Home » Health » Who Believes in an Afterlife in America? If Heaven Exists, Will There Be Races?

Who Believes in an Afterlife in America? If Heaven Exists, Will There Be Races?

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2500 words

(Note: I don’t believe in an afterlife and I’m not a theist.)

What do Americans think about the existence of an afterlife and what are the differences between races?

What do Americans think about the existence of an afterlife—of heaven and hell? The existence of an afterlife to American citizens is clear—more Americans believe in heaven but not in hell, per Pew. But 26% of the respondents didn’t believe in either heaven or hell. But those who did not believe in heaven or hell but did believe in an afterlife were asked to describe their views:

More Americans believe in heaven than in hell

Respondents who believe in neither heaven nor hell but do still believe in an afterlife were given the opportunity to describe their idea of this afterlife in the form of an open-ended question that asked: “In your own words, what do you think the afterlife is like?”

Within this group, about one-in-five people (21%) express belief in an afterlife where one’s spirit, consciousness or energy lives on after their physical body has passed away, or in a continued existence in an alternate dimension or reality. One respondent describes their view as “a resting place for our spirits and energy. I don’t think it’s like the traditional view of heaven but I’m also not sure that death is the end.” And another says, “I believe that life continues and after my current life is done, I will go on in some other form. It won’t be me, as in my traits and personality, but something of me will carry on.”

Blacks were slightly more likely to believe in heaven over whites, though a super majority of both races do believe in heaven, while way more blacks than whites believed in the existence of hell. Others professed less-widely-held views on the afterlife, like existing as a spirit, consciousness, or energy in the afterlife. Those who believe state that heaven is free from earthly matters, such as suffering while in hell it is the opposite—hell is nothing but eternal suffering, not due to any fire and brimstone, but because it is eternal separation from God. America is, to my surprise, still a very superstitious country when it comes to God and Satan and the existence of heaven and hell. People believe that their prayers can be answered and that interactions between the living and the dead are possible. Black Americans are more likely to believe that their prayers can be directly answered in comparison to white Americans (83 percent compared to 65 percent, respectively) , while 67 percent of Americans think it’s possible. Black Americans also believe that revelations from a higher power are possible in comparison to white Americans (85 percent and 66 percent, respectively), while black Americans are more likely to believe that they have experienced contact from a higher power compared to white Americans (53 percent compared to 25 percent, respectively).

Blacks are also slightly more likely than whites to believe in near-death experiences (79 percent compared to 73 percent, respectively). Thus, blacks are more superstitious than whites. The Pew poll also tracks other studies—black Americans and Caribbean Blacks were more likely to be religious than whites (Joseph et al, 1996; Franzini et al, 2005; Taylor, Chatters, and Jackson, 2007; Chatters et al, 2009). Men in general are less religious than women, but black men are less religious than black women but more religious than white women. But although blacks are more likely than whites to believe in an afterlife and be religious, there is an apparent shift away (and Americans seem to be shifting away from being religious ever so slightly, though 81 percent of Americans are still believers) from religiosity in the black community; but they are still more likely to pray, say grace and attend church than other racial groups.

Moreover, black men over age 50 who attend church had a 47 percent reduction in all-cause mortality compared to those who did not attend (Bruce et al, 2022), so there seems to be a protective effect that occurs due to attending church services (Assari and Lankarani, 2018; Carter-Edwards et al, 2018; Majee et al, 2022). It has been found that blacks consistently report lower odds of having depression, and the answer is probably due to attending religious services (Reese et al, 2012). However, when it comes to church attendance, for white women their attendance at church is either nonexistent or protective when it comes to body mass while for black women consistent relations between church attendance and body mass have been shown (Godbolt et al, 2018). Given the fact that black women have been consistently more likely to be obese than white women since at least the late 80s and 90s (Gillum, 1987; Kumanyika, 1987; Allison et al, 1997) and today (Tilghman, 2003; Johnson et al, 2012; Agyemang and Powell-Wiley, 2014; Tucker et al, 2021), this finding is not surprising. But the effects of racism can not only explain the higher rates of obesity in black women (Cozier et al, 2014), it could also explain the higher rates of “weathering” of black women’s bodies (Geronimus et al, 2006).

