∙ For those of us who want there to be an afterlife (there's something wrong with your thought process if you don't), we should take strong comfort in the fact that there actually is such strong and varied evidence for it (if needed, please refer to the "Life After Death Top 11" in this section for a quick summary). Although not one of these types of evidence by itself would constitute absolute proof, the sum total of all the evidence is so much more than what we should expect if there were no survival of consciousness. Maybe we would not have any of this evidence whatsoever if there were no survival of consciousness (ie. why is all this varied and diverse evidence present at all in the first place?).
® It is quite possible the soul is 'judged' (or more likely evaluated I would tend to think) on how it makes use of its genetics and life's circumstances (upbringing, good/bad fortune, etc.) rather than just it's actions. It would be possible for a highly progressed soul to be given rather poor genetics and it would be judged (or evaluated) on it's improvement taking this into account. The converse could be equally likely. Therefore in the case of reincarnation, when a soul enters a body at birth, the genes of the parents need not match the individuals personality from before the birth - either the genetic match could be a partial one or even no match at all.
We do not truly have free will and are partially slaves to our human animal instincts and genes (as well as it could be easily argued, our environmental conditioning).
The soul using the brain's genetics just like it uses the physical body may possibly partially explain why most people will have imperfections which they don't like about there personalities but can't really change (ie. these imperfections or flaws are actually part of the genetic makeup we are temporarily using but are not from the soul itself).
® What would be probable that the soul would 'bring with it' into this life on earth and leave with from this world (and in the duration hopefully improve upon)? Certainly empathy or compassion but probably also wisdom. Though just to mention, love for ones mate or blood relatives may be partially accounted for by a genetic component.
Persons with more advanced souls may show greater introspection (better able to evaluate oneself and 'filtered' to a lesser extent by the brain).
Other things like communications skills, temperament, creativity, optimism, impulsivity, etc. are not as likely and are probably accounted for by our genetics.
Maybe the spirit is incarnated into a body having a brain that has as similar as possible genetic personality traits to its own. This 'matching up' could work by some type of energy frequency synchronization of the soul and the recipient body (brain). This is one possibility (the only one if all our personality traits are part of the soul).
∙ It is quite possible that we had a choice as to whether or not we would temporarily live on earth without the full knowledge that we have everlasting life and God exists and there is a spiritual realm or stay in the spirit world (or some other plane of existence) where we have this comfort and peace of mind. We very likely chose this life in order to 'fast track' the progression of our soul. In the spirit world, where there is likely less or even no pain and suffering, our souls would advance more slowly spiritually. Here on earth we would improve ourselves faster while enduring greater suffering.
Maybe we play 'roles' in this life so that we can benefit from certain experiences and learn the lessons we need to. I think some people incorrectly interpret these "lessons" to be learned as educational in nature when in fact they would be expected to be (at least in my opinion) of a spiritual/empathy basis. For the anecdotal paranormal and religious evidence for an afterlife seems to indicate we would have vast knowledge and much more wisdom available to us upon entering the spiritual dimension and there really is no spiritual benefit to gaining it now. Instead we would here in this life be learning empathy for others (and all life) in different situations/conditions/circumstances. This would seem to be more of a fine tuning or secondary empathy improvements as opposed to core or fundamental empathy changes to the soul although this would be improved upon also with these "lessons".
® Possibly, at least some of the time, animals (and even humans) could be occupied by 'partial souls' - souls in the spirit world who do not wish to come back to earth but may still send part of themselves and occupy bodies of life forms to improve empathy through suffering for soul progression. Also, it could be possible that souls may split and occupy more than one life form and all parts of the soul are eventually merged again in the spirit world after the physical deaths of all the life forms. This need not be limited to earth or this universe as this soul splitting could transcend across different universes and dimensions.
® As has been reported mainly through mediumship, upon death a soul can reincarnate right away (less often) or it may take much longer (typically several decades most often). This depends upon things such as what is right for the soul and reuniting with its ‘soul group’ – it may also reincarnate with the same soul group as seems to be a common enough theme.
Now we might then expect individuals of the same soul group to have very similar levels of advancement which would probably exhibit themselves in traits such as quite similar levels of compassion and maybe wisdom. Yet this is not quite what is apparent here on earth in the people who might think belong to the same soul group. The individual differences might be accounted for by the filter of genetics which in general could raise or lower an individuals compassion level (similarly with wisdom). And/or it could be, as far-fetched as it might sound, that the soul could be temporarily leaving behind part of itself in the spirit world and the portion ‘left behind’, if at all, varies. So some souls leaving part of themselves behind this way could account for the observed differences within the soul group. The alternative is that there is a significant weakness in the concept or hypothesis of soul groups and the sources for the evidence for them. This then, to a certain degree at least, would invalidate some of the evidence for survival of consciousness (ie. from regression therapy and mediumship). However, I think the more likely explanation is that soul groups are probably more looser as supposed to somewhat fixed and rigid and souls build up and have a broad network of connections to other souls of varying degrees.
An idea for an experiment to possibly test for the validity of soul groups might be to take family members who are close and have a strong bond and possibly in a double blind study, regress them separately and try to determine if they report past lives in common (ie. where they were together in the past life or lives). This could also help support reincarnation (or go against it depending upon the results), and obviously more so for a reincarnation involving soul groups and maybe multiple lives.
® The soul may choose, while still in the spirit world, its predisposition to a belief in an afterlife while on earth in order to live ones existence on earth with a greater peace of mind. Then, the person does not suffer as much loss or pain while on earth because they know that everyone who dies or suffers will still end up in a better place and our separation from deceased loved ones is only temporary. The tradeoff is that these persons will not experience as much spiritual progression due to the lessened suffering. Some of these people may dedicate themselves to helping others and/or spreading the word of God (for example, many Christian missionaries may be in this situation).
® It is interesting to observe that people who are atheists and are normal intelligent people seem to have no more fear than people with spiritual beliefs that they will cease to exist when they die. And often do care about what are really insignificant things in life which have no bearing on them or their survival and also they may have no impact over. It is quite possible that the soul which might fear that while on earth it may not have peace of mind without the knowledge of an afterlife, chooses prior to birth to have belief in life after death while a mortal being. The soul which is not amenable to these fears while on earth might choose to have no belief in an afterlife in order to make a greater improvement in empathy for other living things. So in other words, just maybe we are 'fixed up' to be comfortable with our knowledge of our mortality or immortality. And if our thoughts on this change during our life here on earth so that we are no longer comfortable, we can still be accommodated by, for example, by finding God through religion.
From what I have observed, almost everyone who is anxious for a time (say more than a few days) about whether there is life after death is somehow 'rescued' and finds comfort through religion or spiritual beliefs. The odd time someone doesn't, the anxiety is only in the short term and over the long term is bearable and either at a low level or only sporadic.
∙ I personally am leaning towards the belief that no single type of evidence for life after death by itself will convince everyone among us. If looked at objectively, every one of the evidence types is, to varying degrees, incomplete or inconclusive and some of it is even ambiguous - almost as if it is all supposed to be this way.
In fact, for any evidence type to constitute proof for me, it would have to be so overwhelming that it would even convince intelligent (and rational) agnostics and atheists that there is survival of consciousness. This is the standard to be met for this, otherwise it would be considered as evidence only (of whatever significance or value), but not proof.
Some will believe in life after death based on a single or few pieces of favourable evidence (as already mentioned, this may have been chosen in the spiritual realm prior to incarnation here). Some will not believe no matter how strong and varied the evidence for life after death if it is not 100% conclusive according to the scientific method. Instead, most of us will have to weigh the sum total of the different types of evidence as I have attempted to do on this site. This is because if there is life after death, why have we not been shown it to be the case without any doubt whatsoever to the satisfaction of all? It would probably have to be due to the reasoning previously discussed in this section.
∙ Certain events in our life may be predestined in order for us to get certain spiritual benefits out of this life's experiences. These may be what we perceive as minor as well as major events in our lives. This could still fit in with reincarnation; we may in fact be in the particular life just to experience these predestined events.
® Maybe life is not as cruel as we often see it if we ourselves, prior to this incarnation, have chosen the unfortunate events to occur to us that will cause us our greatest suffering while on earth (and may have built up the negative karma prior in order for it to happen - though karma may not be necessary for such and only the pre-planning is). Then we truly would be masters of our own destiny. We would then be in control of how much we suffer in this life in order to reap the benefits of spiritual progression of our souls.
® Empathy for strangers can be explained as being able to see ourselves in the same circumstances or situation. But we sometimes have more sympathy for the plight of a complete stranger that for someone we know (but do not despise) which makes no sense from an evolutionary viewpoint. It does make sense though if we see it in the context of something bigger:
A soul (more so for more spiritually advanced ones) often does not distinguish greatly in caring between people we know and do not know unless they are somewhat close to us and instead sees all deserving of love independent of if they are known to us. This is the realization one would possess between lives if reincarnation is what governs life and death.
® A very far-fetched, but nevertheless a possibility, is that alien beings (if there is other intelligent life in the universe or elsewhere able to access our world say from another dimension) not God created life on earth. They brought life from elsewhere in the universe to earth and allowed evolution (or some other mechanism) to run its course or created it all right here including new species (including man) which replaced ones gone extinct (naturally or from the aliens doing). They then gave us evidence for life after death such as sending messages through Moses, Buddha, Jesus Christ, etc.; producing entities; having us experience NDEs; give some of us memories of past lives which we never lived; communications with the so called dead (so we were led to believe), etc.. Though it is possible that some but not all of the religious and/or paranormal evidence is due to alien manipulations (some of the religious evidence may even be man having incorrectly interpreted alien visitations as 'gods' and may not even be some grandiose manipulation on the part of alien beings). The reason they would do this would be hard to fathom. However, this would still not explain out of body experiences (OBEs) during the NDE for which such a mechanism of fraud would seem to be so improbable (though still a possibility that cannot be ruled out). Aliens would have to be simulating demonic possession (if there is such a thing as possession) and upon exorcism putting an end to it (usually). It would be very difficult to account for some of the miracles performed by Jesus Christ such as raising a man from the dead or giving the blind sight (but again still a possibility). But you would think that whichever (or all of) the various types of evidence for life after death they are manipulating would come across more 'clear cut'. And ultimately what answer would there be for the question, who created the aliens? Although aliens could have come about through random chance in their world and either created us or stepped in to the picture to do their manipulations on us after we became a species. Nor would it explain the origins of matter and energy or the reason for the Big Bang and what was before it. Regardless, even with such a grandiose manipulation, there could still be life after death.
If we are the subject of experiments by alien beings (possibly including our creation), then the aliens would have to be inherently evil. For I would not expect (but could not rule out) mankind doing such a thing. So a creature more intelligent and advanced should be expected to be less so inclined based on intelligence but this says nothing about the evilness they could possess.
Whoever or whatever created us cannot let our souls disappear into nothingness as previously discussed (in the Philosophical section). But if aliens from another solar system were our creators (much the same way we do genetic engineering though obviously not at this level), then life on earth came about due to their manipulation. Then their Creator (or the Ultimate Creator if they are not one and the same and does exist) would be responsible for our souls (including giving us souls). He would only allow life to occur on earth through the aliens creation because he gave us souls. Therefore, we need not worry that we would not have life after death because we were the creation of aliens - the Ultimate Creator (who we can probably safely assume is more caring and loving than man) would not allow us to cease to exist upon physical death. In fact, aliens creating and/or guiding life's and/or man's evolution on earth, could be part of the spiritual order and it may indeed be intended to happen this way. Of course the possibility still exists that aliens created us and they did not have a Creator and somehow evolved from lower life forms going back to a spontaneous life from non-life.
Thus, even with alien intervention it is still very conceivable that we possess souls and there is life after death and religions were originated by aliens possibly because they were fulfilling their role (unknowingly or knowingly) to bring about certain conditions on earth so future major events would play out a certain way. This could also apply to one or more of the paranormal evidence types for an afterlife also. In addition, it may have been to give a certain level of comfort to many of us while on earth regarding us having a soul that survives beyond our physical bodies.
Though so unlikely and inconceivable, a manipulation such as this could also instead have been carried out by entities from the spiritual realm (for whatever reason(s) unknown). But if this were indeed to be the case, then the fact there is a spiritual realm with entities in it would be indirect evidence for an afterlife.
® If negative entities (I think the term is more general and probably more accurate than demonic entities) exist, their role or purpose needs to be accounted for and understood. I am going to speculate on what I think could be a likely possibility to explain this.
Negative entities could be created and negatively influence thoughts and behaviours of incarnated souls (such as people here on earth). Or maybe the negative entities act upon and accentuate the negative thoughts and thinking that come into an individuals brain or mind from time to time. They may ‘reside’ in a different spiritual dimension. The negative entities start at a less than zero empathy level for other souls and then build up bad karma for themselves by negatively influencing other souls. To make them into negative entities that will fulfill their role and that of the greater spiritual order, a positive part results that has to be kept separate from the negative entity until later. Or it could be that creating a new soul results in a negative entity anyway as there is a price to pay so that newly created entities end up with a less than zero empathy for other life and that is just how the spiritual law works. Later these negative or ‘sub-entities’ are allowed to be the ‘true’ spiritual entities they were destined to be at a level equal to zero empathy (if the positive part is ‘given back’ at this point and recombines) or less than zero empathy. Then the negative karma repercussions they built up for themselves prior allows them to grow spiritually through the suffering they will endure over time. If the spiritual entity had simply been created at the zero empathy level without being a negative entity first, then how could it grow spiritually and advance without any spiritual justification to suffer? Or maybe the spiritual growth would be too slow (eventhough time may not have any relevance to it all) by free will negative karmic effects alone?
So negative entities would be fulfilling two roles. Firstly, this is how new souls are created and start off. Secondly, this is how spiritual growth is effected to a greater extent – via greater suffering in shorter periods of time.
The negative that happens to us and in the world is due to (1) free will, (2) karmic effects, and (3) due to the influences of negative entities. Some of this negative to occur may be agreed to and pre-determined prior to ones incarnation and the specific negative entities have their influence at the right specific time in order to effect the outcome called for and are simply fulfilling their role. The extent to which one can be influenced by these negative entities is due to (1) the ‘effort’ put in by the entity or entities, (2) ones level of spiritual advancement (the greater the advancement, the less one is susceptible to influence), (3) genetic determinants (ones brain wiring), (4) one having the negative thoughts or thinking to be influenced at the time, and (5) ones circumstances at the time (such as states of anger, anguish, intoxication, etc. will make one more susceptible to external influences as there is likely less resistance). It may be that certain pathways in individual brains could allow certain negative thoughts and the influences from these entities may always be there ready to exploit and influence thought and behaviour.
This doesn’t excuse us from bad behaviours or evil as we are still accountable for our actions and cannot simply use this is a crutch or excuse and we will still face the repercussions and likely the bad karma. Though karmic effects may only take place to the extent or in proportion to the understanding of the consequences of their actions or the exercising of their free will portion of it only, and then, only to the minimal suffering necessary onto that person. Maybe when bad things are done to people, maybe they should not take it as personally so much and see it as the spiritual order?
Also, assuming there is a spirit dimension, there is very likely spiritual ‘protection’ which prevents certain harm or negative outcomes from occurring to individuals.
® The subconscious, gut instincts, and intuition could all be interactions from the persons souls.
® Maybe it is no coincidence that the common occurrence of NDEs in the past few decades, mediums more commonplace over the past decade on television, and the very recent shared death experience are giving us evidence suggestive of an afterlife. It could be because the pendulum had swung too much to that of less belief in much of the world in an afterlife or God because mainly due to advancements in science (and thus materialism being more plausible to many). Possibly this new evidence for mass consumption is presented to return man to a more balanced view (or the pendulum is always being kept in balance).
∙ If all play and no work in ones life, then a feeling of emptiness and unfulfillment is prevalent; one is not as happy as when one engages in both work and play. This might indirectly have something to do with us having to accomplish things here in this life to progress spiritually. However, evolution could just as easily make the same argument in its favour.
∙ There is too much similarity between the four major races of humans (and no personality differences). This is also the case in terms of values, fundamentals of language, etc. between the various cultures of the world. Evolution would predict that there should be more variation. Thus, this would give more support to the Biblical version of man's divine origins.
® Just to let the reader know, when I am away from this subject for an extended time period, I get some doubt (more so when I hear or read arguments against life after death), but when I examine the collective evidence again, it always sways me back to where I was when I am immersed in the subject.
® I don't have the answers but my best guess is that all living things are part of the universal consciousness and only through its components (like us) suffering can it 'grow' while experiencing life and its joys and pleasures at the same time.
Life After Death Top 11
Top 11 reasons for life after death followed by my personal conservative guess based upon my interpretation of the evidence (erring on the side that this is not evidence for an afterlife) on how likely they are actually true evidence for it (in brackets):
1. NDEs (97.5%)*
2. Religious teachings and prophets (or messengers) taught about an afterlife - only one needs to be true and at least one might be (95%)
3. Communications with the dead (95%)
4. Ghosts, spirits, poltergeists, and other entities - at least one of these is true evidence for survival of consciousness (90%)
5. Knowledge of past lives and life between lives (85%)
6. Death bed visitations and other related paranormal phenomena (40%)
7. Demonic possession and is indirectly indicative of life after death (30%)
8. No natural explanation for the complexity and order in the universe (and it's origin) along with the life in it and this implies a Creator and indirectly we should possess souls (20%)
9. No other explanation for consciousness (20%)
10. OBEs (10%)
11. Did not come into this world with a 'blank slate' with respect to wisdom and a sense of right and wrong and therefore this implies a prior consciousness (10%)
*This is 3 significant figures according to treatment of data under the decimal system in the laboratory for those of you familiar with such. However, I have always believed that 1/4 and 3/4 estimates do not warrant an extra significant figure (for non-digital readings at least) as compared to say 0.3 or 0.7 (two significant figures beyond the decimal point vs. one). In fact, it could be argued that 1/4 and 3/4 can be read even more accurately than say 0.3 or 0.7. Therefore, in this case, an estimate of 0.975 I believe has no more significant figures used than 0.93 or 0.97, and is in fact more accurately read.
®Probability of Life After Death
We start with zero probability of life after death and then see what evidence for it is before us.
The above illustration shows us that for us to make the conclusion that there is life after death, only one type of evidence for it has to be true. To conclude that there is no life after death, every one of the different types of evidence have to be false (this makes it even more important to evaluate each of the different types of evidence independently of each other and without bias); and yet we still would not be able to absolutely make the conclusion since there may be another type(s) of evidence we do not know about or that evidence does not necessarily have to be revealed to us for there to be life after death.
Taking the illustration, one step further, we can ask statistically, what are the odds that there is life after death (LAD)?
Probability (as a decimal fraction) there is LAD = 1 - (Probability there is no LAD)
= 1 - (a x b x c x d x e,...etc.)
Where a,b,c,d,e,etc. are independent of each other and represent as fractions the likelihood that each of the various types of evidence for LAD are NOT TRUE. And (a x b x c x d x e,...etc.) are the fractional probabilities multiplied by each other. Let us do a calculation using the LAD Top 11 from above:
"1." = a = 1-0.975 = 0.025
"2." = b = 1-0.95 = 0.05
"3." = c = 1-0.95 = 0.05
"11." = k = 1-0.10 = 0.90
Probability of No LAD = 0.025 x 0.05 x 0.05 x 0.10 x 0.15 x 0.60 x 0.70 x 0.80 x 0.80 x 0.90 x 0.90
= 2.0 x 10-7
= 2 in 10 million
= 1 in 5 million
Probability of LAD = 1 - 2.0 x 10-7
= 0.9999998 = 99.99998 %
Note: I have used values that I personally believe to be representative; though liberal, in my opinion, in favour of no LAD (ie. erring on the side of no LAD). Most of the people who would be considered the worlds leading researchers and scholars in any of these areas would, in private and 'off the record' at least, give a higher probability for their (chosen) area being evidence for survival of consciousness than I have. Therefore, if we were to take a representative sample for each of the 11 evidence types from 11 separate groups of these experts and then do the preceding calculation with the values each group would assign, I would expect the probability of life after death would come out higher than 99.99998%. You, the reader may substitute any numbers from 0 to 1 in the calculation based upon your personal evaluations (to try to ensure independence, input parameter values as if have no knowledge of other types of evidence) and any number of evidence types you believe to be relevant. If I had used more than the eleven types of evidence I did in the calculation, then the odds in favour of LAD would be a bit higher (though not so much that they would be increased by an order of magnitude).
We need to be aware that if there is alien or inter-dimensional being manipulation (no matter how improbable this being the case might be) of the evidence (in whole or in part unless it was for only one evidence type manipulated or fabricated) for an afterlife, then these evidence types would no longer be independent of one another and this probability calculation would no longer hold up.
For curiosity (although it does not tell us the probability of life after death), let us estimate the probability that all of the 11 different evidence types mentioned above are all true:
Probability they are all true = 0.975 x 0.95 x 0.95 x 0.90 x 0.85 x 0.40 x 0.30 x 0.20 x 0.20 x 0.10 x 0.10
= 3.2 x 10-5
= 1 in about 30,000
= Which works out to a very low probability even though with the very same inputs the probability of life after death is extremely high - this is because throughout we have treated each evidence type as being independent of one another.
Anyone who inputs "1" above for any of the evidence types (ie. 100% probability that particular evidence type shows there is life after death) is either bringing some faith into it and/or has some special knowledge in the area which some may potentially have. The same applies even more so for someone entering zero (ie. 0% probability that particular evidence type shows there is life after death) - as it cannot be done scientifically and rationally and would require some sort of special knowledge to do so (I do not see how anyone could be in possession of such for most if not all the evidence types). Entering zero might also be improperly done by individuals who even know nothing or virtually nothing about that particular type of evidence.
Not knowing of this analysis, atheists would simply answer zero for all the evidence types but that is where their irrational bias would be clearly exposed for to do so would require a special knowledge and understanding of these evidence types which no one I can see on earth possessing in the negative. Mere mortals, no matter how dismissive they are of the particular evidences, would still have to input numbers greater than zero (such as 0.01, 0.005, 0.02, etc.; though the odd zero could still be rationally inputed). They may end up with say a 5 to 10% chance of life after death but their atheist belief system would be no longer (mathematically and logically at least).
However if they had read this analysis prior and understood how it worked, one would have to get them to answer to each of these evidence types separately to get their honest opinions (though this probably would not still work) otherwise they would probably be clever (but not honest and objective) and input very small numbers close to zero and some zeros to get their probability of life after death estimate as low as possible and yet rationally still plausible - so as to be as close as possible to zero probability of life after death as they can get away with.
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Harinder S. Sandhu
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This page was last updated on: May 22, 2010.