Author Topic: The fear of ceasing to exist  (Read 3481 times)

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Offline plethora

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The fear of ceasing to exist
« on: September 09, 2008, 08:13:05 AM »
I was having a conversation with a "non-practicing Jewish" friend of mine yesterday and I told him something like:

"You know all religious people believe in life after death. An eternal spiritual existence after they physically die. I think a lot of these people are afraid to concieve of the possibility that they may simply cease to exist when they die. They need to believe that they will exist in some form or another... forever."

He said, "Well I can understand that. I mean, to cease to exist is a scary thought".

So I said: "Before you were born, you did not exist. You know this. You know that the world existed and things were happening and people were there... yet you did not exist at the time. Before this life, as far as you are aware, you did not exist. Does this bother you?"

He says, "No. It doesn't bother me. I simply didn't exist before. But now I do and I can't imagine not existing after I die."

The conversation went on and on.

Why are some religious people so afraid of the idea to cease to exist... while they're perfectly content with the concept of not having existed before being born (or concieved if we want to be specific).

In fact, they're not even concerned that they don't remember further back than age 3 or 4.

Personally, having already not existed before, I don't find the idea of going back to non-existence scary at all. In fact, it gives me a lot more peace of mind to think that when it's over... it's over. No judgement, no worrying about where I am going to spend the rest of eternity (in heaven or hell)...

Your thoughts on this matter?
« Last Edit: September 09, 2008, 10:24:46 AM by plethora »
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Offline benji

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Re: The fear of ceasing to exist
« Reply #1 on: September 09, 2008, 08:29:12 AM »
I agree with you 100%.   This comes under the category of 'Why worry about something that we have no control over'.  There is no evidence that there is any other life other than the one we have now.  Anyone that says differently does not know what he (or she) is talking about.  Nobody alive now has ever really been dead.  Therefore they can not possibly know what happens when you die.  And we shouldn't accept the word of other living people given that they don't know any more than we or anyone else does.

Offline Hermes

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Re: The fear of ceasing to exist
« Reply #2 on: September 09, 2008, 09:35:01 AM »
I'd like to continue on ... but I won't be able to worry about it after I don't!
Smart people believe weird things because they are skilled at defending beliefs they arrived at for non-smart reasons. --Michael Shermer

The history of religion is a long attempt to reconcile old custom with new reason, to find a sound theory for an absurd practice.  --Sir James George Frazer

Offline I KILLED JEBUS

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Re: The fear of ceasing to exist
« Reply #3 on: September 09, 2008, 08:27:37 PM »
If eternal life is theirs,considering they did the impossible and followed all the rules required to enter heaven. Why would any religous person seek the assistance of a physician?
Bow down my hairy children and behold the world I have laid out for you,walk away from your electronic devices and listen to the sounds of nature. Tear from you the ties that bind you to your pathetic existance,walk back into the woods with me and we shall feast on the bounty I have left
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Offline Irish

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Re: The fear of ceasing to exist
« Reply #4 on: September 09, 2008, 08:37:53 PM »
My thoughts are:

1.) There is no after life

2.) I have only one life (existence, whatever) to live so I better make it d*** good while I'm alive. I should try and do what I want to do with my life and career and help others in the process.

3.) No one knows when exactly they'll die. I could walk out of my dorm to class tomorrow and get run over, shot, stabbed, etc. The goal is to just live the best, most honest, admirable, and greatest life you can live now.
La scienze non ha nemici ma gli ignoranti.

Offline Alkan

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Re: The fear of ceasing to exist
« Reply #5 on: September 09, 2008, 08:39:53 PM »
I believe there is a God, and its not because I'm afraid of not existing.

If there's no eternal life with one existence, then I really am just cynical of the universe: I'd think about life as "Wow, that was pointless." Not in a depressing way, just in a sarcastic sense. I'd think, "Wow, I just lived a life in a vast, unimaginibly complicated universe, and then, boom, its pointless." The whole concept of not existing after physical death almost seems... stupid...

If there is no existence after death, then I mock the universe for being so pointless.

Now, the prospect of having to live another life is scarier than not existing. Having to put up with all these questions again... etc. Or worse, repeating your own life over again! :D (M-Theory, who knows?)

Again, I'd mock it for being so pointless...

But, I don't believe in reincarnation. So, I think there's probably something beyond what is observed here.


My thoughts are:

1.) There is no after life

2.) I have only one life (existence, whatever) to live so I better make it d*** good while I'm alive. I should try and do what I want to do with my life and career and help others in the process.

