Does life go on after death?

Is there a life after death?

"After dying it's bland, just before it's exciting."

When it comes to the "final questions", the Viennese physicist Werner Gruber comes to the same conclusions: "Natural science has made a clear finding: there is no such thing as life after death." Gruber himself had the opportunity to convince himself of the validity of this thesis: the 50-year-old was already clinically dead twice - once for five and once for twenty minutes. Gruber's résumé: "After dying it is bland, shortly before it is exciting."

The experimental physicist's death experiences largely relieved the fear of death: "Immediately dying was a wonderful experience," recalls Gruber. "That has to do with the endogenous drugs that are released in the process of dying - enzymes and hormones that have a pain-relieving effect. Extremely beneficial. You couldn't even buy something like this on Karlsplatz in the past."

"Yes, I believe in the afterlife."

The Regensburg theologian Rupert Scheule sees it very differently: “Yes, I believe in life after death. And that's because I am deeply convinced that we humans don't quite open up down here. Something is not going well here. We, even the most boring of us, lead too big, exciting, multi-layered lives for it to simply end in a coffin or an urn. "

Gisbert Greshake, Nestor of Catholic theology in the German-speaking area, quotes the French existential philosopher Gabriel Marcel to justify his belief in the resurrection: “To love someone means to tell him: You will not die! Love, if it is really radical love, does not say: Well, in a few years you will be gone - AWAY. Love can't stand that. True love says: You will not die. "

You will not die: a promise that to atheistically minded people is nothing but a pious illusion. After death, the deceased will be where they were seven days before they were conceived - in nothing: this is how it could be seen.

"Of course everyone has fantasies about death, that's clear."

The religious scholar Ursula Baatz - a practicing Zen Buddhist with a Christian background - tries to refrain from her own fantasies: “But I actually think of a Japanese Zen scholar, Shizuteru Ueda, who said: We know nothing about death, that's a big secret. We can really only keep a respectful silence. "

What actually happens when we die? There is - understandably - no generally valid answer, emphasizes the Regensburg theologian Rupert Scheule. “If you were to open a manual on palliative medicine you would read the following: Cardiac arrest occurs, three to twelve seconds later the brainstem reflexes and breathing slowly go away. An unconsciousness occurs. But only thirty to forty seconds later does the EEG, that is, the brain wave image, go out. "

"The fear of death is the price we pay for being aware of ourselves."

At all times and in all places, people have feared death. That man's life is finite, that after his earthly guest performance, it looks like, he will return to the nothingness from which he came, generally fills people with horror. It cannot be otherwise, says the philosopher Franz Josef Wetz:

“Ultimately, there are certainly biological reasons for this. First of all, the fear of death makes a lot of sense, from a biological point of view, because it keeps us alive because it puts caution before risk. Without fear of death we would have endangered and lost our lives long ago. It serves to a certain extent to ward off dangers, and in this the downside of the fear of death becomes visible in the silhouette, on which it is based and represents a biological phenomenon, namely the human striving for self-preservation. Human life, a vital self, does not simply accept our own death, by nature, because we are programmed for self-preservation. "

“Our confrontation with death will always be accompanied by fear”, writes the American psychiatrist and psychiatrist Irvin D. Yalom - in the translation by Barbara Linner - in his book “Looking into the sun - How to fear death overcomes ".

Man will therefore not be able to completely get rid of the fear of non-existence, probably not even those who have been intensely concerned with the topic for a lifetime. The French philosopher Michel de Montaigne knows what to do in this situation. "You have to learn to endure," writes Montaigne, "what you cannot avoid."

Design: Günter Kaindlstorfer