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I'm a skeptic of any afterlife

Discussions about Afterlife Research, Survival Science, Near Death Experiences, Out of Body Experiences, Spirit Communication, Mediumship, Ghosts, Spirits, etc.

Re: I'm a skeptic of any afterlife

Postby NinjaPuppy » 26 Jul 2012, 06:57

Who knew?

Wikipedia wrote:Atheism is accepted within some religious and spiritual belief systems, including Jainism, Buddhism, Hinduism, Neopagan movements such as Wicca, and nontheistic religions. Jainism and some forms of Buddhism do not advocate belief in gods, whereas Hinduism holds atheism to be valid, but some schools view the path of an atheist to be difficult to follow in matters of spirituality.


I had no idea that it was not like it's own religion.
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Re: I'm a skeptic of any afterlife

Postby Arouet » 26 Jul 2012, 07:01

oh, buddhism is generally acknowledged to be a religion - you don't need deities for a religion.
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Re: I'm a skeptic of any afterlife

Postby NinjaPuppy » 26 Jul 2012, 07:03

Arouet wrote:oh, buddhism is generally acknowledged to be a religion - you don't need deities for a religion.

Exactly, but I wasn't talking about buddhism, I was talking about atheism.
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Re: I'm a skeptic of any afterlife

Postby Arouet » 26 Jul 2012, 07:25

Ahh, I get it. haha.
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Re: I'm a skeptic of any afterlife

Postby truthleaker » 27 Jul 2012, 00:09

NinjaPuppy wrote:
truthleaker wrote:I've never seen anything paranormal or experienced anything supernatural.

You poor baby. You're missing out on some pretty interesting stuff here. You mean that you've never seen an unexplained, semi-translucent human shaped figure walk across a room and go out the wall? Heck, I used to see that all the time. So did just about every visitor to my old house.

The problems start with the definitions of words like "ghost" or "spirit" to describe this sort of thing. People tend to think of the Hollywood version or a religious version and it suddenly becomes fodder for a best seller or they totally freak out from fear. I don't know what is should be defined as other than "an unexplained, semi-translucent human shaped figure walk across a room and go out the wall" and I don't know what causes me or others to experience it. It happens and when it happens, it's real. I just don't know what it is.


I've heard some eletromagentic stuff may interfere with the brain and cause it to well yea..or some parallel unmiverse and some distortion occured and you saw something from another dimension. or your haouse is haunted, dam i dont know
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Re: I'm a skeptic of any afterlife

Postby Craig Browning » 27 Jul 2012, 01:25

Arouet wrote:oh, buddhism is generally acknowledged to be a religion - you don't need deities for a religion.


AMEN

A lot of my personal philosophy comes from Tibetan Buddhism in that it is one of the few formal faiths that I connect with; it's not into all the fufu crapola of the New Age sects and most of what I hear is more pragmatic than fantasiful or encouraging blind faith.

I do not see however, how my believe in reincarnation reveals why religions happen. Yes, I have a perspective about the cycle of life that is shared with several million others and just happens to be the oldest and most logical course with things (let's face it; heaven & hell are ridiculous promises when it comes to a deity that is supposedly omnipotent, fair and loving. Karma and the recycling program makes far more sense and renders greater justice.) Sure, I can accept that my body is worm food and have no problem with that whatsoever. But because of the literal miracles I've witnessed in my life and within it, I cannot deny the idea that something continues be it a soul, consciousness, whatever, it is real in my mind and heart and that's not a weakness.
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Re: I'm a skeptic of any afterlife

Postby NinjaPuppy » 27 Jul 2012, 01:32

truthleaker wrote:I've heard some eletromagentic stuff may interfere with the brain and cause it to well yea..or some parallel unmiverse and some distortion occured and you saw something from another dimension. or your house is haunted, dam i dont know

Let's take each possibility that you present above and examine the possibilities of the possibilities, shall we? I will do my best to relate anything that I can from my own personal perspective as I can't speak for anyone else.

