• ToothyMaw
    1.2k
    The following post assumes that the afterlife is temporally linear and not just a gaping pit of fire in which we all suffer maximally with no conception of “when”, but rather similar to earthly life in the ways that matter.

    It would seem that - unless one's memory is wiped - someone in an afterlife should be able to recount their life on Earth. This is a sort of one-way mirror: we can see backwards into our mortal existence but we cannot precisely ascertain the nature of what awaits us when we die while we are still alive. This, although it might seem obvious, actually has some interesting, less than obvious implications. I start with the following preliminary argument:

    - One is always oneself, even if one dies and passes on to an afterlife

    - One will inevitably die and be subject to an afterlife or cease to exist

    - If one is subject to an eventful afterlife one will change according to exposure to events, and, thus, change as a function of time

    - The changes one undergoes are bounded by the eventfulness of the afterlife

    - If one is subject to a sufficiently eventful afterlife one will likely change so as to be noticeably different from how one was before the afterlife and each incremental, preceding point in time after dying

    - Thus, because one is oneself all along, even with the changes in character caused by events, what one represents as an entity must exist both as a function of time and the continuous line of one's previous selves; remember that at certain points one is alive, at others dead and in the afterlife, but still oneself all along - even after dying and crossing over - but one cannot know for sure what awaits them after dying.

    Therefore, after dying, how one lived on Earth affects how one exists in the afterlife, but the way one is before dying cannot change as a function of those events that will independently and reliably occur in the future afterlife except insofar as one predicts with one’s monkey brain what is going to happen and acts accordingly.

    This hints that there is likely a collection of behaviors dictated by ideas about an afterlife we can observe that correspond to lives that, when lived, indicate with varying degrees of reliability what life might be like after we die. So, in a sort of localization, we look for the overlap of these behaviors and ideas and log them.

    The problem is that we have all kinds of different ideas about the afterlife that generate all kinds of different behaviors - even if we can narrow it down based on what we already have. And even if we didn’t, there is little to indicate that the few beliefs we might have would actually be correct; we could have just not thought up the right stuff yet.

    However, there are indeed clusters and some common threads: the value of faith, familial duty, respect for nature, etc. So, the afterlife might not be as opaque as it seems, if our intuitions are at all accurate.

    As such, I argue that, given certain premises in this post, we should expect an afterlife that plays closer to our ideals than the aforementioned bottomless pit of fire - or an arbitrary eternity in heaven.
  • Tom Storm
    8.5k
    Not quite on topic but if there is an afterlife, I hope it is marginally less tedious than ordinary life, with its multitude of dreadful rituals and sufferings, from toilet breaks, headaches,

    It seems to me that being involves tedium and ritual, from eating to pissing. And almost everything that makes us human from the mundane to the delightful would seem to be missing or unnecessary in any afterlife I can imagine - headaches, walking to the shop to buy milk, stroking the cat, drinking a strong coffee, shaving, sleeping, cross country skiing, the smell of wet grass after the rain, Mahler's Second Symphony, trimming finger nails, movies, books, eBay...

    What would it mean to be without being? What would we do without all the physicalisms that make up human identity? How would our consciousness, with is shaped by being embodied, adjust to a new nonphysical realm, I wonder? Is the afterlife non-physical or is it just physical somewhere else?
  • 180 Proof
    14.4k
    Speculatively, as a pandeist ...

    What would it mean to be without being?Tom Storm
    I suppose it means "to be without being" a being.

    What would we do without all the physicalisms that make up human identity?
    I suppose one wouldn"t be "human" any longer ... like a butterfly is no longer a caterpillar after chrysalis.

    How would our consciousness, with is shaped by being embodied, adjust to a new nonphysical realm, I wonder?
    I suppose "our consciousness" is merely a drop in the ocean of being.

    Is the afterlife non-physical or is it just physical somewhere else?
    I suppose "afterlife" might be a physical phase-state (of higher dimensions?) that physical scientists have not discovered yet. :smirk:
  • Moliere
    4.1k
    An afterlife would look like waking. What would we remember? What do we remember upon waking up?

