What Happens When We Die?
It’s an age-old question which almost certainly pre-dates humanity itself: “What happens after we die?”
Throughout human history, various religions have espoused the idea that we live on in some way after the death of our bodies. The concepts of heaven, hell, purgatory, transmigration of soul and reincarnation have all provided solace, hope and fear, perhaps in roughly equal measure.
But the actual details of what supposedly happens after we die have been a source of much argument and contention, not only between different religions, but even among the adherents within each religion, too.
Among the Judeo-Christian religions, there are strong beliefs in reward or punishment for our actions during our earthly life. Judeo-Christian beliefs about life after death vary between the Jewish and Christian traditions, but there are some common themes.
In Jewish tradition, the belief in life after death is not as central as it is in some other religious traditions, but it is still present. The concept of the afterlife in Judaism is known as Olam Ha-Ba, which translates to “the world to come.” Jews believe in the resurrection of the dead, but the specifics of what that entails are not well defined in traditional Jewish texts. Some Jews believe in a physical resurrection, while others see it as a spiritual state of being.
In Christianity, the belief in life after death is central to the faith. Christians believe in the resurrection of the dead, and that at the end of time, everyone will be judged by God. Those who have lived a faithful life and accepted Jesus as their saviour will be granted eternal life in heaven, where they will be in the presence of God and will experience perfect joy, peace, and happiness. On the other hand, those who have not lived a faithful life will face eternal separation from God in hell.
Both Judaism and Christianity believe that a person’s behaviour during life has an impact on their afterlife. Good deeds and a righteous life are seen as evidence of faith and a strong relationship with God, and are therefore rewarded in the afterlife, while evil deeds and a life of sin are punished.