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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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Dave B
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Joined: May 17th, 2010, 9:15 pm

Re: Life after death?

#41 Post by Dave B » July 31st, 2012, 11:43 am

Latest post of the previous page:

My mistake on her querying you then :redface:

But I would be interested in your ideas on who - or what - qualifies for the possibility of life after death and what qualifications they require; sentience, intelligence, intellect or what? Is it a case that you have to be able to "embrace" the idea philosophically or is it a right to all? Does your concept contain answers to these questions?
"Look forward; yesterday was a lesson, if you did not learn from it you wasted it."
Me, 2015

nimzo256
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Joined: July 22nd, 2012, 12:09 pm

Re: Life after death?

#42 Post by nimzo256 » July 31st, 2012, 12:01 pm

Dave B wrote:
I seem to remember this aspect of the argument from elsewhere, in another forum maybe. Is your concept of life after death only available to humans or to all sentient creatures? What is the "basic specification" of the nature of the mind required to achieve this in your model? Is it required that the mind has to be able to conceive of such a state as life after death to achieve it? Is it something totally independent of the physical body, including the grey matter? Does it happen whether we believe or not? And all those questions that, I presume, are unanswerable! And if such questions are unanswerable on what can you base your argument - a feeling? Faith? A wish?
None of those. My argument is based on a POSSIBILITY which we are nowhere near being able to discount. I'm not saying it's necessarily probable - nobody has any means of knowing at today's levels of thought and understanding. Your questions are indeed presently unanswerable but that doesn't mean we should discount the idea - especially when many religions use it as one of their key selling points. If humanists want to turn people away from organised religion and towards their own beliefs then why not offer them the possibility of something many would want, as long as it doesn't intellectually or morally compromise the humanist position. And I'm arguing that belief in the possibility of life after death shouldn't be incompatible with humanism - it should involve no sell out as far as the humanist is concerned.

nimzo256
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Joined: July 22nd, 2012, 12:09 pm

Re: Life after death?

#43 Post by nimzo256 » July 31st, 2012, 1:00 pm

Dave B wrote:My mistake on her querying you then :redface:

But I would be interested in your ideas on who - or what - qualifies for the possibility of life after death and what qualifications they require; sentience, intelligence, intellect or what? Is it a case that you have to be able to "embrace" the idea philosophically or is it a right to all? Does your concept contain answers to these questions?
Again Dave, your questions are unanswerable at present levels of thinking and knowledge. I tried to show in an earlier posts just how limited these currently are. We have only just began to scratch the surface in terms of science. And as for trying to explain existence (for example), we end up doing nothing more than showing how inadequate our current modes of thinking are. They just lead us to the paradoxical conclusion that it's impossible for us and everything around us to exist! Yet exist we do.

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Dave B
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Re: Life after death?

#44 Post by Dave B » July 31st, 2012, 2:24 pm

My argument is based on a POSSIBILITY which we are nowhere near being able to discount.
But surely that is a bit like denying, or otherwise, the existence of any of the gods - we cannot prove they do not exist thus we have the choice of believing in them or not - it can only be an abstract matter of belief.

There is no more proof that I can see of the possibility of life after death then there is for the existence of any supernatural entity. As one who has had a sort of near death experience (after a heart attack that should have been fatal) I can only say that there was no indication of anything above or beyond for me. But then, being of a technical bent, I was more interested in the treatment procedures than anything else when I had the energy to even notice my environment!
"Look forward; yesterday was a lesson, if you did not learn from it you wasted it."
Me, 2015

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animist
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Re: Life after death?

#45 Post by animist » July 31st, 2012, 2:56 pm

Dave B wrote:
My argument is based on a POSSIBILITY which we are nowhere near being able to discount.
But surely that is a bit like denying, or otherwise, the existence of any of the gods - we cannot prove they do not exist thus we have the choice of believing in them or not - it can only be an abstract matter of belief.

