By Anna Galaktionov
Kurt Gödel, an Austrian-German-American logician and mathematician, once said, “I am convinced of the afterlife, independent of theology. If the world is rationally constructed, there must be an afterlife.”
Gödel’s statement sounds firm, but how can we as Barry students be sure that there is an afterlife?
As a school deeply rooted in Catholic tradition, Barry University accepts the concept of an afterlife and teaches it in its theology classes, but many students are still skeptical. Based on a survey done on the topic, 50% of students believe in some form of an afterlife while 50% are not sure.
In my preceding editorial, “Eternity: Just Think About It …” I discussed the human soul from the perspective of Aristotle’s philosophy. Now, let’s take a deeper look into the human soul and add the purpose of life in support of an afterlife.
Another term for the human soul is consciousness or the awareness of oneself.
According to Fiona Macdonald from Science Alert, scientists have struggled for millennia to understand human consciousness. Despite improvements in technology and the advancements in neuroscience, they still cannot pinpoint exactly where consciousness comes from, or where it goes after death for that matter.
Eric Lebron, a sophomore majoring in criminology, agrees that the human brain is complicated.
“If you open up your brain, you're going to find neurons, but you’re not going to find the thought, the scenarios, the throwbacks, things you see of the past, you’re just going to see your biology,” he said.
In other words, the consciousness or soul is the “I” or the “me” of every individual. It’s hard to imagine the soul simply disappearing with the physical body at the time of death. So, ponder on this question for a minute: Do you think “you” evaporate at death?
Lebron doesn’t think so.
“I don’t think life ends when your body stops functioning or when your body [dies], your heart dies, or your brain dies. I believe your soul has to go to another place, because your soul is the spirit and energy,” he said. “Life is not just your heart and your brain.”
Based on this information, the soul seems to be a spiritual substance that continues after the physical death of the body.
Samuel Vilmeau, a junior majoring in exercise physiology, believes that “energy [or the soul] continues in a cycle and carries on somewhere else ... it goes back to our … environment, in a way, kind of like reincarnation.”
So, what about reincarnation? In simplest terms, it’s the belief that after death the soul is reborn into a new body, lives in that body, dies, then is reborn into a new body again and again. The cycle continues forever. Eastern religions such as Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism, and Sikhism, believe in reincarnation.
Although this viewpoint agrees that there is an afterlife, there is a hole in its origin.
How did the energy, soul cycle begin? Since this world is dominated by definite beginnings, the theory of reincarnation is problematic.
Moving on, without an afterlife, there is no purpose in earthly life.
Some people claim that they live in order to make the lives of their loved ones and the future generations as comfortable and safe as possible. However, no matter how comfortable or how horribly people live on this planet, death comes to all. Also, no matter if we do good or bad to others, death is inevitable.
Thus, some might say that we might as well exterminate ourselves to avoid the pain of this world and the uselessness of our actions. But, what really encourages us to move on is a hope, a hope that there is something better to look forward to.
Some people blindly put their hope in their health, career, wealth, or good deeds, but as we have seen, these things end at death.
Now, as we have seen in our Christian tradition, there are some people who put their hope in God and the eternal life He gives. They hope for the day when all their strivings will cease, when everything will be restored back to perfection, and when justice will be served. And, this day will never end.
With this hope, these people live their earthly lives knowing that every action and every decision count in God’s eyes.
According to the truths of Christianity, the single decision a person needs to make to receive the eternal life God promises is simply to believe that Jesus died and resurrected, recant the wrongs that he/she committed, trust that through Jesus the wrongs are paid for, and sincerely try to do better every day.
This decision is difficult to make because it probes you to give up worldly pleasures and dedicate your life wholly to God.
If you think all this talk sounds absurd, too good to be true, or nonfactual, I implore you to search these sources that present evidence for God’s existence and the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus.