This is a longer version of a lecture that I gave to the Sea of faith in Australia (SOFIA) in Melbourne, Australia, on 28 August 2021

In 2018, I delivered a lecture entitled Being Dead – and being alive to the Philosophy Forum in Melbourne. I discussed the actions taken by people in response to other people’s deaths. This described the range of treatments given to the corpse. It regarded death as a management issue for people who are living.

In this essay, I will discuss what people of various religions and cultures think about what it will be like for each of themselves, in some kind of afterlife. There is a wide range of ideas about what this afterlife will be like. Most religions and cultures have their own distinctive version, and their various sects and individual members are likely to have their own interpretations.

The alternative to afterlife is oblivion, which is what some people expect. That means that as soon as the body is dead, there is no conscious entity left over from that previous individual living entity. Some people might like this as a pleasant relief from a painful life, or if they were scared about going to Hell.

For many people, death is a terrible loss. Belief in an afterlife may bring comfort to those afraid of death, and to those mourning recent deaths of loved ones.

I will now discuss what people of various religions and cultures think what the afterlife will be like for themselves, and for other people, after they have died.

Some issues relevant to the afterlife are:

How an afterlife could occur;

Who or what can have an afterlife;

What determines what an afterlife will be like;

What happens during an afterlife;

When does it start;

How do we know.

How could an afterlife occur?

The possibility of an afterlife depends on there being something continuing, such as a soul. The soul is regarded to be the essence of the living person, and to remain alive and conscious after the person’s body dies. The soul is not a material entity; it is supernatural, a kind of spirit. The deceased person is experiencing a spiritual afterlife instead of a material life.

Many people think that everyone has a soul, but there is no hard information about how and when it is associated with the person.

Some people believe in other kinds of spirits that are not afterlives but are associated with rivers, trees, and many other entities. Others are good or bad “freelance” spirits. It is usually assumed that all spirits are conscious.

The validity of all this is questioned or dismissed by people who do not believe in the existence of a supernatural entity. I will discuss this issue after describing the various kinds of afterlife.

Who or what can have an afterlife?

Most people who believe in an Abrahamic religion, mainly Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, assume that an afterlife is available only to humans, and presumably, to all humans. Presumably, that would include people with mental and physical disability at every degree of severity. Some people might want to include fetuses, and even embryos, ova, and sperm.

Some other species are more intelligent and sentient than some humans. But neither the Bible nor the Koran mentions whether other kinds of organisms have souls.

Some religions believe that other species can have afterlives. This raises questions of which species and what determines it. I will discuss this later.

What happens during an afterlife?

There is a range of beliefs about what the afterlife is like.

A rabbi in the third century AD thought that, in the afterlife in Heaven, there would be just eternal worship. He said that there would be no eating, or drinking, and no associating with one another. Everyone who was worthy to go to Heaven would just sit, each with a crown on their head. Being in the presence of God would give them eternal ecstasy. Attitudes since then have changed.

Many people think their spiritual afterlife will include a lot of the features of their previous material life. They will still be active and will have all the faculties and abilities that they had before they died. This would include being able to associate with other deceased people.

With some exceptions, people in an afterlife are not generally expected to be able to manipulate anything physical in the material world.

If, in the afterlife, people were visible to each other, what would they look like? As they did at their death, or at their prime? Would they continue to age? Would their bodily impairments affect their afterlives? There are no “official” answers to these questions.

Generally, people don’t think the afterlife is affected by the kind of treatment the dead body underwent, such as burial, cremation, mummification, etc. But most living people like to decide how their body will be disposed of after their own death. Some don’t want to be cremated, because they think there would be no body to resurrect or restore when the time came. Are they underestimating the powers of the Creator?

What happens during an afterlife would depend on:

the kind of situation the soul is in during afterlife;
how this entity is similar to and different from when it was when alive;
what the entity does during the afterlife:
what faculties, such as memories and feelings, it retains;
how long the afterlife lasts.

The various situations of the souls that are in their afterlives are:

Waiting for their day of judgment, after which they will be sent to Heaven or Hell;
Already in Heaven or in Hell;
Awaiting resurrection (not to be confused or conflated with reincarnation);
Watching over their descendants, and over sacred places and sacred objects; or
They are ghosts.

Some souls might be in more than one situation, such as being in Heaven and watching over their descendants. Watching over living people might help on judgment day.

I will now describe each of these as they are depicted by those who believe in their existence.

Spirits awaiting judgment.

