I'm having a hard time dealing with non-existing after life. I mean I don't believe in any Gods so therefore there is no reason to believe in an afterlife. I know my conscious mind will be gone and therefore I will not be aware of anything but i still can't believe in completely and total darkness after life.


what do you all believe happens after death? Maybe hearing others opinions will make me feel better about this.

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Something's not right, I feel like being transplanted into another Universe. I am going to need a quick lie down now and a couple of aspirins.

Albert, Sassan,
No need for science to settle it? That's exactly the point I'm arguing against: Declaring certainty without the science. That's all.

The topic of afterlife is only the instrument of the point. The planetary system validation example was to illustrate that even in the presence of high probability that other systems exist, a scientist does not claim her certainty without the evidence. It's just one of those maybe annoying facts. To assert with conclusive certainty that we know consciousness takes no other form after brain death is a strict lack of discliipline. Understand, just like he planetary system question, I'm with you: I don't see how it's possible given the observable. But to ignore the hard fact that no one can claim to know what consciousness even is, then make assertions that we know its full life cycle, sounds a lot like religious assertion.

Here is the only point I'm trying to nail down: We do not know.

Bad news: The situation is far worse than you are painting here. In science we can never, ever, ever know anything with absolute certainty ever.

This is not to say that we should not dismiss ridiculous (you can put that qualifier on my account, gladly) proposals that would need for whole bodies of science to be overturned and declared rubbish.

Even that isn't completely impossible. It's getting harder and harder though, don't underestimate it. You'll need to replace it with something better.

For example you are going to have to come up with a model of free floating consciousness. You are going to have to prove that it exists. You are going to have to come up with a mechanism how this presumed ectoplasm interacts with your everyday normal matter. You gonna have to rewrite the Standard Model of Particle Physics. Good luck with that one.

And I'm not even touching the exploding field of neuroscience in general and consciousness research in particular.

It is out of the question, contuining existence after bodily death is the superstition of yore. Cold reader lala land.

Out of the question?  While science can never, ever, ever, know anything with absolute certainty, ever....most people, yourself among them, want to declare with great certainty, the nature and fate of consciousness at death.  Religous people insist we live on, hand in hand with their gods.  Atheists I've notice, (myself excluded), tend to want certainty that consciousness dies, just as it arose with the brain.  You can believe it, but there is no getting around the fact that we simply don't know.  I don't. And you don't either.  If it were as drop dead simply obvious as you are asserting here, the nature of consciousness would not remain the scientific mystery that it is. 


Hopefully readers will see my broader point.  I'm not asserting that consciousness can exist without the brain.  I'm pointing out that it is not known and that when we (atheists) go on about our certainty on the matter, without scientific support, we're doing none other than our religious counterparts.  There is nothing wrong with not knowing. There was a time that we did not know electricity and magnetism were interwoven fields of fundamental forces, or the evolutionary fact of our existence.  Knowing things comes at a great price that every scientist understands.  The universe is built on some mightily strange realities, from electrons that appear to spin only 1/2 way around for every revolution, you cite the famous heisenberg uncertainty principle.  Time does not possess a static rate, but changes with relative motions between objects. Don't forget Young's two slit experiment where electrons will behave as waves uness you count them, then they suddenly act like particles.  When you consider how very unintuitive the Universe has proven to be this far in our scientific pursuit of understanding it, perhaps this utter certainty about consciousness (which is definitely one of these remarkably unintuitive properties of our Universe) will be less freely involked. 


I understand completely your point. The only way we could know "nothingness" exists after death is evidence and without evidence we can not for certain say Death is the end. who knows we might actually meet baby Jesus...i doubt it but yea..lol.

You said it, Deme Mo.  And there's really nothing more productive to say about it...until we know more. :)


No we do know. We know that our brain stops all activity at death. Period.


There is no room for fantasy beyond that. 


What your talking about is unwarranted hope in the face of facts.


Fact. We die our brain stops working and our body rots. There is no evidence otherwise.

This is I suppose possibilianism applied, an appeal to ignorance.

It is fallacious even without acknowledgment that there is no equality between positions for there is evidence against it and no evidence for it. Naturalist explanations: consciousness is functionality of our brain have tons of evidence speaking for it. Take the brain away, or less drastically take certain small parts of the brain out, even temporarily with a chemical and there goes your consciousness, or you might alter it . Blind sight for example, seeing, but bypassing consciousness and other such phenomena.

Evidence for continuing existence after death: zilch. I mean cold readers, cushy and hellfire religions and wishful thinking motivated by grief and unfinished business, so zilch.

