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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 ProfWag » 27 Jul 2012, 22:19

Randi McSheldrake wrote: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.

Interesting article Mr. McSheldrake, but in my opinion it's more theory or thought than reality. The reality eminating from my own self is that I'm sitting here typing on a keyboard that I can feel with my fingers. Senses transmit feelings to the brain from the eye, nose, fingers, etc. When one dies, it is my perception that these feelings cease to exist. That marvelous organ that we call the brain that needs much more oxygen than any other organ to survive, can no longer process the senses once it is deprived of its life-force.
Any type of life after death, regardless of the form it takes, would require some sort of energy for it to survive and once that energy is gone, then so does the life. Sorry, but I'm going to reiterate again what I believe which I know is contrary to Arouet's feeling, but to spend one's whole life looking for something that is based on faith alone and what someone else tells you to believe in is simply not logical to me.
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Re: I'm a skeptic of any afterlife

Postby Craig Browning » 27 Jul 2012, 23:07

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.


Oops! We're talking about Western Culture not the greater scheme of life around the globe where Polynesians and Asians had already been exploring massive tracts of the ocean, even moving from one continent to the next. They understood the earth's movement around the sun as well as the movement of the earth that gave us day & night. It was the Western European and more accurately, that part of Asia Minor and Europe that had become Christianized, that supported the flat-earth ideology. In that these were the primary conquerors of the world for a few hundred years, it's only natural that their beliefs and pseudo-science (a.k.a. religious edicts) would hold the greater weight and their myopia passed on.

Logic is a system of reasoning and not a hard nosed fact.


I absolutely love that line; says so very much.

Illogical, on the other hand, also means unreasonable and irrational.


Granted BUT, "logic" is likewise based on the information one has to discern the issue by. The majority of the world's population has what it considers a "logical" point of view vs. the more analytical or "scientific" perspectives preached by late 19th into the 21st century rationalist. There are numerous legit scientists from all areas that still believe in a deity and most importantly, some form of life after death. The majority tend to side with Reincarnation in that there is more "anecdotal" evidence supporting it than any other claim outside the fertilizer fate. While many an atheist try to negate the fact, even dear old Albert had an agnostic sense of perspective vs. pure atheism; he believed in something that equated to "God" and spoke of it frequently.

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.


And based on your background, what you have been privy to study and how your mind has been trained to see things, you would be exactly right -- FOR YOU . . . it's not necessarily a "fact" for everyone outside such environs. Again, we're talking about perspective alongside perception, this has always been the course from which "faith" (not religion) comes; people didn't endure extreme tortures because of a "belief" but because they KNEW something as truth -- to them and for them. This is why martyrdom can be so persuasive and impactful on the lives of the less convicted and of course, how such persons of faith are elevated to the rank of Saint or Gods.

As to the latter portion of this line, I agree. The idea of going to some terrestrial idea of paradise after life is over is bull pucky -- a bigger fantasy than Peter Pan and for several quite logical reasons, starting with the fact that it is a city of gold, ivory, silver and pearl . . . the carnal riches that all of the prophets and saints taught against cherishing. Humankind is typically taught by the messengers to shed their dependency on the carnal and understand such things as being temporary -- illusory. Why would any deity teach one thing and then turn around and use it as the proverbial carrot at the end of pole, agging us on.

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.


I both, agree and disagree here but in a "unique" way. Religion really is a placebo or crutch but it is likewise a political tool used by rulers & politicians as a way to control and manipulate the masses (just look at U.S. politics since the Regan era let alone what history proves out). There is however a serious difference between "Religion" and actual "Faith" or "Spirituality", the former being dogmatic and an invention of man whereas the latter is a personal journey of discovery and pragmatism -- quite close to what we've both been saying here. But again, you offer your perspective on LAD which is void of these particular parameters; your sense of rationality comes from a completely different set of rules and environmental in-put. This does not negate the validity of such claims for anyone other than yourself and as Constantine proved out, you may be wrong so cover all bases. . . :twisted: Not really, but I think you'd get the gist to what I'm saying here; your formula for reaching your conclusions is incomplete. Then too, the majority of those that support some mode of LAD rarely consider the objective views your past has known e.g. both are biased.

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.


