An Afterlife?

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InquiringMind
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An Afterlife?

Post by InquiringMind » 26 Jul 2012, 20:20

I'm really struggling with whether or not to believe in an afterlife. Most people phrase the question as, "Do you believe in God?" But I really think they're asking, "Do you believe in an afterlife?"

I watched an excellent debate where Sam Harris and Christopher Hitchens debated two Jewish rabbis about whether or not there is an afterlife, and none of them could really say for sure; they could only present their tenuous evidence and their beliefs. And as Hitchens said during the debate, there could be God and no afterlife, or there could be an afterlife and no God.

The idea that human consciousness ends with the death of the brain is one of the most horrifying ideas I've ever entertained.

When I say afterlife, I'm not talking about a figurative afterlife, such as "we live on in the genes of our children" or "we live on in the legacy we leave." I'm talking about a literal afterlife where we retain our personality and go to a place where we can be reunited with our loved ones and can meet Mozart, Einstein, Shakespeare, and everyone else who has ever lived.

So I'd be interested to hear whether or not other people believe in an afterlife and why.

Curt Sunshine
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Re: An Afterlife?

Post by Curt Sunshine » 26 Jul 2012, 21:59

Yes, I do - because that's what I want to believe.

For me, it really is that simple. I have competing choices that can't be proven, so I choose the one that appeals to me the most.
I see through my glass, darkly - as I play my saxophone in harmony with the other instruments in God's orchestra. (h/t Elder Joseph Wirthlin)

Even if people view many things differently, the core Gospel principles (LOVE; belief in the unseen but hoped; self-reflective change; symbolic cleansing; striving to recognize the will of the divine; never giving up) are universal.

"For every complex problem there is an answer that is clear, simple, and wrong." H. L. Mencken

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Heber13
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Re: An Afterlife?

Post by Heber13 » 26 Jul 2012, 22:28

I believe in the afterlife. One day I'll learn I was right...or I won't know I'm wrong about it. ;)
InquiringMind wrote:none of them could really say for sure
yep.

I believe in the importance of this life, and of today.
Luke: "Why didn't you tell me? You told me Vader betrayed and murdered my father."
Obi-Wan: "Your father... was seduced by the dark side of the Force. He ceased to be Anakin Skywalker and became Darth Vader. When that happened, the good man who was your father was destroyed. So what I told you was true... from a certain point of view."
Luke: "A certain point of view?"
Obi-Wan: "Luke, you're going to find that many of the truths we cling to...depend greatly on our point of view."

rebeccad
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Re: An Afterlife?

Post by rebeccad » 27 Jul 2012, 03:15

For me, it really is that simple. I have competing choices that can't be proven, so I choose the one that appeals to me the most.
This is the exact reason that I believe the afterlife is a great university, and upon arriving I will be handed a course schedule. I have already chosen:

Guitar Basics taught by Jimi Hendrix
Communications 101 taught by Abraham Lincoln
Physics team taught by Issac Newton and Albert Einstein (although I have heard that Newton was a dreary lecturer)

No one can prove I'm wrong, I want to be right, so there you go.
"The very same people who are good sometimes are the very same people who are bad sometimes, it's funny but it's true" -Fred Rogers

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wayfarer
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Re: An Afterlife?

Post by wayfarer » 27 Jul 2012, 04:28

i would like to believe in an afterlife, and have done so through most of my life as LDS. at this point, i consider the afterlife an unknown but highly unlikely, and choose to live my life so that whether or not there is an afterlife, it won't matter upon arriving there. This means that if there is an afterlife, then my authenticity of leaving each moment and each day to the fullest here and now should be the best preparation for the afterlife.

an afterlife should be a thing provable. if someone were to be dead, truly, long enough for all brain functions to be physically destroyed, then come back to life, then we would have proof. jesus' resurrection, for example, witnessed by many, was documented by no direct witness, therefore falls a bit short of proof. obviously, there are also a lot of anecdotal witness accounts at spiritual visitors and the like, and the literature about NDEs. all these provide hope for an afterlife, but fall far short of evidence.

On the other hand, having studied brain and mind architecture, so much of what we consider the function of the spirit is implemented in physical wetware. and just like a program is lost when the hard disk crashes on a computer, the physical destruction of the brain means catastrophic loss of all programming and memory in the brain.

human memories and the consciousness module of the mind consists of a lot of data. there is no evidence whatsoever that there is a spiritual backup mechanism to transfer or recover all that data once the physical structures are damaged. perhaps there is a transfer mechanism yet to be discovered, but so far, no evidence exists, and significant contrary evidence exists showing that once critical physical brain structures have been systematically damaged, full recovery is not possible.

as well, there are profound logical problems with an infinite number of spirits living for an infinite amount of time. just this morning i was exploring with my DW what it would mean to have billions of spirit kiddies...she wasn't interested. :(

what I have concluded is that an afterlife is a matter of faith, and while possible, is unlikely, at least in the form of a full retention of all memories and consciousness.

i believe strongly that a focus on rewards and punishments in a afterlife is harmful to the way we think and act in the present: instead of treating human life like the precious and unique opportunity it is, living each moment to the fullest, a focus on an afterlife often is an escape from the moment.
"Those who speak don't know, those who know don't speak." Lao Tzu.
My seat in the bloggernacle: http://wayfaringfool.blogspot.com

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Brian Johnston
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Re: An Afterlife?