There is no more proof that I can see of the possibility of life after death then there is for the existence of any supernatural entity. As one who has had a sort of near death experience (after a heart attack that should have been fatal) I can only say that there was no indication of anything above or beyond for me. But then, being of a technical bent, I was more interested in the treatment procedures than anything else when I had the energy to even notice my environment!
hang on, you seem to be going back to talking about supernatural life after death. I think Nimzo has been patiently trying to talk about naturalistic possibilities, of the type Emma and I have mentioned, of some sort of artificial existence after what we now call death

nimzo256
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Re: Life after death?

#46 Post by nimzo256 » July 31st, 2012, 3:18 pm

Dave B wrote:
My argument is based on a POSSIBILITY which we are nowhere near being able to discount.
But surely that is a bit like denying, or otherwise, the existence of any of the gods - we cannot prove they do not exist thus we have the choice of believing in them or not - it can only be an abstract matter of belief.

There is no more proof that I can see of the possibility of life after death then there is for the existence of any supernatural entity. As one who has had a sort of near death experience (after a heart attack that should have been fatal) I can only say that there was no indication of anything above or beyond for me. But then, being of a technical bent, I was more interested in the treatment procedures than anything else when I had the energy to even notice my environment!
First of all Dave, I'm glad you survived. For thing we possibly :wink: wouldn't be having this conversation if you hadn't!

You've raised a good point in asking what the difference between believing in the possibility of god(s) and the possibility of life after death. And you're right that it isn't possible to totally disprove god. However I think it's possible to demonstrate there almost certainly is no god by asking the question of how god came to exist. Well again we have two possible explanations at our current level of thinking. Either God spontaneously arose from nothing, or (as Christians believe) God is eternal - i.e. always has existed/didn't need an origin.
Well there is no such thing as something that can spontaneously arise from nothing (and I include the Big Bang and quantum fluctuations and am happy to say why - although that's a different conversation) as everything comes about from something that preceeded it. And nothing can be eternal as everything must have an origin. The bible breaks down at sentence number 1. "In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth." OK so God's already there. Care to explain how he came about? Didn't think so.

The only reason we can't totally dismiss the possibility of God is that (as I've said before) we don't currently know what the explanation for existence is, and given this there is a tiny possibilty of God. The explanation for existence, if and when we ever find it, would have to have to be a third explanation - and one we are currently unable to even conceive. We have no idea what that explanation would look like, and we almost certainly wouldn't be able to understand it were it put in front of us here at the beginning of the 21st century - just as someone living in Tudor times would have no mechanisms for understanding today's theoretical physics. Now it is just possible that that expanation might point to god, although it is impossible for us today to understand how given the existence argument above.

I know of no comparably successful line of argument that comes anywhere close to disproving the possibility of life after death as the existence argument comes to disproving the possibility of god(s).

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Emma Woolgatherer
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Re: Life after death?

#47 Post by Emma Woolgatherer » July 31st, 2012, 3:28 pm

nimzo256 wrote:The truth is that mind is quite a poorly understood area, and our current level of scientific understanding doesn’t allow us to be anything close to certain that our mind dies at the same time as the body. Intuitively it might seem to some that it should, but intuition isn’t always right.
Quite frankly, I'll be delighted if my mind dies at the same time as my body. My biggest fear is that it will die some time before then. But then I don't really think the mind I'll have when I die would be the same mind that I have right now, just as I don't think the mind I have right now is the mind I had when I was 18, let alone the one I had at birth. I do have a sense of continuity, which is dependent on my memories. But the mind, like the body, changes with age, and as a consequence of life events, diseases, physical injuries, the effects of drugs, stress, dietary changes, sleep levels. In some cases, the mind, like the body, can be irreversibly damaged. People can lose memories, lose the ability to create memories, lose the ability to recognise faces, or understand words, lose the ability to process data inputs from eyes, ears, etc., and much, much more. If I say that I'm pretty sure that it's impossible for the mind to survive the body (assuming we're talking about what happens right now, rather than in some science-fictiononal future), I'm basing that on observation and reason, not intuition. If the mind can be severely and irreversibly damaged by a head injury, or a stroke, or too much alcohol, or a urinary tract infection, then it strikes me as pretty reasonable to conclude that the death, decay and disintegration of the entire body is going to have an even bigger impact.
nimzo256 wrote:I’m not trying to say that this belief if adopted should lead humanists to lead their lives any differently than they do at the moment, but at the same time I don’t see why humanists should completely deny themselves the hope. It would be a hope with far more reason behind it than the hope of life after death that any theist might have.
But what exactly are you hoping for, nimzo? What sort of a life after death? Even if there is a chance of any degree of consciousness surviving the death of your body, why on earth should you suppose that it would be a kind of consciousness that you'd actually want. The more I think about it, the more I think that life after death, if it were possible, would probably be utter hell. I'd rather hope that I live to a relatively ripe old age, in at least moderately good health, retaining a substantial proportion of my marbles. And then die as quickly and painlessly as possible, with an end to all consciousness. That'll do nicely.

