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The next big question that follows naturally is where are we going after life on earth. We want to know about where we are going to end up perhaps even more than where we have come from because we might want to know whether our actions here are going to affect our future (and possibly eternal) destiny. The question has obvious ramifications for the individual but it can also affect how we face our own and others’ deaths.

What do science and religion say? Again, different faith systems give different answers. Some teach of a heaven and a hell with criteria for entry into each, and some teach of a cycle of rebirth without beginning or end. Interestingly the latter sometimes presents a way off the merry-go-round if we perform particularly well in this life, which is surely an incentive to better living. Most religions would agree that the spirit is eternal and so enters a different form of existence after the death of the physical body. There may be slight differences of opinion then as to whether only human spirits survive, or even whether non-human spirits even exist.

Science in this instance is silent. This is because the role of science is to understand the make-up and origins of the universe within the parameters that it can measure. Unless science can prove the existence of an afterlife by perhaps bringing someone back from the dead (and assuming that their memories of the journey survive) then it is not able to comment on the question. If pushed, the non-believing scientist should say that there exists no proof for or against an eternal destiny and that the obvious consequence of a truly physical model of the universe would indicate that there is no future beyond our numbered days.

What to believe then if the experts can’t agree? In this instance I would think that we should listen to the views of the faith systems because it is so clearly outside of the realm of scientific investigation, but then we would have to make our own minds up. Personally I like the idea of an after-life because it makes some sense of the bigger questions about life on earth.

I hope you find that this stimulates you to consider this question afresh.