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Life after death?

For topics that are more about faith, religion and religious organisations than anything else.
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nimzo256
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Life after death?

#1 Post by nimzo256 » July 23rd, 2012, 6:54 am

Different humanists believe different things. But there are certain things that no humanist can believe. Is a belief in life after death incompatible with being a humanist?

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Altfish
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Re: Life after death?

#2 Post by Altfish » July 23rd, 2012, 7:27 am

I don't think there are any 'hard and fast' rules of what humanists believe; but I would hazard a guess that 99% of humanists believe that this is the only life we have and therefore we must make the most of it.

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animist
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Re: Life after death?

#3 Post by animist » July 23rd, 2012, 7:42 am

nimzo256 wrote:Different humanists believe different things. But there are certain things that no humanist can believe. Is a belief in life after death incompatible with being a humanist?
yes

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Dave B
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Re: Life after death?

#4 Post by Dave B » July 23rd, 2012, 9:33 am

nimzo256 wrote:Different humanists believe different things. But there are certain things that no humanist can believe. Is a belief in life after death incompatible with being a humanist?
Yes.
"Look forward; yesterday was a lesson, if you did not learn from it you wasted it."
Me, 2015

nimzo256
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Re: Life after death?

#5 Post by nimzo256 » July 23rd, 2012, 10:14 am

I've just realised that I've phrased my original question a bit carelessly. What I meant to ask is whether a belief in the POSSIBILTY of life after death is incompatible with being a humanist.

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animist
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Re: Life after death?

#6 Post by animist » July 23rd, 2012, 10:26 am

nimzo256 wrote:I've just realised that I've phrased my original question a bit carelessly. What I meant to ask is whether a belief in the POSSIBILTY of life after death is incompatible with being a humanist.
it's still a yes from me

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jaywhat
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Re: Life after death?

#7 Post by jaywhat » July 23rd, 2012, 10:29 am

I believe what I believe regardless of what anyone says I should believe. As I have written elsewhere, a toad dies and dries up in the sun and that is that. We are no different - except for the drying in the sun bit.

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Dave B
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Re: Life after death?

#8 Post by Dave B » July 23rd, 2012, 11:30 am

Still yes from me as well.

Since all recognisably human chemical and electrical activity ceases at death and I cannot believe in any kind of incorporeal "soul" or "spirit." You cease to exist in any meaningful form except as memories in the minds of others or in terms of any lasting legacy from your actions whilst alive.
"Look forward; yesterday was a lesson, if you did not learn from it you wasted it."
Me, 2015

thundril
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Re: Life after death?

#9 Post by thundril » July 23rd, 2012, 12:34 pm

The real question is 'Where does the body go when the soul dies?'
Into the financial services sector, I believe!

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Alan H
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Re: Life after death?

#10 Post by Alan H » July 23rd, 2012, 12:42 pm

:pointlaugh:
Alan Henness

There are three fundamental questions for anyone advocating Brexit:

1. What, precisely, are the significant and tangible benefits of leaving the EU?
2. What damage to the UK and its citizens is an acceptable price to pay for those benefits?
3. Which ruling of the ECJ is most persuasive of the need to leave its jurisdiction?

Nick
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Re: Life after death?

#11 Post by Nick » July 23rd, 2012, 1:15 pm

nimzo256 wrote:I've just realised that I've phrased my original question a bit carelessly. What I meant to ask is whether a belief in the POSSIBILTY of life after death is incompatible with being a humanist.
Hi Nimzo :D and welcome to the forum!

I would respond to your question in the same way as Dawkins does about the existence of God. As a believer in the scientific method, one should never (or almost never?) say that something is absolutely so, but I, for one, would place myself as near to saying that there is absolutely no possibility of life ater death in any meaningful sense as is compatible with the scientific method.

The reason? Lack of evidence or scientific logic.

This does imply that our atoms cannot be reused by other lives, so in that sense there is life after death, but a different life, not a continuation of life.

