Actor, politician and retired professional bodybuilder Arnold Schwarzenegger is back in the news. This time, it’s for saying that there is no life after death, and heaven is a “fantasy.”
The 75-year-old actor was asked by fellow actor Danny DeVito during a conversation for Interview magazine, “What’s in the future for us?”.
“What happens to us when we die? … Nothing. You’re 6 feet under.” The actor and former California governor then proceeded to spew profanity, calling people who believe in life after death to be liars.
“We don’t know what happens with the soul and all this spiritual stuff that I’m not an expert in, but I know that the body as we see each other now, we will never see each other again like that,” he added.
Schwarzenegger also said that he believes heaven is a “fantasy.”
“When people talk about, ‘I will see them again in heaven,’ it sounds so good, but the reality is that we won’t see each other again after we’re gone,” he stated. “That’s the sad part. I know people feel comfortable with death, but I don’t.”
There are many problems with Schwarzenegger’s cavalier assessment of eternity, and they can all be summed up in a single sentence:
In all due respect, Mr. Schwarzenegger, you’re wrong.
Arnold, a self-proclaimed non-expert in “spiritual stuff,” did not provide any support for his claim that heaven is a “fantasy.” He did not provide any evidence that heaven does not exist.
Conversely, there are important historical and philosophical considerations that do provide evidence for eternity.
First, we find evidence for heaven as revealed in the person of Jesus Christ.
The existence of Jesus Christ is a well-grounded historical truth. In his book Questioning the Bible, Jonathan Morrow – quoting scholar Ben Witherington – writes, “There is more historical evidence for the existence of Jesus than there is for the historical existence of Julius Caesar for example.”
Additionally, there is great evidence that Jesus not only lived and died, but also that He rose again from the dead.
Christ’s death – and subsequent resurrection – verifies everything that He preached and taught. If Christ is still in the tomb, everything He taught was false. But if Christ has been brought back to life in a miraculous way by God, then God Himself has vindicated Christ’s teachings. “If Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain” (1 Corinthians 15:14, ESV).
And Jesus – whose teachings have been vindicated by His resurrection – taught us about the existence of heaven.
“And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also” (John 14:3, ESV).
“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven” (Matthew 7:21, ESV).
“From that time Jesus began to preach, saying, ‘Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand’” (Matthew 4:17, ESV).
In this way, the person of Jesus Christ gives witness to the reality of eternity.
Second, if God – and eternity – do not exist, then life is meaningless and absurd.
Christian philosopher and theologian William Lane Craig has argued exactly this.
“If there is no God, then man and the universe are doomed,” Craig writes. “[If] there is no God, and there is no immortality … it means that life itself is absurd. It means that the life we have is without ultimate significance, value, or purpose.”
But in fact, it is impossible for anyone to live as if there is no eternity – and therefore, no ultimate meaning to life.
If God does not exist, then life is objectively meaningless; but man cannot live consistently and happily knowing that life is meaningless; so in order to be happy he pretends life has meaning. But this is, of course, entirely inconsistent—for without God, man and the universe are without any real significance.
In other words, even atheists must live as if God – and eternity – exist.
Lastly, we find evidence for eternity in our desire for it.
In Mere Christianity, C.S. Lewis – discussing heaven – wrote:
Most people, if they had really learned to look into their own hearts, would know that they do want, and want acutely, something that cannot be had in this world. There are all sorts of things in this world that offer to give it to you, but they never quite keep their promise.
Creatures are not born with desires unless satisfaction for those desires exists. A baby feels hunger well, there is such a thing as food. A duckling wants to swim: well, there is such a thing as water. Men feel sexual desire: well, there is such a thing as sex.
If I find in myself a desire which no experience in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that I was made for another world.
So sorry, Arnold. Heaven is not a fantasy.
Rather, there are good reasons to believe in the existence of heaven and hell. And that reality should cause us all to live differently.
Arnold Schwarzenegger is probably best known for his “I’ll be back!” catchphrase in The Terminator. As Christians, we believe that it’s Jesus who is coming back – and heaven is our eternal home.
Homicide detective J. Warner Wallace recently appeared on the Focus on the Family Broadcast to discuss the evidence for the historicity and deity of Jesus Christ. To listen to his broadcast, The Proof You Need to Believe in Jesus Christ, click here.
Related articles and resources:
Photo from Getty Images.