Book review: Is There An Afterlife?

by David Fontana


“There is no doubt in my mind,” says Fontana, “that the question of whether or not we live after death is by far the most important that faces us.” Surely we are more than merely biological accidents with nothing more to motivate us beyond the struggle to remain alive. Luckily, the back cover promises, “After reading [this book] and assessing the evidence, there can no longer be any doubt that there is life after death.”

As far as I’m aware, this is the most exhaustive study ever on the afterlife. 496 large-size, small-print pages. The sheer volume of evidence would appear overwhelming, except that the majority of the book is about mediumship. I was a bit disappointed in this focus, but Fontana lists “Professor of Transpersonal Psychology,” “Vice President of the Society for Psychical Research,” and “Fellow of the British Psychological Society” among his credentials, so his primary focus should come as no surprise.

There are other topics, including apparitions, hauntings, near-death experiences, out-of-body experiences, and studies of reincarnation, but they receive comparatively little attention. One chapter summarizes the findings of what the afterlife must be like; whether we will sleep, enjoy sex, become wiser, retain our individuality, interests, memories … if you’re curious, Fontana concludes that in the afterlife you’re going to be pretty much the same person as you were in this life.

Overall, I found the book unconvincing, but I’ll try to include some reviews shortly of other books on the topic that I found more fascinating.

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