Q&A – Is Belief in God, Justice & the Afterlife Selfish?


“Hey James, just started coming to your website more frequently because I’m struggling to find my faith. I wanted some answers but came out with even more questions:

1. Humans want to believe in God, that there is something after we die, and that justice will triumph, such as for the people of Auschwitz (from that Francis Bridger quote you posted), but isn’t that just our selfishness talking? After all, we’re only fragile beings in this vast Universe.”


It blows me away, Kenrick, that you would decide to consider my site in order to remedy your own struggles in finding your faith, especially when there are so many other far more capable apologists than I. I also want to say that you’re not the only one struggling. Nor is such struggle only limited to belief in God or in Christian theism. You’re in good company if you’re struggling!

However, let’s consider your first question (we will consider the second in a follow up). It surely wouldn’t be selfish if it were true, Kenrick. I think that humans have such a longing because there is a God that gave them such longing (Psa. 63:1) and knowledge (Ecc. 3:11). After all, it would be silly if God existed and wanted us to get to know him through an eternal perspective but then did not give us such an ability to become aware of that perspective. In other words, one needs to explain this longing and I would urge you to take some time to consider C.S. Lewis’ argument from desire (1). My argument, however, would be that this longing for God, justice, and life after death truly makes sense from a Christian theistic perspective, and more so than any other opposing worldviews and philosophies. Please also consider my recent contrast of Christian theism to atheistic naturalism in a point-by-point framework. I believe it may give you a wider perspective on this matter.

So, the real question would be, “Is it true that God exists?” And I think that we have good grounds for affirming that he does from arguments from natural theology, philosophy and Jesus’ ministry & resurrection. So, if we have good reasons for affirming God’s existence then it does not come over at all as selfish to believe in life after death, justice and so on even though we are only fragile beings in this vast Universe.” Moreover, I’d argue that the immense vastness of space has no logical connection to meaning and purpose for human beings. Nor does human fragility factor into the question of meaning and purpose. Sure, critics of God might argue that the enormity of the universe might show that we’re nothing special, but even if we grant that premise it does not follow that we have no meaning or purpose. Independent of the size of the universe it may still be that not only does God exist but that God also imbued his human creatures with meaning and purpose. After all, if we consider that God is an infinite being then size wouldn’t matter to him. Moreover, for a really good treatment of this common argument I would highly recommend philosopher Peter Williams’ book A Sceptics Guide to Atheism. Williams does a great job at deconstructing this argument.

So I don’t think that it would necessarily follow that we’re selfish for believing in God’s existence, life after death, justice and so on. If God really exists then nothing could be more important.


1. Heschmeyer, J. Neurology and C.S. Lewis’ Argument from Desire. Available. Also see argument 16 by Peter Kreeft at 20 Arguments for God’s Existence. Available.

2 responses to “Q&A – Is Belief in God, Justice & the Afterlife Selfish?

  1. Pingback: Q&A – Is Belief in God, Justice & the Afterlife Selfish? — James Bishop’s Theology & Apologetics. | Talmidimblogging·

  2. James, I believe Paul moved from his position as a Pharisee on resurrection of the body to a more Orthodox Jewish position. From a physical resurrection of the body to our spirit at death being present with Christ 2 Cor 5. Some still teach a resurrection of the body, but I cannot see it as a reality. Paul seems to develop the idea of a dissolved physical body in his later writings.

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