The following is a rebuttal of an article I read in the Buffalo news dated Saturday, February 11, 2017. The article is under the name “God squad”written by Rabbi Mark Gellman.
This is the question that was asked from a person on Long Island, New York identified themselves only as P:
Q: If we are God’s children and if God is our heavenly loving Father, I am having trouble believing the “loving” part. When the time comes and we die, we give up everything we hold dear and we are supposed to be moving on into an afterlife, so why is there no proof that this exists? I wonder why would God keep the afterlife as such a complete mystery? To me this appears more cruel than loving and it is certainly not the way a loving Father would treat His children.
This was the reply by Rabbi Mark Gellman:
A: at the end of a prayer we say “Amen.” Amen does not mean, “What I just said is true.” Amen means, “I trust in what I just said.” All religions teach us how to trust what we cannot fully prove to be true. The two main attempts to actually prove that death is not the end of us are NDE’s and psychics.NDE’s are Near Death Experiences reported by some people who have been declared dead but were later revived and who reported floating above their bodies or seeing a tunnel of light or similar out of body experiences.
Psychics, or spiritual mediums, are living people who claim to have the ability to speak to dead people. I do not believe in NDE’s, and I do not believe in psychics but I do believe in life after death for our souls. NDE’s are, in my opinion, are just physical illusions caused by a dying brain, not actual perceptions of the afterlife, and psychics seem to me to be generally fraudulent exploiters of grief. But, of course, I could be wrong. However, even if NDE’s are real and even if psychics can actually speak to dead people, I would still not believe in them. I believe that faith must be built upon trust and not empirical evidence. I trust that I have a soul that is not material but divine in its essence I trust that such a spark of God cannot be extinguished by death because it is immaterial. I trust that God will gather my soul to God after my body dies and I trust that I will see Tommy again. That trust, that faith is not scientific but I believe it is true. Empirical experience is what builds science, not faith. Faith and science are what the late distinguished paleontologist and philosopher Stephen J. Gold called, “none overlapping magesteria.” They are two different and non-intersecting realms of what we know. That is why faith cannot give scientific answers and why science cannot give religious answers. You cannot have scientific proof for everything you believe, and you cannot believe in something that you can scientifically prove.
You, dear P, want a scientific proof for heaven so that it is no longer a mystery, but heaven is a mystery because mysteries other realm of faith. The kind of proof you seek is the realm of science, and science and faith do not overlap. Faith-based science is as much a contradiction as scientific religion. Religion and science speak to two different realms of our life here on earth. That is why God cannot let science prove to you that heaven exists.
My reply to this is that Rabbi Mark Gellman does not know what he’s talking about in this instance. And its religious people like him who don’t apparently read or try to understand the Holy Scriptures that can lead to confusion and frustration to people like “P” from Long Island, New York. To say science and faith can not go hand-in-hand is utterly ridiculous. I will give just one quick example here because there are too many to go into throughout Scripture: science says the earth has been here for millions and billions of years or more. The Scriptures do not contradict this, “In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth. (Genesis 1:1)“ God created the heaven and the earth in a timeless past, day and night did not yet exist. We know from Scripture God creates everything perfect, yet in Jeremiah 4:23 Jeremiah says that the Lord showed him the earth when it was “Void and without form”which verifies the second line of Genesis 1:2 “And the earth became void and without form and darkness was on the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters.” So now you have to ask the question, how long did it take from God creating the earth perfect to it becoming “void and without form” in the timeless eternity past?Indeed it may have been millions or billions of years as we tell time on a 24 hour basis. How long did it take for the darkness (Satan) to fill the earth and destroy what God made perfect? It’s not until Genesis 1:3 – 5 we see God created time as we know it on a 24 hour basis and separated day time and night time, “Then God said, ‘Let there be light’; and there was light. And God saw the light, that it was good; and God divided the light from the darkness. God called the light Day, and the darkness He called Night. So the evening and the morning were the first day.” So man has only been on this earth 6,000 years, but the earth itself we have no idea how long it has existed.
P says that when we die we give up everything we hold dear. If that’s the case P was holding onto the wrong things in life. Jesus says we must love Him above everything and everybody in our life, He must be first! P goes on to ask why is there no proof that the afterlife exists. To me it is apparent that P does not read the Scriptures. Throughout the Bible old and New Testament it is full of examples that heaven exists. Elijah was taken up to heaven in a chariot of fire. Isaiah 6:1 – 7 Isaiah tells us he was taken up to heaven “In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord sitting on a throne, high and lifted up, and the train of His robe filled the temple. Above it stood seraphim; each one had six wings: with two he covered his face, with two he covered his feet, and with two he flew. And one cried to another and said: ‘Holy, holy, holy is the LORD of hosts; the whole earth is full of His glory!’ And the posts of the door were shaken by the voice of him who cried out, and the house was filled with smoke. Then I said: ‘Always me, for I am undone! Because I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of people of unclean lips; for my eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts.’ Then one of the seraphim flew to me, having in his hand a live coal which he had taken with the tongs from the altar. And he touched my mouth with it, and said: ‘Behold, this has touched your lips; your iniquity is taken away, and your sin purged.'”
In the book of Revelation, 2 entire chapters are spent describing heaven in all its glory. Chapters 21 and 22 reveal to us the splendor of the heavenly realm. Revelation 21:4 – 7 states “And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying; and there shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away. Then He who sat on the throne said, ‘Behold, I make all things new.’ And He said to me, ‘Write, for these words are true and faithful.’ And He said to me, ‘It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. I will give of the fountain of the water of life freely to him who thirsts. He who overcomes shall inherit all things, and I will be his God and he shall be My son.'”
So yes, as believers we do walk by faith, believing in a God that we have not yet seen. But through His holy Word and through the writings of the prophets and saints,through the teachings of His Son Jesus whom He sent to preach the truth, die for our sin, and raise from the dead, to prove to us that He is the LIVING God and through historical facts and records we know His word is true and heaven is real! And it is a place of total love, and a “Peace that surpasses all understanding.” So anything that a person, like P said “Things that we held dear in this world”, simply will not matter in the next. Jesus says in Revelation 21:5 “Behold, I make all things new!” Amen.