    In a sense every day we wake is an afterlife.

    But I have to say I think Epicurus' argument against an afterlife in the most literal sense convinces me. I don't have memories of before I was born, and so why would I continue to have memories after my meat is gone?
  • Tom Storm
    8.5k
    Speculatively, as a pandeist ...180 Proof

    Intriguing speculations, 180.

    This is interesting -

    ...this is the basis of pandeism: the deity annihilates itself by becoming the universe in order to experience not being the deity.

    So many humans try to be as gods, while the deity itself pursues the experience of not being a deity. Not being anything. What do you imagine were some of the attributes of this deity? Did it have anything approaching a 'personality'? Or is it more of a metaphoric entity?
  • 180 Proof
    14.4k
    What do you imagine were some of the attributes of this deity?Tom Storm
    I think pandeus is unimaginable.

    Did it have anything approaching a 'personality'?
    No (à la: Spinoza's substance or Epicurus' void or Laozi's dao).

    Or is it more of a metaphoric entity?
    A metaphysical entity.

    :up:
  • Tom Storm
    8.5k
    I think pandeus is unimaginable.180 Proof

    Good to hear. I'm certainly unable to imagine it.
  • ToothyMaw
    1.2k
    I have to say I think Epicurus' argument against an afterlife in the most literal sense convinces me.Moliere

    Unless I'm mistaken Epicurus just makes the point that there is no evidence of an afterlife, and that therefore it is speculation to comment on it. That's what I'm doing - speculating. Mostly because it is a ubiquitous idea. Given certain premises I have constructed an argument, but obviously you disagree with some of them, and that's okay. But that's not so much what I wanted to discuss.

    Not to mention the important and interesting thing about what Epicurus had to say is that we have nothing to fear from death if no afterlife awaits us; we don't have any obligations to please any gods. But that is if there isn't an afterlife or we have no reason to believe in one, the latter of which is compatible with speculation on the matter.

    I don't have memories of before I was born, and so why would I continue to have memories after my meat is gone?Moliere

    I'm not sure. I'm guessing that, if the afterlife is anything like our lives on Earth, and I only have the intuitions of a portion of humanity to rely on to support that assumption, then why wouldn't we remember our previous lives? Would we not no longer be ourselves if we just woke up and remembered nothing? That would kind of defeat the purpose of having an afterlife I think if one stops being oneself upon dying.
  • Jack Cummins
    5.1k

    There is so much conflict about what an afterlife may consist of within various traditions and a lot may be projections of fear or fantasies of bliss, especially in the division between heaven and hell. Ideas may be based on near death experiences and other altered states of consciousness, which may have been inspiration for 'The Tibetan Book of the Dead', and similar texts.

    However, apart from that there is so much conflict between beliefs about the role and existence of the body. In Christianity there is a conflict in the belief in immortality of the soul, going back to Plato's thinking, and the idea of the resurrection of the body on the Day of Judgment. There is also some fuzziness around the concept of the 'body' in the New Testament, with emphasis being upon the resurrection of the body being physical and St Paul speaking of a resurrection body as spiritual. This may suggest that the mind-body question has been an enduring philosophy problem.

    This problem may be partly resolved by the idea of reincarnation in Eastern thought, because the 'afterlife' is only a temporary state of 'disembodiment', while the astral body exists prior to the new physical body. However, even within the various systems of Eastern thought there is a fuzziness, especially around the concept of 'Nirvana', as to whether it is a temporary or permanent release from the cycle of rebirth.

    The biggest problem is that it is so speculative, with no real clear evidence, which is why so many people do not believe in an afterlife at all, especially in the dominance of physicalism.
  • ToothyMaw
    1.2k
    There is so much conflict about what an afterlife may consist of within various traditions and a lot may be projections of fear or fantasies of bliss, especially in the division between heaven and hell. Ideas may be based on near death experiences and other altered states of consciousness, which may have been inspiration for 'The Tibetan Book of the Dead', and similar texts.Jack Cummins

    I grant all of this. There is tremendous confusion as to what the afterlife might consist of. My argument only deals with this problem in so far as it prescribes a certain amount of precision to our predictions about the afterlife, but very little accuracy, apart from my somewhat arbitrary premises.

    The biggest problem is that it is so speculative, with no real clear evidence, which is why so many people do not believe in an afterlife at allJack Cummins

    Which is totally understandable. I don't believe in an afterlife myself, but I can still try to clarify it if it exists.
  • ToothyMaw
    1.2k


    You are definitely right, though: my argument would likely flop because of the breadth and depth of the practical, and also largely intractable, philosophical issues it is fraught with.
  • Jack Cummins
    5.1k

    One book which I read a couple of years ago was Frank Tipler's ' The Physics of Immortality'. In this, the author argued that a resurrection could be simulated, through means of a computerised artificial intelligence. It drew upon Teilhard de Chardin's idea of the 'omega point', as signifying both God and eternal life. There is some ambiguity in the book as to whether such a resurrection would involve an actual computer or not, with 'God' almost being the absolute 'computer'.

    However; the author, in spite of his arguments says that he isn't really convinced of the actual reality of an afterlife in simulated form. He also suggests that the 'resurrection' would probably be very different from that imagined by many religious believers. I found it an interesting read, at least.
  • ToothyMaw
    1.2k


    Tipler appears to be a rather divisive figure.

    One book which I read a couple of years ago was Frank Tipler's ' The Physics of Immortality'. In this, the author argued that a resurrection could be simulated, through means of a computerised artificial intelligence.Jack Cummins

    It drew upon Teilhard de Chardin's idea of the 'omega point', as signifying both God and eternal life. There is some ambiguity in the book as to whether such a resurrection would involve an actual computer or not, with 'God' almost being the absolute 'computer'.Jack Cummins

    This sounds like someone trying to justify belief in an afterlife provided by God via science and philosophy: if the afterlife can be simulated with an AI via some sort of apparatus then it stands to reason that belief in a God that cares about each of us enough to create an afterlife for us might be justified, as, ontologically, such a conception of God is purportedly compatible with a scientific worldview given a few additional inferences, such as God being able to perform the functions of this absolute computer, I'm guessing.

    However; the author, in spite of his arguments says that he isn't really convinced of the actual reality of an afterlife in simulated form. He also suggests that the 'resurrection' would probably be very different from that imagined by many religious believers.Jack Cummins

    That is good.
  • Jack Cummins
    5.1k


    The argument could definitely be used to support religious beliefs. Strangely, Tipler said that he wasn't convinced of the existence of God. It seems like it was all about thinking of physics and the nature of possibilities.
  • ToothyMaw
    1.2k


    Right. Maybe he doesn't go that far. I suppose I would have to read his stuff to really get it.
  • ToothyMaw
    1.2k
    It seems like it was all about thinking of physics and the nature of possibilities.Jack Cummins

    Minus the physics part I can relate. I know very little about physics. And I've certainly been doubted, so there's that. However, I'm not a published author of any books or papers, so I'm mostly exempt from the ire of naysayers.
  • sime
    1k
    "Now this is eternal life" : Was Saint John a presentist?

    According to this (possibly unreliable) answer as to the meaning of "eternal life" :-

    "
    ....
    It is a mistake, however, to view eternal life as simply an unending progression of years. A common New Testament word for “eternal” is aiónios, which carries the idea of quality as well as quantity. In fact, eternal life is not really associated with “years” at all, as it is independent of time. Eternal life can function outside of and beyond time, as well as within time.