You fail to acknowledge the point I made about the epistemic limitations inherent in the scientific method. There is no absolute certainty in science. Not about electricity and magnetism, not about electrons, not about the Uncertainty Principle, not about Special Relativity, nor about wave-particle duality (especially that.) You need to suppose there being a point where we can be more certain than we are now there is no continuing existence after our bodies and brain are dead in order to make the appeal to ignorance seem ever so slightly reasonable. There isn't and it isn't. We know enough to resolutely, definitely and without reservation to state that death is final. And stronger than that as far as consciousness goes it can be terminally final even before the body dies.

I fail to see how an appeal to intuition plays into this at all. You seem to set up an argument that since Quantum Mechanics, or let's say the way the Universe works at it's deepest level is unintuitive, and existence of consciousness outside our brains is unintuitive, therefore the one lends credibility to the other.

I mean wow, really?

No. I'm really saying nothing more that we do not know. Before we found the evidence for other planetary systems we could not say we knew they existed. It was all but a certainty, but it was not a certainty until the evidence was confirmed. That's simply the discipline science must uphold. My message is definitely NOT an apologists for an after life. There is no evidence at this time that any part of our consciousness survives. But there is also no evidence that consciousness itself even exists. It's only empirically that you and I know it does. A scientifically understood mechanism of consciousness does not exist. And yet a certainty is put forth about its fate?

But now you are clarifying the error.

Let's take that example of planets orbiting other stars. You are acknowledging that yes, we do have a theory of the formation of the solar system and with of the course the Copernican Principle in the back of our minds always, that makes it highly likely that planets are orbiting around other planets. Nothing in the whole body of science even remotely objects to the presence of planets around other planets, instead everything relevant in science indicates it must be the case. But we can't be certain until we actually empirically establish their presence by direct observation.

I have no objection to that. It's a bit of caricature and not actually the way science works, but I don't object to the principle.

But now you want to compare this to extra-cranial consciousness, which is made extremely unlikely by everything relevant in science, and everything we do know objects to such a notion. What we do then in science is to reject the hypothesis - hop, out of the window - until evidence does arise in it's favor. We treat it like water with memory or astrological influences on human activities or telekineses and so on.

I have no objection to people who take it seriously now and want to test it in such a way as to (reproducibly) demonstrate the presence of free floating consciousness. I say the best of luck to them. There's an extra reward at the JREF in it for them too. Just like with other forms of woo.

This is different from dark matter for example. We have never seen it, but we know it is highly likely that it must exist, for example from analysis of the roughness spectrum of the CMB, matter dispersion in collisions of starclusters, relative orbital speeds of stars and so on. We know how to detect it, but it is a very delicate process, precisely because the interactions with normal matter are so low.

Same sort of story with gravitational waves for example. There is real hard-nosed science to back up the hypotheses.

And we do know that consciousness exists for example, even if we don't know fully how it works, we do have testable hypotheses for how it comes about and we're zooming in.

You're trying to use my remarks on the underlying mechanism against me, but you didn't understand the importance. This goes a little beyond rhetorics. When you posit a new kind of never before observed substance (this is not the case in naturalist explanations of consciousness) and you agree that it must somehow interact with the brain, at the level of the synapses perhaps or wherever you choose, which are made of normal matter, than you are going to have to explain how this new kind of substance interacts with matter, because it is the crucial, the vital point in your theory. Without it: poof!

Obviously the assumption of extra-cranial consciousness is a good candidate for Ockham's razor. When such an extra layer of complexity is added, it must be demonstrated then that it is actually needed, that brains by themselves cannot produce consciousness.

But it looks like consciousness is the result of (integrated) functionality of the brain, locatable in the brain and produced, however complex by the brain with neurons (action-potentials and synchronized spikes/wave-patterns) and perhaps glia (calcium-waves) as a substrate. It's window to the world is however small and drags along at a few hundred milliseconds after the facts.

True, there is a lot we don't know yet, but we do at least finally have come to an agreement - as unanimous at is possible to get with humans - in science that we have to study the brain, not the air that hovers above the cranium or wherever else it might live.

Have you begun reading into the philosophy of science, because I think it would do you a lot of good?

You really don't have to grasp the concept of nothingness. You don't, in fact, have to worry about it at all. In my case, that is what happened. I started out with the same sense of incompleteness when I thought about it, but eventually I realized it was a bit self defeating to bother. Whatever there is or is not after death, I can do nothing about it during life. What matters to me is how can I make the remaining years I have matter to me? With so much to see, do and learn post-death really loses all it's interest.

There is nothing--literally--to be scared of about death. It's horribly sad to lose someone you love and it's not pleasant to think of what your loved ones will go through when you die, but death itself is just the end. Wondering what happens afterward is a little like wondering what the flame is going through after you've blown out the candle.


The process of dying, on the other hand...well, that gives me the cold horrors. I'll be under my bed.


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