After Death

Tom, welcome to the boards. :slight_smile:

I think you have tackled an emotional subject well (I’ve seen a lot of silly attempts at it previously).

My position is that there is no evidence of an after-life, therefore I’m not going to worry about it. (If an omnipotent God exists, he made me a scientific thinker so he can’t complain how I feel. :stuck_out_tongue: )
In particular, I don’t care for any God that permits Hell to exist, so I trust they are both fiction.
If God does exist, you’ll spend eternity doing what he wants, not necessarily what you want.

I agree that it’s a bit sad that we don’t live on. But I think life as showing what a decent person you can be and of death as going to sleep forever. Very peaceful.

My Mum recently passed away and we had a humanist funeral. We played music Mum had requested, family members spoke of their memories and a humanist speaker led the service.
It was a celebration of Mum’s life, and she lives on in our memories.

I’ve often wondered if the phrase ‘live on in the memories of others’ could ever be more than just a figure of speech. If our personalities and self-awareness are created by the sum of physical processes that occur in our brains, I sometimes idly wonder if it could be possible for a faint replica of those attributes to be created by the sum of processes occuring around and about the gap we leave when we go missing (in the same sort of sense that the shape of a jigsaw piece is defined not only by itself, but by the shape of the hole it leaves when it is absent.

I think my problem stems from the fact that i can conceive now and enternity of nothing. Once im dead, i wont notice that, but that in turn im fearfull of not being aware of an eternity of nothing. Its a circular spiral of neurosis.

I think that’s because you’re still imagining yourself as being present in that situation, in some way.

Mangetout, this is known as the ELIZA effect. Best displayed as

“a version of John Conway’s game of Life is presented where the normal binary values of the cells are replaced by oscillators which can represent a superposition of states. The original game of Life is reproduced in the classical limit, but in general additional properties not seen in the original game are present that display some of the effects of a quantum mechanical Life. In particular, interference effects are seen.”

Small unrelated things giving the illusion of a living organism. The memories of a past person i dont think could consititute a sentient entity.

Wow, i have reached a limitation of my imagination. I cannot concieve nor imagine being unaware of myself in that particular state. Thats really fascinating.
(I dont think sleep counts, as sometimes i am aware i am sleeping, and even when i enter REM, some subconciouse part of my continues. I dont think a living human, in any state, is never self aware is some form.)

Thanks for that, I didn’t know it had a name.

I’ll admit the idea is highly fanciful, and I don’t really intend treating it seriously, however it’s worth saying that the memories of other individuals are not the only things with which a living person interacts; they may invoke a whole culture - consider Elvis impersonators; I wouldn’t venture as far as to suggest that the living, sentient spirit of Elvis is somehow embodied in all those people, but a culture can grow up in such a way that functions that started off being performed only by the individual become distributed amongst the group, so that when the individual is gone, the group can continue acting in a way that the individual would have done.

Also, I think the border of what we casually consider ourselves is not always as crisp and sharply-defined as it might at first seem; If I remember that I have a piece of paper in my pocket upon which I have written “You have an important meeting on December 10th at 9PM”, the function of that paper is exactly the same as if I had actually remembered the date and time of the meeting directly in my own brain. The paper becomes part of ‘me’ (at least in the same limited sense that the memory of a forthcoming meeting becomes part of ‘me’).

I don’t mind at all that there is no afterlife; what makes me curl up in a fetal position and cry is the thought of life without capital letters and apostrophes.

Re the OP-
"So, to all the people that do believe in one. Lets start with a heavan, L’amor che muove il sole e l’altre stelle as they say. The basic view of heavan is a place of paradise without end. Every whim and desire fufilled. Sounds like hell to me. If the soul is eternal, and you spend it in heavan, over time this paradise would become a nightmare. If you dont struggle for anything, it loses all value. If you have everything taken care of, in a billion and half years of endless pleasure you would become numb to it. In a trillion and a half years you would be a catatonic zombie as since all your wildest fantasies have been fufilled there is nothing left to do, you have literally done everything a thousand times over. Thats a living endless hell. "

That’s the Kid’s View of Heaven- I get all the candy I can eat & hit all the balls that are pitched to me & run all the bases in time before anyone can take me out.

