IS THERE A SOUL? DOES EVERYTHING END WITH DEATH
PROF. JOSEPH K. ALEXANDER
LIFE AFTER DEATH
DEAR DR. LEILA,
Your 90th year worry and questions raked my brain. Here is an attempted answer in three parts.
Sending you the first. Rest I shall send later.
Recently I met a woman from USA. She is the daughter of an agency aiding the Mar Gregorios
Rehabilitation Centre (MGRC), Trivandrum, of which I am a founder member and a Vice
president. She came to oversee our work. Her original roots are from Vakathanam near
Changanachery. Incidentally I asked her in our person to person talk “In which church you go”?
She said “church? I do not”.
Then I changed the subject.
This is the new fashion of the new civilizations of the West: European and American. Some
others imitate. This is an attempt to pose before others that one is logical, learned and modern
than Einstein and most of the scientists.
Man is born with a bigger brain and reasoning mind than other creations. His inquisitiveness
questions everything. The champions of individualism like Immanuel Kant, Hegel, Karl Marx and
others argued that individual conscience or reason is the only moral rule. Reasoning and
conviction by one’s senses alone is truth and anything other is untrue. This enquiry made man
to unravel and discover some of the secrets of nature. The scientific progress, the industrial
revolution and modern amenities of life resulted. This is the positive achievement of this
reasoning-journey of man.
Despite his high intellectual abilities man is still an ignoramus, puny and frail creature against
the still undiscovered ocean of knowledge (God), and devastating ability of nature. The
scorching sun, fire, water, floods and Tsunamis, thunder and lightning, mountain heights and
extreme depths of the sea, the falling heavenly bodies that crush earth’s surfaces, biting insects
and wild carnivorous animals make your impotency against them fearsome. Man was and is in
continuous fear of death. Realizing the might of these natural phenomena the primitive man
adored and worshiped them. Thus the sun god, wind god, mountain god, river god, serpent god
and other nature-gods came to be worshipped. Fear of death is the origin of religion.
The concept of an all-knowing superpower mightier than him is inherent in man. It originated in
him before his birth. It is an intellectual input. It is part of him. He has both body and mind. In
fact there are two elements in human being: cosmic force and spiritual force. His body is
composed of elements of the universe like water, air and earth. With death the body
disintegrates into these elements. Spiritual force originates from God. Where to go?
The soul is the individual. It is part of the Universal spirit. It is part of God. Its desires manners,
habituated likes and dislikes are all performed by the body. The body is the vehicle that carries
him—his mind, spirit or soul.
The body and the mind (soul) are two different things. They come from different sources.
While body is part of the cosmos, mind is part of spirit that comes from the spiritual force, Viz;
God. Mind is eternal, unique, and independent of body and is free. Body obeys the orders of
the mind. Body helps the individual (soul) to perform the manifestations of the soul. The spirit is
the mind of man performing through the brain and its executors: the hands, legs and different
parts of the body. The existence of mind (soul) is truth.
The intellect of the mind has an inherent capacity to differentiate and discard bad or unwanted
things. The mind (soul) has an innate ability to recognize evil, opposed to good. It has a natural
ability to evade the evil, though some overcome this tendency by habit, heredity or nature of
endowed genes. Similarly the body inhales air, receives oxygen, discards carbon dioxide or
ingress food, accepts its nutrition, and discards the waste.
The spiritual forces do not die with the body. Mind, memory and sense perceptions linger a
few more moments or time and slowly escape from the earthly body. Men believe that the spirit
separated from body linger for some days (forty), in the ambience of its former life. This belief is
from early times. We continue the rituals of death even in post modern society.
This mind from the time the child is conceived in the womb adds information to its already
existing genitival endowments (genes). This gene structure undergoes a slow process of
acquiring new behavior patterns through new habits, experiences and knowledge it learns in life.
This may make it more or less good or devilish. At the time of a new birth in the family the
reformed genes pass on to the new-born. The character, manners, beliefs, sum total of your
experiences in past life are passed on through your genes to the next generation. Science calls
it heredity. Hindu religion calls it successive rebirth of the soul to escalate to its creator through
a series of rebirth to higher and higher forms of life. Bad or devilish manners earned in previous
life are reborn as devilish pigs, buffaloes and base creatures. Good experiences of the soul is
reborn as cows, men of lower castes and then as Kshatriya and later as Brahmin in the caste
ridden society and finally moksha in God.
There are three views about life after death. With death everything ends. After death the body
disintegrates and the eternal soul passes on to the next generation. The third view is that with
death, soul pass on to an eternal life with God or eternal damnation.
The atheist or the non-believer has no more information than the believer. The absence of proof
is not proof of absence. So the atheist's denial of god, spirit or life after death, like the believer's
affirmation of it, is ultimately a faith-based position.
