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The Globe and Mail

April 26: This week's Talking Point – life after death? – plus letters to the editor

One in two Canadian adults claims to believe in life after death; just one in five rules out the possibility completely. Reginald Bibby and researcher Andrew Grenville suggest turning a scientific lens on the prospect. Readers, print and digital, try to part the veil


Sociologist Reginald Bibby and researcher Andrew Grenville state that about four in 10 Canadians claim that they themselves have been in touch with someone who has died (Life After Death: The Last Info Gap – April 21). The two are "scratching our heads as to where these beliefs come from."

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I suggest that people who make such claims are those for whom the dead person was very significant in their lives, and that part of their personality clings to what was once there.

This idea should surely be testable by sociological survey.

Peter Browne, Ottawa


Entertaining perhaps, but maybe we should stop debating meaningless questions and recognize that such speculation goes beyond the conceptual powers of currently constituted life forms. For anyone who enjoys such mental exercise, however, I recommend Thomas Nagel's The View from Nowhere.

Jack Cassan, Toronto


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As much as I have admired Reginald Bibby over the decades, I'm not eager to volunteer for his desired "closer look" at the question of whether there's life after death. Happily, I confer my proxy vote to Prof. Bibby and the fatally famous team he may select to assist him: God willing, they will supply us the definitive answer. Or die trying, I guess.

W. Baird Blackstone, Tsawwassen, B.C.


You're dead. The rest is wishful thinking.

Michael Cust, Morinville, Alta.


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Speaking from a Muslim's perspective, it may be that of all religions, Islam provides the most graphic details of what comes after death and lies beyond.

Islam views death to be a natural threshold to the next stage of existence. Islamic doctrine holds that human existence continues after the death of the human body in the form of spiritual and physical resurrection. There is a direct relationship between conduct on Earth and the life beyond.

The afterlife will be one of the rewards and punishments commensurate with earthly conduct. A day will come when God will resurrect and gather the first and the last of His creation and judge everyone justly.

People will enter their final abode, Hell or Paradise. Faith in life after death urges us to do right and to stay away from sin. In this life, we sometimes see the pious suffer and the impious enjoy. All shall be judged one day and justice will be served.

Saima Jamal, Calgary


Life goes on for everyone you leave behind. So live your life to fullest while on Earth.

Sofia Best, Quebec City


Life is a bridge between two eternities. You continue, but in a cosmic form.

Alan Hustak, Montreal


Modern science suggests that consciousness is integral to the nature of the cosmos. We aren't made of energy and matter, but energy and information.

When I bother to consider the question, I suspect that we return to the consciousness of the cosmos, that which observed from the beginning and saw that it was good. We live because we are held in the memory of that Consciousness, which we name God.

Pastor Alex McGilvery, Flin Flon, Man.


People love to believe that death is not the end. That's a huge part of why billions of people still believe in God and Heaven.

When you die, you die. Your atoms get passed on to someone or something else, just as they have for billions of years. Life does not go on, but atoms do!

Dick Keilty, Ottawa


The world to come is the world to come. What matters is the good we do in this life. As Rabbi Yaakov Kamenetsky said, "Better one hour in repentance and good deeds in this world than all the life in the world to come."

Miriam Goldstein, Montreal


I am sure if people can't find evidence, they won't do something crazy like make up an answer, then live their entire lives based on the implications of their made-up answer … oh, wait.

Eli Zbar, Vancouver


Life after death is real. It is not dependent on our belief in God or Jesus Christ. It is how we are constructed. We have two bodies, a physical body and an etheric or spiritual body commonly known as the soul. When the physical body dies, the soul is released to continue on its journey into the "after life." What is in question is the quality of the life after death.

How much influence do the activities in our present life have on our life after death? Is faith in God a determining factor in the quality of that life after death? Are our spiritual experiences, common to most people, telling us about our life after death? Are those whom we have known and loved in this life but who have died contributing to our spiritual experiences? Are they trying to help us? May we help them?

If love is important in this life, is it also important in the next life?

Barry V. Fisher, Lethbridge, Alta.


I'm still looking for some tangible evidence of an afterlife. I've long since thought that the concept of an afterlife is what draws people to religion more than anything else. I'm envious of those people because: a) it brings them comfort and peace of mind throughout their life; b) when they die, they will never know that they were wrong.

Ken Dixon, Toronto


ON REFLECTION Letters to the editor

Foreign workers, fairness

Re Kenney Shuts Down Foreign-Worker Program For Restaurants (April 25): The foreign worker program is unfair to Canadians and foreign workers; it is at odds with fundamental Canadian values of fairness.

In the long run, it will undermine our economy because it encourages employers to exploit cheap labour instead of embracing operational best practices and fair wages. It lowers the boat for all workers in our economy. The government should let the free market forces of supply and demand address shortfalls in the labour market.

Ian Stewart, Toronto


Attempt to disenfranchise

Pierre Poilievre is being disingenuous when he says that voters will need ID (Poilievre Holds Firm On Need For Voter ID – April 25). The Fair Elections Act requires proof of residency – far harder than ID for many.

Students, for example, are unlikely to change the address on drivers' licenses every eight months to reflect where they actually live at the time of an election. If they sublet or have roommates, they may not have a utility bill in their name. This is a cynical bid to disenfranchise voters who aren't likely to vote Conservative, full stop.

Nathan Young, Ottawa


Good book? Say cheese

We're told that one of Alistair MacLeod's favourite refrains was, "If you don't do it right, if you don't staple your reader to the page, she will put down your book, go into the kitchen and make herself a cheese sandwich … and never come back!" (I Remember – April 24).

Canada's book publishers should adopt a new rating system in Alistair's honour, like the "rotten tomato" system for movies. A great book? A full "cheese sandwich." One that was less good – a partially-eaten cheese sandwich. A terrible book? A few crumbs.

Leo Kamen, Toronto


Circumcision carries risks

Re Circumcision, HIV (letters, April 25): While circumcision may have value in combatting HIV transmission in Africa, where rates are high, it's unwise to adopt that strategy in developed countries with low rates, as there is a mortality risk associated with this procedure.

In Canada, there were at least two deaths in normal newborns from complications related to circumcision in the past 10 years. More are reported in other countries. The most important risk for acquiring HIV rests with behaviour, not the presence or absence of the foreskin.

Paul Thiessen, MD, Vancouver

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