Life after Death: Examining the Evidence by D. Victor J. Stenger

I recently read the above-titled essay in The End of Christianity (here’s the link to the book on Amazon).

Here’s the book’s Amazon abstract: In this successor to his critically acclaimed anthology, The Christian Delusion: Why Faith Fails, a former minister and now leading atheist spokesperson has assembled a stellar group of respected scholars to continue the critique of Christianity begun in the first volume. Contributors include Victor Stenger, Robert Price, Hector Avalos, Richard Carrier, Keith Parsons, David Eller, and Taner Edis. Loftus is also the author of the best-selling Why I Became an Atheist: A Former Preacher Rejects Christianity. Taken together, the Loftus trilogy poses formidable challenges to claims for the rationality of the Christian faith. Anyone with an interest in the philosophy of religion will find this compilation to be intellectually stimulating and deeply thought provoking.

Here’s how Stenger’s essay begins:


Dinesh D’Souza is a well-known right-wing policy analyst and author who recently has taken on the role of Christian apologist. He has a degree in English from Dartmouth. From 1985 to 1987, he was editor of Policy Review, a conservative journal published by the Heritage Foundation, now part of the Hoover Institution. He served as a policy adviser to the Reagan administration until 1988 and followed this with stints as a fellow for the American Enterprise Institute and the Hoover Institution. D’Souza has summed up the cause of Christianity with books, speeches, and high-profile debates with famous atheists such as Christopher Hitchens, Daniel Dennett, Peter Singer, Michael Shermer, Dan Barker, and John Loftus. His recent books include What’s So Great About Christianity1 and—the primary reference for this essay—Life After Death: The Evidence? In Life After Death, D’Souza insists that he is making the case for an afterlife purely on the basis of science and reason and not relying on any spooky stuff. He promises “no ghosts, no levitations, no exorcisms, no mediums, no conversations with the dead” and a case that “is entirely based on reasoned argument and mainstream scholarship.”3 Although he does not always stick to this promise, he does give a good summary of arguments for life after death, some of which I had not heard before. So the book provides a framework from which to discuss both evidentiary claims and claims that rely more on extrapolations from observed facts. D’Souza revels in his role as a “Christian cage fighter,” challenging “the honest and thoughtful atheist to consider the possibility of being wrong, and…open his mind to persuasion by rational argument.”4 I am perfectly happy to accept that challenge. Life after death can be identified with the ancient notion that the human mind is not purely a manifestation of material forces in the brain but has a separate, immaterial component called the soul that survives the death of the brain along with the rest of the body. This is a hypothesis that can be scientifically tested. Evidence for its validity could be provided by a verifiable glimpse of a world beyond obtained while communicating with the dead or during a religious experience. All the believer claiming such knowledge has to do is provide some knowledge that neither she nor anyone else could have previously known and have that information later confirmed. Let us investigate whether such evidence has been produced.

Hopefully, it’s obvious that my purpose here is to whet your appetite to dig deeper into this/these subjects, which means to ‘read-to-death’ any false positions you may hold.

Author: Richard L. Fricks

Former CPA, attorney, and lifelong wanderer. I'm now a full-time skeptic and part-time novelist. The rest of my time I spend biking, gardening, meditating, photographing, reading, writing, and encouraging others to adopt The Pencil Driven Life.

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