Published August 28, 2020
The discovery and development of scientific research have led to the rapid advancement of knowledge. If there is anything you must know about, science will get to the bottom of it.
But it seems that no matter how rich that body of knowledge becomes, there are simply things that we cannot be sure of. This stems from the intricate nature of life and its endless possibilities.
One of the greatest mysteries in life is life itself and what happens after it. According to scientists, life after death or the continuation of the stream of consciousness is impossible. This is because biological death implies brain death. And the absence of life in the brain indicates the absence of consciousness, a product of brain activity.
If we look at it from a scientific point of view, this case is closed. Organically, our consciousness cannot continue after brain death; it’s illogical.
But what if it’s not? What if there is a deeper metaphysical substance to consciousness?
Many religions believe in an afterlife in one way, shape, or form. What determines where you end up is the sum of the actions and decisions you made in life.
For the Abrahamic religions (the ones that believe in Abraham as their first prophet) – Islam, Christianity, and Judaism, afterlife comes in the form of heaven and hell. They believe that your soul will live on until eternity after it leaves the physical world.
Other beliefs point to reincarnation as our eternal fate unless we find enlightenment. This concept is a central tenet among most Indian religions, such as Buddhism, Hinduism, Jainism, and Sikhism. It is referred to in Sanskrit as Saṃsāra and translates to “wandering,” with connotation to a continuous cycle. It refers to the cycle from birth, death, and rebirth.
Saṃsāra is most popularly known in Buddhism, where it is a journey of the soul towards its ultimate goal, enlightenment. Depending on how you live your life and karma, you may continue this cycle of suffering indefinitely. You can escape this fate if you follow The Four Noble Truths, a blueprint of sorts aimed at escaping this endless cycle.
Most atheists are quick to deny any existence of an afterlife on the basis of the lack of evidence. But the absence of proof is not proof of absence. Who’s to say that there isn’t an entirely separate plane of existence that we have yet to access? Additionally, we’ve all read about people who’ve gone through near-death experiences (now referred to as NDEs) and their recollections when they were clinically dead.
Many of these NDEs depict similar scenarios, seeing some sort of light at the end of a tunnel, all while having vivid recollections of their life’s memories. Some of these stories stand out more than others, though. One of the most popular books, selling over 7 million copies before becoming a movie, is Heaven Is For Real. It depicts the story of a young boy named Colton, who was clinically dead for three earthly minutes. During this time, he reportedly sat on Jesus’ lap while speaking to his miscarried sister, of whom he had no knowledge.
Why do humans like to believe in an afterlife?
Whether or not an afterlife exists, many of us like to put stock into such an idea for a variety of reasons. Research has found that humans are naturally inclined to believe in gods and an afterlife. In this study, the researchers found that humans are natural “dualists” capable of separating the existence between body and soul. This means that we believe we can retain memories of our identity and our consciousness beyond death.
I believe that humans try to make sense of an afterlife because the idea of death scares them. That inescapable despair that someday it’s all just going to end can eat many people up inside that it would just be more comforting to believe in an afterlife than not.
Is there a life after death? We do not know, but writing the possibility off is just as absurd as betting your entire life savings that there is one.
About The Author
Terrence Tan Ting is an industrial engineer by profession but a full time writer by passion. He loves to write about a wide range of topics from many different industries thanks to his undying curiosity.