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  #1  
Old Oct 9, '11, 12:24 pm
meltzerboy meltzerboy is offline
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Default Is any other religion besides Judaism so indecisive regarding the existence and nature of the afterlife?

I suspect I may have asked this question before, but I'm not sure. Anyway, the question speaks for itself. Surely not Christianity (Catholicism, Protestantism, Orthodox) or Islam, which are quite specific about what may be in store for us, even going so far as to speculate on whether G-d's (or Allah's) grace may extend to those of different faiths or no faith, and what may happen to children who die. But Judaism is quite different in this respect. We just don't know for sure. Although Maimonides speaks of a final resurrection, not all Jews--including those of the modern age as well as those of ancient times--accept this teaching, although the tendency today is to follow the Pharisaic tradition, which speaks of a resurrection, rather than the Sadducees, who do not. The main reason for this internal dispute is that the Torah itself, as well as the Talmud, does not settle the issue. Some rabbis claim it does not do so for the purpose of differentiating itself from the Ancient Egyptian obsession with the afterlife, as reflected in "The Book of the Dead," as well as numerous Egyptian and other Pagan customs regarding preparation for the afterlife. Now, there are passages in the Hebrew Bible which SUGGEST an afterlife, and some Hebrew scholars and rabbis have built a rather strong case in favor of its existence. There is even mention of a kind of Purgatory, involving a "place" or state of punishment before entering Heaven, which is called Gehinnom (a limited one-year period), in which purification of the wicked, or perhaps almost everyone, takes place before entering Gan Eden (The World to Come). Yet even those who believe in such an afterlife usually point to a final resurrection when the Messiah arrives, instead of only a short-term waiting period. (Of course, the extra-temporal or atemporal nature of death would most likely affect human consciousness of the time period.) On the other hand, it is also thought that truly virtuous people might enter Gan Eden immediately without Purgatory cleansing or atonement. In none of these discussions, however, is the exact NATURE of Heaven described. And Hell is an even more nebulous concept in Judaism, thought of primarily as a separation from G-d rather than a place or state of eternal torment.

With this as background, my original question is, are there other religious beliefs which are as vague about a personal consciousness in an afterlife? Buddhism and Hinduism, perhaps? And, as a secondary question, might this indecisiveness about the existence and nature of Heaven in Judaism be one of the reasons why people are reluctant to consider Judaism as a viable faith if they are thinking about converting from their own or from an atheist viewpoint? And also one of the reasons why Jews are more apt to convert to other faiths, which are more definitive about significant issues such as this?
  #2  
Old Oct 9, '11, 1:02 pm
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Kouyate42 Kouyate42 is offline
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Default Re: Is any other religion besides Judaism so indecisive regarding the existence and nature of the afterlife?

Deism holds no one particular set of beliefs about whether there is an afterlife and what happens after death. Different deists have differing opinions, and there is no one belief. For example:

Ben Franklin's epitaph on himself provides a look at his belief that our life on earth is not the beginning and end of a personality. He, like Ethan Allen above, seems to have believed that the state of our spirits or souls is of an evolutionary nature. Franklin's epitaph reads, "The body of Benjamin Franklin, printer, like the cover of an old book, its contents torn out and stripped of its lettering and gilding, lies here, food for worms. But the work shall not be lost; for it will, as he believed, appear once more in a new and more elegant edition, revised and corrected by the Author."

In Thomas Paine's The Age Of Reason, we read on pages 177 and 178 the following: "But all other arguments apart, the consciousness of existence is the only conceivable idea we have of another life, and the continuance of that consciousness is immortality. The consciousness of existence, of the knowing that we exist, is not necessarily confined to the same form, nor to the same matter, even in this life.

"We have not in all cases the same form, nor in any case the same matter that composed our bodies twenty or thirty years ago; and yet we are conscious of being the same persons. . .

"That the consciousness of existence is not dependent on the same form or the same matter is demonstrated to our senses in the works of the creation, as far as our senses are capable of receiving that demonstration. A very numerous part of the animal creation preaches to us, far better than Paul, the belief of a life hereafter. Their little life resembles an Earth and a heaven - a present and a future state, and comprises, if it may be so expressed, immortality in miniature.

