Can anyone be an atheist and also believe in an afterlife?

Feb 5, 2013


Discussion by: questforknowledge
Can anyone be an atheist and also believe in an afterlife?  just because one might not believe in a god does not rule out the existance of a continuation of the human soul?

167 comments on “Can anyone be an atheist and also believe in an afterlife?

  • 1
    Sliver69 says:

    What evidence is there that we have souls ? None. So why should there be an afterlife ? What a narcissistic egocentric concept. Just considering this idea is nothing more than mental masturbation.

  • 3
    Bananamama says:

    I guess, but if you believe in one afterlife then what about in an afterlife after that, then another one after that. Does it go on and on forever? At what point is this kind of open-mindedness counter-productive?

  • In reply to #4 by adiroth:

    It’s just that most people arrived to that conclusion by thinking rationally. That’s why most atheists are expected to be rational.

    A lot of people just have the position as a default – religion is not something that they think about, so they’re not really approaching atheism as an exercise in critical thinking. I think a lot of us here just come from a background of religion or are surrounded by those who are religious, so we have a different experience in that regard.

    That said, and in response to the question at large, there are atheists who believe that we were created by aliens. Atheism doesn’t necessarily have to have any other qualifiers other than a lack of belief in a deity, so it leaves a lot of room open for other weird stuff. People can be atheists and believe in ghosts, psychics, or petitioning the universe to grant their desires. An afterlife would be an easy thing for a person to imagine, since we tend to have this sense of two selves, our consciousness and our physical body. Even though I know better, it still feels like there’s a self that just resides inside of a body, with the body functioning as a vehicle of sorts for the consciousness, instead of it being one completely cohesive unit. It can be easy to imagine that “self” as something separate that can do its own thing without the body, whether we’re talking about a mystical afterlife or some piece of science fiction where the mind is digitized.



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  • 5
    theapex says:

    Atheism has nothing to do with after lives, but it would be irrational to believe in an afterlife, the same as it would be irrational to believe in a god.

  • 6
    adiroth says:

    In reply to #7 by Kim Probable:

    In reply to #4 by adiroth:

    It’s just that most people arrived to that conclusion by thinking rationally. That’s why most atheists are expected to be rational.

    A lot of people just have the position as a default – religion is not something that they think about, so they’re not really approaching atheism as an exercise in critical thinking. I think a lot of us here just come from a background of religion or are surrounded by those who are religious, so we have a different experience in that regard.

    Close. But just to be pedantic, by default, there wouldn’t be a position at all. The concept of god/s need to exist first to be disregard by atheism.



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  • 7
    This Is Not A Meme says:

    You can believe in all kinds of crazy shit and be an atheist. However, if you don’t believe in god(s) because of being a rationalist, you can’t believe in souls either because that’s metaphysical dualism (worse than an unfalsifiable claim like god). Technically, the mind doesn’t even exist as a discreet entity. You are your meat, or as the Buddha put it, “Where does a flame go once its fuel is exhausted?”

    How about afterlife without a soul? Biocentrism Theory could allow for that. There are also Eastern Vedic traditions that teach continuity of consciousness through the experience of death, but that any aspect of self that you would care to call your “self” ceases to exist, as it never really existed in the first place. This is kind of like realizing your protein will become food and continue to exist, but there is no ‘you’ any longer. In such belief systems, the quality of your consciousness at death determines its quality as a component in future aggregations of consciousness… kinda like how a frightened animal is chewier to eat.

    There’s this great 50s sci-fi movie where a rich guy has a brain tumor, so he orders doctors to give him a full brain transplant… he wanted to make sure it was a smart brain so he could have those skills… yeah. Souls are silly.

    Edit: reading the wikipedia link to biocentrism i noticed this might interest you: Monstic Idealism

  • 8
    Cairsley says:

    If by ‘soul’ you mean a Platonic type of soul, that is one that exists independently of anything else and can dwell in a body, then of course it is conceivable that the soul (consciousness, rational mind and will and whatever) survives the death of the body. Plato is a philosopher who did not believe in God but who did believe in an afterlife (particularly by way of metempsychosis), and something similar could be said of the Neo-Platonists. However, what is conceivable is not worthy of belief unless one has objective, testable evidence and reasoning to justify one’s beliefs. The problem with the Platonic notion of a soul is that it is not supported by any such evidence but draws its appeal from the subjectively apparent duality of mind and body. For the afterlife there is not even this kind of pseudo-evidence.

    If we ordinarily experienced an ongoing awareness while our bodies were asleep, the case for an independently existing soul would be much stronger, even though this kind of experience would be entirely subjective, for it would be a commonly referred-to experience. But not even that kind of subjective evidence is available. Instead, all the evidence we have from our own experience and from objective observation indicates that our consciousness is very much dependent on brain functions and processes.

    If by ‘soul’ you mean an Aristotelian type of soul, that is one that is a composite part of the living organism to which it belongs as the principle of life and thought (in Aristotle’s philosophy) or as the mode of consciousness generated by the neural systems of the brain (in modern neuroscience), it is not conceivable that the soul survives the death of the body. The soul in this case is something understood to be integral to the organism itself and therefore exists and perishes with that organism. It is true that Thomas Aquinas, using Aristotle’s philosophy to analyse human nature, argued for the human soul surviving death and entering upon an afterlife, but he did so by adducing elements of Platonic philosophy which had been adopted long before in Christian theology, along with superstitious beliefs based on scriptural texts and church teaching.



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  • The closest I can think of that is the Riverworld novels by Philip Jose Farmer. In this entertaining series advanced aliens have observing humans ( and a multitude of other alien races ) since prehistoric times and have the technology to record a naturally occurring thing that all living things have that is analogous to a soul in that it contains information about that organism but unlike a soul in that it perishes with the owner.

    The aliens have taken it upon themselves to reconstitute all sentient beings on terra-formed worlds using the information they have garnered in their spying activities and all of humanity is reborn on a giant river world.
    Cleverly Farmer has set up a scenario where an Alien race takes on many of the aspects of a deity but uses science and technology to achieve their aims. As somebody once pointed out advanced technology becomes like magic at a certain point.

    Obviously we have no evidence for the existence of such a thing, but it occurs to me that a sufficiently advanced race could invent a device that can analyse DNA and neural networks and somehow grow a clone body which they can give put the copy of the network into, thereby raising that person to all intents and purposes back to life.

    Of course we are a long way off that technology even if it is possible. As Sam Harris points out it is possible to make a religion out of science so although it’s an interesting thought I don’t see this as likely for many generations to come and it also would not be a way of cheating death – simply postponing it. All energy runs to entropy in the end.



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  • 10
    Bigtimedwarfer says:

    Atheists are perfectly capable of being irrational, so yes. That doesn’t make it true though.

  • 12
    Modesti says:

    In my opinion, atheism is not a belief ! For me atheism is absence of beliefs. I am an atheist since my birth, which is natural state of being. Atheism is perhaps a colloquially phrase for those people who do not believe in anything supernatural, but literally “atheism” means opposite of theism. There are people who believe in existence of a soul, but they do not believe in god. As Sliver69 said “what evidence is there that we have souls?” By definition I would consider them as atheists. 🙂 Since atheism has become a synonym for absence of beliefs, perhaps those people are not atheists? In my opinion there is no soul, only transformation of energy between people that some times resonates (electromagnetic field with certain frequency). 😉



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  • 13
    SaganTheCat says:

    depends why you’re an atheist and what “atheism” means.

    in “Paradise Lost” the word “Atheist ” is used to describe those who rebelled against god ,so in that sense you could since that term assumes a belief in god

    if you mean atheist in the modern non-believing way then we’d have to ask why you’re an atheist.

    for me, atheism is a by-product of reason. i don’t believe in gods because not only does the evidence refute gods but it supports the notion of gods being invented as as an explainaition of nature. such an explaination does not survive under philosophical scrutiny, in particular because it introduces dualism. one thing seems to explain another but in fact just shifts the question. if nature is just god’s greaton, what’s god?

    there is no place you’re more likely to find the falacy of dualism than inside people’s own heads. the idea that their consciousness, as it is effectively everything they experience, must be something seperate from the nature that created it.

    once again, the evidence fails to support this, suggests strongly it’s a common human psychological short-coming and superficially answers a question of existance while simply shifting it to a another place.

    dualism is fine if any answer will do. if you don’t need true understanding. if you ask why a house was built and are happy with the answer that it’s to hold wallpaper in an upright position then you were never that curious.

    the evidence suggests very strongly your consciousness is a by-product of a biological process. failures in such processes are implicated in loss of consciousness. communication between you apes requires sensory input, talking, writing, sign language. these require a functioning body.

    blind people don’t get by using the eyes ghosts get to see with, they get by using the senses that work.

    if you want to believe in life after death, fine but how lazy is that? you need to define wuch a thing. do you believe in life before birth? if so you can describe it i assume? how long do you live after death? is it eternal? in which case start definiing eternity (the universe is very young at the moment. in a far off distant time it will no longer be able to create new stars and everything will start to fade. even then the universe will still be very, very young but eternity hasn’t even begun yet.

    so, yes an atheist can believe in an afterlife but then a priest can believe in evolution, just so long as he doesn’t think about it too much



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  • 14
    Nodhimmi says:

    I take it we all accept our place in the animal kingdom? Does the Christian church not say animals have no soul? (correct me if wrong)



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  • 15
    waarsnico@gmail.com says:

    In reply to #1 by Sliver69:

    What evidence is there that we have souls ? None. So why should there be an afterlife ? What a narcissistic egocentric concept. Just considering this idea is nothing more than mental masturbation.

    Mmmm, given the circumstances let’s say you have a spouse or namely a child at gunpoint…Would you act like a pesky robot and sit by and idly do nothing while meeting your own fate? Let us say your child gets abducted or you see a woman about to get raped could you live with yourself and drink your morning coffees as you have not a care in the world? We aren’t animals we are selfconscious and we have the ability to reason. There might be….MIGHT be… no evidence. But you can never rule out the possibility that we are not soulless. Hence your argument is completely invalid. Please apply water to burn.
    🙂



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  • 16
    Alan4discussion says:

    In reply to #18 by waarsnico@gmail.com:

    Mmmm, given the circumstances let’s say you have a spouse or namely a child at gunpoint…Would you act like a pesky robot and sit by and idly do nothing while meeting your own fate? Let us say your child gets abducted or you see a woman about to get raped could you live with yourself and drink your morning coffees as you have not a care in the world?

    What on Earth has this strawman of family loyalty or human empathy, got to do with afterlives or the fantasy “soul” fiction? By this irrational thinking my cat has a soul because she defended her kittens from a dog!

    We aren’t animals we are selfconscious and we have the ability to reason.

    Actually we are animals – vertebrates – mammals – primates – and like other mammals, our consciousness works by neurological processes of electric circuitry and biochemistry.

    There might be….MIGHT be… no evidence.

    There is no evidence. Physical measuring techniques would detect ANY energies involved.

    But you can never rule out the possibility that we are not soulless.

    Wishful thinkers will normally cling to the remotest of possibilities , including their own imagined ones! (Double or multiple negatives are usually an indication of this sort of thinking)

    Hence your argument is completely invalid.

    This is an example of wishful irrational psudo-deduction – claiming imagined remote possibilities, can refute strongly supported scientific evidence that energies can be measured.

    Please apply water to burn.

    Please refrain from making a fool of yourself in a rational debate.



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  • 17
    SaganTheCat says:

    In reply to #17 by Nodhimmi:

    I take it we all accept our place in the animal kingdom? Does the Christian church not say animals have no soul? (correct me if wrong)

    that’s what i heard. when my house-ape was little he was told he was going to cat-lick heaven but cats aren’t allowed, only a particular sub-species of ape. being told heaven is a bit shite is one way to set a child on the road to atheism….



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  • 18
    crookedshoes says:

    Alan4,
    Thanks, I was gearing up, but you took the high road and said what needed to be said.

    I was already sanctioned on another thread for (I guess) being too direct and too argumentative…. I also used profanity in describing the type of thought demonstrated here as a sort of bovine excrement. I do not know which got me in hot water, but, I probably would have done the same thing here.



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  • 21
    blitz442 says:

    You assume that souls exist – where is the evidence? Also, there are some logistical problems with souls, such as:

    1.) If you die while suffering dementia, is your soul also eternally addled?
    2.) If a 3 week-old baby dies, does the soul remain in this infantile state?
    3.) How is information transferred to/from the physical brain to/from the soul?
    4.) If the soul is completely independent from the brain, wouldn’t that make the brain redundant?

    In other words, there is no guarantee that your soul will resemble the competent adult person that we all want ourselves to be, living in eternal bliss. In fact, for many individuals that is a complete impossibility.

    Belief in souls seems to be the ultimate in wish-thinking.



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  • 22
    Hordad says:

    In reply to #18 by waarsnico@gmail.com:

    In reply to #1 by Sliver69:

    What evidence is there that we have souls ? None. So why should there be an afterlife ? What a narcissistic egocentric concept. Just considering this idea is nothing more than mental masturbation.

    Mmmm, given the circumstances let’s say you have a spouse or namely a child at gunpoint…Would you act like a pesky robot and sit by and idly do nothing while meeting your own fate? Let us say your child gets abducted or you see a woman about to get raped could you live with yourself and drink your morning coffees as you have not a care in the world? We aren’t animals we are selfconscious and we have the ability to reason. There might be….MIGHT be… no evidence. But you can never rule out the possibility that we are not soulless. Hence your argument is completely invalid. Please apply water to burn.
    🙂

    Human being is another kind of animal of course, and generally its selfishness and greed causes to find itself having more right -not anybody also- to live and consume.
    In addition, mind controlling characteristics of the religions specially monotheistic ones, like judaism, christianism and islam fundamentally makes you -or someone like you- think that there’s another chance of life in another unknown form. Actually with the aim of deceiving you to own you and your possessions.
    Hence, having morals (or ethics that is conditional and relative) has nothing to do with proving the delusion of human soul and afterlife…



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  • 23
    BroughtyBoy says:

    If we live in an eternal oscillating universe, then an afterlife of sorts would seem inevitable. A cyclical regeneration of everything in existence will eventually throw up the prerequisite conditions for life – indeed, eternity suggests we will lead carbon copies of our current lives an infinite amount of times. Afterlife is perhaps the wrong term, as these lives would be neither before nor after, but alternative. Moreover, the link to our present existence would be made particularly tenuous by the fact that no connection, no record and no memory of alternative lives will exist.



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  • 24
    crookedshoes says:

    IF.

    In reply to #26 by BroughtyBoy:

    If we live in an eternal oscillating universe, then an afterlife of sorts would seem inevitable. A cyclical regeneration of everything in existence will eventually throw up the prerequisite conditions for life – indeed, eternity suggests we will lead carbon copies of our current lives an infinite amount of times. Afterlife is perhaps the wrong term, as these lives would be neither before nor after, but alternative. Moreover, the link to our present existence would be made particularly tenuous by the fact that no connection, no record and no memory of alternative lives will exist.



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  • 25
    blitz442 says:

    In reply to #27 by crookedshoes:

    IF.

    In reply to #26 by BroughtyBoy:

    If we live in an eternal oscillating universe, then an afterlife of sorts would seem inevitable. A cyclical regeneration of everything in existence will eventually throw up the prerequisite conditions for life – indeed, eternity suggests we will lead carbon copies of our current lives an infinite amount of times. Afterlife is perhaps the wrong term, as these lives would be neither before nor after, but alternative. Moreover, the link to our present existence would be made particularly tenuous by the fact that no connection, no record and no memory of alternative lives will exist.

    You mean that I have to go through middle school again and again and again?



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  • 26
    Simon Tuffen says:

    If by “afterlife” you mean a life that comes after something else, you’re living it now (this life comes after your very long non-existence).

    If by “afterlife” you mean something that comes after a life, that’s called “death”.

    If by “afterlife” you mean life coming after life, that doesn’t even make any sense.



