Quantcast
About this site
About us
Our beliefs
Your first visit?
Contact us
External links
Good books
Visitors' essays
Our forum
New essays
Other features
Buy a CD
Vital notes

World religions
BUDDHISM
CHRISTIANITY
 Christian def'n
 Shared beliefs
 Handle change
 Bible topics
 Bible inerrancy
 Bible harmony
 Interpret Bible
 Persons
 Beliefs, creeds
 Da Vinci code
 Revelation 666
 Denominations
HINDUISM
ISLAM
JUDAISM
WICCA / WITCHCRAFT
Other religions
Cults and NRMs
Comparing religions

Non-theistic...
Atheism
Agnosticism
Humanism
Other

About all religions
Main topics
Basic info.
Gods/Goddesses
Handling change
Doubt/security
Quotes
Movies
Confusing terms
Glossary
World's end
True religion?
Seasonal events
Science/Religion
More info.

Spiritual/ethics
Spirituality
Morality/ethics
Absolute truth

Peace/conflict
Attaining peace
Relig. tolerance
Relig. freedom
Relig. hatred
Relig. conflict
Relig. violence

"Hot" topics
Very hot topics
10 command.
Abortion access
Assisted suicide
Cloning
Death penalty
Environment
Gay marriage
Homosexuality
Human rights
Military/LGBT
Nudism
Origins
Sex & gender
Sin
Spanking kids
Stem cells
Transexuality
Women-rights
Other topics

Laws and news
Religious laws
Religious news

Sponsored links

 

 

!!!!!!!! Search error!  If the URL ends something like .htm/  or .htm# delete the character(s) after .htm and hit return.

Beliefs about the afterlife

Introduction:

Sponsored link.


Quotations:

bullet

"Nobody gets out of life alive." Anon
 

bullet

"Nothing is certain other than death and taxes," Anon
 

bullet

"Life is a disease; it is inevitably fatal," Anon
 

bullet

"There is no murky pit of hell awaiting anyone ... Mind cannot arise alone without body, or apart from sinews and blood ... You must admit, therefore, that when then body has perished, there is an end also of the spirit diffused through it. It is surely crazy to couple a mortal object with an eternal." Lucretius (Roman poet and philosopher,circa 94 BCE to 49 CE)

Why is belief in the afterlife important?

Human beings, apparently alone among all the life forms on earth, are aware that their life is finite. According to many theologians and mental health professionals, one of the main comforts that people obtain from their religious faith is the assurance that life will not end at their death. They believe that it will continue in some form for all eternity. 

bullet

Søren Kierkegaard "... proposed that the awareness and fear of dying is so fundamental to human nature that it underlies most human beliefs and ways of behaving." 1
 

bullet

Episcopal Bishop John Shelby Spong wrote that only humans are self-aware enough to realize that our lives are counting down toward some unknown end. And it scares us, so we invented religion to give us solace. Religion tells us that good deeds in this life will be rewarded with a place in heaven in the next, while bad people will be sentenced to hell. 2

Another reasons for the widespread belief in an afterlife might be the desire for justice. In some sections of the Hebrew Scriptures (Old Testament) the reward for righteous behavior is said to be a long life and many children. But this does not necessarily work out in practice. The world is often not a very fair place: Many good people die young, and childless. Good people sometimes suffer in poverty and/or with disease. Many evil people lead rewarding, rich, healthy, and long lives. Many religions offer a belief in the afterlife that includes a resolution to the justice problem. If there is a final judgment after death, and if some people go to eternal punishment Hell while others go to an eternal reward in Heaven, then evil will be ultimately punished; goodness will be eventually rewarded. The scales of justice, which do not seem to be particularly well balanced on earth may be compensated for after death. 

Sponsored link:

What faith groups believe about the afterlife:

bullet

Most Western religions, including most Christian faith groups, have historically taught that one's eventual destination is either an eternal reward in Heaven or Paradise, or extreme torture in Hell, either for a finite time, or for all eternity.

The most popular religions in North America teach that individuals will be sent to either Heaven or Hell, based upon one or more of the following factors:
 
bulletTheir beliefs at the precise instant of their death.
 
bulletTheir behavior during their entire lifetime.
 
bulletThe presence of any unforgiven sins committed before death.
 
bulletChurch sacraments and rituals that have been performed prior and even after death.
 
bulletSome combination of the above.

Even within Christianity, there exists a range of beliefs on how one gets to Heaven; all are firmly based on biblical passages:
 
bulletFundamentalists and other evangelicals generally believe that everyone will go to Hell unless they have repented of their sins and trusted Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. Some have special provisions for those who have never heard the Gospel.
 
bulletMost mainline and liberal Christians either discount the existence of Hell or base entry into heaven on committing good works while on Earth.
 
bulletRoman Catholics are taught that committing a mortal sin can prevent a person from attaining Heaven, but that church sacraments can fix that. 
 

In addition, there are many variations in belief about what sequence of events happens after death. Most faiths group assert that their particular beliefs are correct and are firmly based on accurate interpretations of Bible passages. Obviously, most faith groups must be wrong. In fact, it is even possible that all may be mistaken.

Some conflicting beliefs are:

bulletMany people experience painful punishment in Purgatory in order to purify them before they are eventually admitted to Heaven; a very few go directly to Heaven; many go to Hell at death.
 
bulletAll saved Christians go to Heaven; the vast majority of humans, including all non-Christians will go to Hell.
 
bulletEveryone will go to heaven.
 
bulletAt death, individuals enter a "soul sleep," a period of unconsciousness. They expect to be awakened later at the Final Judgment. They are then routed to either Heaven or Hell.
 
bulletHell is not a torture chamber "out there". It is a state of anguish that people experience while alive on Earth. 
 
bulletHell is not a place of punishment. Bible passages about Hell must be interpreted symbolically.
 
bulletAfter people die, life does not continue in any form. Nothing is left of the person who once lived, other than the impact of their life on others, and any contributions that they have made to their children's DNA.
 
bulletWe simply don't know what happens after death.
 
bulletEastern religions generally teach that, at death, one's soul is transferred into another living being -- either a human or other animal, who lives another life on earth. Some will eventually escape this sequence of repeated lifetimes and merge with the Ultimate.

Reference:

  1. Quoted in: Robert Buckman, "Can we be good without God?, Viking, (2000), Page 78. Read reviews or order this book safely from Amazon.com online book store
  2. Stuart Laidlaw, "Live like you imagine there's no heaven," an interview of Bishop Jon Shelby Spong, The Star, 2009-OCT-13, at: http://www.thestar.com/

Copyright © 2001 to 2009 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Originally written: 2001-FEB-24
Latest update: 2009-OCT-14
Author: B.A. Robinson

line.gif (538 bytes)
Sponsored link


Go to the previous page, or go to the afterlife menu, choose:

Google
Web ReligiousTolerance.org

Go to home page  We would really appreciate your help

E-mail us about errors, etc.  Purchase a CD of this web site

FreeFind search, lists of new essays...  Having problems printing our essays?


Twitter link

Facebook icon

Google Page Translator:

This page translator works on Firefox,
Opera, Chrome, and Safari browsers only

After translating, click on the "show
original" button at the top of this
page to restore page to English.

 

Sponsored link: