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Old 23rd February 2012, 11:42 AM   #1
Porterboy
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Belief in the Afterlife

Hi, I've not posted for a while, but I've been pondering an issue I thought I'd share: It's about belief in the Afterlife, Life-After-Death, Heaven, whatever you want to call it. I know there are threads here discussing whether it's real or not; I know Skeptics say it's not. I have my own opinions on that, but the point I want to address here is not whether it exists or not, but why do people think it does. I've aften asked this question elsewhere and the answers I get from non-believers tend to run like this:

"The reason people believe in Life-After-Death is simply because the prospect of ceasing to exist when we die is totally unbearable and so humanity has concocted a mental safety-net to survive psychologically. It's a kind of 'comfort blanket' that means we don't have to live with the knowledge of our finality that has evolved as we became aware of our mortality."

It makes sense superficially, but let's read between the lines here. it means that somebody who does not believe in the Afterlife can say:

BUT I can face it! I know Im going to cease to exist when I die and I can face up to it! The 'ordinary inferior people' need this comfort-blanket myth of an Afterlife, but I have the strength, the courage, the manliness and general superiority to get through my day without that crutch!

So one could argue, and I do, that not to believe in Life-After-Death is a form of wishful thinking, for the prestige and exclusivity you get from it. This means that if the Afterlife was ever proved to exist that privileged position would all be gone. I'd be interested to know your thoughts.
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Old 23rd February 2012, 11:52 AM   #2
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Originally Posted by Porterboy View Post
Hi, I've not posted for a while, but I've been pondering an issue I thought I'd share: It's about belief in the Afterlife, Life-After-Death, Heaven, whatever you want to call it. I know there are threads here discussing whether it's real or not; I know Skeptics say it's not. I have my own opinions on that, but the point I want to address here is not whether it exists or not, but why do people think it does. I've aften asked this question elsewhere and the answers I get from non-believers tend to run like this:

"The reason people believe in Life-After-Death is simply because the prospect of ceasing to exist when we die is totally unbearable and so humanity has concocted a mental safety-net to survive psychologically. It's a kind of 'comfort blanket' that means we don't have to live with the knowledge of our finality that has evolved as we became aware of our mortality."

It makes sense superficially, but let's read between the lines here. it means that somebody who does not believe in the Afterlife can say:

BUT I can face it! I know Im going to cease to exist when I die and I can face up to it! The 'ordinary inferior people' need this comfort-blanket myth of an Afterlife, but I have the strength, the courage, the manliness and general superiority to get through my day without that crutch!

So one could argue, and I do, that not to believe in Life-After-Death is a form of wishful thinking, for the prestige and exclusivity you get from it. This means that if the Afterlife was ever proved to exist that privileged position would all be gone. I'd be interested to know your thoughts.

I'm an atheist and I don't believe in an afterlife, but I don't feel I get any "prestige" or "exclusivity" from that lack of belief.

In fact, I'd be delighted if after I die I discover that in fact there is a heaven or some form of delightful afterlife where I'd be happy for all eternity. I just don't see any evidence that such a thing exists.
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Old 23rd February 2012, 11:55 AM   #3
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Originally Posted by Porterboy View Post
So one could argue, and I do, that not to believe in Life-After-Death is a form of wishful thinking, for the prestige and exclusivity you get from it.
You could argue that, but you'd be wrong.

Nor would you be right in arguing that everyone who believes in life after death is using it as a security blanket. The reasons for believing (and not believing) in an afterlife are too many and varied to be summed up so simply. Undoubtedly there are some people who think this way, but you can't take this position and attribute it to everyone.
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Old 23rd February 2012, 11:56 AM   #4
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Religion answers 3 main questions for people.
1. How did I get here?
2. What am I meant to do here?
3. Where do I go from here?

For me science continues to answer the first. The second isn't all the bothersome to me. The third is irrelevant.