A lot more mature believers in various faiths have taught the Afterlife will be one of continual learning, growth & development, with struggles perhaps, but with eventual success as every lesson is eventually mastered.

As for Hell, James Joyce’s repetitions of Irish priestly horror stories hold no authority for me as a source of terror. The warning of Jesus & the Prophets & the Apostles of alienation from all Goodness, perhaps continuing forever, perhaps ending in eventual extinction- that I find scary!

It’s always been my opinion that this is the root of all religion: ego.

No, I don’t care that I’ll cease to exist. As Alive At Both Ends said, it didn’t seem to bother me much for the millions of years before I was born.

Nor am I so vain as to fret about being forgotten. 99.9% of humanity has been forgotten a few years after their demise-- why should I be any different? My accomplishments mean very, very little in the grand scheme of things.

But you’re thinking of eternity as “time without end,” not as “end without time.” I admit, if you think of eternity as trillions of years, and then trillions more, and so on ad infinitum, it’s enough to drive anyone crazy. The alternative is that the afterlife is outside time, at least time as we know it.

I see no reason to assume that the afterlife is anything we can understand or imagine from our present point of view. People have tried, but when you take their descriptions literally, rather than as speculation or metaphor, you get into trouble.

How do you know this? Do you have access to information that we don’t?

I think it’s reasonable to assume that if you depart into some kind of afterlife (as opposed to simply ceasing to exist), you do so with some kind of retained memories. If not, in what sense could it be said to be ‘you’ that’s departing and going there?

Maybe this is a bit of a nitpick, but the alternative, ‘mature’ view of heaven you are describing doesn’t sound that different, seeing as you stipulate that eventual sucess is guaranteed. If sucess is assured, the struggle is just a way of filling out more time. It’s not an actual challenge without a risk of eventual failure, is it? :confused:

I don’t believe in any afterlife and it doesn’t upset me. I just try to enjoy my time here and add to other people’s enjoyment when I can, and avoid decreasing other people’s enjoyment. I’m not ambitious, or even particularly social, so I don’t care much if I’m forgotten.

You die. You wink out, there is nothing, no memories, no hell,no heaven, nothing whatsoever.

Deal with it, enjoy your life now and stop worrying about what comes after you die because nothing comes after, nothing at all.


That’s a rather arrogant, self-centered viewpoint. Everyone becomes nothing; you have no choice in the matter. All you can do is hope to delay the inevitable. If you wish to come close to immortality, acquit yourself with good works and hope that they survive the test of time. Even if they do, eventually even the knowledge of those works will cease to be.

There was nothing to me before I was born. There will be nothing (no soul, no consciousness, literally no thing) to me after I die. The fact that there will come a point at which nothing is left has no consequence to how I live my life.

The memories of those who outlive me also will fade over time, but as any care of mine ceases at the moment of death…oh well.

I believe in an after-death existence of some kind. While I also have faith in God, I doubt my afterlife will be floating on clouds and having every whim satisfied. My view of God doesn’t jibe with that, nor with the idea of a Hell.

I know we go on, but to what exactly I just don’t know, and that’s kind of scary to me but exciting at the same time. not that I am looking forward to death or anything, but I am looking forward to moving on to something… and hopefully, finally, make sense of all the things we do here.

Well, if you are a bridge builder, the bridges are still there. The knowledge of your accomplishment, if any, live on in the memory of people, at least. If you are a teacher, the students you taught are still around. Why do you say that your accomplishments vanish when you die?

If the afterlife provided no more understanding of the current life than you have now, would you still want to believe it exists? If you concluded that the afterlife wasn’t eternal, would you still want to believe it exists?

I don’t think it’s reasonable to assume that. How do we get past a discussion on what is and isn’t reasonable to assume?

I’m not really interested in debating LaD, but the claim was offered as a statement of fact, not just a reasonable thing to assume.