Different Views on the Afterlife

By: Sloane Samberson


Throughout your lifetime, it is common to stop and think about death. What happens next? You have been told so many different opinions and are nowhere near positive as to what is on the other side. While approaching your last breath, making your way towards heaven, hell or nowhere at all, will you be worried about all the decisions you have made while living on Earth? Or are you not worried at all? It is impossible for us to know where we go once we die and will forever be a mystery until we face death itself.

What happens next

They say when you die,

as your soul leaves your cold, decaying body,

you see a bright light.

A light that illuminates the skin of your newly constructed spirit-form which guides you to your final destination.

But what happens next?

Is a man with godlike qualities waiting to welcome you into your new home?

Are you transformed into a new life-form and placed back amongst a mélange of unfamiliar faces?

Is your soul enclosed in the extensive boundaries of a blank, white room that drags on into the great unknown?

What happens to the nonreligious and believers of fictional idols?

Are they banished to the fiery depths of hell, like the religious would say?

Or do we vanish into a memory, lingering in the hearts of those who loved us.

Captivating their minds,

leaving back the memories of every word we spoke,

every emotion we shared,

all while we turn into mere nothingness?

If we do end up somewhere, what will become of us?

Will we appear as limp and frail as we left this earth,

as broken and beaten down as that old chevy rusting in the back of the woods?

Who will we be?

The person we always desired to be,

or the person we said we’d never become.

While you are in the midsts of deaths tight grip,

holding on for dear life,

you begin to reflect on all the things that you’ve done,

all the words that you wish you could have said,

all the people you never met...

and then it hits you like a head on collision.

Your breathing comes to a halt,

the air in your lungs begins to escape,

and your heart beats for the last time.

As the bright light fades in and your lifetime fades out,

you close your eyes and...


Research Connection (Poem)

While in the process of researching the afterlife, I came across oodles of questions. The afterlife is one of the worlds greatest mysteries so why not compile a bunch of common questions into an artistic piece. Bruce A. Moen, the author of the website "Afterlife Knowledge" answered common questions about the afterlife in 2010. His "answers to questions are based on...direct experience...my own beliefs and expectations (Moen, Bruce A)." The afterlife is a very opinionated topic, for it is religious, one of the most controversial topics in all of the world. In the second paragraph of "What Happens next" I really highlight the religious views of Christians, Buddhists, Muslims and the non-religious. Christians and Muslims have very similar views on the afterlife (The Big Religion Comparison Chart). They believe in the concept of a heaven/paradise and hell. A lot of religions can apply the questions in "What Happens next?" to their beliefs on the afterlife. Although each religion is so different they all can connect in the strangest ways.

The Different Faces of the Afterlife

Research Connection (Visual)

Every religion has different beliefs as to where we go or how we appear after we die. The Egyptians believe that before reaching the “Hall of Maat” the body has to be preserved through mummification. Loved ones also have to bring “regular offerings of food and water” (The Great Unknown) in order for their deceased to be judged in a positive favor. Christians believe in Heaven and Hell. If you accept God as your Lord and Savior then you will spend eternity in heaven, but if you do not you will stay in the fiery depths of Hell for the rest of your spiritual life. Buddhists perceive the afterlife as rebirth, meaning that once dying, your immortal soul will become the soul of another living creation i.e. a bird or if you’re lucky another human (Buddhists Studies). Many of those who are superstitious would say that you never actually leave earth but linger as a spirit amongst the living. Although we are not positive as to which theory is right we can assume that wherever you go, you’ll stay there forever.

The Mystery of the Afterlife

Albert Einstein, a world renowned genius, had many thoughts about the afterlife. In his essay “The World as I See It” he states how he is “satisfied with the mystery” of where the soul goes after dying. The afterlife, a very controversial topic, is not easily comprehended by many because the thought of a religious concept not being set in stone is unimaginable for many.

Different religions view the afterlife according to what history has been left behind. Einstein was “a deeply religious man...satisfied with the mystery of life's eternity and with a knowledge...of the marvelous structure of existence.” (The World As I See It) He liked the fact that while he was still living he would never know whether or not his religious beliefs were true until he died. Religious people argue as to why their belief is the most realistic by backing it up with writings like the Bible, Quran and the Tipitaka. It is hard to accept the fact that when it is time to depart this earth, there is no absolute guarantee that these writings were actually left behind from religious leaders, which then causes bitterness.

As humans, “we desire...to understand the few ideas to which are feeble powers attained through ceaseless struggle.” (The World As I See It) The afterlife could look like a fiery death pit or a place where you can walk streets of gold. Thinking about the afterlife is very anticipating but the “most beautiful experience we can have is the mysterious. It is the fundamental emotion that stands at the cradle of true art and true science.” (The World As I See It)

The afterlife will forever be a mystery as we humans do not have the ability to contact the dead in order to ask them what the true ending will look like. Like Einstein said we should be satisfied with the mystery of dying because one day we’ll eventually know.