I don't feel superior just a resigned to the knowledge that this is my only time here so I better make it count!
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Old 23rd February 2012, 11:59 AM   #5
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Originally Posted by Porterboy View Post
Hi, I've not posted for a while, but I've been pondering an issue I thought I'd share: It's about belief in the Afterlife, Life-After-Death, Heaven, whatever you want to call it. I know there are threads here discussing whether it's real or not; I know Skeptics say it's not. I have my own opinions on that, but the point I want to address here is not whether it exists or not, but why do people think it does. I've aften asked this question elsewhere and the answers I get from non-believers tend to run like this:

"The reason people believe in Life-After-Death is simply because the prospect of ceasing to exist when we die is totally unbearable and so humanity has concocted a mental safety-net to survive psychologically. It's a kind of 'comfort blanket' that means we don't have to live with the knowledge of our finality that has evolved as we became aware of our mortality."

It makes sense superficially, but let's read between the lines here. it means that somebody who does not believe in the Afterlife can say:

BUT I can face it! I know Im going to cease to exist when I die and I can face up to it! The 'ordinary inferior people' need this comfort-blanket myth of an Afterlife, but I have the strength, the courage, the manliness and general superiority to get through my day without that crutch!

So one could argue, and I do, that not to believe in Life-After-Death is a form of wishful thinking, for the prestige and exclusivity you get from it. This means that if the Afterlife was ever proved to exist that privileged position would all be gone. I'd be interested to know your thoughts.
So why do you think people think it does?
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Old 23rd February 2012, 12:15 PM   #6
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Manliness? I can assure you that my lack of belief in an afterlife has nothing to do with testosterone.
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Old 23rd February 2012, 12:21 PM   #7
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Originally Posted by AdMan View Post
but I don't feel I get any "prestige" or "exclusivity" from that lack of belief.
Well get in there and enjoy it! You're sitting on a social goldmine!
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Old 23rd February 2012, 12:24 PM   #8
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Originally Posted by Squeegee Beckenheim View Post
So why do you think people think it does?
I'm not 100% sure. Possibly because it is a nice prospect, like winning the lottery... Or another possibility is that it actually does exist and that people have experienced it, like during Near-Death Experiences, or they've had contact with the departed through psychics.
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Old 23rd February 2012, 12:26 PM   #9
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Originally Posted by Hokulele View Post
Manliness? I can assure you that my lack of belief in an afterlife has nothing to do with testosterone.
I know; I was using a rather anachronistic metaphor: one of "bravery, pragmatism and heroism!"
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Old 23rd February 2012, 12:27 PM   #10
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Originally Posted by Hokulele View Post
Manliness? I can assure you that my lack of belief in an afterlife has nothing to do with testosterone.
But it might have to do with bacon.

For me, and I'm an agnostic, I don't necessarily believe in an afterlife, but I want to desperately. I do not, in any way, shape or form like to contemplate the end of my life with no after-life, in whatever form that may take. However, I do not see any evidence suggesting that such a thing exists, and, to be quite frank and honest: that scares the hell outta me.

I actually admire atheists who can conceive of their own death, and not be scared by the thought of being here one minute, and completely gone the next.

On the other hand, I'm hoping that the Singularity takes care of a great deal of that concern. Only 33 more years to go!
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Old 23rd February 2012, 12:45 PM   #11
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Originally Posted by RobRoy View Post

I actually admire atheists who can conceive of their own death, and not be scared by the thought of being here one minute, and completely gone the next.

Hmm... maybe OP is right and we are exceptionally manly!

I don't find the idea of non-existence scary. It'll be just like before I was born.
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Old 23rd February 2012, 12:54 PM   #12
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Originally Posted by Porterboy View Post
Possibly because it is a nice prospect, like winning the lottery...
How's that different from how you've characterised the atheists' position?
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Old 23rd February 2012, 01:07 PM   #13
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Originally Posted by Porterboy View Post
[b] BUT I can face it! I know Im going to cease to exist when I die and I can face up to it!
That's great! So you won't mind if I kill you now?

