Opinion: What happens after death?

Opinion: College for dummies

Robert Thomas Young

Robert Thomas Young

Robert Thomas Young is a senior philosophy and psychology major and columnist for the Daily Kent Stater. Contact him at [email protected].

The answer you get depends on whom you ask. Most monotheistic religions (Christianity, Islam and Judaism) will point to God and often the notion of an afterlife or heaven. However, organized religion and its logical inconsistencies leave many looking for more scientific answers.

Cognitive psychologists and scientists are peering deeper into the human mind, exploring both the physiological processes of the brain and the conscious thing we call the mind or the soul. Many neuropsychologists think that our experience, and thus our mind or soul, ends when our cognition expires.

What if you cease to exist when your body dies? This is a scary thought, and belief in an afterlife is often cited as a psychological defense mechanism. Basically, the idea of not existing is so frightening that most people can’t emotionally deal with it. So, belief in an afterlife, whether it is true or not, is emotionally consoling.

This line of reasoning doesn’t disprove an afterlife; but, religion’s description seems to be more grounded in reassurance and less in any scientific or logical justification. I am not saying there is no afterlife, but I do see how people could come to invent the idea to comfort themselves.

Eastern religions like Hinduism and Buddhism are more centered on introspection and connection with nature or the universe. For some, the idea of an afterlife will include reincarnation on earth. While our memories may not be preserved, our experienced could be. While this outlook is as beautiful and poetic as the idea of heaven, it still doesn’t satisfy my intellectual need for reason.

Modern physics show that our energy (atomic particles) will be moved around and reused in the circle of life. But, that has little to do with your consciousness or your soul.

Organized religion could not give me a good justification for belief in an afterlife. Modern science helps me understand how cognition and perception work, but that doesn’t tell me what happens when I die.

Psychology has led me to consider that a belief in an afterlife is usually a way of dealing with the terrifying thought of not existing. However, that doesn’t provide any feedback for existence or why we exist.

There is theory in physics called M-Theory that basically states there are unlimited universes, and this could mean that this life is one of many. Imagine living endless lives, some remotely similar and others completely different. In this way, your soul would continue to experience every possibility of itself, never really dying at all.

I like this view. While I want to think that science will help in our understanding of existence (life) and nonexistence (death), I don’t know if we will ever be able to explain why there is something opposed to nothing.

The fact that existence exists is mind-blowing enough for me to justify that there is more going on than we know. This is where my belief in science merges with my spiritual connection and faith that a higher presence is at work.