The possibility of an afterlife
– Brief summary of the topic
The fundamental question in the discussion of the afterlife is what that life will look like. When a person dies, the body becomes incapable of movement, though the body does not just disintegrate. In the Book of Psalms, chapter 104, verse 29, it is stated that it is God who gives life, and is also the one who takes that life away. Burying the remains of the person generally is done when the body is placed into a cave or pit, where the remains of the person will join the remains of the other members of his/her family. The body can also be placed in a common grave if there are no relatives that will claim the body.
The empirical evidence of the life of the person in the afterlife is premised on the life that the person practiced in the physical life. At the time of death, many people believe that not only the outer, or physical, person dies; the inner, or spiritual, person dies as well. Interpreting Chapter 39, verse 14 of the Book of Psalms, death is taken to mean that the person departs and is gone from the physical plane of existence (Neusner, Avery-Peck, Chilton, 2000, p. 63).
Western civilization has engraved upon the hearts of generations the fearsome image of the Grim Reaper. The Reaper has come to symbolize the icon of the event that coercively comes to take people away sans any sense of time and opportunity. However, since the onset of studies on the factor of “ near death experiences” (NDEs), the comfort of the knowledge that there is a compassionate “ Being of Light” is slowly but steadily displacing the image of the “ Grim Reaper” as the preeminent icon of death in society.
Nevertheless, if taken in a purely scientific discussion, the study of people who have experienced near death experiences offer the best evidence associated with the probability of life after death. The evidence here is deficient in proving what persons actually go through after unrepeatable biological death. Being able to be given information from those who have died on the possibility of life after death can certainly help in this regard; unfortunately, none have returned to do so (Rosen, 2005, p. 238).
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Detailed discussion of the research
The canon of “ life after death” is a critical element in Christian doctrine. In his estimation of the views on the possibility of life after death, Baron Friedrich Von Hugel, in echoing the words of Saint Paul on the hope of Christians in the afterlife, noted that:
Religion, in its fullest development, essentially requires, not only this our
little span of earthly years, but a life beyond” (p. 265) (Donnelly, 1994, p. 265).
Many scholars, inclusive of John Hick, have devoted significant time and effort to the discussion of the probability of an afterlife. Hick writes that all types of religious comprehension of man’s existence, not only the life of the individual, but also the life of all humanity, must have the requisite of a belief in the immortal and would be significantly altered without this belief (Jantzen, cited in Donnelly, 1994, p. 265). The possibility for a life after death should not be taken out as a basis for a future hope; however, it also must not be used in discounting the actual experience of crossing over is ignored or belittled (Vogt, 2004, p. 80).
B. Investigate current events related to topic by researching at least 2 different circumstances.
Much of the research dealing with these near death or afterlife situations has been the subject of much skepticism among the scientific community. Many scholars have brushed off these claims as the product of “ anecdotal” pieces of testimony or the claims of New Age followers. However, there are scientists that seem motivated to prove that religion and science regarding life after death can be blended together (Burnell, 2001, p. 1). C. Explain and evaluate different sides of any controversial issues.
The paper thus far has discussed the religious tenets of the possibility of life after death; here, British scientists have come to the fore with revolutionary findings; the human consciousness expands independent of the physical brain and the physical body. Peter Fenwick, connected with the British Institute of Psychiatry, and Sam Parnia, clinical research fellow at University Hospital, will release their findings in Resuscitation, the European Council of Resuscitation’s journal. Fenwick and Parnia based their findings on research on interviews with a sample of 63 people who survived near-fatal cardiac episodes.
Four of the sample lot qualified under the parameters of the Grayson Scale, the narrowly comprehended medical system to validate near-death experiences. In the research of Grayson, it was found that there were no physiological factors that came into play in these episodes; what was evident in these episodes that the four had increased amounts of oxygen in their brains.
This, according to Fenwick, can account for the sensations of relaxation and experiencing esoteric feelings and enhanced senses. Fenwick concludes that the presence of an increased level of oxygen in the brain can lend credence to the experiences; pundits aver that the lack of oxygen in the brain is the reason for the experiences recounted by the survivors (Burnell, 2001, p. 1). D. Argue for all sides in paper indicating the pro’s and con’s of each point of view.
