• TiredThinker
    184
    I know evidence that the conscious mind continues after bodily death is rare and iffy at best. But what type of evidence would be reasonable to convince skeptics that an afterlife probably is a real possibility?
  • Wayfarer
    13.1k
    A can of worms, with immortal worms in it.
  • 180 Proof
    5k
    Scientific evidence would suffice.
  • Janus
    10.4k
    And yet there could never be such evidence for obvious reasons.
  • 180 Proof
    5k
    Einstein believed the same about that crazy Schwarzschild radius idea; now about a century later look: https://www.google.com/amp/s/www.space.com/amp/first-black-hole-photo-by-event-horizon-telescope.html :smirk:
  • Tom Storm
    1.6k
    Probably. I always have to ask what reason would I have for accepting the proposition that there is an afterlife? Stories and claims won't do.
  • Saphsin
    352
    Well for people who used to believe there's a soul to imagine the possibility of surviving death, there's now no reason for us to believe we're different from other animals in that respect. I guess scientific evidence (evolutionary history, study of the brain) removed the rug underneath so to speak.
  • sime
    591
    None. The question is metaphysical and therefore doesn't really concern evidence, for any answer to the scientific question "is there an after-life" whether "yes", "no", "maybe" or "mu" (meaning the question is nonsense) is tautologically decided.

    For the scientific question to make sense, the concepts of "Persons", "lives" and "After-lives" must first be given definitions in terms of physically contingent types and/or natural kinds. At which point scientific evidence becomes relevant in so far as deciding whether a given "person" is now in the "after-life" state relative to the assumed ontology, which begs the entire metaphysical question.
  • Janus
    10.4k
    Can you even begin to imagine a scenario within life that could give evidence for another realm existing beyond life and that part of us, which is completely undetectable, goes there after death?

    Probably. I always have to ask what reason would I have for accepting the proposition that there is an afterlife? Stories and claims won't do.Tom Storm

    I can see no reason to accept the proposition that there is an afterlife. Stories and claims do not constitute evidence that might give us a reason to accept it.
  • 180 Proof
    5k
    No. But 'failure of imagination' is not itself an argument against even ludicrous, evidence-free ideas like "after lives" or "past lives".
  • Janus
    10.4k
    There is, strictly speaking, no scientific evidence for or against the existence of a soul in either animals or humans.
  • Janus
    10.4k
    Don't you see that where you feel the absence of evidence supports the conclusion that there is no soul. others feel the opposite. I don't believe in a soul and neither do I believe in it's absence,due to there being no evidence either way, and I see that as the only rational conclusion that can be drawn. But people are commonly swayed one way or another due to their feelings or wishes and/ or the influence of their backgrounds, whether they comply in their thinking with the assumptions forming their educational background or rebel against it. Or so I have noticed..
  • sime
    591
    o. But 'failure of imagination' is not itself an argument against even ludicrous, evidence-free ideas like "after lives" or "past lives".180 Proof

    Supposing that one is an atomist to the point of being a mereological nihlist. Then isn't even the idea of a "living person" also evidence-free?
  • 180 Proof
    5k
    I take your point (sort of) ... but "the idea of a person" is metaphysical, not physical, so what does "evidence" as such have to do with it?

    "People are commonly swayed" – what more needs to be said? Okay, you & I are not (on this topic maybe), but I accept the (vaguely circumstantial) prospect of 'extraterrestrial intelligences' ... don't you?
  • Don Kotlos
    5

    To even ponder a question like that we need to agree on the definition of words that we use. Like soul, existence and mind.

    Per wikipedia:
    Soul or psyche (Ancient Greek: ψυχή psykhḗ, of ψύχειν psýkhein, "to breathe", cf. Latin 'anima') comprises the mental abilities of a living being: reason, character, feeling, consciousness, qualia, memory, perception, thinking, etc.
    The mind is the set of faculties including cognitive aspects such as consciousness, imagination, perception, thinking, intelligence, judgement, language and memory, as well as noncognitive aspects such as emotion and instinct.
    Existence is the ability of an entity to interact with physical or mental reality

    There is plenty of scientific evidence that all of the mental abilities described above as a soul & mind have a biological basis and for all practical purposes it is accepted as a fact (at least within the vast majority of the neuroscientific community). And there is plenty of evidence that the soul & the mind seize to exist once someone dies. So the original question is already answered, there is nothing of the sort after death. If then someone argues that existence of a soul includes the memory of him within other people (e.g. my actions are influenced by what my parents would do) then the soul does exist at least partly beyond death, but never the mind or the consciousness.
  • Janus
    10.4k
    but I accept the (vaguely circumstantial) prospect of 'extraterrestrial intelligences' ... don't you?180 Proof

    It seems more than circumstantial to me, it also seems probable given the size of the universe, and also if we are right that the same general kinds and proportioning of elements would likely be formed in many other galaxies and stars, given their number, and that the right conditions in terms of sun-size, distance and planet size would also likely be common enough.
  • Janus
    10.4k
    There is evidence that the mind and it's states and faculties are biologically dependent, but there can be no evidence that the mind is merely biologically dependent, and it certainly does not logically follow. I say there can be no evidence because no matter what we know, it is always possible that there is much that we do not know.
  • Tom Storm
    1.6k
    All this is reasonable. A last thread holding the notion of a soul in place for many people is the ostensibly mysterious nature of consciousness, first person experience. Most philosophers still maintain that it can't be readily accounted for - hence this matter has special status as a putative destructor of physicalist positions.

