Today I read a post at SmartPlanet.com about how IBM is reinventing the idea of Utopia for Disney at EPCOT. In the comments I read that the reason that dystopian visions have become so prevalent is because our country has banned prayer from public schools since 1963. This loss of prayer, according to this commenter's thesis, is directly behind all the social ills that we see besetting our society. More specifically, it's because of the lack of emphasis on a future utopian "life everlasting" that we have fallen into dystopian patterns now.
I'd like to take a contrarian stance on this, and propose that the reason we seem to have a fascination with dystopian ideas is directly related to the notion of a future utopian life in the here-after. More to the point, I'd like to propose that the more we put our emphasis on that afterlife, the more likely we are (based on available evidence) to disregard the world we have around us right now.
I'm going to develop this hypothesis over the next few days; I'm not going to lay the whole thing out in one post. I want to see if I can get a lively discussion going in the comments section. Consider it an experiment in readership cultivation.
Let's just put one proposal out there right now, and see what comes of it.
I don't believe there's any physical, independently verifiable evidence, or any experience that many of us share in our daily lives, that unambiguously confirms the existence of either life after death, or an eternity after some judgment day. Testimony is not sufficient to verify this, by the standards I just laid down. Intensity of personal belief in these things is not sufficient. The strength of one's convictions is no validation at all. Suicide bombers have great strength of conviction; do any of us have that much strength of conviction as Christians, to put it to the test? Perhaps a few do -- I'll have more to say about all that as these posts appear, but not right now.
So -- what do you say, reader(s)? Any comments? Any atheists out there? Want to join in the conversation?
This is the first of several posts that will examine the ideas of afterlife, utopia (and what it means, plus what it could mean), and what it takes to hold these beliefs as true.