Here's what happens when you die...

Sand Bar Bill

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#1
... the chemical and electrical bonds in your head dissolve away. And that is it.

An eternal life would be horrific. When believers talk about an eternal afterlife, they're thinking in terms of another collection of decades. They're not thinking in terms of numbers with exponents of exponents of exponents. (And even after all that time, it's still just beginning.).
 

Brian W

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#2
When believers talk about an eternal afterlife, they're thinking in terms of another collection of decades.
I don't believe in an eternal soul nor in an omnipotant God, but what the afterlife is like is not understood to be more of the same, at least not by anyone that thinks seriously about the subject. Many different beliefs tout many different versions. And then you have religions such as Buddhism for which a re-birth is a bad thing, somewhat for the reasons you state (and then there are traditions within that religion in which re-birth is necessary for a Bodhisattva, a sacrifice of oneself for the benefit of others).
 

Sparafucil3

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#3
An eternal life would be horrific.
I don't know. I would like to try and find out. The universe is a big place. There are lots of things I have never seen and done. If the universe truly is infinite, it would take an infinite life to see it all. :) -- jim
 

mfl

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#4
I fail to see the value or joy one would take in challenging people’s view of an afterlife. For many this is important to their core. What is your purpose in this bill?
Mike.
 

Paul M. Weir

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#5
I fail to see the value or joy one would take in challenging people’s view of an afterlife. For many this is important to their core. What is your purpose in this bill?
Mike.
Maybe it might get some to appreciate the actual life they have and the people they interact with, IE not to waste it while waiting for something that we have no evidence of.

Fear of death, at least in animals sufficiently complex to have some sort of a nervous system, is an evolutionary advantage.

Religion is an offshoot of our complex mind, an early attempt to categorise the world around us. Being able to discern patterns and connections serves animals well in finding food, mates and avoiding being eaten. In early human's environment the threats were very strong and it was more prudent to assume potential threats from strange noises, etc otherwise "munch". So while we now recognise that there are conscious (lion) and unconscious (volcano) threats, treating every potential threat as a conscious one was a safe course of action. Then there is our curiosity, a definite evolutionary advantage in discovering and utilising new resources, which prompted questions of "How and Why?". Once we were sufficiently self aware then assuming a conscious agent in even the acts of nature would have been an extension of our sense of self control. Hence volcano gods, earth mothers and storm gods. Our ability to discern patterns and connections and to categorise would eventually whittle down the number of deities "We don't need thousands of gods, just one all powerful one.". Of course our increasing knowledge of the way the universe works removes the need for a "mover god" to explain things.

As human society became more complex, so did it's belief systems. Humans specialised their activities from generalised hunter gatherer to a multitude of tasks; potterer, metal worker, farmer, speaker-to-gods, etc. Naturally as more complex relationships allowed large urban systems to survive and prosper, more deities were added and while throwing a dead rabbit down a smoking hole was good enough for the gods in hunter gatherer times, nothing but the sacrifice of the first born males would do in our new civilised city, we know better now. Combine that with the increased categorisation of phenomena meant a tendency to monolatry (eg early judaism) and later monotheism. Where before if you visited another city you gave reverence to the local gods, now that became forbidden and you had competition between religions. Until the early Iron Age you had plenty of wars, including wars of extermination, but while the gods might be invoked to aid one side (eg from Homer), you really didn't have wars over religion or a particular deity. The early primitive monolatry/monotheism of the bible is the first writing about religion as the primary driving ideology behind conquest. Which brings us up to date in Syria.

The ideas became more complex, both from human's tendency to over explain things and to compete with rival religions. "We offer you Eternal Life and Virgin Birth, both for the low, low price of two turtle doves and an ounce of incense, send your cuneiform to the big building over there!" There always has been some political power element in religion and the complex religions have evolved specialised clergy whose beaks have to be wetted. A literal protection racket against the non-existent.

