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Religious beliefs about life after death

A Muslim, a Christian and an atheist attend a Humanist funeral and then discuss the afterlife with members of different faiths in the studio.

The film starts with some ideas about what happens when we die. Although belief in afterlife is held by over three quarters of the world’s people, it takes many diverse forms. Reincarnation and rebirth are not the same as heaven or paradise. What questions come up when we consider death, and what may lie beyond? Is the topic scary, or can it be reassuring to believe in the afterlife? If there was heaven, would there have to be hell as well? Who goes where?

Three young people attend a Humanist funeral for Bryan. It’s a celebration of life (not a service) and Bryan’s body was carried in a coffin painted brightly in blue and decorated with planes from World War Two – one of his interests in life. There is music, laughter, tears and storytelling. There are no prayers, religious songs, ideas about afterlife or beliefs about heaven. The three young researchers find the atmosphere surprisingly good, considering Bryan has died and was obviously much loved. They interview the Humanist funeral official and a member of Bryan’s family about whether a Humanist funeral is hopeful or not.

Back in the studio, Christians explain their beliefs about heaven and trusting in God for the next life. Muslims express their ideas about how the angels will question us about our faith and behaviour after death. But they do not condemn Bryan for not being a believer – judgement is for God/Allah, not for humans. Atheists express ideas about the way this life is to be valued, perhaps even more highly, if it is all we have. And they question the believers: do you ever doubt? Is there any evidence for paradise? Doesn’t God look a bit vindictive if he only accepts ‘your lot’, members of one or more approved religions? The argument, led by Angellica Bell, raises main points and offers three answers each time.

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12 minutes

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