Nevertheless, blacks are more likely to be religious and report religious experiences in comparison to whites, and blacks are also more likely to be religious in comparison to the general US population. Why may blacks be more religious than whites? This is a question I will try to answer in the future.

Is it possible for races to exist in heaven?

Some Christians claim that there will be racial/ethnic diversity in both heaven and hell. The article Will heaven be multicultural and have different races? claims that:

The ultimate answer to your question is found in Revelation 21-22 which describes the new heaven and earth. In Revelation 21:24 we are told that people from the various nations will be in heaven. That is, those who believe in Jesus Christ and follow Him will live there for eternity. But the culture of heaven will be God’s culture. Everything is new. Heaven and earth will be new. The old will have disappeared and the new will have come. Sin will be gone and racial prejudices and alliances will be gone.

While the article Will There Be Ethnic Diversity in Heaven? claims that “ethnic diversity seems to be maintained and apparent in Heaven, for eternity“, the article Racial Diversity in Hell claims that:

The difference between heaven and hell is that in heaven—that is, in the new heaven and new earth—there will be perfect racial and ethnic harmony, but in hell, racial and ethnic animosities will reach their fullest fury and last forever.

So what is RACE? In my view, race is a suite of physical characteristics which are demarcated by geographic ancestry, as argued by Hardimon and Spencer. So if race is physical, then if a thing isn’t physical—that is, if a thing is immaterial—then there would be no way to identify which racial group they were a part of while they were alive. If we take the afterlife to be a situation in which a person has died but they then exist again as a disembodied soul/mind, then there can’t possibly be races in heaven, since what identified the person as part of a racial group (the physical) doesn’t exist anymore.

In the book The Myth of an Afterlife, Drange (2015: 329-330) articulates what he calls the nonidentification argument, where it is inconceivable for a person to be identified if they are bodiless, and if they are bodiless and race is a property of physical bodies, then it would follow that there wouldn’t be races in heaven since disembodied souls, by definition, lack physical bodies—there would be no way for the identities of people to be established, and so if people’s identities cannot be established, then it follows that their racial identities cannot be established either.

  1. Bodiless people would have no sense organs and no body of any sort.
  2. Therefore, they could not feel anything by touch or see or hear anything (in the most common senses of “see” and “hear”).
  3. Thus, if they were to have any thoughts about who they are, then they would have no way to determine for sure that the thoughts are (genuine) memories, as opposed to mere figments of imagination.
  4. So, bodiless people would have no way to establish their own identities.
  5. Also, there would be no way for their identities to be established by anyone else.
  6. Hence, there would be no way whatever for the identities of bodiless people to be established.
  7. But for a person to be in an afterlife at all, it is conceptually necessary for his or her identity to be capable of being established.
  8. It follows that a totally disembodied personal afterlife is not conceivable.

Drange’s argument is against a certain conception of the afterlife, mainly if it is one where souls are disembodied, it follows that there would be no way to identify them, and so it follows that there would be no races in heaven, since race is a physical property of humans and their bodies. But there are different ways of looking at the possibility of races in heaven, depending on which theory of race one holds to.

Nathan Placencia (2021) argues that whether or not races exist in heaven depends on which philosophy of race you hold to, but he does make the positive claim that there may be racial identities in heaven. For racial constructivists, since race exists merely due to social conventions and racialization, then race wouldn’t exist. For the racial skeptic, since race doesn’t exist as a biological category, then races don’t exist. That is, since racial naturalism is false, then races of any kind cannot exist, where racial naturalism is basically like the hereditarian conception (or non-conception, if you will) of race (see Kaplan and Winther, 2015). Racial naturalists argue that race is grounded in genetically-mediated biological differences. I am of course sympathetic to the view, though I do hold that race is a social construct of a biological reality and I am a pluralist about race. The last conception that Placencia discusses is that of deflationary realism, where race is genetically-grounded but not itself normatively important (Hardimon, 2017). So Placencia claims that for the racial constructivists and skeptics, races won’t exist in heaven while for the deflationary realist, the “answer is maybe” on whether or not race will exist in heaven which then of course depends on what the resurrected heavenly bodies would look like.

