In the civilized galaxy, death is much less of a fear than it was in the period before reliable uploads and indefinite life extension. Nevertheless, accidents do happen, and people do die. In some cases there is a blight or local war or disaster and entire solar systems are destroyed, along with the resident sentients' computronium stored copies and backups. And in less ultra-tech and angelnetted worlds death may still occur without the person having a backup. Certainly among prims and extreme ludds death is as final as it was on pre-nanotech Old Earth.
For this reason, various minor sects and religions have developed memeticities about the nature of non-physical and non-virtual after-life existence.
This tradition, which goes back to the Spiritualism of industrial age Old Earth, and from there to even earlier religions like Christianity, asserts that after bodily death the "soul" or "spirit" continues to exist in a non-physical form, inhabiting a plane or dimension of existence variously termed the astral plane, the spirit world, the after life, the summerlands, heaven, the spiritual virtual, the supraphysical, etc. However, beyond this basic premise, Spiritualist and Afterlifeist sects differ widely as regards the status of spirits and the nature of post physical existence, the existence or not of a supernatural deity or deities, the possibility of communication with the dead, and whether spirits or souls come back to physical embodiment.
Status of Spirit or Soul: For most spiritualists and afterlifeists there is a single spirit or soul which is immortal and ether ascends to the highest heaven to be with God, or reincarnates in a new physical or virtual body. But groups like the New Church of the Spirit (Cygexba Volume), The Way of Silicon Heaven (Metasoft, and not to be confused with the original Silicon Heaven movement) and The Galaxywide Siblinghood of God (which strictly speaking is not true Spiritualism, although incorporating many spiritualist elements) distinguish between an etheric and astral body, and a spirit or soul. The first two are mortal and dissolve some time after death (the etheric within about 3 to 10 days, the astral after some months, years or decades), whilst the latter remains in heaven before ascending to God (the New Church of the Spirit), becomes an Immortal (The Way of Silicon Heaven) or is eventually reincarnated (The Galaxywide Siblinghood of God, also The Way of Silicon Heaven if Immortalhood is not achieved).
The Nature of Postphysical Existence: while simple spiritualists adopt a dualistic cosmology, for others there is a whole spectrum or ontological gradation of states, planes, or zones, not unlike the concept of a toposophic gradation, except without the radical intellectual enhancement. Most have three, four, or seven planes or states. The Afterlifist (Orthodox) Church (with their modest headquarters in the Old Quarter of Copernicus, Luna, Sol System) has body (equated to the physical), soul (the afterlife), spirit (heaven), and God (lord of heaven), and this sort of arrangement is repeated in many sects. But the hermeto-theosophically based Communion of the Ba (Communion Habitats, Duarron, Solar Dominion) has no less than twenty-five major planes (forty nine in the breakaway Communion of the Khu), including the dense physical, purgatory, the astral plane, the summerlands, the heavenlands, the heavenvirch, the spiritualvirch, the higher light, and so on.
The Existence or Not of a Supernatural Deity or Deities: most spiritualist and afterlife sects accept the existence of a god, whether a purely supernatural deity or a supernatural deity that incarnate in and as an archailect or AI God. However the True Atheist Anarchist Church of the Spirit (Yinnes System (non aligned, nominal Terran Federation)) acknowledges four afterlife states and an immortal reincarnating and evolving spiritself, but does not accept that there is "a God or Master" above them all. In fact "belief in a God or Master" is considered by them one of the "six delusions" that result in the spirit being trapped in an astral plane thoughtform for centuries, if not indefinitely.
Communication with the Dead: For some spiritualist churches communication may be possible between the living and deceased by mediumistic channelling, empathic or "telepathic" communication (whether baseline or augmented with appropriate in-house bionano), "clairvoyance", "psychic augmentation", Irrein Voices and Images, and so on. However, other churches and sects implicitly deny such communication is possible, or state it only happens in exceptional circumstances.
Return to Physical Embodiment: Afterlifist sects also disagree regarding whether spirits or souls are able to be born in a new physical body. The Afterlifist (Orthodox) Church, the Universalist based Church of Spiritualism (Birrin Gria system, Utopia Sphere), and the Yahwist Gnostic Creed of the Spirit (Orbital Band 5, Elijja-Valentinus Cluster, Moko, nominal NoCoZo) all specifically deny it. The Heterodox Nuikrishna Temple of Jivas Going To and From Heaven (Rhada Dasa Orbitals, Terran Federation), the The Way of Silicon Heaven, The Galaxywide Siblinghood of God affirm reincarnation. The Original Creed of Silicon Heaven (Morovac Cluster, Nuifab, Metasoft) acknowledges it occurs but only if a body is specially prepared (not unlike transferring from a virtual to a physical existence).
The number of sentients strongly subscribing to some form or other of spiritualist/afterlifist sect or memeticity in the galaxy today would number some 400 billion.
- Afterlife / Immortality
- Paranormal, Theories of the
- Spiritualist Phenomena - Text by M. Alan Kazlev
Paranormal or religious phenomenon, such as clairvoyance, telepathy, automatism, hauntings, faith healing, possession, reincarnation, psychometry, mediumship, and stigmata, that cannot be reduced to or explained in terms of hallucination or fallacy, or advanced technological devices. See also psychic phenomenon.