There are as many opinions about the potential for an afterlife as there are stars in the sky. Devoutly religious people anticipate a conventional life after death in heaven, hell or purgatory; some others believe in reincarnation. Atheists with an imagination conceptualize alternate dimensions. Agnostics assert that there is no existence after death at all. Einstein believed that no one could understand the universe, except through his or her own imperfect perspective.
Most of us agree that science gives us the opportunity to empirically confirm or refute any concept, including life after death. Many piously religious people despise science for that very fact. For example, we know through carbon dating that the earth is billions of years old. This is an empirical fact. It is as real as gravity. We can measure it. This fact disproves the biblical allegation that the earth is only a few thousand years old. But, what about other religious concepts? Might they be true? And, how can scientists reconcile their own religious beliefs, when they are in conflict with empirical evidence?
We know that our consciousness (everything we think about, all of our memories, values, loves, hates, fears and emotions) is the product of neurons firing in our cerebral cortex. When the cells of our cerebral cortex die, our consciousness perishes. This is the physical and legal concept of brain death. We can quantify and calculate it. In order to prove that an afterlife exists, we must demonstrate empirically that consciousness exits after brain cells perish and that it exists elsewhere. In all of human history, no one has been able to accomplish this. Until someone does, we cannot know that there is an afterlife. We can believe it on faith. But its certainty escapes us.
Some people use common near-death experiences to validate an afterlife. For example, people who have been revived from near-death experiences express common characteristics of the experience, such as “traveling...