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  • 27
    zengardener says:

    An atheist can also believe in fairies, Santa Claus, gnomes, telekinesis, astrology, werewolves, lucky numbers, free will, objective morality, and that black holes lead to parallel universes.



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  • 28
    Izzy Zaidman says:

    To be gutsy enough to attempt respectfully simplifying what most folks here are more or less unanimously saying….

    There is no empirical evidence to suggest that god exists, which does not rule out the possibility of his existence but makes it so unlikely, it is reasonable to live your life assuming he does not. If you believe he does not exist…you are an atheist….Being an atheist does not mean you have to do anything or believe anything else other than not-believe in god.

    So yes you absolutely CAN be an atheist and believe in an afterlife as well as souls.

    However, if you apply the same logic of skepticism to the existence of an afterlife and souls, there can be no other conclusion…. The lack of evidence hence likelihood of their existence is so low, proceeding through life believing they do is clearly a waste of time and an injury to the smooth functioning of ones rational brain.

    Cheers!
    Izzy



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  • 32
    questforknowledge says:

    Some great responses to my original question, very interesting reading.My own view is that I do believe in an afterlife (a continuation of the soul) incl reincarnation. I dont believe it the god of the bible, but I do believe in a creator.I have been a Christian, a Mormon, a Jehovahs witness. and after studying with them found them all to be false for varying reasons.Some of the comments here talk about proof of a surviving soul. I am quite happy with the proof that I DO have, if you want proof you have to search for it.Dont write proof off before you have searched. I am not an athiest, but I dont believe in any of the popular gods.so where do I fit in?



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  • 34
    Nordic11 says:

    In reply to #17 by Nodhimmi:

    I take it we all accept our place in the animal kingdom? Does the Christian church not say animals have no soul? (correct me if wrong)

    Hi Nodhimmi,

    Just a clarification. The Christian belief that no animal species had souls arose during the Enlightenment. Before that, most Christians believed that “nephesh” animals (those capable of having relationships with humans) had souls.



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  • 35
    Nordic11 says:

    In reply to #18 by waarsnico@gmail.com:

    In reply to #1 by Sliver69:

    What evidence is there that we have souls ? None. So why should there be an afterlife ? What a narcissistic egocentric concept. Just considering this idea is nothing more than mental masturbation.

    Mmmm, given the circumstances let’s say you have a spouse or namely a child at gunpoint…Would you act like a pesky robot and sit by and idly do nothing while meeting your own fate? Let us say your child gets abducted or you see a woman about to get raped could you live with yourself and drink your morning coffees as you have not a care in the world? We aren’t animals we are selfconscious and we have the ability to reason. There might be….MIGHT be… no evidence. But you can never rule out the possibility that we are not soulless. Hence your argument is completely invalid. Please apply water to burn.
    🙂 Well said (written)!!



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  • 36
    Nordic11 says:

    In reply to #38 by Nordic11:

    In reply to #18 by waarsnico@gmail.com:

    In reply to #1 by Sliver69:

    What evidence is there that we have souls ? None. So why should there be an afterlife ? What a narcissistic egocentric concept. Just considering this idea is nothing more than mental masturbation.

    Mmmm, given the circumstances let’s say you have a spouse or namely a child at gunpoint…Would you act like a pesky robot and sit by and idly do nothing while meeting your own fate? Let us say your child gets abducted or you see a woman about to get raped could you live with yourself and drink your morning coffees as you have not a care in the world? We aren’t animals we are selfconscious and we have the ability to reason. There might be….MIGHT be… no evidence. But you can never rule out the possibility that we are not soulless. Hence your argument is completely invalid. Please apply water to burn.
    🙂 Well said (written)!!

    In reply to #38 by Nordic11:

    In reply to #18 by waarsnico@gmail.com:

    In reply to #1 by Sliver69:

    What evidence is there that we have souls ? None. So why should there be an afterlife ? What a narcissistic egocentric concept. Just considering this idea is nothing more than mental masturbation.

    Mmmm, given the circumstances let’s say you have a spouse or namely a child at gunpoint…Would you act like a pesky robot and sit by and idly do nothing while meeting your own fate? Let us say your child gets abducted or you see a woman about to get raped could you live with yourself and drink your morning coffees as you have not a care in the world? We aren’t animals we are selfconscious and we have the ability to reason. There might be….MIGHT be… no evidence. But you can never rule out the possibility that we are not soulless. Hence your argument is completely invalid. Please apply water to burn.
    🙂

    Well said (written)!! Sorry I wrote the last comment in the wrong place.



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  • 37
    GospelofJudas says:

    In reply to #34 by Daniel Williams:

    Budism?

    No god but reincarnation, though not necessarily human.

    But seriously no. I don’t think so.

    This might be it, though many Buddhists eschew reincarnation (and have a very different perception of ‘souls’, equating the term as we use it in the West with your ego).



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  • 38
    Linda TX says:

    And there is no reason that one couldn’t be a member of the “Flat Earth Society” and also be an atheist, but somehow I doubt it. Buddhists believe in an afterlife but do not necessarily believe in any god, but not many of them would identify themselves as atheists.
    You haven’t established that there is evidence for something defined as a “soul”, and believing “souls” exist without one shred of evidence is an unreasonable belief, or an afterlife, evidence is not personal experiences, people who claim they died and went to either heaven or hell is not proof of anything. Holy-rollers have religious experiences just about every Sunday, but it doesn’t make atheists believe in god.
    Frankly, how can theists be so sure that there is only one god why not many gods, after all there is no way to know for sure, and nobody has dis-proven the existence of the tooth fairy, does mean that it’s rational to believe it? A reasonable hypothesis is an educated guess or an idea with some degree of evidence or research, not my happy ass daydreams, or groundless claims that are not based on educated guesses, research or evidence. The hypothesis that there is an afterlife, which originated with the ancient Egyptians, will have to be proven no matter what the rebuttal.
    I think people come to logical conclusions about things all the time, but only atheists apply that method to religion and other forms of superstition. When people assume something is true, and make claims that they expect everyone to believe, they need to provide the logical basis for the assumption. Proving anything requires demonstrating that the hypothesis is logical. That can and is used to prove things in science all the time. If a claim can’t be proven we can dismiss it. When there is a dispute it’s those making an unusual claim who must prove it. I am not making a claim, I simply do not accept an assumption without any real proof (not the same thing) and of course, when an incredible claim is made the burden of proof is on the side that tries to prove the positive. Those who assume that there is an afterlife, or anything else, should have the basic information needed to apply critical thinking to examine their assumption (if you acknowledge that theology is not information) it must be demonstrated, not assumed. It is plain that there are no standards (at least none that survive scrutiny) by which one may reasonably assume there is an afterlife, there isn’t!
    I don’t think atheists should feel the least bit intimidated about proving something. Dismissing an unsubstantiated claim has nothing to do with what I think I can prove, I’m in the Stephen Hawking camp, I think that there is a preponderance of evidence that god does not exist.



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  • 39
    GospelofJudas says:

    I don’t believe that after you die, you go to some place that looks like a set from ‘What Dreams May Come’ and meet all of your deceased loved ones and live in bliss, with all your memories intact, no. As described below, the idea of a soul runs into problems, since we are not immutable, unchanging beings but instead are constantly being influenced by everything around us. Just reading this comments will make you process them, and you will be (however insignificantly) different than you were a few seconds ago, to say nothing of who we were years ago. If the soul adopts memories, then what happens if memories are lost? If it is merely the animating spark of our bodies, then what difference does it make what happens next, since our bodies are our interface with the world? We are heavy elements forged in the hearts of stars, made to dance by the light of Sol. Desperately hoping for conscious awareness after death is only going to make you miserable, in my opinion, and recursive thinking for all the wonders of reason it reveals can be quite a burden. You’re better off letting go, and accepting that as the substance which you attribute to your ‘self’ goes through the myriad cycles of existence it’s destined for, your memories and pain from here and now won’t be cluttering it.



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  • 41
    QuestioningKat says:

    Yes, you can be an atheist and believe in an afterlife. When I was a deist, I believed in God but did not believe in an afterlife. There are plenty of people who have a different definitions of God other than “big man in the sky.” I have known plenty of people who believe in a Universal Energy and not any Biblical or Abrahamic God who believe that they were reincarnated or will continue on in some way. In fact, many Buddhists can be considered atheists, but they are far different from the atheists that you will find here. We may think that beliefs are a package deal, but you will find many variations depending upon the individual. I have even known atheists who follow their horoscope – really.

    In order to prove the continuation of life after death, you would need to prove that the soul exists. To make a long story short — there is no proof no matter what anyone tells you. Several years ago, I did a lot of mental gymnastics thinking about written views on what was said about the idea of a soul. All leads and views lead to my realization that an afterlife could not exist. This is the only life you live even if there was a soul, I concluded that it would be so far removed from who you are that it would be the same as if you died and everything went black. Your “soul” is dependent upon your sex, sexuality, personality, family history, ego, nervous system, relationships, biology, education, life experiences, social economic status, health, etc.- anything human. Eastern and metaphysical religions teach that all this humanity is impermanent and does not last beyond this lifetime. The problem is….this is everything of who you are. They then conclude that you are “love” — something that they are unable to define as a positive. They approach the idea of “love” by saying what it is not.

    The final nail in the idea of a soul is brain manipulation. If a medical doctor were to remove a section of your brain, you would never get back what you lost. Remove your frontal lobe and you get One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest. Remove your arms and you are no longer able to hug. If you have a stroke or Alzheimers your thoughts, actions, mobilities, etc. can be drastically effected. Some people hold the view that the real self is somewhere else on hold waiting for death to be released. What about a child born with severe disabilities who will never reach a maturity beyond the age of two? Where is the wise mature self that people think makes a soul? Unfortunately, this “soul” person does not exist; they are who they are right now.We want so much to think that there is something greater than who we are, but we are a culmination of all those traits that I mentioned above that make us human plus the workings of our physical brains which are far more complex and flawed than what some people want to acknowledge. If you are still having doubts about what I say pay attention to the next time you need surgery. I realized that anesthesia was an excellent way of helping me to acknowledge what death would be like. Hours of time were lost at the hands of a trained anesthesiologist. The difference is in death you don’t wake up.



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  • “Can anyone be an atheist and also believe in an afterlife?”

    Yes. A-theist does not mean pro-science, it just means non-religious.

    You can believe in yetis, ufos, fairies and goblins and still be a-theist.



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  • 43
    crookedshoes says:

    I am not going to criticize you for not being a scientist. I also am not thinking I am superior.

    I will however, get on you a bit for not even making sense to yourself. You attempt to take a jab at me when I support someone whose opinion I agree with.

    You then start an argument with yourself. How can you even expect to be taken seriously or as a credible source when you cannot come to consensus in your own brain before you decide to post?

    In reply to #45 by Smill:

    I think I mean that art will always bend science to a different aesthetic. The soul belongs to art and science should leave it alone. Maybe.



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  • 44
    QuestioningKat says:

    In reply to #44 by Smill:

    What seems important is the concept, and whether, without evidence, the concept should die. For some reason people keep hanging onto notions of existence outside of the physical reality, which seems to suggest it is a necessary function of the creative mind, and not simply to do with religious indoctrination. Now, i am not a scientist, as I am sure someone will insult me for not being, very shortly, but I am fascinated by what someone else would call the irrational. Perhaps being irrational sometimes is not a malfunction of what some refer to as the computer brain, and others as the meat computer. ‘beauty is truth, truth beauty’ but maybe this is now just pre-scientific waffle in your brave new world of organised science. And maybe I don’t agree with what I am suggesting myself, but I find it interesting to think about anyway.

    I’m the least scientifically literate person here. My background is art and design and art education (and lots of it.) To be an atheist is not dependent upon science. In fact, science had nothing to do with me becoming an atheist. Rational thinking certainly did.

    I am interesting in your view that “it is a necessary function of the creative mind…” How do you define “creative mind?” Also, irrational is quite easy to see in everyday living. You’ve met people who have acted irrationally, right? They make unreasonable demands, act erratically, they act before thinking, they have poor perception over what really happened, they overlook facts, they make unreasonable demands…



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  • 45
    QuestioningKat says:

    In reply to #45 by Smill:

    I think I mean that art will always bend science to a different aesthetic. The soul belongs to art and science should leave it alone. Maybe.

    OK, but I am an artist and designer and think that the “soul” can be explained by not only science but various religious beliefs can be used against each other to show it’s not possible. If you reframe or break down exactly what a “soul” is, you really don’t lose anything that is important, inspiring, motivating, joyous, quirky, masterful, etc. that makes up a rich and fully lived life. The only thing that is lost is the idea of a ghost in the machine and permanence.



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  • 46
    mmurray says:

    In reply to #40 by Smill:

    In reply to post 19 and 21. Wow! What’s it like up there from your assumed position of superiority? I say to anyone, don’t be afraid of seeming foolish, or not towing the line. Be an explorer and learn!

    I agree completely. Start your learning with this youtube video

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Vrs-Azp0i3k

    in which Sean Carroll explains what we know about reality based on our understanding of physics. Basically the story goes like this: our minds are products of our brains and the forces and particles involved in our brains occur at energy levels at which we understand everything that is going on. This is the standard model and all the data coming out of the LHC tells that this is it. There is no room for the kind of “magic” to occur that would be required for our minds to survive our physical death.

    Michael



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  • 47
    mmurray says:

    In reply to #1 by Sliver69:

    What evidence is there that we have souls ? None.

    Well ghosts, near death experiences, childhood apparent recall of past lives. I think they can all be explained away without resort to over turning everything we understand about reality.

    So why should there be an afterlife ? What a narcissistic egocentric concept. Just considering this idea is nothing more than mental masturbation.

    I think considering it is fine. Holding on to it after someone has explained the difficulties with it and the explanations for the evidence above is the silly bit.

    Michael



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  • 48
    Cairsley says:

    In reply to #45 by Smill:

    I think I mean that art will always bend science to a different aesthetic. The soul belongs to art and science should leave it alone. Maybe.

    You have a point, Smill. Recognizing that the self-aware rational consciousness of humans is generated by their brains may lead some to overlook the significance of each instance of such consciousness, each human person, in determining what kind of society we live in, how we treat each other, and what we do with our lives. It makes sense to say of someone who only looks at objective, scientifically testable observations and takes no interest in the values that we subjectively recognize that he or she has no soul. ‘Soul’ is a word we use to refer to personhood, subjectivity, which is a fact of human existence. It retains its usefulness after it has been accepted that human consciousness is a product of brain processes. Our moral and legal systems remain based on the fundamental notion that the human person is not just another thing in the world to be used for anyone else’s purposes but is, as Kant put it, an end in itself, a sovereign person, a soul. Art has always manifested the sovereignty of the soul, and it is no accident that artists have always been in the vanguard of struggles against oppression of any sort. The next time you, be you scientist or not, look at another human body, however beautiful or ugly, what you are also seeing is a human soul, a being of incalculable dignity.



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  • there is nothing contradictory in being an atheist and believing in an afterlife. an atheist simply doesn’t believe there is a god. this says nothing about any sort of post mortem survival. for me, there’s a problem with terminology. “afterlife” seems to imply something supernatural, and this brings with it notions of gods and suchlike. however, as Sam Harris has said elsewhere, the jury is still out on what consciousness actually is and what happens to it when the body perishes. Based on any sort of evidence that we have so far, all the indications are that there is no post mortem survival but that’s all it is; just an indication. Nothing categorical can be said or claimed. “Everything seems spiritual, magical, and miraculous until it is explained”, to paraphrase Arthur C Clark. Perhaps an atheist can believe that there’s an afterlife but that it is just not connected to a deity.



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  • 50
    Sample says:

    I didn’t like this question at first, but then I started thinking about animism. Perhaps our distant ancestors evolved from having an animistic perspective (which could look atheistic) to one having distinct god beliefs and distinct hereafters.

