Religion and the Afterlife

On the popular radio call in show Loveline (at least it is in my area), one of the hosts, Adam Carola, claimed that if he could prove one of two things that nearly everyone would leave their religion. They were

#1- That there was no afterlife.

#2- That there was an afterlife, but it had nothing to do with religion.

Obviously he was implying that he believes that the major reason people follow a religion is for the promise of an afterlife.

So, your thoughts on the afterlife, and whether it has anything to do with religion.

If you want to know, I believe that there my be an afterlife, but it has nothing to do with a religion.

We must blame them and cause a fuss before somebody thinks of blaming us.
Sheila Broflofski

You may find it unlikely that you’ll get many replies to this thread, because there are currently around thirty thousand threads on this general broad topic already.


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Obviously, the theistic answer is “Yes, that is part of it, but that is simply the flawed selfish human part of us. The real reason is (for the Christian at least) is God loves me and I love Him.”

So assuming God doesn’t exist there are plenty of reasons why people are part of a religion.

  1. Moral guidance, moral crutch.
  2. Afterlife, fear of death.
  3. Afterlife, desire to see dead family,
  4. Desire for self-esteem, i.e. the supreme being loves me.
  5. Desire for self-esteem, i.e. I am scum, but there is hope for me through the divine.
  6. Desire for self-esteem, i.e. I have a personal relationship with the supreme being.
    friends and pets.
  7. Desire for self-esteem & superiority, i.e. I am better than those rotten hell-bound atheists.
  8. Desire for self-esteem, i.e. now I am armed with the Shield of Truth ™, and the Sword of the Spirit ™.
  9. Desire for personal power, i.e. Now I can judge other people.
  10. Ignorance, i.e. lacks understanding of the , generally, physical science and therefore falls to “God must have done it” mentality.

(Granted 4…9 are degrees of each other in that the revolve around a core issue, but depending on the person the actual reason varies)

Would everybody leave their religion if you proved the afterlife didn’t exist? Probably, but only because such a proof would require the disproof of the god of that particular religion in all liklihood. Certainly, at that point any reasonable person would leave the religion… you would still have a few diehards for certain.

It certainly doesn’t apply to many (most?) Jews. The Jewish faith does not push the whole afterlife thing like the Christian religions (and others) do.

Could there be a game where there is no such thing as a score, or any likeness of a score?

Human nature prevents such things.

There’s always another beer.

Beeruser, don’t forget Calvinball!

Afterlife is a part of religion, but not the only part. It might weaken and/or change religion to prove one of those two, but, in the words of the esteemed Winston Churchill

Unless you brainwash them, people won’t get rid of their beliefs, logic doesn’t come into it.

I sold my soul to Satan for a dollar. I got it in the mail.

Adam Carolla is an idiot. Watch like two seconds of The Man Show, and you’ll agree with me.

David B. already mentioned Judaism, a religion with very little reference to the afterlife. Buddhism, which can be an atheistic religion (depending on personal beliefs, no God is necessary), and Hinduism go for reincarnation instead, which, strictly speaking, is not an afterlife.

Islam and Christianity are big proponents of the afterlife, but like all religions, they provide morals and teach people how to relate to god. If there was no afterlife, I have no doubt that most people would remain religious. I consider myself fairly religious, but I never even think about the afterlife. As a human, I think claiming any knowledge on what happens after we die is arrogant. I use my religion as a guide to my life, not a map to heaven.


“Anger is what makes America great.”

That may be the case on the man show, but on Loveline, the man is a freakin’ genious!

Another point that I meant to bring up is that people use religion as a guide towards a decent life, which would allow them into heaven. But can’t a decent life be achieved without religion? Yes, and without the promise of an afterlife, I believe that many people would leave their religion.

We must blame them and cause a fuss before somebody thinks of blaming us.
Sheila Broflofski

Hightechburrito, I agree. Some people would leave their religions. But not everyone, which was the original statement.


“Anger is what makes America great.”

I was surprised with this great little book: “Civilization Before Greece and Rome” c. 1989, H. W. F. Saggs. The last chapter is entitled: “Ancient Religion” and deals with the “religious phenomena that united ancient society, rather than details that set them apart.”

He begins with how “Western man tends to see religion in terms of doctrines or ethical systems, or even social programmes. Unreformed* religions of the ancient world had nothing of this. There were no doctrines in the sense of definitions of required belief, and accepted standards of conduct were not explicitly linked to religion. Good behavior was more a matter of conforming to age-old custom than of framing one’s conduct in the light of a devine decree.” (p.268)

We still have a lot of that “conforming to age-old custom” in us. We can’t help it, even if raised by wolves, we’d learn some behavior, at least some of those behaviors that wolves would consider good. You can be a little “pagan” and still learn what is acceptable and what is not.

The greatest change in believers and non-believers in the past fifty or so years was the changes that occurred in the R. Catholic Church (RCC). Not afterlife or anything that (IMHO) central to the RCC but the changes de-mystified (Is that a good word?) the Mass, the change from Latin to local language, reversing the altar, greater participation by the members during the Mass and I don’t know what all else.

Oh, I’m gonna keep using these #%@&* codes 'til I get 'em right.

Four-square. No score, no winners, no losers. :slight_smile:

While I can find no reason to believe in such an afterlife, it would certainly be a lot more comforting if there was one.

Oh well… time to feed the worms.

Cecil, of course, had something to say: