What Everlasting Life on Earth Offers Us
LIFE in good health and under pleasant conditions for more than seventy or eighty years is certainly a desirable thing. In fact, scientists have devoted scores of years to research ways to combat aging and disease. They often express the view that an average life-span of a hundred years is a goal to be worked toward.
However, the thought of a never-ending lifespan does not seem to have the same appeal. Many persons are inclined to argue: ‘Without sickness, death and some troubles we would lose appreciation for good things. Everlasting life on earth would be boring. We would run out of things to do.’ Perhaps you have heard people express such thoughts, but is that the way you personally view life? Really, is that kind of reasoning sound?
Do we, for example, need sickness so as not to become bored with good health? People do not lose joy in living because they feel well. Security, pleasant surroundings, interesting and productive work, and wholesome food do not cause people to tire of life. Is it not, rather, a lack of food, unpleasant surroundings, trouble and friction that make life disagreeable? A man does not have to cut off one hand to appreciate the other one, does he? We can enjoy and appreciate good things without experiencing bad.
Life in human perfection does not mean that everyone will be doing all things equally well and with the same intense interest. What the Bible holds forth is the promise of life without sickness and death. (Revelation 21:3, 4) Healthy people today are not all alike, so why should anyone conclude that bodily and mental perfection would make people virtual copies of one another? People will still vary as to personality. They will have varying preferences as to work, building, home decoration, landscaping, food and drink, entertainment, the fine arts and the like. Their personal likes and preferences will have a strong bearing on the skills and fields of activity for which they will show a preference.
But is there really enough for humans to do on earth to keep them active for an eternity? Would not increase in knowledge eventually come to a standstill because we would have done everything?
MUCH CAN BE DONE
Reflect on your own life now. Do you feel that your capabilities are being used to the full or ever will be? How many things are there that you feel capable of doing and would like to accomplish—if only you had the time and needed assets?
Perhaps you would like to develop some talent, in music, painting, sculpture or carving, or to learn something about woodworking, mechanics, designing or architecture, or to study history, biology, astronomy or mathematics, or to take up the cultivation of certain plants or the breeding of animals, birds or fish. Possibly you would like to travel, to see new lands. Many would like to do, not just one, but a number of these things. But even if you had the needed assets, time would simply not permit you to do all the things you would like to do.
Furthermore, does not limited time also subject you to a certain degree of pressure to get things done? Would it not be a delight to do things without having to feel rushed?
Little danger exists of running out of things to do. Our home, this earth, is filled with such a great variety of plant and creature life that there is limitless potential for learning new things and putting our acquired knowledge to use. Many are the secrets that are just begging to be discovered. Think of it: There are over 30,000 varieties of fish, about 3,000 types of amphibians, about 5,000 sorts of mammals and more than 9,000 kinds of birds. Insects, the most numerous of earth’s living creatures, number about 800,000 varieties. Scientists believe that between one and ten million varieties may still remain to be discovered. Added to this are hundreds of thousands of varieties of plants.
How many of us know even the barest fraction of earth’s living things by name? Still more limited is our knowledge of their interesting habits and the vital role each plays in the continuance of life on earth. The potential for increased knowledge is stupendous.
You may have never heard of the tropical freshwater fish known as the cichlid. Yet one scientist remarked regarding his study of them: “For me, cichlids have proved an absorbing 14-year study.” Think how many years it would take to study thousands of living creatures and plants—and with real benefit.
Take as an example the lowly barnacle. This creature gives man considerable trouble when it attaches itself to ships. Barnacles have to be scraped off the ships, as their presence in great number causes considerable drag and may increase fuel consumption as much as 40 percent. One might be inclined to think that little could be learned from a creature that seemingly makes such a nuisance of itself. But not so.
The cement by means of which the barnacle becomes firmly attached is about 3/10,000 of an inch thick. Yet its resistance to being sheared from the surface exceeds 7,000 pounds per square inch. This is twice the strength of the epoxy glues that have been used in recent years for spacecraft. When subjected by researchers to a temperature of 662 degrees Fahrenheit, barnacle cement did not melt, and it withstood a temperature of 383 degrees Fahrenheit below zero without cracking or peeling. Barnacle cement was also found to be resistant to most solvents. Its outstanding properties have incited researchers to try to produce an artificial barnacle cement, a “Superglue.”