So said St. Thomas until he was told to touch the wounds in the hands and on his side. . . ;)

Carnal "proof" of a deity will probably never come about in that the analytical type will instantly develop and theory by which to disprove said manifestations. Just look at how often a form of proof is delivered based on the requisites of the skeptical mind and yet, there is an instant addition to the challenge that negates the first proof. In Buddhism it's known as the concept of "Why" -- you find a solution to any given "problem" but once you find that solution you ask yourself "Why is this so?" and thus, the process starts over and over again in perpetuity. It is a way to gain wisdom but likewise, a cycle by which one can become lost and forever chasing his own tail -- moderation is the key to fulfillment; there always comes a point in which you must simply surrender and accept in order to live.

Another point you've made needs to be addressed here as well, the idea that we must live for the NOW. It is an eternal truth and if not specified it is frequently intimated in most of the major spiritual traditions. As is said in 12-step meetings, "If you have one foot in yesterday and the other in tomorrow, you're pissing on today". Today is literally all we have and as such we must live it and relish it to the optimum level of fullness and to do so with a kind and gracious heart, treating all others as we would wish to be treated and thus, honoring all of life. This is an idea referred to by some theologians as the "golden thread" in that it is woven within the greater bulk of the world's greater religions, including Satanism. It's also the point most of society keeps missing because religion -- man's opinion and attempt to put words into the mouth of some deity -- blinds and binds us. Until we learn to listen to our gut, our heart and "life" itself, giving ourselves permission to live, we will forever remain lost and unfulfilled. Why torture yourself? Why limit your ability to know "life" to the fullest because of some nomadic ideology that's thousands of years out of sync with reality? (at least Buddhism is able to stay fluid and applicable to the "here & now" no matter when that is.)

Just my two-cents worth
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Re: I'm a skeptic of any afterlife

Postby ProfWag » 28 Jul 2012, 00:27

Thanks for everyone's input on the definition of logical. Somehow, I got trapped into this conversation about me not believing in the afterlife and how I think it's silly for anyone else to spend their days and nights trying to believe in something they can't see or experience until their are dead and all of a sudden I'm getting beat up over my use of the simple word logic. It's all just so illogical to me.

It appears that people tend to put a lot of emphasis on the meaning of life and what happens afterward. And yes, I know many people do and a lot of people a whole hell of a lot smarter than me believe that way also. It's just that for me, I see LAD in the same light as the flying spaghetti monster--they both could exist, it's just doesn't make any sense (i.e. logic) to me to believe in either one. Of course, I also used to think it was illogical for the British to put their fish and chips in old dirty newspapers, but I'm sure it made sense to them! Personally, I like to put orange juice in my beer, pickles with my peanut butter, and I invested thousands of dollars in Delta after they had lost $100 a share and was down to $1.01, and none of those things may not make any sense to someone else and, quite frankly, I don't really care if you think any of those things are logical or not.

As of this very second, for anyone to believe in the afterlife takes faith. Plain and simple. My view on the afterlife does not take faith.
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Re: I'm a skeptic of any afterlife

Postby Arouet » 28 Jul 2012, 00:33

ProfWag wrote:Thanks for everyone's input on the definition of logical. Somehow, I got trapped into this conversation about me not believing in the afterlife and how I think it's silly for anyone else to spend their days and nights trying to believe in something they can't see or experience until their are dead and all of a sudden I'm getting beat up over my use of the simple word logic. It's all just so illogical to me.


Sorry, didn't mean to beat you up! My issue wasn't with your use of the word logic but rather your argument that you didn't believe becaue you couldn't imagine how there could be an afterlife. It's the same argument as: I believe in god because I can't figure out how life could come about without one. I agree with you on the rest basically - I don't think there is reliable evidence to believe in a god or afterlife. The reason it is illogical to believe in such a thing is because the evidence doesn't support it- not because I can't figure out how it would work.
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Re: I'm a skeptic of any afterlife

Postby Arouet » 28 Jul 2012, 00:33

ProfWag wrote:Thanks for everyone's input on the definition of logical. Somehow, I got trapped into this conversation about me not believing in the afterlife and how I think it's silly for anyone else to spend their days and nights trying to believe in something they can't see or experience until their are dead and all of a sudden I'm getting beat up over my use of the simple word logic. It's all just so illogical to me.