As for a humanist believing in life after death, that would be strange. But if it did not affect his or her outlook on (say) morals, or science, then it wouldn't really matter. Any more than such a water-tight definition of humanism really matters. It would be akin to an agnostic atheist position. If, while accepting the lack of evidence, one still believed in it, and it affected one's life-view, then I think that would be incompatible with being defined as a humanist.

stevenw888
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Re: Life after death?

#12 Post by stevenw888 » July 23rd, 2012, 1:55 pm

Life after death? No thanks! One life is enough for me, thank you.

If, by any stretch of the imagination, life did continue after death, where would it continue? In space? At the bottom of the ocean? In my sock drawer?
"There are old pilots and there are bold pilots, but there are no old, bold pilots." - From the film "Top Gun"

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Emma Woolgatherer
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Re: Life after death?

#13 Post by Emma Woolgatherer » July 23rd, 2012, 1:59 pm

(Nice one, thundril.)

Welcome, Nimzo.

No, I don't think believing in the possibility of life after death is incompatible with humanism.

Some people believe that one day we'll be able to upload (or is it download) our consciousnesses onto computers (see Wikipedia on "mind uploading"). I can't get my head round the idea myself, but I don't know enough about these things to be able to state that it's impossible. Nor do I know whether the opposite might ever be possible: downloading (or is it uploading?) consciousnesses from computers onto living brains.

I don't think I'm going to live long enough to find out, either. But who knows? :D

Emma

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animist
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Re: Life after death?

#14 Post by animist » July 23rd, 2012, 2:26 pm

Emma Woolgatherer wrote:(Nice one, thundril.)

Welcome, Nimzo.

No, I don't think believing in the possibility of life after death is incompatible with humanism.

Some people believe that one day we'll be able to upload (or is it download) our consciousnesses onto computers (see Wikipedia on "mind uploading"). I can't get my head round the idea myself, but I don't know enough about these things to be able to state that it's impossible. Nor do I know whether the opposite might ever be possible: downloading (or is it uploading?) consciousnesses from computers onto living brains.

I don't think I'm going to live long enough to find out, either. But who knows? :D
Emma
but this is not life after death is it? Interesting idea though - what counts as life? Can one be conscious while dead? etc etc. Also, I suppose cloning could be seen as allowing a sort of continued life after death of the original organism

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Emma Woolgatherer
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Re: Life after death?

#15 Post by Emma Woolgatherer » July 23rd, 2012, 2:53 pm

animist wrote:but this is not life after death is it?
Isn't it? Why not?

This is from Wikipedia: "In philosophy, religion, mythology, and fiction, the afterlife (also referred to as life after death, the Hereafter, the Next World, or the Other Side) is the concept of a realm, or the realm itself (whether physical or transcendental), in which an essential part of an individual's identity or consciousness continues to reside after the death of the body in the individual's lifetime. According to various ideas of the afterlife, the essential aspect of the individual that lives on after death may be some partial element, or the entire soul, of an individual, which carries with it and confers personal identity. Belief in an afterlife, which may be naturalistic or supernatural, is in contrast to the belief in eternal oblivion after death." (my bold)

Nick
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Re: Life after death?

#16 Post by Nick » July 23rd, 2012, 3:03 pm

It's Life, Jim, but not as we know it..... :D

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animist
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Re: Life after death?

#17 Post by animist » July 23rd, 2012, 3:47 pm

Emma Woolgatherer wrote:
animist wrote:but this is not life after death is it?
Isn't it? Why not?

This is from Wikipedia: "In philosophy, religion, mythology, and fiction, the afterlife (also referred to as life after death, the Hereafter, the Next World, or the Other Side) is the concept of a realm, or the realm itself (whether physical or transcendental), in which an essential part of an individual's identity or consciousness continues to reside after the death of the body in the individual's lifetime. According to various ideas of the afterlife, the essential aspect of the individual that lives on after death may be some partial element, or the entire soul, of an individual, which carries with it and confers personal identity. Belief in an afterlife, which may be naturalistic or supernatural, is in contrast to the belief in eternal oblivion after death." (my bold)
true - I was focusing on the word "life", which implies "living", which implies biological functions. But of course, the supernatural afterlife does not have to involve a biological body (at least I don't think so - though the Xians believe in the "resurrection of the body"), so why should some inorganic support system to the thinking processes be excluded in principle?

