Survival After Death?

In responding to the God and Death thread, I found it appropriate to make reference to the question of personal survival. Which led me to think that it might make an interesting thread to inquire:

What do you think happens when you die? Will you or some portion of you survive the death of your body? If so, what will happen to you/it? Do you have any evidence to support your hypothesis/belief? If so. what?

This is not per se a religion thread, though those of us with faiths that prescribe a doctrine of survival will definitely have religious answers. But the two are not necessarily tied; a non-religious person may be convinced of survival on other grounds.

My death will be similar to the death of any other living creature. My body will decompose and nothing will be left.

Evidence: I have no evidence to show me that anything else will happen. It’s hard to show proof for the non-existence of an object. I think it would be the burden of people asserting the existence of a particular construct to prove their assertion.

J’ai assez vécu pour voir que différence engendre haine.

Poly asked:

The media will cover it in a way that makes the deaths of Princess Di and JFK Jr. pale by comparison. The world will weep. Massive shrines will go up in my name. People will start threads in MPSIMS about the loss they feel and Phil will claim that I was no more important than anybody else, and will thus be flamed into oblivion.

hmm…well, its basically a difficult question.
but since you are asking for our opinion, here is mine:
every person goes to a “place” it wants to be in. i.e. “heaven”. where heaven is the place you want to be in, and hell a place where you dont want to be. now, then again there might be some persons who dont want you to go where you want to for some reasons, that person generally being yourself(that is you did something you regret and you make yourself “pay” for it).
now, everybody who have passed out for some reasons know that you have no memories from the time you were “out”. you have no dreams or stuff. but passing out isnt the same as dying, and you know that.
now, if you have ever seen a “ghost” you know that there is something after death. it is a fact, not a fact of life…but still a fact.
and as i see it, our belives shape heaven as a place where we want to be. so a person who has no knowledge of god and heaven in christian belive will have shaped his heaven in a different way than one with knowledge of christian god and heaven.
religion in general tells us to be dumb and not exercise our freedom of choice(i am saying in general, im not saying all religions to that). a certain religious group shapes heaven for us, tell us it is like this and like that. creates an illusion of heaven as a place we think we want to be in. therefor impairing our freedom of choice and basically making us as we call in icelandic “heimsk”.

bj0rn - im am where i want to be, the rest is for later.

I will croak and be buried. The undertaker’s bill will come in the mail. My widow will say “who?”

Lex Non Favet Delicatorum Votis

I believe that I’ll be in Heaven. I’ll have a new body and will live forever. It will be far better, and different, than anything I can even imagine.

My basis for this is that I experienced events that convinced me that Jesus is real. And so, even the stuff I don’t or can’t understand must be true too.

Other contributing factors include a comforting dream or vision my mom had after dad passed away, and a frightening near-death experience of my father-in-law.

On that topic, back a few years ago, I read a fascinating book about near-death experiences. It was written by a doctor who basically set out to disprove the phenomenon, but wound up being a believer. He interviewed every person in his hospital who had been clinically dead but was revived, and did this shortly afterwards. This was to avoid having only self-reported cases coming in years later. He found that it was very common, with similar experiences, both good and bad, and among people of different (or no) faiths. He assumed the “light” and other effects was just from lack of oxygen in the blood, until one person described floating near the ceiling watching the doctors working on his body. One of the things they did was draw blood, and the results showed good oxygen content. It was in our local public library, so I’ll try to look up the book for you all.

I think death will be no different from falling asleep, except that I will never awaken ever again.

I believe this existence is all there is or ever will be.

mikeharware: I can, at this moment, imagine myself levitating above this computer and looking down at my body while my hands type this message. If I can do that consciously, why can’t I do it UNconsciously? Our ears still hear even when we are asleep or comatose. It’s possible that the patient you described simply realized, even while unconscious, what was happening from listening to the sounds and voices of the doctors and nurses in the room and simply imagined looking down at them from above. IF this person had seen some detail that he could not have seen without an “out-of-body” experience, it would have been more credible. Identifying the people in the room from their faces and not their voices would suffice.

I also recall seeing a story on the news where pilots in training often black out while in a centrifuge and they’re videotaped during the black-out. The expressions on some of their faces can best be described as euphoric. And some of them even swear that during the black-out, that they felt like they were somewhere else.

Those who do not learn from the past are condemned to relive it. Georges Santayana

Oh, and the “good oxygen content” of the blood means nothing if the blood is not getting to the brain.

Those who do not learn from the past are condemned to relive it. Georges Santayana

OK, so here’s the bottom line, IMHO.

(1) SUPPOSE that you knew, for a fact, that there was nothing after death. That death was the end of your existence, period. No afterlife, no judgement, no nothing, just oblivion. OK? Now: how would you live your life different from what you do now?

(2) SUPPOSE that you knew, for a fact, that there is an afterlife (we’re not worrying for the moment about whether it’s a Christian, Moslem, Hindu, or whatever afterlife – just that you KNOW that death is not the end of your existence.) OK? Again, how do you live your life different from what you do now?

I submit that if having either (1) or (2) as absolute factual knowledge means that you would change your life-style, that you need to reconsider that life-style. I submit that if you are a moral person, then the certainty of either (1) or (2) would not have any impact upon your daily life.

Any takers?

jab1, I also have a healthy skepticism about near death experiences, and that’s why I found that book particularly interesting. I think it may be worth further clinical study.
The doctor’s original intent was to disprove near-death experiences, and he addressed all those concerns, and many others. Obviously, I can’t do justice to an entire book in a short paragraph, but people described things that were not based on auditory cues. And the blood oxygen content was being measured well into the (eventually successful) CPR attempt. I’ll get to the library and try to get the title soon.

Dex said:

Nothing different.

Depends on what else I know about that afterlife. If I somehow find out, for sure, that it is indeed a Christian afterlife (must accept Jesus as Lord and Savior, etc.), then I guess I do it (remember, this is presuming I know this 100% for sure). If we’re just talking about a generic afterlife where we are rewarded for doing good things, I refer to (1) above and don’t change anything.

I submit that you are right. :slight_smile:

The day when I die, my body will start to decompose. Maggots and worms will help things moving along, and soon my body will turn into fertilizer. There after I will start pushing up daisies,(poison ivy,no doubt in my case) and that is where story ends. No there is nothing after death no macigal “soul” floating to “heaven”. All that is just opium to the masses. Okay so this is just a personal opinion.


Thought provoker, CK! I looked over my own life in view of what you said, and would not necessarily make any changes. I’m already carping as much of the diem as I can, and the basic rules I live under strike me as good behavior whether or not there is a God mandating them.

The one exception, in two parts, would be as follows: absolute certitude regarding survival, either way, would likely provide as a sidelight absolute certitude on the putative existence and nature of God. In the case of choice #1, I would omit the Shema from my personal creed, and stop my low-key evangelizing, because it would be inappropriate (<- understatement) to continue it in the absence of God. If #2, I would probably change nothing, except use the evidence giving me that certitude to better argue my case in religious discussions. If the God certitude does not accompany the (non)survival certitude, I’d still change nothing. In the event that the Divine Weasel is in charge (term I coined on another thread for the obnoxious trickster who judges you on whether you buy into the fundamentalist dichotomy), I’d definitely have to rethink everything.

Lucky for you, Poly, as the High Priest in the First Church of David, you not only have absolute evidence of your God’s existence, but He talks to you every day!

I can see how Option #1 or #2 can change some of your behaviors; but what I think CK is saying is that it shouldn’t make you behave more or less morally. Certainly absolute knowledge of Option #2 would make me less concerned about life-threatening situations, and change my life-style in that manner at least.

“Happiness is nonetheless true happiness because it must come to an end, nor do thought and love lose their value because they are not everlasting.”

  • Bertrand Russell

Whether I change my behavior in the case of #2 depends severely on what kind of an afterlife we’re talking about.

Does what happens to me in this Afterlife depend on anything I did while I was alive? If not, I have no reason to change my behavior whatsoever. If so, I would want to know what the rules of this Afterlife are. Am I rewarded for every ant I stepped on while alive? Am I punished for every time I looked at something orange in color? Am I forced to relive the events that happened to me when I was 15 years old for all eternity?

If my Afterlife is guaranteed to be “much better” if I don’t butter my toast for the rest of my life, then sure, I’ll enter into a life of Toast Ascetism. But I have to know this rule before I proceed!

Well, I did presume we were talking about the classic Good-gets-rewarded afterlife. If evil got rewarded…hmm. I suppose I would try to see if I could get by with minor evils like double-parking and not paying library fines.

CK, I see no reason to disagree with David B’s response.

Though if 2) were true, I’d be going to Hell, no question of it, assuming Christianity is true. You see, if God really exists, He’s got a lot to answer for. He sounds like someone to defy, not follow. I don’t believe in the idea that if you can’t beat Him, join Him. And if you defy God, Hell is the only place you’ll go, according to the Christians.

I mean, would you have respect for someone who joined the Nazis in order to avoid death, even if he didn’t kill, just to ensure his own survival?

Those who do not learn from the past are condemned to relive it. Georges Santayana

To answer CKDextHavn:

I don’t think that the knowledge I have an afterlife would change my moral beliefs or in any significant way affect my behaviour. I probably would be less afraid of dying however…

J’ai assez vécu pour voir que différence engendre haine.

There’s a fair amount of evidence that we (our personalities and consciousness) are a result of our particular neuroanatomy. And there’s quite a lot of evidence that after death, said neuroanatomy stops working and any information it contained is lost to entropy. So, given no evidence (I’m using the word in the scientific sense, not the popular sense) that anything else happens, and no known mechanism for anything else to happen, I conclude that death is pretty final. But the survival instinct is very powerful and I can understand why people would want to think otherwise.

I’ll be happy indeed if I’m wrong and my consciousness persists after I die. But my understanding of the world, while limited, doesn’t let me honestly conclude that is a likely outcome.

peas on earth