We must understand ourselves as human type animals and the roots of our ways of thinking. What we call morality is constantly evolving. We, officially at least, no longer condone slavery, child sacrifice or the burning of "witches" or heretics, things once mandated. We must be prepared to discard even the most cherished beliefs when those beliefs do not correspond to observed reality. Maybe when we accept who we are and what is real, we can be better able to build a better world for us. We are here is this world, let us work on that now rather than putting it off for something for which there is no evidence. That way, at least we can be sure to benefit/improve something.

I don't think too much about an afterlife. I don't believe there is one, but whether I believe or not won't affect the existence or not of same. If there is one then I'll deal with it then. My morality has nothing to do with religion. I'm not keen on the idea of a celestial North Korea where if you don't give the proper obeisance and ritual to the Dear Leader you are consigned to the labour camp of fire, such a deity is unworthy of reverence, a mere reflection of our worst human attributes.
 

Dave68124

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#6
Ah, the "I am morally superior to you religious fools" argument. Love the hypocrisy from Liberal's.

"I hate discrimination except when I discriminate against those of religion." No different than your most backwards redneck from the Deep South as they justify their discrimination with arguments of superiority too.
 

Paul M. Weir

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#7
Ah, the "I am morally superior to you religious fools" argument. Love the hypocrisy from Liberal's.
As I said, morality is an ever changing landscape. I would merely claim to have a more rational approach to morality, which may or may not turn out to be better in the long term, depending upon the subject.
"I hate discrimination except when I discriminate against those of religion." No different than your most backwards redneck from the Deep South as they justify their discrimination with arguments of superiority too.
As long as religion and its effects confines itself to the religious individual's life, then I have have no dispute. When it intrudes into public or my life then I might have a problem, not always though. When an atheist baker refuses to bake a wedding cake for a catholic or jewish wedding, then you might have a point, but to date it's only a "christian" objecting to a cake for a gay wedding.
 

mfl

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#8
Maybe it might get some to appreciate the actual life they have and the people they interact with, IE not to waste it while waiting for something that we have no evidence of.

Fear of death, at least in animals sufficiently complex to have some sort of a nervous system, is an evolutionary advantage.

Religion is an offshoot of our complex mind, an early attempt to categorise the world around us. Being able to discern patterns and connections serves animals well in finding food, mates and avoiding being eaten. In early human's environment the threats were very strong and it was more prudent to assume potential threats from strange noises, etc otherwise "munch". So while we now recognise that there are conscious (lion) and unconscious (volcano) threats, treating every potential threat as a conscious one was a safe course of action. Then there is our curiosity, a definite evolutionary advantage in discovering and utilising new resources, which prompted questions of "How and Why?". Once we were sufficiently self aware then assuming a conscious agent in even the acts of nature would have been an extension of our sense of self control. Hence volcano gods, earth mothers and storm gods. Our ability to discern patterns and connections and to categorise would eventually whittle down the number of deities "We don't need thousands of gods, just one all powerful one.". Of course our increasing knowledge of the way the universe works removes the need for a "mover god" to explain things.

As human society became more complex, so did it's belief systems. Humans specialised their activities from generalised hunter gatherer to a multitude of tasks; potterer, metal worker, farmer, speaker-to-gods, etc. Naturally as more complex relationships allowed large urban systems to survive and prosper, more deities were added and while throwing a dead rabbit down a smoking hole was good enough for the gods in hunter gatherer times, nothing but the sacrifice of the first born males would do in our new civilised city, we know better now. Combine that with the increased categorisation of phenomena meant a tendency to monolatry (eg early judaism) and later monotheism. Where before if you visited another city you gave reverence to the local gods, now that became forbidden and you had competition between religions. Until the early Iron Age you had plenty of wars, including wars of extermination, but while the gods might be invoked to aid one side (eg from Homer), you really didn't have wars over religion or a particular deity. The early primitive monolatry/monotheism of the bible is the first writing about religion as the primary driving ideology behind conquest. Which brings us up to date in Syria.

