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A key topic: beliefs about life
death, mainly in Christianity
A Quotation by Epicurus, in a Letter to Menoeceus, during the third century BCE:
"Therefore death, the most terrifying of evils, is nothing to us, since for the time when we are, death is not present; and for the time when death is present, we are not. Therefore it is nothing either to the living or the dead since it is not present for the former, and the latter are no longer."
Niccolo Machiavelli's last words when he died at the age of 58:
"I desire to go to Hell and not to Heaven. In the former I shall enjoy the company of popes, kings and princes, while in the latter are only beggars, monks and apostles.
Mitch Alborn, an American author, journalist, screenwriter, dramatist, radio and television broadcaster, and musician:
and, on the same theme:
- Tommy Wong, from his book, "Wisdom on How to Live Life - Book 3")
"Guru: Okay, what is the spiritual solution to death?
Tom: The solution is to believe that we’re souls and not bodies.
Guru: And then?
Tom: Then, souls do not die. They live forever. So we actually cannot die.
Guru: How does this belief help the living?
Tom: By believing that we cannot die, we don’t fear death. And by not fearing death, we don’t fear life.
Guru: Yes, splendid answer. And by not fearing life, you can really be alive in your life."
Is there life after death? What form does it take?
Various Christian denominations and leaders have taught conflicting answers
to those two questions:
||We eventually land up in Heaven, Hell, Limbo, Purgatory, Sheol,
or some other place, state, or condition.
||We simply disappear and cease to exist in any form.
||Our souls separate immediately from our body and go
to Heaven or Hell while our bodies remain on Earth to decay.
||We sleep for a long
time after death before being woken up for a Final Judgment, when we learn whether we will go to Heaven or Hell.
||We are reincarnated
into new bodies to live another lifetime on Earth, either as a human or animal.
||Infants who die go to Limbo, where they remain in an infant state forever.
Unfortunately, the Bible seems hopelessly ambiguous on matters related to life after death. This
can be shown by the great variety of
scenarios, covering the above options and more, which have been proposed by different
Christian faith groups and writers over almost two
Each group has based their beliefs on what they regard as true interpretations of key biblical
passages, supported by church tradition, reason and the occasional "near death experience" (NDE) when people have claimed to have died, gone to heaven or hell, and returned to llfe on Earth.
faith groups teach that their beliefs are correct, while all others are wrong.
It is obvious that most or all of the tens of thousands of faith groups
around the world are mistaken in their beliefs.
To answer the above question:
Just about every devout churchgoer is absolutely certain that there is life after
death and that they know what form it takes. Generally, these beliefs match the
teachings of their faith group.
||Any priest, priestess, pastor, minister, etc. would probably be happy to fill you
in with the details of what their particular faith group teaches.
One might try to determine the truth via prayer to God. However, a
pilot study that we conducted some years ago
indicated that getting such answers from God through prayer is unreliable.
No human may really know where the truth lies. If life after death exists, it might be necessary to die first before we learn the truth. Even worse: if there is no afterlife to experience, then we will never know, because -- after death -- we will not have a functioning brain to realize that there is no afterlife.
Topics in this section:
||Beliefs about the afterlife: Heaven, Hell, Purgatory,
||About Hell itself:|
||Beliefs about Hell:|
||Beliefs unique to Roman Catholics:|
|Essay donated by Contributing Editor, Susan Humphreys:|
Related topics elsewhere in this web site:
Copyright © 2001 to 2018 by Ontario Consultants on Religious
Originally written: 2001-FEB-24
Latest update: 2018-OCT-14
Author: B.A. Robinson