1. I've heard some eletromagentic stuff may interfere with the brain and cause it to well yea..
I will agree that there may be something related to electricity and electromagnetic "stuff" that may cause the brain to...shall we say "malfunction"? for lack of a better word. I know that I personally get a strange feeling if I am around a humming transformer or under high tension wires. I can best describe it as hearing them which causes me to feel something similar to a low intensity panic attack. The sound may be barely audible at first but tends to cause me to concentrate on what I actually can hear due to the tightening in my chest. Do I see things that can't be explained at this time... No. Does a sighting manifest after exposure? Not that I know of.

2. ...or some parallel universe and some distortion occurred and you saw something from another dimension.
Now here's a topic that I know VERY little about. Parallel Universes and other Dimensions are not topics that I have done much reading about or am I in any way educated in this area. If you can give me your "Reader's Digest" version of how you personally define these things, I might be able to respond.

3. or your house is haunted
Hollywood haunted? Definitely not. We're talking a well dressed older woman with short, curly, white hair (well coiffed) wearing a powder blue, seersucker pantsuit. She manifests in the center of the room and walks slowly (she looks like she's floating because you can only see her from the knees up-her knees are level to the floor of the room) and she gets less detailed as she gets closer to the wall and then floats right through it. I did once see her legs and feet and she's wearing a cute pair of white sneakers (like woman's Keds).

She doesn't interact, she doesn't look at anyone, she just appears in the exact same spot, then glides across the room (about 7 feet) and leaves. She can be seen for about as long as it takes to calmly say.... "WTF was....(and she's gone) THAT?"

If I were the only person who ever saw her, I would come to the conclusion that I already did. That it was some sort of lighting thing caused by a particular combination of assorted house lights/lamps, a large wall mirror over my head, glass patio doors opposite the mirror, possible car headlights passing an opposite window and my eye glasses (possibly that need cleaning). I came to this conclusion after comparing fleeting shapes seen in the corner of my eye. It seemed logical until I had a guest over and he nearly jumped off the couch after seeing "something". When asked what he saw he said it looked like a woman walking through the wall. I asked if he could describe her better and he said she was wearing light blue. I had not mentioned this to anyone at this time.

I then found my old tenant who lived in my house for about 2 years and asked if she ever saw anything unusual. Very 'matter of factly' she told me all about this old woman who would wander across the room every now and then. She also told me that a visitor of hers had also seen it one night and it scared him to death and when she was pet sitting a neighbor's dog, the dog would bark like mad at the apparition. She never said a word to me about the sightings prior to this conversation.

I have long since sold this house and the buyers did a knock down to put up a McMansion. I often wonder if they have ever seen anything funky but don't really want to bother and ask, but I do wonder.
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Re: I'm a skeptic of any afterlife

Postby Arouet » 27 Jul 2012, 02:53

the Interesting thing about the parrallel or multi-world hypothesis is that they are trying to make it testable. The theory is that if there are these parrallel worlds they will sometimes bump up against our own and that will create "bumps" in the background radiation. They are looking for those bumps. How viable this is I have no idea, but its interesting that they are testing the hypothesis.
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Re: I'm a skeptic of any afterlife

Postby ProfWag » 27 Jul 2012, 03:08

Randi McSheldrake wrote:I have always found this curious. Why should atheist beliefs rule out the possibility of an afterlife? Could not consciousness persist after the death of the body, if one accepts as a possibility the ideas of, amongst others, William James and Aldous Huxley, that the brain is a "reducing valve" and that consciousness is the fundamental basis of the universe?