In my view a rational being, -- most of us--cannot escape from our inborn feeling of finiteness and limitations when compared to the SuperPower; more just, good, perfect, knowledgeable, strong and ever existing being than us. That superpower created the Universe and its well ordered and minute structures and courses. You may call itGod or any other name. I believe that I am part of it. He is in me and my soul is part of HIM
LIFE AFTER DEATH: CHRISTIAN VIEWS
Who created the Universe?
Over time man started thinking of the origin of nature and of these mighty forces. Who created
the stars, planets, galaxies and the ever expanding firmament? Who masterminded the perfectly
ordered structure of the Universe and its replica; the minute atom? The protons and neutrons of
the atom and it’s still smaller elements also circulate in their orbits in the same orderly fashion
as the planets and stars of the Universe. The gravitation force keeps them all without head-long
collision and destruction of the Universe The big-bang theory was an attempted answer. But
who caused the big-bang? The answer was the WORD, the sound of the monotheistic God of
Judaism, Christianity, Islam Hinduism and other religions. This was a change from the many
nature-gods to Adwaitha and one-god theme. Man was discovering God. He was not
inventing, as poet Vayalar imagined; but only discovering the already existing God, This God is
the supreme creator of everything. He is perfect and complete knowledge pitted against the
imperfect man of finite senses and abilities. God is omnipotent, omniscient and omnipresent. He
has no beginning and no end. He is knowledge, truth and hence infallible. His perfection on
comparison makes us finite men, imperfect and sinful. The finite with its limited abilities and
reasoning cannot fathom the infinite.
Many things we simply believe without experiencing them with our senses. Our senses have
only very limited abilities. We cannot see something distant from us-say a mile or two away.
We cannot hear sounds or words uttered some distance away. We cannot touch anything
beyond our reach and so on. So we have to believe others who have experience of them.
Thus it is faith in what others say that makes us believe of its existence. Soul, spirit and God are
such ideas. Those who have experienced them speak of them. We have to believe them. Try for
this experience. You may or may not get at it. It is faith that gives it to you.
The concept of good originates from God. He alone is good. Hence the imperfect man is
ungodly and has evil. Thus while God is perfect and good, man is imperfect, evil, and sinful.
Man can aspire to become perfect like God. This is what Jesus taught us by His life, death and
Christian belief is the -Nicene Creed. It is our profession of faith
1. We believe in the triune God--Father, Son and Holy Spirit-- the creator of everything.
2. Christ incarnated from God as man born of Virgin Mary for our salvation from sin
3. Was crucified in the days of Pilate, died and resurrected after three days
4. We believe in the one catholic church and Baptism is the method to absolve us from sin
5. We are looking forward to the second coming of Christ to gather all of us to His kingdom
The basics of Christianity are a way of life to be one with God. Its rules are for a new social
order for peaceful co-existence of man with Universe. It is the Kingdom of God brought to earth.
The essence of Christianity, we learn from the Bible (Old & New Testament) and teachings of
our Church fathers, past & present. Four ideas emerge:
1. Universal brotherhood of Man under the Fatherhood of God. Love everyone and everything
2. The kingdom of God is at hand; (St. John the Baptist’s and Christ’s teachings). Repent for
your sins and enter into the Kingdom
3. .Life is the true measure of values to mirror Christ to others. And
4. We are Stewards of Christ entrusted with the mission to spread this Good News.
This concept and goal of Heaven was necessary for a workable social order. Man is a
social being. All creations of God, man, animals, plants and trees, fish and birds live in suitable
locations on earth where nature provide them facilities for life. Each group agglomerates to
suitable places and live together. Each social group can peacefully exist together only if they
accept and adopt certain minimum rules for their society. Love is the basic rule for all. Love in
society like gravity in cosmic system can exist only when there is another entity to love or
gravitate. When all the men love one another and everything around as him and share what he
has, there will be peace and happiness in social life. One may call this society Heaven. It is
Universal brotherhood. Buck Minster Fuller uses the term CYNERGY for this love or gravitation.
All entities in the firmament gravitate and pull each other. So none can move away from its orbit.
In the same manner if all the creatures on the planet (now 6000 Planets) love one another as
itself, there will be peace and happiness in all social lives in the Universe. Practicing CYNERGY
can bring Heaven into the Universe and among men.
Part 3 of 3
LIFE AFTER DEATH: Does life end with death?
Death is certain. Belief in life after death is Universal. Rationalists with their Hegelian
individualism, highly limited abilities and senses try to find proof of life after death. Failure makes
them to convince themselves by arguments.
Religions have different views about life after death. There are two kinds of death: death of
the body and death of the soul. With death, the body disintegrates to cosmic elements.
(Christians believe that at the second coming of Christ it regroups to take an ethereal form and
will be in the presence of God). When we commit sin we go away from God and the soul dies.
The Old Testament gives us this idea that sin cause death. Adam and Eve sinned by disobeying
God. So they died and passed on to a dark godless world; the deepest part of the World of the
dead. .Is.14:15. Ps.88:12 says that the land of the dead is all darkness; In Job.10:21-22 It is
land of darkness shadows and confusion where light itself is darkness. Hebrews believed that
life after death is life away from God. Ezk. 18:14; 31:16-17 .There is eternal darkness. It is
The dead souls of this dark land are only dormant. They can hear, see and respond.
