5. The fear of death has also been maintained for merely human reasons which will disappear with the progress of the race. The first of these is the aspect under which the idea of the future life has hitherto been presented. This viewpoint sufficed for minds of slight advancement, but could not satisfy the mental requirements of intellects that have learned to reason on the subject. The presentation, as absolute truth, of statements that are both irrational in themselves and opposed to the data of physical science, has necessarily led reasoning minds to the conclusion that such a presentation must be unfounded and erroneous. Hence, there has resulted, in the minds of many, utter skepticism in relation to the reality of a future existence that has been presented under an unacceptable aspect, and in the minds of a yet greater number, a half-belief, so strongly plagued by doubts, that it differs only slightly from utter disbelief. For the latter the idea of a future life is, at best, a vague hypothesis, a probability rather than a certainty. They wish that it may be so and yet notwithstanding that desire, they say to themselves, “But what if, after all, there should be nothing beyond the grave! We are sure of the present, so let us busy ourselves with that. There will be time enough to think of a future life when we have found out whether that future life really exists!”
“And besides,” say the doubters, “what in fact, is the soul? Is it a mathematical point, an atom, a spark, a flame? How does the ‘soul’ feel? How does it see? How and what does it perceive?” The soul, for most people, is not a positive and active reality but a mere abstraction. Those whom they have loved, but from whom they have been separated by death, being reduced, in their thought to the state of atoms, of a spark, or of gas, seem to be separated from them forever and to have lost all the qualities for which they formerly loved them. Most people find it difficult to consider “an atom,” “a spark,” or “a gas” as an object of affection. They fail to derive satisfaction from the prospect of being, themselves, converted into “monads,” and they try to avoid contemplations that are so vague and cheerless, by restricting their thoughts to the interests, pursuits, and enjoyments of terrestrial life, which offers them, at least, the appearance of something real and substantial. The number of those who are swayed by considerations of this kind is very great.