Worst Party Ever
An Illustration of Life’s Brevity and The Search for Meaning
From Dennis McCallum’s book, Christianity, The Faith That Makes Sense: 1997, Living Books.
Imagine being ushered into a large party room with numerous booths, each offering a different activity or product. You can do anything you want at this party. Thousands of people are busily moving from one booth to another engaging in various pursuits. Some booths are offering art and music lessons. One popular booth offers assorted sexual experiences. Another booth offers drug experiences. A very large booth offers exercises which, when completed, will enhance one’s body. Another offers tasks that entitle the participants to be rich. Yet another booth is a laboratory for scientific research. However, there is a problem.
You can only stay at the party for a short time because, unfortunately, you have already been infected with a virus that will kill you in three hours, if not sooner. The same is true for everyone else at the party. Everyone will die within three hours of the time they entered the party. To make matters worse, as your visit the various booths, looking for something to do, you see several people suddenly collapse in sickness and die shortly afterward. Guards carry them out to be buried. Before long you begin to notice you are feeling sick. The onset of the illness begins to worry you and robs you of all the fun of the party. You realize your time at the party has a finite limit, and there is nothing anyone can do about it. The party becomes increasingly difficult to enjoy.
Have you ever considered that this situation might be exactly what we face? Our span of time might be seventy years instead of three hours, but the effect would be the same. Compressing the time span into three hours only makes it easier to understand the problem.
Back to the party.Perhaps as you consider the tragic nature of your situation, you realize you don’t want to engage in any trivial activity. So you go to the laboratory. After two hours of intensive work, you discover a medication that will enable everyone to live for three hours and five minutes! Yet you find yourself wondering whether you have really contributed anything worthwhile. Once again, we see that if life is only three hours long, it renders everything we do unimportant and meaningless in the end. The same would be true for a personal love relationship you might initiate during the party. You would no sooner begin to enjoy the relationship than either you or the other person would fall dead, rendering the whole thing meaningless. As you try to consider what to do next, you might even find yourself wondering whether or not to simply end your life immediately to be done with it. This is the way life looks to those who don’t believe in an afterlife. According to such a view, we could do anything we want in this life, but the moment we die, everything would be cancelled out. We would have no memory of what we did or who we were. We would simply cease to exist. Even those still alive would not really be affected because they die too. Eventually, the whole universe would fizzle out, and everyone would die. How, then, can anything matter in the long run? On the other hand, perhaps there is such a thing as an afterlife…
Back at the party,wandering from booth to booth, you hear someone trying to get your attention. You see a man standing by the corner of a booth near the wall, gesturing for you to come. You walk over and ask him what he wants. He says, “We’ve found a door here that the others don’t even know about! You can walk out of this door and receive a cure that enables you to live forever! You can return the party and enjoy it without the symptoms you’ve been experiencing.” Obviously, such a claim would be suspicious. It might be a trick. It certainly seems too good to be true. Yet, while caution would be reasonable, probablyyou would be inclined to go over and see what he has. If you were like many people, you would want to see evidence that this door is authentic. Under the circumstances, it would be unthinkable to walk away without even investigating. The possibility that the door mightoffer a cure would be too important to ignore. So it is with the possibility of eternal life.
Although the analogy of the party is not perfect, it does demonstrate that the incentives for looking into the possibility of eternal life are very strong… Let’s suppose for a moment that a creator God does exist, and that we are the products of special creation. This would not necessarily mean there is no such thing as evolution. It would mean, however, that God might have intervened at certain points in the development of the world, particularly at the point where humans were created. Such an intervention would account for the features we see in ourselves that lead us to think we are persons, not just random formations of molecules. It would be great news if such a personal Creator God existed, and if we were created in His image, as the Bible claims. It would mean that our life might not be without purpose. It would mean that relationships we enter into might have eternal significance. It would mean that contributions we make to the human condition in this life may not just prolong the misery, but might be truly important.