I know that there are a lot of atheists who believe in the afterlife of some sort. I also know that a lot of people's belief stems from something very personal, whether it's a deity-driven ruler of heaven or a more natural "reincarnation," or just whatever belief that may bring. I, however, find this an almost confusing way to believe from a personal perspective. In a vain attempt to think logically about this, if there could be an afterlife, then there could just as easy be a ruler over that afterlife. I know I'm in the minority in this belief (at least from a vocal standpoint as not many people stand up and holler that LAD is bullsh!t), and I also totally appreciate the desire for an afterlife (hell I want one!) but just why is it so hard to believe that once a living thing dies, it's dead? Done? Caput? Vanished, never to be heard from again?
Human beings pretty much run on energy produced from food, etc. Many say that when we die, this energy goes into an afterlife of some sort. Why does it have to do that? What happens to that light bulb when it burns out? Does it go into an afterlife state? What happens to that tree in the forest that dies? Does it live on in an aftertree life?
The quote in the Shawshank Redemption "Get busy living or get busy dying" is kinda me to a T. I find life to be much more fullfilling knowing that I need to enjoy what I have now and not worrying or spending time thinking there is something more on the other side.
Have ya' ever seen a body that's been dead for years and years? Not a lot of energy being passed through that thing. So, an afterlife would definitely mean that an "energy" or "spirit" goes somewhere. So if that "energy" goes somewhere, then it would be just as easy to believe there is a ruler over that "energy" field. I, personally, just feel that it's most logical TO ME, that when we die, we're dead and that's it. And over the course of human history, no one has proven me wrong yet.
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Re: I'm a skeptic of any afterlife

Postby Arouet » 27 Jul 2012, 03:57

I'm going to disagree with you a bit in your approach here, PW - and it may just have been loose wording. It's not pure logic that leads me to not believe in God. The God hypothesis is an empirical claim - not a logical one. I don't think there is any logical impossibility about the concept of a deity. The issue is, I don't think there is reliable evidence of one.

We can logically think of afterlives that have a deity - and ones that don't. For example, it could be that conciousness is fundamental and has always been around and it just found a vehicle when animals and people evolved. It may have had nothing to do with the creaton of the universe.

For something like reincarnation, I do think that while you don't quite need a deity - you do need some sort of administration. There has to be a way for the souls to get matched up with bodies and that implies some kind of decision maker or organiser. Not necessarily a deity but some sort of supernatural organising force.

So i think there are various options and just THINKING about them isn't going to take us very far. The question is is what evidence is there for any particular god or afterlife hypothesis, and how reliable is it? Keep in mind, there is evidence out there for life after death. The question is - how reliable is it?
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Re: I'm a skeptic of any afterlife

Postby ProfWag » 27 Jul 2012, 05:38

Arouet wrote:I'm going to disagree with you a bit in your approach here, PW - and it may just have been loose wording. It's not pure logic that leads me to not believe in God. The God hypothesis is an empirical claim - not a logical one. I don't think there is any logical impossibility about the concept of a deity. The issue is, I don't think there is reliable evidence of one.

I had my Vulcan ears on when I said that, and perhaps it's the wrong word, but when I look out my window and think of what will happen when I die, I don't think of anything else but rotting. To me, it's just not logical to think that anything can happen once we're dead. There may be some evidence of LAD, but I just haven't seen anything remote to proof. Further, if you ask every person who has ever posted on this board what they believe on the subject of LAD and you'll get as many answers as the people you ask No two can really be right, right?. So, out of the billions of people on earth coupled with the billions of different ideas of LAD, there is still only one belief that's logical to me and that's the "when you're dead, you're dead" concept. Show me something other than faith to prove me wrong and I'll logically think of changing my logic... :?
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Re: I'm a skeptic of any afterlife

Postby Arouet » 27 Jul 2012, 06:15

I agree with you that the evidence is not convincing of a god, or life after death, but that's not because it is logical. There's no logical impossibility. Saying you just can't imagine how there could be life after death is an argument from personal incredulity. In fact, you are being - gasp - illogical when you make that argument!

What is logical is to say that you'll withold belief in a deity until sufficient evidence is presented.
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Re: I'm a skeptic of any afterlife

Postby Randi McSheldrake » 27 Jul 2012, 06:56

there is still only one belief that's logical to me and that's the "when you're dead, you're dead" concept. Show me something other than faith to prove me wrong and I'll logically think of changing my logic...


Prof, thanks for your thoughts. In response to the quotation above, might I refer you again to Richard Henry's monograph in Nature, http://henry.pha.jhu.edu/The.mental.universe.pdf which is most definitely something other than religious faith. Here we have the Professor of Physics and Astronomy at Johns Hopkins, saying - in short - that the only true reality is mind and observations; that there is no material "stuff" out there, and that physics has known this since about 1925 but has been dodging the implications ever since. The only reality is consciousness.