Emma

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Alan H
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Re: Life after death?

#48 Post by Alan H » August 2nd, 2012, 12:52 am

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?

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Dave B
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Re: Life after death?

#49 Post by Dave B » August 2nd, 2012, 10:11 am

Ambivalent about that. Part of me says that there are lots of more deserving uses 5 mega-bucks could be put to and another part wants them to find that no trace of the individual survives brain death.

Surely the only evidence can be anecdotal, which is hardly scientific. Will there be as many true sceptics interviewed as admitted religionistas I wonder? I would have thought any work involving ECGs etc. had been well documented by now. I can't remember any announcement that any kind of proven "ghost" or "soul" or whatever detector has been developed.
"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?

#50 Post by nimzo256 » August 4th, 2012, 8:24 am

Emma Woolgatherer wrote: But the mind, like the body, changes with age, and as a consequence of life events, diseases, physical injuries, the effects of drugs, stress, dietary changes, sleep levels. In some cases, the mind, like the body, can be irreversibly damaged. People can lose memories, lose the ability to create memories, lose the ability to recognise faces, or understand words, lose the ability to process data inputs from eyes, ears, etc., and much, much more. ... . But what exactly are you hoping for, nimzo? What sort of a life after death?
Emma
A good point Emma, and again I can only answer in terms of possibilities. Of course if my mind lived on after my physical death I would want it to be healthy.

I'm wondering if it could be the case that mind stays the same throughout life and it's the physical brain that decays through ageing or gets damaged by disease or accidents - and in the process make it more difficult for mind to perform at its potential (I'm starting to doubt if 'mind' is the right word for what it is I want to express here, but for obvious reasons I'm loathe to use the word 'spirit'!). Stephen Hawking might be some sort of example here. His physical brain has been affected by disease but his 'mind' is still brilliant. Even with cases such as people with Alzeimers, could it be that the 'mind' is still there just as healthy as at ever was, but now unable to function properly due to the decay of the physical brain it is contained within? I'd use by analogy a car with a perfectly functioning engine but which couldn't move properly due to four flat tyres.

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Dave B
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Re: Life after death?

#51 Post by Dave B » August 4th, 2012, 9:58 am

But surely, Nizmo, the physical brain is so complex and, to a large degree, compartmentalised that damage due to certain diseases, like motor neuron disease (which it seems Hawking is not suffering) affect only a specific area. Our genes are so complex that a small error can affect a very small area or a single function.

Even I am confused yet amazed by the difference between the physical brain and the mind - but I am also almost as amazed, at a lower level, by the physical computer system and the things that that hardware/software meld can do.

But, even accepting that amazement I still believe that the mind is a function of the physical brain, you cannot have one without the other. Damaging the physical brain may impair the mind, cause memory and physical problems - even destroy the personality, as in Alzheimer's. That alone seems to indicate that the mind is wholly dependent on the physical brain.

When the physical brain dies so does the personality.
"Look forward; yesterday was a lesson, if you did not learn from it you wasted it."
Me, 2015

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