Having a fear of death is a very important survival trait. However, one possible consequence of that is not being able to accept it. If we spend all our lives trying to avoid death, surely there must be some way to 'survive' it? The answer is life after death.

And not just our own death, but also those of our friends and family. Nobody likes having to face up to the fact that when somebody is dead, they cease to exist. Even those of us who are 'man enough' to choose logic over emotion, find it hard to accept the death of a loved one.

Of course it is wishful thinking. But belief in the Afterlife is a very attractive idea. Humans excel at turning ideas into reality. Unfortunately it is all too easy to fall into the trap of believing in impossible things, just because we want them to be true.

Quote:
BUT I can face it! I know Im going to cease to exist when I die and I can face up to it! The 'ordinary inferior people' need this comfort-blanket myth of an Afterlife, but I have the strength, the courage, the manliness and general superiority to get through my day without that crutch!
Good for you! I admire your strength and courage. However I wonder whether you will be so sure when the crunch comes.

My father has Alzheimer's and his mind is gradually slipping away. 'He' will probably be dead long before his physical body expires. How can a person reach the Afterlife when their mind is already destroyed before they die? I am quite sure that there is no afterlife, but knowledge of that fact does not make me feel superior, just sad. Having to cope with the reality of death is hard, and I do not look down on anybody who needs a 'crutch' to get through it.
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Old 23rd February 2012, 01:11 PM   #14
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Originally Posted by AdMan View Post
Hmm... maybe OP is right and we are exceptionally manly!
Could be, though I know far too many atheists to think this is the main reason, or even in the top ten.

Quote:
I don't find the idea of non-existence scary. It'll be just like before I was born.
That's great. I can't get past that. Everything you are, everything you know, everything you ever dreamed, hoped, believed, or desired . . . gone. I'm not trying to convince you that you should be scared. Logically, I get the argument against. But emotionally, it shakes me to my core. I don't even like to ponder it for very long.
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Old 23rd February 2012, 01:23 PM   #15
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I have now found that while I had resigned myself to the idea that I might simply cease to exist at death, I had not really thought about what this meant as far as the ones I love are concerned. Now I find myself sad and confused, wishing I could believe in an afterlife but unable to simply force myself into such a belief. No mater how hard you try once you have started thinking skeptically it is nearly impossible to stop.
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Old 23rd February 2012, 01:25 PM   #16
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I am a MBA bronze holder still in search of that elusive silver position. In reality all you have to say is 'we are just molecules arranged in a certain manner according to pyhsical laws and will be recycled when cells can no longer perform mitosis resulting in the degredation of the body due to certain pyhsical ailments that this brings about, our bodies will then decompose, if not cremated, and will provide nutriants for other species in their quest for reproduction and longevity, so in effect we will live on albeit in billions of constituent parts long seperated. Did I mention that the atoms in our body were formed as a product of nulclear fusion (apart from H)?'. Or any variation on that theme.

The MBA award committee is a one man team athough he refers to them as if they hand out Nobel prizes. This quest for people who just follow science and reason before they believe in something fanciful has been going on a long time:

One of my favourites http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2yCp6SJvRfM

All in all Porterboy is alright, a little silly but (sorry) is a little unhinged in the hope that science will one day prove him and his ilk correct even though he thinks the illuminati has bases in other Solar Systems!

Where is my Silver?
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Old 23rd February 2012, 01:43 PM   #17
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Originally Posted by Porterboy View Post
So one could argue, and I do, that not to believe in Life-After-Death is a form of wishful thinking, for the prestige and exclusivity you get from it. This means that if the Afterlife was ever proved to exist that privileged position would all be gone. I'd be interested to know your thoughts.
Where is the prestige coming from, or from who? How is it exclusive if many people think this way? Perhaps you mean whatever exclusivity comes with being in the minority?