The ideas became more complex, both from human's tendency to over explain things and to compete with rival religions. "We offer you Eternal Life and Virgin Birth, both for the low, low price of two turtle doves and an ounce of incense, send your cuneiform to the big building over there!" There always has been some political power element in religion and the complex religions have evolved specialised clergy whose beaks have to be wetted. A literal protection racket against the non-existent.

We must understand ourselves as human type animals and the roots of our ways of thinking. What we call morality is constantly evolving. We, officially at least, no longer condone slavery, child sacrifice or the burning of "witches" or heretics, things once mandated. We must be prepared to discard even the most cherished beliefs when those beliefs do not correspond to observed reality. Maybe when we accept who we are and what is real, we can be better able to build a better world for us. We are here is this world, let us work on that now rather than putting it off for something for which there is no evidence. That way, at least we can be sure to benefit/improve something.

I don't think too much about an afterlife. I don't believe there is one, but whether I believe or not won't affect the existence or not of same. If there is one then I'll deal with it then. My morality has nothing to do with religion. I'm not keen on the idea of a celestial North Korea where if you don't give the proper obeisance and ritual to the Dear Leader you are consigned to the labour camp of fire, such a deity is unworthy of reverence, a mere reflection of our worst human attributes.
Paul
Point taken....plenty of reasons are present to dismiss religion as a human need some don’t need or need less. That is fine for some I suppose. However, I if someone feels they have the need or find comfort in an afterlife why attack it. Let it be, it seems that belief on its surface does nothing against another. When it climbs into the state imposing or taking certain exceptions I can see why people take issue. It is forcing a Belief on another. (You I think living in Ireland perhaps have had plenty of that).
Where I question is the need to seemingly without purpose indirectly demeaning another’s (need+belief+crutch, comes it what you will that an afterlife may provide some). If it provides comfort or direction, (without much harm) why go out of the way to confront anothers need. If you look at atheism as separate belief rather than a negation of others beliefs I can see more the reasoning for statements, but even here why go out of ones way to challenge an afterlife which many find comfort in. It seems slightly malicious, and unnecessarily confrontational.
I’m just not understanding the value in doing such. I am just a bit puzzled on the purpose.
Mike
 

Sparafucil3

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#9
Maybe it might get some to appreciate the actual life they have and the people they interact with, IE not to waste it while waiting for something that we have no evidence of.
If it helps, you could think of it as an hypothesis for which we haven't developed an instrument or methodology to test for accuracy. -- jim
 

Paul M. Weir

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#11
Mike,

I've seen too much terror experienced by some of the believers and subsequent waste of their lives. I've no problem with the "try and do some good" type of approach of many, but others get sucked up with the arcane minutiae of theology that it paralyses them and often makes life misery for those around them. That is all apart from the "Kill the Infidel!" types.

There is then the question of mutual support or care for others. I would be remiss if I did not warn someone of broken glass or spilt oil. Religion has caused and still can cause great misery and slaughter, it is not a benign phenomenon, history is witness to that. So I feel a sense of duty to warn others. I suspect that you might warn another about a particularly fraudulent televangelist, regardless of denomination.

The methods I use are similar to what many religious use, IE conversations. On the other hand I don't use threats of or actual violence to "persuade" nor threaten them with eternal punishment.

As for comfort, I have accepted that I will die and my consciousness will cease to exist. I will feel neither happiness nor pain, no coffee kick in the morning nor dodgy back. The core animal part of my brain recoils from that, for good evolutionary reason, but the rational part no longer does. The only real part of death that I fear is what will become of my cats? That does not mean that I will not take reasonable steps to avoid death, it's the only life I will have, such a waste otherwise. So if personal extinction does not terrorise and dominate me, why can't others loose that fear? Oh dear, I'm sounding almost buddhist.

