Netflix Series AFTER LIFE Characters Examined in Light of Book of Ecclesiastes Part 8 Ashley Jensen plays Emma the “Scottish Mouthy Nurse” (Tony’s description)


Ashley Jensen plays Emma the “Scottish Mouthy Nurse” (Tony’s description)

After Life: The Nurse and Tony

After Life on Netflix

In the past I have done over 100 blog posts on the Netflix series AFTER LIFE written by Ricky Gervais and staring Ricky as Tony Johnson. I respect both Ricky and his character Tony for being people who demand evidence and they refuse to accept anything with a blind faith. That is part of the reason I started writing letters to Ricky several years ago with historical evidence from archaeology and ancient cultures on the Bible’s claims. I personally think his latest series AFTER LIFE is his best by far and it does a great job of examining Ricky’s humanist worldview and the natural conclusions that come from this time plus chance view of the world.

Just like Solomon in The Book of Ecclesiastes, Ricky in AFTER LIFE is examining life under the sun, which is life between birth and death without God in the picture. The key to understanding the Book of Ecclesiastes is the term UNDER THE SUN — What that literallymeans is you lock God out of a closed system and you are left with only this world of Time plus Chance plus matter. In fact, the phrase under the sun appears 29 times in Ecclesiastes. 

Francis Schaefer indicated Ecclesiastes is truly the book of modern man because modern humanist man’s philosophy has brought him to the nihilistic conclusion that all is vanity and meaninglessness. This appears to be the place that the atheist Tony Johnson has landedand many of the characters around Tony have come to pessimisticconclusions about life too, though they have searched for satisfactionand meaning in life by pursuing ladiesluxurieslearninglaborliquor, and laughter.

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In the first season of AFTERLIFE Tony tells the nurse Emma that if his father was a dog that he would be put down. That is where Tony’s words remind me of ECCLESIASTES. “The fate of the sons of men and the fate of beasts is the same. As one dies so dies the other; indeed, they all have the same breath and there is no advantage for man over beast, for all is vanity. All go to the same place. All come from the dust and all return to the dust” (Eccles 3:19-20).

This is where Ricky’s humanist worldview totally makes sense in a secular framework. If there is no God then why can’t we just put Tony’s father down like we would a dog? Let me share a portion of an article by William Lane Craig with you.

The Absurdity of Life without God

William Lane Craig

SUMMARY

Why on atheism life has no ultimate meaning, value, or purpose, and why this view is unlivable.

No Ultimate Purpose Without Immortality and God

If death stands with open arms at the end of life’s trail, then what is the goal of life? Is it all for nothing? Is there no reason for life? And what of the universe? Is it utterly pointlessIf its destiny is a cold grave in the recesses of outer space the answer must be, yes—it is pointless. There is no goal no purpose for the universe. The litter of a dead universe will just go on expanding and expanding—forever.

And what of man? Is there no purpose at all for the human race? Or will it simply peter out someday lost in the oblivion of an indifferent universe? The English writer H. G. Wells foresaw such a prospect. In his novel The Time MachineWells’s time traveler journeys far into the future to discover the destiny of man. All he finds is a dead earth, save for a few lichens and moss, orbiting a gigantic red sun. The only sounds are the rush of the wind and the gentle ripple of the sea. “Beyond these lifeless sounds,” writes Wells, “the world was silent. Silent? It would be hard to convey the stillness of it. All the sounds of man, the bleating of sheep, the cries of birds, the hum of insects, the stir that makes the background of our lives—all that was over.” [3] And so Wells’s time traveler returned.

The Time Machine (4/8) Movie CLIP – The Morlocks (2002) HD

(Guy Pearce battles Morlocks in the latest adaptation of H.G. Wells’ The Time Machine)

But to what?—to merely an earlier point on the purposeless rush toward oblivion. When as a non-Christian I first read Wells’s book, I thought, “No, no! It can’t end that way!” But if there is no God, it will end that way, like it or not. This is reality in a universe without God: there is no hope; there is no purpose.

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What is true of mankind as a whole is true of each of us individually: we are here to no purpose. If there is no God, then our life is not qualitatively different from that of a dog. As the ancient writer of Ecclesiastes put it: “The fate of the sons of men and the fate of beasts is the same. As one dies so dies the other; indeed, they all have the same breath and there is no advantage for man over beast, for all is vanity. All go to the same place. All come from the dust and all return to the dust” (Eccles 3:19-20). In this book, which reads more like a piece of modern existentialist literature than a book of the Bible, the writer [Solomon] shows the futility of pleasure, wealth, education, political fame, and honor in a life doomed to end in death. His verdict? “Vanity of vanities! All is vanity” (1:2). If life ends at the grave, then we have no ultimate purpose for living.

