At first glance, nature seems to be whatever we can see. Thus many of us tend to take life for granted and assume that its existence is both ordinary and natural. We do not question the validity of such assumptions, and therefore leave ourselves open to deception and misunderstanding. Assuming that nature is ordinary and coincidental is a rather superficial conclusion, for it indicates an inability to ask the larger questions that people have always asked: Why do I exist? Does the universe have any purpose beyond just existing? Unable to see the miraculous nature of what constant repetition allows us to take for granted (and therefore ordinary), such people cannot understand or appreciate the importance and value of events around them. Such a mental or spiritual condition causes them to see existence itself as empty and meaningless.
Judaism, Christianity, and Islam teach that such an outlook is the most serious affliction that can strike a person. The Prophets and Messengers of these religions taught that everything must have importance and value, for an intentional will preserves it in the most beneficial manner. If this were not so, nothing could exist. For a variety of reasons, many people ignore this fact and so look at themselves and their surroundings without really seeing what is there. After all, why should that which is deemed unimportant and simple be noticed? Unfortunately, large numbers of people consider what they need for their mental and moral health to be unimportant.
What we see in ourselves and in nature indicates that each thing’s existence, no matter how small, is important. Has the sun ever failed to rise in the morning, or the oxygen that we need to survive been denied? Such a perpetual meeting of our needs, even though we do not even know all of them, indicates that a very important message is being sent to us.
These events demand our appreciation, praise, and respect, for all of us know that nothing happens without a reason. Each event contains its own wisdom, for if it did not, how could it occur in a very precise and accurate manner and at the most appropriate time and place in order to fulfill its specific purpose? Upon reflection, we can see that these events inform us of the existence of an all-seeing, all-hearing, and all-knowing power that meets and fulfils all of our needs despite our ignorance of them.
The mistaken assumption that existence arises from what is physically apparent has caused many to regard life and the entire universe as mere coincidence.1 But how can such a view be upheld? Does this supposed “law of coincidence” have the ability to choose what will and will not happen in nature? The events we see in nature can only be the results of a conscious choice (will), for coincidence cannot guide existence to behave in a perfect manner. It has no such power to do so. Only conscious choice can do that.
Unfortunately, this unaccounted-for idea of giving power to something that can be present only in a being with conscious choice has led to a general loss of appreciation for the value of nature and life. The former is unjustly exploited for the interest of a tiny minority, while the latter engenders even worse personal behavior. The end result of such thought processes is a superficial view of life and all existence.
We cannot afford to ignore what everyday events show us: If our current life is given importance and value, it cannot be temporary. Rather, this life must be a precursor of the eternal life to come. Just as the end of pleasure brings pain, the end of separation from loved ones brings pleasure.2 If life is so important and valuable, it cannot just end in such separation, as this is contrary to care and compassion. Care and value necessitate that loved ones will never be separated. This means that a universal re-union achieved through a universal resurrection must occur, for eternal separation and non-existence would violate care and value. Such a resurrection would re-unite the beloved and the lover and ensure that everyone receives exactly what he or she deserves, be it a reward or a punishment.
Many events in our everyday lives indicate that an eternal re-union and hence life after death exist. By “reading” these messages, our lives are both lived with and end with peace. Ignoring these messages or pretending that they do not exist empties our lives of meaning, value, or care. All that is left is a blind consciousness. In short, we can no longer call ourselves human, for we deny that which makes us human.
Signs of the Afterlife
Alternating Periods of Sleep and Wakefulness. The onset of night heralds a simultaneous decrease in the productivity and activity of daily occupations. This principle applies to all human, animal, and plant life located within night’s sphere. Sleep, like being half-dead, is a physiological condition that allows growth, renewal, and the storing of new information to take place. We cannot remain healthy without rest and sleep. Waking up from a good sleep allows us to make a fresh start and deal with the responsibilities that life entails. Just as the need for sleep follows a day of work, there is a need for death (a form of discharge) after life. Just as there is a need to wake up after sleep so that we will be refreshed to face the next day’s activities, there is a need to re-awaken after death so that we will be ready for our eternal life. Hence, there is resurrection after death.
Alternating Seasons. Many animals hibernate during winter. Their waking up and “resuming” their lives in the spring indicate that we will be resurrected after death. We can “read” the same message in new flowers blooming, new leaves appearing on previously dry and dead branches, and seeds sending up new shoots through the ground after being buried and germinating all winter. Seeds, which contain the plant’s or tree’s “hidden” program, are endowed with the ability to survive until the appropriate conditions for germination arise. The resulting plant or tree is a clear challenge to gravity’s downward pull and to those forces that prevent the seed’s development.
