The Idea Of Afterlife In Christianity And Judaism
The idea of the afterlife, and the statement “death is not the end of life”, is often discussed throughout today’s evolving Judeo-Christian community. Atheists, however, do not believe in a God and contrary to Christianity and Judaism, all atheists believe that once someone dies, that’s the end of life. Scientists are a great part of the atheist community due to their beliefs revolving around the need for proven evidence and research on the possibility of their being eternal life; including heaven or hell. The discussion of the afterlife has a significant impact within the Judeo-Christian community as it entails some of the most important teachings and values. Judeo-Christian is a term which is used to group the beliefs of Christianity and Judaism together, either through Christianity’s derivation from Judaism, both religions common use of the Bible or due to apparent parallels, commonalities or shared values between the two religions. (Orwell, 2014).
When Christianity originated, it quickly began to grow in popularity with the movement to the Roman Empire in 313 CE. (Schroeder, 2017). Christianity is the religion that is based on the birth, life, death, resurrection and teachings of Jesus Christ and later on the writings and missionary work of Paul of Tarsus (White, 1998). The term Judeo-Christian is often meant to evoke the religious, ethical, cultural values or beliefs regarded as being common to both Judaism and Christianity. (Almond, 2019). While Christianity’s roots begin with values and beliefs from Judaism, the two religions diverged in the first centuries of the Christian era. Christianity emphasizes correct belief/orthodoxy, as recorded in the New Testament (Hebrews 8:6). Judaism places its emphasis on correct conduct/orthopraxy, focusing on the Mosaic covenant, as recorded in the Torah and Talmud (Elizabeth, 2007).
Both religions believe in a God and some kind of renewal of the soul; e.g. the soul of a person living with God in heaven or the soul being renewed and resurrected. The Christian perspective on the afterlife is based on the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Christians believe in living one life, which will end; resulting in a person’s soul being sent to Heaven or Hell. The soul’s final resting place is determined by judgement day and the good and evil deeds one may have committed throughout their lifetime; initiated by the purgatory process (About Catholics Team, 2013). Christians believe that Jesus’ death and resurrection were part of God’s divine plan for humankind. Through his death on the cross, Jesus paid the price for humankind’s sins and evil decisions. Therefore, humanity’s relationship with God is restored because of this penalty; this is called atonement. Although physical death is undeniable, those who believe in Christ and live good lives will be given the gift of eternal life in heaven, where the presence of God lives. However, the Jewish perspective on the afterlife has previously had various teachings surrounding the subject of death.
There are very few references in the Hebrew Bible, which mention life after death (Jewish Learning, 2011). However, more recent teachings include the idea that judgement would happen after the resurrection of the Mashiach, (the Messiah) their God. “Belief in the eventual coming of the Mashiach is a basic and fundamental part of traditional Judaism. It is part of Rambam’s 13 Principles of Faith, the minimum requirements of Jewish belief” (Judaism 101, 2011). Some members proclaim that the soul and body will be reunited, resulting in the resurrection of the body. Others believe that the soul will live eternally, known as the immortality of a soul. However, unfortunately, there was never clear teaching on the exact nature of Heaven or Hell. (British Broadcasting Corporation, N/A).
Scientists and atheists often believe in the concept that death is the end of life, as the physical presence of a human dies. This makes the question hard for scientists to answer, as there is no known explanation as to if someone’s soul/ spirit rests in heaven or hell. Sean Carroll, cosmologist and physics professor at the California Institute of Technology, states he has put the debate surrounding the afterlife to an end after extensive study on the laws of physics. Dr Carroll states, “the laws of physics underlying everyday life are completely understood. Everything happens within the realms of possibility. For there to be an afterlife, consciousness would need to be entirely separated from our physical body; which it is not” (Martin, 2017). However, there are some scientists such as Dr Sam Parnia who believe that one’s soul lives on as the physical body dies. He commented on the 100 cardiac arrest patients he had studied. Dr Parnia revealed how a large percentage of his patients had ethereal experiences and described how many people “feel an immense sense of peace, comfort and joy when they go through death.” (Hoare, 2017). Primarily, Parnia’s research comes from the experiences people have when they pass and suggests the idea of the afterlife. Scientific research and religious communities have always had the debate as to whether heaven exists or not, however, no one can say that their belief is definite.
It becomes evident that the statement “death is not the end of life”, is a unified agreement between both religions. While atheists do not believe in a God, their values attitudes and beliefs are evidently similar to non-religious teachings within both Christianity and Judaism. Each atheist is intitled to their own opinion surrounding the statement death is not the end of life.” However, all atheists believe that once someone dies, that’s the end of life. Scientists are a great part of the atheist community because of their need for evidence on the possibility of their being eternal life; including heaven or hell. Neither Christianity nor Judaism believes that death is the end of life. Christianity explicitly states that there is an afterlife with God if an individual truly believes in him. Whereas, in Judaism, there are very few mentions of the afterlife in the Hebrew Bible. Nevertheless, as multiple sources suggest, once the Messiah has been resurrected, the judgement of good and evil will begin (Jewish Learning, 2011). Therefore, the statement “death is not the end of life” is justified for the Judaeo-Christian community.
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