Three Ideas of Immortality: legacy, Memory and Resurrection

Key terms:

  • Legacy: something handed down from an ancestor; a way of being remembered after death.
  • Heaven: the state of eternal happiness in the presence of God that Christians believe will be granted to the faithful after this life.
  • Hell: the state of eternal separation from God, seen as a punishment for sin.


One way of thinking about immortality is in the sense that you leave something behind you that will last much longer than your life did, so that people will still get something from your life long after it is over.

One example of this would be Andrew Carnegie, who died in 1919. He was a Scottish / American industrialist who made his fortune in steel. You will know his name from the Carnegie Hall if you’re interested in music, for from Carnegie College if you’re interested in sport. These places exist because he set them up and you can still benefit from his work today.


Another way of living on is simply in the memories of others whose lives you have touched. This might be a simple as the way you will remember your parents and your grandparents after they die, or the way that your children and your grandchildren will remember you.


For many religious believers, life after death is not metaphorical (like legacies and memories) but an actual promise of another life to come. Many Christians, Muslims and Jews believe that there will be a bodily resurrection after a Day of Judgement, in other words their souls will be given new bodies and they will ‘live again’ in heaven.

Christians believe that the resurrection of Jesus guarantees their own life after death. You can find out more about this here.



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