The Rev. Dean Snyder, senior pastor of Foundry United Methodist in Washington, D.C. writes in the Huffington Post:
In all honesty, I have sometimes been a little embarrassed to admit that I believe in life after death.
It is generally not considered intellectually sophisticated in the western world to believe in ideas we cannot find much evidence to support scientifically. In his introduction to a book of essays about death, Professor Leroy Rouner of Boston University School of Theology said straight out that he suspects the majority of professors in mainline Protestant seminaries do not believe in life after death. Based on my own theological education, I am not surprised. I understand that the idea of life after death can be an intellectually challenging belief.
I am concerned, however, by how often the suggestion is made — subtly or explicitly — that believing in life after death is a sign of weakness or cowardice.
The physicist Stephen Hawkings, for example, was quoted earlier this year by The Guardian as saying: "I regard the brain as a computer which will stop working when its components fail. There is no heaven or afterlife for broken down computers; that is a fairy story for people afraid of the dark."
The implication is that believing in life after death is a form of psychological denial by those too weak to face the truth of the finality of death. Hawkings, whose own bravery is inspiring, is far from the only one to suggest the idea of life after death is an illusion we have invented to avoid the pain of knowing that we will someday be no more.
As those of us who are Christian prepare for All Saints’ Day (Nov. 1) or All Saints’ Sunday (Nov. 6), I want to propose that choosing to believe in life after death may actually be an act of courage.