Now I'm not a physicist, and wouldn't attempt to pass judgement on this. The topic is very controversial - maybe I will start a new thread on the subject. But other physicists - notably Eugene Wigner - have said the same thing. If these gentlemen - and others - are correct, then consciousness is eternal. It is the generator of the illusion of matter. Our minds cannot disappear at death because they are responsible for creating the illusion of our life.

That, for me, is a possible reason to consider the postmortem continuation of consciousness. Another reason is the experiences of people undergoing altered states of awareness. NDEs are well-known, but can always be dismissed as "funny stuff" going on in the brain due to hypoxia, hypocapnia, anaesthetics etc.

More impressive to me are are those altered states of consciousness that occur to ordinary people going about their everyday business. Suddenly - unbidden - their minds "open up"; it is as if they are downloading vast swathes of information from - what? - the Collective Unconscious? The Akashic Field? And their reports are always the same: there is only one consciousness, working through all of us, and it is eternal. (See Steve Taylor's intriguing book Out Of The Darkness for some contemporary accounts, and Richard Bucke's classic account of his "cosmic consciousness" event in 1872, for a flavour of these experiences.)

I find this a curious convergence: Objective experience at the leading edge of physics strongly suggests - at least to some physicists (James Jeans, Arthur Eddington, Eugene Wigner, Richard Henry, Casey Blood, Amit Goswami et. al.) - that consciousness is the ground of all being. Subjective experience in altered states of awareness lead the experiencer to also conclude that consciousness is the ground of all being.

Neither of these sources of information about the nature of things relies on religious faith - although the physicists might be relying on faith in one particular interpretation of quantum mechanics being the correct one!

None of this, of course, "proves" anything, but it does at least represent two streams of evidence in support of the eternity of consciousness which are not founded on religous belief.
"Doubt A; then doubt B. Then doubt both A and B. Then doubt your ability to doubt enough."
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Re: I'm a skeptic of any afterlife

Postby ProfWag » 27 Jul 2012, 20:57

Arouet wrote:I agree with you that the evidence is not convincing of a god, or life after death, but that's not because it is logical. There's no logical impossibility. Saying you just can't imagine how there could be life after death is an argument from personal incredulity. In fact, you are being - gasp - illogical when you make that argument!

What is logical is to say that you'll withold belief in a deity until sufficient evidence is presented.

A thousand years ago, virtually every person on the planet believed that the earth was flat and that the thought that it was round and rotated around the sun was "illogical" to them. Logic is a system of reasoning and not a hard nosed fact. Illogical, on the other hand, also means unreasonable and irrational. The thought of LAD, to me, is unreasonable and irrational. The antonym of illogical is logic. Hense, I think I may still stick with my thought process on that. The decision to spend one's life hoping they go to heaven or become one with nature is, in my terms, irrational. It's not logical.
Again, I can certainly see the need for religion of any kind. It helps one cope with death and grief. However, weighing all of the evidence and what I perceive as reality, it is simply not logical to believe in LAD at this time.
It is true that I will withhold belief in a deity until evidence is presented otherwise, as I'm always open to change my mind.
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Re: I'm a skeptic of any afterlife

Postby Arouet » 27 Jul 2012, 21:35

ProfWag wrote:A thousand years ago, virtually every person on the planet believed that the earth was flat and that the thought that it was round and rotated around the sun was "illogical" to them. Logic is a system of reasoning and not a hard nosed fact. Illogical, on the other hand, also means unreasonable and irrational. The thought of LAD, to me, is unreasonable and irrational.


My point is: that the argument: "I don't believe in an afterlife because I can't imagine how there could be one" IS a logical fallacy in itself. The better reasoning is to say: i don't believe in an afterlife because I'm not convinced of the evidence in favour of that hypothesis.

it is simply not logical to believe in LAD at this time.


I agree, just not for the reason that I can't imagine how there could be one.

It is true that I will withhold belief in a deity until evidence is presented otherwise, as I'm always open to change my mind.


Now THAT is a logical position! :D
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