Discuss your opinion on whether or not there is an "Afterlife"The more diverse populations I get in my classrooms the more I have encountered a myriad of opinions and views on whether there is a...

Discuss your opinion on whether or not there is an "Afterlife"

The more diverse populations I get in my classrooms the more I have encountered a myriad of opinions and views on whether there is a place to which we go after we die.  I have heard everything from Reincarnation within a higher order, to an entrance into a new dimension, and even the roaming around until "The Second Coming of Jesus" happens.

Ultimately, I reckon it is up to each of us to come to terms with "an ending". However, losing one of my best friends to a 5 year battle with brain cancer just disheveled every well-groomed belief that I was ever taught to believe in regarding "a heaven" or anything else. All I know is that the disease not only took my friend but deflated an entire family from their core.

So, what is your opinion of an "Afterlife"? IS there one? Where would it be? What is your say?

Expert Answers
Karen P.L. Hardison eNotes educator| Certified Educator

This is a terrible situation, and we all at one time or another find ourselves in it or watching it. I know the only comfort my maternal grandmother and my mother had in their losses were their deeply embedded beliefs in a Christian afterlife--although I never knew them to rationalize present suffering in terms of afterlife bliss. I know when I was a small girl, the only hope I had was an unconscious "knowledge" that I'd see my Grandma again (I say "unconscious" because our church services were all in German and if they talked about this, I wouldn't have known it ... besides, I was too busy mimicking the pastor's gracefully sweeping black silk embellished gestures to have noticed). Today, I do believe in an after-experience but don't define it in traditional Christian terms (which I think are metaphors for what was not known for a long stretch of human history) and certainly not in Christian fundamentalist terms (which is a historically new take on Christianity). As to "where" the afterlife might be, the answer to that begins with the understanding of a finite space and time.

Science has measured the shape of the universe (it is more flat than convex or concave); found the dominate sound of the Cosmic Microwave Background (CMB), which is the key of B (or is it B flat?); mapped out the clusters of dark matter; discovered that matter is moving apart but doing so in a distinguishable path moving toward one spot at one edge of the universe. This all supports the finding of a finite space-time continuum; and neutrinos are suspected of moving faster than the speed of light (!). Therefore the "location" of an after life must of necessity be beyond space and time as all that is within space-time is defined as finite and is dominated by baryronic matter (thanks either to the Higgs boson or possibly to those peculiar little oscillating neutrinos). As to the nature of the afterlife: it will be analogous to present life: likes will group with likes (despite overzealous Western misappropriation and misapplication of Yin/Yang opposite attractions). In other words, those with destructive, chaotic engeric dominance will group together as they do in life and those with up-building, nourishing energic dominance will group together as in life. May there be anything further in this description? Yes, there may be.

If the definition of "God" or the "Universal Consciousness" or the "Supreme Power" or "the heart-shaped vacuum" etc is accurately understood as being a personality that embraces/embodies goodness, peace, love, mercy, gentleness, kindness, longsuffering, righteousness, justice, sacrificiality, joyousness, lovingkindness, etc, then THAT energic dominance will group with or more accurately, perhaps, attract to itself the energic group that tends toward these qualities. Therefore, according to this description, it is possible to say that the energic dominance of "God" will attract to itself the similar energic group while the opposing energic group will be separated by virtue of its own oppositional energic dominance from the presence of the "God" energic dominance and the entrained energic group defined above as up-building and nourishing.

A couple of good books to read in this situation of loss and heartbreak and confusion are The Living Universe by Schwartz and Russek and The Reconnection by Eric Pearl [CAVEAT: The opening of Pearl's Part I biography strikes most people as vain and arrogant and "over the top": SKIP it. Start at Chapter 4 ... or even at Part II. Honest. I jest not. If you like Part II, you can work back through Part I ... starting at Chapter 4 ...!]



stolperia eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I think we all go through periods of questioning and reexamining the basis of beliefs that have been "on the back burner" during times when we haven't suffered the type of loss you describe. I know I'm there after my father's passing last summer.

However, I don't have to be able to explain it to have absolute faith that there is an afterlife. I believe that my parents are reunited there and that I will be reunited with them at some time in the future. Where it will happen, how I will recognize them, what form our heavenly bodies will take - I don't know. Fortunately, I don't need to understand - all God asks is that I confess my belief and live in the light of that faith, which I try to do every day with God's help.

Lorraine Caplan eNotes educator| Certified Educator

We have no evidence, really, for or against the existence of an afterlife, so it is purely a matter of faith, and of course, the idea appeals to some inherent sense of fairness, that if we are good, there will be a reward, and if we are bad, there will be a punishment.  So often, in life, it seems to us that good people are not always rewarded and bad people are not always punished. Since our ideas of rewards differ dramatically from one person to the next, each of us is going to have a different picture of what a good afterlife could be, and of course, our religious and cultural heritages have a great deal of influence on that picture, too.  Personally, I am agnostic on this, and I don't mind waiting to find out.

pohnpei397 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Questions don't come much bigger than this, do they?

I personally don't have complete faith that there is an afterlife.  When I try to reason about it, I can't.  It makes no sense to me that there would be one, but then again, it makes no sense that there isn't.  So I'm agnostic and I have hope, but not faith.

As for what it would be like, I think that it should be a case where our afterlife consists of us (at least initially) being treated in the way that we treated others.  In other words, we should get what we deserve.  I would hope that, over time, we could improve as we come to truly understand the iimpacts of our actions on others.

