Well, on the naturalistic viewpoint, your mind is just a series of electrochemical signals in your brain. If this is in fact true, there’s no theoretical reason - and, with Moore’s Law still going strong, no practical reason, either - why “you” couldn’t be converted to a suitable digital representation and go on “living” in a computer indefinitely.
Come to think of it, I once read a SF short story some time ago where the worst criminals were punished in this way; their consciousnesses were uploaded to a virtual prison where they could be incarcerated for centuries, with no biological death to release them.
You may be able to program memories into a computer, but I don’t think you can add self-awareness to a computer program. You’d have to be able to understand that you’re remembering stuff. I don’t see how this could work.
If I found myself in an afterlife, I’d be a little conflicted. Of course I’d like to keep living longer, but I’d be hugely disappointed at what seemed to be “the answer” to my existence. Having strove all my life to understand the hugely impressive and ingenious natural explanations provided by science, suddenly being confronted with an IMO hugely unimaginative and frankly boring supernatural reality would be like spending time and effort solving an enormous Rubik’s cube only to find that one was only expected to peel the coloured stickers off.
Therefore, I still wouldn’t believe it was supernatural. If you see me in heaven, I’ll be the one checking the walls for holographic projectors or researching a Red Pill.
Sure it does, trivial is in the eyes of the beholder. Trivial with respect to physics? Probably. Trivial with respect to psychology? Probably not.
I’m afraid that some of you have missed much of the point of my OP. To rephrase: I’m not asking whether you do believe in an afterlife or whether or not the existence of an afterlife is likely. My inquiry is more concerned with whether you have a desire to believe in an afterlife and/or a desire for an afterlife to actually exist. Some of you have stayed on topic. This line of questioning is more concerned with psychology than physics or even metaphysics.
I assume that most of us are generally happy to be alive at this time and that we would choose life over non-existence now, but not necessarily at some point in the future. I’m interested in understanding the psychology behind our enjoying something now, but not wishing it to continue beyond a certain point, even if you are hypothetically in complete control of the architecture of the continuation. I’ve been able to glean a little insight from some of your answers thus far, so maybe you too will find this interesting.
I may be wrong, but I think that there is more of a trend in today’s society to desire a non-existent afterlife than in past societies. If true, one explanation may be that when the existence of an afterlife seemed likely, people accepted and desired that premise. Today, with science diminishing the likelihood of an existent afterlife, we seem no longer to desire that which we no longer believe in. Perhaps preferring a non-existent afterlife, at least for some, may truly be desirous and may be taken at face value, or it may be some form of a defense mechanism that our minds fabricate to shield against a looming abyss.
Just don’t put me in a Compaq computer.
Well, I can understand being temporarily downtrodden by the realization of being wrong in your assessment of the meaning of life and the physical nature of the universe, but that’s nothing to really get your bowels in an uproar over – a simple reassessment of the situation is all that is in order. Remember, in my thought experiment, I give you the right to model your own afterlife, therefore if you find yourself in an unimaginative and boring afterlife, you really have nothing to blame, but your own imagination. For example, if intellectual stimulation is what rocks your boat, perhaps you could go with a model such as:
A reincarnation model that involves continual re-genesis into ever more complicated life-forms in a variety of alternate universes with increasingly awe-inspiring laws of physics…and all of which harbor big bosomed babes. To stave off boredom, you will always have less than total recall from one life to the next, but as you evolve into increasingly higher life forms you will retain more past-life memory (as relatively small-brained humans, we have yet to reach the stage of having any prior life recall).
Throw in some interaction with friends and family, and the above model is pretty close to the one I’m going to choose.
…ok, I’ll need some good scotch and cigars, too.
Sorry, there can only be one Dr.PoopiePants.
…I hate to be the one to break it to you, SentientMeat, but we all were pretty bad in our past lives. Not only are we existing in a supernatural world…it is, indeed, hell. Oh, and, that red pill?…it’s just a laxative.
I like this one better:
“One of our neighbors in Tisvilde once fixed a horseshoe over the door to his house. When a common friend asked him, But are you really superstitious? Do you honestly believe that this horseshoe will bring you luck?' he replied, Of course not; but they say it works even if you don’t believe in it.’”
Of course. When I said that the issue of whether an afterlife was desirable, I meant it that the question was trivial to me. It my not be trivial to others.
I did give my answer to that question. I was only attaching a disclaimer, so that no one mistook my argument for a serious discussion about what the afterlife is like. Specifically, I said that I don’t want to spend eternity in Heaven. My reason is that Heaven must be a pretty miserable place, since it’s would have to be ruled by someone incapable of understanding the needs of modern people. (i.e. it would have to be ruled by a candidate from this list: God, Goddess, multiple gods, angels, other supernatural beings subordinate to a supreme being, or the souls of prior human beings.)
