Life After Death Edexcel

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  • Created by: Freya
  • Created on: 18-11-13 20:33


Why is it important?

-> Life has a purpose; to act morally; comforting

What different forms might it take?

-> Heaven/Hell; Purgatory (catholics); reincarnation; bodily resurrection; Immortality of the disembodied soul

Philosophical problems?

-> Do the same beliefs apply to every religion?; Evidence; subjective; hell = contradiction of an all loving God

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Anthony Flew; “Can a man witness his own funeral?” 

  LAD is a contradiction in terms

o        Paul Badham responded

o        there is nothing illogical or self-contradictory in thinking about ‘me’ with reference to my body.

o        Death could be a new mode of existence.

Most people would argue that for life after death to be meaningful and of value there        must be continuity of identity (continuity of the self) from life to this “new mode of            existence.”

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Plato said “ the body is the prison house of the soul.”

According to Plato, when we die the soul is released from its bodily prison house and therefore death is not something that shouldn’t be feared. Therefore we should look forward to death.

The real person consists in the soul.

Descartes dualism;

Descartes went back to what he considered the most fundamental question of all:

                        WHAT CAN WE KNOW WITH CERTAINTY??

   Epistemology = the theory of knowledge

 Can’t be sure of reality of the world; Can’t be sure of reality of others

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Evaluating Dualism


The main idea of a dualistic separation of mind and body makes sense: Ward’s analogy suggests the mind may be able to survive without the body in the same way as a man need always depend on the womb which supported his life before birth. Our sense of ‘self’ survives physical change such as the ageing process, amputation etc. There are physical behaviours quite distinct from mental activity. EG putting on a ‘face’.


Neuroscience suggests that there is a very close correlation between mental events at brain activity.

The problem of recognition – how would we recognise or be recognized in the afterlife without a body?

There are equally convincing scientific explanations for many of these experiences. E.g oxygen deprivation causing hallucinations

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Strengths of Bodily Resurrection (Monism)

Strengths of Bodily Resurrection.

-         The monistic conception does not suffer from the same problems as dualism. You will be able to recognise loved ones as you will know what they look like. Monism doesn’t suffer from the issue of separate mind and body as they are the one in the same thing in monism. Therefore there are fewer identity issues with the monistic conception of bodily resurrection than there are with IDS.

-         Problem with recognition? -> Not as serious a problem as it is with IDS

-         Replica Theory supports the idea of bodily resurrection by suggesting that such a thing is logically possible. It would make sense to talk of the continuity of the self through bodily resurrection/replication provided we’re prepared to believe in an omnipotent God.

-         Evidence for bodily resurrection: several accounts in the Bible showing that such a thing has happened at least once. Stood the test of time as people are still Christians, read the Bible and believe in God.


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Weaknesses of Bodily Resurrection

Weaknesses of Bodily Resurrection.

-         How are you resurrected? What kind of body will you have? If you have been blown up do you come back all broken up?  -> Christians can argue that God will bring you back in a ‘perfect’ form. However Jesus came back in the form of how he died. -> But there may be a specific reason for why he came back in that form.

-         Logcal problem of what Paul means by a ‘spiritual body’. They are a contradiction in terms.

-         Evidence has been tampered with. How reliable a source is the gospel accounts of Jesus’ resurrection. Thousand years old, translated from different languages. Vatican has taken out accounts as they didn’t say what they wanted it to say. Inconsistencies between accounts.

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Conclusion in favour of BODILY RESURRECTION :

-        Replica theory supports the idea that LAD in the form of BR, is at least conceptually coherent.

-        There are fewer identity issues with BR, since we have some sort of body.

-        There is at least one historical precedent made up of gospel accounts of Jesus’ BR, accounts which are remarkably consistent.

-        From a modern perspective and philosophically speaking, monism is supported more convincingly than dualism.

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