Life After Death Chapter 16

1 - Argument from Authority

This is not a proof but it is a strong clue. The vast majority of all people who have ever lived, in all nations, cultures, races, and religions, have believed in life after death. The vast majority of the sages, or wise men, have taught it through the centuries. All the religions of the world teach some form of it. And above all, Jesus clearly taught it. If all these people are wrong, then you have to be a snob, for only you and your very small circle of unbelievers are right while the rest of the human race, including the best and wisest people who have ever lived, have all been wrong about this crucial question.

2- Argument from Desire

The desire to conquer death is in all of us. We all find death scandalous. The desire for immortality is natural and universal (in all of us). Every single one of our other desires that are natural and universal correspond to real things that can satisfy them. There is hunger—and there is food. There is thirst—and there is drink. There is loneliness—and there is society. There is curiosity—and there is knowledge. There is sexual desire—and there is sex. There is tiredness—and there is sleep. There is the desire for beauty—and there is beauty.

3 - Argument from soul not having parts

We are not just bodies; we are also souls. The soul is the source of life to the body. When the body loses its life, it does not lose any atoms, but it loses something. Something in us is not composed of atoms. When we die, we fall apart into body-without-a-soul and soul-without-a-body. And then the body falls apart into organs, which no longer work together, and the organs into tissues, and the tissues into cells, and the cells into molecules. Everything that has parts can fall apart. But the soul has no parts. You don’t have half a soul. You might have a weak soul, or a bad soul, or a stupid soul, but you never have a tenth of a soul. You don’t lose any part of your soul when you lose part of your hair or fingernails, or even a limb. A sword or a bullet or a cancer can split apart a body and kill it. But no sword or bullet or cancer can kill a soul because nothing can split the soul into pieces. It has no pieces. So none of the things that can kill the body can kill the soul.

4 - Argument from reason and free will

Our souls can perform two acts that are spiritual, not just physical; therefore, our souls must be spiritual. And what is spiritual is not mortal. Therefore our souls are immortal. We can know abstract eternal truths like “Justice is a virtue” or “2 + 2 = 4”, and we can freely choose between right and wrong. Animals cannot do those two things because they do not have spiritual souls. They have biological life, unlike rocks, and they have feelings, unlike plants—even some surprisingly human feelings like affection—and they have very clever instincts. But they don’t have reason or free will. Human thinking is rational understanding, and human choosing is free and morally responsible. Human thinking is not just sensation and imagination, and human willing is not just feeling and instinct. Put reason and free choice together and you get morality. Morality presupposes these two things: understanding right and wrong, and freely choosing between right and wrong.

5 - Argument from God

If there is no life after death, there is no God, and you have to be an atheist. For if God exists, then immortality must exist also because of divine justice. Not everyone gets what they deserve in this life, and if there is no next life, then there is no justice in the end; and if justice does not have the last word, then a God of justice does not exist. Also, if God exists, then immortality exists because of God’s love. If you love someone, you want him to live.

6 - Argument from Intrinsic Value of Person

If death is the end, and there is no life after death, then people are treated like cars. You can replace your car, but you can’t replace your friend. If reality treats people like cars, then reality is immoral. And if reality is immoral, why take morality seriously? If the deepest moral values—the intrinsic value of persons—has no ground in reality; if this idea that persons are intrinsically valuable and ought to be loved as ends rather than used as means—if this idea is only our subjective feeling or desire, then there is no objectively real obligation to love people, to treat them as ends and as unique and irreplaceable. But you can understand this argument only if you love. Love opens your eyes. When you love someone, you get new eyes: you see something you never saw before.

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