Believing in an afterlife

Because I was invited by Czarcasm to take the sub-discussion that I had in this thread and spin it into its own topic, here we go.

The crux of this question really boils down to a couple of key questions: (1) Do you believe in an afterlife? And (2), how do you rationalize that belief?

I’ll just take what I said in that topic and use my responses as a springboard for this discussion:

After brittekland responded that NDE’s could be attributed "
to brain chemical being release to sort of ‘soften the blow’ of traumatic/death experience" I responded with the following post:

To which he admitted that he had no explanation for those NDE’s.

What do you think? Do you believe that there is an afterlife?

I believe in an afterlife, although I obviously have zero proof. I believe in God, but am not particularly religious. Sometimes I think the reason I believe in an afterlife is to not is a very scary proposition. I have a hard time wrapping my head around the possiblity that once you die, your very soul is extinguished and ceases to exist. I would like to think that we just don’t end.

Also, it is comforting to have faith that we will be reuinited with our loved ones. I still “talk” to my grandfather almost daily even though he died 20 years ago. I look forward to seeing him again.

So, besides what I was taught in church, I guess the reason I believe is hope and comfort. It might be illogical, but does it really make a difference if it is? There is a lot to be said for comfort and piece of mind, especially when facing the end of ones life.

Nope. :slight_smile: I’d like to… but I can’t.

Rationalise it? I’m a mortal self-aware being… it would be nice to think that there’s something more ahead of me than a few decades of declining health and eventual death, but I’m just not wired to beleive that without some pretty convincing evidence, and I don’t think that’s been presented.

So, no, but if I’m wrong I guess I’ll be pleasantly (or unpleasantly) surprised.

I believe in an afterlife, and it is strictly a belief, something for which I have no evidence whatsoever, it just seems right to me. I was not raised to believe in an afterlife, in fact, when I had an existential crisis at age 9 and tearfully asked my parents what happens after you die, they told me that nothing happens – you’re dead, your body decays, and that’s the end. I was not comfortable with that answer, and after a lot of personal soul-searching, I came to the conclusion that I know there’s an afterlife (and won’t my parents be surprised when they meet me there! :D)

In this life, I do accept the scientific explanations for things, and I do not believe that people who have had near death experiences have actually visited the afterlife. Whatever happens after we die, I believe that there is an impregnable barrier that can only be crossed after death (so no ghosts, etc.)

Oh, and I don’t rationalize my belief in an afterlife. I accept Carl Sagan’s approach - science and religion are two separate spheres, and I don’t feel any need to find a rational explanation for my spiritual beliefs.

Why didn’t you ask the converse question? - what happens after you’re born? They’d tell you that nothing happens – you go to school, you go to work, and then you retire.

No. There is nothing supernatural. Everything, including us, is purely physical. The brain creates consciousness and when it goes, so does the self.

How can you rationalize an afterlife? There’s nothing logical about religion. Religion relies on faith, which means that a person needs to believe that “it just always was” or “it’s just always been there.” You cannot prove faith. You cannot prove that heaven exists. You cannot prove that hell exists. You cannot prove that God exists.

My own personal theory (“on the brontosaur”) is that the belief in life after death arose from people having dreams about dead relatives and friends.

I’d be willing to bet that a great number of y’all have had such dreams. A parent, a sibling, a child, a friend, passes away, and, all in the night, we dream about them. It’s overwhelmingly powerful. It feels like a visitation from beyond the grave.

To primitive cultures, not having the symbolic sophistication that comes with literacy (and the necessity to shrug off advertising) such experiences could easily be taken at face value. I’ve definitely had such dreams, and, even knowing that they were “only dreams,” they were still emotionally convincing.

The notion of life after death also has some vague philosophical support, basically arguments from analogy. The “circle of life” notion is very suggestive of reincarnation. The ballad of John Barleycorn, etc. It is only a small leap forward to the idea of the dead arising again as themselves, unchanged, given some sort of Platonic idealization.

(The Philosophic method of searching for truth generally seems to depend on analogies. “Behold, water freezes, yet melts again and is unchanged.” “Yes, but this wax, having melted and resolidified, is completely different.” It’s an evocative method of inquiry, but lacks the real results of the scientific method.)


I’ve never believed in an afterlife and have no problem with the concept of myself ceasing to exist after death. With that being said though, I would much rather prefer to live forever with medical nanobot technology, cellular therapy, and genetic therapy.

Nope. When the brain dies, so does consciousness. I don’t even like the idea of living for eternity.

Consciousness is an emergent property of the physical brain. When the brain dies, consciousness ends. It’s like light coming from a light bulb. If the bulb is broken, there is no more light. It doesn’t “go” anywhere, it just stops being produced.

You are misquoting / misrepresenting what I said:

I said, IF what people said on youTube videos and Bio’s “I survived there and back(?)” were all true, I have no answer.

Yeah dude, I’m not intentionally trying to misquote you or anything; just trying to get the jist of what we said out there. Sorry if it came out wrong or something.

Hey man, cool runnings.

To paraphrase Sam Harris, our consciousness can be altered by brain damage. Memories, intellect, skills, emotions, dexterity, senses, and any number of things relating to our conscious mind can be changed or destroyed utterly by damage to our brains.

If damage to pieces of our brains can cause permanent damage to our consciousness, why would anyone think that at death, when the *whole *brain dies, that somehow consciousness is able to elevate out of it and survive?

I find this thread/question/my opinion and my “alien spac…” urr… I mean, “UFO” sighting thread/issue, paradoxical.

I don’t think a belief in the supernatural is absolutely necessary for belief in an afterlife - although this normally is the case.

For example, I’ve heard people talk about persistence in the collective and individual memories of those still living as a kind of afterlife - most often, this is just a poetic way of showing respect, but I think some people probably believe it in a more literal sense.
And it’s not even an absolutely nonsensical notion. If you consider the consciousness and personality of an individual to be intrinsically wrapped up in the reality of the thought processes performed by that individual’s brain, then you could say that as long as those thought processes are being performed somewhere, then that aspect of the individual still lives. A little bit of Graham Chapman is still alive every time and everywhere someone says “I am Arthur, king of the Britons!”

Who wants to gamble with such a situation?

God’s Word offers humans a simple and easily accessable free “Eternal Life Insurance Policy”. Costing us nothing at all except to do our best to follow some ten rules, it seems as folly to me to ignore such an opportunity… and, we’re not here for a vacation but to find our way back to whence we came (Our Creator). But we have to get our focus turned to the Spirit instead of the flesh to realize that.

Tom W.

I think the problem is that you say it’s these ten rules, someone else says it’s those eight rules, another person says it’s the other five thousand rules. Some of these rules overlap, many don’t, some are in conflict. Taking your advice is also a gamble.

I’ll have no afterlife in this form.

Where is the baby that I was? Gone, and yet a part of me. Where are all the pieces of cow that I ate? Gone, and yet part of that meat is now a part of me.

Where is my great-grandfather now? Where will my grandson be? Are they parts of me, am I part of them?

Are the ideas I got while reading this board now a part of me? If I speak to someone and they listen, am I a part of them then?

If I die, me as a vessel and conduit of matter, energy and memes will end. The matter, energy and memes will live on in different vessels and conduits.

If I wanted to live on, I’d have to pass my genes, my ideas and my matter on. For that last bit, I could try being buried in a vegetable garden plot and have people eat the veggies, but I don’t think the law allows it. :slight_smile: