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Who Believes in an Afterlife in America? If Heaven Exists, Will There Be Races?
(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:
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.
- Bodiless people would have no sense organs and no body of any sort.
- Therefore, they could not feel anything by touch or see or hear anything (in the most common senses of “see” and “hear”).
- 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.
- So, bodiless people would have no way to establish their own identities.
- Also, there would be no way for their identities to be established by anyone else.
- Hence, there would be no way whatever for the identities of bodiless people to be established.
- 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.
- 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.
r/K Selection Theory: A Response to Truth-Justice
After the publishing of the article debunking r/K selection theory last week, I decided to go to a few places and provide the article to a few sites that talk about r/K selection theory and it’s (supposed) application to humans and psychometric qualities. I posted it on a site called ‘truthjustice.net‘, and the owner of the site responded to me:
Phillippe Rushton is not cited a single time in AC’s book. In no way, shape or form does the Theory depend on his opinions.
AC outlines a very coherent theoretical explanation for the differing psychological behavior patterns existing on a bell curve distribution in our population. Especially when it comes to the functioning of the Amygdala for which we have quite a lot of data by now.
Leftists are indeed in favor of early childhood sexualization to increase the quantity of offspring which will inevitably reduce the quality and competitive edge of children. They rank significantly lower on the moral foundations of “loyalty”, “authority” and “purity” as outlined by Jonathan Haidt’s research into moral psychology. Making them more accepting of all sorts of degeneracy, deviancy, and disloyalty to the ingroup.
They desire a redestribution of resources to the less well performing part of our population to reduce competitive stress and advantage while giving far less to charity and being significantly more narcissistic to increase their own reproductive advantage.
Their general mindset becomes more and more nihilistic, atheistic, anarchistic, anti-authority and overall r-selected the further left you go on the bell curve. A denial of these biological realities in our modern age is ridiculous when we can easily measure their psychology and brain functionality in all sorts of ways by now.
Does that now mean that AC is completely right in his opinions on r/K-Selection Theory? No, much more research is necessary to understand the psychological differences between leftists and rightists in full detail.
But the general framework outlined by r/K-Selection Theory very likely applies to the bell curve distribution in psychological behavior patterns we see in our population.
I did respond, however, he removed my comment and banned me after I published my response. My response is here:
“Phillippe Rushton is not cited a single time in AC’s book. In no way, shape or form does the Theory depend on his opinions.”
Meaningless. He uses the r/K continuum so the link in my previous comment is apt.
“AC outlines a very coherent theoretical explanation for the differing psychological behavior patterns existing on a bell curve distribution in our population. Especially when it comes to the functioning of the Amygdala for which we have quite a lot of data by now.”
No, he doesn’t.
1) Psychological traits are not normally distributed,
2) even if r/K were a valid paradigm, it would not pertain to within species variation,
3) it’s just a ‘put these traits on one end that I don’t like and these traits at the other end that I like and that’s my team while the other team has all of the bad traits’ thing,
4) his theory literally rests on the r/K continuum proposed by Pianka. Furthermore, no experimental rationale “was ever given for the assignment of these traits [the r/K traits Pianka inserted into his continuum] to either category” (Graves, 2002: 135), and
5) the r/K paradigm was discredited in the late 70s (see Graves 2002 above for a review)
“Leftists are indeed in favor of early childhood sexualization to increase the quantity of offspring which will inevitably reduce the quality and competitive edge of children. They rank significantly lower on the moral foundations of “loyalty”, “authority” and “purity” as outlined by Jonathan Haidt’s research into moral psychology. Making them more accepting of all sorts of degeneracy, deviancy, and disloyalty to the ingroup.”
I love Haidt. I’ve read his book and all of his papers and articles. So you notice a few things. Then see the (discredited) r/K paradigm. Then you say “oh! liberals are bad and are on the r side while conservatives are K!!”
Let me ask you this: where does alpha-selection fall into this?
“They desire a redestribution of resources to the less well performing part of our population to reduce competitive stress and advantage while giving far less to charity and being significantly more narcissistic to increase their own reproductive advantage.”
Oh.. about that… liberals have fewer children than conservatives. Liberals are also more intelligent than conservatives. So going by Rushton’s r/K model, liberals are K while conservatives are r (conservatives are less intelligent and have more children). So the two cornerstones of the (discredited) r/K continuum show conservatives breeding more and also are less intelligent while it’s the reverse for liberals. So who is ‘r’ and ‘K’ again?
“Their general mindset becomes more and more nihilistic, atheistic, anarchistic, anti-authority and overall r-selected the further left you go on the bell curve. A denial of these biological realities in our modern age is ridiculous when we can easily measure their psychology and brain functionality in all sorts of ways by now.”