But who knows...

litlady33 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I do believe there is some kind of afterlife. As a Catholic, I grew up learning about the existence of heaven and hell. As I have gotten older, I have started to question those things; however, every part of me still believes that there is something. I don't believe the human mind can/should be capable of understanding certain things. I think that when we die, something will happen to us that we cannot even fathom now. Also, I do not believe that any one religion is right and one is wrong. In some ways and to a certain extent, we all believe in the same things, we just have different ways of explaining it.

literaturenerd eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I, too, was brought up as a Christian. While I have veered from being a practicing Christian, I have not lost my own personal faith. I think that, while nothing has been proven, sometimes it is comforting to believe in something like the afterlife.

There are many times that I find myself "speaking" with my grandfather (who passed away in 2003), so I guess that speaking to him alone would prove in my own belief in the afterlife.

lmetcalf eNotes educator| Certified Educator

My religion teaches that there is an afterlife and I have faith in my religious teachings and beliefs, therefore I believe in a heaven and a hell. As a Catholic, I also believe in purgatory as a place where a sinner can go to repent for their non-mortal sins and eventually earn a place in heaven. I believe that there is a higher purpose to this life; and I want to be reunited with those I have lost from this life.

bullgatortail eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I was brought up as a Christian, and the faith of an afterlife is an important part of my religion. My faith is tested often: I have just returned from the funeral of a close friend, one for whom I prayed regularly to beat the cancer that wracked her body. Her death seems to have left my prayers unanswered, but a deeper faith hopes that the afterlife will leave her free from pain and at peace.

mwestwood eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Since no one has returned after death and told us what exactly happens, we all must base our beliefs upon faith--or science.  There are, of course, the testimonies of people who have died on operating tables and been brought back; these experiences tell of the light, the passage of a long "tunnel" or hallway where friends/family wait for them. But, what happens after this "passage"?


vangoghfan eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Thanks for a thought-provoking post.  Mainly I just wanted to express sympathy for the people above who have recently lost friends.

wanderista | Student

I believe more in the Buddhist belief that when we pass away, we come back as something else based on the actions of what we have done. For example, a criminal would come back as a rat or an insect. A community worker would come back as a dolphin or a monkey. It seems, in my opinion a more likely outcome than a 'heaven' or 'hell'. However, I am not ruling out those possibilies as they are possible.

So, essentially, no - I personally do not believe in an afterlife. However, I am not ruling it out as a possiblity.

anveshanushka | Student

sum r born poor and sum r born rich...........!! sum have complete luxuries of life while sum r nt able to witness it.....all such things r determined by our fate and fate is determined by our actions.......actions of our past life.......

he is so lucky ....!!...didnt u ever heard ur frnd saying this.....a person is lucky because of his good behaviour and actions generally related to our previous life.....

MEDITATION is such one thng where we can obtain energies (cosmic energies) of the whole universe....we can also look into our past lives....:)..THIS IS THE TRUTH.!!

moreover...we should try to be at our best in the present life so we can assure safe annd best afterlife.....!! :)


najm1947 | Student

I think there is another aspect of the concept of life after death that has not been discussed in the earlier posts. The civilised people in this world, irrespective of their faith and believe, like to live in a society where justice prevails. History tells us that great civilisations perished when people were subjected to oppression and social injustice. We all know that in spite of all efforts on the part of the government and the people, it is impossible to establish a society with complete peace, harmony and justice - if it was possible, it will be utopia. There will be incidents of oppression, cruelty, murder, terrorism, loot, plundering and the like. In most of these cases, dispensation of complete justice is not possible. Time spent under oppression and cruelty cannot be undone. Murdered loved ones cannot be reunited. Money plundered or looted and spent by the criminals not retrieved. So what is there for the one who has suffered all the pain and anxiety in this world. Serial killers can be punished only once through capital punishment, multiple executions are not possible. So what is there to console the sufferers.

There has to be an afterlife to complete the process of justice - A place for completion of reward and punishment, to console the bereaved, to reunite the unnaturally separated and to award the destitute.

It is only the afterlife that gives us hope and courage to live our lives here with all fairness whatever the circumstances may be.

cmanetti | Student

We aren't able to answer this question about the existence of an afterlife

frizzyperm | Student

When we die, we know our physical body lies in the Earth and breakdowns into its component chemicals. We do not physically survive death. But religions tell us that something other than the physical form is freed upon our death and departs to another existence. We survive death in a supernatural place beyond our physical reach. Each religion has a different explanation for where we go, but all religions promise that when you die, you will not truly die.

Death was always a great and frightening mystery for early societies and ancestor worship is ultimately the root of every single religious system. All of humanity has always asked, "Where do we go after death?" And, many many answers have been popularised and taught. But generally the modern religious answer is,

"If you believe what we say, you go to Big Rock Candy Mountain when you die and see your loved ones again. But if you don't believe what we say, you will be tortured for the whole of eternity."

That sounds like a distinctly human contract to me. How did the author of this very convenient answer get information about a 'realm' which is utterly beyond our detection? Sorry, but I smell a rat.

"The days of our years are threescore years and ten; and if by reason of strength they be fourscore years, yet is their strength labour and sorrow; for it is soon cut off, and we fly away." Psalm 90:10

Hmm... I reckon you just get the threescore and ten... and that's your lot.

fatim30 | Student

Well, im a student but i'd like to give my opinion..  you see every religion has its own  phenomena , like muslims they have total belief in "Life after death", this doesen't means that they'll come back to this world, but after they die they go to a completely DIFFERENT world, they sinners would be suffering in their graves while the good people will be in heaven, in Islam it is said that when a person dies , there is an angel of "Question-answers", who  would ask main details about  his life and one day will come when this whole world will perish , each and every thing would be destroyed, then there would be THE DAY OF JUDGEMENT.

Well, im a muslim, so i just wanted to give my opinion, as for as other religions , I have no idea.