As I view religion as both early but obsolete attempt at science and a protection racket, why would I keep my mouth shut? It would be my duty to report if "Three Fingers Vinnie" was running such a racket, so why not if "Papa Frankie" is doing similar? Capiche? Then there are the resources and time that could be better spent on provable benefits to humanity.

If it helps, you could think of it as an hypothesis for which we haven't developed an instrument or methodology to test for accuracy. -- jim
A form of "Absence of Evidence is not Evidence of Absence". I agree, but until we see evidence then we should not act as if something exists. Question, explore, theorise, all fine, we should do that in all matters anyway, but act on something that we don't know exists, that is another matter, the world has enough problems without inventing more. If I hear eerie sounds from under the floorboards, then I will call the exterminator, not the exorcist, boring practical person that I am. The old "God of the Gaps" is finding that the gaps are rapidly narrowing and he/she is in risk of trapping his/her nuts/tits in one.

We are animals that evolved in an environment somewhere between the cosmic and the Planck scale. As a result we can only indirectly experience so much of what reality is. So much, like quantum theory or relativity, seems nonsensical to us, yet just simply is. Let us explore that.
All I know is I'd rather believe in god and find out I'm wrong then not believe and find out I'm wrong.
If there is no god then you will never find out. Deal with what is before you. Look after those around you. If your god is not satisfied with your best and honest efforts and cares only for its own ego, then it's a god not worth worshipping.
 

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#12
Glad you live in that ivory tower in which to place your judgement upon others. Sounds a little like the argument you are making against those whom you judge. Flip side of the same coin.

"Kill all infidels"

"As I view religion as both early but obsolete attempt at science and a protection racket, why would I keep my mouth shut? It would be my duty to report if "Three Fingers Vinnie" was running such a racket, so why not if "Papa Frankie" is doing similar? Capiche? Then there are the resources and time that could be better spent on provable benefits to humanity."

Sounds like the same message to me just coming from a different street corner.
 

mfl

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#13
Mike,

I've seen too much terror experienced by some of the believers and subsequent waste of their lives. I've no problem with the "try and do some good" type of approach of many, but others get sucked up with the arcane minutiae of theology that it paralyses them and often makes life misery for those around them. That is all apart from the "Kill the Infidel!" types.

There is then the question of mutual support or care for others. I would be remiss if I did not warn someone of broken glass or spilt oil. Religion has caused and still can cause great misery and slaughter, it is not a benign phenomenon, history is witness to that. So I feel a sense of duty to warn others. I suspect that you might warn another about a particularly fraudulent televangelist, regardless of denomination.

The methods I use are similar to what many religious use, IE conversations. On the other hand I don't use threats of or actual violence to "persuade" nor threaten them with eternal punishment.

As for comfort, I have accepted that I will die and my consciousness will cease to exist. I will feel neither happiness nor pain, no coffee kick in the morning nor dodgy back. The core animal part of my brain recoils from that, for good evolutionary reason, but the rational part no longer does. The only real part of death that I fear is what will become of my cats? That does not mean that I will not take reasonable steps to avoid death, it's the only life I will have, such a waste otherwise. So if personal extinction does not terrorise and dominate me, why can't others loose that fear? Oh dear, I'm sounding almost buddhist.

As I view religion as both early but obsolete attempt at science and a protection racket, why would I keep my mouth shut? It would be my duty to report if "Three Fingers Vinnie" was running such a racket, so why not if "Papa Frankie" is doing similar? Capiche? Then there are the resources and time that could be better spent on provable benefits to humanity.
.
Paul
If bills point is similar to warning of broken glass I can accept that as having value. Out of the blue, without explanation I wouldn’t see it that way. I doubt that type of without explanation will win converts, however.
I listen to all types. I’ve invited Mormons in for conversation, been to a mosque, attend a Catholic Church—I don’t get people who hate other religious tribes just because they differ on a particular interpretation, If people choose atheism it is their choice. (They may very well lives better life than I) , and freely accept that many circumstances create many realities for people.
On religion itself,that may be separate from a Devine being. I do wonder if rejection of religion for those who do it just to reject leaves on rudderless just to follow the currents.
I do question if religion (even with rejection) defines what is “good”. Or do we make religion to push an inter thought of what is good? I suspect I know your answer but would be curious?
Within what we define as good, certainly can have mixed results depending on perspective. Having studied history I clearly can see plenty of times religion has many ills it helped forward. Can you also see plenty of times belief helps the individual or others?
Mike
 