How long is the waiting time between death and being judged for what you did in your worldly life? Opinions vary from very soon after death, if judgment is being made continually throughout life, to some judgment day in the far future.

An example of one English Christian opinion from a few centuries ago is the Lyle-Wake Dirge” (A wake is a celebration of the life of a recently deceased person, and a dirge is a funeral song.)

This one was meant to be celebrated before the burial of the body. So, while you are reading it, imagine yourself listening to it in a coffin on the way to the cemetery.

This ae nighte, this ae nighte,            (which means this very night)
Every nighte and alle,
Fire and fleet and candle-lighte,       (fleet means board and lodging)
And Christe receive thy saule.

When thou from hence away art past,
Every nighte and alle,
To Whinny-muir thou com’st at last;  (Whinnies are very prickly bushes, a muir is a paddock)
And Christe receive thy saule.

If ever thou gavest hosen and shoon,  (stockings and shoes)
Every nighte and alle,
Sit thee down and put them on;
And Christe receive thy saule.

If hosen and shoon thou ne’er gav’st nane
Every nighte and alle,
The whinnes sall prick thee to the bare bane;       (bone)
And Christe receive thy saule.

From Whinny-muir whence thou may’st pass,
Every nighte and alle,
To Brig o’ Dread thou com’st at last;
And Christe receive thy saule.

If ever thou gav’st silver and gold,
Every nighte and alle,
At t’ Brig o’ Dread thou’lt find foothold,
And Christe receive thy saule.

But if silver and gold thou never gav’st nane,
Every nighte and alle,
Down thou tumblest to Hell flame,
And Christe receive thy saule.

From Brig o’ Dread whence thou may’st pass,
Every nighte and alle,
To Purgatory fire thou com’st at last;
And Christe receive thy saule.

(Purgatory, according to Catholic doctrine, is the not-very-comfortable place where the souls await their judgment. Other Christians do not accept this. It is not mentioned in the bible but some people associate it with sections of the Old Testament.)

If ever thou gav’st meat or drink,
Every nighte and alle,
The fire sall never make thee shrink;
And Christe receive thy saule.

If meat or drink thou ne’er gav’st nane,
Every nighte and alle,
The fire will burn thee to the bare bane;
And Christe receive thy saule.

This ae nighte, this ae nighte,
Every nighte and alle,
Fire and fleet and candle-lighte,
And Christe receive thy saule.   

This treatment for these omissions seems unduly severe. There are much worse sins than these. This is not the sort of afterlife that anyone would like to have. And it is, of course, a message to the living as well as describing some treatments for the dead.

Most people expect a much better afterlife, and a longer time awaiting judgment.

Many Christians believe that judgement of the living and the dead will occur when Jesus returns to Earth, following the apocalypse, a time of destruction. The good people will join Jesus and the bad people will go to Hell. Many fundamentalist Christians expected this to happen at some undisclosed date just before the year 2000. There have been several previous un-met deadlines for this event.

But, in the meantime, there are said to be many people already in Heaven or Hell.

Until recently, these places were regarded to be similar to conditions on Earth, but with Heaven being more enjoyable and Hell being much more uncomfortable. Nowadays, they are more likely to be thought of as supernatural places, whatever that may mean. Will it now be much less happiness or agony?

According to some groups of Pentecostalists, provided you believe in Jesus, you will not be subjected to judgment or penalties because “Jesus died for our sins”. That is, belief in Jesus is sufficient for anyone to get an eternal afterlife in Heaven, and not believing in Jesus will result in an afterlife in Hell, which seems unfair to those people who had never heard of Jesus. Presumably, this did not apply to those who died before Jesus came to Earth.

Many Christians believe that judgement of the living and of the dead will occur when Jesus returns to Earth, following Armageddon, AKA the apocalypse, a time of destruction. The good people will join Jesus and the bad people will go to Hell. Many fundamentalist Christians expected this to happen at some undisclosed date just before the year 2000. Armageddon had already had a few previous un-met deadlines.

But, in the meantime, there are said to be many people already in Heaven or Hell. Until recently, these places were regarded to be similar to conditions on Earth, but with Heaven being more enjoyable and Hell being more uncomfortable. Nowadays, particularly with Christians, they are more likely to be thought of as supernatural places, whatever that may mean. Presumably, that does not suggest that they must no longer be happy or in agony.

All of the Abrahamic religions have sects with their own ideas about what the afterlife is like and when it happens. A few of them, mainly Judaic, do not believe in any afterlife, just oblivion. Judaic afterlives tend to be more punishing than rewarding.

Islam holds that people go directly to Heaven or Hell as soon as they die, in accordance with their actions while they were alive. It is more explicit about the pleasures, but koranic scholars differ on the details. One pleasure that gets occasional notice is that, after death, male Islamic martyrs in Heaven will be given access to 72 virgins for pristine sex. (Presumably, this will be consensual.) But Moslems who commit suicide go straight to Hell, which means that suicide bombers might not get the enjoyable afterlife that they are expecting. And, on the subject of the virgins, some Islamic scholars argue that, in the original text, the reward was in raisins and not virgins. The error is said to be a mistranslation. Potential Islamic martyrs and assassins might not be as enthusiastic if they discover this.

For most Hindu and Buddhist sects also, judgment has already been decided and there is no waiting time. Continuous assessment is being made throughout life.

Spirits watching over their descendants,

The spirits that are watching over their descendants and sacred places would need to be able to see, or otherwise be aware of, the locations they are watching. So they would either be in undisclosed places on Earth, or be able to view what they are guarding from Heaven or Hell. The locations of Heaven and Hell have not been revealed, but, if not on Earth, they may need to be moving in accordance with Earth’s rotation and its revolution around the sun.

In some religions these guardian spirits are revered or worshipped. They may suffer or decline if not properly treated by their descendants and other people. Improper treatment or neglect may cause bad luck to their relevant descendants, and sometimes to other people.

Common treatments for such deceased ancestors are giving money to support holy places such as temples, and lighting candles and burning incense.

In Bali, little parcels of food are placed on the ground for these spirits every morning. There is no evidence that the spirits eat the food, but then, without bodies, they need only the spirit of the food. The birds and dogs get the benefit of eating it.

Some members of secular Western societies talk to their watching deceased relatives and partners, sometimes making frequent contact. Sometimes the spirit may initiate the contact. This may occur in dreams. Some such persons readily tell their friends and relatives about these conversations.

Other spirits that are hanging about may be reached by using Ouija boards in seances. Most people now regard this process to be pure deception and fraud.

A more participatory custodian afterlife is that of the Australian Aborigines. People who are not of Aboriginal descent usually refer to it as The Dreamtime.

The Dreamtime is the continuous reality of all that has happened in the past, going back to the acts of creation of the landscape. The meeting of the present time and present people with the past is celebrated in formal ritual practices. The spirits of the dead are always watching over their people, and their graves, and sacred locations. For outsiders, much of the Aboriginal lore is inaccessible.

Some members of secular Western societies talk to their watching deceased relatives and partners, sometimes making frequent contact. This may occur in dreams. Some such persons readily tell their friends and relatives about these conversations.

Awaiting resurrection

For many deceased Christians, the resurrection means that, on some special occasion, their bodies will be restored and resurrected, and they will live on Earth again. The bible has references in both the old and new testaments of a mass resurrection of the dead after the destruction of the living conditions on Earth (the apocalypse). In the New Testament, this is followed by the return of Jesus to a replenished Earth, and the resurrection of all the righteous souls. There would then be a millennium of bliss. The books of Matthew and Revelations in the bible have given very different versions of what will happen.

In the meantime, these souls, who are worthy of being resurrected, would presumably be having a fairly pleasant time. Presumably, resurrection would be even better than waiting in Heaven. Perhaps some who had had miserable earthly lives might prefer to stay in Heaven, that is, if they knew there was going to be a resurrection, and had the choice.

Some countries have large vats where the bodies of deceased people are being kept at a low temperature and have been chemically treated to prevent decay of their bodily tissues. These bodies are awaiting a time when science is able to cure or heal them from whatever caused their death. Then they could resume their active earthly life.

So, are they really dead? Would the souls of these bodies be waiting for their “resurrection”? Would the souls still be in their bodies? If they were not, would they associate with the souls of the other bodies in the vats, or of deceased friends and relatives?

The answers would depend on what caused the death and what kinds of effects the preservative processes had on the body. In recent years it has become possible to occasionally revive people who in previous times would have been regarded to be dead and unable to be resuscitated. Examples are drownings and people in deep comas.


Ghosts are purportedly visible and/or audible spirits of deceased people. They are the only spirits in afterlife that people claim to have seen.

They are said to hang about in places where they spent their lives or died, and many of them are said to have been viciously killed. They seem to be found mainly in ancient places and buildings.

There are businesses that make a living by taking tourists and other visitors to known places to find them. But ghosts prefer quiet solitude. When the visitors come, the ghosts will want to hide. They may make eerie noises to frighten the visitors away. So mostly all that the visitors get to see are diaphanous wisps of disappearing light that might be accompanied by weird noises. One might wonder why they are not in Heaven or Hell.

Some decades ago, there was a short period when the activities of poltergeists, that is of “noisy ghosts”, were being reported in the news media. The only justification for their existence was the unexplained occurrence of peoples’ furniture having been tossed around while the owners were away from home.

This is the only reported example where spirits have been thought to directly do something physical. But there could have been other explanations for the disrupted furniture. And there is no need to associate them with the afterlives of humans.

And if you pass by a certain billabong, you can hear a ghost singing a well-known song.

All that is said about ghosts seems to make them different from the other afterlives that I have discussed.

Souls awaiting reincarnation

Reincarnation is not the same as resurrection. In resurrection, the deceased body is reconstructed, and the same soul inhabits it. In reincarnation, a different body awaits the soul.

Reincarnation usually begins very quickly after death, so usually there is little time for the soul to do anything before it happens, other than flitting from the dead body to its successor. Usually, the dead body is quickly destroyed. Once dead, the body is usually considered to be polluting.

This might raise the issue of what criteria signify that the body has become dead, which may be necessary to determine the exact time of death. The main example is in intensive-care wards in hospitals, where bodily functions cease for a short time. There is also the possibility of resuscitating people who have been “drowned” for up to half an hour at a temperature at or below ten degrees Celsius. After resuscitation, the patient is not having an afterlife but is merely still alive. Determining when life has ceased can be very tricky.

Reincarnation is part of the beliefs of some sects of the Abrahamic religions, but seldom in the mainstream. It is basic to many other religions, notably Hinduism and Buddhism.

In most sects, the dead body must be cleaned, wrapped up, and then destroyed as soon as possible. However, in Bali, the dead body of a prominent Hindu might wait months or years for a propitious time for it to be destroyed, the process of which can then be extremely lavish.

The Druze religion, which is a small offshoot of the Abrahamic religions, has adopted teachings from a diverse range of religions, and believes that the soul cannot exist without having a living physical body. There can be no time between the death and the reincarnation, otherwise the soul would die.

Many indigenous populations in Eurasia and the Americas and Africa have also believed in reincarnation.

In most religions that believe in reincarnation, the afterlife is in a human body, in which it appears as different person. But in the Hindu, Sikh, Buddhist and some other religions, it may sometimes enter the body of some other kind of animal. What a person (or animal) is incarnated as, depends on what they did during their previous life.

This is part of the concept of karma. With karma, the soul (or the atman in Hindu and Buddhist terms) goes through a series of lives that continue to enlighten the atman until it reaches total goodness, enlightenment, and bliss. Each successive incarnation allows some addition to the quality of the atman. Reaching bliss is the release from the onerous process of enduring incarnated lives. However, in some Hindu sects, the successive reincarnations might lead to Hell.

The texts of Hindu ethics are very complex, but they have the same basic principles as most religions, such as compassion, honesty, generosity, and observance of religious practices. They do not say what kinds of specific acts, good or bad, during a life, produce what consequences for the next incarnation.

The idea of reincarnation raises a lot of questions:

Do animals that were once people know they were, or are, people?
Do people who have been reincarnated as animals want to come back as people again?
Do people who had been some other species in a former life know they had been another species?
Do people remember anything about their previous lives?
Are animal incarnations different from naturally born animals of the same species?

If reincarnation is a path to enlightenment and bliss, one might expect the answer to all of these questions to be “Yes”. But it would be rare to have known or heard of or read about anyone who has claimed to have once been a non-human animal.

But baby Dalai Lamas purportedly remember some of the items from their previous incarnation.

The Dalai Lama is the supreme leader of Tibetan Buddhism. When a Dalai Lama dies, there will be a young male child who becomes his reincarnation by receiving his soul, which as I said earlier, is referred to as his atman. But it is necessary to discover which young child it is.

This is discovered by examining selected possible candidates about their knowledge of and their similarity to their predecessor, and their recognition of his personal possessions. The candidates are tested, and the identification is made, by monks who were close to the previous Dalai Lama.

This does not mean that the chosen child then becomes the next Dalai Lama. He was already the next Dalai Lama as soon as his predecessor died, but because of his age, he had to be identified.

In the reincarnations of the Dalai Lamas, there would always be a male baby ready for that same atman of all the Dali Lamas.