(1.Sam.28:15). Dead dormant Samuel was disturbed by Saul to get his opinion; God do not
want man to die in sin and be there in darkness forever. He wants man to repent and come
back to life. (Ezk. 18:23).
Christ showed that through baptism the soul resurrect to life from sin and death. Christian
baptism is the method to wash the sinful soul to accept God and enter into the Christian life.
Death is baptism to emerge into life. You die to resurrect. Christ received death on cross and
came back to life. He willingly accepted death on cross to destroy Satan and his sinful ways to
save the entire humankind to the Kingdom of God. The Adamic sinful soul enters the church of
believers and life though repentance and baptism. Christ resurrected and entered in glory to
Heaven. Death is preparation to eternal life in Heaven.
Life after death in paradise is dormant but alive. Jesus said (Mt.22:32) I am the God of Abraham,
Isaac and Jacob and not of the dead. At. Mt. Tabor Christ conversed with Moses and Elijah who
lived on earth long ago. Disciples saw them. (Mt.17:3).This is evidence that souls are live and
become active. The parable of the rich man and Lazar in Lk. 16 clearly explain this. In his
writings, St. Paul says that the soul after death goes to Jesus. (Phil.1:23). Jesus will take back
those souls who die believing in Him. (Thes. 4:13). Similarly St. Peter says in I Pr. 4:6 “Christ
died and went to preach among the dead.” In Lk. 22:43. They were alive to hear Him. Christ
promises to the criminal crucified with Him “today you will be with me in paradise”. All this prove
that life after death is, active, receptive to Good News and is capable of repentance and
admission into Heaven. So we are bound to pray for our kith and kin who are dead and waiting
for the second coming of Christ to resurrect and go with Him to Heaven. Let us pray for your
husband Baby, Kunjena Uppappan, Elayamma, Pullucat Valiappachan, Aleyamma Ammachy
and all ancestors.
Sages of yester years were raking their brains about what happens to men after death. All
religions now believe that there is life for the soul after death. In Christianity the early fathers
believed that the souls who believe in Christ at the time of death will go back to God, its creator.
There is thinking that man has three lives: human life, life after death in paradise and then life
in Heaven with God on the second coming of Jesus. Those who do not believe in Jesus at
death will pass on to Hades. These souls are also live and receptive. So Good News and
prayers for them can make them also go to Heaven, or rejected by Christ and go to hell.
Don’t we pray for our children when they go through a fever, a public examination or any
trial? Our live parents pray for us. The dead past parents in paradise or Hades or in Heaven or
Hell also are praying for us. Intercession to God on behalf of our partner, children, friends and
those who seek our prayers is natural to all of us. We all intercede to God for them .In
Christianity we seek intercession of St. Mary the mother of Christ. The most repeated “Hail
Mary” prayer is solely a pleading to her to pray for us at all times and at the hour of our death.
In the OT (Old Testament) the kings, prophets and priests were the mediators between man
and God. (Joel 2:17: 2 Sam 24:17; etc). The classic example of mediation is of Abraham
pleading to God to save Sodom from destruction. (Gen.18:16-23). God conceded to that
intercession and saved Sodom at that time.
In N T Christ is the most powerful intercessionist. He is constantly pleading to God to
forgive our sins and protect us from perdition. By His death on the cross He bridged the gap
between God and us sinners. Rom.8:34 say Christ “is at right hand side of God, pleading with
Him for us”. All our mediation by ourselves, priests, saints of the church or our dead parents,
kith and kin: all go through the one mediator Christ. Christ has promised, (John.14:13).that
whatever you ask in my name, I will do it “so that the Father’s glory will be shown through the
In Orthodox Church most part of the Holy Qurbana and all Koodasa are intercession to God.
In Protestant Churches also prayers are all intercession to Christ. The major difference is that
they do not pray for the dead. As seen above .all the souls of the dead are alive, receptive and
active. They are all waiting for the second coming of Jesus to be saved into the Kingdom of
God. They will all resurrect at Christ’s second coming. We the living who believe in Nicene
Creed (We all believe) also are awaiting the second coming. Thus we are one community
(separated by the death curtain) waiting for Christ. We are all praying to save us in His second
coming. The dead whether in Paradise or Hades, are praying to God to save their living sons
and daughters just like we praying for our parents. Intercessionary prayers can be and are done
both by the living and the dead. So prying for the dead is as necessary as praying for the living
kith and kin. A more attractive feature of death is that we are going to join with all the hoards of
our relatives—our appachans, ammachys, brothers, sisters and all cousins at the second
coming. I hope to meet you there. So please pray for me also so that I can be with you all.
Death is birth into a new world of all of us from Abraham to tomorrow’s generations. It is great
reunion to celebrate and enjoy, bliss: Heaven.