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Is There A Life After Death

 
 
hsweet
 
Reply Sun 30 Nov, 2003 07:55 pm
This topic had been previously discussed in an extremely long thread in which participants here seems to have lost touch with. So I'll take the initiative to get it going again and start it off with some of my thoughts.
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Type: Discussion • Score: 1 • Views: 7,089 • Replies: 170
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hsweet
 
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Reply Sun 30 Nov, 2003 07:58 pm
Are we limited to faith or science?
In discussions of a spiritual nature, it is claimed that faith is the only option as science is unable to prove or disprove. But there is another approach. And that is the examination of the claims in a historical or mythological context.

In the question of heaven have you ever noticed that heaven and "the heavens" are linguistically very close? This is no coincidence. In the ancient world celestial objects were deified and therefore, at end of life, that was the most desirable real estate.

We are all familiar with the Christian belief that Jesus rose up to that place. But the same was earlier claimed for Zoroaster and for Buddha. Clearly there was a long standing belief about the nature of the sky above us.

But modern science has shown us that the heavens are not what they were once envisioned to be and that the celestial bodies are not worthy of deification. (Even the word celestial has a dual meaning.) Yet the notion of heaven "up there" has become so ingrained that it simply will not go away. Vestiges exist in popular form such as song lines like "I pray to stars above" and in the common body posturing of gazing upwards when referring to God. And of course, the influence of "heavenly bodies" on our personal affairs in the form of Astrology is alive and well.

We want to believe in an afterlife so badly that we will overlook the errors in the earlier world view and add revisions to so that it fits in with contemporary thought. But we shouldn't. What was wrong in the first place can't be patched up to be made right. Shakespeare put it best: "You can't make a silk purse out of a sow's ear."

In my next post I will examine why it is that the belief in an afterlife is so widely held.
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Craven de Kere
 
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Reply Sun 30 Nov, 2003 07:58 pm
"Is There A Life After Death"

Yes, but not for the dead guy. Mr. Green
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hsweet
 
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Reply Sun 30 Nov, 2003 08:01 pm
The Role Of The Ego
In my last post I brought up the point that the belief in an afterlife is virtually universal. This would point towards a biological commonality rather than a cultural or religious one.

And that which all humans above the age of infancy share is self realization. A look into the mirror (or glazed surface such as a still pond) produces an image that is recognized as self. The animals, with exception of a few of the higher species, and human infants do not grasp this and perceive the image as other than self.

I think that this is very germane because once the notion of self is accepted as a reality, then it becomes impossible to conceive of an existence in which that self does not exist --at least in times prior to deliberations such as this one. For most of human history religious ideas, at least within societies, were not as challenged as they are today as the science was not there to make the challenge.

Yet the human intellect is well aware of the reality of death. Therefore, in order to make sense of these two conflicting observations, the rationalization of a self or "soul" that continues after death must have been conceived.

In addition to this speculated beginning, the following challenges need to be examined.

First, the notion of the reality of self is universally taken for granted. "I think therefore I am." But what "I" are we talking about? I am not the same "I" that I was as an infant, nor as a small child nor as an adolescent nor as a young adult nor even as the adult I was just ten years ago. And I may not be the same "I" in another ten years. I may be wiser or, due to accident or disease, I may be a lesser "I" than I am now.

So which "I" are we thinking is going to be finalized for all of eternity? The best one? The last one? Or do we think much about that at all?

I and others have concluded something very different. Because the "I" is constantly changing, it must have no fixed or essential reality. Instead it must be an illusion. And if it is illusion, then it is foolish to attach to it an eternal value.

Another approach is the analysis of ego. Ego is defined by the past, unable to enjoy the present and can only find fulfillment in the future. (Ken Wilber "Spectrum of Consciousness") This would explain two things. Why the reduction of ego by techniques such as meditation leads to happiness. And, of interest here, the hoped for super fulfillment to beat all fulfillments - the concept of heaven itself.
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edgarblythe
 
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Reply Sun 30 Nov, 2003 08:01 pm
Laughing
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hsweet
 
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Reply Sun 30 Nov, 2003 08:03 pm
OK, Craven. You have demonstrated that you are a wise guy. Now show us that you are a wise man as well.
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Craven de Kere
 
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Reply Sun 30 Nov, 2003 08:22 pm
hsweet,

What do you have in mind? Should I point out that the "universal" factor you mention can be an argument against an afterlife? I contend that the "afterlife" is a human invention because humans wish to be immortal.

Secondly, it's just an argumentum ad populum, of the same variety that used to be used like this: "Damn you're daft, the whole world knows the earth is flat."
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farmerman
 
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Reply Sun 30 Nov, 2003 08:23 pm
My kids, when quite young, very young, just when they had some facility with language, maybe 3, would talk about events they participated in when they were "grown". PAST TENSE mind you. Id always been weirded out by7 that almost exact wording from both kids and had discussed this with colleagues in the psychology department. i was amazed to hear that recollection of past occurences is quite common among kids and even my mom said I did this. My wifes mother didnt recall, so our sample is of course skewed .