But more than that: even if it did not end in death, without God life would still be without purpose. For man and the universe would then be simple accidents of chance, thrust into existence for no reason. Without God the universe is the result of a cosmic accident, a chance explosion. There is no reason for which it exists. As for man, he is a freak of nature— a blind product of matter plus time plus chance. Man is just a lump of slime that evolved rationality. As one philosopher has put it: “Human life is mounted upon a subhuman pedestal and must shift for itself alone in the heart of a silent and mindless universe.” [4]

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What is true of the universe and of the human race is also true of us as individuals. If God does not exist, then you are just a miscarriage of nature, thrust into a purposeless universe to live a purposeless life.

So if God does not exist, that means that man and the universe exist to no purpose—since the end of everything is death—and that they came to be for no purpose, since they are only blind products of chance. In short, life is utterly without reason.

Do you understand the gravity of the alternatives before us? For if God exists, then there is hope for man. But if God does not exist, then all we are left with is despair. Do you understand why the question of God’s existence is so vital to man? As one writer has aptly put it, “If God is dead, then man is dead, too.”

Unfortunately, the mass of mankind do not realize this fact. They continue on as though nothing has changed. I’m reminded of Nietzsche’s story of the madman who in the early morning hours burst into the marketplace, lantern in hand, crying, “I seek God! I seek God!” Since many of those standing about did not believe in God, he provoked much laughter. “Did God get lost?” they taunted him. “Or is he hiding? Or maybe he has gone on a voyage or emigrated!” Thus they yelled and laughed. Then, writes Nietzsche, the madman turned in their midst and pierced them with his eyes

‘Whither is God?’ he cried, ‘I shall tell you. We have killed him—you and I. All of us are his murderers. But how have we done this? How were we able to drink up the sea? Who gave us the sponge to wipe away the entire horizon? What did we do when we unchained this earth from its sun? Whither is it moving now? Away from all suns? Are we not plunging continually? Backward, sideward, forward, in all directions? Is there any up or down left? Are we not straying as through an infinite nothing? Do we not feel the breath of empty space? Has it not become colder? Is not night and more night coming on all the while? Must not lanterns be lit in the morning? Do we not hear anything yet of the noise of the gravediggers who are burying God? . . . God is dead. . . . And we have killed him. How shall we, the murderers of all murderers, comfort ourselves? [5]

The crowd stared at the madman in silence and astonishment. At last he dashed his lantern to the ground. “I have come too early,” he said. “This tremendous event is still on its way—it has not yet reached the ears of man.” Men did not yet truly comprehend the consequences of what they had done in killing God. But Nietzsche predicted that someday people would realize the implications of their atheism; and this realization would usher in an age of nihilism—the destruction of all meaning and value in life.

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Most people still do not reflect on the consequences of atheism and so, like the crowd in the marketplace, go unknowingly on their way. But when we realize, as did Nietzsche, what atheism implies, then his question presses hard upon us: how shall we, the murderers of all murderers, comfort ourselves?

The Success of Biblical Christianity

But if atheism fails in this regard, what about biblical Christianity? According to the Christian world view, God does exist, and man’s life does not end at the grave. In the resurrection body man may enjoy eternal life and fellowship with God. Biblical Christianity therefore provides the two conditions necessary for a meaningful, valuable, and purposeful life for man: God and immortality. Because of this, we can live consistently and happily. Thus, biblical Christianity succeeds precisely where atheism breaks down.

Conclusion

Now I want to make it clear that I have not yet shown biblical Christianity to be true. But what I have done is clearly spell out the alternatives. If God does not exist, then life is futile. If the God of the Bible does exist, then life is meaningful. Only the second of these two alternatives enables us to live happily and consistently. Therefore, it seems to me that even if the evidence for these two options were absolutely equal, a rational person ought to choose biblical Christianity. It seems to me positively irrational to prefer death, futility, and destruction to life, meaningfulness, and happiness. As Pascal said, we have nothing to lose and infinity to gain.