    Animism can be slippery to define but I do think it comes close to what you are thinking of. Of course, I don’t accept that animism has any evidence going for it, but then again you didn’t specify a need for an evidence-based perspective in your criteria.

    Mike



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  • 52
    crookedshoes says:

    this is a good point and something that is welcome (to me). But this is primarily a place of rational thought and you have to expect that when you log on. Whimsy is awesome as are dissenting opinions. But, do not confuse someone acting “superior” with someone being correct.

    I live in a world where there are provable, verifiable correct answers. To support someone’s incorrect answers because you find the anthropological backstory fascinating is a stance that is understandable. But, to give the wrong answer even footing with a proven correct answer is foolish at best and dangerous at worst.

    Some of your attitude seems to be in the dangerous category to me. You want to debate the color of fairy’s wings? To those who believe in fairies, this validates the field of “fairyology”. To then elevate that field to the status of quantum physics is dangerous. Especially when you keep in mind the sheer number of rubes and fools that are out there.

    When you state contradictory sentences back-to-back in the same sentence, it kinda paints you into the fools category.

    In reply to #52 by Smill:

    Hello, Crooked shoes. I do not share the same worry about being taken seriously. I think there’s sometimes a little too much ego and comments about fools and credibility and being ‘taken seriously’. It hampers debate, especially because it’s difficult for someone not scientifically educated to take part. Someone below posted to someone else ‘please refrain from making a fool of yourself in a rational debate’. The purpose of this website is to promote reason and scientific thinking. But among only those who have already achieved it?



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  • 53
    QuestioningKat says:

    In reply to #56 by Smill:

    By the creative mind I mean ways of thinking that don’t follow a logical sequence (I’m trying to explain it scientifically!) but that can represent real life in unique and equally valid ways. That appeals to the emotions, and symbolic pathways of understanding. Altered states, but I am not referring to suffering mental ill health. But a need for imaginative means of expression that conflict sometimes with what is rational without meaning to deceive but represent other aspects of lived experience that feel true. I think the creative aspect of the mind functions in this way, the soul can be the muse or Sophia, for example. But I don’t look over the easel and expect to see her sitting there.

    I assume this is a response to my question. My personal view is that there is nothing wrong with an imaginative means for expression that does not follow a sequence – is more spontaneous, symbolism, deals with emotions and the like. What I have found is that there are appropriate times to use these thought processes and times in which they clash with reality. If someone is using these thought processes to create a new invention, create a work of art, better understand a personal situation realistically, express their personal feelings of preference, then they are appropriate. What usually happens is people use these processes in ways that make stuff up when they don’t understand the workings of something. We hate gaps in our understanding and try to fill it with information – sometimes any information will do as long as we personally think it makes sense. We jump to conclusions. Yet, it may not be true. Creativity naturally wants to link up two different ideas and bridge them together with a solution. Someone clever realized a piece of paper and tape could be replace by post-it notes. Someone else realized our cars get hot by being in the sun and it needed an easy to store visor. I have one lightweight one that folds up into a small circle about a foot in diameter. The inventor found a solution bridging the two problems together by understanding how a fiberglass frame works and what materials to use.

    Unfortunately, we can also think creatively at inappropriate times. Ever been in a conversation and someone assumes something without knowing the whole story? People also make stuff up when they don’t understand the facts. We see a short amount of time in which something occurred and assume it happened magically. We see an athlete score a perfect ten with perfect ease and assume they were guide by something divine, but we ignore the fall, injuries, decades of practice, trainers, knowledge, skill, effort etc. Someone suddenly gets better after an illness and they proclaim that it was a miracle. What if no doctor were involved (in a documented illness)? no medicine? no medical procedures? A creative jump can potentially ignore much of the effort required by others. Ideally, it is best to know all the details, yet few really want to take the time an effort realizing the facts. Some people also ignore the facts because they contradict deeply held views. Creative thinking has its place, but is also greatly misused. (Try googling logical fallacies.)



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  • 54
    QuestioningKat says:

    In reply to #59 by Smill:

    In reply to post 53. I am not referring to magic I am referring to enjoying beauty.

    One of the biggest misconceptions about atheists is that they have no feeling and are unable to enjoy life, beauty, pleasure, art, etc. because they approach it like characters on the “Big Bang” TV show- robotic, analytical and lacking emotion. This may be true for some, but being an atheist does not mean you cannot or do not enjoy the “poetry” of life.



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  • 55
    Rafael Tejada says:

    In the concept one person could believe in afterlife and be an atheist at the same time; but both ideas are out of reasonable, then it doesn’t make sense to have different opinion about ideas that contradict the scientific point of view. Both ideas are similar, cannot be proved and are useless if we want to explain life concepts in a reasonable way.



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  • 56
    mmurray says:

    In reply to #59 by Smill:

    In reply to post 53. I am not referring to magic I am referring to enjoying beauty.

    What has exploring beauty got to do with the afterlife ? Sure your brain can do all kinds of wonderful things but they stay in your brain and when your brain stops they stop. No afterlife.

    Michael



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  • 57
    mmurray says:

    In reply to #58 by Smill:

    Hi Garrick Worthing. It is about being self-aware and how we look at ourselves and others, not just as meat computers, as someone below said.

    Being self-aware and how we look at ourselves and others is what meat computers do.

    Michael



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  • 58
    JoxerTheMighty says:

    Well, sometimes I think that, if humanity exists, in one form or another, 10 million years from now, the technology will probably be unfathomable…so maybe those future humans would be able to “bring” and object(my body, that is, moments before I die) from the past and rectify it from any disease, old age, etc etc…or at least “probe” into the past and reconstruct the bodies perfectly into their time. Think Spielberg’s “AI”, but without the “you die when you fall asleep” glitch. In which case, if I die, I will wake up in a chamber 1 million years later 😛

    I realize this is sci-fi and not science though…still maybe it’s not impossible.



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  • 59
    brighterstill says:

    The great thing about being an a-anything is that you don’t “have” to believe (or disbelieve) anything. There’s no club we’re going to kick you out of or decoder ring we’re going to revoke if you find yourself convinced of the existence of an afterlife.

    It’s kind of like asking “Am I allowed to not believe in fairies but still believe in good-luck charms?” Yes, you’re allowed to do whatever you want. I find it a bit odd that you are an atheist presumably because you are unconvinced of the existence of a god or gods (I would imagine due to lack of evidence) and yet the very same amount of evidence exists (or fails to exist) concerning an afterlife. But then again, we don’t really get to choose what we’re convinced of. So either you do believe or you don’t, and good luck with that.



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  • 60
    brighterstill says:

    I’d like to clarify to commenters here claiming that the atheist stance is rational, therefore atheists only believe things on rational grounds. We may be spoiled if we’ve “come to atheism” from a rational exploration of the possibilities of theism, and therefore completely overlook the subset of atheists who were simply not raised religious and therefore by default don’t believe in a god or gods – and haven’t given it further thought. Atheists can still be as irrational as anyone else and just by circumstance be atheistic. It’s not a title you win through rigorous epistemological self-discovery, it’s just a state, like being lactose intolerant or not.



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  • 61
    waarsnico@gmail.com says:

    If you believe that humans have no souls then feel free to stick to that philosophy.
    If you ridicule my statements, well good for you 🙂 I don’t have any first prize stickers or cookies to ship you.
    You have a point that there is no evidence to point that humans have no souls.
    But then again for a fact you don’t have any rational proven, solid, evidence that backs up your arguments so your word is just as good as mine.
    It might, once again MIGHT be improbable that humans may not have souls. But it is not impossible.
    So put that in your pipe and smoke it and then divide it by zero. 🙂
    And based on some of the statements you guys post, you only post it to ridicule other religions (bigotry) namely one of the reasons I went out of organized religion.
    I am most likely not the only one that feels this way, hence I’m posting this statement.
    Good day. 🙂



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  • 62
    mmurray says:

    In reply to #71 by waarsnico@gmail.com:

    If you believe that humans have no souls then feel free to stick to that philosophy.
    If you ridicule my statements, well good for you 🙂 I don’t have any first prize stickers or cookies to ship you.
    You have a point that there is no evidence to point that humans have no souls.
    But then again for a fact you don’t have any rational proven, solid, evidence that backs up your arguments so your word is just as good as mine.

    It is not just that there is no evidence for souls there is solid evidence against souls. Have a look at the Sean Carroll video I posted above in Comment #53. The existence of souls would mean something was very wrong with physics we understand extremely well. That is evidence against their existence.

    Michael



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  • 63
    waarsnico@gmail.com says:

    http://historicmysteries.com/the-21-gram-soul-theory/ Can I be really honest? Life is too short about debating whether or not there is a soul or not. You can either accept the fact that you have a soul or don’t. It’s like a game of blackjack. I for one are just very skeptical. In reply to #73 by mmurray:

    In reply to #71 by waarsnico@gmail.com:

    If you believe that humans have no souls then feel free to stick to that philosophy.
    If you ridicule my statements, well good for you 🙂 I don’t have any first prize stickers or cookies to ship you.
    You have a point that there is no evidence to point that humans have no souls.
    But then again for a fact you don’t have any rational proven, solid, evidence that backs up your arguments so your word is just as good as mine.

    It is not just that there is no evidence for souls there is solid evidence against souls. Have a look at the Sean Carroll video I posted above in Comment #53. The existence of souls would mean something was very wrong with physics we understand extremely well. That is evidence against their existence.

    Michael



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  • 65
    QuestioningKat says:

    You can either accept the fact that you have a soul or don’t. It’s like a game of blackjack. I for one are just very skeptical.

    Let’s turn the tables here. You can either accept the fact that you do not have a soul and consciousness ends at death or don’t. How does that feel to you? If you were truly skeptical you would look into the facts. My guess is that you have not read all of the comments. Several provide insight and valid points that strongly knock down the idea of a soul. Could you list ten reasons a soul is not likely to exist? How about you give proof that it does exist? You are the one stating the positive.



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  • 66
    odalrich says:

    ” … …. …just because one might not believe in a god does not rule out the existance of a continuation of the human soul?”

    “human soul”? questforknowledge, my dear boy, first of all you’ll have to prove the existence of that “human soul” to be able to ask the above question. I think you’re an agnostic, rather than an atheist.



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  • 67
    crookedshoes says:

    Sorry. My wife and friends often tell me that I “ruin everything”. Growing up, my nickname was “the awful truth”. I sort of have a way sometimes…. Anyway, the way you have handled all of this reflects very very well on your demeanor and intellect. I resect you and your opinions and very much enjoyed our interplay.
    crooked.
    In reply to #72 by Smill:

    In reply to post 62, ‘…it kinda paints you into the fools category.’. Yes, yes, very drole, you kinda had me laughing at myself, too, meat brain!



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  • 68
    crookedshoes says:

    Here is why I react badly to your way of thinking and here is why it is dangerous. I will illustrate with a hypothetical :

    After much “research” and “thought” I have decided that happiness is green. John, after hearing my declaration, decides to do his own “research and thought” and arrives at the conclusion that happiness is red. The layman, dolt, and ignorant take away from our disagreement that whichever one is right doesn’t matter — happiness has color!!!!!

    Now, at the same time YOU are a researcher who has earned an MD/PhD in psychology/neurology. It took you 16 years to earn and you have written textbooks on the subject. After your exhaustive research and thought into the issue of depression, you are at the precipice of developing a drug that will be heralded as the end of the scourge of depression.

    As your FDA trial and approvals are pending I write a book called “The Color of Happiness”. It hits #1 on the best sellers list. I am recruited to go appear on Dr. Oz. He polishes my ego and sells my books for me. All the while, your funding is being threatened because money is being diverted (by dopey politicians) into the “color of happiness” coffers for further research and development.

    The drug is left in trials and never hits the market.

    Humanity has invested in science. The investment has been more than paid back. All technological advances are based on human beings doing sound science. Then along comes religion.With it’s talk of souls and afterlife (the color of happiness). Human beings invest in religion and the money is gone. The investment is never never never even close to being paid back. Why, religion does not even pay taxes. You get nothing back. Nothing. No “return on investment”. Preachers get rich on spreading bullshit to the masses.

    So, prove your assertions or understand that they are a forever drain on the human endeavor.

    In reply to #71 by waarsnico@gmail.com:

    If you believe that humans have no souls then feel free to stick to that philosophy.
    If you ridicule my statements, well good for you 🙂 I don’t have any first prize stickers or cookies to ship you.
    You have a point that there is no evidence to point that humans have no souls.
    But then again for a fact you don’t have any rational proven, solid, evidence that backs up your arguments so your word is just as good as mine.
    It might, once again MIGHT be improbable that humans may not have souls. But it is not impossible.
    So put that in your pipe and smoke it and then divide it by zero. 🙂
    And based on some of the statements you guys post, you only post it to ridicule other religions (bigotry) namely one of the reasons I went out of organized religion.
    I am most likely not the only one that feels this way, hence I’m posting this statement.
    Good day. 🙂



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  • 69
    Alan4discussion says:

    In reply to #40 by Smill:

    In reply to post 19 and 21. Wow! What’s it like up there from your assumed position of superiority?

    Rational and well informed!

    I say to anyone, don’t be afraid of seeming foolish, or not towing the line. Be an explorer and learn!

    Asserting meaningless irrelevant nonsense, is a long way from “learning”.

    Honest ignorance and a willingness to learn is different!



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  • 70
    OLDMIKEY says:

    The good book asks ‘what does it profit a man if he gaineth the whole world, and suffers the loss of his own soul?. Well seeing as the soul only exists as a written word, well he’s chips in as ‘he’s got the whole world in his hands’.



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  • 71
    Alan4discussion says:

    In reply to #55 by Garrick Worthing:

    In reply to #45 by Smill:

    I think I mean that art will always bend science to a different aesthetic. The soul belongs to art and science should leave it alone. Maybe.

    You have a point, Smill. Recognizing that the self-aware rational consciousness of humans is generated by their brains may lead some to overlook the significance of each instance of such consciousness, each human person, in determining what kind of society we live in, how we treat each other, and what we do with our lives. It makes sense to say of someone who only looks at objective, scientifically testable observations and takes no interest in the values that we subjectively recognize that he or she has no soul. ‘Soul’ is a word we use to refer to personhood, subjectivity, which is a fact of human existence. It retains its usefulness after it has been accepted that human consciousness is a product of brain processes.

    You are introducing ambiguity here to redefine “soul” -Which is normally related to an after-life, as “personality” or state of “emotional subjectivity”. (ie. “soul” music, artistic expression etc.)

    Our moral and legal systems remain based on the fundamental notion that the human person is not just another thing in the world to be used for anyone else’s purposes

    Moral codes of conduct and ethics are again a separate issue, best based on rational analysis of human activities and relationships, so better not mixed with irrational or emotive responses.

    but is, as Kant put it, an end in itself, a sovereign person, a soul.

    Art has always manifested the sovereignty of the soul,

    Whatever that means? – Given that there is no scientific evidence that “souls” exist, and that emotive expressions are bodily and brain functions, art should have rational explanations from neuroscientists and psychologists. (Kant?). After all art is just the sensory communicative interaction of individuals, via a physical medium of paint – sound etc.

    and it is no accident that artists have always been in the vanguard of struggles against oppression of any sort.

    There is no evidence of any exclusivity of artists in these struggles. Historically many artists were patronised by working for the establishment of the day.

    The next time you, be you scientist or not, look at another human body, however beautiful or ugly, what you are also seeing is a human soul, a being of incalculable dignity.

    It is possible to see beauty and have emotional responses without denying objective biology, or resorting to vague ambiguities. You seem to be again, redefining the “souls”, simply as an emotional response, adding to ambiguity.

    In this discussion it is important to avoid confusing emotional responses in living brains, with the concept of an after-life.

    We know that emotional responses are electrical circuitry and biochemistry. We also know that these processes end with death and the breakdown of the cells in the physical body. We can also track energy flows, or demonstrate the absence of them, in and around bodies.