3.) No one knows when exactly they'll die. I could walk out of my dorm to class tomorrow and get run over, shot, stabbed, etc. The goal is to just live the best, most honest, admirable, and greatest life you can live now.

1. You really don't know.

2. Good.

3. Good.

Offline I KILLED JEBUS

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Re: The fear of ceasing to exist
« Reply #6 on: September 09, 2008, 08:43:27 PM »
The fear of god has not stopped George W. from killing his own god loving warriors.
Bow down my hairy children and behold the world I have laid out for you,walk away from your electronic devices and listen to the sounds of nature. Tear from you the ties that bind you to your pathetic existance,walk back into the woods with me and we shall feast on the bounty I have left
Sasquatch

Offline Irish

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Re: The fear of ceasing to exist
« Reply #7 on: September 09, 2008, 08:45:34 PM »
I believe there is a God

You really don't know  ;)
My thoughts are:

1.) There is no after life

2.) I have only one life (existence, whatever) to live so I better make it d*** good while I'm alive. I should try and do what I want to do with my life and career and help others in the process.

3.) No one knows when exactly they'll die. I could walk out of my dorm to class tomorrow and get run over, shot, stabbed, etc. The goal is to just live the best, most honest, admirable, and greatest life you can live now.

1. You really don't know.
I can't prove or disprove an afterlife... only my thoughts

2. Good.

3. Good.
La scienze non ha nemici ma gli ignoranti.

Offline Irish

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Re: The fear of ceasing to exist
« Reply #8 on: September 09, 2008, 08:47:07 PM »
The fear of god has not stopped George W. from killing his own god loving warriors.

Uh.... say what?
La scienze non ha nemici ma gli ignoranti.

Offline Alkan

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Re: The fear of ceasing to exist
« Reply #9 on: September 09, 2008, 08:48:34 PM »
Yeah, actually you cannot disprove or prove an afterlife. lol. That's pure fact...

Offline Cyberia

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Re: The fear of ceasing to exist
« Reply #10 on: September 09, 2008, 09:14:29 PM »
Yeah, actually you cannot disprove or prove an afterlife. lol. That's pure fact...
If there is an afterlife, it causes CPT violations 100% of the time.  This would be EXTRAORDINARILY unlikely.

Basically, what that means, is that death is a one-way reaction.  That would be very unusual in physics, because virtually ALL reactions can be reversed, even if only theoretically.  In other words, physical reactions work in BOTH directions temporally.  If you reverse time, the reaction reverses.  This means that, even if it is very very unlikely, some people should come back from the dead occasionally.  (DEAD dead, not near dead)

We have ZERO verifiable evidence for this EVER occurring.  (Jesus and Lazarus are not verifiable, and it hasn't occurred since)

As such either there is no afterlife, or the process is a 100% CPT violation (profoundly unlikely)


NOTE: There are indeed some physical reactions (B-mesons and kaons) that violate CPT symmetry, if the reaction is reversed you get a DIFFERENT result.  However, these are EXTREMELY rare events, even when you are trying to duplicate them.

NOTE 2: In order for this proof to be true, the 'soul' would need to be describable as a quantum particle....and I'm just goofing around.  The afterlife is still rather unlikely, imho.
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Offline essgeeskee

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Re: The fear of ceasing to exist
« Reply #11 on: September 10, 2008, 12:16:42 AM »
Why are some religious people so afraid of the idea to cease to exist... while they're perfectly content with the concept of not having existed before being born (or concieved if we want to be specific).

Awesome point!

What really gets me is that religious people are so afraid of ceasing to exist, but they seem to think it's ok to send other people out to die for their causes. The higher ups brainwash the crap out of people and then convince those people that if they die for a certain cause, they are doing so for their country or religion. Their bible even states that killing is wrong, but they seem to think it's ok if the cause is in the name of their God(which God has nothing to do with by the way). Why don't the higher ups put their lives on the line? You just hear people saying, "We need more troops in Iraq! God is on OUR side! You'll receive 72 virgins when you die!" What a bunch of s#it!! Some soldiers make it and others do not. They do the routine ceremonies after a honored soldier dies like it's supposed to make up for something while more brainwashed people continue to die and innocent children die in the line of fire while life is being preserved for those who know the real truth about this stuff!

All of you hard core religious people, think for a minute...please! Your bible states that killing is wrong. Your bible tells you to turn the other cheek. You all are afraid of not existing. If these statements are true, how can you condone or even allow your brainwashed religious brothers and sisters to put their lives on the line to die for you, me and other people who wouldn't give a crap about them? Can't you see it's a big lie? The same people who formed your corrupted governments whom you complain about on a daily basis are the same people who push this religious stuff.