The key question I have with afterlife is which of our many selves would be there?
Like a river, every time you step into into it’s a different river.
Would my childhood selves all be there, with their little childhood desires all filled?
Or the face in the newspaper on my wedding day?
Or the old shell of a wreck after the near-fatal fire to come?
If you’re expecting to meet Shakespeare, would you meet the child or the man or the dottering fool?
I’ll take the #6 After-Life Deal and super size me.
I think if there was proof that there was no afterlife, the world we live in would be taken care of as if it was the only place we had to live. Now that’s a crazy thought. We might even develop, oh I don’t know, foresight? Planning for future generations? It just keeps getting crazier and crazier after that!
That’s an interesting precept. Do you believe that atheists are generally more responsible with regard to preserving our planet and protecting society than agnostics and theists? Do others share this view?
This is an interesting conundrum. I suppose one would be inclined to argue that there must be some sort of an essence of your being that transcends the aging process. Delving further, how would you construct an afterlife that mandates that you be different things to different people? Say, for instance, that I want you in my afterlife, but you don’t want me in yours. I want my mother to be 40yo to my being 20; she wants me to be 1 to her 20…and so on and so forth. I suppose that a Many Worlds QM scenario would need to be invoked in order for everyone’s afterlife to be uniquely theirs.
IMO, an even more interesting question (and one that I’ve thought of starting as a separate thread): How much is our psyche is ultimately defined by our physical bodies, and how would it change after being thrust into an extra-corporeal state, or (in the case of reincarnation) morphologically varied states? Think of the evolution of your psychology in terms of your appearance and your physical abilities. Now imagine your same mind being born into a physically distinct body with a much different appearance and physical ability potential. All else being equal (same parents, culture, etc.), would the two expressions of the same brain be more similar or different? My guess is that they would be so different as to be considered completely different people. Now, strip away the physical body entirely, and what do you have left? Who are you, how do you feel and how do you process information as a being disassociated from your body? Inquiring minds want to know.
BTW: Today is my birthday, and I have received no gifts from y’all, yet.
I share that view. There’s an awful lot of war and other destruction in the world done in the name of religion. Just go into the Balkans and ask why their war isn’t over yet. But your answers are odd mainly because you don’t seem to recognize a standard principle of mathematics: That by including any false statement in your calculations you can quickly construct all manner of false equations and “paradoxes”. You’ve seen the puzzle-book “proofs” that 1=0, etc.? They all start with a badly drawn diagram or assume that division by zero gives a meaningful result, or some other such nonsense.
I’m not religious - never have been, never will be.
I’m agnostic, leaning heavily toward skepticism.
I want an afterlife to exist (with conditions), but I’m quite skeptical that it does.
I want life to exist on other planets, and I am almost certain that it does.
If god does exist, I believe that he can do so without the trappings of religion. Some religions/denominations deserve respect, others don’t. The ones that don’t, IMO, are typically fundamentalist in nature and attract slow-witted, often dangerous people. Many non-religious people unfairly categorize all denominations, and religious people in general, as being the latter, slow-witted type. My assessment is that the average religious person is ethical, moral and intelligent. You don’t have to be religious to believe in god or an afterlife. I accept good science without hesitation and I believe that the scientific method should be trusted whenever it can be employed. I don’t believe that science and faith in god or allowing for the possibility of an afterlife are necessarily mutually incompatible. There are intelligent people and intelligent arguments that span the spectrum from atheism to deism. Typically, it is the fringe at either extreme that make the most noise, but have the least intelligent arguments to contribute. While dismissing the fringe is wise, dismissing an entire community that is in opposition to your own beliefs is unproductive, close-minded and a bit elitist. While I am quite skeptical of the existence of god/creator/afterlife, I do not accept the argument that these things are analogous to believing in Santa Clause, the Easter Bunny…or any other pure fabrication of mans imagination. I have my reasons for believing this to be true, and those reasons are valid for me.
Not being religious, I can only offer my opinion. Some religions elevate mankind to a privileged position worthy of god’s attention. Since we are arguably the most advanced species on earth, that tenet is easy to adhere to, so long as earth is the only celestial body that harbors life. Allowing for the possibility of other potentially more advanced life forms substantially erodes the privileged position argument. This is just another religious trapping that I disagree with.
And give up my chance for post-mortal alien sex, not on your life.
Of course I’d like an afterlife. There’s too much to learn or do in one lifetime. I’d prefer to belive that I’d get a chance to do more, perhaps on some new plane of existance.
If I got bored, I’d simply have to reinvent myself somehow, and look into a new line of activity and inquiry. Repeat as necessary. The universe is vast enough that I think I could keep myself interested for eternity.