It appears that people tend to put a lot of emphasis on the meaning of life and what happens afterward. And yes, I know many people do and a lot of people a whole hell of a lot smarter than me believe that way also. It's just that for me, I see LAD in the same light as the flying spaghetti monster--they both could exist, it's just doesn't make any sense (i.e. logic) to me to believe in either one. Of course, I also used to think it was illogical for the British to put their fish and chips in old dirty newspapers, but I'm sure it made sense to them! Personally, I like to put orange juice in my beer, pickles with my peanut butter, and I invested thousands of dollars in Delta after they had lost $100 a share and was down to $1.01, and none of those things may not make any sense to someone else and, quite frankly, I don't really care if you think any of those things are logical or not.

As of this very second, for anyone to believe in the afterlife takes faith. Plain and simple. My view on the afterlife does not take faith.
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Re: I'm a skeptic of any afterlife

Postby NinjaPuppy » 28 Jul 2012, 00:40

Hey guys, we seem to have a code problem with the quotes today. Probably some simple glitch, but info may get misconstrued, so keep that in mind.
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Re: I'm a skeptic of any afterlife

Postby ProfWag » 28 Jul 2012, 03:05

Arouet wrote:
ProfWag wrote:Thanks for everyone's input on the definition of logical. Somehow, I got trapped into this conversation about me not believing in the afterlife and how I think it's silly for anyone else to spend their days and nights trying to believe in something they can't see or experience until their are dead and all of a sudden I'm getting beat up over my use of the simple word logic. It's all just so illogical to me.


Sorry, didn't mean to beat you up! My issue wasn't with your use of the word logic but rather your argument that you didn't believe becaue you couldn't imagine how there could be an afterlife. It's the same argument as: I believe in god because I can't figure out how life could come about without one. I agree with you on the rest basically - I don't think there is reliable evidence to believe in a god or afterlife. The reason it is illogical to believe in such a thing is because the evidence doesn't support it- not because I can't figure out how it would work.

Oh, okay. It's all good. Though in a way...well...nevermind. Let's just stick with that then. :-)
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Re: I'm a skeptic of any afterlife

Postby Randi McSheldrake » 28 Jul 2012, 07:31

Interesting article Mr. McSheldrake, but in my opinion it's more theory or thought than reality.


Prof, that's more or less what I thought myself on reading the article - that it was an interesting theory. But I was so intrigued that I emailed Professor Henry, and got a bit of a shock. Rather a lot of a shock, actually.

He said that the non-existence of any material reality is fact - not theory. In his words:

"That there is no material reality is not technically controversial. Every few years, more and more elaborate tests are made with the idea of detecting some reality. All such tests have failed.

In 2007 Anton Zeilinger performed the key experiment that finally ruled out reality. His own reaction is one of horror - what I love best is Zeilinger saying there is no reality at the microscopic level, but the moon is real (with not one word of justification.) People just can't take it!"


He keeps coming back to this point. Experimental evidence, culminating in Zeilinger's landmark paper, has ruled out the possibility of any material reality existing independently of mind. This is not just some physicists's daydream, this is what the data is saying.

But, says Henry, physicists do not speak or write about the implications; this is taboo. "Most physicists are in denial. Two reasons: accepting it does not improve doing physics; and accepting it opens the door to religion, which many people don't like. We are dealing with a psychological problem, not a physics problem."

Well, my jaw was on the floor. Experimental evidence has confirmed (not "theory has suggested") that mind is the only reality - matter is nothing more than a stubbornly persistent illusion. But the average person knows nothing of this, since within the physics community it is forbidden to speak of the implications.

But this is crazy, isn't it? I mean, as you said yourself Prof:

The reality eminating from my own self is that I'm sitting here typing on a keyboard that I can feel with my fingers.


And here I am, sitting at my computer - it feels real under my hands. I'm aware of my body and the rhythm of my breath; the taste of my cup of tea. Nothing could be more obvious than that this is reality. I am this body; I think with this brain; the world - the universe - around me has an independent existence. But experimental evidence has ruled all this out. There is no material reality; it is an illusion, there is only mind.

But it still seemed crazy.....

Then, on reflection I could see an analogy. For centuries, people knew that the sun revolved around the earth, and that the world was flat. What could be more obvious? The senses could not lie, could they? Oh, but they could - and did!