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  • 72
    Alan4discussion says:

    In reply to #71 by waarsnico@gmail.com:

    You have a point that there is no evidence to point that humans have no souls.

    Double negatives show contorted thinking, centred on the problems of disproving a negative!

    But then again for a fact you don’t have any rational proven, solid, evidence that backs up your arguments so your word is just as good as mine.

    This is simply wrong.

    Interactions of matter and energy are detectable by physics. The conscious and unconscious brain activities cease with brain death. Any other energy interactions would be detectable by present day science.

    All opinions are not equal. Informed scientific opinion trumps speculation.

    It might, once again MIGHT be improbable that humans may not have souls. But it is not impossible.

    Double negatives again!



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  • 73
    crookedshoes says:

    Alan4,

    Happiness is GREEN!

    BTW, If we all identified ourselves with different fonts, I think Anvil would be in gothic….. Alan4 would be in classic helvetica…. some would be in Apple casual… I’d probably be in all capitals…. some of these posts deserve to be in crayon.

    I also just learned a new word:

    sarchasm—This is the gulf between the author of sarcastic wit and the person who doesn’t get it.



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  • 74
    Pauly01 says:

    No, Atheism is a belief in evidence. And there is no evidence for an afterlife. If you accept evolution , then we are basically evolved unicellular organisms. Would there be an afterlife for a fish? Would there be an afterlife for a rabbit? Would there be an afterlife for a horse? Would there be an afterlife for a monkey? Would there be an afterlife for a homoerectus? What makes you or I anything more special?



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  • 75
    Pauly01 says:

    And on your login name. The quest of knowledge can lead you down eroneous roads. Because at least for me, it was based on existentialism. Beware of the path to spirituality and vodoo nonsense. Existentialisim loves that sh*t.



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  • 78
    Pauly01 says:

    Sorry for the multiple posts.

    And what does an ‘Afterlife’ mean? Is it a place? Can I find it on the map?

    Its just an imagination construct

    It is far more logical and reasonable to believe there is a God the creator than believing there is an afterlife. At least I can see matter with my own eyes.



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  • 79
    crookedshoes says:

    What language do they speak in the afterlife?

    In reply to #90 by Pauly01:

    Sorry for the multiple posts.

    And what does an ‘Afterlife’ mean? Is it a place? Can I find it on the map?

    Its just an imagination construct

    It is far more logical and reasonable to believe there is a God the creator than believing there is an afterlife. At least I can see matter with my own eyes.



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  • 80
    Pauly01 says:

    Well that’s just it. It could be anything , anything that the imagination can envisage. We’ll have to wait for the next prophet to tell us:)
    In reply to #91 by crookedshoes:

    What language do they speak in the afterlife?

    In reply to #90 by Pauly01:

    Sorry for the multiple posts.

    And what does an ‘Afterlife’ mean? Is it a place? Can I find it on the map?

    Its just an imagination construct

    It is far more logical and reasonable to believe there is a God the creator than believing there is an afterlife. At least I can see matter with my own eyes.



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  • 82
    G_Crotty says:

    If you can find proof that a soul exists after death in a measurable manner, then why not. It’s facts and data that drive truth about our reality. the only thing that continues on in your afterlife is the affect you have on those still that remain, your “legacy” and that can be physical through others but void of spirituality.

    I do like the capture of this as Silver69 stated as “mental masturbation’.



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  • 83
    Live_and_Learn says:

    In reply to #26 by BroughtyBoy:

    If we live in an eternal oscillating universe, then an afterlife of sorts would seem inevitable. A cyclical regeneration of everything in existence will eventually throw up the prerequisite conditions for life – indeed, eternity suggests we will lead carbon copies of our current lives an infinite amount of times. Afterlife is perhaps the wrong term, as these lives would be neither before nor after, but alternative. Moreover, the link to our present existence would be made particularly tenuous by the fact that no connection, no record and no memory of alternative lives will exist.

    Even if we don’t like in a cyclical universe, is it at all possible that in the near infinite time the universe exists for, the molecules the currently make up your body and brain will somehow get reassembled into an identical human body? I’m not saying that a soul is required. You obviously would not be a continuation of your current self, and couldn’t possibly have any memories of your current life, but would this hypothetical person essentially be you reborn?



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  • In reply to #93 by This Is Not A Meme:

    In reply to #89 by Pauly01:

    What about an afterlife for bacteria?

    At what point in evolution would a soul happen? Do each of my cells get a soul? Are there proto-souls? The whole thing tends towards solipsism.

    Where do all the calculators go?

    Well, I take it you think there are no answers to these questions. I also take it that the question about calculators is meant to ridicule. Are you also implying that because there are no answers, that therefore there is no afterlife so-called. The most you could ever say is that there is no evidence so far and that on that basis you choose not to believe there’s an “afterlife” as I am sure you’re not saying categorically that there’s no “afterlife”.



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  • In reply to #86 by Pauly01:

    No, Atheism is a belief in evidence. And there is no evidence for an afterlife. If you accept evolution , then we are basically evolved unicellular organisms. Would there be an afterlife for a fish? Would there be an afterlife for a rabbit? Would there be an afterlife for a horse? Would there be an afterlife for a monkey? Would there be an afterlife for a homoerectus? What makes you or I anything more special?

    Either there’s no evidence for an “afterlife” because there is no afterlife, or there is evidence which hasn’t as yet been uncovered. There’s nothing that makes you or me special except that the religious hijackers of the concept say so…



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  • In reply to #73 by mmurray:

    In reply to #71 by waarsnico@gmail.com:

    If you believe that humans have no souls then feel free to stick to that philosophy.
    If you ridicule my statements, well good for you 🙂 I don’t have any first prize stickers or cookies to ship you.
    You have a point that there is no evidence to point that humans have no souls.
    But then again for a fact you don’t have any rational proven, solid, evidence that backs up your arguments so your word is just as good as mine.

    It is not just that there is no evidence for souls there is solid evidence against souls. Have a look at the Sean Carroll video I posted above in Comment #53. The existence of souls would mean something was very wrong with physics we understand extremely well. That is evidence against their existence.

    Michael

    … or that we don’t understand it as well as we think we do – or that you say we do.



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  • 87
    crookedshoes says:

    Your assessment is fine. However, grading it on a “confidence” scale is where you need to “brush up”. We do not enjoy a grade of 100% confidence in science. However, we approach it and can statistically evaluate our confidence in a particular case. Laymen experience this idea when serving on a jury and evaluating whether the evidence is “beyond a reasonable doubt”.

    The things we talk about here have differing levels of confidence ranging from very low confidence in an idea to very strong confidence in an idea. When multiple lines of evidence support the same answer; when the “model” that has been developed predicts lots of stuff that actually, then occurs… We gain confidence in the veracity of our claim. For example: the model of the atom leads scientists to develop a whole bunch of technology that works…. we gain confidence.

    But we have very little confidence in ideas that are proffered due to their lack of proof, evidence, support etc… The idea of an afterlife full of souls is not impossible but is an idea that inspires very little confidence in this arena. There simply is no proof, no evidence, no connection to the reality that logic and reason forges. If you’d like to elevate it in the eyes of those who weigh evidence and such, develop some way of proving it.

    In reply to #98 by Net:

    In reply to #73 by mmurray:

    In reply to #71 by waarsnico@gmail.com:

    If you believe that humans have no souls then feel free to stick to that philosophy.
    If you ridicule my statements, well good for you 🙂 I don’t have any first prize stickers or cookies to ship you.
    You have a point that there is no evidence to point that humans have no souls.
    But then again for a fact you don’t have any rational proven, solid, evidence that backs up your arguments so your word is just as good as mine.

    It is not just that there is no evidence for souls there is solid evidence against souls. Have a look at the Sean Carroll video I posted above in Comment #53. The existence of souls would mean something was very wrong with physics we understand extremely well. That is evidence against their existence.

    Michael

    … or that we don’t understand it as well as we think we do – or that you say we do.



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  • 88
    mmurray says:

    In reply to #98 by Net:

    … or that we don’t understand it as well as we think we do – or that you say we do.

    But physicists know what they know and they know what they don’t know. (I’m using we = human race = collective knowledge of physics community.) It’s also not me making this claim it’s Sean Carroll who is a physicist at CalTech.

    http://preposterousuniverse.com

    There are fundamental things physicists don’t understand like dark matter and dark energy but everything they know and have observed about reality tells them dark matter and dark energy won’t impact at the level at which our brains operate which is the level at which souls, if they exist, operate. Have a look at the Sean Carroll video I gave a link to called “The Higgs Boson and the Fundamental Nature of Reality”. He explains it a lot better than I do and it’s really well worth a watch

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Vrs-Azp0i3k

    Michael



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  • 89
    mmurray says:

    In reply to #86 by Pauly01:

    No, Atheism is a belief in evidence.

    Not in any dictionary I have looked at. They usually say that either

    atheism = holds a belief gods don’t exist

    atheism = holds no belief in gods

    Personally I like the second.

    Michael



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  • Did you ever notice that people who believe in reincarnation never regress to past lives as Henry VIII’s bum wiper but that there are a plethora of Napoleons?

    I also wonder about the ‘abilities’ of this soul. Someone else put forth the theory about a child who dies in infancy or a senior who dies in dementia. Do we really postulate the hell of an eternity in either one of these states?

    And, if we do pass into this state of being, how do we perceive with all our faculties taken from us… the five senses.



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  • 92
    Cairsley says:

    In reply to #51 by QuestioningKat:

    In reply to #45 by Smill:

    I think I mean that art will always bend science to a different aesthetic. The soul belongs to art and science should leave it alone. Maybe.

    OK, but I am an artist and designer and think that the “soul” can be explained by not only science but various religious beliefs can be used against each other to show it’s not possible. If you reframe or break down exactly what a “soul” is, you really don’t lose anything that is important, inspiring, motivating, joyous, quirky, masterful, etc. that makes up a rich and fully lived life. The only thing that is lost is the idea of a ghost in the machine and permanence.

    Well put, QuestioningKat!



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  • 93
    Cairsley says:

    In reply to #83 by Alan4discussion:

    “… You seem to be again, redefining the “souls”, simply as an emotional response, adding to ambiguity. …”

    Earlier in the discussion I had made the point that there were at least two senses in which the word ‘soul’ could be relevant to this topic, one of which allowed a positive answer to the question and one a negative answer. In my post #55 the sense in which I use the word ‘soul’ is clear enough. It certainly does not refer to anything existing independently of the body and capable of surviving the demise of the body. There was no ambiguity. My reason for posting that message was to support the idea that I thought Smill was holding out for, namely the sense of personhood in experience. The word ‘soul’ has a long history of being used in this sense and it is most at home with the Aristotelian sense of ‘soul’ that I introduced in my first post in this discussion. This may not interest you, in which case you should have just left it alone, but not bothering to read my post carefully enough to understand it and then presuming to take me to task for not having said what you thought I should have said is hardly warranted.



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  • In reply to #100 by mmurray:

    In reply to #98 by Net:

    … or that we don’t understand it as well as we think we do – or that you say we do.

    But physicists know what they know and they know what they don’t know. (I’m using we = human race = collective knowledge of physics community.) It’s also not me making this claim it’s Sean Carroll who is a physicist at CalTech.

    http://preposterousuniverse.com

    There are fundamental things physicists don’t understand like dark matter and dark energy but everything they know and have observed about reality tells them dark matter and dark energy won’t impact at the level at which our brains operate which is the level at which souls, if they exist, operate. Have a look at the Sean Carroll video I gave a link to called “The Higgs Boson and the Fundamental Nature of Reality”. He explains it a lot better than I do and it’s really well worth a watch

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Vrs-Azp0i3k

    Michael

    physicists know what they know, and the know that there’s an awful lot they don’t know – and that includes any possible post mortem survival.



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  • 95
    mmurray says:

    In reply to #106 by Net:

    physicists know what they know, and the know that there’s an awful lot they don’t know – and that includes any possible post mortem survival.

    That’s the point of the talk. There is no possible mechanism for post-mortem survival. Now they have the Higgs boson doing pretty much what the standard model predicts they know the standard model is right. That includes any fields and particles that can interact with the fields and particles in the brain. The things they don’t know are dark matter, dark energy, unifying gravity etc. Things in these energy and interaction strength ranges are not going to affect the brain. So there is no process by which the brain can survive its constituents parts falling apart. If there was such a process it would have to interact with the brain. That interaction has to be via the particles and fields in the brain but physicists understand these all and have studied all the possible interactions they have observed. There is nothing else.

    If you want to avoid this conclusion I can only see two possible approaches: (i) reductionism is wrong — not everything is a result of elementary particles and fields interacting or (ii) the universe is not as predictable as it appears to be — sometimes weird things happen for no reason. There is no evidence for either of these.

    Michael



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  • 96
    Alan4discussion says:

    In reply to #105 by Garrick Worthing:

    The word ‘soul’ has a long history of being used in this sense and it is most at home with the Aristotelian sense of ‘soul’ that I introduced in my first post in this discussion. This may not interest you, in which case you should have just left it alone, but not bothering to read my post carefully enough to understand it and then presuming to take me to task for not having said what you thought I should have said is hardly warranted.

    Sorry if you saw it that way. I had no intention of “taking you to task”. I was pointing out that the alternative cultural meaning of the word “soul” in a discussion of afterlives, created unnecessary ambiguity, because some people combine the two meanings or shift the meaning in debates causing confusion.



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  • 97
    Pauly01 says:

    OK. If you hold a belief that their is no God does that not imply that the person expressing this holds that their is no evidence for God. That holds true in the overwhelming of cases. Atheism because of its nature is reasoned. Give me an example where an atheist does not hold evidence as a motivating factor for their position? Your nit picking

    In reply to #101 by mmurray:

    In reply to #86 by Pauly01:No, Atheism is a belief in evidence.Not in any dictionary I have looked at. They usually say that eitheratheism = holds a belief gods don’t existatheism = holds no belief in godsPersonally I like the second.Michael



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  • 98
    crookedshoes says:

    If something survived into “postmortem” we could measure it.

    You are guilty of the EXACT errors of thought that have repeatedly been highlighted and outlined on this thread. I think you need to reread what has been said here and perhaps analyze your stance and see that you are insisting on the (virtually) impossible at the expense of the (overwhelmingly) probable.

    In reply to #106 by Net:

    In reply to #100 by mmurray:

    In reply to #98 by Net:

    … or that we don’t understand it as well as we think we do – or that you say we do.

    But physicists know what they know and they know what they don’t know. (I’m using we = human race = collective knowledge of physics community.) It’s also not me making this claim it’s Sean Carroll who is a physicist at CalTech.

    http://preposterousuniverse.com

    There are fundamental things physicists don’t understand like dark matter and dark energy but everything they know and have observed about reality tells them dark matter and dark energy won’t impact at the level at which our brains operate which is the level at which souls, if they exist, operate. Have a look at the Sean Carroll video I gave a link to called “The Higgs Boson and the Fundamental Nature of Reality”. He explains it a lot better than I do and it’s really well worth a watch

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Vrs-Azp0i3k

    Michael

    physicists know what they know, and the know that there’s an awful lot they don’t know – and that includes any possible post mortem survival.



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  • 99
    GospelofJudas says:

    “A looper, you know, a caddy, a looper, a jock. So, I tell them I’m a pro jock, and who do you think they give me? The Dalai Lama, himself. Twelfth son of the Lama. The flowing robes, the grace, bald… striking. So, I’m on the first tee with him. I give him the driver. He hauls off and whacks one – big hitter, the Lama – long, into a ten-thousand foot crevasse, right at the base of this glacier. Do you know what the Lama says? Gunga galunga… gunga, gunga-lagunga. So we finish the eighteenth and he’s gonna stiff me. And I say, “Hey, Lama, hey, how about a little something, you know, for the effort, you know.” And he says, “Oh, uh, there won’t be any money, but when you die, on your deathbed, you will receive total consciousness.” So I got that goin’ for me, which is nice.” -Carl Spackler, ‘Caddyshack’

    Tongue in cheek, but honestly I think this is the most you can hope for. Escaping the limits of your physical form as the energy formerly animating you is released as heat into the universe, and all that is bound in your molecules will be absorbed by something else. Like a drop of water falling into the ocean, becoming indistinguishable from the rest.



