Both culture and religion have explored various forms of an afterlife, with millions (if not billions) across the globe believing in some variety of heaven.
But one scientist says the only thing that happens after life is, well, death.
Cosmologist and physics professor Sean Carroll tells Wendyl Nissen that physics research over time shows that the afterlife is physically impossible.
When we die, the atoms just stop being us.
“The information, the memories that we had, the personalities that we had contained in our brain – they all just turn to dust. They don’t go anywhere.”
The California Institute of Technology professor admits that while there’s much that physicists don’t know about the world, such as dark matter or the big bang theory, life after death is something he’s certain is impossible.
“We know the particles and forces that make us up,” Mr Carroll says. “There’s no room to discover new features or phenomena that would be relevant to the atoms and the molecules that make up you and me.”
The human soul, according to Mr Carroll, was a plausible concept created by our ancestors to explain the “animating force” behind humans.
“And the soul is just a colourful way of talking about the fact that we human beings are extraordinarily complex and unpredictable collections of molecules.
“But nevertheless, we do obey the laws of physics.”
When Wendyl asks how he responds to those who believe in going to heaven, he explains that people should be good people for reasons other than wanting to go to heaven.
“I think there are much better reasons to be a good person and to do nice things,” he tells RadioLIVE.
“The rewards I can get are here in the world - ones that I can see.”
Mr Carroll says there’s no evidence of heaven and that it “doesn’t fit with the laws of physics”.
But people’s minds are slowly changing on the afterlife, says Mr Carroll.
“The number of people who would’ve believed that we do have life after death is declining over time.
“And I think as the message gets across, people will focus on the real world as it actually exists. The lives that we live right here are not dress rehearsals – they are the only performance we have.”
Listen to the full interview with Sean Caroll above.
The Long Lunch with Wendyl Nissen, 12pm - 3pm on RadioLIVE and streaming live to the rova app on Android and iPhone.