Fear is one of the most useful feelings that we possess. Its entire purpose is to keep us safe by helping us to avoid danger.
For most of human history, our fears have related to direct threats to our lives – tigers hiding in bushes, poisonous plants and violent storms spring to mind. But, as civilization has developed, so too has the complexity with which we view the world. Our dreams and fears have become more abstract and our primitive brains have struggled to separate fact from fiction.
For many, death is like a dark shadow, lurking just over the next hill. These people feel its touch, even if they cannot see its presence. Ironically, the more we fear death, the more we forget to live.
In talking with the members of our community, I have learned that true peace comes from understanding our place in the world and this is impossible without accepting our own mortality.
From the beginning of time, people have wondered about the mysteries of the afterlife. Our religious traditions give us glimpses of what life after death might be like, but, the big questions are still a matter of debate. To dig into this important issue, I asked the members of our community to tell us their questions about the afterlife. Their responses were fascinating!
Near-death experiences (NDEs) are often held up as evidence that the afterlife exists. As the argument goes, the experiences that people describe in their near-death experiences are too powerful and vivid to be ignored. If people are able to form memories after they are dead then surely there must be an afterlife.
Even if you are confident that life after death exists, you probably still have plenty of questions about the afterlife. So, to understand your questions better, I recently asked our community to share their questions about the afterlife. Their responses were insightful and show the spectrum of questions that we all have somewhere in our hearts.
When researchers at the University of South Hampton in the UK published the results of their near-death experiences study, the Internet lit up with headlines like “Scientists prove life after death!”
But, the question is, what do these studies really show? Do reports of near-death experiences prove that the afterlife exists? Or, are we simply not defining “death” precisely enough?
Is there life after death? Perhaps no other question is more fundamental to the human experience than this one. The majority of people believe in some form of the afterlife. But, the question is whether there is anything to back up these beliefs?
Do we have an innate knowledge of the afterlife in the same way that we know right and wrong? Or, are we simply participating in wishful thinking?
On some issues, theism and atheism seem to be diametrically opposed. For example, there is little room for compromise between the two groups on the question of whether God exists. Likewise, the wall that separates intelligent design and evolution couldn’t be higher.
But, what about the question of life after death? Certainly, most religions believe in life after death. Are there any reasons for atheists to believe in the possibility of the afterlife?
One of the best things about managing our community is having the opportunity to ask all of you your opinions about life after death. After all, despite what others may claim, no-one really knows what happens when we die. So, your guess is really as good as mine!
That said, I do believe that there are interesting things to learn from the way that each of us looks at life after death. After all, questioning our mortality is not just about what happens to us after we die – it is about how we choose to live.
Would you like to live forever? It’s a deceptively simple question. If you are like most people, your gut reaction might have been a simple “sure, why not?” Then, as …