Sparafucil3

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#14
I agree, but until we see evidence then we should not act as if something exists.
I would argue you should act as if the possibility exists, rather than just be dismissive of the possibility. If the universe is infinite, the chance of just about anything approaches 1:1. How do you know those parts of Quantum Mechanics we can't explain isn't where God lives? -- jim

EDIT to add: I have said before, as long as there are things beyond the ken of man, there is room for God, but the room gets smaller every day. These days, I am beginning to understand the more answers we find, the more questions we create. I am not sure the room is really smaller anymore. One reason I think and infinite lifespan would be awesome. Infinite time to ponder and explore questions such as this.
 

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#15
All I know is I'd rather believe in god and find out I'm wrong then not believe and find out I'm wrong.
Agreed.

It's a 50/50 proposition in my books.

It would be a disappointment to be wrong in the first instance but I can't fathom how one would feel (if that is the correct phrase when you are dead) if you are wrong in the second.

I'm OK giving up sleeping in and eating smashed avvo's at 10am on a Sunday morning for waking up early and going to church at 8am and praying with my family and friends.

Giving up one now might just have a great reward later.

But, who knows.

Tread your own path.
 

Dave68124

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#17
Agreed.

It's a 50/50 proposition in my books.

It would be a disappointment to be wrong in the first instance but I can't fathom how one would feel (if that is the correct phrase when you are dead) if you are wrong in the second.

I'm OK giving up sleeping in and eating smashed avvo's at 10am on a Sunday morning for waking up early and going to church at 8am and praying with my family and friends.

Giving up one now might just have a great reward later.

But, who knows.

Tread your own path.
Amen on the last sentence....Tread your own path.
 

Paul M. Weir

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#18
Mike,

I can't speak for Bill, only myself, there are too many possible reasons for opening the question. Maybe he got frustrated with some religious right person on the TV, maybe it's a subject that came up recently in his life. I responded as I thought it a worthy subject of discussion. I care less about why a subject was broached than whether it is important and whether I might contribute something useful to that discussion.

I was raised in a catholic environment and have had a few mormon visitors to my home. The latter I have fed and watered and had, for me, useful discussions with. Now the mormons did not change my mind but did require me to re-examine my (non-)beliefs. I've always felt continuous rechecking and questioning is a healthy thing and the best path to truth. Oh, I do somewhat get the mindset of the fanatic, it's not like a taste or political preference, it's the WILL OF GOD, which supersedes all human morality, killing, theft, rape, it's divine command.

I strongly doubt that atheism is ever chosen. Most people remain in the denomination that they were reared in. Some convert to another religion because the newer theory seems more plausible. Agnostics and atheists become so because their original theory seems so full of holes that they simply cannot support such beliefs and the competing religions are no better. Their irreligion becomes inescapable. We must distinguish rejection of established religions, rules and rituals from rejection of religion, there are many who will partake in no recognised religion that are also religious or spiritual. I technically am agnostic as I know I don't know, but in practical terms I am atheist.

Rejection of some of the annoying trappings of religion are often the first step of rejection of religion, but rarely is a thing in itself. It merely is the first questioning of the basis of a religion. Once you find the first hole, you start to see the other holes, simply because you now are looking more closely. At least that was my path. As for rudderless, again only speaking for myself, in retrospect I don't think so. The fact that I was sailing against the prevailing current and at times found a bit difficult, meant that I was positively steering myself.

