Andrew Parker

25 Things People Often Get Wrong About the Afterlife

Scientists might know about a lot, but one thing they’ll never figure out is what happens to us after we shuffle off this mortal coil. The afterlife is one of those topics that’s just as mysterious as it is interesting. Today, we’re looking at 25 of the biggest misconceptions about it and debunking those things you might’ve thought were true.

Heaven and Hell

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First up, not every belief system includes the whole heaven-and-hell deal, as some religions believe in reincarnation while others believe in a totally different kind of spiritual realm. Each religion and culture has its own take on what comes after this life. It’s a mix of ideas rather than a one-size-fits-all scenario.


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Speaking of reincarnation, this isn’t the secret to eternal life. No, according to some faiths, you can move on from this cycle if you have enough spiritual brownie points. There’s a goal beyond just living life after life that involves reaching a higher state of being, but only if you work hard enough for it.

Believing in God

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It turns out that the road to heaven might have some different paths, at least according to nearly 40% of Americans. They reckon you don’t need to believe in God to find your way up there, and Catholics, in particular, are pretty supportive of this idea. No matter what’s next, it’s personal for everyone.

A Cloud Party

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Most cartoons show people chilling on clouds in the afterlife, but it goes without saying that that’s probably not super accurate. Lots of people believe the afterlife is more of a vibe than an actual place. They believe it’s a kind of existence where you can feel peace or even continue your spiritual journey.

Not For Everyone

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If you think everyone’s afterlife experience is going to be the same, think again. Religions suggest that it completely depends on what you’re into or how you’ve lived your life. Nobody lives the same life or goes through the same experiences, and the afterlife is apparently exactly the same.

Judgment Day

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Not everybody believes that you’ll be judged the very second you die. In fact, some people think judgment happens much further down the line, and everyone gets their moment in the cosmic courtroom. In the meantime, we’re apparently all waiting and thinking about our lives, preparing for whatever might come next.

Going to Hell

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Even the idea of hell is different in each religion, and some people don’t even believe in it. Some religions think it’s a place of tough love, where souls get a chance to work on becoming better before moving on, while others think it’s just for people to be punished for bad behavior. If hell exists, we know which one we think would be better.

No More Fire

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Lots of modern versions of hell have given the fiery pits a bit of a PR makeover. Instead of literal lakes of fire, many people think that it’s much colder because it’s a place with no love and connection. They think it’s where people feel regret about the choices they’ve made as a sort of self-made prison.

The VIP List

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Who said only humans get to go to the afterlife? Some people believe that all living beings, including your pet goldfish, get the chance to visit the other side. They believe that all living things are connected in a way that goes beyond our human experience. Now, that sounds like a kind of afterlife we can get behind.

Good vs Bad

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The afterlife isn’t just a place to compare your good deeds against the bad. It’s actually a time for learning, where each moment teaches you something about yourself and the universe. You’re basically evolving at a soul level, and the true prize is wisdom and understanding. That’s something better than any material reward.

Keeping Score

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Similarly, when it comes to the afterlife, you should forget about velvet ropes and VIP passes, as it’s not about keeping score. What really matters is how you’ve lived and loved as a mortal. It’s the real connections and kindness you’ve shown to people that matter in the next life instead of anything else.

Ghosts and Haunting

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Sure, ghosts make for a good spooky tale, but there’s actually a story behind them. Some religions believe that ghosts haunt the Earth because they’ve got unfinished work or they’re looking for some closure. They believe these spirits are hanging around on Earth because they want to teach the living about love and letting go.

The End of the Road?

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For many people, the idea that the afterlife is the end of the road is completely outdated. They think it’s more like a pit stop for souls to learn and decide on their next adventure. Depending on what you choose, you could either be reincarnated as another human, or you might evolve into a higher spiritual being. Either way, death isn’t the end.

Ancestral Powers

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Lots of people believe that our ancestors are guiding us, but not in the way that you might think. Instead of being like babysitters, some people think they’re there to give us wisdom and protection during important times. They believe our ancestors step in when we need support or if we’re not sure what to do next.

The Problem of Purgatory

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Many people misunderstand what purgatory is actually for, as, no, it’s not for you to be punished. It’s actually meant to be a place to prepare your soul for the next chapter by buffing out its rough edges. How do they do this? Well, through understanding and healing, not suffering. Purgatory is meant to be a place of learning.

Making Mistakes

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We all make mistakes, but that doesn’t mean you’re absolutely doomed. Lots of spiritual teachings talk about how we can grow after making mistakes by owning up and learning. It’s more important you move on and understand than try to avoid making mistakes. After all, nobody’s perfect.

Not Just Naptime

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According to some religions, heaven is the ultimate creative playground where your soul gets to do anything that it wants to. Sleeping’s hardly a priority. Instead, heaven’s a place that’s buzzing with activities so the departed can experience happiness in ways we just can’t imagine on planet Earth.

Proof or Perspective?

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Near-death experiences complicate our understanding of life and death. For some people, they’re a preview of what’s going to happen next, while others think they’re just a personal awakening. For scientists, it’s usually up in the air, although they tend to agree that they’re an important moment in people’s lives.

Science vs Afterlife

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Speaking of science, most people think of science and the afterlife in a constant fight with each other. But the truth is that they’re more like parallel roads on a highway to understanding. Science understands the physical world, and people who believe in the afterlife explore things beyond their senses. When you put them together, you get a much fuller picture of existence.

Taking It Literally

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The most important thing to remember is that descriptions of the afterlife aren’t meant to be literal because they’re not exactly holiday brochures. You should think about the moral of the story and what it’s trying to teach you, not the setting. They’re trying to teach you to think about your path and where you’re heading.

The Earth’s Redemption

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According to some religions, it’s all doom and gloom for our planet when we’ve all departed. But others disagree with this, as they believe the Earth’s going to get a heavenly upgrade instead. They believe it’ll be a new-and-improved version where good vibes will be the most important of all.

Eternal Worship

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If you thought eternity was one long church service, think again. The Bible suggests that the main point of heaven is to live your best life and enjoy a divine existence. And that doesn’t mean you’ll just be singing praises on a loop. Instead, they think it’s a time for us to take care of creation and enjoy life with the big guy upstairs.

Sustainability and the Afterlife

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Weirdly enough, what you think about the afterlife might actually affect how green you are. One Arizona State University study found that people who believe in reincarnation are usually more into recycling and getting energy-efficient gadgets. Why? They believe that if they’re coming back to Earth, they better keep it nice and tidy.

The Real Questions

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Some people think that talking about the afterlife is a waste of time because there’s never going to be a certain answer. But they’re wrong. It’s part of a bigger conversation about why we’re here and where we’re headed. When we talk about the afterlife, we’re actually talking about what’s going on right now. 

Wishful Thinking?

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Believing in an afterlife isn’t a simple happy ending, either. It’s an important part of what makes us humans and affects how we live and love. Sure, we might all have different views on what’s next, but that is what makes it so important. These different views force us to think about other people and make every moment count.

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