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  • 100
    Alan4discussion says:

    In reply to #110 by crookedshoes:

    If something survived into “postmortem” we could measure it.

    You are guilty of the EXACT errors of thought that have repeatedly been highlighted and outlined on this thread. I think you need to reread what has been said here and perhaps analyze your stance and see that you are insisting on the (virtually) impossible at the expense of the (overwhelmingly) probable.

    In reply to #106 by Net:

    physicists know what they know, and the know that there’s an awful lot they don’t know – and that includes any possible post mortem survival.

    Physicists know the Laws of thermodynamics, which pretty well cover ALL movements and transmissions of energy and interplay with matter at atomic scales!

    Undetectable post-mortem survival is wishful thinking as mmurray explained at 107.



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  • 102
    Pauly01 says:

    It is your rational that there could possibly be an afterlife. Its funny to think that you you don’t believe in God (your an atheist I assume , my mistake if your not) , when at least you can see physical matter all around you,constituting some kind of support of God (not evidence but at least it’s something) and you believe that there could be an after life when there’s not a shred of evidence, at least something objectifiable. The evidence I see is that the earth and all life was formed by natural processes. If you offer something in reply , at least grant me this , that potentially there is an afterlife for all living organisms on this planet

    In reply to #97 by Net:

    In reply to #86 by Pauly01:

    No, Atheism is a belief in evidence. And there is no evidence for an afterlife. If you accept evolution , then we are basically evolved unicellular organisms. Would there be an afterlife for a fish? Would there be an afterlife for a rabbit? Would there be an afterlife for a horse? Would there be an afterlife for a monkey? Would there be an afterlife for a homoerectus? What makes you or I anything more special?

    Either there’s no evidence for an “afterlife” because there is no afterlife, or there is evidence which hasn’t as yet been uncovered. There’s nothing that makes you or me special except that the religious hijackers of the concept say so…



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  • 103
    mmurray says:

    In reply to #109 by Pauly01:

    OK. If you hold a belief that their is no God does that not imply that the person expressing this holds that their is no evidence for God. That holds true in the overwhelming of cases. Atheism because of its nature is reasoned. Give me an example where an atheist does not hold evidence as a motivating factor for their position? Your nit picking

    No I’m not nit-picking. Atheism in the US may be mostly reasoned but in countries that are reasonably secular where children are raised without reference to religion they will be atheists without having reasoned that position or been told to hold it. That’s they way my children were raised and atheists they turned out to be.

    Note that in the original discussion questforknowledge said “just because one might not believe in a god ” which is absence of belief in god not disbelief.

    Michael



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  • 104
    crookedshoes says:

    Crayons!!! Hilarious.

    In reply to #115 by Smill:

    In reply to Garrick Worthing, post 105. ‘…sense of personhood in experience’. Yes, that is what I was trying to get at, and you expressed it much better in your earlier post. I would have responded sooner but I’ve been busy coloring-in my application form to MENSA with my crayons…



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  • 105
    BigChris says:

    In reply to #11 by Garrick Worthing:

    If we ordinarily experienced an ongoing awareness while our bodies were asleep, the case for an independently existing soul would be much stronger

    We do maintain awareness thought don’t we, when we observe our dreams?

    In reply to #10 by This Is Not A Meme:

    as the Buddha put it, “Where does a flame go once its fuel is exhausted?”

    I like the comparison. Fire, like consciousness, being a process rather than material. But what if that flame could in some way be passed to another energy source? My match is just ash now, but the flame burns elsewhere? Just a thought.

    You can be atheist and still believe alsorts of stuff. I used to think of the soul being like a single drop of wine dripped into a vast ocean. Perhaps undetectable but still there. And when we die the drop is extracted and returned to the bottle with all the other drops. It may be dripped again into another ocean giving rise to memory of previous lives or remixed with other drops. But there is no evidence for this whatsoever and I don’t think ever could be (no sign of St DemiJohn the Baptist or The Holy Wine List, unless that is what the Holy Spirit actually means) . So I fully accept it to be completely wrong but it made more sense to me than ‘religion’.



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  • 106
    logicophilosophicus says:

    Yes. An atheist can be a philosophical Idealist or Neutral Monist, for example. (“Afterlife” is a loaded term. “Persistence of [at least some element of] consciousness” would be clearer – and would contrast with the Christian idea of “resurrection” into another [or after-] life.)



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  • Well, this might technically be an “agnostic” answer, but isn’t the rational point of view to not know what happens after death? I mean, we SUSPECT it’s annihilation. But we don’t exactly have any test for that. We do have people who CLAIM to have returned or been in touch, but we can’t empirically verify their… er… “results”. So, the rational stance is for an atheist to accept that they don’t KNOW, but may suspect with a varying degree of certainty?

    Why varying? Because it might be reasonable for a rationalist to consider current work in brain science, and conclude that it’s possible that something survives, or in the right condition could survive, the body. Of course, as a rationalist one would not base their life around it!

    How do I feel about it? I’m not sure. Ask me when I finish reading Brain Wars.
    http://www.amazon.com/Brain-Wars-Scientific-Battle-Existence/dp/0062071564
    http://www.prweb.com/releases/Brain/wars/prweb9422405.htm



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  • 108
    belles says:

    Has any of you ever thought that you may not know everything? I don’t believe in a God. I don’t believe in an afterlife. I don’t know this however. I only know things when I have empirical evidence of the thing. I also do not believe that I have all empirical evidence available to me. I think we are always discovering empirical evidence and I certainly don’t have all the knowledge that is available to me now. So what is wrong with saying I don’t know but I certainly don’t believe.



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  • 109
    Alan4discussion says:

    In reply to #121 by belles:

    Has any of you ever thought that you may not know everything? I don’t believe in a God. I don’t believe in an afterlife. I don’t know this however. I only know things when I have empirical evidence of the thing. I also do not believe that I have all empirical evidence available to me. I think we are always discovering empirical evidence and I certainly don’t have all the knowledge that is available to me now. So what is wrong with saying I don’t know but I certainly don’t believe.

    The main thing wrong, with saying, “we don’t know” (as with the age of the Earth) is that we do know.

    I linked the science at 112. There is no matter and no energies unaccounted for.

    Woo-head wishful thinking is no reason to doubt scientific evidence. The evidence is available to those who are not prepared to engage in contorted thinking to accommodate mythology.

    We know the basic physics and biochemistry of mental processes. ( Even if some people don’t want to know.)

    Because we do not know everything, it does not mean that we know nothing, or that established scientific laws are likely to be totally scrapped! At most they will be slightly adjusted by new findings. When Einstein added Relativity to Newton’s Laws, people did not suddenly stop falling off high buildings and rain did not stop falling from the sky! There was simply a tiny fraction of a percentage change in the calculations.



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  • 110
    belles says:

    Hmmmmm I just made a post here and clicked post. Saw my post down there at the top of the other ones but now it is gone. What happened?



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  • 111
    Alan4discussion says:

    In reply to #123 by belles:

    Hmmmmm I just made a post here and clicked post. Saw my post down there at the top of the other ones but now it is gone. What happened?

    Reload the page. If you have clicked on a link it sometimes comes back to a different place missing off some comments. also check the order (Oldest or newest first)
    I have also had the odd post disappear sometimes.



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  • 112
    BigChris says:

    In reply to #123 by belles:

    Hmmmmm I just made a post here and clicked post. Saw my post down there at the top of the other ones but now it is gone. What happened?

    Maybe God deleted it? Nah, can’t have done. I mean, I don’t know but I certainly don’t believe 😉



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  • 113
    belles says:

    Oh I found my post. Have to get use to this place. Well anyway Alanf4discussion there is a planet out there named Uranus. I remember when I didn’t know Uranus was there nor did I believe it was there. Something as simple as the fourth largest planet was not known until recently. We do not have absolute knowledge in any subject or about anything. Once you think you have found an absolute truth you have shut down all thinking, all investigations, all fact gathering about that thing or concept. Something rather like what the dark ages was all about. I understand believing and knowing are very much two different things and I myself like to only believe in what I know. But let there be discussion, investigation, thinking about anything lest we shut down a topic as closed long before we have the TRUTH. My self I like to think we never have any big absolute TRUTHS but only little truths that are always open for examination.



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  • 114
    mmurray says:

    In reply to #126 by belles:

    Oh I found my post. Have to get use to this place. Well anyway Alanf4discussion there is a planet out there named Uranus. I remember when I didn’t know Uranus was there nor did I believe it was there. Something as simple as the fourth largest planet was not known until recently.

    Recently ? It was around 1781 that it was finally decided it was a planet and it was observed before then. 1781 was only 10 years after Cook arrived in Australia. The gap in our knowledge of the world between 1781 and know is so vast I don’t know what words to use to describe it.

    But let there be discussion, investigation, thinking about anything lest we shut down a topic as closed long before we have the TRUTH. My self I like to think we never have any big absolute TRUTHS but only little truths that are always open for examination.

    Yep let’s have discussion. Here is what we know about the Standard Model of particle physics which governs ** everything ** in the brain.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Vrs-Azp0i3k

    There is no soul field or soul particle therefore there is no soul.

    Michael



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  • 115
    Alan4discussion says:

    In reply to #126 by belles:

    Oh I found my post. Have to get use to this place. Well anyway Alanf4discussion there is a planet out there named Uranus. I remember when I didn’t know Uranus was there nor did I believe it was there.

    Something as simple as the fourth largest planet was not known until recently.

    There is a significant difference between personal knowledge and the total of scientific understanding.
    The fact you had not studied it did not mean the knowledge did not exist. Even the rings of Uranus have been known for hundreds of years!

    The first mention of a Uranian ring system comes from William Herschel’s notes detailing his observations of Uranus in the 18th century, which include the following passage: “February 22, 1789: A ring was suspected” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rings-of-Uranus

    We do not have absolute knowledge in any subject or about anything.

    Nobody knows anything with 100% certainty but many things are known to 99%+ probability. (Calculations of Newton’s Laws of gravity, are accurate to about 99.999999% on Earth with about 0.000001% adjustment for Einstein’s relativity)

    Once you think you have found an absolute truth you have shut down all thinking, all investigations, all fact gathering about that thing or concept.

    Scientific thinking is always open to new evidence, but that does not mean that some work has not been confirmed to levels very high probability by multiple independent scientific tests.

    I understand believing and knowing are very much two different things and I myself like to only believe in what I know. But let there be discussion, investigation, thinking about anything lest we shut down a topic as closed long before we have the TRUTH.

    It is pointless to go over and over the same topic after it has been independently reconfirmed multiple times.
    In the example you give – The planet Uranus exists and many of its features are known to high probabilities. It is not going to disappear! Much of the scientific evidence is available on record.

    My self I like to think we never have any big absolute TRUTHS but only little truths that are always open for examination.

    Scientific knowledge is based on thousands of hours of work by thousands of scientists making observations, experiments tests and retests. These observations of physical reality are not going to change. It is very foolish to say, “I will ignore all this scientific evidence because I have not studied it, cannot understand it, or chose to disbelieve its findings.

    As I pointed out earlier, uncertainty about the states of matter in a black-hole, or a white dwarf star, is not going to make any difference, as to if you will fall to the ground if you step off a high building.

    Because we do not know everything, does not mean we know nothing, although I have had ignorant creationists argue that scientific laws and formulii will be torn up by “new physics”! They won’t. Science does not work like that.

    (“I can’t understand the calculation so it must be wrong” is a totally irrational argument.)

    Energy/matter can neither be created nor destroyed according to the laws of Thermodynamics which operate in the Solar System and observed part of our universe. There are no “magic energies” on Earth which are undetectable.

    Many things in scientific calculations are very precise. We can calculate eclipses to within minutes a century or more in advance, and land robot rovers on Mars, on schedule – months after launch. These are not things we don’t understand.

    Brains and bodies are made of atoms combined into molecules and powered by biochemistry and electricity.
    There is no “magic” involved in these processes. Nor is there “magic” in any in radiated energy from nuclear reactions or thermal radiation. These processes are well understood.

    As this post is getting very long, I will start another one for a different angle.



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  • 116
    Alan4discussion says:

    In reply to #126 by belles:

    But let there be discussion, investigation, thinking about anything lest we shut down a topic as closed long before we have the TRUTH.

    (Some of us have already thought about it and extensively discussed it.)

    If you think about the arguments put forward for a human afterlife, they are an absolute shambles of contradictions and nonsense!

    If humans have afterlives – do all other animals – plants, single cells, – bacteria and viruses?

    We are all descended from LUCA

    When during evolution did humans/animals acquire these alleged souls, and where have they all gone?

    The RCC says human egg cells are “ensouled” at fertilisation, so single fertilised eggs, zygotes and blastocysts (with no brains) and embryos have “souls” according to them! (They claim this is a reason to oppose abortions.) A large proportion are naturally aborted at early stages anyway.

    The concept of every mammal, reptile, ( Dinosaurs?) amphibian, insect, fish, bacteria etc having an afterlife seems ridiculous, but there are no significant evolutionary separations on the tree if life.

    The whole thing is mythology from the stone age and bronze age humans. It usually claims exclusivity for humans, although some religious groups (probably for the usual emotional thinking) claim after-lives for pets. (Cats, dogs, horses) Buddhists claim reincarnation as some other form of animal.

    (There is no evidence for any of these claims.)

    That is one of the reason Young Earth Creationists and fundamentalists dispute evolution! It threatens their after-life in heaven, and means they have wasted their whole lives working for this! – and nobody is going to Hell for failing to be a woo-follower either!

    Then of course there are the many different contradictory versions of afterlives promised by different religions.
    (All those Viking warriors in Valhalla)

    So basically – the mythology is a shambles of muddled thinking while the science shows the chemistry of life and chemistry of thinking, ending with the breakdown of the molecules of the body (by decomposition and/or incineration)

    It’s like putting an electronic printed circuit through a shredder , burning it to smoke and vapour, – and then pretending it will still work, even when this has never been seen to happen! – Pure wishful thinking!



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  • 117
    belles says:

    Alan4discussion this is my last post. I am so overwhelmed by your brilliance. You are wasting your time giving me arguments that explain away souls. The only soul I have is just that inner being that lives inside me, my body and brain. Take away my physical self and nothing else exists. You have missed my point. You are demonstrating exactly what I was saying. You are so consumed by your own super intellect and your great warehouse of knowledge that you seem to think you have some great superior absolute knowledge and I don’t think this is an advance way to think. I just think that we should always leave every bit of knowledge or truths that we have with an open end so as to not hinder growth.



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  • 118
    Alan4discussion says:

    In reply to #130 by belles:

    belles: @121- I don’t believe in a God. I don’t believe in an afterlife. I don’t know this however. I only know things when I have empirical evidence of the thing.

    I read your post above. My point (like M.Murray’s) is that the empirical evidence already exists for those who choose to look at it. .

    Alan4discussion this is my last post. I am so overwhelmed by your brilliance.

    The brilliance is not mine. It is the brilliance of generations of scientists. My skills are in sorting this out and using scientific methods to check its accuracy. This involves looking at how many people have rechecked the information, how skilled they were, and if there are any credible counter arguments or evidence proving claims to be false.

    This is known as the “Scientific method” It is the best method we have to get to the truths about reality. There is also the process of “peer-review” in which published work and claims, are critically examined in specialist scientific journals. (eg studies of “Uranus” would be published in Astronomical, and Space technology journals being critically examined, confirmed, or criticised by people with specialist expertise.)

