People die eventually. Death is when a person's
physical body stops functioning, and their life on Earth
in their current physical form ends. The medical term
for death is when the brain activity stops.
There are different ideas
about how we live on
Through a legacy
Some people believe that immortality can be achieved through
the legacy that the individual leaves behind. This legacy could be
a work of art, music, literature or architecture, a scientific
discovery or invention, or some charitable work. However once
that legacy is gone, such as a building they designed being
demolished, the person is not longer remembered through that
Through the memory of others
Some people survive in the memory of family and friends, who probably have
photographs, keepsakes and fond recollections of the person. However, when the
last person who remembers them dies, then the memory dies with them.
Types of Immortality
Some people think immortality is achieved through resurrection.
Resurrection is the belief that the person is raised from the dead in some
form. This could be either in a physical form or as an immortal soul.
Other people believe that humans achieve immortality through reincarnation. This is the belief that after
death, the person's soul is transferred into a new body at birth, which may be totally different from that of
the previous life. The aim is that, through each lifetime, the soul will improve itself, until it achieves
perfection. When it is perfect, the soul will not be reborn but will enter a state of bliss. The law of karma
judges the quality of each life lived.
Buddhists prefer to use the term rebirth rather
than reincarnation. This is because they don't
believe in a soul. The Buddha taught that it's not an
individual soul but an ever-changing individual
character that moves from rebirth to rebirth.
We know that the body decays after death ,
so one problem is what form the body raised
will take. If there is no soul, then how can a
person be resurrected?
One suggestion is that people are
given a new, immortal body when
they are resurrected. The body
still looks the same as the person
who died and has his/her
memories, but is an immortal
body that will not age or decay.
Some religious believers say that the body
decays, but each person has an immortal soul
that continues after death. When they die their
physical body decays, but the soul is resurrected
to an afterlife.
A problem with this is there is no evidence that a soul exists but
believers say that the soul is made of a different substance from the
physical body that cannot be seen or detected by medical equipment
Another problem is identification. If people are not
recognised because of their physical form, can it still be the
The main problem is that
if you no longer have the
same body, you have not
survived death, meaning
you haven't achieved
To be reborn is not the
aim because that would
me total loss of
Most religions teach that Go has revealed himself through the scriptural
accounts and believers use this to support their belief in life after death.
Religious believers accept that the teachings within the scriptures are
true so they believe whatever is written about life after death.
e.g The Bible says 'Jesus said to her, "I am
the resurrection and the life. He who
believes in me will live, even though he
dies; and whoever lives and believes in me
will never die'.
Some people believe that ghosts are genuine manifestations of dead
people rather than hallucinations, because often, more than one
people see them.
Channelling involves communication between the living and those who have
died and are in the spirit world. Many of the mediums that claim to be able to
contact the dead have passed on messages from departed spirits that contain
accurate information, which was previously unknown to the medium.
Near Death Experiences
Advances in modern technology have resulted in more people who have been declared clinically dead
being resuscitated. While 'dead' some patients describe experiences that are very similar. The most
common feature is being drawn down a tunnel towards a light.
Arguments Against Immortality
Lack of proof
The major problem is that there is not certainty that anyone has actually
come back from the dead, or has contacted the dead through a medium.
Bodies decay in the grave or are burned. People can see for themselves that the
bodies of dead people are not everlasting. They have proof that the physical forms
of humans don't survive death.
There are different understandings in scriptures of what life after
death is like. Therefore these scriptures are unreliable and cannot
be accepted as proof.
Although there are many people who accept ghosts, channelling and
NDEs as proof of immortality, there isn't enough proof to consider them
as genuine evidence.
Science and Atheism
Richard Dawkins (an atheist) rejects any concept of an immortal soul. He claims that the belief in a
soul is the result of people refusing to accept there is no purpose to life. He believes each human is the
product of evolution and people only survive by passing on the DNA to future generations.
Cryonics is the low-temperature preservation of humans, who can no longer
be kept alive by modern medicine, until such time as resuscitation when a cure
may be possible. But if the soul leaves the body straight away, how can the
body live on?
Since the late 1950s,
satellites have ben sent
into space. Today
telescopes can see into
the farthest galaxies and
yet no evidence of souls
going to heaven or even
heaven itself! Surely if
there was an afterlife we
would have found visual
evidence by now.
What is dualism?
Dualists argue that
there are two distinct
parts to a person: a
mind (soul) and a body.
Dualism goes along with the theory that the soul separates
from the body and goes to an afterlife.
What is materialism
A materialist believes that
the minds are inseparable
from our bodies. They reject
any idea of a soul.