ATLANTA— While attending Sunday school, 4-year old Evan Jacobs caused a stirring existential crisis among his peers.
The children were enrapt by the teacher’s telling of Jesus raising Lazarus from the dead. While the teacher intended to use the story as an illustration of the Lord’s power, it had a very different effect on young Evan.
The 4-year old pondered, for the first time, his own mortality and as he put it, “the transience of the human condition.” He understood, all too clearly, what death is.
He promptly took over teaching the lesson by asking a series of difficult questions that both shocked and befuddled the Sunday school teacher.
“What is life without our consciousness?” He asked. “Would death not be a lack of consciousness? And is it not just controlled by the firing of synapses?”
The teacher at first attempted to distract the four-year old with animal crackers long enough to come up with biblically-sound answer for him and the class.
“Are heaven and hell a physical place as they are often described as such is the Bible?,” he pressed. “If the soul goes to one or the other, how is that determined? Surely there must be some physical distinction? Perhaps an energy, good or bad that determines the direction of the soul, but again, we must ask where does that lead it to?”
The toddler, seeming to let up, then asked how the physical descriptions of heaven and hell, which are of course used as the final destination of man, can be reconciled with the spiritual concept of the soul.
Young Evan then went onto explain that even the concept of free will seems “very Old Testament.”
“God is omnipotent, so he could in theory set every single spiritual and physical law of nature in accordance to His will,” Evan said. “Keeping that in mind, it also says that in the Bible we are each loved like his own children, but yet, hell is supposed to exist, a place where the ‘children’ who don’t follow the rules he’s set will suffer eternal damnation. It just feels like Old Testament wrath to me. But here’s the thing that really gets me — if God is omniscient, knows everything that has and will ever happen, so he knows who will go to heaven or hell already, then why would he even create ‘children’ that he already foresees being destined for hell to see them suffering for an eternity?”
The exasperated teacher started to answer before the 4-year old continued.
“Now I’m sure one can posit that free will leaves man open to making their own choices, but the pieces still don’t quite seem to fit. Or is the problem with free will itself? Why even give the option to join the ranks of the damned? I’d certainly, sacrifice my free will to experience eternal bliss instead. Would you honestly not opt for a heaven or a life of perpetual ecstasy?”
The teacher began to reply before the toddler interjected his closing statement.
“Before you answer that, consider that a God of unlimited power could create an experience of euphoria never ending, one which is so great the need for pain to contrast pleasure is rendered irrelevant. After all, if it can be conceptualized, don’t you think the Creator could fashion it into a reality?”
The 4-year old admitted that there might be some gaps in his logic and that he had trouble encapsulating his thoughts into one coherent series of questions, but he said that the lesson really got him thinking about some things.
The teacher, unsure of how to respond as the Sunday school class began tearing their garments, exclaimed that the Lord works in mysterious ways.
At press time, the toddler was working on an existential thriller, The Epiphanies, to help collect his thoughts. He expects it to be ready for release before the upcoming Easter.