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An end to Belief?


© British Humanist Association

Ludovic Kennedy explored the idea of belief and a Christian afterlife in 1984:

From the earliest times man has believed that there is something beyond this vale of tears, and when you consider how nasty, brutish and short life has been for most people, you can hardly blame him. In ancient times kings and chieftains were buried with little picnics of food and drink to sustain them on their journey across the nether regions. In later times that Christian Church offered a choice between Hell, if you had sinned, and Heaven if you had repented, and this concentrated the mind wonderfully. Latterly, when heaven and hell were found not to be places but states of mind, belief in the after life began to lose some of its hold.

I myself share the view of Bertrand Russell when he said that he could not imagine an after life without a mind to comprehend it. Belief in it seems to me to be a form of wishful thinking. Ask most people who say they believe in life after death whether they also believe in life before birth, and…they look at you baffled; for people are less interested in where they may have been than in where they hope they many be going.

‘An End to Belief?’, Ludovic Kennedy, The Voltaire Memorial Lecture, British Humanist Association, 1984, p.9. Bishopsgate Institute reference: BHA/2/5/1

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