Enough said!!
« Last Edit: September 10, 2008, 12:19:23 AM by essgeeskee »
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Offline Hermes

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Re: The fear of ceasing to exist
« Reply #12 on: September 10, 2008, 03:05:22 AM »
The afterlife is an entire fabrication; I'll say with confidence that there is no such place.

Why?  Think about what we know.  What we do not need to speculate about.

1. Death is not a clear line; on one side alive, on the other completely dead.  Death happens in stages as individual cells no longer retain integrity for a variety of reasons, often because of oxygen starvation from organ failure or trauma that prevents the blood from circulating.

2. All of our thoughts are contained in a structure of neurons.

3. When people start to die, the brain is frequently one of the last organs to be starved of oxygen.

4. The 'tunnel of light' is caused by the visual cortex loosing oxygen and the remaining parts of the brain attempting to deal with that.  The same 'tunnel' can be simulated.  Pilots experience this when they use a centrifuge under high G forces for training or to test new gear.

5. People who live after being through this oxygen starvation tell stories based on their brain's attempt to deal with the stress.  They talk about 'flash backs', they talk about 'stepping outside' of themselves and seeing themselves.  The same thing the pilots in the centrifuges report.

6. The more time the brain or any organ is starved, the more damage.

7. People don't act any differently from more damage (that brings them closer to complete death and thus an 'afterlife') then other victims of brain damage.

These are facts.  So, what can we with confidence say about what exists after life?  We already know.   Surgeons in emergency rooms know, EMS teams know, morticians know, and families and friends at bed sides know.  All else is arrogance, fantasy, and wishful thinking of those who witness that finality.
« Last Edit: September 10, 2008, 03:11:12 AM by Hermes »
Smart people believe weird things because they are skilled at defending beliefs they arrived at for non-smart reasons. --Michael Shermer

The history of religion is a long attempt to reconcile old custom with new reason, to find a sound theory for an absurd practice.  --Sir James George Frazer

Offline plethora

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Re: The fear of ceasing to exist
« Reply #13 on: September 10, 2008, 08:10:45 AM »
The whole concept of not existing after physical death almost seems... stupid...

If there is no existence after death, then I mock the universe for being so pointless.

Why does life necessarily have to have a point?

I ask you... what is the point of all of the other life forms on this planet which are not human?

For example...what is the point of Slugs? Do you believe slugs continue to exist in some form? Or do you believe they cease to exist?

What about Dolphins? They are more intelligent and more aware than slugs. Do they simply cease to exist?

I think so... and I don't see what makes human the exception to this rule. Sure, we are the most intelligent form of life on this planet... but I think humans think too much of themselves.
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Offline bahramthered

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Re: The fear of ceasing to exist
« Reply #14 on: September 10, 2008, 08:16:25 AM »
I miss the days I was this committed to the idea of nothingness after death. Alas I saw something that really shook that certainty a couple years ago. I  saw what was probally (that may be the beer, lets make that possibly) a ghost, so I am no longer covinced that humans are strictly physical or death is as final as we think.

Still not a chrisitian, god beleiver, or anything else along those lines. But the idea of being trapped in a house haunting that forever, give me non existence any day.

Offline nihilanth

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Re: The fear of ceasing to exist
« Reply #15 on: September 10, 2008, 11:56:52 AM »
My thoughts?

I am not afraid of ceasing to exist, but it would be a bit of a bummer. I like existing now.

There was a time when I did not like existence and wanted to end it. Now I am better and I LOVE existing.

The thought of the afterlife, as delusional as some of you may say it is, is a positive thought, and psychologically healthy.
You can't prove it either way so you have to make a choice.

Offline Alkan

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Re: The fear of ceasing to exist
« Reply #16 on: September 10, 2008, 09:01:59 PM »
My thoughts?

I am not afraid of ceasing to exist, but it would be a bit of a bummer. I like existing now.

There was a time when I did not like existence and wanted to end it. Now I am better and I LOVE existing.

The thought of the afterlife, as delusional as some of you may say it is, is a positive thought, and psychologically healthy.

Yes, and beyond being psychologically healthy, if we were in fact "souls"* inside a brain, just experiencing the brain's functional consciousness, which is perfectly reasonable, possible, to me probable idea, then an afterlife isn't such a bad idea. I never believed that NDEs were spiritual. I always sort of wondered what was really going on in the brain.

