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? As unlikely as it may sound, I believe that there are actually several reasons for atheists to at least consider the possibility of life after death.

None of the following life after death scenarios require a belief in a higher power (at least in a traditional sense), but, they still allow atheists to believe that life may not be limited to our time on Earth.

The Intelligent Universe Path to Life After Death

Ray Kurzweil and others have argued that we are on the verge of developing artificial superintelligence (ASI.) If this happens, by some time in the 2040s, a single computer may have the processing power of every single human on Earth.

One possible outcome of this kind of runaway superintelligence is that our technological “children” will set out to explore the universe.

But, here’s the thing. While we may look at ASI as being completely separate from human intelligence, the reality is that some of us will have digitalized our brains decades before its arrival.

So, if our memories, personalities and thoughts become a part of a future ASI, in a very real sense, we will experience life after the death of our physical bodies.

If the singularity comes to pass, some of us will experience life after death as digital entities. Others will take new physical bodies or live in virtual reality environments. Either way, our connection to the intelligent universe may create a feeling that is similar to what some religious people wish for in a connection to God.

The Body Revival Path to Life After Death

For many non-believers, cryogenics offers another possible path to life after death. The basic concept here is to freeze the body in the hope that it can be revived and repaired in the future.

Sound farfetched? Not to the 350 people who have already opted to have this procedure done on their bodies through organizations like the Michigan-based Cryonics Institute.

Despite the high price-tag (between $35,000 – $200,000), thousands of people are thought to be on the waiting lists of the three or four major companies offering this procedure.

When these people are reanimated, will they be the first among us to experience life after death? Only time will tell!

The Simulated Universe Path to Life After Death

One of the reasons that many religious people give for their belief in a higher power is that the universe is simply too complex, organized and, let’s face it, strange to be the result of random chance. They argue that only an intelligent being could have created our reality.

But, what if God didn’t create the universe? What if, instead, we are actually living inside an alien-designed computer simulation? It’s actually not as far-fetched an idea as it might sound!

In fact, some of the world’s most well-respected physicists recently debated the likelihood of the “simulated universe” theory at the Isaac Asimov Memorial Debate at the American Museum of Natural History.

According to Moderator, Neil deGrasse Tyson, there is about a 50% chance that we are living in a simulated universe.

What does this mean for the concept of life after death? A lot!

For starters, whoever programmed out universe could have decided to include an afterlife in the simulation. Perhaps a belief in the afterlife is such a powerful motivator that they decided to use it as a tool to push our behavior in one direction or another.

In addition, there is an argument to be made that not including some kind of afterlife or reincarnation in a simulated universe would be wasteful. After all, regardless of whether we live in a simulation or a real universe, there is no denying that we learn, grow and expand during our lifetimes. It would be a waste for all of that life experience to simply disappear.

Perhaps the most efficient way to store our memories and retain our experiences is simply to have our own personal simulations continue after the death of our virtual bodies… or to have us take part in virtual reincarnation. It’s a possibility worth considering.

In the final analysis, the concept of life after death is relevant to all human beings because it gets to the very core of who we are as people. So, whether you believe in a higher power or not, I hope that you will take the time to consider your role as a spiritual being with limitless potential.

Do you believe that a belief in God is necessary in order to believe in the afterlife? Why or why not?