Thus, knowledge gained through research can bring benefits to man. Today there is no way of knowing just how many things done by earth’s living things could be utilized or duplicated by man for his use. What has been learned is enough to show that the reservoir of knowledge has barely been tapped.
Even in areas where man has done considerable research much remains to be discovered. For example, one of the amazing things done by green plants is changing water and carbon dioxide into sugar. This process, known as photosynthesis, still baffles man despite some two centuries of research. Laurence C. Walker, a plant physiologist, noted that “if the secret unfolded, man could probably feed the world—using a factory the size of a common school building.”
All mankind could benefit tremendously by learning more about plant and creature life. By understanding the interdependency of living things and their needs, man could avoid unknowingly upsetting the balance of life. Accurate knowledge would help him to avoid injuring himself and other living things.
For instance, if the harmful effects of DDT had been fully understood and man had acted in harmony with his knowledge, widespread pollution could have been avoided. But, sadly, man made indiscriminate use of DDT. What has been the result? Dr. Lorenzo Tomatis of the International Agency for Research on Cancer in France states: “There is no animal, no water, no soil on this earth which at present is not contaminated with DDT.” In some cases DDT contamination has built up in animals and birds to the point of killing them. Truly, accurate knowledge could have prevented this tragic contamination.
Man could also continue to learn about sound, light, chemical reactions, electronics, minerals and a host of other inanimate things. And that still leaves the vast reaches of outer space largely unexplored. What a field for investigation this is! The universe contains billions of galaxies or star systems, and these galaxies may embrace billions of stars.—Psalm 8:3, 4.
Not to be overlooked is the fact that, even without long years of study, animate and inanimate things can stir human creativity and imagination. The colors and designs found among plants, animals and inanimate things not only delight the eye but provide a limitless source of ideas for the decorative arts. There is no reason to fear that human creativity would eventually cease to be stimulated and that life would become drab and uninteresting.
But even if there were a remote possibility of reaching the point of attaining complete knowledge of the earth and all life on it, would that in itself make life boring? Consider: In a year a person may eat more than a thousand meals. At forty years of age a man might have eaten well over forty thousand meals. But does eating become more boring with the passing of each year? Does the man who has eaten forty thousand meals feel more bored than the one who has eaten about half that number?
There can be true enjoyment even in things that are repeated. Who of us is bored by feeling gentle breezes, by the touch of those whom we love, by the sound of babbling brooks, waves crashing against the shore, birds chirping or singing, by seeing gorgeous sunsets, winding rivers, clear lakes, cascading waterfalls, lush meadows, towering mountains or palm-lined beaches, and by catching the scent of sweet-smelling flowers?—Compare Song of Solomon 2:11-13.
OPPORTUNITIES TO EXPRESS LOVE
Of course, just learning and applying what we learn would not be enough to make everlasting life rich and meaningful. We humans have an inherent need to love and to be loved. When we feel that others need, appreciate and love us, we want life to continue. It warms our hearts to know that others miss us when we are away, that they long to see us again. Association with dear relatives and friends is upbuilding and encouraging. We find happiness in being able to do things for those whom we love, to look out for their welfare.
Everlasting life would set before us endless opportunities to express love and to benefit from the love of others. It would give us the needed time to get to know fellow humans, to come to appreciate their fine qualities and to cultivate intense love for them. Earth’s inhabitants are indeed varied—varied in personality, styles of dress, preferences in food, in architecture, in music and other arts. The time it would take to get to know and appreciate billions of humans and to learn from their experience and talents staggers the imagination. But would it not be a pleasure to know the entire human family and to be able to accept each member thereof as a very dear friend?
What everlasting life on earth could offer us is rich and rewarding. How could we possibly be bored when there is so much that we could learn and apply beneficially? How could we possibly tire of expressing love for others to the full? Observed Doctor Ignace Lepp in his book Death and Its Mysteries:
“Those who have experienced authentic love and intellectual achievement know well that they can never reach a saturation point. The scientist who consecrates all of his time and energy to research knows that the more he learns, the more there is to learn and the more his appetite for knowledge increases. Likewise, those who love truly know that there is no imaginable limit to the growth of their love.”
But when will those opportunities afforded by eternal life become ours? When will God’s kingdom by Christ make it possible? And if we should die before that time comes, is there any possibility of our being restored to life?