*Please don't lash out because of the connotation of this word.

Offline Alkan

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Re: The fear of ceasing to exist
« Reply #17 on: September 10, 2008, 09:04:19 PM »
Yeah, actually you cannot disprove or prove an afterlife. lol. That's pure fact...
If there is an afterlife, it causes CPT violations 100% of the time.  This would be EXTRAORDINARILY unlikely.

Basically, what that means, is that death is a one-way reaction.  That would be very unusual in physics, because virtually ALL reactions can be reversed, even if only theoretically.  In other words, physical reactions work in BOTH directions temporally.  If you reverse time, the reaction reverses.  This means that, even if it is very very unlikely, some people should come back from the dead occasionally.  (DEAD dead, not near dead)

We have ZERO verifiable evidence for this EVER occurring.  (Jesus and Lazarus are not verifiable, and it hasn't occurred since)

As such either there is no afterlife, or the process is a 100% CPT violation (profoundly unlikely)


NOTE: There are indeed some physical reactions (B-mesons and kaons) that violate CPT symmetry, if the reaction is reversed you get a DIFFERENT result.  However, these are EXTREMELY rare events, even when you are trying to duplicate them.

NOTE 2: In order for this proof to be true, the 'soul' would need to be describable as a quantum particle....and I'm just goofing around.  The afterlife is still rather unlikely, imho.

That is assuming it is physical...

Offline NinjaProof

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Re: The fear of ceasing to exist
« Reply #18 on: September 11, 2008, 12:20:33 AM »
I was having a conversation with a "non-practicing Jewish" friend of mine yesterday and I told him something like:

"You know all religious people believe in life after death. An eternal spiritual existence after they physically die. I think a lot of these people are afraid to concieve of the possibility that they may simply cease to exist when they die. They need to believe that they will exist in some form or another... forever."

He said, "Well I can understand that. I mean, to cease to exist is a scary thought".

So I said: "Before you were born, you did not exist. You know this. You know that the world existed and things were happening and people were there... yet you did not exist at the time. Before this life, as far as you are aware, you did not exist. Does this bother you?"

He says, "No. It doesn't bother me. I simply didn't exist before. But now I do and I can't imagine not existing after I die."

The conversation went on and on.

Why are some religious people so afraid of the idea to cease to exist... while they're perfectly content with the concept of not having existed before being born (or concieved if we want to be specific).

In fact, they're not even concerned that they don't remember further back than age 3 or 4.

Personally, having already not existed before, I don't find the idea of going back to non-existence scary at all. In fact, it gives me a lot more peace of mind to think that when it's over... it's over. No judgement, no worrying about where I am going to spend the rest of eternity (in heaven or hell)...

Your thoughts on this matter?

I'm not scared of the idea of non-existence, because it's not going to happen to anyone. The body is mortal, but the mind (spirit soul) exists as much outside of the physical world as it does in the physical. You are going to exist forever, the question is, where? Your stance of willful ignorance will provide peace of mind now, but you're not going to be happy with that decision once eternity proves itself upon you.

I can see how your friend would be bothered by non-existence after life, and not bothered by existence before life. Not existing before life is simply nothingness from nothingness. Ceasing to exist after living for a time is very different. It's something of worth that has been obliterated into nothingness. Before is a blank page, after is a page that has been erased. To no longer exist would imply that one's existence was found lacking and unworthy of further existence.

Offline spider

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Re: The fear of ceasing to exist
« Reply #19 on: September 11, 2008, 12:47:30 AM »
 This comes under the category of 'Why worry about something that we have no control over'.
Umm...  If I have control over something I tend to worry less than something which I can't influence, and which could end up going quite badly no matter what I do to try to avoid it.  Worry might not do anything to change it, by definition, but it's still a natural reaction to, for example, the prospect of being tormented for all eternity or being reborn ad infinitum into lives that often could be quite difficult. 

Ceasing to exist doesn't go in the same category as those outcomes.  It might be out of my control, but it happens to be a lot happier ending than those ones.  Ceasing to exist would be the greatest liberty.  I don't get what's so bad about it. 

I'm not scared of the idea of non-existence, because it's not going to happen to anyone. The body is mortal, but the mind (spirit soul) exists as much outside of the physical world as it does in the physical. You are going to exist forever, the question is, where? Your stance of willful ignorance will provide peace of mind now, but you're not going to be happy with that decision once eternity proves itself upon you.

