Submitted: to Syracuse Post Standard, January 6, 2003
Note: The original Billy Graham piece that this article refers to can be read: here.
To the editor:
Rev. Billy Graham, in his daily column appearing in the January 6 Post-Standard,
responds to a reader who states that since no one has experienced life after
death and come back to tell us about it, heaven must be wishful thinking.
Rev. Graham’s response was two-fold: without belief in an after-life, this
person has no hope; and second, since the Bible reports that 500 people saw
Jesus after he was resurrected, that’s proof that there is life after death.
First, it is simply untrue that those who don’t believe in life after death have no hope. They can live rich, rewarding lives now without fear of being tortured for eternity for not believing in God or for believing in the wrong god. And even if we agree with Rev. Graham that non-belief in life after death results in hopelessness, that doesn’t change reality. Whether we believe in something does not make it true.
As far as the reliability of the Bible is concerned, for years careful readers
have pointed out the absurdities and contradictions contained in the Bible.
What is more believable: that the Bible accurately describes supernatural,
miraculous events, or that an ancient, superstitious, unscientific people
were searching for explanations for what they did not understand?
And when one sees the contradictions in what is supposedly the word of God,
one wonders how God could have made these mistakes. Even one of the verses
that Rev. Graham quotes, I Corinthians 15:3-8, is contrary to other verses
in the Bible that also describe to whom Jesus appeared after resurrection.
Compare to Matthew 28:1,9; Mark 16:9; and Luke 24:13-31. For a thorough list
of Bible contradictions and absurdities, see www.skepticsannotatedbible.com.
No, Rev. Graham, we get just one chance, and it’s up to each of us to make
the most of it.
CLIFFORD H. CRAIN, JR.
From the “Billy Graham – My Answer” column in the January 6, 2003 Post-Standard:
Is there really life after death?
Dear Rev. Graham: I suppose I’d believe in life after death if I ever met someone who had gone there and then come back to tell about it. But of course that’s impossible, because when you’re really dead, that’s the end. I think heaven is just wishful thinking. What would you say to someone like me? — A. M.
Dear A. M.: My first reaction would be to express my sorrow about you, because you have no hope for the future. To you, this life is all there is, and how sad it must be to live like that (if you ever stop to think about it honestly). You are like those of whom the Bible speaks who are “without hope and without God in the world” (Ephesians 2:12).
But the second thing I would say is that it doesn’t need to be this way for you! You see, someone has passed through death and then come back to tell us about it—and that “someone” is Jesus Christ. When he was put to death on a cross, he truly died—as the Roman soldiers who nailed him there attested. Then they took him down, and his body was placed in a tomb (somewhat like a small cave), and its entrance was sealed with a huge stone.
But that was not the end! Two days later, the tomb was empty—although it had been guarded by a contingent of soldiers. Shortly afterward, he appeared repeatedly to his followers—as many as 500 on one occasion (see 1 Corinthians 15:3-8). All of this proved that Jesus was who he claimed to be: the Son of God, sent from heaven to save us from our sins. Jesus said, “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies” (John 11:25).
I realize you may not believe this right now. But I invite you to look at the evidence as it is found in the Gospels of the New Testament. Don’t let pride, or anything else, get in the way of the truth—for Jesus is not only alive, but he will come into your life and give you hope, as you open your heart to him.