One overriding belief that runs through civilization is that of an afterlife of some sort.
Be it the ancient Egyptians with the pyramids holding the persona for their trip to the after life or immorality, through native American and Australian Aboriginal peoples who believe in the spirits of the departed living on and modern religions whose insistence in the existence of a “place”.
This unseen area which has many names but is, we are told, better than life on earth and can be gained by living a good life, obeying your deities instructions. Having an awareness of the teachings and requirements of others as well as those of the same faith and a fairness of action to those less well equipped than yourself.
The questions raised by such beliefs and the similarity of teachings over a variety of religious beliefs has raised the question of this outlook being a part of human make up irrespective of any instructions in theological or humanistic outlook.
Researchers from Boston University decided on a study to prove, or disprove, the idea that the human psyche has an intrinsic belief that life goes on after death. In other words the existence of an afterlife which conversely means the belief of a pre life where the “spirits” of the fore fathers are used in the formation of new lives before birth, even before conception.
To ensure the relevance the subject groups were taken from two separate and completely different upbringing, beliefs and areas. both groups were from Ecuador ,the first from a basically urban environment near the town of Quito. These were mainly roman catholic Christians who are taught that life begins at the moment of conception, the fertilisation of the egg, a very specific, calculable moment in time.
The other group came from a Shuar village in the Amazon basin, whose children have a daily contact with life and death because of the farming and hunting occupations of the older members of their community.
The person in charge of this research was a Fellow of the University doing post graduate research whose name is Natalie Emmons.
Theirreasoning behind the choice of 283 children in two groups was that the hunter/farmer children from the Shuar village would have an inclination towards the life begins at birth and ends at death.
This was the basis of the farming and hunting outlook with no thought about pre life whereas the Quito children were brought up believing in an identifiable time of life beginning and a belief in the afterlife as part of their Christian beliefs.
These would be the differences but the core belief of both groups would be that there was no “before” life, it had a definite start if not a finite end.
The aim of the research was to get a paper published and their chosen journal was Child Development.
Whilst most Religious teachings have an inherent belief in the afterlife there are few teachings which cover any thoughts regarding the spirit having been here before so if researchers asked children questions regarding life before birth it would lead to relevant, untainted views on the afterlife.
The study was carried out using the same pictures of a young women, a picture of this young woman during pregnancy and the young women’s baby.
The children were then quizzed regarding their feelings and observations of the state of the child during pregnancy and birth and then questions were raised regarding any thoughts they may have regarding the foetus during pregnancy and if they had any input regarding the unborn child before conception.
The children’s answers were surprising in that they both were definite in the fact that they believed there was no bodily existence before birth, they had no memory or the power to carry out normal brain functions during pregnancy and their time in the womb but the majority of both groups had the belief that they had feelings and wants prior to the actual time of birth.
The overall reaction of the children that their bodily development was not advanced enough to have senses such as sight and hearing working but most expressed a desire to meet their mother and that they experienced a feeling of isolation from the rest of their family unit.
The fact that these children were reacting in a contradictory manner as their knowledge of the reproductive cycle was such that they were aware of the facts that life commenced at birth and there was no previous existence they firmly believed that prior to birth they experienced natural human reactions of feelings and the ability to want something that they were only aware of after the process of birth.
The children were not aware that the very ideas they were putting forward were contradictory to the teachings and beliefs that they had been brought up with irrespective of their totally different physical locations and ways of life.
Source: Health & Spirituality
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