In any event, I suspect you do not have any evidence for your claim. Perhaps it would be better to downgrade your idea to a hypothesis?
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Old 23rd February 2012, 01:43 PM   #18
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Possibly the popularity of belief in the afterlife stems from magical thinking.

A living person is basically an animated object, and this animated quality vanishes when they die. It's very easy to imagine this as being due to some kind of magical animating force (which might be referred to as a spirit, soul or life-essence). It's especially easy to think this way if you live in a society that knows nothing about brain function and nerves carrying signals from the brain to the muscles. (And throughout most of history people have lived without this knowledge.)

So for someone who thinks of a living person this way, the obvious question when someone dies is where did their life-essence (or spirit, or soul) go?

Postulating an afterlife would be one way to answer this question.
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Old 23rd February 2012, 02:00 PM   #19
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Originally Posted by beetzart View Post
Where is my Silver?
Ask Judas, he had a bunch last I heard.
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Old 23rd February 2012, 02:03 PM   #20
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Originally Posted by Roger Ramjets View Post
That's great! So you won't mind if I kill you now?
Fear of dying does not necessarily imply fear of death.
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Old 23rd February 2012, 02:10 PM   #21
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I think there is a simple explanation for the wide spread belief in an afterlife: We have never experienced, nor can we imagine non-existence. Oh, we can intellectually define it, but we can't feel it in our gut. All we've known is existence.

Not being able to wrap our brains around Nothingness, non-existence, our great thinkers help us out with Philosophy, "there must be something more". We can easily imagine life after death, it's familiar, it's existence, and we have loads of experience with that.

When we start pondering the infinite, we also get gut stuck. We can define it, we just can't "feel" it. It's just too big. Philosophy adds a few tweaks, and becomes Religion. A Creator that embodies everything we can't understand created all this, and when we become non-existent, we join this creator that handles everything we can't comprehend, and instead of death and nothing, we get the familiar we die, then start another life.

Basically, people wrapped all that stuff too big and out of our experience and embodied it in "gods" who ARE those things, mysteries we can't "get".

Some of us, even though we can't "feel" what non-existence is, accept that's probably whats next. Contrary to the fact that we'd be more comfortable imagining some sort of existence, which is all we know.
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Old 23rd February 2012, 02:12 PM   #22
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Originally Posted by RobRoy View Post
I actually admire atheists who can conceive of their own death, and not be scared by the thought of being here one minute, and completely gone the next.
No admiration is necessary. The idea of existing forever scares me far more than the idea that my existence is finite.

I can't conceive any situation where existing forever would be a good thing. I'm only 31 years old, but it feels like I've been around a very long time. I'm not ready to die quite yet, but another 40 or so years and I might be okay with it. Dying of old age doesn't scare me. By then I'll probably be ready. But imagining that I could exist forever, even in a paradise, makes me feel trapped. Continuing on for all eternity with no end in sight and no way to end it yourself sounds horrifying to me.

Even in heaven, every day would be the same thing. Just bliss, no conflict, no problems to solve, and nothing unexpected to happen. Is this really how people want to spend eternity?

Dreamless sleep doesn't scare me and an eternity of that (if that's what death is like) doesn't sound so bad if I lived a full life. This has nothing to do with bravery, I simply think this is a preferable situation.

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Old 23rd February 2012, 02:40 PM   #23
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Originally Posted by Squeegee Beckenheim View Post
How's that different from how you've characterised the atheists' position?
I'd by lying if I said I didn't find the prospect appealing. All I dispute is that we Woo's have a monopoly on wishful-thinking. I think the Materialists have outdone us in that department.
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Old 23rd February 2012, 02:41 PM   #24
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Originally Posted by Eric D View Post
No admiration is necessary. The idea of existing forever scares me far more than the idea that my existence is finite.

I can't conceive any situation where existing forever would be a good thing. I'm only 31 years old, but it feels like I've been around a very long time. I'm not ready to die quite yet, but another 40 or so years and I might be okay with it. Dying of old age doesn't scare me. By then I'll probably be ready. But imagining that I could exist forever, even in a paradise, makes me feel trapped. Continuing on for all eternity with no end in sight and no way to end it yourself sounds horrifying to me.

