What is meant by immortality?

Key Terms

  • Immortality: endless life or existence; life after death.
  • Soul: the spiritual rather than the physical part of humans.
  • Resurrection: rising from the dead or returning to life (applied to souls after death).

There are different ways that we might understand immortality. Many religious people, such as Christians, believe that we have immortal souls (that part of us cannot die) and that these souls will go on to some other sort of existence after the death of the body.

In Christianity, Jesus tells a story called the Parable of the Rich Man and Lazarus that discusses what ‘life’ will be like for the good, and the bad, after death.

Other religions, like Buddhists, think that there is no immortal soul and that nothing of ‘you’ as an individual survives your death. Immortality, in this sense, might mean that your life continues to influence other lives after you die. A good example of this might be people like William Shakespeare (not a Buddhist!) who we still talk about today, even though he died in the 17th century. The cartoon below was made in the 1950s but they expected the audience to be so used to Shakespeare that they would recognise where all the ideas came from. In this was we could say Shakespeare achieved immortality!

A Witch’s Tangled Hare – Bugs Bunny Cartoon

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