I cannot begin to describe how important I think this is. If Zeilinger's paper says what Henry claims it says, then materialism is today's equivalent of geocentrism and flat-earthism. It may look right, feel right, and seem logical, unassailable and unarguable - but it's flat-out wrong. To quote the end of Henry's article in Nature: "The universe is immaterial - mental and spiritual. Live, and enjoy."

For the record, I still find it impossible to believe. (Wearing my Robert Anton Wilson hat, here.) Like most of Professor Henry's colleagues, I "just can't take it", and I'm half expecting a refutation of Zeilinger's experiment. I have to admit though, that the idea of a universe as the construct of a vast overarching mind (of which our minds are all a part) does seem wonderfully exciting .........
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Re: I'm a skeptic of any afterlife

Postby NinjaPuppy » 28 Jul 2012, 07:37

Allow me to try to make sense of all of this in my own mind. Does this mean that we create our own reality with our minds? My entire lifetime can be nothing more than how my brain perceives like energy waves or something?
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Re: I'm a skeptic of any afterlife

Postby Arouet » 28 Jul 2012, 08:29

It may be that not everyone agrees with the conclusions set out above.
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Re: I'm a skeptic of any afterlife

Postby Randi McSheldrake » 29 Jul 2012, 04:23

NinjaPuppy wrote:
Allow me to try to make sense of all of this in my own mind. Does this mean that we create our own reality with our minds? My entire lifetime can be nothing more than how my brain perceives like energy waves or something?


Well......who knows? Certainly not me, and not the scientists either by the sound of it. To quote Professor Henry again:

"We have no idea what this mental nature (of the universe) implies, but — the great thing is — it is true. Beyond the acquisition of this perception, physics can no longer help. You may descend into solipsism, expand to deism, or something else if you can justify it — just don’t ask physics for help."

In other words, we know that the non-materiality of the universe is true. We have no idea what this means.

Arouet wrote:
It may be that not everyone agrees with the conclusions set out above.


Indeed they don't, and as a non-scientist I find this quite perplexing! Professor Henry is quite adamant: Zeilinger's experiments have conclusively ruled out any "stuff" in the universe persisting independently of mind - as have all previous attempts to find evidence for an underlying material reality.

(I know, I know, this sounds insane. We're talking about not just our own bodies, but about galaxies ....... all, apparently, the product of mind. Crack your knee on the coffee table and you'll understand how utterly counterintuitive - let alone completely barmy - this appears. It certainly seems barmy to me!)

But we can be fooled big-time. Our senses told us, for millenia, that the earth was flat and the sun moved around it. Are our apparently material "senses" just a complex programmme in an unimaginably sophisticated simulation programmed by an inconceivably vast and intelligent mind? ( Note: the implications are that we are part of this mind - not separate from it as religions would have us believe.)

Professor Henry is far from the only physicist holding these views, and claiming that his colleagues are in denial of the unavoidable implications. Henry Stapp, Casey Blood, Amit Goswami and probably many others have "gone public" with this.

But there are many dissenters. Most voluble, perhaps, is atheist physicist Vic Stenger, who wrote an interesting article about "quantum consciousness":
http://www.colorado.edu/philosophy/vste ... usness.pdf

For a layman like myself, this is totally confusing. Here are two groups of physicists, looking at the same data, and coming to precisely opposite conclusions!

My own inclination is to doubt the nay-sayers. I do this for two reasons:

1) Examination of Stenger's article reveals a quite few problems. His language seems rooted in 19th-century physics - describing particles, little billiard balls, little "bits of stuff". He makes it sound as if quantum mechanics is just a small, slightly curious but ulitmately irrelevant blip on the face of Newtonian physics. (Quite contrary to the reactions of people such as Feynman, who said that we can't even begin to understand the weirdness of the quantum world.) He talks of machines "analysing" and "measuring" - but analysis and measurement are actions that can only be performed by a conscious mind. And for me the giveaway is his references to "New Age", "unicorns" and "dragons" - this is damnation by association, a tactic commonly used by those who have a weak argument.

(Other naysaying physicists' pronouncements have suffered from the same drawbacks. My over-riding impression is of an attempt to shoehorn the weird, counter-intuitive and consciousness-entangled quantum world back into its Newtonian box, and to spray sarcasm around for good measure.)

2) Altered states of consciousness (ASCs) such as NDEs and "awakening" experiences, seem to point to the same revelation: There is no "stuff", there is only mind.