Even in heaven, every day would be the same thing. Just bliss, no conflict, no problems to solve, and nothing unexpected to happen. Is this really how people want to spend eternity?

Dreamless sleep doesn't scare me and an eternity of that (if that's what death is like) doesn't sound so bad if I lived a full life. This has nothing to do with bravery, I simply think this is a preferable situation.
I quite agree. I had a general anesthetic last year for a minor operation. Before it I remember having a mask put over my mouth and nose...next thing I know I wake up and it is all over with me being wheeled to the recovery suite.

I remember nothing about being under. I didn't dream. I thought that is what death must be like!
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Old 23rd February 2012, 02:43 PM   #25
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Originally Posted by RobRoy View Post
I actually admire atheists who can conceive of their own death, and not be scared by the thought of being here one minute, and completely gone the next.
Me too. So my point is not critical, after all it's fine for a great sportsman or a great academic to be proud of their own genius. I admire them so it's fair enough that they admire themselves. I think some only admire themselves subconsciously though.
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Old 23rd February 2012, 02:45 PM   #26
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Originally Posted by beetzart View Post
I am a MBA bronze holder still in search of that elusive silver position....
...Where is my Silver?
Hi, Beatrice. Fancy meeting you here. You know you're close, my friend! Very close!
Quote:
All in all Porterboy is alright, a little silly but (sorry) is a little unhinged
Ah, well you've said much worse things to me when the discussion has got a little heated on that other forum.
Quote:
in the hope that science will one day prove him and his ilk correct even though he thinks the illuminati has bases in other Solar Systems!
That's a story for another thread.
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Old 23rd February 2012, 02:50 PM   #27
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Originally Posted by Porterboy View Post
I'd by lying if I said I didn't find the prospect appealing. All I dispute is that we Woo's have a monopoly on wishful-thinking. I think the Materialists have outdone us in that department.
Everybody is subject to wishful thinking. That's why we have things like the scientific method, to eliminate such things when we try to determine what the truth about reality is. So far, no evidence for an afterlife or God has been found.
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Old 23rd February 2012, 02:52 PM   #28
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Originally Posted by Paul2 View Post
Where is the prestige coming from, or from who? How is it exclusive if many people think this way? Perhaps you mean whatever exclusivity comes with being in the minority?
If that minority is able to face up to something unwelcome and disturbing when the majority don't have the gumption to do so. Several posters on this thread have doubted that there is any prestige in disbeliving in the Afterlife. Although I'm obviously making a genralization based on my observations of a whole group of people, I don't share their doubts. I think for some Materialists may enjoy this feeling without being able to articulate it. Other's are aware and have the honestly to admit it. For example, Richard Dawkins said in the TV show: Secular Believers: "There's a kind of nobility in knowing that you only have one life..." (See here at 2.32: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZkIQz2j4Cb8
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Old 23rd February 2012, 02:53 PM   #29
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PB do you suffer from William Lane Craig syndrome? Very good at trying to debate a lost cause! Remember my old saying that you are using basic 6th form debating tactics again.

We Skeptics have science, fact, and reason on our side. You have fanciful, bloated, psuedointellectual ignorance on yours!
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Old 23rd February 2012, 02:55 PM   #30
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Originally Posted by Squeegee Beckenheim View Post
Everybody is subject to wishful thinking. That's why we have things like the scientific method, to eliminate such things when we try to determine what the truth about reality is. So far, no evidence for an afterlife or God has been found.
But if that evidence were ever found there may be a few who would rather miss their Materialist hero status be reluctant to part with it.
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Old 23rd February 2012, 02:57 PM   #31
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Originally Posted by Porterboy View Post
Me too. So my point is not critical, after all it's fine for a great sportsman or a great academic to be proud of their own genius. I admire them so it's fair enough that they admire themselves. I think some only admire themselves subconsciously though.
Some of us don't see it as admirable at all. It's simply the logical conclusion to draw from the available data.