  • [1]Kai Nielsen, “Why Should I Be Moral?” American Philosophical Quarterly 21 (1984): 90.
  • [2]Richard Taylor, Ethics, Faith, and Reason (Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice Hall, 1985), 90, 84.
  • [3]H.G. Wells, The Time Machine (New York: Berkeley, 1957), chap. 11.
  • [4]W.E. Hocking, Types of Philosophy (New York: Scribner’s, 1959), 27.
  • [5]Friedrich Nietzsche, “The Gay Science,” in The Portable Nietzsche, ed. and trans. W. Kaufmann (New York: Viking, 1954), 95.
  • [6]Bertrand Russell, “A Free Man’s Worship,” in Why I Am Not a Christian, ed. P. Edwards (New York: Simon & Schuster, 1957), 107.
  • [7]Bertrand Russell, Letter to the Observer, 6 October, 1957.
  • [8]Jean Paul Sartre, “Portrait of the Antisemite,” in Existentialism from Dostoyevsky to Satre, rev. ed., ed. Walter Kaufmann (New York: New Meridian Library, 1975), p. 330.
  • [9]Richard Wurmbrand, Tortured for Christ (London: Hodder & Stoughton, 1967), 34.
  • [10]Ernst Bloch, Das Prinzip Hoffnung, 2d ed., 2 vols. (Frankfurt am Main: Suhrkamp Verlag, 1959), 2:360-1.
  • [11]Loyal D. Rue, “The Saving Grace of Noble Lies,” address to the American Academy for the Advancement of Science, February, 1991.

—-

Francis Schaeffer has correctly argued:

The universe was created by an infinite personal God and He brought it into existence by spoken word and made man in His own image. When man tries to reduce [philosophically in a materialistic point of view] himself to less than this [less than being made in the image of God] he will always fail and he will always be willing to make these impossible leaps into the area of nonreason even though they don’t give an answer simply because that isn’t what he is. He himself testifies that this infinite personal God, the God of the Old and New Testament is there. 

Instead of making a leap into the area of nonreason the better choice would be to investigate the claims that the Bible is a historically accurate book and that God created the universe and reached out to humankind with the Bible. Below is a piece of that evidence given by Francis Schaeffer concerning the accuracy of the Bible.

TRUTH AND HISTORY (chapter 5 of WHATEVER HAPPENED TO THE HUMAN RACE?

under footnote #94)

We looked earlier at the city of Lachish. Let us return to the same period in Israel’s history when Lachich was besieged and captured by the Assyrian King Sennacherib. The king of Judah at the time was Hezekiah.

Perhaps you remember the story of how Jesus healed a blind man and told him to go and wash in the Pool of Siloam. It is the same place known by King Hezekiah, approximately 700 years earlier. One of the remarkable things about the flow of the Bible is that historical events separated by hundreds of years took place in the same geographic spots, and standing in these places today, we can feel that flow of history about us. The crucial archaeological discovery which relates the Pool of Siloam is the tunnel which lies behind it.

One day in 1880 a small Arab boy was playing with his friend and fell into the pool. When he clambered out, he found a small opening about two feet wide and five feet high. On examination, it turned out to be a tunnel reaching  back into the rock. But that was not all. On the side of the tunnel an inscribed stone (now kept in the museum in Istanbul) was discovered, which told how the tunnel had been built originally. The inscription in classical Hebrew reads as follows:

The boring through is completed. And this is the story of the boring: while yet they plied the pick, each toward his fellow, and while there were yet three cubits [4 14 feet] to be bored through, there was heard the voice of one calling to the other that there was a hole in the rock on the right hand and on the left hand. And on the day of the boring through the workers on the tunnel struck each to meet his fellow, pick upon pick. Then the water poured from the source to the Pool 1,200 cubits [about 600 yards] and a 100 cubits was the height of the rock above the heads of the workers in the tunnel. 

We know this as Hezekiah’s Tunnel. The Bible tells us how Hezekiah made provision for a better water supply to the city:Now the rest of the acts of Hezekiah and all his might, and how he made the pool and the conduit and brought water into the city, are they not written in the Book of the Chronicles of the Kings of Judah?(II Kings 20:20). We know here three things: the biblical account, the tunnel itself of which the Bible speaks, and the original stone with its inscription in classical Hebrew.

From the Assyrian side, there is additional confirmation of the incidents mentioned in the Bible. There is a clay prism in the British Museum called the Taylor Prism (British Museum, Ref. 91032). It is only fifteen inches high and was discovered in the Assyrian palace at Nineveh. This particular prism dates from about 691 B.C. and tells about Sennacherib’s exploits. A section from the prism reads, “As for Hezekiah,  the Jew, who did not submit to my yoke, forty-six of his strong walled cities, as well as small cities  in their neighborhood I have besieged and took…himself like a caged bird, I shut up in Jerusalem, his royal city. Earthworks I threw up against him,” Thus, there is a three-way confirmation concerning Hezekiah’s tunnel from the Hebrew side and this amazing confirmation from the Assyrian side.


The answer to find meaning in life is found in putting your faith and trust in Jesus Christ. The Bible is true from cover to cover and can be trusted.

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