Is there life after death?

Is death the final frontier? We ask scientists, philosophers, and spiritual leaders about life after death.

  • Death is inevitable for all known living things. However on the question of what, if anything, comes after life, the most honest answer is that no one knows.
  • So far, there is no scientific evidence to prove or disprove what happens after we die. In this video, astronomer Michelle Thaller, neuroscientist and philosopher Sam Harris, science educator Bill Nye, and others consider what an afterlife would look like, what the biblical concepts of 'eternal life' and 'hell' really mean, why so many people around the world choose to believe that death is not the end, and whether or not that belief is ultimately detrimental or beneficial to one's life.
  • Life after death is also not relegated to discussions of religion. "Digital and genetic immortality are within reach," says theoretical physicist Michio Kaku. Kaku shares how, in the future, we may be able to physically talk to the dead thanks to hologram technology and the digitization of our online lives, memories, and connectome.
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Pattern recognition influences religious belief, according to new study

Christians and Muslims that pick out unconscious patterns are more likely to believe in a god.

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  • Georgetown researchers found strong implicit pattern learning implies belief in a god.
  • The study included American Christians and Afghani Muslims, representing two different religious and cultural backgrounds.
  • Further research on polytheistic religious believers could provide insights into a cognitive basis of religion.
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Has science made religion useless?

Placing science and religion at opposite ends of the belief spectrum is to ignore their unique purposes.

  • Science and religion (fact versus faith) are often seen as two incongruous groups. When you consider the purpose of each and the questions that they seek to answer, the comparison becomes less black and white.
  • This video features religious scholars, a primatologist, a neuroendocrinologist, a comedian, and other brilliant minds considering, among other things, the evolutionary function that religion serves, the power of symbols, and the human need to learn, explore, and know the world around us so that it becomes a less scary place.
  • "I think most people are actually kind of comfortable with the idea that science is a reliable way to learn about nature, but it's not the whole story and there's a place also for religion, for faith, for theology, for philosophy," says Francis Collins, American geneticist and director of the National Institutes of Health (NIH). "But that harmony perspective doesn't get as much attention. Nobody is as interested in harmony as they are in conflict."

Ask an atheist: Does the universe have a purpose?

All that matters is the here and now.

  • While bestselling author and skeptic Michael Shermer doesn't believe in God or any outside force that cares about us, he also doesn't think that the existence of one would give our lives meaning.
  • Shermer argues that it is up to us to create purpose for ourselves in various ways, including through meaningful work, familial and romantic relationships, and a connection and respect for the wonder of nature.
  • "It doesn't matter what happens billions of years from now or whether there's a God or not, whether there's an afterlife or not," he says. "It's irrelevant. This is the life that matters."

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What are the chances that God is actually good?

Philosophy professor James Sterba revives a very old argument.

Photo by Motoki Tonn on Unsplash
  • In his book, Is a Good God Logically Possible?, James Sterba investigates the role of evil.
  • Sterba contends that if God is all-powerful then he'd be able to stop evil from occurring in the world.
  • God's inability (or unwillingness) to stop evil should make us question his role, or even his existence.
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