The Belief in Life After Death
There can be little doubt that the greater part of mankind has believed, in some way or at some level, that they have a destiny beyond the fleeting transitory existence we have in the present life. This belief is deeply rooted in most of the great religions, and most persons in the past have subscribed to some kind of religion. Even Shinto, although a very secular religion in some respects, makes much of the worship of ancestors who are thought to be still ‘around’ in some form. Theravada Buddhism, in spite of its scepticism, at least leaves the matter open and, while presenting special difficulties for any view of personal survival, has drifted into forms of belief and practice which involve at least some notion of a round of various existences; Mahayana Buddhism makes it very explicit. The so-called primitive religions seem also to centre on the expectation of some kind of further existence. How profoundly religious allegiances have affected people’s attitudes and how firmly religious persons have adhered to their professed beliefs is a more debatable matter. But few things have affected the general life and culture of people in the past more than religion: it has been a main determinant of attitudes, a shaper of major presuppositions; and it would not be incautious in the least to affirm on this basis that, at some level, by far the greater part of mankind has committed itself to the expectation of a life besides the present one and has shaped its activities accordingly.
KeywordsReligious Allegiance Christian Faith Religious People True Reality Divine Love
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