    For this reason, eternal life can be thought of as something that Christians experience now. Believers don’t have to “wait” for eternal life, because it’s not something that starts when they die. Rather, eternal life begins the moment a person exercises faith in Christ. It is our current possession. John 3:36 says, “Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life.” Note that the believer “has” (present tense) this life (the verb is present tense in the Greek, too). We find similar present-tense constructions in John 5:24 and John 6:47. The focus of eternal life is not on our future, but on our current standing in Christ. "

    In which case the so-called "after-life" of his Christianity is a misnomer, in that it's conditions of verification aren't considered to transcend the present.
  • 180 Proof
    14.4k
    Death sends one back to relive one's father's life or mother's life until he or she dies sending one back again to father's or mother's father or mother (one's grandfather or grandmother) reliving again and dying again ... back and back through hundreds and thousands of generations ... to witness those 'inner lives' like lucid dreams yet unable to change anything ... perhaps eventually (mercifully?) losing oneself in the torrential flood of ancestral memories ... finally(?) reliving the life of one's species' common ancestor and then having to choose (for that primordial creature) whether to breed offspring and die or not to breed offspring and live forever.
    update – For coherence sake, maybe this "afterlife" only happens to those who have outlived at least one parent and have died childless.
  • ToothyMaw
    1.2k
    In fact, eternal life is not really associated with “years” at all, as it is independent of time. Eternal life can function outside of and beyond time, as well as within time.sime

    Okay, I never disputed that this is possible, but my argument requires that the afterlife is time linear (I think), so that is what I'm discussing. We could talk all day about some sort of cyclical afterlife or something else incomprehensible, or we can discuss the issue with some constraints.

    For this reason, eternal life can be thought of as something that Christians experience now. Believers don’t have to “wait” for eternal life, because it’s not something that starts when they die. Rather, eternal life begins the moment a person exercises faith in Christ. It is our current possession. John 3:36 says, “Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life.” Note that the believer “has” (present tense) this life (the verb is present tense in the Greek, too). We find similar present-tense constructions in John 5:24 and John 6:47. The focus of eternal life is not on our future, but on our current standing in Christ. "sime

    This is exactly what my argument looks for. This is precisely it, minus the verification stipulations inherent to Christianity that you mention.

    In which case the so-called "after-life" of his Christianity is a misnomer, in that it's conditions of verification aren't considered to transcend the present.sime

    You aren't arguing against me, I hope you realize. That one could be denied Heaven due to actions in the present doesn't mean that they won't find an afterlife in Hell, so either way one is headed for an afterlife.
  • ToothyMaw
    1.2k


    I'm sure that quote would be brilliant if it were relevant and had some context. Not sarcasm.
  • 180 Proof
    14.4k
    Why is it not relevant? Your OP is speculating on fantasy, isn't it? Not sarcasm either.
  • ToothyMaw
    1.2k
    Why is it not relevant? Your OP is speculating on fantasy, isn't it?180 Proof

    Yes, it is speculation on the nature of something that we have no evidence for the existence of. But your idea of the afterlife is not supported by an argument. It is just something (admittedly) aesthetically pleasing. That's it.
  • ToothyMaw
    1.2k


    Okay, I thought the "fantasy" part was a jab. Yes, your artistic contribution is appreciated, 180.
  • 180 Proof
    14.4k
    You want an argument for the proposition 'there is an afterlife?'
  • ToothyMaw
    1.2k


    No, did you even read the OP? I discuss the potential nature of the afterlife if it exists and how we might ascertain it. I don't expect anyone to argue successfully for the proposition 'there is an afterlife'.
  • 180 Proof
    14.4k
    I read it. You make statements but not a valid argument for your assertion that
    we should expect an afterlife that plays closer to our ideals than the aforementioned bottomless pit of fire - or an arbitrary eternity in heaven.ToothyMaw
    As far as I can tell, there's no more reason "we should expect" this than e.g. my 'reliving ancestral lives' scenario. I thought I was responding to your speculative fantasy with my own. I'd replied previously (here ) to @Tom Storm's more philosophically interesting questions about the "afterlife" which maybe you've missed.

    Btw, I have two arguments for the "afterlife" – one based on N. Bostrom's "Simulation Hypothesis" and another based on pandeism – but I'll be offline for next few hours so, if you're interested, I'll post them both later.
  • ToothyMaw
    1.2k


    You don't understand the OP, then. I guess I'll try to explain it, since I have nothing better to do.