    “Materialism is a beautiful and compelling view of the world, but to account for consciousness, we have to go beyond the resources it provides.”
    ― David J. Chalmers, The Conscious Mind: In Search of a Fundamental Theory

    And this from an atheist. You can see how it doesn't take much for someone to be led to a belief that if consciousness is remarkable, it might be a fundamental substance of reality (perhaps part of a higher consciousness) and thus, like the last train out of town, life after death arrives at the conversation.
  • Janus
    10.4k
    Yes, intelligent minds are divided, and even more intelligent minds are undecided.
  • Tom Storm
    1.6k
    The time to believe something is when there is good evidence for it. However, this just kicks the debate down the road into the what-counts-as-evidence territory.
  • Don Kotlos
    5

    Well while I agree that there are always many things that we don't know, as a neuroscientist I have to disagree that the mind is "merely biologically dependent" and "it does not logically follow".
    And to answer the OP question, there is a way to prove that the mind & consciousness exists beyond death. The experiment should show that after the biological material dies, soul & consciousness can be somehow ( I cannot think of a way) transferred (and not copied!) to a new body. I am sure in the future computers will be able to model our cognitive capacities very well but that is merely creating a copy of what we observe of the mind and not proving that the mind exists independent of the biological material.
  • Janus
    10.4k
    I think it is clear that there can be empirical evidence for many things that will satisfy any unbiased observer. When we move beyond that context, though, emotion and intuition come onto play, motivating people to believe one way or the other.

    But I am not saying people shouldn't follow their intuitions or feelings in such matters, but merely that they should admit that is what they are doing. When doing that they obviously count their feelings and/ or intuitions as evidence, which is fair enough, but cannot be rationally argued for, in my opinion.

    Even if my intuitions and feelings could be evidence for my believing whatever, they can never be evidence for you.

    It's not clear to me what you are wanting to say here, unfortunately.
  • StreetlightX
    7.3k
    None. Life is not the kind of thing that has an 'after'. The idea itself is a conceptual mistake, like a square circle. It is not the kind of thing that even rises to the dignity of evidentiary search.
  • god must be atheist
    3.3k
    But what type of evidence would be reasonable to convince skeptics that an afterlife probably is a real possibility?TiredThinker

    If you are after real possibility, any evidence is sufficient, or even the lack of evidence is sufficient, as the possibility, both real and unreal, and probable and unprobable, is there for any imaginable event.

    If you ended your sentence with "real" and also took out "probably", then we would need to think like the other contributors to this thread have thought (that is, their thinking and opinions right now are superfluous).

    Skeptics don't argue that the possibility of afterlife is not probable. The argue that afterlife is not evidenced, and not supported by any evidence.

    To me, if you reworded the question, the only proof would be personal. That is, I die, and I realize that my soul has survived. That's the only argument I'd accept at this point.
  • god must be atheist
    3.3k
    None. Life is not the kind of thing that has an 'after'. The idea itself is a conceptual mistake, like a square circle. It is not the kind of thing that even rises to the dignity of evidentiary search.
    4 minutes ago
    StreetlightX

    I think you are using an equivocation. There is the concept of soul-life; and there is the concept of bodily life. The two can be and are believed to be coincidental when the body is alive. The body can be alive without the soul being alive, and the soul can be alive without the body being alive. You, by calling both simply "life", are giving a perfectly shining example of what Aristotle called the fallacy of equivocation.

    It's not clear to me what you are wanting to say here, unfortunately.Janus

    I think I understand Don Kotlos. He is saying, and please correct me if I am wrong, that there is an experiment that will prove the existence of afterlife, except we don't know what that experiment is, nobody has designed it yet. The experiment should show furthermore, that the soul survives the body, via a soul-transplant operation or process. Mr. Kotlos further states, that even if machines acquire the complexity, the structure, and the inner workings of the human brain, the machines will never have a soul, thus proving that machines will never have a soul, because their mind is a copy of the human mind, since their cognitive / emotive construction not a host of the human mind.

    I don't fully agree with Mr. Kotlos, but I think the above is a reasonably enough close transliteration of what he said.

    Mr. Kotlos is a neuroscientist by his own admission. What does a neuroscientist do? What activities does he conduct that he gets paid for? What's a professional neuroscientist's mandate?
bold
italic
underline
strike
code
quote
ulist
image
url
mention
reveal
youtube
tweet
Add a Comment

Welcome to The Philosophy Forum!

Get involved in philosophical discussions about knowledge, truth, language, consciousness, science, politics, religion, logic and mathematics, art, history, and lots more. No ads, no clutter, and very little agreement — just fascinating conversations.