    You are wasting your time giving me arguments that explain away souls. The only soul I have is just that inner being that lives inside me, my body and brain. Take away my physical self and nothing else exists.

    That is indeed so, but this is a science and education site, so some of us discuss psychology and neurology. I am only wasting my time if no readers are interested in theses sciences.

    The evidence against “souls” enduring beyond death, is however, simple physics and chemistry.

    You have missed my point. You are demonstrating exactly what I was saying. You are so consumed by your own super intellect and your great warehouse of knowledge that you seem to think you have some great superior absolute knowledge and I don’t think this is an advance way to think.

    The great “warehouse of knowledge” is in the published works of thousands of scientists, historians etc. The skills are in accessing and evaluating the accuracy of this.

    Learning to access, understand, and use, this work of thousands of honest researchers, IS THE advanced way to think!

    I just think that we should always leave every bit of knowledge or truths that we have with an open end so as to not hinder growth.

    To claim that “science does not know” readily available information, which has been researched and experimentally objectively confirmed, by thousands of scientists, thousands of times, is not having an “open mind”, it is having personal ignorance.

    The body of present human knowledge is now so huge (and sometimes mind-boggling) that everybody has some personal ignorance of known information (in addition to ignorance of what is {at present} beyond the frontiers of scientific investigation).

    It is however wilful ignorance to deny the existence of knowledge which has multiple confirmations, because of a lack of personal study, or an unwillingness to learn observation or measuring techniques.

    In order for knowledge to “grow”, it is necessary to find out where the boundaries/frontiers, of personal knowledge, and the boundaries of specialist knowledge are.

    Fumbling with personal investigations into ground already covered a thousand times by the intellectual giants of science without studying their work, will ensure you never have time to reach those wider frontiers. Scientific knowledge is built and reached, by standing on the shoulders of the intellectual giants who made the historic breakthroughs.

    As I said earlier, and linked at 112, the laws of Thermodynamics, track and calculate ANY energy movements (for communication or anything else) on Earth and in the Solar System.

    “I have not studied the formula”, does not equal, “The formula is wrong, unknown, or uncertain”!

    The modern technological world is runs on these laws of science. – They WORK – in thousands of places every minute.

    Stick around and improve your understanding of science, as many others do here.- (Including those who already know lots of it.)



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  • 119
    Cairsley says:

    In reply to #115 by Smill:

    … I would have responded sooner but I’ve been busy coloring-in my application form to MENSA with my crayons…

    Good luck with that!



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  • 120
    Cairsley says:

    In reply to #118 by BigChris:

    In reply to #11 by Garrick Worthing:

    If we ordinarily experienced an ongoing awareness while our bodies were asleep, the case for an independently existing soul would be much stronger

    We do maintain awareness thought don’t we, when we observe our dreams?

    Dreams, like all our other mental activity, have been clearly shown by brain-scanning to be the effects of neurological processes in the brain. In waking consciousness we have some sense of control over our thoughts which we lack in sleep when dreams occur. Apparently, we all dream every time we sleep, but we do not always remember what we dream, meaning that the brain activity that produces dreams is a regular part of sleeping, whereas our becoming conscious of what we are dreaming and remember the dream on waking, or wake up directly from the dream (as in the case of a nightmare) is less regular and varies from person to person. I accept on faith that I dream every time I sleep, because it said so in an article I read on the subject, but I could count on one hand the number of dreams I remember having over sixty years.

    In any case, dreams are not the kind of controlled, independent consciousness that would suggest to one that one’s innermost mind existed independently of the body. Even in waking consciousness, although one can attain very rarefied levels of consciousness through practices like meditation, where one seems to be a point of consciousness that has no connection with the body, it would be a mistake to take this subjective experience as an objective fact, for the experience would cease the moment anything interfered with (for example) the supply of oxygen to the brain. And, as in the case of all other mental activities, the brainscan of someone in a deep meditative state has a corresponding pattern. If this pure consciousness ceases when one goes to sleep (regardless of whether one dreams or not), why should one think there is anything about consciousness that is independent of the brain?



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  • 121
    Cairsley says:

    In reply to #108 by Alan4discussion:

    In reply to #105 by Garrick Worthing:

    … I was pointing out that the alternative cultural meaning of the word “soul” in a discussion of afterlives, created unnecessary ambiguity, because some people combine the two meanings or shift the meaning in debates causing confusion.

    The confusion you complain of goes back to the original questions that initiated the discussion because no indication was given of the sense in which the key word ‘soul’ was being used. How the question of being an atheist and believing in an afterlife is answered depends very much on how one understands the word ‘soul’. Its basic meaning is the seat of human personality, intellect, will and emotions whereby a person experiences and owns his identity, what might be more briefly referred to as the conscious subject or person. Thanks to Christianity, which drew heavily from Plato in this area, this soul has been also widely understood to exist of its own accord, independently of the body, and to survive the death of the body that it was thought to inhabit, but this belief in the independent existence of the soul is not essential to the basic meaning of the word. Aristotle rejected Plato’s take on this and returned to the more common-sense view that the soul was accounted for by what he called the form of organization of the living body. In the absence of any evidence at all for an afterlife, there would only be reason to consider such a possibility if there were any reason for regarding the ‘soul’, i.e. the conscious subject, as existing of its own accord.

    The word ‘soul’ is not a scientific term but it is a deeply resonant word in other areas of human life, especially the arts, which matter in a much more personal way to people. Although neuroscience shows that all that is referred to by ‘soul’ is dependent on brain processes and there dies with the brain, it makes no sense to deny the existence of the soul, for the soul is the person, the conscious subject, by another, more poetic name. Stating that there are no souls has an alienating effect that confuses the message one may be trying to get across, that the soul or personality or conscious subject does not exist independently of brain and body. Persons do exist, they are dependent on and integral with their respective bodies, and so they are as mortal as their bodies.



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  • 122
    Alan4discussion says:

    In reply to #134 by Garrick Worthing:

    In reply to #108 by Alan4discussion:

    Aristotle rejected Plato’s take on this and returned to the more common-sense view that the soul was accounted for by what he called the form of organization of the living body. In the absence of any evidence at all for an afterlife, there would only be reason to consider such a possibility if there were any reason for regarding the ‘soul’, i.e. the conscious subject, as existing of its own accord.

    I think this is the reasonable historical view.

    The word ‘soul’ is not a scientific term but it is a deeply resonant word in other areas of human life, especially the arts, which matter in a much more personal way to people.

    Agreed! But I still feel that in view of the OP references to “an afterlife”, and “the existance of a continuation of the human soul”, This artistic meaning needs to be clearly distinguished from the well known religious one.

    Although neuroscience shows that all that is referred to by ‘soul’ is dependent on brain processes and there dies with the brain, it makes no sense to deny the existence of the soul, for the soul is the person, the conscious subject, by another, more poetic name.

    It does create problems of ambiguity and shifting meanings, when debating theists, who will take every opportunity to misunderstand and gleefully proclaim that you have accepted their view of an afterlife.

    Stating that there are no souls has an alienating effect that confuses the message one may be trying to get across, that the soul or personality or conscious subject does not exist independently of brain and body.

    That is the point of challenging the mythical notion of “etherial” non-matter, non-energy, existing as a continuation of personality or intelligence beyond death. Science is not in the business of fudging clarity to accommodate mistaken views. (I see no problem with the term “soul” if, for example, we are exclusively discussing music.)

    Persons do exist, they are dependent on and integral with their respective bodies, and so they are as mortal as their bodies.

    True! – But I don’t see why precise scientific language should not supersede ambiguous antiquated terms.

    There is a prime example why the term “soul” should be challenged in this other discussion! – http://www.www.richarddawkins.net/news-articles/2013/2/9/iowa-bill-would-jail-raped-women-for-murder-of-single-cell-zygotes-the-raw-story#

    There is far too much opportunity for side-tracking the issue into debating semantic definitions, if ambiguous terms with multiple meanings are used. In science, clarity and precision are key!



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  • 123
    Robert Kubik says:

    It is funny. Because first I started to believe in God the Creator as the result of the lessons of molecular biology but I did not believe in life after the death.

    I started to believe in afterlife just after I found out that Jesus rose from death.

    It is strange to believe in afterlife not first in God. Perhaps, because atheists are desperate that they can not live forever so they are trying to find ways how to cope with it.



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  • 124
    belles says:

    In Reply to Garrick Worthing #108

          The confusion you complain of goes back to the original questions that initiated the discussion          because no indication was given of the sense in which the key word 'soul' was being used.
    

    What a fantastic statement. It was so very beautiful and poetic, clear and succinct while also being factual, and rational with historical beginnings. You should become a writer. 🙂 Perhaps you already are.



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  • 125
    belles says:

    A general reply to Alan4discussion

    Alan you are so just all over the place making assumptions. Did you really think I had never heard of the Scientific Method? Exactly what was your evidence for assuming that? I am very well acquainted with it.
    Practice what you preach. Now please stop talking while I have the last word.



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  • 126
    belles says:

    Ok, I am the only one writing. I think I am up and awake and you all are in bed sleeping because it is night where you live. Correct? What country or countries are represented here?



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  • 127
    logicophilosophicus says:

    “‘Look heah, now, I’ve got all the wuhks of all the old mastahs – the gweat ahchaeologists of the past. I weigh them against each othah – balance the disagweements – analyse the conflicting statements – decide which is pwobably cowwect – and come to a conclusion. That is the scientific method. At least,’ – patronizingly – ‘as I see it.'” [Isaac Asimov, Foundation, 1951]

    “The brilliance is not mine. It is the brilliance of generations of scientists. My skills are in sorting this out and using scientific methods to check its accuracy. This involves looking at how many people have rechecked the information, how skilled they were, and if there are any credible counter arguments or evidence proving claims to be false. This is known as the ‘Scientific method’.” [Alan4Discussion, Post 131, 2013]

    “Definition of SCIENTIFIC METHOD: principles and procedures for the systematic pursuit of knowledge involving the recognition and formulation of a problem, the collection of data through observation and experiment, and the formulation and testing of hypotheses.” [Merriam Webster] Nothing to do, therefore, with weighing the credibility of sources. Source Criticism is the basis of the Historical Method.

    “Neutral monism is a monistic metaphysics. It holds that ultimate reality is all of one kind. To this extent neutral monism is in agreement with idealism and materialism. What distinguishes neutral monism from its better known monistic rivals is the claim that the intrinsic nature of ultimate reality is neither mental nor physical. This negative claim also captures the idea of neutrality: being intrinsically neither mental nor physical in nature ultimate reality is said to be neutral between the two.” [Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy]

    Mmurray givel a link to a Sean Carroll presentation showing the limits beyond which any unknown force (in the context of this discussion, some kind of “spiritual” force) must operate – it must be extremely short range, or extremely weak. Absolutely – which, of course, does not mean such forces do not exist. See, for example, “Fifth Force” at Wikipedia. Sean Carroll’s conclusion is that no unknwn particles or forces RELEVANT to everyday experience, including volition, can exist.
    Well, here’s a very familiar example. A cat in a box will be killed by a device triggered by the random decay of a radioactive nucleus – a very important decision point in the life of this cat! Alternatively, you may inhale a Plutonium atom; its decay may initiate a fatal lung cancer; so the timing of the decay is a very important decision point in your life. If the decay is deterministic, it depends on some effect (call it force x) we do not understand and cannot meaure. If it is truly random, we may suppose the nucleus is in a state of unstable equilibrium, where some as yet immeasurably weak force (call it force y) might tip it into decay. That doesn’t prove that either force x or force y exists; but it does prove that, contrary to Sean Carroll’s opinion, currently undetectable forces could be very important in our everyday lives.
    Alan4Discussion does not understand this, simultaneously holding these two views:
    a) “Interactions of matter and energy are detectable by physics – the conscious and unconscious brain activities cease with brain death – any other energy interactions would be detectable by present day science.”
    b) “There are no ‘magic energies’ on Earth which are undetectable.”
    What happened to the caveat “present day science”?
    Anyway, here’s an example. Neutrinos are presumed to have some very small rest mass, i.e. bound energy, since they could not otherwise oscillate between e, mu and tau states. From cosmological considerations it is known that the largest possible mass for a neutrino is around one millionth of the mass of an electron. The most sophisticated methods conceived for measuring the mass of an individual particle have a theoretical limit of about one thousandth of an electron mass. Current science knows that neutrinos must have mass, but is in principle a thousand times too crude to measure such a small mass (in practice, much cruder).
    So, no, we absolutely cannot rule out effects below currently conceivable measurement thresholds which, nvertheless, have immense effects on our everyday life.



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  • 128
    Alan4discussion says:

    In reply to #138 by belles:

    A general reply to Alan4discussion

    Alan you are so just all over the place making assumptions. Did you really think I had never heard of the Scientific Method?

    It was not clear from your posts, as you seemed unsure about the levels of probability and in some cases the near certainty, of scientific laws, so I covered those issues.

    Exactly what was your evidence for assuming that? I am very well acquainted with it.

    Your comment attributing the “warehouse of knowledge”, to me personally, suggested a lack of awareness of the body of scientific knowledge, assembled by scientific methods. Your lack of information on the planet Uranus – likewise.

    I simply stated the case, and thought you might follow up on some of the issues I raised, which you had questioned earlier.

    Now please stop talking while I have the last word.

    You have not said any “last word” on the issues of the scientific laws I mentioned. They eliminate the possibility of immaterial “soul energies”. If you don’t understand these laws – just say so.



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  • 129
    susanlatimer says:

    Michael Murray keeps linking to the Sean Caroll lecture. There’ no point in commenting further if you don’t care about the science. Really. Unless you just want to ruminate on stuff without consulting the evidence, I suggest people watch the lecture.

    The OP is not talking about Ray Charles soul or lovely poetry soul. It’s about afterlife soul. The idea that there’s a ghost that will live on is just an idea meat robots rely on because we think our inability to stare at the backs of our own heads means something supermagical and soully must be going on. . Meat robots believe in ghosts, especially their own but the evidence doesn’t support their illlusion.

    Anyone who is “agnostic” about the notion of the eternal “me” soul hasn’t watched the lecture. Keep in mind that that version of “soul” was invented by humans and that it has never had evidence and that now, it doesn’t even have “soul of the gaps” evidence. It’s a failed hypothesis.

    If you’re talking about Ray Charles, I’m a gnostic about his soul. But that has nothing to do with an afterlife. He’s dead. He had soul though..



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  • 130
    susanlatimer says:

    It is funny. Because first I started to believe in God the Creator as the result of the lessons of molecular biology but I did not believe in life after the death.

    Really? Which lessons were those and how do they indicate life after death? How did all those scientists miss that?

    It is strange to believe in afterlife not first in God

    Which god? Yahweh? Probably Yahweh because you “found out” about Jesus and the Jesus myth sprouted from the Yahweh myth. So did Mohammed’s myths and Joseph Smith’s. Good old Yahweh. He’s still got his finger on the delusional pulse. Pretty good for a non-existent old entity. :-).

    Perhaps, because atheists are desperate that they can not live forever so they are trying to find ways how to cope with it.

    Are you familar with the idea of projection? Why would you believe that there was a Jesus that rose from the dead despite the dearth of evidence unless you were looking for ways to cope with the idea that you’re not going to live forever?



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  • 131
    susanlatimer says:

    Which lessons were those and how do they indicate life after death?

    Sorry Robert. I mean indicate a creator. I understood right but typed wrong. The wrong phrase went through my fingers.



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  • 132
    Alan4discussion says:

    logicophilosophicus
    140
    “‘Look heah, now, I’ve got all the wuhks of all the old mastahs – the gweat ahchaeologists of the past. I weigh them against each othah – balance the disagweements – analyse the conflicting statements – decide which is pwobably cowwect – and come to a conclusion. That is the scientific method. At least,’ – patronizingly – ‘as I see it.'” [Isaac Asimov, Foundation, 1951]

    He was talking about PHILOSOPHERS’ attempts at the scientific method! They constantly quote the muddled thinking of earlier philosophers and refuted “old masters and archaeologists”, in historical early attempts at science !

