why?
Their arguments run like this. ‘Living forever would be monotonous. We would run out of things to do.’ ‘Eternal life would require perfection and perfection would be boring. Without any sickness, troubles and wrongdoing, people would stop appreciating the good things.’ That sort of reasoning may seem to make sense. But does it?
Many who voice such views are simply parroting what they have heard others say; they have not stopped to think the matter out for themselves.
Bad Not Needed to Appreciate Good
Is sickness, for example, really desirable to provide contrast with health? How convincing do you think that would sound to the man who has watched his wife slowly waste away and die from cancer? Really, do people tire of life because they feel well? Do they tire of life because their surroundings are so pleasant and because of having good food? Do they tire of life because they have plenty of wholesome work, of peace, of righteousness?
Or is it the opposite of these things that makes life seem burdensome? Is it not much illness, trouble and friction that make life seem disagreeable?
Moreover, sound thinking tells us that it is sickness and the weakening effects of old age that cause our physical senses to become dull. This lessens our enjoyment of food, drink and activity.
Nothing Boring About Perfection
When you hear the argument that living forever in perfection would eventually end our enjoyment of living, stop and think. In a year the average person eats more than a thousand meals. A man of thirty may have eaten well over thirty thousand meals. But does he necessarily enjoy them less than when he had eaten only a few thousand? If you go for just one day without eating, do you find the next meal boring? No, you do not have to suffer malnutrition from famine to enjoy food—any more than you need to cut off one of your fingers to appreciate the other nine.
But would a perfect man or woman ever get hungry, thirsty or tired? Most certainly. God’s Son, Jesus Christ, while a perfect human on earth, became hungry, thirsty and tired. You can see that from reading the record of his life in the Bible.—Compare John 4:6, 7; Matthew 4:2; Luke 8:22-24.
We should not misunderstand what “perfection” means. Aside from the perfection of God, perfection of all others is a relative thing, not absolute. That is, something is perfect according to the purpose for which it was made. A perfect hammer would do a fine job of driving nails; but would you use it as a saw? No; nor would a perfect saw make even a fair hammer. The perfection of each is relative—related to the purpose for which it was designed and made.
So, too, with humans. The physical sensations of hunger, thirst and desire for rest after long hours of activity are normal. These physical sensations were built into man by his Creator.
What, then, of the Bible’s grand promise that under the righteous rule of God’s kingdom He “will wipe out every tear from their eyes, and death will be no more, neither will mourning nor outcry nor pain be any more”? What does this mean?—Rev. 21:3, 4.
The Bible describes here the removal of “the former things” that came in with the rebellion of the first human pair in Eden. These “former things” are the pain, suffering and death that their sinful course has brought to their descendants, all mankind.—Rom. 5:12.
Obviously that Bible account does not mean that, if a piece of dust should get in a person’s eye, his tear ducts would then no longer produce tears to wash it out. The same with the reactions of the human nervous system that produce the feeling of touch, pressure and pain. A perfect man stepping with his bare foot on a thorn hidden in the grass would still feel pain as his perfect nerves reacted to the puncture. And the built-in defense system in his blood with its army of white corpuscles would go to work to heal up the wound inflicted. But a perfect man would not develop gangrene. Nor would he be plagued with such things as acid indigestion, ulcers, migraine headaches, arthritis, heart disease or cancer. Surely to be free of such things would not impair our happiness but greatly increase it!
Things of Interest Forever!
But would a person living forever always be able to find things to occupy his mental and physical powers? Would he find new challenges for his intelligence and ability? Would conversation continue to be stimulating and enjoyable? Or would the stage soon be reached where everyone knew what everyone else knew?
Those who think that persons would run out of things to do and learn, fail to consider what a vast and magnificently equipped Workshop and Laboratory our Creator made when he produced this planet. Consider all the things that man has made up to the present time. And then remember that all man’s complex inventions, his computers, his television sets, his airplanes, his rockets, were not formed out of materials brought from some faraway place in the universe. No, but they were formed from the very ground on which we live and its storehouse of chemical elements, its minerals and metals. How vast the possibilities are!
Today knowledge gained through research grows at a rate so swift that neither individuals nor organizations can keep up with it. Because their life-span is so short, persons must content themselves either with knowing a little about many things or a lot about just a very few things. Their knowledge is either broad, but generally shallow, or deep, but quite narrow. They often become specialists in a very restricted field, trying to “make their mark in life” before their short span of years runs out. Scientists say that every time they finally find the “key” to open one door in some field of research they invariably find a dozen other doors on the other side. Surely, then, there is no danger of earth’s becoming filled with “know-it-alls” who have nothing to talk about because everyone knows what the other person knows.
How much do you know about your home, and how much of it have you seen in your lifetime? Not the house you live in, but the planet you live on—this immense satellite of the sun that astronauts describe as “a jewel in space.”