I'd also say that it's the more humble of the two positions, if that's the route we're going down. The afterlife is based on the idea that humans, and not just in general but specific humans, are so important that they must continue to exist after they die. Not believing in an afterlife implies accepting how small and insignificant we are in the grand scheme of things, that we matter only to those whose lives we touch and that in a hundred years or so, nobody's going to give a toss whether we ever existed or not.

Believing in an afterlife is based on the idea that (generic) you are important enough that ceasing to exist is unthinkable. Not believing in an afterlife necessitates believing that you are unimportant and (your world-changers like Darwin, Newton and Einstein aside) insignificant. Honestly, which of these two positions is the most immodest?
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Old 23rd February 2012, 03:03 PM   #32
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After my life has finished I don't care what happens to my body, but unless it is entombed in a motorway bridge at least I know it will give sustinance to other species. If I am burnt then trees will absord my carbon to photosynthesize so it can be cut down and turned into a table where a laptop can rest and be able to access amazon and order Icke's next book!

I will not carry on as a 'soul' or move to a new dimension of a higher reality. I will just want to die, hopefully high on morphine and that my children will be fine. But not for say 40-50 years though, there is too much to learn!
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Old 23rd February 2012, 03:07 PM   #33
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Originally Posted by Roger Ramjets View Post
That's great! So you won't mind if I kill you now?
Erm... can I get back to you on that?
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Of course it is wishful thinking. But belief in the Afterlife is a very attractive idea. Humans excel at turning ideas into reality. Unfortunately it is all too easy to fall into the trap of believing in impossible things, just because we want them to be true.
Well I suppose I'm not going to suggest that there is no element of wishful-thinking in the belief in an Afterlife, except when I'm making satirical jokes or hyperbole, like the film Beetzart posted (Luckily Prof French saw the funny side of it!). All I dispute is that the Materialistic position is not a pragmatic drive to break free from wishful-thinking. It has its own attractions in that department!
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Good for you! I admire your strength and courage. However I wonder whether you will be so sure when the crunch comes.
Me too. As a Hospital Porter with many years of service I've gained an awareness of human suffering and mortality that few people ever do. There will be no shelter of ignorance for me. As for what happens to me afterwards... As I said, I have opinions on the matter, but no proof.
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My father has Alzheimer's and his mind is gradually slipping away. 'He' will probably be dead long before his physical body expires.
Sorry to hear that.
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I am quite sure that there is no afterlife, but knowledge of that fact does not make me feel superior, just sad. Having to cope with the reality of death is hard, and I do not look down on anybody who needs a 'crutch' to get through it.
The generalization I made definitely does not apply to everybody, just as the equal and opposite generalization made by Skeptics toward Woo's doesn't.

To be honest, despite my interest in the subject and admiration for the scientists who study it and are willing to speak out about their non-Materialistic conclusions, I don't know for sure whether there is an Afterlife or not. One things for sure though: There is one cast-iron guarenteed method for discovering the answer to this question for certain:... We wait until it's our turn!
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Old 23rd February 2012, 03:10 PM   #34
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I struggle with these thoughts every so often.

Usually, I let it go with the understanding that...well...there's not a damn thing that's going to change by me worrying about it.

Whether an afterlife exists or not, I'm going to die. What I've learned to do is just the old cliche'...do what you can with what you got.

My goal is to just be a good husband, father, and friend. When I die, the memory of me is what carries on here, so I want to leave a good impression.

When Mr. Skinny left us, there was (rightfully) a great outpouring of respect and admiration of his presence in the JREF. I wondered, at the time, if I were to check out tomorrow, would I be thought of in the same light? Not necessarily from the forum, but from the people I interact with daily.

