What is a word that describes a belief (or nonbelief) in an afterlife?

closed as off-topic by Kristina Lopez, FumbleFingers, ermanen, tchrist, Matt E. Эллен Apr 2 '15 at 8:18

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  • You mean agnostic ? : a person or pertaining to a person who holds that the existence of the ultimate cause, as a god or God, and the essential nature of things are unknown and unknowable. – user66974 Mar 30 '15 at 20:49
  • I find fault with your premise. The first homo sapien was not born believing in the concept of an afterlife. The concept of an afterlife was likely created by the Egyptians, and has been with us ever since. Your question requires additional constraints in order to be meaningful. – Nick2253 Mar 30 '15 at 21:04
  • @Nick2253, The first recorded example in history of something is not the same thing as the first occurrence of that thing. – cowlinator Mar 30 '15 at 21:20
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    @Josh61, a person may be agnostic about many or most things, such as God, but not agnostic about an afterlife. See english.stackexchange.com/questions/164317/… – cowlinator Mar 30 '15 at 21:22
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    BTW, @Nick2253 - it is with the Cro-Magnons that we see the first evidence of the regular and elaborate practice of ritual burial, which imply belief in an afterlife. The Cro-Magnons (circa 40,000 kyrs ago) preceded the Egyptians by tens of thousands of years. – user98990 Mar 30 '15 at 22:09

As far as I can there is no single word for such a denial. For example, had such existed, I am sure that the knowledgeable, well-researched article on the Afterlife at the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy would have used it, or such a term would be used in the Catholic Encyclopedia, but I can find none.

There are more general positions (atheism, materialism, non-Dualism, ...) which tend to lead to such an assertion, but none so precise as swallowing the desire for a single, obscure word and expressing it with a few common ones as you have done well in your question.

  • Kinda curious that there is no term, given that we have about 12 ways to say "atheist". – Hot Licks Mar 31 '15 at 2:26
  • I believe "...there is no single word for such..." to be the most accurate answer. I did find the word "Thanatism" which means "The belief that the mind or soul ceases to exist when the body dies", but it is so obscure, that it's usefulness is limited. Perhaps if more people started to use the word "Thanatism", it would become more useful. – cowlinator Mar 31 '15 at 20:06

I'd say the term that best fits what you're looking for is strong atheist.

The general categories are as follows (the definitions change a bit but these are my interpretations):

  • Strong atheist ("no god exists")
  • (Weak) atheist ("there's no evidence for a god")
  • Agnostic ("I'm not sure whether there's evidence for a god")
  • Deist ("there's evidence for some kind of higher power / I believe in some kind of higher power")
  • Theist ("there's evidence for a specific god / I believe in a specific god")
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    Note that one need not believe in a deity to believe that there's an afterlife. Buddhism, for example, has no conventional deity yet it has the concept of reincarnation, which is arguably a form of "afterlife". – Hot Licks Mar 30 '15 at 22:29

"Humanism" is a term generally used to describe a philosophy that rejects religious superstitions and the presence of an afterlife. If you look it up using this term, you will find many historical references.

  • Unfortunately, "humanism" carries a lot of political baggage. – Hot Licks Mar 31 '15 at 2:24

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