- This article is about life after death. For the Japanese movie, see After life.
|Table of contents|
2 Afterlife as an individual existence
3 Afterlife as reward or punishment
4 Afterlife as reincarnation
5 Related studies
7 See also
8 External links
Afterlife as a belief
In the popular mind, afterlife is a belief. It is generally thought to be a non-verifiable (and non-falsifiable) belief because it is generally accepted as beyond the experiential knowledge or casual accessibility of most people (see esoteric knowledge). As a result, the popular mind relies on various sources for concepts about afterlife, arranged below in presumed order of reliability:
- Testimony of individuals who claim experiential knowledge of facets of afterlife
- by having died and then been sent back to this life
- by having visited the afterlife during a period of unconsciousness (near-death experiences)
- by having seen the afterlife during a revelatory vision
- by a unique personal gift of remembering an afterlife (before-life) existence
- Testimony of individuals who are presumed to have special insights into the afterlife
- holy ones
- miracle workers
- spectacular converts
- Claimed testimony of visitors from the afterlife
- Human intuitions of goodness assumed to emanate from the afterlife
- Speculation and extrapolation
For those who do believe in an afterlife, the various conceptions about it differ in their answer to the following questions:
- Is the afterlife a normal life, or a different type of existence?
- Are afterlife conditions a consequence of good and bad actions during life?
- Is afterlife eternal?
- Is it possible to reincarnate as a human, or as an animal/plant/mineral?
- What happens at the moment of death?
- Are ghosts and other undead a proof of an afterlife?
Afterlife as an individual existenceFor an afterlife to exist, there must be something that survives the body when death occurs; this immaterial thing is usually called soul or spirit.
Afterlife as reward or punishment
One notion of afterlife which is common to Judaism, most Christianity, and Islam is that human souls go on for eternity to a place of happiness or torment, such as heaven, hell, or purgatory or limbo.
Many religions hold that after death people get reward or punishment based on their deeds or faith.
The Christian Bible, for example, contains the words of Jesus: "The measure you give will be the measure you get." (from the Sermon on the Mount?). For many, belief in an afterlife is a consolation in connection with death of a beloved one or the prospect of one's own death. On the other hand, fear of hell etc. may make death worse.
In view of the eternity of afterlife, some consider regular life as relatively unimportant, except for determining whether or not afterlife follows, and/or what kind. It is just a provisional situation, and the metaphor of a tent as provisional housing facility is used as quoted below:
- For we know that if our earthly house of this tabernacle were dissolved, we have a building of God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens.(Bible, 2 Corinthians 5:1)
Others, including some Universalists, believe in universalism which holds that all will eventually be rewarded regardless of what they have done or believed.
Afterlife as reincarnation
Another concept which is found among Hindus and Buddhistss, believe we reincarnate, whether as humans or as animals. One consequence of the Hindu and Buddhist beliefs is that our current lives are also an afterlife, and both Hindus and Buddhists interpret events in our current life as being consequences of actions taken in previous lives. Although there is some scientific research that seems to suggest that humans may reincarnate as humans (see, for example, the writings of Dr. Ian Stevenson and Carol Bowman), there is very little (if any) evidence to suggest that humans reincarnate as animals, or vise-versa.
Some Neopagans believe in personal reincarnation, whereas some believe that the energy of one's soul reintegrates with a continuum of such energy which is recycled into other living things as they are born.
Many christians believe in reincarnation , although it is against the teachings of modern christian churches, which state that there is only one life to merit reward or damnation. However, some consider reincarnation as a lost teaching of Christianity.
The study of views of the afterlife is a concern of Eschatology, which deals with the soul, the resurrection of the dead, the messianic era, and the end of the world.
The question of whether or not there is life after death is closely related to the mind-body problem, and like that problem is one of the classic problems of so-called rational psychology and hence of one (now largely outdated) notion of the scope of metaphysics.