Eternity in our hearts (Ecclesiastes 3:10-15)

Arthur Stace, or Mr Eternity as he became known, left his mark all over Sydney in the mid 1900s. He wrote only one word— ‘eternity’—in beautiful copperplate script with chalk on pavements from Martin Place to Parramatta. Why did he do this thousands upon thousands of times over more than 30 years? On the night of 6 August 1930 Stace walked into St Barnabas Church on Broadway and heard the preaching of RBS Hammond. Something impacted Stace that changed his life for… eternity.

 

5 thoughts on “Eternity in our hearts (Ecclesiastes 3:10-15)”

  1. Anthropologists have shown that there are a number of people groups who have not developed the same God endowed “intuitions” about Eternity you experience. For example the Hadza hunter-gatherers of Tanzania, the Nuer pastoralists of Sudan, and the Pirahã people of the Amazon basin. These well documented cases support the contention of evolutionary scientists, that “intuitions” concerning the afterlife are something that developed in homo sapiens. Science shows they weren’t put there by a God.

    As current events in the USA show relying on our intuitions might have undesirable consequences at times. Your position in my opinion is an example of how we need to subject the Bible and our deepest sense of reality to the facts of science.

    1. Wouldn’t it be fairer to say the ‘interpretations of science’ rather than facts? Science, as I understand it – which is very little – is seeking to make sense of the evidence. Language such as ‘hypotheses’, ‘theory’, ‘possibilities’, seem to me to be more honest scientific vocabulary. Hence, the 3 tribes you mention, might provide some evidence to support the theories of some evolutionary scientists that a belief in an afterlife is best explained by a theory of adaptive evolutionary biology.

      Furthermore, I suggest that the claim that ‘Science shows they weren’t put there by God’ doesn’t follow. Science itself cannot bear the weight of this claim. This is an example of what we see from evolutionary biologists such as Dawkins of overreaching. It is really a philosophical proposition.

      A paper by Steve Stewart-Williams shows this stance pretty clearly. He has written on ‘Afterlife Beliefs-An Evolutionary Perspective’. This paper is written in the field of psychology, and postulates how various evolutionary theories might offer explanations about how afterlife beliefs may have developed. The premise is that only evolutionary theories are considered, so the conclusions aren’t very surprising. To my mind, this paper has many more flaws, but at least it’s honest in describing things as theories.

      1. You make a good point and I stand corrected with my over-reaching statement that “Science shows they weren’t put there by a God”. I agree these are ‘hypotheses’, ‘theories’, and ‘possibilities’ but ones tested and consistent with empirical evidence. How can eternity be in the human heart when observations from the tribes show that it plainly isn’t? If the paper of Stewart-Williams has flaws what evidence can you provide to show that your account is more credible?

        Additionally given that the Australian Values Study showed that 45% of Australians don’t believe in life after death. How do you explain these findings given your message that God has placed eternity within the human heart?

      2. I think it is important to look again at Ecclesiastes 3. When it says that God has placed eternity into the human heart, it is in the context of the burdens that God has laid on people and the uncertainty of what happens when we die. See especially the question regarding the destiny of dead animals versus people (3:18-21). It is not making a specific case for immortality, life after death for people, resurrection, or eternal life. It may not be saying much more than we have a question that concerns us, eg. is this all there is or is there something more?

        I believe the answer to this conundrum is found in the resurrection of Jesus and the teaching of the apostles about resurrection.

  2. From Grant Willson:

    Dave: “It may not be saying much more than we have a question that concerns us”

    But in your video you made the claim that the Bible teaches an “incredible idea that deep within us there is a sense that there is more. That there is something bigger, that there is something eternal”. A “sense” is not a “question” and your initial claim was of “something eternal”. This sense was then linked to Jesus giving us hints as to what eternity was about.

    In my opinion the gospel accounts aren’t history but if they were I would have grave concerns about spending eternity with a man who abuses a Canaanite woman by calling her a dog (Mt 15:26), killed animals (Lk 8:33) and trees (Mk 11:14), committed acts of premeditated violence (Jn 2:15), failed to speak out against slavery and commanded hate for family (Lk 14:26).

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