At that time I did not have to rebuild my morality as most of the precepts of my morality were in agreement with society's (don't kill, rape or steal). What I did have to do was examine the reasons or basis for that morality. That became, not divine commandment, but the realisation that we are a very social and cooperative animal and to forward the human race we needed to have agreed behaviours. No absolute morality but an implicit compact of mutually sensible and beneficial rules. The "Do onto others ..." bit of my catholic upbringing did stick and seems a good, desirable and practical philosophy. Fighting continuously and bitterly with my neighbours is not likely to ensure my survival or finding a mate. Morality boils down to practical compromises, don't try to kill me and I won't try to kill you, etc.

Paul.
 
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Paul M. Weir

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#19
All I know is I'd rather believe in god and find out I'm wrong then not believe and find out I'm wrong.
That's not faith, that's insurance. -- jim
That then brings up the question of whether a moral divinity would prefer an honest atheist or a mere insurance buyer. And then whether a divinity would be moral, amoral or immoral.
I would argue you should act as if the possibility exists, rather than just be dismissive of the possibility. If the universe is infinite, the chance of just about anything approaches 1:1. How do you know those parts of Quantum Mechanics we can't explain isn't where God lives? -- jim
A logical fault, an infinite universe must also have infinite quantum states, so the probability of anything particular happening is more likely to approach 0 in the limit, you just have an infinite number of improbable things, but still not cover even the tiniest fraction of the possible states. An expanding universe make the trend to 0 even more acute. What's D³/T as D,T->∞ (IE ∞³/∞, distance³/time): it's limit is 0.
A boundless but spatially finite static universe with infinite time could produce all states an infinite number of times, though a continuously expanding but still spatially finite universe throws a monkey wrench into that.

That we are a result of some other universe's student physics experiment is just as plausible as a divinity creation theory. Yet we are unlikely to observe the originating universe and until the teacher puts us in the kill jar, there is nothing any of us can do or be affected by that experiment. I am an extremely curious but practical person. What is sufficiently beyond current human knowledge, has no apparent effect on me and over which I have absolutely no control, does not concern me. As knowledge expands, somethings may, but until then ...

As for quantum mechanics being god, well, quantum mechanics has no consciousness, consciousness, like, say, chemistry, is an emergent phenomenon of the macro world. An unconscious god is not much of a god, definitely no point in praying to, it can't hear. Actually the real problem with equating quantum mechanics or any other similar idea with divinity is that quantum mechanics are a description of reality, an attribute of something, not something. Like red might be the colour of a car, but it's not a car.
EDIT to add: I have said before, as long as there are things beyond the ken of man, there is room for God, but the room gets smaller every day. These days, I am beginning to understand the more answers we find, the more questions we create. I am not sure the room is really smaller anymore. One reason I think and infinite lifespan would be awesome. Infinite time to ponder and explore questions such as this.
It's not that the room is smaller or bigger, it's just that a bit more of it is illuminated (and a god possibly has less room to hide). My view is that though we are realising that the details of the universe may be impossible to fully tie down, the number of underlying principles are shrinking (eg the unification of magnetic, electrical and weak forces in electroweak theory). We have no reason to believe the fundamental principles governing the universe are multiplying or are infinite, whatever about knowing the states of every particle, so we are seeing a greater fraction of all there is.

As for an infinite lifespan, I suspect that a still finite person would eventually saturate and become bored. I honestly don't know how I would react to being effectively a god.
EDIT: Maybe something like "Oh crap! Ok, I was wrong about this. Now what do I do? What should I do? What do I want to do? I'd better get used to this!", roughly in that order. While the prospect of eternal life might be quite ... unsettling, if any entity could adopt to that, then I suppose I could also adopt. It's not something I could control anyway, so go with the divinity flow or go mad.

Anyway I'm starting to stray into silly territory.
 
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