    “The brilliance is not mine. It is the brilliance of generations of scientists. My skills are in sorting this out and using scientific methods to check its accuracy. This involves looking at how many people have rechecked the information, how skilled they were, and if there are any credible counter arguments or evidence proving claims to be false. This is known as the ‘Scientific method’.” [Alan4Discussion, Post 131, 2013]

    “Definition of SCIENTIFIC METHOD: principles and procedures for the systematic pursuit of knowledge involving the recognition and formulation of a problem, the collection of data through observation and experiment, and the formulation and testing of hypotheses.” [Merriam Webster]

    Nothing to do, therefore, with weighing the credibility of sources.

    Wrong!!

    You have simply failed to recognise some of the scientific “principles and procedures for the systematic pursuit of knowledge”, I described.

    This going through a repeat testing and checking of hypotheses, is part of the scientific method, to check that initial work has followed it correctly and accurately. This is the independent checking, peer-review, or user stage of the scientific method! . . … .. Even the quoted definition you failed to understand says so!

    Anyone doing repeat experiments or reviewing published scientific work checks the quality and accuracy of any previous work. Perhaps you should use scientific reference materials for definitions of scientific procedures, rather than a basic dictionary!

    Dictionaries do not deal with scientific evidence – only limited definitions of words.

    Source Criticism is the basis of the Historical Method.

    Its use is a common failing of subjective philosophers.

    This negative claim also captures the idea of neutrality: being intrinsically neither mental nor physical in nature ultimate reality is said to be neutral between the two.” [Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy]

    I am sure the are plenty of encyclopaedic quotes of failed speculative philosophical claims and dualist assertions, which bear no resemblance to material reality as accurately described by scientific evidence.



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  • 133
    logicophilosophicus says:

    @A4D
    You don’t acknowledge that “The Scientific Method” is the hypothetico-deductive method. Your judgment of a researcher’s skill or credibility is irrelevant: all that matters is whether any experimental result is replicable and whether mathematical analysis of the result is valid. Everybody in hard science knows that, and adding multiple shrieks after an emboldened denial won’t make anybody unknow it.
    Isaac Asimov spelled out Lord Dorwen’s accent for a reason. He was what passed for a scientist in the decadent Empire, and had an affected and patronising manner. However, I was merely pointing out that his definition of “The Scientific Method” and yours are point-for-point the same.
    More to follow.



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  • 134
    Alan4discussion says:

    In reply to #147 by logicophilosophicus:

    @A4D
    You don’t acknowledge that “The Scientific Method” is the hypothetico-deductive method.

    Of course I do, but this is in addition to the objective investigative and testing methods.

    Your judgment of a researcher’s skill or credibility is irrelevant: all that matters is whether any experimental result is replicable and whether mathematical analysis of the result is valid.

    This is self contradictory nonsense! My judgement and other scientists’ judgements in checking “whether any experimental result is replicable and whether mathematical analysis of the result is valid”, is precisely what I described, as part of the scientific method.

    The scientific method is an on-going procedure, not an individual one off experiment.

    Everybody in hard science knows that, and adding multiple shrieks after an emboldened denial won’t make anybody unknow it.

    What on Earth is that babble supposed to mean?

    Isaac Asimov spelled out Lord Dorwen’s accent for a reason. He was what passed for a scientist in the decadent Empire, and had an affected and patronising manner.

    Like Asimov, I am well aware of confused attempts of some people to pass themselves off as scientists.

    However, I was merely pointing out that his definition of “The Scientific Method” and yours are point-for-point the same.

    Ha! ha! ha! You really must start getting your science from scientists instead of from dictionaries!



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  • 135
    BigChris says:

    In reply to #133 by Garrick Worthing:

    In any case, dreams are not the kind of controlled, independent consciousness that would suggest to one that one’s innermost mind existed independently of the body…

    Thanks Garrick, that’s a nice explanation, and much appreciated. I’m a fairly new atheist and I guess giving up the idea of a soul, a kind of ethereal ‘essence of me’, is one of the harder parts of the transition. One of my favourite thoughts used to be a paraphrase of CS Lewis: “When asked if he believed in the soul he replied ‘I am a soul. I believe I have a body'”. But it always bothered me that when under a general anaesthetic (rather than asleep) my mind seemed to stop completely. (This seems to link to all kinds of issues about consciousness/personality during, say, coma, or Alzheimer’s and the like that I can’t get my head around just yet). The science leaves little room for the comfort of an ongoing soul.



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  • 136
    Cairsley says:

    In reply to #135 by Alan4discussion:

    There is a prime example why the term “soul” should be challenged in this other discussion! – http://www.www.richarddawkins.net/news-articles/2013/2/9/iowa-bill-would-jail-raped-women-for-murder-of-single-cell-zygotes-the-raw-story#

    There is far too much opportunity for side-tracking the issue into debating semantic definitions, if ambiguous terms with multiple meanings are used. In science, clarity and precision are key!

    Thank you for the link to the interview with Rep. Tom Shaw on the Iowa bill that proposes to redefine ‘person’ and ‘murder’. I confess I had avoided it because the write-up on it indicated that it was fatuous, and so it proved to be. The word ‘soul’ does not come up there, but the equally problematic word ‘person’ does.

    We are agreed on the importance of clarity and precision in any discussion. It was for this reason that I raised the matter of at least the two basic ways of understanding the term ‘soul’ and of comparing how these related to the question of an afterlife. If you are a scientist, then you may well find it irritating to have to deal with terms that each have more than one sense, but that is all in a day’s march for a philosopher or historian.



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  • 137
    tombot50 says:

    10 billion data points prove there is NO afterlife. That’s how many people have died; not a single one was ever able to contact us to tell us how to prove an afterlife. And the incentive is enormous. Think dead philosophers and scientists. And the living scientists would want their names attached to the most significant discovery in human history. Every book or person we’ve ever known that talks about the afterlife tells us “what” it is; they never ever tell us how to prove “that” it is. How many 100’s of billions, or trillions, have to die. After 100,000 years of collecting data, how many data points do we need?



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  • 138
    Alan4discussion says:

    In reply to #150 by Garrick Worthing:

    If you are a scientist, then you may well find it irritating to have to deal with terms that each have more than one sense, but that is all in a day’s march for a philosopher or historian.

    You are correct. When I am discussing it in a science discussion, I think clearly in the terms physics, biochemistry, psychology, and neurology. – As a guitarist, I have no problem with “Soul”!



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  • 139
    logicophilosophicus says:

    CRUCIAL ADVICE FOR WIKIPEDIA USERS (and some other stuff)
    @A4D
    I’ll be brief, since the game isn’t worth the candle.
    “Perhaps you should use scientific reference materials for definitions of scientific procedures, rather than a basic dictionary!”
    Actually the specific issue was THE “Scientific method”. Your words. You are right (!!) to insist on proper references/citations. (Though you assume/assert wrongly that major dictionaries do not go to specialists for specialist definitions.) But you never give any yourself. Take the link for “Scientific method” in your #131. It leads to a page in what I usually refer to as “the dreaded Wikipedia” – a hugely valuable first-step tool, but one whose many pitfalls have to be understood and negotiated. Go first to any science page – say “General Relativity” or “Polyploid”. What do you see? A toolbar (ever used it?), a title, the line “From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia”, and then straight into the article. Now try “Scientific method”. You’ll find three boxes between the headings and the article. They tell you that there is no agreement that the article is sound/unbiased, and that it is not verified by proper references/citations “to reliable sources.” This, remember, is your only cited authority for what you wrote (and I won’t examine how accurately or otherwise you used that source). The toolbar allows you to see the source article (“View source”) and any edits, whether retained or rejected (“History”). This much disputed page has an ongoing history of major edits/disagreements (the minor ones, punctuation etc., are marked with a bold m). You will see that major problems with this article have dragged on for years, and are still leading to disputes and revisions this month!!
    The middle box of caveats, concerning “neutrality” in particular, similarly has the latest date “January 2013” (as last updated). It includes a link to the “talk page” (ever used it?) where you will find that one of many issues is the use of the word “the” for the title. The article – after years of ongoing dispute – is “Scientific method” not “The scientific method”. Why? Because “The scientific method” has a long-standing meaning. There are lots of other issues, but let’s just go back to Google. Search on “the scientific method” and you get over 56 million hits. Many are from university science departments – e.g. (on my first page) Rochester and Cincinnatti. But you chose Wikpedia, warts and all.
    And, incidentally, blustered about that to the complete exclusion of the scientific points I made (neutrinos, radioactivity…) Way to go!! (That’s a double “shriek” btw.)
    You wrote: “My skills are in sorting this out and using scientific methods to check its accuracy. This involves looking at how many people have rechecked the information, how skilled they were…” That is a fine aspiration.



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  • 140
    tombot50 says:

    In reply to #153 by Robert Kubik:

    In reply to #151 by tombot50:

    That’s how many people have died; not a single one was ever able to contact us to tell us how to prove an afterlife. And the incentive is enormous.

    You are wrong. I know one and his name is Jesus

    I must have missed his instructions about how to do reproducible experiments that can be peer reviewed in this lifetime. As I recall, Jesus told us what steps to do to get to heaven. Yet no one who followed his steps has been able to confirmed that it worked. Can you think of any other experiment where all the data falls into the “false” category and absolutely none of the data falls into the “positive” category.
    Religion exists precisely and ironically because we have absolutely no evidence of an afterlife. Yet we still feel the pain and loss of loved ones when they die. And the fear of not knowing if we will ever be together again. Religion exists to mitigate that loss and pain through large scale deception.



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  • 141
    Alan4discussion says:

    In reply to #154 by logicophilosophicus:

    (That’s a double “shriek” btw.)
    You wrote:

    “My skills are in sorting this out and using scientific methods to check its accuracy. This involves looking at how many people have rechecked the information, how skilled they were…”

    That is a fine aspiration.

    That’s the thing about the scientific method. Any user of the scientific knowledge who finds a flaw in its application can draw the attention of other scientists to it. A vast array of scientific laws and theories, are applied to thousands of processes and engineering projects all the time – and they work – consistently.

    They are only “controversial” in the minds of the word shufflers.

    Let’s keep it simple: Along with other people, I have been using the scientific method for decades – including reading “source articles” – and commenting on them in scientific publications.

    Scientists connect tested physical realities to words to label them.

    Those who learn their science from dictionaries try to interpret those words in terms of other words, which without a depth of scientific understanding or hands-on experience, is too superficial to connect to the underlying material reality. Adding volumes of verbosity, emotive strawman-shrieks, and wishful thinking, only adds to their confusion.



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  • 142
    logicophilosophicus says:

    @A4D “But you chose Wikpedia, warts and all. And, incidentally, blustered about that to the complete exclusion of the scientific points I made (neutrinos, radioactivity…)” Yet again, no point addressed, no citations. This is a problem. Who, btw, are these people who learn their science from dictionaries? Seems irrelevant. (Incidentally, Merriam Webster is not a “basic dictionary” – ultimately, the specialist definitions are backed by over 4000 Britannica contributors including over 100 Nobel laureates.)



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  • 143
    Alan4discussion says:

    In reply to #157 by logicophilosophicus:

    And, incidentally, blustered about that to the complete exclusion of the scientific points I made (neutrinos, radioactivity…)”

    Not really! – When you show that neutrinos and radioactivity have some relevance to this thread, rather than simply providing a complex diversion, I may consider them.

    Yet again, no point addressed, no citations. This is a problem.

    Read a science textbook. You are just churning words.

    Who, btw, are these people who learn their science from dictionaries? Seems irrelevant.

    You were the one who disputed my description of the global critical examination of science, – and my own checking, as latter part of the method, quoting a dictionary definition (which you misunderstood) to support your error.

    (Incidentally, Merriam Webster is not a “basic dictionary” – ultimately, the specialist definitions are backed by over 4000 Britannica contributors including over 100 Nobel laureates.)

    Dictionary definitions are brief summaries giving outline definitions or core elements – usually aimed at a particular audience. They vary from describing simple observations and “fair testing” in experiments for children to more inclusive ones for adults.

    They are however not science textbooks nor are they scientific studies illustrating methodology. Vague references to irrelevant “authority figures” such a Nobel Laureates to add weight to your errors, will not impress on this site.

    We were discussing “The Scientific Method” where you incorrectly disputed the later stages of it, in which the earlier work is widely reviewed with repeat confirmations in applying the earlier discoveries.

    As I said previously. The scientific method is an on-going procedure. It is not only part of a one-off study.

    However , just because science is a continuing process of discovery, that does not mean that it has not made earlier discoveries, or confirmed some of them to very high levels of probability.



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  • 144
    logicophilosophicus says:

    @A4D Aw come on. You’ve been getting an easy ride. Your physics is virtually non-existent. I wasn’t going to go here, but you’ve touted this repeatedly as proof positive: #112: “Physicists know the Laws of thermodynamics, which pretty well cover ALL movements and transmissions of energy and interplay with matter at atomic scales!” Kindly enlighten anyone here – WHICH law of thermodynamics do you think has any application whatsoever “at atomic scales”? I’ll help you – NONE. Au revoir.



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  • 145
    Alan4discussion says:

    In reply to #159 by logicophilosophicus:

    @A4D Aw come on. You’ve been getting an easy ride. Your physics is virtually non-existent. I wasn’t going to go here, but you’ve touted this repeatedly as proof positive: #112: “Physicists know the Laws of thermodynamics, which pretty well cover ALL movements and transmissions of energy and interplay with matter at atomic scales!” Kindly enlighten anyone here – WHICH law of thermodynamics do you think has any application whatsoever “at atomic scales”? I’ll help you – NONE. Au revoir.

    Oh dear! .. . . . and those physicists thought solar radiation transmitted energy by way of photons and plasma, from ATOMS in the Sun to ATOMS on Earth! Some even thought electrical circuits worked by electrons moving from ATOM to ATOM . Never mind – Carry on reading the dictionary!



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  • 146
    logicophilosophicus says:

    @A4D So WHICH law was that? The Laws of Themodynamics are macroscopic. They all relate to temperature. That’s ALL four of them. There is no temperature “at the atomic scale”. Your definitive evidence was bogus, as reference to YOUR OWN vaunted link in #112 (the dreaded Wikipedia as usual) will show you. Whoops – should have read it first…



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  • 147
    Moderator says:

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  • 148
    Alan4discussion says:

    logicophilosophicus
    161

    @A4D So WHICH law was that? The Laws of Themodynamics are macroscopic. They all relate to temperature. That’s ALL four of them. There is no temperature “at the atomic scale”.

    This is comical! The vibration and movement of atoms, molecules and their sub-atomic components, is the very nature of temperature!



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  • This seems (to me) to be an issue over terminology. One of the more difficult (and time-wasting) aspects of useful discourse re “religion” is the lack of agreement over definition of terms. Does afterlife = soul? Nope, and what is a soul anyways? Since no one knows with absolute certainty what happens to consciousness after physical death, anything (so to speak) is possible. We don’t actually even know what our sense of self and existence means. Perhaps we are all just computer programs, or as one suggested, alien constructs, easily regenerated. In any event the real issue is what does one think happens, and what should one do about that today… (and tomorrow, etc.). The endless debates over the “nature” of our existence, including afterlife, is a complete waste of time and energy, unless it points to actions related to a desired outcome.



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  • 150
    tombot50 says:

    In reply to #165 by TSUF:

    This seems (to me) to be an issue over terminology. One of the more difficult (and time-wasting) aspects of useful discourse re “religion” is the lack of agreement over definition of terms. Does afterlife = soul? Nope, and what is a soul anyways? Since no one knows with absolute certainty what happens to consciousness after physical death, anything (so to speak) is possible. We don’t actually even know what our sense of self and existence means. Perhaps we are all just computer programs, or as one suggested, alien constructs, easily regenerated. In any event the real issue is what does one think happens, and what should one do about that today… (and tomorrow, etc.). The endless debates over the “nature” of our existence, including afterlife, is a complete waste of time and energy, unless it points to actions related to a desired outcome.