There are questions about this. At the time of a Dali Lama’s death, the child who becomes the next Dali Lama will have been alive for a couple of years, and already have his own atman. What happens to that atman when the dead Dalia Lama’s atman enters the body of the new Dali Lama? Strangely, when it happens, it is not immediately obvious which of the young boys is the new Dali Lama? I will say more on this later.

I will now discuss a kind of reincarnation that occurs a long time after the person died.

Recent reincarnations of previous people

Some people are certain that they are reincarnations of previous people, usually very notable ancient people, such as Jesus Christ, Julius Caesar, and Napoleon Bonaparte.

They usually mention their previous life to someone, and in some cases, talk to their previous lives.

Other than having the pleasure of their historical identity, they will have no advantage of their status unless they are able to convince other people of it, which seldom occurs. But, at any one time, there might be more than one claimed living reincarnation of the same person.

How would one soul be able to serve multiple Caesars or Napoleons, particularly if they lived in different continents?

The only ones that anyone seems to believe are reincarnations of Jesus Christ. While multiple concurrent Napoleons might be problematic, it should be no problem for Jesus.

Some people have been convinced that these claimants were indeed the incarnated Jesus Christ, despite there being no concurrent Armageddon or Apocalypse, or resurrection, as described in the bible. These people then became followers of the reincarnated “Jesuses” and their teachings.

But very few of these groups continued after the deaths of the reincarnated “Jesuses”, none of whom have died by being crucified. Most of these “Jesuses” seem to have discredited themselves by their unholy behaviour.

Jesus is not the only god to have come to Earth as an incarnation. The Hindu god Vishnu came several times, the most quoted occasions being as Rama and as Krishna, but as far as I know, He has had no reincarnations during the past 2000 years. None of Jesus’s purported subsequent incarnations have been accepted by mainstream Christianity.

In the long intervals between the deaths and the reincarnations of Caesar and Napoleon, etc., what were their souls doing? How did they like the change in status from their ancient first life and their afterlife to the modern world? Jesus would, of course, have been in his rightful position in Heaven.

How long does the afterlife last?

What with judgement days, and resurrections and reincarnations, there is a variety of possibilities. While still alive, people commonly assume that those in Heaven and in Hell are there for eternity. (Resurrection and reincarnation are seldom envisaged.) Eternity means infinity. This is difficult to envisage in terms of pleasure. Could we cope with it? What can be said about eternal agony[GL1] ? What sin would warrant that?

There is the issue of when an afterlife begins. This would depend on what signifies that the body has become dead, and on what processes, if any, need to occur between the death and the afterlife. Our criteria for determining that a person is dead have changed from time to time. There are no criteria that determine when an afterlife begins. For reincarnations, we might assume that it is immediately after the atman enters its new body.

It is hard to predict our lifetime futures without reliable evidence. We would need hard facts to predict the duration of the afterlife.

There is not much point in considering any more kinds of afterlife.
New religions have been arising over recent centuries. For the most part, they are mixtures of pre-existing religions, with touches of new scientific and technical developments and science fiction, and with new words created to sound like new concepts. But their afterlives are just variations of the previous ones.

Which is the true afterlife?

I have now described a lot of different and incompatible beliefs about what happens to the personal identities and experiences of people, as distinct from their physical bodies, after their physical death.

Each believer believes that their kind of afterlife is the true one and that other versions are untrue. Might it be that each person will have an afterlife that complies with their religious beliefs? If this were to be generally believed, it might prompt people to change their religion and then have an afterlife of their choice.

Or does everyone have the same kind of afterlife, irrespective of or despite their religion? If so, which kind of afterlife would it be?

Or does all this mean that no purported or any other afterlife is true, and there is no afterlife?

The current Dalai Lama says that it would be difficult for science to disprove reincarnation. I disagree, and will consider the case for his assumed reincarnations and the other afterlives shortly

Do the religious texts answer any of the issues? Could we believe them?

All the ancient texts are based ultimately on “divine revelation”, and they have been copied and mis-translated over the centuries. They contradict both themselves and the texts of other religions. The texts of recent religions seem to be inventions and variations of other texts.

There are several reasons why people believe them.

Many people have been taught their religion by their parents and clergy, and they retain their belief.

Some people are biased to believe what they would like to happen. Emotion has a greater influence over belief than reason has.

Most communities have large groups of people who believe in their particular kind of religion. Religions are highly organised. They have traditions and rituals, which people like. Belief in a religion gives many people a sense of comfort and security. Disbelievers have fewer organisations, traditions, or rituals, and they are more individualised.

There is a continuous world-wide change, in both directions, between people believing and disbelieving in the supernatural. But more people believe than disbelieve.

Could there be any demonstrable evidence and supportable explanations to show whether some supernatural entity exists?

What about miracles, which are good outcomes that appear to have been physically impossible? (Bad outcomes that that appear to be physically impossible are seldom regarded to be miracles.) Most miracles have subsequently been shown to be improbable but physically possible. The inexplicable ones may or may not have an unknown physical cause.

The supernatural, which would be more accurately be referred as “non-natural”, is intrinsically unable to be physically detected or measured. There is no way of justifiably affirming or dismissing its existence or characteristics.

There are indicators of occurrences that cannot be rigorously explained in physical terms, and so may be attributed by some people to be supernatural. But the mere existence of a supernatural entity does not necessarily indicate any kind of spirit.

Some people are quite sure that they have contacted, or have been contacted by, deceased loved ones. To them, such experiences are conclusive evidence of an afterlife.

It would be difficult to prove that they actually did have such contact, and difficult to prove that they did not. Bringing in witnesses that had no vested interest in the matter might resolve individual cases, but there could be naivety or trickery. Many rigorous independent demonstrations would be necessary. Negative cases would not conclusively dismiss afterlife, though they could put doubt concerning contacts.

If we could demonstrate the existence of the supernatural, that would not, without further evidence, mean that there were such things as souls.

Consciousness is the most consistent indication, but not proof, of a non-physical event. It continually occurs in living people and probably in most other species of organisms.

There are two components to consciousness, the ability to be conscious, and the things that we are conscious of. The content of consciousness occurs in the body of the person. The question is how we are able to be conscious.

So far, we have been unable to describe consciousness in physical terms. If we could, it would rule out any non-physical afterlife.

There have been many suggestions of how the operation of the brain might produce consciousness, but there is no feasible explanation of how any neural processes would enable organisms to experience the very wide and nuanced ranges of consciousness. There is not even a starting point to explain it.

Since the brain and nerves control all that we are conscious of, and also control all that we do physically, there would be no way of demonstrating whether some person or thing is conscious. We assume from their behaviour whether people and other organisms are conscious, but, as robots continue to be more sophisticated, it will be harder to make a valid conclusion. Depending on knowing whether a particular case is organic or constructed would not necessarily be valid.

I can’t see how we could ever conclusively show consciousness to be an entirely physical process, so I am not able to say that consciousness is not supernatural. But there is no conclusive demonstration that anything supernatural exists.

But irrespective of the possibility that the ability to be conscious may be supernatural, everything that we are conscious of has been shown to be dependent on our specific sensory organs and their interactions with the environment, on our brains, and other body parts.

What we are conscious of can be distorted and switched off by drugs. Damage to the relevant parts of the brain and sensory organs can distort or remove consciousness or produce specific kinds of consciousness. We know which parts of our brains correspond with each kind of our conscious experiences.

When we “lose consciousness”, the cause occurs within the brain and its connections. This can relate to everything that we are usually conscious of. This can apply to material things, such as pain, hearing, sight, smell, etc., and cognitive things, and emotions and feelings.

This shows that that the content of consciousness can occur from only the combinations of the conditions and the operations of sensory organs and brains.

For a soul to be conscious, if it existed, it would need to have a connection to its living organism, and that organism must contain some transferable information. Otherwise, it would be just a blank slate.

Furthermore, while we can describe what we are conscious of, no one can experience the consciousness of another organism. Having empathy is not the same as experiencing. This means that no soul, if souls exist, could have connection to the body of any person other than that the one it started with. This would seem to be prevent reincarnation.

There could be no progress towards enlightenment or achievement of bliss. The baby Dali Lamas must start from scratch to discover all that they need to know and to believe.

And since each living person can be aware of only their own consciousness, which disappears when their body has died and stopped functioning, there could be no conscious afterlife of any kind.


In summary,

For an afterlife, there must be some existing conscious entity that is the deceased person.

No such physical entity has ever been discovered.

This means that it is very likely that none exists, or that it is non-natural, that is, supernatural, and unable to be detected.

There is no way of knowing whether anything supernatural exists.

If there were to be something supernatural, there is no way of knowing whether it could be conscious.

We are unable to experience the consciousness of another person or organism.

If it were able to be conscious, it would need to have a connection to its own living person, and that person would need to contain transferable information.

This means that, after the body is dead and has no functions, there could be no afterlife of any kind.

But, despite all this, the believers are in the majority.

And true or not, afterlife is more benign than many other religious beliefs.