Introduction: Beyond Death (02:23)
Morgan Freeman relates his personal experiences of family members who have passed on. He asks about what happens when we die. He will explore ancient Egyptian, Christian, Hindu and scientific ideas about death.
Near-Death Experience (06:23)
David Bennet describes almost dying after being underwater for nearly twenty minutes. He thinks he saw God in this profound experience and now believes in an afterlife.
Ancient Egyptian Afterlife (06:14)
Freeman wonders how belief in an afterlife became part of religion. Egyptologist Salima Ikram describes how spells inscribed in the inner chamber of the Pyramid of Zoser assured the dead king would unite with the sun god every morning. This belief assured the sun would rise every morning.
Living and Dead (04:01)
The connection between the dead and the living is manifested during the Day of the Dead in Mexico. Freeman says this idea goes back to human sacrifice by the Aztecs to assure that the gods would be pleased, crops would not fail, the sun would not lose power, and the world would not end.
Eternal Life (04:09)
Freeman says that the Aztecs and Egyptians believed in an afterlife, but Christians believe in an eternal life after death. He visits the Church of Holy Sepulchre, where many Christians believe Jesus Christ died and is told of Golgotha, where he was crucified, to explore where this belief began.
Christian Beliefs (04:21)
Magness shows Freeman burial caves where Jesus may have been buried. She explains that Jews do not believe in heaven and hell and made sacrifices to atone for the sins of their people. Christians believe Jesus’ blood sacrifice was the last to be made, letting them overcome the fear of death.
Hindu Beliefs (02:47)
For Hindus, belief in reincarnation means that death is just a step on the way to another life. Bodies are brought to the Ganges River for cremation. Swami Varishthananda that even with individual grief, the cremation ceremony is a matter of joy, helping a soul’s further journey.
Swami Varishthananda says that reincarnation makes people responsible for their lives because it makes them makers of their own destinies. Hindus believe being cremated in Varanasi ends the cycle of rebirth, because there the Ganges flows in the direction of eternal life. The ultimate end of reincarnation is moksha, a state of pure eternal energy.
Afterlife and Science (04:00)
Freeman says that scientists are beginning to challenge the idea of the finality of death. Dr. Sam Parnia states that there is a universal experience of peace, comfort, and joy in death and as the body’s cells die, consciousness continues into the early part of death when the brain is not expected to be functioning.
Technological Afterlife (05:28)
Martine and Bina Rothblatt have created BINA48, a robot that will store the memories and feelings of Bina after she dies. Freeman questions if this technology will ever have what we call a soul. Martine Rothblatt says the technology will evolve, but we will never know if it will in the eyes of God.
Freeman notes that if we cannot live forever, we want to be remembered. In the Temple of Ramses III, Ramses name was deeply inscribed in many places so it could not be erased and could be read and said, allowing him to be immortal. Memories of loved ones give them an afterlife.
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