I can see how your friend would be bothered by non-existence after life, and not bothered by existence before life. Not existing before life is simply nothingness from nothingness. Ceasing to exist after living for a time is very different. It's something of worth that has been obliterated into nothingness. Before is a blank page, after is a page that has been erased. To no longer exist would imply that one's existence was found lacking and unworthy of further existence.
If I destroy a book, the molecules of the book may still be around, but the book isn't.  The words on the page will have been scrambled and therefore whatever was in the book - perhaps a story - is now no longer there.

You sound very sure that we will not cease to exist.  Do you mean that the components that form us won't exist?  What is a soul/spirit and why isn't it subject to the laws of physics like the body it resides in?  How does it relate to consciousness?  What evidence do you have for the mind existing outside of the physical body?

Offline NinjaProof

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Re: The fear of ceasing to exist
« Reply #20 on: September 11, 2008, 01:21:59 AM »
If I destroy a book, the molecules of the book may still be around, but the book isn't.  The words on the page will have been scrambled and therefore whatever was in the book - perhaps a story - is now no longer there.

Interesting. On one hand, that fits very well. The story ceases to exist, but evidence that something was there still does. If death resulted in non-existence, only small pieces would remain worth almost nothing. However, for the individual who has ceased to exist, there is absolutely nothing, no link to existence at all.

Quote
You sound very sure that we will not cease to exist.  Do you mean that the components that form us won't exist?  What is a soul/spirit and why isn't it subject to the laws of physics like the body it resides in?  How does it relate to consciousness?  What evidence do you have for the mind existing outside of the physical body?

By evidence, do you mean empirical, measurable evidence? If the mind which makes up our consciousness is indeed metaphysical, it most likely could not be observed from outside the subject. As a Christian who has interacted with God, I firmly believe in a spiritual realm outside of the know physical realm. Also, in the bible, we believers are told that in the day when the Kingdom of God is established, we will receive new bodies. This includes those who have died and whose bodies have long since decayed. In the bible it says the dead will be raised, many of which have nothing physical to raise, so I figure it must mean a non-physical being, the spirit.

The soul/spirit is where our desires and feeling come from, where we get the capacity to love, create art, engineer. All that which separates us from animals that do nothing but survive and reproduce. I doubt that it's merely the size of our brain that gives us this capacity. Certain animals are almost comparable in brain size, but have few if any of the abilities that make us human, certainly no capacity for art, philosophy, or science.

Somewhere, I have a video that might provide more support, but I'll have to find it and check its credibility.

Offline plethora

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Re: The fear of ceasing to exist
« Reply #21 on: September 11, 2008, 04:41:29 AM »
The soul/spirit is where our desires and feeling come from, where we get the capacity to love, create art, engineer. All that which separates us from animals that do nothing but survive and reproduce. I doubt that it's merely the size of our brain that gives us this capacity. Certain animals are almost comparable in brain size, but have few if any of the abilities that make us human, certainly no capacity for art, philosophy, or science.

I think you overesitimate the "soul/spirit" and underestimate the incredible natural complexity of the human brain at its current stage of evolution (yes I said evolution).

You completely leave animals out of your spiritual equation. In your opinion, do any other life forms other than humans have a "soul"?

Are you effectively saying that animals go from non-existence to existence and then when they die they go back to non-existence because they do not have a "soul"?

What about this: A dog can love and bond emotionally with a human. They play and have feelings. It cannot engineer a building, but it certainly has a level of awareness of itself and others beyond just surviving and reproducing. Does it cease to exist when it dies?

If your answer is yes, then I don't see why the same answer does not apply to a human.

The way I see it, ALL lifeforms (animal, plant, insect, etc) including humans, which are also animals, come from non-existence, then exist and live... and then cease to exist once again.

The only difference between other lifeforms and us is that we have developed a level of intelligence above and beyond all other species on this planet.

... and don't think this is the end of the evolutionary ladder. Humans are still evolving and so are other lifeforms.

Chimpanzees can do basic math, they design their own tools in the wilderness. Other species of monkeys and can carry out coordinated efforts when hunting. Is this not a sign of intelligence? These are the very same traits that you call "soul/spirit".
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Offline Hermes

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Re: The fear of ceasing to exist
« Reply #22 on: September 11, 2008, 06:19:25 AM »
That is assuming it is physical...

Yet, going with what we know for a fact, why would we think that we are anything but physical?