Believers in heaven state that Believers will have new, physical bodies in heaven. But Jesus wasn’t immediately recognizable to his followers, though they did come to know that it was actually him after spending time with him. So theists of course then believe that we get new physical bodies in heaven but that we would look different than we did while we had a physical, earthly existence. Certain chapters in Revelations (21:4, 22:4) talk about God wiping away tears and a name appearing on their foreheads, so this then implies that there would be new, physical bodies in heaven. But now the question is, would heavenly bodies fall under racial lines as we currently understand them in this life? The question is obviously unanswerable, but certain texts in the Bible after Jesus’ resurrection state that he did look different than he did while he was alive in earth.

Baker-Hytch (2021: 182) argues that “the new creation is depicted as an everlasting reality whose human inhabitants from all nations will have resurrection bodies that—after the pattern of Jesus’ resurrection body—neither age nor die and that will partake in shared pleasures such as eating and drinking together.” So there is a trend in Christian and theistic thought that in heaven, we will all have new heavenly bodies and not exist as mere disembodied souls. But talk of new heavenly bodies faces an issue—if they are bodies in the sense that we think of bodies now, the bodies that we inhabit now, then would they grow old, decay and eventually die? Would God then give us new heavenly bodies? It would stand to reason that, if God is indeed all-powerful and all-knowing, then he would have thought these issues through and so heavenly bodies wouldn’t have the same properties as physical, earthly bodies and so they wouldn’t get older, die and eventually decay.


If the afterlife is completely disembodied, then it follows that race wouldn’t exist in the afterlife, since there would be no way for the identities of persons to be established, and thusly there would be no way for the race of the disembodied soul to be established. Most theists contend that we will have new, heavenly bodies in heaven, but whether or not they would look the same as the former earthly bodies is up in the air, since Jesus after his resurrection apparently looked different, since it states in the Bible that it took some time for Jesus’ followers to recognize him. So, if Heaven exists, will there be races? The concept RACE is a physical one. So if there are disembodied souls in heaven, and they have no physical bodies, then races won’t exist in heaven.

I obviously am a realist about race who holds to radical pluralism about racial kinds—there can be many concepts of race which are true and are context-dependent. Though I do not believe in an afterlife, I do believe that if an afterlife is nothing but disembodied souls living in heaven wkth God, then it follows that there won’t be races in heaven since there are no physical bodies on which to ground racial ontologies. On the other hand, if what most theists contend is true—that we get new heavenly bodies after our death and entrance into the afterlife—whether or not race would exist in heaven is questionable and it depends on which concept of RACE one holds to. If one is a constructivist or skeptic (AKA eliminativist or anti-realist) about race, then race wouldn’t exist in heaven as race is due to social conventions and the concept of racialization of groups as races. But if one is a deflationary realist about race (which I myself am), then the answer to the question of whether or not races would exist in heaven is maybe.

Nevertheless, whether or not one believes in the existence of an afterlife is slightly drawn on racial lines, with blacks being more likely to believe in an afterlife compared to whites, while are more likely to believe that their prayers can be directly answered and that they can talk to a higher power in comparison to whites.

So depending on how races get squared away in heaven upon receiving new heavenly bodies, it is unknown whether or not races will exist in heaven.



  1. rr is a racist. sad. says:

    rr = pure satanist


  2. at least atheists aren't into chirren. sad. says:

    “agnostic” = pedophile


  3. sic transit gloria mundi. says:

    23 The same day came to him the Sadducees, which say that there is no resurrection, and asked him,

    24 Saying, Master, Moses said, If a man die, having no children, his brother shall marry his wife, and raise up seed unto his brother.

    25 Now there were with us seven brethren: and the first, when he had married a wife, deceased, and, having no issue, left his wife unto his brother:

    26 Likewise the second also, and the third, unto the seventh.

    27 And last of all the woman died also.

    28 Therefore in the resurrection whose wife shall she be of the seven? for they all had her.

    29 Jesus answered and said unto them, Ye do err, not knowing the scriptures, nor the power of God.

    30 For in the resurrection they neither marry, nor are given in marriage, but are as the angels of God in heaven.

    i’m guessing your italian family is very disappointed in you.


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