What does this mean? who knows. I keep a scholarly ear open to any decent arguments on both sides but, having heard darn few good ones, Im leaning to the theroy of "advanced cues" being the culprit through which childrens stories are born.

i am, quite interested in imprinted genetic "memory" where entire species follow a single, unlearned behavioral pattern such as migrating a specified route to destinations that theyve never been in their lives, like monarchs to Costa Rica, or Arctic terns migration, or how a bees "dancing" communicates information
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hsweet
 
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Reply Sun 30 Nov, 2003 08:36 pm
Craven,

I think that you may have scanned through my posts a bit too quickly. I believe what I am presenting are thoughts that contradict the popular belief.
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hsweet
 
  1  
Reply Sun 30 Nov, 2003 08:47 pm
reincarnation
Farmerman,

I have heard about these cases also. But, as with any such reported experiences, we must be very cautious in reaching conclusions. As any judge will tell you, the child can be "lead" by the adult to say just about anything. I would wonder that this may be unconsciously be being done.

A thought on reincarnation - I believe that this idea germinated in early agricultural societies. A society's world view has a lot to do with its technology. And with agricultural technology being new and amazing, it could well have worked its way into religious views. Crops die in the Fall and arise again in the Spring being the driving idea.

So, this idea too, I would consider to have had a tainted origin.

As far as genetic memory goes, there certainly must be something there. That is what Evolutionary Psychology says. (The Moral Animal by Robert Wright) This is a lot more worldly, though.
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farmerman
 
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Reply Sun 30 Nov, 2003 08:48 pm
Im trying to discuss the only evidence Im aware of but I see that we are soon to witness some plumage display.
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hsweet
 
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Reply Sun 30 Nov, 2003 08:51 pm
Well, I certainly hope not. I migrated here from Abuzz to get away from just that.
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Frank Apisa
 
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Reply Sun 30 Nov, 2003 08:59 pm
My answer to the thread question would be:

I don't know -- and there is not enough unambiguous evidence upon which to base a reasonable guess in either direction.
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edgarblythe
 
  1  
Reply Sun 30 Nov, 2003 09:08 pm
I can't argue the question, for my mind is closed to any possibility of LAD. I consider such discussions, learned or not, totally futile.
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JLNobody
 
  1  
Reply Sun 30 Nov, 2003 10:20 pm
truth
Is there a life before birth? I can't answer that either--bad memory, I guess.
It will be noticed, however, that we seem to be very concerned with the matter of after death experience, but I've never heard anyone express concern with pre-birth matters. No one ever says, "Boy, I'm glad that's over. A virtual eternity of pre-birth oblivion--virtual because it ended with my birth." But people seem to be commonly concerned with the notion of eternal oblivion AFTER death. I connect this with EGO. The feeling that there is now (after birth) a self to be cast into oblivion. As far as I'm concerned, I FEEL (and with deference to Frank, I must admit that I do not know) that "I" will become after death what "I" was before my birth. No-thing (a synonym for everything). AND, most important of all that is what I am NOW, but this reality is eclipsed by the feeling of a substantial self that has come into existence with birth and may end with death--unless it has a gaseous version which is immortal, "the soul."
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Terry
 
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Reply Sun 30 Nov, 2003 10:29 pm
Re: The Role Of The Ego
hsweet wrote:
Because the "I" is constantly changing, it must have no fixed or essential reality. Instead it must be an illusion. And if it is illusion, then it is foolish to attach to it an eternal value.


(sigh) The underlying brain structure that creates the "I" is "real," but the "I" it creates changes over time as new information is added to memory and neural pathways change in response to learning.

When certain parts of the brain are injured the "I" is no longer generated, so presumably the decay of the brain after death would also preclude the survival of the "I".
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farmerman
 
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Reply Sun 30 Nov, 2003 10:38 pm
sweet, I wasnt talking about your contributions. I said, I was dubious about the numerous examples cited by some of the psych crowd. being led by the adults to elicit a response thats acceptable , is a definite possibility. i was certain I was being limiting in any cues , in fact I took notes about the conversations and have kept them all these years.

My point on genetic memory, from an isolation point of view , has led to sympatric evolution, wherein species, all packed with same genomes begin to take new routes to arrive at same destinations and, like Lamarks giraffes, the animals seem to "acquire" such saunspecies tendencies.
Could the genetic memory serve as an elementary " transfer of a self'
I know that eO Wilson Argues that, below a certain level of biotic structure, individuals are but a single organism, like ants (His world, like the carpentar seeing everything as a nail, is a world of aNTS)

I, like all the rest am dubious, however curiosity must be served, and like evrything else that is being found lately, we may find a genetic link to paleo memory that is in the 'junk of the genome"
I read some speculation by a molecular biologist that the coded amino acids and subsequent proteins are in a crystalline form in certain areas of the chordate brain like the tetrahedra of silica, and could be possibly be etched by neural pathways just like silica I dont know but, I dont know that it aint either.
On the other hand thermodynamics can account for an entire energy budget of a living animal. So That argues against anything corporeal or energy based.
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JLNobody
 
  1  
Reply Sun 30 Nov, 2003 10:55 pm
truth
Wha?
Does this spell hope for Lamarck? Don't bother to answer, FM; I probably won't understand it.
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farmerman
 
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Reply Mon 1 Dec, 2003 06:28 am
no Lamark is still safely dead, its just that there is a big effort to dig im up only in some mechanism discussions.
An area in which Im fascinated , yet ignorant as can be is the area of evolution of self awareness and awareness of trime.
We can infer when such awareness dawned because it seems to coincide with subtle advances in tools and burial habits. Yet we still only infer , we really are just making scholarly guesses

Doing any painting JL? I see youve been gone freom the ole chalkboard for a few weeks.
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Montana
 
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Reply Mon 1 Dec, 2003 08:06 am
I don't know. I tend to think not, but I'll find out someday.
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