I laid out this in detail at the scale of the cell and higher, but nobody commented on it.  Nothing to say?  I guess facts aren't much fun to argue against?
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Offline Hermes

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Re: The fear of ceasing to exist
« Reply #23 on: September 11, 2008, 06:25:28 AM »
I'm not scared of the idea of non-existence, because it's not going to happen to anyone. The body is mortal, but the mind (spirit soul) exists as much outside of the physical world as it does in the physical. You are going to exist forever, the question is, where? Your stance of willful ignorance will provide peace of mind now, but you're not going to be happy with that decision once eternity proves itself upon you.

Nonsense.  There is no soul.  Phineas Gage showed that clearly years ago, and identical twins and getting knocked on the head pointed us in that direction millennia before him.

The afterlife is an entire fabrication; I'll say with confidence that there is no such place.

Why?  Think about what we know.  What we do not need to speculate about.

1. Death is not a clear line; on one side alive, on the other completely dead.  Death happens in stages as individual cells no longer retain integrity for a variety of reasons, often because of oxygen starvation from organ failure or trauma that prevents the blood from circulating.

2. All of our thoughts are contained in a structure of neurons.

3. When people start to die, the brain is frequently one of the last organs to be starved of oxygen.

4. The 'tunnel of light' is caused by the visual cortex loosing oxygen and the remaining parts of the brain attempting to deal with that.  The same 'tunnel' can be simulated.  Pilots experience this when they use a centrifuge under high G forces for training or to test new gear.

5. People who live after being through this oxygen starvation tell stories based on their brain's attempt to deal with the stress.  They talk about 'flash backs', they talk about 'stepping outside' of themselves and seeing themselves.  The same thing the pilots in the centrifuges report.

6. The more time the brain or any organ is starved, the more damage.

7. People don't act any differently from more damage (that brings them closer to complete death and thus an 'afterlife') then other victims of brain damage.

These are facts.  So, what can we with confidence say about what exists after life?  We already know.   Surgeons in emergency rooms know, EMS teams know, morticians know, and families and friends at bed sides know.  All else is arrogance, fantasy, and wishful thinking of those who witness that finality.
Smart people believe weird things because they are skilled at defending beliefs they arrived at for non-smart reasons. --Michael Shermer

The history of religion is a long attempt to reconcile old custom with new reason, to find a sound theory for an absurd practice.  --Sir James George Frazer

Offline nihilanth

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Re: The fear of ceasing to exist
« Reply #24 on: September 11, 2008, 03:46:02 PM »
Yeah, actually you cannot disprove or prove an afterlife. lol. That's pure fact...

Death. The FINAL frontier.    ;D
You can't prove it either way so you have to make a choice.

Offline NinjaProof

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Re: The fear of ceasing to exist
« Reply #25 on: September 11, 2008, 06:12:02 PM »
I'm not scared of the idea of non-existence, because it's not going to happen to anyone. The body is mortal, but the mind (spirit soul) exists as much outside of the physical world as it does in the physical. You are going to exist forever, the question is, where? Your stance of willful ignorance will provide peace of mind now, but you're not going to be happy with that decision once eternity proves itself upon you.

Nonsense.  There is no soul.  Phineas Gage showed that clearly years ago, and identical twins and getting knocked on the head pointed us in that direction millennia before him.

The afterlife is an entire fabrication; I'll say with confidence that there is no such place.

Why?  Think about what we know.  What we do not need to speculate about.

1. Death is not a clear line; on one side alive, on the other completely dead.  Death happens in stages as individual cells no longer retain integrity for a variety of reasons, often because of oxygen starvation from organ failure or trauma that prevents the blood from circulating.

2. All of our thoughts are contained in a structure of neurons.

3. When people start to die, the brain is frequently one of the last organs to be starved of oxygen.

4. The 'tunnel of light' is caused by the visual cortex loosing oxygen and the remaining parts of the brain attempting to deal with that.  The same 'tunnel' can be simulated.  Pilots experience this when they use a centrifuge under high G forces for training or to test new gear.

5. People who live after being through this oxygen starvation tell stories based on their brain's attempt to deal with the stress.  They talk about 'flash backs', they talk about 'stepping outside' of themselves and seeing themselves.  The same thing the pilots in the centrifuges report.

6. The more time the brain or any organ is starved, the more damage.

7. People don't act any differently from more damage (that brings them closer to complete death and thus an 'afterlife') then other victims of brain damage.

These are facts.  So, what can we with confidence say about what exists after life?  We already know.   Surgeons in emergency rooms know, EMS teams know, morticians know, and families and friends at bed sides know.  All else is arrogance, fantasy, and wishful thinking of those who witness that finality.

So, you're using physical evidence to disprove something non-physical. . . preposterous.

