What Happens to Our Souls When We Die?

There are many good reasons to believe we, as humans, are more than simply physical bodies. Humans are “soulish” creatures; we are living souls united to physical bodies. Even without the guidance of Scripture, there are good reasons to believe our lives will not end at the point of our physical death. The existence of an afterlife is reasonable, particularly given our dual nature as immaterial souls possessing physical bodies. But what precisely happens to each of us, as living souls, when our physical bodies cease to exist? What will we experience the moment we close our eyes for the last time in this temporal life? The Christian worldview offers an answer to this question, and it can be found by surveying the teaching of the New Testament:

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Evidence for Immortality?

Immortality is in the news this week with the release of Dinesh D'Souza's newest book, Life After Death: The EvidenceEveryone from Rick Warren to Dallas Willard is endorsing the book, which attempts to build a case on empirical grounds for life after death.  Even the atheist Christopher Hitchens, who has debated D'Souza, calls him a "formidable opponent." 

D'Souza directs his arguments to the skeptic, who generally has trouble believing that God exists.  Discounting the existence of God pretty much gets you off the hook in terms of immortality, because if God doesn't exist, then there's no such things as life after death.

But if immortality doesn't exist, then why do we think about it so much?  Why do even the most skeptical people like to think there's a heaven, especially when someone they love bites the dust?  Christians have a fairly straightforward explanation for this preoccupation, and it's found in the book of Ecclesiastes:  "I have seen the burden God has laid on men," the writer of Ecclesiastes observes.  "He has made everything beautiful in its time.  He has also set eternity in the hearts of men" (Eccl. 3:10-11).

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Is There Such a Thing as Immortality?

It seems like a lot of people are dying these days.  In fact, the death rate is pretty constant, about 150,000 people per day worldwide.  But it does seem like an unusual number of famous people are dying, including one whose televised memorial service attracted an audience of around a billion people.  

What do you think about when you think about the death of someone you know, whether a personal acquaintance or a public person?  Probably a variety of things.  You think about death itself, which usually brings out sorrow because the person you know or admire is no longer here.  But you also think about life and all of the good things the person did.  This is where sorrow gives way to joy.

If you're like most people, you also think about life after death, also known as immortality.  Even people with no formalized belief system have this nagging suspicion that there's something beyond this life.  Others are confident that immortality is a given.  But does anyone really know?  How can you possibly prove something that is immaterial and beyond our ability to measure?  To put it another way, is it possible to find evidence for immortality?  Actually, it is. Maybe not hard evidence, but evidence nonetheless.

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