Fear appears to be the most common emotion associated with death. From the Quote Garden:
The fear of death follows from the fear of life. A man who lives fully is prepared to die at any time. Mark Twain
We cannot banish dangers, but we can banish fears. We must not demean life by standing in awe of death. David Sarnoff
Some people are so afraid to die that they never begin to live. Henry Van Dyke
He who doesn't fear death dies only once. Giovanni Falcone 28
Beliefs about an afterlife take many forms:
Some of the conflicting belief systems concerning life after death are:
For some people, they expect their body to be instantly transformed into a spritual body. Some who have met certain criteria during life on Earth, will live forever in Heaven or Paridise with the presence of God. This is the formal teaching of most traditions within Christianity and Islam -- two religions which, taken together, are followed by a little over 50% of the Earth's population.
Associated with the above belief, others live on in isolation from God. This is also what many currently living religiously unaffiliated persons, Atheists, and Agnostics experience daily.
Most fundamentalists and other evangelical Christians and some other Christians and Muslims believe that some people are held as prisoners in the torture chambers of Hell, again for all eternity.
Hinduism, Buddhism, some other Asian religions, and some other faiths teach that after death, a person's soul or spirit is reincarnated in a new human body. This sequence of life, death, and reincarnation is called samsara. The nature of the next life is influenced by a person's behavior in their present life.
The various traditions of Judaism have only vague teachings about an afterlife. Many believers simply leave the matter in the hands of a good God.
Some Eastern religious believe in the Transmigration of the Soul, a.k.a. metempsychosis. This is similar to reincarnation, except that a person's soul can be reborn in the body of a human, an animal, or even as an inanimate object.
One ancient Celtic belief taught that two nearly identical Earths exist. When a person dies on one Earth, they are immediately delivered as a newborn baby on the other Earth. This sequence continues forever.
Others note that the human brain contains the person's conscousness, personality, talents, memories, traits, sexual orientation, gender identity, etc. At death, all the brain's functions cease. The brain and the rest of the body rot. They conclude that a person's consciousness also ceases at death and there is no afterlife.
Unfortunately, there does not appear to be any hard evidence to prove whether one of these belief systems is true, or whether they are all wrong.
Belief in some form of life after death by adults of different faiths:
A UCLA study in 1999 found the following levels of belief in an afterlife among different religious groups:
American Population 11
Belief in an afterlife (among
Belief in an afterlife (among
Belief in an afterlife (among Jews)
Belief in an afterlife (among Notas*)
A "Nota" is a person that is NOT Affiliated with a faith group. The media typically use the term "Nones" in place of "Notas".
We avoid "Nones" because it is a homonym of "Nuns." When spoken, it causes confusion.
Change in beliefs about an afterlife, Heaven and Hell between the years 2000 and 2014:
The Roper Center for Public Opinion Research has polled a random selection of American adults since 1994. 27 Beliefs vary little over two decades. One of the most notable factor is that very few of those polled either did not answer the question, or gave a "Don't know" reply.
Believe In life after death
Believe In Heaven
Believe in Hell
Belief in life after death and belief in Heaven are in decline, as one would expect with the increasing secularism in the U.S. However, the belief in Hell increased slightly for no obvious reason, although not to a statistically significant amount.
These results expose a strange problem: If, during 2014, belief in heaven is 80%, how can belief in life after death be significantly lower, at 73%?
The reason may be found in a poll by ABC News/Washinton Post in 1986. That poll showed that, among people who believed in Heaven, 82% believed that Heaven was a place where people lived spiritually, but not physically. A subsequent poll by ABC News in 2005 found that 78% beiieved that people lived there spiritually, 8% believed that people lived there physically; 8% said both; 6% said they didn't know or didn't answer.
Perhaps when people are asked about "life after death" they think in terms of human life much like it exists on Earth. When they are asked about Heaven they think about people living as as spiritual beings, wih physical bodies, or both.
All who do not accept Christ as savior will go to Hell.
A person's religious belief will not determine where they will go.
Hell is not a place but a state of separation from God.
Hell is a place where people are tormented.
Believe in Heaven
The person polled is likely to go to Heaven
Belief in Hell
54%, 85%, 73%, 69%
8, 7, 9, 25
The person polled is likely to go to Hell
17%, 3%, 6%
8, 7, 9
God will decide who goes to heaven or
Good Atheists will enter heaven.
One must believe in God in order to be
Hell is a real place
Hell is a figurative representation of
eternal separation from God
A good person who isn't of your faith can
get to heaven
A good person who isn't of your faith
cannot get to heaven
* These three results came from a poll of visitors to the ChristianWebSite
during 2003-SEP. It is probable that the vast majority of participants in
the poll were Fundamentalist and other evangelical Christians. 22
T. Hargrove & G.H. Stempel III, "Poll indicates a haunted
nation." Nando Times, 1999-OCT-27. Describes a poll by Scripps
Howard News Service and Ohio University during 1999-SEP/OCT. Margin of
A poll conducted for Newsweek magazine in 1999-JUN.
"Most Americans believe in ghosts: Survey shows 1/3 accept astrology,
1/4 reincarnation," WorldNetDaily, 2003-FEB-27. The data poll was
collected by Harris Poll from 2003-JAN-21 to 27. 2,201 subjects. Margin of