"What happens when we die? Is there life after death?" Why is this question so important? I think it is the single most important question that faces us. Why? Because quite simply put- virtually every single thing in our entire lives is ultimately uncertain apart from the fact that is one day we shall die. We may live our lives as though this is not going to happen or as though death is something that is far away in the future and barely worthy of a moments concern. Nothing could be further from the truth. Death is not something we have a choice about. It is absolutely 100% certain to happen. One day, with 100% certainty, you will be dead. And so will all of the people you know, love and all the people see around you every day. And that is a terrifying thought, isn't it?
SO what happens when we die? We know that physically speaking, this body we have shall perish. It will turn to dust. This physical body we are so intimately bound up in all of our lives, it will no longer be. But what about us? What about that part of you- the part that thinks, sees, feels, remembers and so on? Will that part too simply perish? Will we cease to be conscious forever> Will it be as though we never existed in the first place and this entire life of ours rendered to literally nothing?
Well we know that we are intimately bound up with our physical body and we know that when parts of our physical body become damaged or stop working that we lose that corrisponding function. We seem to depend on properly functioning parts of our physical body for our entire experience and existance. This would suggest that when the physical body perishes, so too do we.
However, there is a large amount of evidence that has been collected over a period of hundreds of years that suggests that we continue to live after the physical body has died. This evidence is consistant and has repeated itself in cultures all over the world under numerous conditions. I therefor do not believe this evidence can simply be ignored.
I have been searching for answers as an open minded skeptic. However I can only be honest and admit that what one believes in regard to the question of "Is there life after death" can be strongly influenced simply by your own feelings- about life in general. Unless you take the time to thoroughly research the evidence, the only conclusions you can ever make on this issue will be emotionally based. For instance you might feel depressed or resentful and that life is pointless. From these emotions it would be easy to conclude there is no afterlife or any hope beyond whatever lot we have in life right now. On the opposite side of things, one might be bound up in the emotion of fear- that is, fearing death and adopt the viewpoint "there must be an afterlife" as an emotional crutch or comfort device to avoid facing up to this fear.
There are numerous examples of emotionally based belief setting that I could list, but I'm sure you get the general idea. The point is- the only way to get answers is to study the evidence scientifically and empirically. Subjective and emotionally based beliefs are simply faith- and faith is not evidence.