Offline NinjaProof

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Re: The fear of ceasing to exist
« Reply #26 on: September 11, 2008, 06:29:42 PM »
The soul/spirit is where our desires and feeling come from, where we get the capacity to love, create art, engineer. All that which separates us from animals that do nothing but survive and reproduce. I doubt that it's merely the size of our brain that gives us this capacity. Certain animals are almost comparable in brain size, but have few if any of the abilities that make us human, certainly no capacity for art, philosophy, or science.

I think you overesitimate the "soul/spirit" and underestimate the incredible natural complexity of the human brain at its current stage of evolution (yes I said evolution).

Oh calm down. I haven't said anything about evolution being impossible or even implausible. For the record, I view micro-evolution, that is the evolution of species and individuals, as a necessary mechanism of creation. What I disagree with is anything that suggests life and/or the universe were created from nothing by nothing, and that anything on earth really took billions of years to happen.

So the brain is complex, so is the spirit which utilizes the brain.

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You completely leave animals out of your spiritual equation. In your opinion, do any other life forms other than humans have a "soul"?

Are you effectively saying that animals go from non-existence to existence and then when they die they go back to non-existence because they do not have a "soul"?

What about this: A dog can love and bond emotionally with a human. They play and have feelings. It cannot engineer a building, but it certainly has a level of awareness of itself and others beyond just surviving and reproducing. Does it cease to exist when it dies?

If your answer is yes, then I don't see why the same answer does not apply to a human.

I thought about including animals, but I really have no idea. I could see it either way. If the soul is the life-force of a being, and the spirit contains the greater capacities, then the soul would be what contains certain dispositions which lend to personality. However, I don't believe that personality in animals comes from within, but from without through exposure to humans, environments, training... For all I know, the soul of an animal is recreated into a different animal. Animals, as I understand it, are not fully self-aware - a dog doesn't know its name, it responds to conditioning. So, they very well may go into non-existence, they may not, the bible doesn't say.

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The way I see it, ALL lifeforms (animal, plant, insect, etc) including humans, which are also animals, come from non-existence, then exist and live... and then cease to exist once again.

The only difference between other lifeforms and us is that we have developed a level of intelligence above and beyond all other species on this planet.

I believe that level of intelligence comes from the spirit/soul and that our capacity for emotion greatly exceeds that of lesser animals. Also, though science sensibly classifies humans as part of the animal kingdom, I hold that a human can be animal, following base instinct and desire, or transcend the natural to become more than animal through Christ, an option not offered to any other creature on earth.

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... and don't think this is the end of the evolutionary ladder. Humans are still evolving and so are other lifeforms.

Chimpanzees can do basic math, they design their own tools in the wilderness. Other species of monkeys and can carry out coordinated efforts when hunting. Is this not a sign of intelligence? These are the very same traits that you call "soul/spirit".

These are all built off of instinct and are natural. Keep in mind, much of what I've said is speculation based on what I know of the soul and spirit. I'm unsure whether there is a distinction between the two, and if so, which traits of being would go where. What I do know with some certainty is that something supernatural and metaphysical separates us from all other animals, a certain level of intelligence and especially creativity. Who knows, maybe the advancements monkeys have made can be attributed to morphic resonance compatible enough to learn some things from humans.

Offline spider

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Re: The fear of ceasing to exist
« Reply #27 on: September 11, 2008, 06:48:25 PM »

How do you reconcile that with your beliefs?  Do chimps perhaps have a quasi-soul?  What about dogs?  Does a soul attach itself to a body if it's not an emergent property of it?  Why just humans?  Do people who don't exhibit some of the things that other people do - such as the level of intelligence most of us have (which you say comes from teh soul) - have less of a soul?  Do people with severe mental retardation have a soul?  Do babies with anencephaly have a soul?  And isn't it strange that the intelligence, emotions and creativity you attribute to the soul seem to be impaired by brain damage, or in the case of anencephaly, the almost complete absence of the brain?

If I destroy a book, the molecules of the book may still be around, but the book isn't.  The words on the page will have been scrambled and therefore whatever was in the book - perhaps a story - is now no longer there.

Interesting. On one hand, that fits very well. The story ceases to exist, but evidence that something was there still does. If death resulted in non-existence, only small pieces would remain worth almost nothing. However, for the individual who has ceased to exist, there is absolutely nothing, no link to existence at all.
By the individual, what do you mean?  Their body?  Their mind? 