But I see that the mind uploading article mentions philosophical controversy about the idea, and I know that one of these issues is whether this is truly "moving" the personality/mind or rather making a copy of it. Cloning, which I mentioned earlier, would probably run into the same questions. And I can't really imagine how, even if this emulation could be done, what "life" would be like - no body means no sensations? I suppose there would be artificial organs to provide these, but then this would be taking the "original" personality ever further away from the original.

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Dave B
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Re: Life after death?

#18 Post by Dave B » July 23rd, 2012, 4:10 pm

I suppose, as in some sci-fi novels, if the uploaded personality had all the memories of the individual and was indistinguishable from him or her as a "Turing machine" in conversation then that personality could be said to have been perpetuated. But that is a purely artificial existence surely, unless (horror of horrors) they find a way to download it to a new, young body!

Still, as in "The Ship Who Sang" (Anne MacCaffrey, Brain and Brawn series) and other stories in that series, living as a disembodied mind in some form of vehicle could be made interesting (though the "Brains" these stories were actual brains of children who's bodies would not have survived but how would one tell?) I would opt for that, were it possible, when my corpus becomes untenable.
"Look forward; yesterday was a lesson, if you did not learn from it you wasted it."
Me, 2015

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Tetenterre
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Re: Life after death?

#19 Post by Tetenterre » July 23rd, 2012, 4:46 pm

I have long taken the view that the fact that we have no evidence of life after death is sufficient that the question is not something I'm going to waste a lot of time concerning myself with. I just want to do what I think is right while I have this life; if there is nothing beyond it, then (by definition) I can't be disappointed and, in the (to my mind) highly unlikely chance that there is, I'll deal with it when the time comes.
Steve

Quantum Theory: The branch of science with which people who know absolutely sod all about quantum theory can explain anything.

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Emma Woolgatherer
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Re: Life after death?

#20 Post by Emma Woolgatherer » July 23rd, 2012, 6:34 pm

But I see that the mind uploading article mentions philosophical controversy about the idea, and I know that one of these issues is whether this is truly "moving" the personality/mind or rather making a copy of it. Cloning, which I mentioned earlier, would probably run into the same questions.
The way I see it, the key thing would be whether there's a continuing sense of self. And I'd have thought that if one really could copy (and I think you're right about that: it would be copying) someone's consciousness, whether they're about to die or not, and then install it (for want of a better word) in a brain of some kind housed in a body of some kind, in a way that made that body a "person", able to think, feel, perceive, judge, reason, remember, form new memories, etc., etc., and that "person" believed him- or herself to be a continuation of the previous self, despite the change in body (which is perfectly plausible: I believe myself to be a continuation of the self that existed in a body very different from the one I have now), then that would seem to be a kind of afterlife. What makes it particularly scary, though, is the thought that there might be several copies of the same consciousness, in different bodies, all going around thinking, "I'm Jo Jenkins." (Including, perhaps, the original, if he/she didn't actually die.) But of course they wouldn't be the same after that point of installation. From then on, they'd have different experiences. I think the clones issue is different, because all they'd have in common with the original is genetics. All their experiences would be different. I think the sense of self is key, and that depends on things like memories.
animist wrote:And I can't really imagine how, even if this emulation could be done, what "life" would be like - no body means no sensations? I suppose there would be artificial organs to provide these, but then this would be taking the "original" personality ever further away from the original.
I had assumed that there would be a body, human or synthetic human or robot or cyborg or whatever. I'm not sure that it matters which, as long as the host body experiences that continuing sense of self.

But hey, I was only toying with the idea, for the purposes of answering Altfish's question. This is all new to me. And it seems to be more the stuff of transhumanism than humanism.

Emma

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