Post by Brian Johnston » 27 Jul 2012, 05:39

Currently, there's no way to prove an afterlife or disprove it. Once we transition to a point where we control our faith content (our beliefs), then it's my opinion we are free to choose what functions best for us. For me, I choose to believe in some form of afterlife. But I also choose to place high value on experience of my current life and incarnation. I have become very humanist in my views. I don't find it prudent to spend my whole current life unhappy in hopes of some unknown future reward. I'm not opposed to sacrifice, and I think it is best for myself and those I love (including my posterity) if I keep a long-range view of life. I think it's valuable to be a good steward of the resources, and to try and leave this reality at least a little bit better than I found it. That makes me happy -- both now and I expect it to leave me satisfied with my experience in the afterlife.

What form does the afterlife take? I don't know. But I choose to believe in it. It works for me.

I read a very mind-blowing, transhumanist, sci-fi novel recently called "Accelerando." The author laid out a vision of the near future following the ever increasing acceleration of the advancement of technology to the point of "singularity." That is the point where science and engineering advance so rapidly that we can't even imagine anymore what might be possible, or even relate to the purposes. It's so far out there we don't even have language to imagine it. The whole point I am trying to make is the author shows possible forms of afterlife, immortality and actual creation of reality that don't even require the supernatural -- complete with artificial conscious beings (forms of spirit children?) that may or may not even know they are artificial and living in a simulation, if that has meaning anymore. If I had to pin myself down to an explanation of reality and the afterlife that seems most possible to me right now, it would be something along those lines. I'm just using that book as an example. I've had this sense for a long time even before reading that book.

I have always had this natural disposition and sense that I am living in a dream, that there is more to reality, like I exist on more than one level of consciousness. It's hard to explain, but it feels comfortable to me to imagine more than the here and now. Whether that is real or not, I decided that is how I am wired or programmed. So fighting against it accomplishes nothing beneficial to me. I am happy and satisfied in there here and now if I believe in an afterlife.
"It's strange to be here. The mystery never leaves you alone." -John O'Donohue, Anam Cara, speaking of experiencing life.

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mercyngrace
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Re: An Afterlife?

Post by mercyngrace » 27 Jul 2012, 07:59

As one who has experienced one of those NDEs, I firmly believe in an afterlife. I've done enough reading on brain chemistry to be able to logically argue against my own experience and yet, I cannot disbelieve. There is something, familiar and unexpected, but as real as here and now.

I agree with Wayfarer that we use the promise (or fear of) an afterlife as an excuse for how we live now.
I also agree that birthing and parenting a billion spirit kiddos is not what I expect in the afterlife.
Her sins, which are many, are forgiven; for she loved much: but to whom little is forgiven, the same loveth little. ~ Luke 7:47

Curt Sunshine
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Re: An Afterlife?

Post by Curt Sunshine » 27 Jul 2012, 08:09

I choose to live my life so that whether or not there is an afterlife, it won't matter upon arriving there.


In a sense, I don't believe in an "after" life - as a separate or different existence. I believe in the concept of eternal life - that we "are" and "continue to become", rather than any other construct. I don't believe in the classic concept of reincarnation, but I do believe in the concept of progressive, continual incarnation, if you will.

That's a distinctly Mormon concept, with lots of similarity to Eastern religious thought - and it's one of the aspects of pure Mormonism I love the most.
I see through my glass, darkly - as I play my saxophone in harmony with the other instruments in God's orchestra. (h/t Elder Joseph Wirthlin)

Even if people view many things differently, the core Gospel principles (LOVE; belief in the unseen but hoped; self-reflective change; symbolic cleansing; striving to recognize the will of the divine; never giving up) are universal.

"For every complex problem there is an answer that is clear, simple, and wrong." H. L. Mencken

Minyan Man
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Re: An Afterlife?

Post by Minyan Man » 27 Jul 2012, 08:35

mercyngrace, have you ever described your NDE in this forum? or, anywhere else?
It would be interesting to hear (read).
It could be helpful too to someone that fears death.
If it's too personal & you can't talk about it, I understand.

Mike from Milton.

MikeM
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An Afterlife?

Post by MikeM » 27 Jul 2012, 09:43

I like Brian's comments about eternal exponential expansion. I have to read that book.

As others have said, I chose to believe despite the evidence. But should that choice influence how I live? I would say that it shouldn't, but how can it not? If I believe that there is a retention of consciousness after death then that belief has to affect what I do now. [Admin note: Private message sent to explain deletion of last part of this comment.]

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