Human beings find death difficult to deal with. Although man is the most intelligent life form on Earth, he has, like other living organisms, a varying, but finite life span.
Contemplating all that comes with living and dying as a human being is difficult to come to terms with. Intelligence brings with it an acute understanding. Man’s ability to think ahead and speculate is probably also responsible for a human being’s anxiety and heightened awareness of the fact that we, like every other species on Earth, will die.
Why should man accept death as being the end?
Being human also brings with it a certain amount of arrogance. Surely a species so perspicacious cannot just stop being and die, never again to exist?
Human beings, therefore, have either an innate belief system in life after death, or are taught to believe in life after death. Religion teaches people to believe in life after death and also may feed the human need to believe in life after death. Life and death go hand in hand. Man is always seeking answers to the question of why and what happens to us when we die.
Throughout time man has sought solace in his belief that life will continue somehow, in some other realm, after death here on Earth. When loved ones die it is a comfort to those still living if they believe that they themselves will one day be reunited with their family and friends in heaven.
The ancient Egyptians wrapped (mummified) bodies and placed objects in certain people’s tombs believing that the dead person would need these items in the next life.
Heaven, hell, and purgatory
Heaven, hell, and purgatory (Catholicism) are believed to be either real places or spiritual states that a person’s soul will eventually end up in after physical death here on earth.
The afterlife is believed to be a place where judgment takes place. Whether or not someone will go to heaven, hell or purgatory is said to be determined as to how a person has lived their life on Earth. Hell as an afterlife is understandably not a place a human will want to go to should they believe in life after death. Therefore, it is only natural that people live in hope that they will live on, somewhere pleasant after their physical death.
Suffering is not something human beings are good at dealing with.
However, suffering here on Earth is thought of as being a precursor to living the next life in peace and suffering no more. Many people can accept suffering, to some extent, if they believe that life goes on after death, pain-free. Suffering appears to guarantee a happier existence somewhere else once life on earth has ceased.
Human beings’ emotions are complex.
These emotions can easily be manipulated into giving people hope that there is life after death. As people age their beliefs in life after death might become stronger as they try to make sense of their impending death.
As long as man continues to live on Earth, then his need to believe in life after death, or his inability to accept death as the end will continue to influence his beliefs.