To return to the point made in my last post - this is surely of staggering importance. If Henry et. al.'s take on the Zeilinger experiment - and its predecessors - is correct, then materialism is as dead as flat-earthism. We live in a universe produced by mind. This does not mean, of course, that it is your mind, or my mind, but all mind - the consciousness of all sentient creatures throughout the universe and probably the consciousness of the universe - or even multiverse - itself. We are drops of consciousness in a vast ocean.

But if Stenger and his colleagues are correct, then materialism emerges unscathed; matter is matter after all, and consciousness merely an accidental co-location of atoms.

Reading the work of these scientists, I feel that I'm observing two groups of people, one desperately patching up the creaking, wobbling structure of the Ptolemaeic Universe, the other rooting for Galileo's Universe. The problem is, I can't quite decide which group is which!
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Re: I'm a skeptic of any afterlife

Postby Randi McSheldrake » 29 Jul 2012, 04:42

May I write an addendum.

It may be that there are physicists on this Forum with the technical knowledge to read Zeilinger's paper and comment on its implications. I would be very interested in their views - provided they can use non-technical language!

The paper in question is:
Groeblacher, Zeilinger et. al.: "An Experimental Test of Non-Local Realism", Nature 446 871, 2007

Non-physicists may like this layman's synopsis: http://seedmagazine.com/content/print/t ... ity_tests/

Note Zeilinger's words: "To give up on realism altogether is certainly wrong. .....to give up realism about the moon, that’s ridiculous. But on the quantum level we do have to give up realism."

Refer back to Prof. Henry's comment that "Zeilinger just can't take it" - i.e. he states that the data show there is no material reality at the quantum level, but then declares - with no justification whatsoever - that material reality somehow (by magic?) pops into existence at the macroscopic level!

This all seems a long way from the start of this thread. But the Original Poster wanted evidence for life after death. If materialism is false, and the universe is entirely mental, then the persistence of consciousness - in some form - seems inevitable. There would be, after all, nothing BUT consciousness!
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Re: I'm a skeptic of any afterlife

Postby ProfWag » 29 Jul 2012, 06:37

This is all very deep information, but wouldn't it be simpler to think that life is what it is and when you pass, you actually just become bug food? It's actually quite probable that that is what will happen, based on what science has shown so far...
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Re: I'm a skeptic of any afterlife

Postby Randi McSheldrake » 29 Jul 2012, 07:51

This is all very deep information, but wouldn't it be simpler to think that life is what it is and when you pass, you actually just become bug food? It's actually quite probable that that is what will happen, based on what science has shown so far...


Prof, surely the question is not "would it be simpler?", but "would it be correct?"

And, based on what science has shown so far, culminating in Zeilinger's 2007 landmark paper, it would NOT be correct. On the quantum level, the evidence shows, we have to give up material reality.

Prof, believe me, I'm having a hard time with this stuff myself. I was totally STUNNED when Dick Henry told me about Zeilinger's work. It seems crazy; totally at odds with everything our senses tell us. Even Zeilinger could not bring himself to believe the inevitable conclusion - he "just couldn't take it", in Professor Henry's words. But = if there is no material reality at the smallest microscopic level, there can be no material reality on the macroscopic level. The material world is illusion; the only reality is mind.

This is, indeed, "deep information", but I have gone into it at some length because it's so important - in fact it could answer many of the questions on this Forum.

I'm keeping my skeptical radar fully on. Zeilinger may yet be refuted - though all previous attempts to find a quantum material reality have failed - or he may be interpreting his data incorrectly. On the other hand ..... further experiments may back up his findings. And then - like it or not - we will have to accept that the universe is, as J B S Haldane said, "far stranger than we can even imagine" and that we are something much more than inevitable wormfood.
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Re: I'm a skeptic of any afterlife

Postby ProfWag » 30 Jul 2012, 04:18

Randi McSheldrake wrote:
This is all very deep information, but wouldn't it be simpler to think that life is what it is and when you pass, you actually just become bug food? It's actually quite probable that that is what will happen, based on what science has shown so far...


Prof, surely the question is not "would it be simpler?", but "would it be correct?"

Until more evidence comes out, and others smarter than me can help verify the findings, I'm sticking with us being bug food.
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