As there has been a discussion on the possibility of an afterlife, and the possible scenarios that are associated with an afterlife, there are now those that dispute the possibility of the existence of a human soul that will be “ transported” to the afterlife after the person’s death. The question is whether there is a place for the concept of a human soul in a technologically driven, modern and educated society. As science has framed the world as a menagerie of mechanical components bearing on each other, the instance of experts in quantum physics trying to explain away the concept of a soul from religious to mechanical terms is quite disconcerting to many.
In the opinion of Plato, the physical limitations will always serve as a hindrance of the potentials of the soul, and the death of the person will “ free” the potential, or the soul, of the person. On the other hand, Aristotle, Plato’s student, Aristotle taught that apart from the physical plane, nothing exists outside of it. Though there are mechanisms and tools that can enhance the physical senses, there is nothing that can be said to be outside of the physical plane. This is also the view shared by many scholars and analysts (Rosen, 2005, p. 246). E. Explain how this topic affects healthcare delivery today.
Present healthcare models recognize the therapy of an individual on a holistic basis with a specific focus to treat the biological, psychological and social factors of a person’s health framework. However, there is a growing acknowledgement in the health care sector that the spiritual well-being of the person must also be treated in order to optimize the healing and the recovery phases of the person (Singh 2009, p. 2). Religious as well as cultural standpoints on death, dying and the possibility of an afterlife can change the perception of people on the aspects of pain, the relief for terminally ill patients, and the methods that will determine the exact time and occasion of death.
The inclusion of the religious views of the patient is included in the decision making of the medical teams in determining the delivery of health care. For example, in the tenets of Christianity and Islam, the rendering of health care options may hinder the responsibilities of seeking salvation and repentance, and in Buddhism, the liberation of the soul towards “ Nirvana”. Various religions and beliefs have teachings regarding death and life after death.
With the constant advancements of medicine and the developing of improved life-extending machines and mechanisms such as feeding tubes, antibiotics and other machines, the process of “ crossing over” has been transferred to the domain of medicine, where death of the person occurs.
In the tenets of many religious beliefs, “ life” is not terminated with death; death is seen as a chance for the obtaining of spiritual insight. In addition, having a knowledge of the religious practices of the patients will be of critical importance in the handling of the corpse and the funeral rites that the patient will be accorded. For instance, the time requirements that the corpse must be buried can conflict with the need for autopsies.
Buddhism holds that the process of life does not end when the person stops breathing; for this reason, it is believed that the body of the patient must not be disturbed too much from the time shortly prior to the demise and disturbing the body should be deferred as long as possible after the patient stops breathing.
For patients with mental health issues and attempt suicide, the decision to attempt and the failure of the person to consummate the suicide both carry substantial repercussions for the person. It is believed that the act of trying to take one’s life is punished severely either here or in the afterlife. The stresses of this instance set in the context of the religious belief of the person can create tremendous pressures on the person. In this light, it is important that healthcare facility staff members are equipped to handle the stresses and worries as well as be aware of faith based counseling resources (Department of Health, 2009, pp. 33-35).
There are running debates on the possibility of an afterlife. One states that the immortal soul of the person will leave his body upon his biological death to be with his Creator and spend eternity in a place where there is no pain and instead has immense levels of pleasure. On the other is the position that bases itself on the findings of science, that there is no soul and the termination of the life is all that there is. Whatever the findings, one must be able to justify their positions on the possibility of an afterlife and whether these are ready to spend eternity in that “ place.”
Burnell, P. (2001). New research confirms life after death. National Catholic Register
Donnelly, J. (1994) (ed). Language, Metaphysics, and Death. Bronx: Fordham University Press
Neusner, J., Avery-Peck, A., Chilton, B. (2000) (ed). Judaism in late antiquity: death, life-after-death, resurrection and the world-to-come in the Judaism of antiquity. Leiden: BRILL Publishers
Rosen, E. J. (2013). Experiencing the soul before birth, during life, and after death. Delhi: Motilal Banarsidass Publisher
Singh, H. (2009). “ Health care and religious beliefs”. Retrieved 6 June 2014 from
Vogt, C. P. (2004). Patience, compassion, hope and the Christian art of dying well. Lanham: Rowman and Littlefield.