Knowing the Evidence of Life after Death Will Result in a Heaven on Earth
“The decline in religiosity matches mortality trends . . . mostly middle-aged . . . individuals.” This quotation from a January 2023 article in MarketWatch confirms what we have known to be true. People are becoming increasingly unhappy, lonely, and without hope. There has been a gradual increase in the “deaths of despair” in all societies, especially among those in middle age and old age facing their own mortality.
In 1990, 8 percent of Americans said they were at the lowest level of happiness on the survey, “not too happy.” By 2018, the figure had jumped to 13 percent. The “2019 World Happiness Report” states that in the early 1990s the average rating people gave for their happiness was only 2.28 on a three-point scale from 1 (“not too happy”) to 3 (“very happy”). However, there has been a significant decline in feelings of happiness from then to 2019 when Americans rated their happiness on average as a 2.18, meaning they were feeling a lukewarm “pretty happy.”
People today are feeling lonely, alone, and hopeless, without the stability of knowing their purpose in living and destination at the end of life.
And yet, everyone wants to feel loved. That is the most basic, pervasive human need. Since all people want to be loved, it seems having love and compassion would become a norm that percolated through humanity as people realized they are most greatly loved when they love others. But that hasn’t happened. Why not?
Why Aren’t We Living In Heaven on Earth?
Humankind Lost Its Anchor
The first contributor to the despair humankind is experiencing is that reliance on religion for a sense of meaning has fallen away. In medieval England, people from puberty into adulthood were expected to go to church on Sundays and religious festival days. There were as many as 50 important festivals in the church calendar, so together with weekly services, everyone was expected to attend church around 90 days a year. There were no “atheists.” People didn’t consider any viewpoint other than faith in the Judeo-Christian God for their purpose in life until the eighteenth-century enlightenment. Even then, between 1700 and 1740, an estimated 75 to 80 percent of the population still attended a church. In the middle of the nineteenth century, “the Great Revival” increased church attendance even more. Humankind’s sense of meaning was embodied in the faith that God is in His heaven and all’s right with the world. No need for despair.
Today, atheists made up large percentages of the world’s population. In 2017, a Gallup poll showed that 10 percent of American adults said they were atheists. The rates are much higher in other countries: In Asia, the percentage professing atheism was 91% in China and 87% in Japan . In Europe, Sweden, the Czech Republic, the United Kingdom, Belgium, Estonia, Norway, and Denmark all had rates of atheism of 70% to 78%.
More telling, the number of people stating they belong to a church has dropped precipitously. A Pew survey in 2017 found that only 36 percent of Americans attend church weekly. The percentages are much lower in Europe, ranging from 6 percent in Sweden to a high of 16 percent in Greece.
The framework of religious belief that provided people with the feeling life has a purpose has deteriorated markedly. People are left without certainty about this life and the next and have found no bedrock on which to base their hope for a secure future. Before them lies death and not knowing what happens afterward. They no longer know the purpose of life and are in the fear of the end.
The Stability of an Extended Family and Lifelong Friends Disappeared
The second contributor to the despair humankind is experiencing is the abandonment of the agrarian lifestyle that had stable extended families, friends, and institutions in a localized area many never left. Today, with specialized employment other than farming available only in locations other than the individual’s home community, and changes in jobs happening regularly for most individuals, people are little more than transients. Families are spread across the globe and often see one another once or year or less. This modern-day nomadic lifestyle makes it difficult to establish social relationships in bodies such as churches and community gatherings. Most people know little about those living even within a few doors of them.
The result is an epidemic of loneliness. A 2018 study by Cigna found that 46 percent of U.S. adults sometimes or always feel lonely, and 47 percent “feel left out.” Nearly half of Americans say they have no meaningful in-person social interactions daily. A nationwide survey of Britons by the BBC found that 33 percent often or very often feel lonely. Nearly half of those over 65 consider the television or a pet as their main source of company. And 42 percent of Millennial women in the UK are more afraid of loneliness than a cancer diagnosis. In Japan, more than half a million people under 40 haven’t left their house or interacted with anyone for at least six months.
Kay Hymowitz, researcher and author about family issues, poverty, and cultural change in America, writes,
Loneliness, public-health experts tell us, is killing as many people as obesity and smoking. … Germans are lonely, the bon vivant French are lonely, and even the Scandinavians—the happiest people in the world, according to the UN’s World Happiness Report—are lonely, too. British prime minister Theresa May recently appointed a “Minister of Loneliness.” … Japan [is] now in the throes of an epidemic of kodokushi, roughly translated as “lonely deaths.” Local Japanese papers regularly publish stories about kinless elderly whose deaths go unnoticed until the telltale smell of maggot-eaten flesh alerts neighbors.
The problem of unhappiness among people is growing in severity. A study by Cigna found a nearly 13 percent increase in loneliness between 2018 and 2020.
When People Know the Truth, We Will Live in a Heaven on Earth
When people know these truths without doubt, they will love others without condition, seek to satisfy others’ needs over their own, feel compassion for people in need, and live in happiness every moment without the need to have something to cause the happiness. Families will look forward to much time with each other, and people in communities will treat each other as family. The desire to ensure others are contented and have their needs satisfied will draw people to each other wherever they move. There will be no loneliness or unhappiness.
When all people know the truth of who we really are in eternity, we will live in the heaven on earth envisioned by the luminaries since the first
Steve Goldstein, “Rise in Middle-Aged White ‘Deaths of Despair’ May Be Fueled by Loss of Religion, New Research Paper Argues,” MarketWatch, Jan 21, 2023. https://www.morningstar.com/news/marketwatch/20230121347/rise-in-middle-aged-white-deaths-of-despair-may-be-fueled-by-loss-of-religion-new-research-paper-argues
Christopher Ingraham, “Americans are getting more miserable, and there’s data to prove it,” Washington Post, March 22, 2019, https://www.washingtonpost.com/business/2019/03/22/americans-are-getting-more-miserable-theres-data-prove-it/.
Ingraham, “Americans are getting more miserable.”
“Religion and the Founding of the American Republic: Religion in Eighteenth-Century America,” Religion and the Founding of the American Republic, Library of Congress, n.d. https://www.loc.gov/exhibits/religion/rel02.html
Gallup International Center for Public and Political Studies, April 10, 2017. https://www.gallup-international.bg/en/36009/religion-prevails-in-the-world/
Jeffrey M. Jones, “U.S. Church Membership Falls Below Majority for First Time,” Gallup Politics, March 29, 2021. https://news.gallup.com/poll/341963/church-membership-falls-below-majority-first-time.aspx
Erin Duffin, “How often do you attend church or synagogue – at least once a week, almost every week, about once a month, seldom, or never?” Statista, September 30, 2022. https://www.statista.com/statistics/245491/church-attendance-of-americans/
“Many Americans are lonely, and Gen Z most of all, study finds,” CBS News, May 3, 2018, https://www.cbsnews.com/news/many-americans-are-lonely-and-gen-z-most-of-all-study-finds/.
Neil Howe, “Millenials and The Loneliness Epidemic,” Forbes, May 3, 2019, https://www.forbes.com/sites/neilhowe/2019/05/03/millennials-and-the-loneliness-epidemic/#59174e247676.
Kay S. Hymowitz, “Alone: The decline of the family has unleashed an epidemic of loneliness,” City Journal, Spring 2019, https://www.city-journal.org/decline-of-family-loneliness-epidemic.
“Loneliness Is at Epidemic Levels in America,” Cigna, https://www.cigna.com/about-us/newsroom/studies-and-reports/combatting-loneliness/.