What Happens to the Soul When We Die?
Animals: Tradition - Philosophy - Religion Article from All-Creatures.org


Stephen Kaufman, M.D., Christian Vegetarian Association (CVA)

What Happens to the Soul When We Die?

In recent essays, I have been exploring the question of what happens to the sense of self, sometimes referred to as the “soul,” upon death. Many religions, including Christianity, assert that some component of human identity exists beyond the grave, and most religions offer specifics about where this human identity will go and what it will experience. Though adherents to these religions are often quite dogmatic about their afterlife theories, it seems to me that none of them have much reliable empirical evidence upon which to base their conclusions.
The Bible describes people having various kinds of afterlife experiences. Unlike the New Testament, the Hebrew Scriptures offer very few specifics about the afterlife. In the Gospels, Jesus referred frequently to the Kingdom (or Realm) of God, though it could be argued that, in general, he was describing relationships on earth. Among the most explicit Gospel descriptions are from John 14:2: “In my Father's house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you.  And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am" and Matthew 22:29: “At the resurrection people will neither marry nor be given in marriage; they will be like the angels in heaven.” And, of course, the Bible describes Jesus as resurrected from the dead.
 As creatures whose fear of death appears to be universal, it is comforting to believe that the death of the body does not mean the death of our sense of self. The Bible offers such assurance, and for those who are skeptical of the Bible’s accuracy there is the observation, which I made previously, that materialism does not explain the mystery of our existence. Science can explain how inanimate, material atoms form a living body, but it cannot explain how that living body has subjective experiences, i.e., can think and feel.

Next essay, I will offer further thoughts on what might happen to this sense of self, which many have called the soul, and I will relate these thoughts to animal issues. 

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