“Man givit up the ghost, and whore is lie?” — Job 14: 10.
Question of Questions! The Universal Inquiry!
What is the state of those who have passed away?
Not an individual but has been indirectly affected by death, through the loss of dear ones; not one but has to look forward to being directly affected by his own experience of death. No wonder that great interest in this question has been and is manifested by people of every condition and colour the world over.
Love for friends requires that interest in their welfare should not cease immediately they have been entombed,
Self-interest, if there were no higher motive, urges to acquire for one’s own benefit all possible information concerning this great question.
In quest of this information, men have applied to all and sundry, and varied have been the replies received. The Atheist has given his answer; the Philosopher has published to the world his speculations; the Scientist has made known the results of his investigations; and they do not agree.
The Atheist’s Answer
The Atheist gives a very straightforward answer to the question, “The Dead — Where are They?” There is no mincing of words. He says that the dead are forever gone; they will never again be seen or heard of. This gives no consolation to the bereaved heart, and offers no pleasant prospect concerning the future of the inquirer. It is not surprising that some who had no communication with each other, is to accept the Atheistic view have adopted as their guiding principle, “Let us eat and drink; for tomorrow we die.” — 1 Cor. 15: 32.
The Philosopher’s Answer
The Philosopher undertakes an answer to the question. He notes that in the human mind there is a longing and the continuance of life and activity.
It is possible that this “longing” would be more accurately described as a difficulty in realising that life and activity will someday cease, and that out of this arises the all but universal belief that death is the one portal to new scenes and conditions. At any rate, the Philosopher, realising that most human beings who reach years of discretion are more or less persuaded that death does not end all, and that this thought, variously modified according to peoples and times, has been in the minds of men from time immemorial, comes to the conclusion that such thoughts could not exist without cause, and he thinks the cause is that the thought is true. He is therefore quite prepared to believe and teach that death is the departure from present conditions to others, pleasant or painful.
There can be no doubt that the prevalent thought in men’s minds is as the Philosopher finds it; but he certainly takes much more for granted than the follower of “pure reason” should allow himself to do, when he assumes that the only way to account for the universality of this thought, even among peoples who have had no communication with each other, is to admit that it is true. The answer of the Philosopher, while more comforting to many than that of the Atheist, is to be regarded with great reserve; for, after all, it is based on an assumption, and it does not consider all the details that should be examined.
— Isaac Watts
Dutch translation / Nederlandse vertaling: De doden – Waar zijn ze? 1 Universele vraag
The Dead — Where Are They? 2 Scientific Answer
The Dead — Where Are They? 3 The Spiritualist’s Answer
The Dead — Where Are They? 4 The Bible’s Answer