    My argument results in the conclusion that if we analyze the commonalities of people's beliefs about the afterlife, like your idea - which are totally valid - then we will get something more general than any one idea about what the afterlife might be like. You are providing a specific idea that actually fits into my argument. So, I'm not saying your 'reliving ancestral lives' idea is not equally likely as any other idea, but rather that it doesn't engage the abstract parts of my argument regarding commonalities and probabilities.

    To make this more concrete: consider a square dartboard with an invisible bullseye. We know that a dart thrown at this board is no more likely to hit the bullseye than any other part of the board. This is like a distribution of equally likely ideas about the afterlife. However, we routinely see that certain patterns emerge when we actually throw darts at the board; they have a tendency to cluster. This cluster is like a cluster of ideas about the afterlife, all of which could be correct or false. If we average the coordinates of the darts' locations after striking the board, we find that the average coordinates of impact we get is roughly somewhere in the middle. This is like finding the commonalities of people's ideas about the afterlife.

    After that, it is up to chance to say whether or not these commonalities are accurate, at least from our perspective, as we cannot evaluate the truthfulness of what will happen until we die, according to the argument.
  • Moliere
    4.1k
    Heh, you mean you don't want to just hear my opinion on the matter? :D

    Fair enough. Though reading through your post again I can say I'm not sure I understand your chain of reasoning.

    It seems to me we can either evaluate the proposition "There is an afterlife" as true or false, or we cannot evaluate it as true or false. If the former then I'd say the premise is false, and if the latter then I'd say we have no way of knowing what it would be like if it exists -- and that the fear of death is an adequate explanation for why people bring up the notion of an afterlife.

    That would kind of defeat the purpose of having an afterlife I think if one stops being oneself upon dying.ToothyMaw

    Exactly! :D
  • 180 Proof
    14.4k
    The only "commonalities" I can discern in the many prevailing "afterlife" scenarios is that they are completely unwarranted substance dualities and anthropic idealized immortality schemes – wishful thinking (i.e. too good to be true)! And, in the main, belief in "the hereafter" tends to devalue here & now both morally (e.g. theodicy, martyrdom) and politically (e.g. "evangelical" climate change denialism).
  • ToothyMaw
    1.2k
    Fair enough. Though reading through your post again I can say I'm not sure I understand your chain of reasoning.Moliere

    That's actually good. Maybe you could point out what doesn't make sense to you?

    It seems to me we can either evaluate the proposition "There is an afterlife" as true or false, or we cannot evaluate it as true or false.Moliere

    Agreed. I bypass this discussion, however, by stipulating in my argument that one either goes to an afterlife or one doesn't after dying. This is true regardless of whether we can evaluate the proposition 'there is an afterlife'. Then, to follow, if there were an afterlife, what might we expect it to look like? From there, my (bulleted) argument is mostly straightforward.

    the fear of death is an adequate explanation for why people bring up the notion of an afterlife.Moliere

    Another good point.

    you mean you don't want to just hear my opinion on the matter?Moliere

    I definitely do, sorry if I came across as unwilling to engage.
  • ToothyMaw
    1.2k
    "commonalities"180 Proof

    Lol.

    When I actually take the time to decipher what you are saying, like I did with your latest post, I often find that you are saying something surprisingly based quite concisely. Good going.

    The only "commonalities" I can discern in the many prevailing "afterlife" scenarios is that they are completely unwarranted substance dualities180 Proof

    Yes, they appear that way.

    anthropic idealized immortality schemes – wishful thinking (i.e. too good to be true)!180 Proof

    That also appears to be the case.

    belief in "the hereafter" tends to devalue here & now both morally (e.g. theodicy, martyrdom) and politically180 Proof

    Yeah, there is a spectrum as far as that goes, I would say.

    I'm not concerned with this part of the equation so much though. I would leave that to people with more eloquence, perspicaciousness, etc. Someone like Vaush, or Christopher Hitchens if he were still around. People who can dynamically criticize culture and politics - something you appear to be quite good at.
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