    You are correct TSUF, about the different concepts soul and afterlife. But by stating that anything is possible about conscious afterlife, you are invoking something called “future knowledge”. Sorry, but there is no such thing as future knowledge. We can only know what we know now and what others before us have discovered.
    No consciousness has ever contacted us from the future, or else there would be books in our libraries written by people from the future. That’s never happened. I must admit that I was a big Star Trek fan starting with the first episode I viewed. Contemplating possible future scenarios is fun but distinctly different than doing planning for the present based on a fantasy future. Religion presents a fantasy future unlike Star Trek, because religion also imposes guilt and that sick manipulative concept called original sin.



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  • In reply to #167 by tombot50:

    In reply to #165 by TSUF:

    This seems (to me) to be an issue over terminology. One of the more difficult (and time-wasting) aspects of useful discourse re “religion” is the lack of agreement over definition of terms. Does afterlife = soul? Nope, and what is a soul anyways? Since no one knows with absolute certainty what happens to consciousness after physical death, anything (so to speak) is possible. We don’t actually even know what our sense of self and existence means. Perhaps we are all just computer programs, or as one suggested, alien constructs, easily regenerated. In any event the real issue is what does one think happens, and what should one do about that today… (and tomorrow, etc.). The endless debates over the “nature” of our existence, including afterlife, is a complete waste of time and energy, unless it points to actions related to a desired outcome.

    You are correct TSUF, about the different concepts soul and afterlife. But by stating that anything is possible about conscious afterlife, you are invoking something called “future knowledge”. Sorry, but there is no such thing as future knowledge. We can only know what we know now and what others before us have discovered.
    No consciousness has ever contacted us from the future, or else there would be books in our libraries written by people from the future. That’s never happened. I must admit that I was a big Star Trek fan starting with the first episode I viewed. Contemplating possible future scenarios is fun but distinctly different than doing planning for the present based on a fantasy future. Religion presents a fantasy future unlike Star Trek, because religion also imposes guilt and that sick manipulative concept called original sin.

    Hmmmmm…. Why does invoking “future knowledge” disqualify any theory? Isn’t all hypothesis essentially a bet future knowledge will validate? One could argue where the bar is set requiring some present factual basis vs complete fantasy in formulating the hypothesis, but then that would be an individual choice, not subject to rational rigor. Judging by the historical record, it is not unusual for a “fantastical” hypothesis, held very narrowly, perhaps by only one individual, even over the vigorous and sometimes homicidal objections of many, to be validated. However, leaving aside debate over where future knowledge kicks in, I accept your polite reproof re my anything is possible “truth”. The implication arguing from that position cannot birth helpful debate is true, so I retract, and will restate my position. However, I completely reject the notion future knowledge is a deal breaker. The real issue is more akin to how much future knowledge is acceptable relative to what actions must be taken, resources expended, in the present vs the “facts” as we know them.

    In the consideration of afterlife the stakes are very high, so therefore must be the “bar height” re future knowledge. If in fact, our choices in the present have eternal consequences, I suggest we can all agree that is a serious matter. Serious enough that folks such as Mr. Dawkins have expended massive amounts of energy addressing it. The essential issue, for any useful discussion amongst folks with diametrically opposed views, is whether our present understanding of existence absolutely rules out some kind of “afterlife” (never mind it’s nature for the moment). I submit it would be intellectual snobbery, not to mention myopic, to base our ideas of future knowledge entirely on our present knowledge. Would you agree? I assume so since your writing seems reasonable.

    Assuming that basis of agreement between the two positions. I submit a useful argument can be had, and open minds may indeed be changed in either direction. Ergo, I resubmit my point re afterlife, but without further discussion re it’s nature and what we should do about the issue in the present (regardless of what side one is on, there is no way to abstain from life, there will always be consequences). The original post re atheist vs afterlife is answered, they are not incompatible views, as long as one does not assign a specific nature to the afterlife conflicting with atheistic views. Further investigation is essentially a new topic.

    FWIW, I have considered this issue (afterlife, the nature of our existence, etc.) for many years, in depth. Read the views of others extensively, and reached a conclusion. as we all must, or we just experience a default conclusion so to speak. I have read Mr. Dawkins book, and agree with much of what he writes, especially the woefully inadequate efforts the majority of humans expend in developing a life understanding regardless of the label they live under. This has always puzzled me since on it’s face a life philosophy seems pretty important in ordering ones life for a host of reasons.



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  • 152
    Alan4discussion says:

    In reply to #165 by TSUF:

    This seems (to me) to be an issue over terminology. One of the more difficult (and time-wasting) aspects of useful discourse re “religion” is the lack of agreement over definition of terms. Does afterlife = soul? Nope, and what is a soul anyways?

    It is one of the features of religious claims, that they remain vague to evade refutation. The more clearly defined claims are easily refuted.

    Since no one knows with absolute certainty

    Nobody knows anything “with absolute certainty”, but that is no basis for rejecting strongly evidenced highly probable things we do know.

    what happens to consciousness after physical death,

    We do know that “consciousness” evolved over millions of years in diverse forms of life, with neuroscientists and biologists providing strong evidence of the biochemistry involved. That biochemistry breaks down and ceases when the living cells die, decompose or are incinerated.

    anything (so to speak) is possible.

    “Anything” is not possible. Most “anythings”, are so vastly unlikely that they can be dismissed.
    Science is about providing repeatable evidence of how things work and refuting other “anythings” which do not work under the test conditions. The functioning of basic chemistry, electricity, and energy movements, is well tested and understood, under the normal conditions of temperature and pressure on Earth. -(Where human brains exist.)

    We don’t actually even know what our sense of self [means]

    While not conclusive, psychologists have done a great deal of work on “our sense of self” and the sense of self in other animals. It is in the working of our brains. Science can track where the energy involved goes during life and after death.

    and existence means.

    The universe has no “meaning”! It just works to the laws of science. – Most atheists recognise this. We choose out own “meanings” and objectives. Most atheists also recognise this. Theists pretend their’s were given by their gods, but like everyone else’s, they are just made up or copied from other people – past or present.

    Perhaps we are all just computer programs, or as one suggested, alien constructs, easily regenerated. In any event the real issue is what does one think happens, and what should one do about that today… (and tomorrow, etc.). The endless debates over the “nature” of our existence, including afterlife, is a complete waste of time and energy, unless it points to actions related to a desired outcome.

    Very much so! We certainly should not let almost infinitely remote, wild speculations, get out of all proportion and dominate our lives. Science provides the highly probable information required, for those who are prepared to look at it and make the effort to understand it.



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  • 153
    Alan4discussion says:

    In reply to #168 by TSUF:

    Hmmmmm…. Why does invoking “future knowledge” disqualify any theory? Isn’t all hypothesis essentially a bet future knowledge will validate? One could argue where the bar is set requiring some present factual basis vs complete fantasy in formulating the hypothesis, but then that would be an individual choice, not subject to rational rigor.

    Any “individual choice” not based on evidence and rational rigour”, is likely to be whimsy!

    Judging by the historical record, it is not unusual for a “fantastical” hypothesis, held very narrowly, perhaps by only one individual, even over the vigorous and sometimes homicidal objections of many, to be validated.

    Actually the historical record shows that it is VERY unusual for fantastical hypotheses to be validated. Even some of the most imaginative and far-sighted writers of science fiction, and some very great scientists have been far off target on most of their lesser known predictions.

    However, leaving aside debate over where future knowledge kicks in, I accept your polite reproof re my anything is possible “truth”. The implication arguing from that position cannot birth helpful debate is true, so I retract,

    That is good, because claims against well established scientific laws and measuring techniques come out as ludicrous.

    No “new physics” is going to throw out established methodology, and identify the distance from London to New York as 6 feet 2 inches, identify the mass of the Earth as 2 kilogrammes, or allow you to step off the top of the Empire State building and float up to the International Space Station without technological assistance.

    The essential issue, for any useful discussion amongst folks with diametrically opposed views, is whether our present understanding of existence absolutely rules out some kind of “afterlife” (never mind it’s nature for the moment).

    The nature of a claim is crucial in establishing its credibility.

    Assuming that basis of agreement between the two positions.

    It is difficult to see how there could be agreement between opposite positions. ie afterlife v no afterlife.

    I submit a useful argument can be had, and open minds may indeed be changed in either direction.

    Critical open minds do not easily change when one side of an argument has mountains of evidence and the other side has nothing except vague hopes that “something” will turn up! The arguments are not supported by equivalent evidence.

    Ergo, I resubmit my point re afterlife, but without further discussion re it’s nature and what we should do about the issue in the present (regardless of what side one is on, there is no way to abstain from life, there will always be consequences).

    Indeed! Living life looking over your shoulder to collect points towards some imagined future afterlife, is entirely different to living the one and only life you have as a considerate part of a community.

    The original post re atheist vs afterlife is answered, they are not incompatible views, as long as one does not assign a specific nature to the afterlife conflicting with atheistic views.

    An undefined claim is non-existent – words without meaning, so it cannot be compatible, OR incompatible, with anything!

    Further investigation is essentially a new topic.

    … . . But without a clarity of definition the discussion has no substance. Afterlife could mean anything. – A legacy of writing, architecture, discoveries, recorded memories – none of which are an afterlife in the religious sense.

    I have read Mr. Dawkins book, and agree with much of what he writes, especially the woefully inadequate efforts the majority of humans expend in developing a life understanding regardless of the label they live under. This has always puzzled me since on it’s face a life philosophy seems pretty important in ordering ones life for a host of reasons.

    Many people just uncritically accept whatever they have been told in childhood, and never develop a philosophy of their own. Many religious dogmas and establishments, (or ideological one-party states) actively discourage independent thinking, and even rational thinking processes, thus maintaining dependency in their followers.



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  • 154
    Street Logician says:

    A human soul with a personality and intelligence is complex. Was it always complex or did it develop its complexity as the brain developed? If it was alway complex, where did it come from and what formed it? If it developed with the brain, why should it not loose its order and complexity when the brain decomposes? I think the notion of afterlife as theist see it is ruled out.



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  • 155
    Liam91 says:

    You can be an atheist and believe in an afterlife, but for that to happen there has to be a soul. Last time I looked I saw no proof or evidence of a soul.



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  • 156
    Alan4discussion says:

    In reply to #172 by Liam91:

    You can be an atheist and believe in an afterlife, but for that to happen there has to be a soul. Last time I looked I saw no proof or evidence of a soul.

    I think there is some strange exception, where Buddhists who do not believe in gods, believe in human reincarnation as animals.



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  • 157
    MapleDonutMan says:

    If there is more than meets the eye, it will be physics that illuminates. What will we discover about dark energy, curled dimensions, other universes? Is collective consciousness possible?

    Reality is merely an illusion, albeit a very persistent one.
    – Albert Einstein

    The universe was once smaller than an electron. When we apply quantum theory to the universe, we are forced to admit the possibility that the universe exists simultaneously in many states.
    – Michio Kaku



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  • 158
    Liam91 says:

    Yes I have heard that as well which is a very strange exception indeed. In reply to #173 by Alan4discussion:

    In reply to #172 by Liam91:

    You can be an atheist and believe in an afterlife, but for that to happen there has to be a soul. Last time I looked I saw no proof or evidence of a soul.

    I think there is some strange exception, where Buddhists who do not believe in gods, believe in human reincarnation as animals.



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  • 159
    stasky says:

    If you think you are in a program akin to the film the matrix then whose to say about a continuation of a construct you can have no way of understanding.However back to reality, at the very least back to this reality. The human soul you talk about seems to be a get out clause for people who can not face among other things oblivion even with all the scientific facts in front of them, this is self delusion.I think people should enjoy this life and realise it is not a dress rehearsal for some ethereal train journey.



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  • 160
    WezleyPetez says:

    Is it ridiculous to think that since science says that energy cannot be destroyed and that they are just converted into other forms of state. That when we die the stored energy in our body which also makes up our “soul/conciousness” gets dispersed into the earth, and of which probably finds its way into a new life here, but since memory is destroyed along with the process of dying you never knew that you existed once before. Thus some sort of reincarnation process. I know this sound ludicrous but I think it would be the most “logical” since the subject of having an afterlife is just weird, unscientific and most likely improbable.



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  • 161
    MO_Dawkins_Fan says:

    Hi, I agree with almost all of what Dawkins and others say about atheism, but (as a father and husband), I have a very difficult time accepting I will not see my family after death, especially if they should precede me in death. I hope for a non-religious afterlife because these people are very dear to me, and the thought of losing them breaks my heart more if it would be for all time. I do not mean to imply I love my family more than atheists love their families, by the way! I’m just looking for away to deal with this attachment and fear. Thank in advance for any kind help.



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  • 162
    meee45 says:

    Even if there is no evidence for soul there is still possibility for an afterlife like we used to be non-living and came to life , it could happen again not to mention that a rational person always looks for reasons , and by reason death as the end removes any reason for life in the first place. offcourse that is just a possibilty ,there might be other possibilties that in my opinion are incomprehensible becausce to know them we should be able to define life ,death, consciousness, and feelings which i find impossible. In conclusion these issues are just to hard to be as known facts a person is left wether to believe or not believe any of the rational explanations .



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  • While I agree that the a conventional afterlife is quite egocentric and does not do anything except make one wishful for a future time I disagree on the sense that when something dies it becomes nothing purely on the scientific fact that energy cannot be destroyed but merely changes form and that everything in existence is energy vibrating at a certain frequency.



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  • @ Dan #167/168

     

    Nonetheless, we all know that life after non-existence happens.  Who will believe in birth with me today?

    All it takes is an initial group of cells to grow into something experienced as you-  you in the future.

     

    “You” are a manifestation of your brain activity, a brain grown and developed according to the instructions encoded in your unique DNA, with additional learned characteristics embedded by your life experiences.  When the brain dies and is destroyed,  all that is permanently eradicated.

    Contrary to  Ian Fleming,  ‘You Only Live Once’.


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  • “Can anyone be an atheist and also believe in an afterlife?  just because one might not believe in a god does not rule out the existance of a continuation of the human soul?” – Answers to both questions are Yes and Yes. But before I explain I give some definitions.
    Definition of God: There are two definitions, one given by religions (RD) and the other given by the books of religions (BD). RD = God is the creator of the universe. BD = “God is spirit” as defined in Bible and Vedas. The spirit is same as soul or atman. RD is wrong and BD is correct.
    Definition of Atheist: A person who believes in RD and has no idea about BD.
    Properties of Soul: (1) Soul is the root cause of all causes. (2) It is the tiniest invisible particle. (3) It is the only object in the universe that has consciousness. (4) It is eternally existent. (5) Soul does not reincarnate, but it stays with the subtle body. (6) Soul creates the subtle body and also the gross body. (7) It is the subtle body that reincarnates. (8) Every object in the universe has a soul and that soul has created that object. Thus every object consists of three parts: a soul, a subtle body, and a gross body.
    Properties of Root material: Bible says – “We are created from the dust.” This is not the dust of the earth, but it is the cosmic dust called root material in the Vedas. All objects in the universe are created by one of the soul particles by using this dust. The root material has very similar properties like soul. (a) It is the tiniest invisible particle. (b) It has three properties: knowledge, ignorance, energy. (c) It is eternally existent.
    Concept of eternal existence: Bible says – “There is nothing new under the sun.”  Vedas say the same thing – “Nonexistent cannot become existent.” This is the logic behind the dust and the soul. However there are many proofs of their existences.
    For more details take a look at – https://www.academia.edu/38590496/A_COMPARISON_OF_MODERN_SCIENCE_WITH_VEDIC_SCIENCE  Thus if you read Vedas you will understand Bible better. Bible contains all major ideas of Vedas.

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