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After Life: Solving Science and Religion's Great Disagreement Paperback – May 4, 2016
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"What happens after life? Matthew O'Neil answers this question with learning, elegance, and grace. He reveals the surprisingly rich history of heaven and hell and many other religious ideas that believers assume have always existed in their present form but in fact evolved along with society and culture. There may be no scientific evidence for an afterlife but O'Neil demonstrates how this fact leads to a most uplifting conclusion. To discover it, and how to live a fulfilling life without an afterlife, read this beautiful book."
--Michael Shermer, Publisher Skeptic magazine, monthly columnist Scientific American, Presidential Fellow Chapman University, and author of The Moral Arc.
"Matthew O'Neil's After Life makes a complicated issue, what happens after we die, very simple. The author analyzes the important topic of the potential for life after death from scientific, philosophical, and religious perspectives, but using terms nearly everyone can understand. Citing chapter and verse from popular religious texts, as well as scientific studies from the world's greatest thinkers, O'Neil takes you on a journey toward understanding what life is and whether or not it can continue after death."
--David G. McAfee, author of The Belief Book, Mom, Dad, I'm an Atheist, and Disproving Christianity.
"Not only are there strong scientific reasons for rejecting the existence of an immortal soul capable of floating free from the body, but the original Biblical notion of the afterlife has evolved over time - and in fact it was originally borrowed from prior traditions. O'Neil's book offers a convincing case that the short duration of time between the cradle and the grave is all we have. Far from being a cause of despair, though, this should compel us to make the most of our sojourns here on Earth."
--Phil Torres, author of The End: What Science and Religion Tell Us About the Apocalypse.
"Religion uses the afterlife as a tool to control the masses. They offer you eternal happiness or eternal damnation, and make you question your existence every single day. In After Life, Matthew O'Neil dissects these beliefs with great precision and examines these myths against the scientific truths of reality."
--Dan Arel, author of The Secular Activist and Parenting Without God.
"Matthew O'Neil touches on a subject that I've been fascinated with for much of my adult life. As I became an atheist, I struggled with what may exist beyond this beautiful life we're experiencing. In this book, O'Neil answers the questions I had as a new atheist, and I believe this book will help others on their journey towards enlightenment."
--J. D. Brucker, author of Reason over Faith: Antitheism & the Case Against Religion and Facing Oblivion: Essays on Life, Death and Grief from a Nonbeliever.
"Matthew O'Neil's After Life is a lovingly researched momento mori that takes us on a safari; not just through the fascinating evolution of Heaven and Hell, but of God and Satan themselves as well. He delves into the mechanics of the soul, mind and body to reveal how we die - and how we can live knowing that we will. A must-read for any living readers curious to learn what really happens when we die, and why life would suck without death."
--David Fitzgerald, Author of Nailed and The Complete Heretic’s Guide to Western Religion series
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So it is written and so it shall be…right? Not so fast!
This remarkable book explores the pre-Christian concepts of after life, from the Canaanites, Hebrews, Greek culture, “pagan” mystery religions that preceded Christianity, to the Gnostic writings, and medieval philosophies - tracing the progression the after life from simply a place of the dead cut off from God or gods, albeit, along side one’s ancestors - to a place of eternal bliss or pain for everyone.
So, if not scriptural how did the promised eternal life - hobnobbing with Jesus /God , the early iconic Hebrew personages, all the sainted Church fathers, and your grandma Sadie in the pearly gate enclosed, solid gold paved street paradise come to be, and why? How did the concept of burning in Hell splashing around in a lake of fire for eternity as punishment for human transgression become ingrained in Christianity, and why? The very fact that these places are not part of Christian scripture will come as something of a surprise to the biblically deficient.
And while we’re on it …what about the soul, and what about reincarnation, and how about all those marvelous stories of near death experience? Where did that come from and what evidence is there for their truth?
Mr. O’Neil gives us has those answers- or perhaps better put - has done exhaustive research on these subjects, bringing together in his extremely well documented book virtually every scholarly writing on these issues. Thus, it leads the reader, whether skeptic or believer, to assess not just the genesis of but also the reasons for the noncanonical concepts of a Christian afterlife, other religion’s philosophies, and the scientific view of what happens after we die (other than the oft quoted amusing canard that “lots of stuff happens after we die, we’re just not here to participate in them.”) .
I found this compact, easily understood and well foot noted book not only a satisfying read that enhanced my knowledge, but an excellent source document / go to book for those who engage in debate and discourse on religious matters.
Matthew takes a subject which is interesting unto itself, but infuses the right balance of personal reflection alongside the biblical analysis and scientific evidence he presents. Matthew's writing is captivating, and the appreciation he has for life and the here and now comes across beautifully.
Being a Sunday school teacher and an avid church-goer, I found the idea of this book to be quite interesting. Death is an interesting topic, one I’ve always thought heavily about and wondered about. I figured this would be a great read for me.
This book isn’t a novel, so I can’t really review its “plot” and “characters.” Therefore, this section will prove to be the main course.
I don’t know how else to explain this book other than it reminded me of a textbook. When I was reading this book, I felt as though I was back at school in some sort of religion course and this was an assigned reading material. I’ll admit, that feeling turned me off from the book a bit.
The prologue starts off explaining with how the author himself almost died when he was young. He had no memory of what happened to him when he was unconscious and simply wondered what happened to him in that time.
Each chapter talks about the various aspects of death and religion: Heaven, Hell, Resurrection, Soul, and then he gets into the science side of things. Using the Bible and textual evidence from science books and the like, the author explains his findings on what may happen to us when we die.
I felt as though there were more references to the Bible and such more than the author’s own words. He explained what those quotes meant to him and what he felt they truly meant, but I felt as though I was reading constant citations. Plus, there were footnotes. A lot of footnotes.
I’ll admit that when it comes to the science side of things, I don’t 100% understand it. I think that hindered my ability to get the full effect of this book and what it was trying to explain to me.
This book is meant to be informative, and it is, but because of the textbook-like mentality of it, I just couldn’t get as into it as I wanted to.
After Life is definitely educational and interesting. It’s a book I may come back to later to try to understand again. It’s a book I’ll recommend to my fellow church-goers. However, I just felt as though it wasn’t as entertaining and therefore, it had a hard time keeping my attention.
“It is with this that we start our journey in a comfortable spot–eternal paradise in Heaven and why the Bible says there is no such thing.” –Matthew O’Neil, After Life: Solving Science and Religion’s Great Disagreement
*This review was originally posted on RachelPoli.com