The European Values Survey reveals that 45% of Europeans reject any concept of life after death, 28% accept the Christian concept, 20% believe that they will be born again and 7% do not know what to believe. Surveys aside, what are the main arguments for and against survival? Philosophers and theologians have since Grecian times formulated arguments for and against survival. Lucretius (99-55 BC) formulated the principal arguments against survival, almost as well as we could do it today:
• Mind matures and ages with growth and decay of the body.
• Wine and disease of the body can effect the mind.
• The body is stunned by a blow.
• If the soul is immortal why does it not have memories of its previous existence?
In the last century and a half detailed pro-afterlife empirical arguments have emerged through research on human experiences:
• Encounters with the dead are reported by every fourth person in Europe.
• Death-bed visions near time of death indicating contact with a post-death reality.
• Near-death experiences were brought into focus with several studies conducted in university hospitals during the last few decades.
• Studies of mediumistic communications were prominent in the 19th and early 20th century where great mediums appeared.
• Some claims of reincarnation memories have been verified, also revealing phobias and birthmarks which are related to mode of death in previous life.
This research has emphasized scientific empirical methods, and resulted in empirical arguments suggesting life after death. I will discuss the strengths and weaknesses of these findings.
Erlendur Haraldsson is professor emeritus of psychology at the University of Iceland in Reykjavik. He has written several books and published dozens of papers in peer-reviewed journals. For details see his homepage:
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