2009 – Life After Death Question

2 a) ii) Assess which of these two views may provide a stronger philosophical basis for a belief in life after death?








  • Bible – Jesus
  • Life gift from God
  • Fair
  • Encourages morality
  • Jesus only example
  • Jesus’ example different in character to ours
  • Only available through faith in Christ
  • Marxists would argue that the belief holds man back from development or changing bad circumstances
  • Unclear details on what kind of body? Perfect? Recognisable? Damaged? Identity?…
  • Taught in the Vedas and Bhagavad-Gita
  • Fair – in the end!
  • Respect for all life
  • Available to all who work at selflessness
  • Loss of identity and memories not carried forward each new life – so how does one learn?
  • Encourages acceptance of the status quo!
  • Loss of self at end – how is that a benefit? Who will recognise us? What has been gained?
  • How many souls? More people are alive now than ever before where do the new souls come from?



  • Neither!!
  • Belief in Life after death is a crutch for weak people
  • No evidence either way and what there is has been mostly discredited
  • It weakens man by making him think that all wrongs will be righted in the next life and taking the responsibility for it away from him. Yet in Christianity God’s epistemic distance means the onus is on us!!


(Think about people on benefits who don’t try to find work or those who sponge off parents or relatives or trust funds etc!!)

Notes from A2 conference – life after death

  • Why is a post-mortem existence desirable?
  • What evidence?
    NDEs with common features – convincing for those who’ve had them but there are other explanations
    Parapsychology – mediums, biblical prohibitions; dealing with occult carried death penalty

BUT principles of credulity and testimony

  • Hick the ‘best cases… are impressive and puzzling.’
  • What kind of life? Depends on how we view the relationship between mind and body?

Heaven hell and purgatory? A living part of faith

BUT what kind of God would condemn us to hell?

Also no agreement between religions or even branches of one religion

  • The soul – necessity of?

If immortal soul no need for God to do anything! Means a non-interventionist God

Biblical idea of resurrection of body ‘the dead will be raised imperishable.’ 1 Cor 15. The soma pneumatikon – a spiritual body rather than a flesh and blood one. Means an interventionist God

BUT all sorts of problems like we see the body decay

Hick’s replica theory means if we can conceive of these scenarios then we can conceive of bodily resurrection – but is a replica really the person?

  • Eschatological verification
  • Is it meaningful? Can it be verified? Ayer – no assertions about after life are meaningful. BUT Christians would say that Jesus guarantees it; however Flew believed life and death mutually exclusive and would say that it is not meaningful to talk about what kind of life after death when the concept itself is meaningless.