One of the main selling points for Christianity and Islam is the promise of a brand new life after death. These religions do really promise that you can meet your loved ones again after your death. They even claim that you can spend the rest of eternity in joy together with them.
Btw. have you noticed that this possibility is always reserved only for those who accept every bit and piece of the teachings of the particular faction of religion that is making this promise?

This is, in fact, the boldest selling point that anybody ever can make. The best part of it is that it can never really be proven to be false. Nobody has just never returned to tell the truth. So, the same promises can be used millennium after millennium. Stark fact just is that nobody will ever know what really happens after death., even if the best bet is that life just ends.
This extremely bold promise is of course awfully intriguing. It can also undoubtedly give great comfort for many people who are suffering from anxiety in the face of death.

On the other hand, Richard Dawkins reminds that it is very reasonable to ask if you want the doctor to tell you that you have cancer. Who would in real world prefer him to lie to you that everything is okay and you have nothing to worry about?
Things just would be so much easier, if humans could just start accepting the inevitability of death, and not cling on empty promises of there being no such thing.

It has been said that human species is the only species who knows of its forthcoming death. However, it can in all fairness be also said that humans are the only species which does think that their own death is such a big deal.
It is odd that we accept in everything else in life that there is a start and an ending. For some unfathomable reason some people have come to expect that their lives must be endless and limitless.

llustration of the Black Death from the Toggenburg Bible (1411) -Wikipedia

Everyone can find comfort and consolation in the the knowledge that our lives will continue in our children and our labor will benefit the coming generations in countless different ways.
Not a single one of the atoms that form our bodies is going to disappear, but they will form the basis for new life for as long as there will be a material world or universe.
Sam Harris has asked for a good reason why so few of the Christians are, in fact, accepting death with joy, even if they have good reasons to believe that they are just on the verge of meeting their lost loved ones in eternity. A real Christian should only be happy about this kind of prospect and welcome death with open arms.

According to Sam Harris this conflict is based on the simple fact of life that very few Christians just could be in the end absolutely certain of the existence of an afterlife.
Doubts just might be eating the souls of some of even most devout Christians in the darkest hours of the night. This can happen even if they would sincerely believe that it would be extremely nice to think that these claims of eternal life would be true.

People started to worry about the possible existence of an afterlife a long time ago, but in ancient Egypt we have first physical evidence of it. It is easy to forget that the the pyramid-building Pharaohs did demand extraordinary real sacrifices from other people only to ensure their own theoretical eternal life.
However, there is a quite distinct possibility that the afterlife of pharaohs was quite like everybody else’s was, but ironically enough these immense piles of stone made to ensure their theoretical immortality really also could have made them immortal in a sense, even if their real lives did end quite similarly as all other human lives; in death.

In my mind pyramids are not, in fact, not just symbols of a belief in the afterlife. They attest (in a sad monomaniacal way) how a person can become truly immortal through his or her actual works and actions. These works and actions just need to be seen and appreciated by the later generations.

(This piece was completely refurbished in 23th of January of 2012)