I don't know what's beyond death...I'm guessing, probably nothing. If that's the case, I want my memory here to live for me, long after I pass on.
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Old 23rd February 2012, 03:12 PM   #35
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Originally Posted by Porterboy View Post
If that minority is able to face up to something unwelcome and disturbing when the majority don't have the gumption to do so.
Who says (apart from you) that lack of belief in the afterlife is unwelcome and disturbing?

I'm 60 and can both look forward to the future and look back on a life that hasn't been too bad. As someone else said, it's like before you are born. I don't find this prospect unwelcome or disturbing at all. Where is your evidence that a majority do?
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Old 23rd February 2012, 03:16 PM   #36
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Originally Posted by beetzart View Post
PB do you suffer from William Lane Craig syndrome? Very good at trying to debate a lost cause! Remember my old saying that you are using basic 6th form debating tactics again.
That's remarkable because I dropped out of the 6th Form after 3 months! And as for William Lane Craig, you know I can't abide the man! Did you read my report of the debate he had with Stephen Law in London? I definitely posted it and you replied. I went to his debate at the Sheldonian theatre in Oxford too, the one where he had an empty chair on the stage for Dawkins.
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We Skeptics have science, fact, and reason on our side. You have fanciful, bloated, psuedointellectual ignorance on yours!
Mock if you will, but I always give reasons for why I think something is true and if you reply I always answer you. If you can find an example where I haven't then let me know. It'll be an oversight on my part.
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Old 23rd February 2012, 03:37 PM   #37
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Originally Posted by Squeegee Beckenheim View Post
Everybody is subject to wishful thinking. That's why we have things like the scientific method, to eliminate such things when we try to determine what the truth about reality is. So far, no evidence for an afterlife or God has been found.
But of all the things that for which it might be difficult to find evidence of its existence, the afterlife has come to come pretty high up on the list.

This isn't an argument in favour of the afterlife, just in case that's what you thought I was implying.
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Old 23rd February 2012, 03:38 PM   #38
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Originally Posted by lionking View Post
Who says (apart from you) that lack of belief in the afterlife is unwelcome and disturbing?

I'm 60 and can both look forward to the future and look back on a life that hasn't been too bad. As someone else said, it's like before you are born. I don't find this prospect unwelcome or disturbing at all. Where is your evidence that a majority do?
I don't find the thought of a world without me in it disturbing either. After all, I don't find history disturbing.
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Old 23rd February 2012, 04:24 PM   #39
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Originally Posted by Eric D View Post
No admiration is necessary. The idea of existing forever scares me far more than the idea that my existence is finite.

I can't conceive any situation where existing forever would be a good thing. I'm only 31 years old, but it feels like I've been around a very long time. I'm not ready to die quite yet, but another 40 or so years and I might be okay with it. Dying of old age doesn't scare me. By then I'll probably be ready. But imagining that I could exist forever, even in a paradise, makes me feel trapped. Continuing on for all eternity with no end in sight and no way to end it yourself sounds horrifying to me.

Even in heaven, every day would be the same thing. Just bliss, no conflict, no problems to solve, and nothing unexpected to happen. Is this really how people want to spend eternity?

Dreamless sleep doesn't scare me and an eternity of that (if that's what death is like) doesn't sound so bad if I lived a full life. This has nothing to do with bravery, I simply think this is a preferable situation.
This is exactly the argument I have against people wishing there to be an afterlife. People clearly have not considered what 'infinity' means! I can think of nothing more horrifying than never being able to be free of existence - even if you wanted it.

I, for one, am grateful that there is no good evidence for an afterlife and that I will probably just cease to be (hopefully not for a few years yet though).

As for why people do believe in it - cultural indoctrination over millennia borne out of ignorant answers to questions we, as a species, have always posted.
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Old 23rd February 2012, 05:55 PM   #40
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Is anyone proud of being able to tie their own shoes, count to 100, or wipe themselves? I'd certainly hope not. There's no pride in such basic accomplishments. There is only pity for those who have not achieved them.
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