‘r’ and ‘K’ are not adjectives (Anderson, 1991: 57).
Why does no one understand r/K selection theory? You are aware that r/K selection theory is density-dependent selection, correct?
“Does that now mean that AC is completely right in his opinions on r/K-Selection Theory? No, much more research is necessary to understand the psychological differences between leftists and rightists in full detail.”
No, he’s horribly wrong with his ‘theory’. I don’t deny psych differences between libs and cons, but to put them on some (discredited) continuum makes no sense in reality.
“But the general framework outlined by r/K-Selection Theory very likely applies to the bell curve distribution in psychological behavior patterns we see in our population.”
No, it doesn’t. Psych traits are not normally distributed (see above). Just like Rushton, AC saw that some things ‘fit’ into this (discredited) continuum. What’s that mean? Absolutely nothing. He doesn’t even cite papers for his assertion; he called Pianka a leftist and said that he tried to sabotage the theory because he thought that it described libs (huh? this makes no sense). AC is a clear ideologue and is steeped in his own political biases as well as wanting to sell more copies of his book. So he will not admit that he is wrong.
Let me ask you a question: where did liberals and conservatives evolve? What selective pressures brought about these psych traits in these two ‘populations’? Are liberals and conservatives local populations?
I’ve also summarily discredited AC and I am waiting on a reply from him (I will be surprised if he replies).
However, unfortunately for AC et al, concerns have been raised “about the use of psychometric indicators of lifestyle and personality as proxies for life history strategy when they have not been validated against objective measures derived from contemporary life history theory and when their status as causes, mediators, or correlates has not been investigated” (Copping, Campbell, and Muncer, 2014). This ends it right here. People don’t understand density-dependent/independent selection since Rushton never talked about it. That, as has been brought up, is a huge flaw in Rushton’s application of r/K theory to the races of Man.
Liberals are, on average, more intelligent than conservatives (Kanazawa, 2010; Kanazawa, 2014) Lower cognitive ability has been linked to greater prejudice through right-wing ideology and low intergroup contact (Hodson and Busseri, 2012), with social conservatives (probably) having lower IQs. There are also three ‘psychological continents’—Europe, Australia, and, Canada and are the liberal countries whereas Southeast Asia, South Asia, South America and Africa contain more conservative countries with all other countries including Russia, the US and Asia in the middle and “In addition, gross domestic product (GDP) per capita, cognitive test performance, and governance indicators were found to be low in the most conservative group and high in the most liberal group” (Stankov and Lee, 2016). Further, economic liberals—as a group—tend to be better educated than Republicans—so intelligence is positively correlated with socially and economically liberal views (Carl, 2014).
There is also a ‘conservative baby boom‘ in the US—which, to the Rushtonites, is ‘r-selected behavior’. Furthermore, women who reported that religion was ‘very important to them’ reported having higher fertility than women who said that it was ‘somewhat important’ or ‘not important’ (Hayford and Morgan, 2008). Liberals are more likely to be atheist (Kanazawa, 2010), while, of course, conservatives are more likely to be religious (Morrison, Duncan, and Parton, 2015; McAdams et al, 2015).
All in all, even if we were to allow the use of liberals and conservatives as local populations, like Rushton’s erroneous use of r/K theory for human races, the use of r/K theory to explain the conservative/liberal divide makes no sense. People don’t know anything about ecology, evolution, or neuroscience. People should really educate themselves on the matters they speak about—I mean a full-on reading into whatever it is you believe. Because people like TIJ and AC are clearly idealogues, pushing a discredited ecological theory and applying it to liberals and conservatives, when the theory was never used that way in the first place.
For anyone who would like a look into the psychological differences between liberals and conservatives, Jonathan Haidt has an outstanding book outlining the differences between the two ideologies called The Righteous Mind: Why Good People are Divided by Politics and Religion. I actually just gave it a second read and I highly, highly recommend it. If you want to understand the true differences between the two ideologies then read that book. Try to always remember and look out for your own biases when it comes to your political beliefs and any other matter.
For instance, if you see yourself frantically attempting to gather support for a contention in a debate, then that’s the backfire effect in action (Nyhan and Reifler, 2012), and if you have a knowledge of the cognitive bias, you can better take steps to avoid such a heavy-handed bias. This, obviously, occurred with TIJ. The response above is airtight. If this ‘continuum’ did exist, then it’s completely reversed with liberals having fewer children and generally being more intelligent with the reverse for conservatives. So liberals would be K and conservatives would be r (following Rushton’s interpretation of the theory which is where the use of the continuum comes from).