Evidence of Eternity in Our Hearts? | The Institute for Creation Research

Evidence of Eternity in Our Hearts?

We tend to think that some core in each person will somehow, somewhere live forever. Sociologists have been attempting to track down the source of this belief but so far have not been able to separate it from exposure to religious teaching. Now, a new research tactic reveals that belief in an eternal life apart from our bodies is hardwired into each of us, inadvertently confirming the Bible’s message.

Most studies investigating this question ask adult participants about the afterlife, but this new research asked children about prelife—not-yet-born souls.

Natalie Emmons and Deborah Kelemen of Boston University conducted two studies on 283 children from Ecuador.1 They reasoned that survey participants from the jungle lived closer to life and death events and would have biologically based ideas about pre-conception existence, while the Catholic student participants from the city had more exposure to religious teaching that life begins at conception and therefore would “reject the idea of life before birth.”2 Surprisingly, both groups of students maintained that a core aspect in each person lives even without the body.

Children from different backgrounds believe that everyone has prelife emotion and desires. Essentially, then, our tendency to believe in an immortal soul does not explicitly arise from religion—it’s just a part of us. But what does “religion” mean to researchers who would themselves likely ascribe to a form of religious secularism?

Buddhism and Hinduism do not teach that a person exists after death, but instead hold that one’s soul loses personal identity when it eventually merges with the universal “all,” which some call god. Though secularism is a popular religion among scientists, it is materialistic so its adherents believe that when the material body ceases, so do all of its immaterial aspects like volition, intellect, emotions, and desires.

Lead author Natalie Emmons said in a Boston University news release, “I study these things for a living but even find myself defaulting to them. I know that my mind is a product of my brain but I still like to think of myself as something independent of my body.”2 She clearly feels this conflict: Her secular doctrines affirm that her immaterial aspects are merely a product of brain chemistry and thus would not survive after bodily death, but it seems her innate awareness of her own everlasting soul keeps manifesting itself.

Since Hindus, Buddhists, and secularists don’t teach this, what major religions are left that hold to a belief in an everlasting soul or spirit? Clearly, the theistic options remain, including Christianity. And according to Solomon’s ancient book Ecclesiastes, when God made humans, “He [had] put eternity in their hearts.”3 The Complete Jewish Bible translation renders that passage, “Also, he has given human beings an awareness of eternity.”4

If God clearly says He put eternity in our hearts, it’s no wonder that sociologists find it there.

Near that same passage, Solomon asked, “Who knows the spirit of the sons of men, which goes upward, and the spirit of the animal, which goes down to the earth?,” indicating that, unlike animals, our human souls last after bodily breakdown and rise to meet our Maker.5 It appears that scientists are just now confirming what Scripture has said all along about our knowledge of eternity.

References

  1. Emmons, N. A. and D. Kelemen. The Development of Children’s Prelife Reasoning: Evidence From Two Cultures. Child Development. Published online before print January 16, 2014.
  2. Moran, B. Boston University Study Examines the Development of Children’s Prelife Reasoning. Boston University news release. Posted on bu.edu January 27, 2014, accessed January 28, 2014.
  3. Ecclesiastes 3:11
  4. Stern, D. H., trans. 1998. Ecclesiastes 3:11. In The Complete Jewish Bible. Clarksville, MD: Jewish New Testament Publications, 1077.
  5. Ecclesiastes 3:21

* Mr. Thomas is Science Writer at the Institute for Creation Research.

Article posted on February 12, 2014.

The Latest
NEWS
Great Unconformity Best Solved by Global Flood
The Great Unconformity is one of the most baffling mysteries in the geological sciences.1 It is marked by a massive surface of erosion that...

NEWS
ICR’s 2021 Science Expedition Update–Dinosaur Fossils
A team of 11 people from the Institute for Creation Research is currently traveling on a multistate science expedition to dig up fossils, conduct field...

NEWS
ICR’s 2021 Science Expedition Update
A team of 11 people from the Institute for Creation Research is currently traveling on a multistate science expedition to dig up fossils, conduct field...

NEWS
ICR’s 2021 Science Expedition Begins!
The Institute for Creation Research launched its 2021 multistate science expedition last week as a nine-member team left the ICR headquarters in Dallas,...

NEWS
Inside September 2021 Acts & Facts
Why does ICR focus on scientific research? How could paleontologists mistake a lizard fossil for a dinosaur? Is animal death before the Fall theologically...

ACTS & FACTS
Creation Kids: Beauty by Design
Christy Hardy and Susan Windsor* You’re never too young to be a creation scientist! Kids, discover fun facts about God’s creation with...

ACTS & FACTS
Defend Your Faith with ICR
Have you ever heard a pastor question the historical nature of Genesis? “The days of creation weren’t really 24 hours long. The Bible is...

ACTS & FACTS
Animal Death Before the Fall?
Both the Old and New Testaments teach that death entered the world when Adam ate the forbidden fruit (e.g., Genesis 2:17 and Romans 5:12). Since fossils...

APOLOGETICS
Transmitting Truth in a Modern Pagan World
We share the world with modern pagans who worship the sun—or idolize an imagined primordial Big Bang—so we need to be truth witnesses unto...

ACTS & FACTS
Waco Mammoth National Monument
Hunters in the 1970s discovered mammoth bones exposed in sediments near the confluence of the Bosque and Brazos Rivers in north central Texas. They...