In an analogous manner, we will be resurrected after our present bodies have died and been buried (planted) and decomposed into its constituent elements. These elements will serve as the seed from which our new and fresh bodies will be created during the resurrection. Given this, we can understand the value and importance of all life, especially of human life.
Creating a Live Body from the “Lifeless” Molecules of Digested Food. This continuous process occurs every day of our lives. All of the food that we consume must be reduced to its constituent particles so that it may be absorbed directly into our bloodstream. From there, each particle is directed and distributed to cells according to their individual needs. Before we can eat any plant or animal, each one must be killed and then reduced to its lifeless constituents so that it may be promoted to a higher and more complex entity after it enters a person’s body. All non-living food molecules then are sent to and incorporated into the appropriate living cells, where they function in the best possible way to meet the body’s needs. Just as lifeless food molecules are promoted to a better existence in a person’s body, so will our death represent the beginning of a more worthy and complex life.
The Manifestation of Renewal. We see this clearly in the monthly destruction and re-construction of a woman’s womb (uterus) wall. Although clearly a biological event, it has a much higher message: Just as this wall must be renewed and prepared continuously so that a fertilized egg will be able to develop in the future, there must be a fresh preparation for each individual’s resurrection after his or her death.
The Manifestation of Utmost Care and Compassion. Giving endless value and importance to the existence and life of even the smallest entities, while ignoring humanity’s needs, violates wisdom and compassion. Even the smallest living organisms, such as bacteria, are designed with a most bewildering detail and intricacy and have their needs met with the utmost regard and care. This indicates that our needs, especially for continual security and happiness, cannot be left unfulfilled.
What could be a greater injustice than not meeting the needs of the most complex member of creation after meeting those of the most simple? We were not created to play and enjoy ourselves here, but to appreciate, know, understand, and respect that which makes us human. The Manifestation of Endless Wisdom, Power, and Justice in Meeting All Needs and Causing Things To Move from Simplicity to Complexity. Each entity and individual receives, in a just and equal distribution, exactly what it requires to survive. Manifestations of this universal wisdom can be seen everywhere. For example, mothers produce a warm, liquid milk that is the best possible food for their newborns. Even before the baby is born, the mother’s breast is prepared for milk production. In addition, this organ is located in the most convenient place for this very weak and fragile being who needs warmth and close protection. A mother’s arms and her warm breast, along with her sweet and warm milk, is the best way to welcome a new person to this world!
The tiniest life forms, such as bacteria, worms, ants, and flies, are the most blessed when it comes to being provided with the best and excessive bounties. Our material needs are met promptly and precisely. For example, electrical impulses transit our nerve cells so quickly that our intention to move, talk, or look sets all the necessary processes in motion instantly and simultaneously -without any conscious decision on our part. Such a miraculously appropriate response to the vast variety of needs found within each entity indicate that we will receive our just and equal provision as well. If all other entities are dealt with from a position of perfect justice and respect, excluding us from that provision would be a violation of that same justice and respect.
When we observe nature, we notice a continual progression and development from a condensed (simple) “hidden” program to a more intricate and complex one. For example, a fully grown oak tree will emerge, eventually, from the program lying within its respective seed. Likewise, a single fertilized egg cell will develop, eventually, into a deeply complex multi-organ body consisting of 100 trillion cells working in concert!3 Scientists have proven that all of our physical characteristics are encoded in a two meter-long DNA molecule that is fitted into a human cell whose nucleus has a diameter of 5 to 8 microns.4 Astronomers have proven that the universe has continued to expand since the Big Bang.5
All of these processes indicate that this expanding and developing complexity is caused by the same principle pervading the universe. Hence, if this is the case for the present universe, this life must be a condensed program or an index of another eternal and more complex life to come.
The Endless Benefits for Human Life
Attaining certainty in the afterlife enlightens us. Today, humanity needs such enlightenment, for this will give all people a real aim and purpose in life and assure them of eventual victory (in the afterlife) and eternal justice. By nature, we desire good and justice.
Once we realize that we will be treated with perfect justice after we die, we will strive to subjugate our ego through our God-given willpower so that we may benefit other people, our community, and life in general. In this way, our ego will be trained to do good while it is raised to higher levels of purity.
Understanding that the entire universe serves humanity and life, and that an eternally just life is waiting for us after death, we will direct our ego to engage in the same service. In short, everybody benefits from the realization that both life and existence have inherent value and meaning
- www.nur.org/treatise/collection/ (the Fourth Truth of Bediuzzaman Said Nursi’s Tenth Word).
- B. Alberts et al., Essential Cell Biology (New York: Garland Publishing, 1998), p. 246.