June 2009 – Life After Death

Compare contrast and evaluate two of the following:

(i)    reincarnation

(ii)    resurrection

(iii)    immortality of the soul [40]


Where are the two associated with geographically?

  • East/ Hinduism (use as specific example) / Buddhism
  • West / Christianity (use as specific example) / Islam / Judaism


What is the historical background to the two doctrines?

  • Hindu Vedas
  • Plato
  • Early Judaism
  • St Paul


What does each mean?

  • Reincarnation : Transmigration of the soul / rebirth… more than one physical life
  • Resurrection: soul raised to life in spiritual body (or physical depending – soma pneumatikon…) only one physical life


What is similar about them?

  • Death not end
  • Reasons for belief similar – balance inequalities etc
  • Sanctity of life
  • Soul
  • Dualist
  • Both end in a place of perfection


What is different?

  • What exactly lives on?
  • How does it occur – Hick’s replica theory based on St Paul’s teaching
  • Bodily continued existence vs spiritual existence
  • How / why it occurs i.e. karma (it can be earned) vs faith in Christ / Jewish birthright / belief in Allah and faithful adherence to Mohammed’s teachings.
  • Heaven vs nirvana


Evaluation (depending on the question) e.g. what are the pros and cons of the possibility of life after death?

  • Dawkins
  • John Hick
  • Monist view
  • Challenges our view of a good God : heaven and hell…???


Or evaluation e.g. which view is more convincing?

  • Cultural background / blik / meme
  • Evidence?
  • Logical positivists regard the question as ‘meaningless’; an oxymoron – contradiction; cant be verified analytically or synthetically, therefore pointless
  • Neither more convincing but important to the believer – behaviour…
  • Marxist view
  • Many criticise on basis of mythical language or symbolic meaning but comforting to many.



‘…that which has been begun by God during man’s life on earth…will be continued and completed by God…beyond the confines of earthly life’ Robert McAfee Brown


‘Multitudes who sleep in the dust of the earth will awake: some to everlasting life, others to shame and everlasting contempt.’ Daniel 12:2


‘If the human potential is to be fulfilled in the lives of individuals then these lives must be prolonged far beyond the limits of our present bodily existence.’ John Hick


‘I believe that when I die I shall rot.’ Bertrand Russell


The bible forbids spiritism it does not say it does not exist!!


‘Just as a person casts off worn out garments and puts on others that are new even so does the disembodied soul cast off worn out bodies and take on others that are new.’ Bhagavad Gita.


‘I am the resurrection and the life; whosoever believes in me though he die he shall not perish.’ John 11:25


Jesus’ own resurrection: ‘Look at my hands and feet… touch me and see…’ Luke 24:39


‘For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable and we shall be changed for the perishable must clothe itself with the imperishable and the mortal with immortality.’ 1Cor 15:52



End with Hick’s eschatological verification!


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