What really happens when we die? In a recent interview with Larry King, popular astro-physicist, Neil deGrasse Tyson, offers a scientifically reduced answer to this philosophically rich question. In this episode of the Word On Fire Show, Bishop Barron reacts to Tyson’s response and offers a more holistic understanding of human identity and death. A listener asks how God can be both a person and the sheer act of “to be” itself.

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Topics Discussed

  • 0:04 – Intro: Bishop Barron speaks at a tech conference
  • 1:30 – Explaining the interview and Tyson’s explanation of physical death
  • 5:20 – Are scientists seen as the new priests?
  • 8:10 – What happens when you die besides the obvious scientific realities?
  • 10:00 – Why do atheists still cling to moral values?
  • 11:09 – Does culminating as meat for maggots offer a sense of eternal fulfillment?
  • 12:30 – Tyson’s explanation of our annihilation upon death.
  • 14:55 – Is it a wish fulfilling fantasy to desire consciousness after death?
  • 20:00 – Would anyone really want to live forever?
  • 22:30 – What really happens when we die according to Christians?
  • 25:25 – Question from listener: How can God be both a person and the sheer act of “to be” itself?

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12 comments on “WOF 089: What Really Happens When We Die?

  1. Patricia Jennings Aug 21, 2017

    Thank you for the wonderful work you do. You have certainly touched many lives. My Our Lady Mary bless all that you do.

    • Bebe Khan Aug 23, 2017

      Some things is best not to know! we born, we live, we die. Bishop Baron is one of the best Catholic teacher next to Merton, Acquinas and bought a lot of light to me and others. I tip my hat to that man. May God bless you eternally Bishop Baron. You are on my facebook everyday! Bebe Khan

  2. Michael Greenan Aug 22, 2017

    Nice points, Bishop. I’d like to add on to a point you made: Materialists cannot claim to have a meaningful argument if they fundamentally claim that the universe is ultimately meaningless. If existence is ultimately meaningless, then arguments against God are ultimately meaningless too.

  3. Melanie Lasseter Aug 22, 2017

    I love Bishop Barron’s daily Gospel reflections. However, I found the podcast on what really happens after death to be way above my head, in part because I don’t have a good background in philosophy. Simplify, simplify.

  4. Racheal Aug 22, 2017

    This reminds me of when I was watching a video, filmed in the 1960’s, of Dr. Richard Feynman, who, when asked by an interviewer about what happens when we die and to comment on life after death, hedged and tried so hard to answer the question, but just couldn’t. He tried a scientific explanation, but of course, that didn’t work. Even at the time, when my Catholic religious fervor did not match what it is today, I knew something wasn’t right. I knew that he didn’t realize the limits of science; that science, contrary to what he believed, DOES NOT answer every question. That is not possible, as I started to realize after briefly reading St. Thomas Aquinas’ works. I’ll state this again: that scientists believe (that can’t think this or know this, but only believe this) that science can answer every single question about every single subject. I’m not sure why they are like this. I know when I was studying biology that we were taught, especially someone entering the medical field, to be 100% sure about whatever we were saying, especially about medicine and scientific topics, and that when we were speaking/writing/conversing with others that we would never even think of any other points of view, especially if they didn’t agree with us and especially when they did not work in a scientific field (ie. engineering, medicine, biology, chemistry, physics). It is as if no other academic genres even exist and if these persons hadn’t studied science/medicine etc then, there is NO WAY, they had ANY idea what they were talking about. Mr Neil DeGrasse, why is it attractive to live forever? But please don’t answer this question using your VERY limited scientific methodologies,

  5. elena Durante Aug 23, 2017

    A Huge thank you to Brendon and to you Bishop Barron! Thank you for explaining so well a point that so many struggles with, your reply to Tyson’s point is a clear explanation of our existence, our direction on earth, and beyond. Your quote as our human experience as a metamorphosis from humans to be more and more like God, just like as a “centipede transforms into a butterfly ” brings us also to our destination as in this life we are supposed to be projected towards a higher plane and towards our final encounter with God. And your quote on Aquinas “Our souls pervade our body” brings further light to that inner space, our souls, so that we understand more and more about who we are inhabitants of heaven. The metamorphosis from centipede into a butterfly symbolises so well our own metamorphosis, our resurrection .. and is a stark contrast from a Kafkian metamorphosis for example where the main character a man suppressed by a deadly burocratic society transforms into a spider only to be divoured by a dung beetle ….but then there is not much difference between being devoured by a worm or a dung beetle.. We can choose to believe in a natural(istic) way and die that way…or we could choose to believe what we are supernatural beings and live for ever in a higher dimension.

    • elena Durante Aug 23, 2017

      Sorry just to apologise about my previous comment as the main character in Kafka play becomes the beetle and he is not devoured by one.. the thought doesn’t not change…thanks ! Is there any way that one could edit a comment after it has been posted? many thanks !

  6. Such commentary from materialists always strikes a shallow chord. Reducing a person to body temperature and molecules is like reducing the meaning and value of a poem to its ink and letters. The transcendent principle is completely ignored by such a narrow vision.

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  8. June Herridge Sep 16, 2017

    I love listening to you and have learnt so much from you. Thank you.
    God bless you,

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  10. Paul Chua Jan 17, 2020

    What happens to the soul between death and the final judgment? How can the soul communicate with his or her loved ones who are still on earth?