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Is It Dangerous to Believe in an Afterlife?

The January 29, 2007, issue of TIME magazine was all about the brain. The lead article, "The Mystery of Consciousness," was by Dr. Steven Pinker, Johnstone Professor of Psychology at Harvard. While marveling at the workings of the brain, Pinker clearly thinks we have only the brain—no eternal soul. At the end of the article he writes:

And when you think about it, the doctrine of a life-to-come is not such an uplifting idea after all because it necessarily devalues life on earth. Just remember the most famous people in recent memory who acted in expectation of a reward in the hereafter: the conspirators who hijacked the airliners on 9/11.
Think, too, about why we sometimes remind ourselves that "life is short." It is an impetus to extend a gesture of affection to a loved one, to bury the hatchet in a pointless dispute, to use time productively rather than squander it. I would argue that nothing gives life more purpose than the realization that every moment of consciousness is a precious and fragile gift.

No Christian should disagree that "every moment of consciousness is a precious and fragile gift," but what difference does it make if you believe that Jesus is coming back? Pinker says such beliefs are a liability—devaluing life in the here-and-now. He says, "nothing gives life more purpose than" knowing these are the only moments we have. Yet Paul once wrote, "If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are to be pitied more than all others."

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