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.