A Critical Examination of the Belief in a Life after Death

A Critical Examination of the Belief in a Life after Death

A Critical Examination of the Belief in a Life after Death

A Critical Examination of the Belief in a Life after Death

Excerpt

The question whether there is, or can be, or cannot be a life after death for the individual is seldom formulated unambiguously, or approached with a genuinely open mind, or discussed objectively on the basis of the relevant empirical or theoretical considerations. Persons in whom survival after death is an article of religious faith generally assume that it and other dogmas of their religion are, as such, authoritative; and hence that the point of engaging in discussions of the matter is not to try to find out whether or not survival is a fact, but only to convince others that it is a fact -- or at least to show them that the reasons which lead them to doubt or to deny it are invalid.

Persons, on the other hand, who have had training in science, or at least those among them who do not lay aside their scientific habits of thought when subjects reputedly religious are concerned, commonly take it for granted today that the progress of physiological and behavioristic psychology has finally proved that the consciousness and personality of man is-as they are wont to phrase it-a function of the nervous system and of certain other constituents of the living human body; and hence that there cannot possibly be for the individual any life or consciousness after the body has died.

A position in some ways intermediate between the two just described is that of the Spiritists or Spiritualists. Survival of the personality after death is held by them to be not an article of faith but a matter of knowledge. That is, they hold it as something for the truth of which they have adequate empirical evidence in the communications, received through the persons they call mediums, that purport to emanate from the surviving spirits of the deceased. Thus, irrespective of whether or not that evidence really proves what it is alleged to prove, the fact that empirical -- or more specifically testimonial-evidence is what Spiritu-

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.