"The most beautiful parts of the creation to our eye are the winged insects, and they are not so originally. They acquire that form and that inimitable brilliancy by progressive changes. The slow and creeping caterpillar-worm of today passes in a few days to a torpid figure and a state resembling death; and in the next change comes forth in all the miniature magnificence of life, a splendid butterfly."

In an essay Mr. Paine wrote the following short and to the point passage:

"I consider myself in the hands of my Creator, and that he will dispose of me after this life consistently with His justice and goodness. I leave all these matters to Him, as my Creator and friend, and I hold it to be presumption in man to make an article of faith as to what the Creator will do with us hereafter."
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  #3  
Old Oct 9, '11, 2:34 pm
meltzerboy meltzerboy is offline
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Default Re: Is any other religion besides Judaism so indecisive regarding the existence and nature of the afterlife?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Kouyate42 View Post
Deism holds no one particular set of beliefs about whether there is an afterlife and what happens after death. Different deists have differing opinions, and there is no one belief. For example:

Ben Franklin's epitaph on himself provides a look at his belief that our life on earth is not the beginning and end of a personality. He, like Ethan Allen above, seems to have believed that the state of our spirits or souls is of an evolutionary nature. Franklin's epitaph reads, "The body of Benjamin Franklin, printer, like the cover of an old book, its contents torn out and stripped of its lettering and gilding, lies here, food for worms. But the work shall not be lost; for it will, as he believed, appear once more in a new and more elegant edition, revised and corrected by the Author."

In Thomas Paine's The Age Of Reason, we read on pages 177 and 178 the following: "But all other arguments apart, the consciousness of existence is the only conceivable idea we have of another life, and the continuance of that consciousness is immortality. The consciousness of existence, of the knowing that we exist, is not necessarily confined to the same form, nor to the same matter, even in this life.

"We have not in all cases the same form, nor in any case the same matter that composed our bodies twenty or thirty years ago; and yet we are conscious of being the same persons. . .

"That the consciousness of existence is not dependent on the same form or the same matter is demonstrated to our senses in the works of the creation, as far as our senses are capable of receiving that demonstration. A very numerous part of the animal creation preaches to us, far better than Paul, the belief of a life hereafter. Their little life resembles an Earth and a heaven - a present and a future state, and comprises, if it may be so expressed, immortality in miniature.

"The most beautiful parts of the creation to our eye are the winged insects, and they are not so originally. They acquire that form and that inimitable brilliancy by progressive changes. The slow and creeping caterpillar-worm of today passes in a few days to a torpid figure and a state resembling death; and in the next change comes forth in all the miniature magnificence of life, a splendid butterfly."

In an essay Mr. Paine wrote the following short and to the point passage:

"I consider myself in the hands of my Creator, and that he will dispose of me after this life consistently with His justice and goodness. I leave all these matters to Him, as my Creator and friend, and I hold it to be presumption in man to make an article of faith as to what the Creator will do with us hereafter."
Thank you for your comment. I hadn't considered the position of deists, who I think believe more in an impersonal G-d. Are there variations on this belief? The last statement by Thomas Paine is similar to the thinking of Judaism on the matter of an afterlife. We are taught to focus on the here and now, with an eye toward improvement of ourselves and the world, love G-d, do good deeds, follow Torah teaching, and leave salvation in the just and merciful hands and will of our Creator. It is not considered proper to dwell too much on speculation about Heaven and personal salvation. Given human nature, this is often easier said than done.
  #4  
Old Oct 11, '11, 2:26 am
MorningSong51 MorningSong51 is offline
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Default Re: Is any other religion besides Judaism so indecisive regarding the existence and nature of the afterlife?

