A Possible Conception of Life after Death

  • John Hick

Abstract

It has often been assumed that the notion of human survival of bodily death poses a straightforward question, ‘Do we live on after bodily death?’, which rightly expects a straightforward ‘yes’ or ‘no’ answer. Few have indeed thought that the true answer is easy to come by; but many have thought that the question itself is easy enough to ask. Much of the empirical evidence, in the form of ‘spirit communications’ through mediums, seems at first to support that assumption. A deeper analysis, however, has opened up more complex possibilities. To a great extent this deeper analysis was achieved in the classic period of parapsychological research towards the end of the nineteenth and early in the present century. The observations, analyses and theorising of some of the workers of that period were of the highest order and have indeed seldom been equalled since. Modern parapsychologists, of course, have at their command greatly superior technology, more sophisticated mathematical techniques and a more impressive line of jargon; but not often a better, or even an equal, theoretical power and intellectual penetration. In praising those classic contributions I am not referring to work on physical phenomena — spirit materialisation, direct voice mediumship, poltergeists and so on — which does often seem to have fallen far short of the rigorous standards of control, aided by such devices as infrared photography, that we rightly require today.

Keywords

Turkey Arena Dium Photography 

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Notes

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    J. H. Hyslop, ‘A Further Record of Observations of Certain Trance Phenomena’, Proceedings of the Society for Psychical Research vol. 16, no. 41 (1901) p. 291 (hereafter Proc. SPR).Google Scholar
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    William James, ‘Report on Mrs Piper’s Hodgson-Control’, Proc. SPR, vol. 23, no. 58 (1909) p. 3.Google Scholar
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    C. D. Broad, The Mind and its Place in Nature (New York: Harcourt, Brace, 1925 ).Google Scholar
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    Ian Stevenson, Cases of the Reincarnation Type 4 vols (Charlottesville, Va: University of Virginia Press, 1975–83).Google Scholar
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    M. Bernstein, The Search for Bridey Murphy ( New York: Doubleday, 1956 ).Google Scholar
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    A. Cannon, The Power Within ( New York: Dutton, 1953 ).Google Scholar
  7. 9.
    Paul Davies, Other Worlds: Space, Supers pace and the Quantum Universe ( London: J. M. Dent, 1980 ).Google Scholar

Copyright information

© John Hick 1993

Authors and Affiliations

  • John Hick
    • 1
    • 2
  1. 1.University of BirminghamUK
  2. 2.The Claremont Graduate SchoolUSA

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