If you burn a book, the story is gone but the atoms of the book's cover, its pages, the ink, are still around.  The charred remains of the book might be evidence for a while, but eventually the ashes will be scattered by wind and it'll be gone with little evidence it was ever there.  When you die, your body is evidence that a consciousness was once there, but as it decays,  the evidence of that will be gone.  Other evidence of a book's existence might be a listing in a library catalogue, just as living memories and the legacy of a person are evidence that they once may have existed.

A story book and a person appear to be wholes greater than the sum of their parts, but that relies on how they are materially arranged.  Disturb the arrangement, and it falls apart back into the entropy from whence they came.

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You sound very sure that we will not cease to exist.  Do you mean that the components that form us won't exist?  What is a soul/spirit and why isn't it subject to the laws of physics like the body it resides in?  How does it relate to consciousness?  What evidence do you have for the mind existing outside of the physical body?

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By evidence, do you mean empirical, measurable evidence?
What other kind is there? Well, I suppose you could show that it's logically necessary in some way, but I would prefer that you have something that demonstrates to me why I should believe there is a soul, without any reasonable doubt that a more plausible explanation exists for the phenomena you interpret as a soul.

 
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If the mind which makes up our consciousness is indeed metaphysical, it most likely could not be observed from outside the subject.
And yet it is observable.  So it's not metaphysical.  Why then must it be supernatural?

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As a Christian who has interacted with God, I firmly believe in a spiritual realm outside of the know physical realm. Also, in the bible, we believers are told that in the day when the Kingdom of God is established, we will receive new bodies. This includes those who have died and whose bodies have long since decayed. In the bible it says the dead will be raised, many of which have nothing physical to raise, so I figure it must mean a non-physical being, the spirit.
Yeah, but the Pali canon records that the Buddha teaches us that our consciousness will be reborn into various new lives according to the karma debt that one has to pay, over and over until we reach enlightenment and free ourselves from the cycle of rebirth. 

Of course, I don't believe that, but I hold about as much stock, if not more, in the scriptures of Buddhism as I do in the Bible. 

I understand that you firmly believe this, but in presenting these ideas to other people, I am asking what you have to recommend these ideas to us as rational people who require a reason to believe one story over many others.

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The soul/spirit is where our desires and feeling come from, where we get the capacity to love, create art, engineer.
So,  the soul is our brain?  Because we have empirically shown that our thoughts and feelings come from the brain.  We can map them.  We can watch brain activity light up on a screen in response to stimuli.   We can even identify "islands of consciousness" in people that previously were diagnosed as in a persistent vegetative state, and work out what level of consciousness they have, what senses they still have, even if they can't communicate with anyone else themselves.   What part of our consciousness has not been attributed to brain activity?   Even déjà vu might be explained by delays or differences in response times with different parts of the brain responding to the same stimuli.

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I doubt that it's merely the size of our brain that gives us this capacity. Certain animals are almost comparable in brain size, but have few if any of the abilities that make us human, certainly no capacity for art, philosophy, or science.
Well, yeah, size only has a little to do with it.  It's actually the structures within the brain and how they work that gives us this capacity.  In fact, size only really matters because it provides volume to house and power these structures.

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Somewhere, I have a video that might provide more support, but I'll have to find it and check its credibility.
May I politely request that you check the credibility of the bible and its authors on neurology while you're at it?  They sure had some funny ideas back then.  Mental illness was believed to be caused by demons, for example.

As for the animal thing, other animals do show capacity for varying amounts of emotion, ethics and other so-called human attributes.  I've emphasised the word varying as the complexity of an animal's brain, not to mention where they are on the evolutionary tree of life, seem to correspond with what they are able to do.  So yeah, we can do somethings that chimpanzees can't (please note when people say chimpanzees they aren't talking about monkeys.).  Does that makes us special?  Yes, but not in the way you think.  Only special in the same way that chimpanzees are "special" compared to dogs in what they can do.  And dogs are more conscious than fish.  And a fish has a lot more going on than a tape worm.  This tends to correspond with consciousness and all the other things you attribute to a supernatural soul having natural, physical origins.

If souls are eternal, did they exist before people?  What did they do until modern humans evolved? Did they float around waiting for the eventual emergence of Homo Sapiens?

Offline Hermes

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Re: The fear of ceasing to exist
« Reply #28 on: September 11, 2008, 10:11:40 PM »
So, you're using physical evidence to disprove something non-physical. . . preposterous.

Show me non-physical evidence.
Smart people believe weird things because they are skilled at defending beliefs they arrived at for non-smart reasons. --Michael Shermer

The history of religion is a long attempt to reconcile old custom with new reason, to find a sound theory for an absurd practice.  --Sir James George Frazer