Quote:
Originally Posted by meltzerboy View Post
I suspect I may have asked this question before, but I'm not sure. Anyway, the question speaks for itself. Surely not Christianity (Catholicism, Protestantism, Orthodox) or Islam, which are quite specific about what may be in store for us, even going so far as to speculate on whether G-d's (or Allah's) grace may extend to those of different faiths or no faith, and what may happen to children who die. But Judaism is quite different in this respect. We just don't know for sure. Although Maimonides speaks of a final resurrection, not all Jews--including those of the modern age as well as those of ancient times--accept this teaching, although the tendency today is to follow the Pharisaic tradition, which speaks of a resurrection, rather than the Sadducees, who do not. The main reason for this internal dispute is that the Torah itself, as well as the Talmud, does not settle the issue. Some rabbis claim it does not do so for the purpose of differentiating itself from the Ancient Egyptian obsession with the afterlife, as reflected in "The Book of the Dead," as well as numerous Egyptian and other Pagan customs regarding preparation for the afterlife. Now, there are passages in the Hebrew Bible which SUGGEST an afterlife, and some Hebrew scholars and rabbis have built a rather strong case in favor of its existence. There is even mention of a kind of Purgatory, involving a "place" or state of punishment before entering Heaven, which is called Gehinnom (a limited one-year period), in which purification of the wicked, or perhaps almost everyone, takes place before entering Gan Eden (The World to Come). Yet even those who believe in such an afterlife usually point to a final resurrection when the Messiah arrives, instead of only a short-term waiting period. (Of course, the extra-temporal or atemporal nature of death would most likely affect human consciousness of the time period.) On the other hand, it is also thought that truly virtuous people might enter Gan Eden immediately without Purgatory cleansing or atonement. In none of these discussions, however, is the exact NATURE of Heaven described. And Hell is an even more nebulous concept in Judaism, thought of primarily as a separation from G-d rather than a place or state of eternal torment.

With this as background, my original question is, are there other religious beliefs which are as vague about a personal consciousness in an afterlife? Buddhism and Hinduism, perhaps? And, as a secondary question, might this indecisiveness about the existence and nature of Heaven in Judaism be one of the reasons why people are reluctant to consider Judaism as a viable faith if they are thinking about converting from their own or from an atheist viewpoint? And also one of the reasons why Jews are more apt to convert to other faiths, which are more definitive about significant issues such as this?

.........I'm bumping this thread back up because I know this is a good topic thread regarding the afterlife. You brought up some very good comments that I wanted to address but unfortunately I have to hold off on them for now. You brought up Maimonides, is this in regards to the 13 (or 14) principles of faith?
  #5  
Old Oct 11, '11, 2:56 am
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Sam_777 Sam_777 is offline
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Default Re: Is any other religion besides Judaism so indecisive regarding the existence and nature of the afterlife?

Quote:
Originally Posted by meltzerboy View Post
as a secondary question, might this indecisiveness about the existence and nature of Heaven in Judaism be one of the reasons why people are reluctant to consider Judaism as a viable faith
Yes, it could be, there where Muhammed converted lots of people into Islam by promising them 72 virgins, gold, mansions, and honey rivers in heavens.

Lots of people are driven behind lust and forgetting being spiritual and close to The Most High is better than anything else.........
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  #6  
Old Oct 11, '11, 3:51 am
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GaryTaylor GaryTaylor is offline
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Default Re: Is any other religion besides Judaism so indecisive regarding the existence and nature of the afterlife?

I see Christians as isolating the words of Jesus Christ, then projecting from there. Add to this equation the Mystics of the Catholic Church and its much more complex especially in Catholism. The reverse thinking is the demonic and the exorcisms of the CC which many are documented and horrific.

To me you can't believe in the one extreme and not the other. Geez, were at a point in time where minor exorcisms and cleansings are performed weekly on secular television.

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  #7  
Old Oct 11, '11, 6:50 am
meltzerboy meltzerboy is offline
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Default Re: Is any other religion besides Judaism so indecisive regarding the existence and nature of the afterlife?

Quote:
Originally Posted by MorningSong51 View Post
.........I'm bumping this thread back up because I know this is a good topic thread regarding the afterlife. You brought up some very good comments that I wanted to address but unfortunately I have to hold off on them for now. You brought up Maimonides, is this in regards to the 13 (or 14) principles of faith?
Yes, Maimonides includes the resurrection of the dead as one of the thirteen principles of Judaism, which most, if not all, Orthodox Jews today believe.
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