Saturday, June 1, 2013


The human survival instinct doesn’t tell us why we ought to survive; it’s just there, helping us do it. If we got here by the almighty chance of Mind-less evolution, the survival instinct functions only to insure that we live long enough to pass on our genes and protect our young till they can do the same thing. Afterwards, if evolution could care, it would care less about our personal survival. Despite that, the instinct keeps working anyway, with or without an evolutionary permission.

But if God is the Author of the human survival instinct, it changes the whole picture. Once we recognize a Divine Mind behind it, we can rationally envision that the instinct serves higher purposes than mere reproduction. It quietly assures the value and significance of human life itself, both to mated couples anticipating parenthood and to veteran spinsters and bachelors with no progeny at all. In its psychological dimensions — which material theories of evolution have always been ill-prepared to address — the instinct entertains a hope for the survival of personal identity itself.

Those without faith in an afterlife may interpret this psychological hope as finding its fulfillment merely in the memories of friends and family members who outlive them. But such a hope is short-lived. When those who knew us also finally die, their memories will die with them. Unless we become popular artists, well-known authors, or encyclopedia material, subsequent generations won’t even remember our names. If mine, engraved on stone in some cemetery, is noticed by future passers-by, one in a thousand might think, “I wonder who David Hatton was.” Even if they were curious enough to do research and find out, their knowledge about me would not be “ME,” anymore than the things I’ve created or written are "me." A deep, personal examination of this instinct reveals that the hoped-for survivor is the self.

There’s one other dimension of this psychological hope that deserves consideration: our ambitions. Our desires to create and accomplish and explore, taken together, are bigger than this life can contain. It seems that all of us leave this world with unfulfilled longings: things we wished to have, or dreamed of doing, or hoped to see. We die in the midst of wanting to know more about everything, trying to investigate new realms of knowledge and information. We depart with long lists of unkept New Year’s resolutions for embracing new virtues or adopting new habits. This life just doesn’t seem long enough or large enough for us to fit in all the changes, all the adventures, all the new horizons we would like to experience.

The survival instinct points us beyond, urging us to hope for the ultimate manifestation of all these ambitious longings. It tacitly promises their accomplishment, not by our last will and testament to the loved ones we leave behind, but by the “YOU” and the “ME” who personally dreamed the dreams. It whispers in our hearts the hope of an afterlife, where we will be forever involved in learning and doing and growing.


The growth of our dreams
and our ambitious schemes
To accomplish still more as we age
Are proof, while alive,
that our souls must survive:
Life on earth only turns the first page....

David L. Hatton, 5-24-2013
(from Poems Between Birth and Resurrection)

(See also the essay on my website called, “Life after Death”)


  1. Great poem. The phrase "We die in the midst of wanting to know more about everything" is powerful in context of our limited life.

    In another context, our dreams and passions and why God put us here on this earth can die too by wanting to know more about everything.

    Even still, curiosity throughout eternity is an exciting concept that says that our spirit grows and grows and grows past our bodies.

    1. Amen, curiosity points to the eternality of our being, for it is never completely satisfied, and I believe God meant it to be so....

  2. I have found that quite recently my focus in life has taken a dramatic turn. For the first fifty-some years of my life, I was consumed with the "doing"...the "being", and while those things were good, they obscured the best. I was a husband...a father...a provider for my family, and God called all those things "good", but they left little time for the One who called them "good".

    Science and engineering may explain why my vehicle handles well, corners as if riding on rails, stops on a dime, and will turn on a dime and giving nine-cents-change back. What it doesn't explain is Who gave those engineers and scientists those fabulous talents to design that driving machine and its high-quality tires. Science doesn't always point us to our Creator, but He is where our focus should be, if our eternal survival is going to be joyous and productive.

    More recently God has forced me to pull back on the throttles and slow down, due to health issues and getting older. He also has my much-less-divided attention. Now, rather than trying to learn the science behind my vehicle, I want to know the One Who gave those minds their talents. I have had my fill of science and technology in my "past-life".

    The first question of the Westminster Shorter Catechism is: "What is the chief end of man?". The heavily-loaded answer is "Man's chief end is to glorify God, and enjoy Him forever".

    How can we rightly glorify Him Who we do not know, or enjoy Him of Whom we have no understanding? While I may be able to spout doctrine and theology like a pro, unless those things are biblicaly-accurate, and they have sunk deep in my heart, they are empty knowledge. Empty knowledge often leads to pride of knowledge, and PRIDE is an idol.

    Getting to know Him better has become a high priority in my life, and the more I know of Him, the more I WANT to know of Him. Only by knowing more of Him can I walk closer TO Him, and the closer I walk with Him, the less my earthly legacy matters.

    Properly ordering my life now will guarantee that I will have plenty of time in eternity for discovering all those things that really don't truly matter now, and which I had no time for in this life.

    God bless!


    1. Indeed, knowing the One from Whom all other interests, answers, and adventures come is the greatest adventure, a never-ending story!