Research Connection (Essay)

Bigfoot, terrestrial lifeforms and the existence of mermaids are all unsolved mysteries in our world today. To many, these concepts are unrealistic but some would say otherwise. When put into perspective, the afterlife is not very different from these common beliefs: none of them have evidence that is set in stone. A majority of people on Earth have some belief as to where you go when you are dead. "The afterlife, a very controversial topic, is not easily comprehended by many for it is one of the worlds greatest mysteries (Samberson, Sloane)." Mysteries often psych people out because the idea of not knowing what is true or what is to come is very incomprehensible . On the other hand, Albert Einstein loved mysteries. He also loved pondering what is to come, "It was the experience of mystery -- even if mixed with fear -- that engendered religion (The World As I See It)." The mystery of religion is a contributing factor in the curiosity of where we end up when we die.

Primary Source

Point of View: Rick Roberson; Elder at Gracepoint Church of Coppell; Christian

Q: What are your religious beliefs?

A: I believe that God created the world and man and desired a relationship with man. God gave man one rule to keep, and man broke that rule which resulted in the breaking of the fellowship with God. To restore the relationship God sent his son Jesus to be the sacrifice for those who believe in him to restore that relationship. I believe that the only way to Heaven is by believing in Jesus, that he died and rose again in payment of my sins.

Q: What do you think the afterlife will look like?

A: It depends where you spend the afterlife. Heaven will be a house with many rooms, the streets will be paved with gold, it will be greater than the human mind can comprehend. It will be a time of eternal fellowship with other believers and God. Whatever you most favorite place on Earth is, it will be much better than that. Hell will be a place of permanent torment and separation from God. There will be a lot of tears and pain. It will also be very hot.

Q: Do you think the human race will remember their earthly life once they reach their place of eternal rest?

A: Yes, I think there will be certain parts you remember. In Luke 16:22-28 , a rich man dies and is banished to Hell. Because of his torment he asked Abraham, to send Lazarus to his father's house to warn his brothers to change their ways so they could avoid ending up in the place of eternal torment. This scripture shows that there is still some remembrance of your life on Earth.



This video briefly shows different point of views on the afterlife through the eyes of religious and non-religious people.

Works Cited

"A Basic Buddhism Guide: On Reincarnation." BuddhaNet - Worldwide Buddhist Information and Education Network. N.p., n.d. Web. 22 May 2013. <http://www.buddhanet.net/e-learning/reincarnation.htm>.

Alexander , Eben. "Proof of Heaven: A Doctor's Experience With the Afterlife - Newsweek and The Daily Beast." The Daily Beast. he Newsweek/Daily Beast Company LLC, 8 Oct. 2012. Web. 26 May 2013. <http://www.thedailybeast.com/newsweek/2012/10/07/proof-of-heaven-a-doctor-s-experience-with-the-afterlife.html>.

"The Big Religion Comparison Chart: Compare World Religions - ReligionFacts." Religion, World Religions, Comparative Religion - Just the facts on the world's religions.. N.p., n.d. Web. 26 May 2013. <http://www.religionfacts.com/big_religion_chart.htm>.

"The World As I See It." The American Institute of Physics -- Physics Publications and Resources. N.p., n.d. Web. 22 May 2013. <http://www.aip.org/history/einstein/essay.htm>.

"The World As I See It." The American Institute of Physics -- Physics Publications and Resources. N.p., n.d. Web. 22 May 2013. <http://www.aip.org/history/einstein/essay.htm>.

Moen, Bruce A. "Frequently Asked Questions Page 1." Afterlife Knowledge: The truth about life after death. N.p., n.d. Web. 26 May 2013. <http://www.afterlife-knowledge.com/faq.html>.

"Afterlife - YouTube." YouTube. N.p., n.d. Web. 26 May 2013. <http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eeMoOJpvUlU>.

"Meanwhile, in the afterlife..." jessica.soon. . N.p., n.d. Web. 28 May 2013. <http://jessicasoon.wordpress.com/2010/08/16/meanwhile-in-the-afterlife/>.

"What Do Mormons Believe? Revelation on the Afterlife." What Do Mormons Believe?. N.p., n.d. Web. 28 May 2013. <http://www.whatdomormonsbelieve.com/2009/02/question-box-revelation-on-the-afterlife/>.

Burpo, Todd, and Lynn Vincent. Heaven is for real: a little boy's astounding story of his trip to heaven and back. Nashville, Tenn.: Thomas Nelson, 2010. Print.

Weor, Samael Aun. Beyond death: the gnostic book of the dead : what you should know about the afterlife. Chicago, IL.: Glorian Publishing, 2010. Print.

Samberson, Sloane. Different Views on the Afterlife. Multi Genre Project. Coppell, TX.

Roberson, Rick. Primary Source. Gracepoint Church, Coppell, TX. May 26th, 2013.