Even world travelers rarely get well acquainted with more than just a fraction of the earth, often no more than its principal cities and so-called “major points of interest.” Some have seen such places as Arizona’s Grand Canyon, the Norwegian fjords, Africa’s Serengeti plains, the snowcapped Alps of New Zealand’s South Island and the tropical scenery of Tahiti.
But for every towering mountain, every plunging canyon, every cascading waterfall, fertile valley, winding river, table-like plateau, deep-shaded woods, rugged, rocky coast or glistening palm-lined beach they have seen, there are a thousand others, each with its own beauty and eye-holding appeal.
Plants, Animals and People
Botanists list some 335,000 species of plants. The United States alone has 1,035 different kinds of trees. They range from the desert-growing Joshua tree to the magnificent Giant Sequoias, and embrace the colorful Sugar Maple, White Ash and Blue Spruce.
From earth’s flowers one could make a different combination every day for a hundred years. Even then one would barely begin to use the varieties to be found, from Morning Glories to Four-O’Clocks, from delicate Bleeding Hearts and Lilies of the Valley to the giant Rafflesia arnoldi of Indonesia, its flower measuring up to three feet across and weighing up to fifteen pounds.
And what of earth’s animal life? Biologists list some 5,000 kinds of mammals, 3,000 kinds of amphibians, 6,000 kinds of reptiles, 9,000 kinds of birds and 30,000 kinds of fish, not to mention the more than 800,000 kinds of insects.
With how many of those living creatures are you really familiar? Perhaps you have seen some of them in a book or at a zoological garden. But how many of them have you observed in their native habitat, watching their fascinating habits and learning the different qualities of each? For example, with how many of the 400 varieties of hummingbirds are you well acquainted—such as the topaz hummingbird, the ruby-throated hummingbird, the tiny bee hummingbird that measures only two inches in length? These are living jewels that flash with iridescent colors of flaming red, deep violet, glowing orange and emerald green. Or have you carefully observed the majestic giant condor or the albatross with its twelve-foot wingspan?
It would take a long time to get to know all the living creatures of land, sea and air—far longer than present life-spans could begin to cover.
Of far greater interest, however, are earth’s peoples. They are almost as varied as the flowers, in their features, styles of dress, preferences in food, architecture, music and other distinctive characteristics. Nor would perfection mean the removal of this variety and contrast of personality, making them the same as one another, any more than for roses to be perfect must they all be red.
It is not easy today to get to know the many races of earth. In many cases, in fact, it is becoming increasingly dangerous. But the Bible promise of everlasting life is only for persons who love and appreciate their Creator, his truth, justice and righteous standards, and who love their neighbor as themselves. By producing the fruitage of God’s spirit—love, joy, peace, long-suffering, kindness, goodness, faith, mildness, self-control—they will make this planet a spiritual garden of friendly, cooperative, generous, warmhearted people.—Gal. 5:22, 23.
Their talents and abilities in craftsmanship, metalworking, architecture, landscaping, home decoration, artistry, music and literature will therefore be used with the right motive. This will stimulate new heights of expression and beauty. Surely meeting such persons, seeing the products of their activity, and getting to know them would be a continual source of pleasure.
Getting Better Acquainted with God
Above and beyond all this, everlasting life would allow for becoming better acquainted with the Universal Sovereign, Jehovah God. Nothing in life is more enriching, more satisfying or more ennobling.
Throughout all eternity one can learn more and more about God, our Creator—and still it would be impossible to know everything about Him. The Christian apostle Paul wrote of our Creator: “O the depth of God’s riches and wisdom and knowledge! How unsearchable his judgments are and past tracing out his ways are! For ‘who has come to know Jehovah’s mind?’”—Rom. 11:33, 34; Eccl. 3:11.
That same apostle also wrote of Jehovah God: “His invisible qualities are clearly seen from the world’s creation onward, because they are perceived by the things made, even his eternal power and Godship.”—Rom. 1:20.
Knowledge of the universe with its planets, stars and galaxies leaves no room for doubt as to God’s awesome power and superlative wisdom. He is the Supreme Physicist, Chemist, Mathematician, Designer and Builder. The psalmist of past centuries, filled with appreciation, wrote: “O Jehovah our Lord, how majestic your name is in all the earth, you whose dignity is recounted above the heavens! When I see your heavens, the works of your fingers, the moon and the stars that you have prepared, what is mortal man that you keep him in mind, and the son of earthling man that you take care of him?”—Ps. 8:1, 3, 4.
Although the visible creation testifies about its Creator, it is by his Word the Bible that we really come to know him, know his personality, his purposes, his ways, his standards. It is through that Word, the Bible, that we see that he has kept mortal man in mind, that he cares for him.
Really, how could living forever in perfection ever be boring? Living would be filled with delight and pleasure and interest eternally.
But if men had everlasting life, where would all the people live? And could the earth provide for them all?
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Has life afforded you time to get acquainted with all the beautiful places on earth?
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. . . or the variety of birds and people?