hi, i am a new member to this site and have some questions about after life.

it all started  a year a ago and accumilited over time and lots of thinking. over the time of a year my grandfater had part of his right ear cut off, found meloma in his lungs, colon cancer and also 7 brain turmors. one night really stood out, when he said " well at least i know that when i die i will go to heave with my brother who was killed in an airplane accedent and to see my parents again. its helpfull in times of pain that we(the faimly being catholic) will be in a better body with god." i know that sounds dumb but i think christianity does offer comfort to people but i still dont know what to believe. my life isnt that great and i gues thinking that one day when you die youl go to this great place called heaven, then i think it is all BS so i just dont know what to think anymore. i am raised (17 and living with my parents) catholic and we always have to go to church every sunday and i did receve the confermation in which "the holly spirit will come into your life" and when that happened the archbishop did the ritual and i didnt feel anything and i just looked at him with comfusion and steped down. well i gues this is just a a post about me but if anyone wants to give advice on what to believe in when it comes to this after life or no after life thanks

Views: 437

Tags: after, death, god, heaven, life

Comment by Atheist Exile on April 28, 2012 at 1:55am

@Eric Diaz,

I like your description. :-)

Viewed from that perspective, a morning hangover is measurably worse than not waking up.

Comment by Atheist Exile on April 28, 2012 at 1:57am

Yes, I'm kidding! Hangovers go away. But pain, slowly increasing until death, is a whole different story.

Comment by Unseen on April 28, 2012 at 1:30pm

It's true that Christianity may offer more comfort than atheism, especially if you end up in Heaven and not swimming in an eternal lake of molten lava. Of course, if that is the standard, being a Muslim martyr is even better, because they throw in a few young (underage?) virgins to rumpy pumpy with.

Comment by Mabel on April 28, 2012 at 2:28pm

now i read a book over the summer called heave is real by Todd Burpo the father of which this book is based on, what to you guys think about the people who say they have seen heave when they died? did they fake it or what there are things on the web that have stories of atheist being brought to god by there death? im not saying i believe in it but when it comes to someones own personal stories and accounts  can you judge that they are wrong

@ - John Jon. Hi John Jon. Maybe they had hallucinations. I think most atheists believe this to be the case. I understand why this concerns you. Many of those stories are very touching and beautiful, but they do not qualify for proof in a God, especially the widely held Christian concept of God who sends people to eternal torment. 

How am I supposed to feel happy in this supposed heaven place when I know there are people suffering in great torment for all of eternity? Does this God that Christians believe in, block your memory and knowledge of certain things once you get to heaven? Is your mind reprogrammed to think differently than you do in the here and now? That would be brainwashing would it not?

When I used to be a Christian I struggled with this notion of my having peace (in the here and now) when at the same time I knew people were going to end up in hell. Apparently if the God the Christians believe in can block memories, he certainly did not block mine or I would still be a Christian to this day. Once I thought about what it might be like to be miserable or even burning for all eternity, I couldn't get that out of my head. It would take an act of God to do so but, there is no God.

Comment by John Jon on April 28, 2012 at 4:08pm

well the christians say if you believe in jesus and accept him in your heart you will be saved (go to heaven) i know this because i am going to catholic high school and i went to a evangelical grade school. but very good questions in the second paragraph good questions to ask religious people of that i should ask with religious blogs. 

Comment by Simon Paynton on April 30, 2012 at 1:59am

John –

for me, regrets exist because I feel ashamed about things I've done.  After that, they serve to motivate me to behave better in the future.  This presumes that I'm given the chance to behave at all.  I contend that after you're dead, you're not able to take part in life, so all your regrets just have to stay, and you can't fix them.  

The reason I believe that life after death is a reasonable possibility, is all the evidence I have encountered which points to that possibility.  The evidence is consistent, hangs together and makes sense.  

On my own account, around 1990 I was ill with TB and I was sitting in front of my fire one evening with my cat on my lap.  I looked to my right and I saw the heads and shoulders of an old man and two old ladies.  I did a surprised double-take, and looked again, and they were all smiling and nodding at me kindly.  The old man looked like someone on my mum's side of the family.  After about 30 seconds they were gone.  The cat didn't react to anything, of course I tried to get her to check it out.  

You could plausibly say, well it was just the illness making you hallucinate.  That may be true, or it may not.  Remember both sides of that statement, not just the one you might like.  

Several years later I went to see a psychic and she told me, unprompted, that my guardian angels were several old ladies and an old man.  Another psychic told me, again unprompted, that one of my guardian angels is an uncle on my mum's side who killed himself, but “he is whole now”.  That was the first I'd heard of that story.  I checked with my mum, and she confirmed that her uncle Eddy was an epileptic and had hung himself from a tree when he was in his 20s.  Well, if he's there, I'm glad he's there, not that I can see he can do much, but you never know.  There are lots of stories, including an eyewitness account told to me, of spirits being able to manipulate our physical reality like a toy.  

Another example is this radio programme from BBC Radio 4 in Christmas 2003: “Christmas Spirits”.  The recording is here, an article about it is here.  I haven't checked through the article, make of it what you will.  

When people say, “I don't see how that could happen, therefore it doesn't”, that is a basic fallacy, the height of arrogance, and completely anti-rational.  You could say it's pseudo-rational: pretending to be rational just so you can dismiss observations that don't fit with your pre-conceived theory.  

Nobody ever discovered knowledge about reality by censoring their observations.  That's the mark of a small mind.  

From an atheist perspective?  Who cares?  I don't need to believe in God to believe in life before death, and logically there's no reason why life after death needs God to exist either – although again, you never know, I wouldn't presume to know everything about the Universe, I'm just a little human.  

Thanks for the morality thing, I'll get back to you.  I'm backing up my hard drive now so my computer will be out of action for 24 hours.  


Comment by Unseen on April 30, 2012 at 9:19am

So, given your standards of evidence, you must also believe in alien abductions, right? If not, why not?

Your regrets argument comes pretty close to the argument some theists make that, "If God doesn't exist, then there's no justice in the universe. Bad people can do bad things unpunished and good people who've been wronged go unrewarded." But I hope even you can see what a lousy argument that is.

I guess my biggest problem with your belief in life after death (and before, too, apparently) has to do with the fact we're not talking about the same thing. To most of us here, I'm sure, "life" is defined by biological processes. So, you believe in something other than life which you mistakenly call life.

What is YOUR definition of life? That would be a good place to start. To me it's the ability to sustain oneself by finding and processing food and water, to replicate my species through some form of reproduction. In this sense, a paramecium is as alive as I am. Also, I think for life to have meaning, it has to be defined by death. As Alan Watts, a Buddhist, pointed out (along with Sartre, I might add), it is death which defines a life. What a person is isn't fully defined until their death when they can do no more good and no more harm. Until then, a life is an unfinished work. A life that goes on forever would be like a painting on an infinite canvas which can't be done until it is bounded by a frame.

I would assume that most atheists don't believe in ghosts by any name (souls, spirits).

Anyway, my main point is that there is evidence of similar quality to the evidence you accept in support of an afterlife which supports flying saucers, chupacabra, bigfoot, pyramid power, the hollow earth, and other such nonsense.

One last thing, I'm tired of people denying people the right to start drawing conclusions about things without being accused of being closed minded. I'm 65. When, if ever, can I start making decisions about what I believe and what I don't?

Comment by Simon Paynton on May 8, 2012 at 3:27pm

So, given your standards of evidence, you must also believe in alien abductions, right? If not, why not?

Unseen, I will answer your points.  The reason I don't believe in the bulk of alien abduction stories is because they are inconsistent, because if there were as many alien visits as people allege, then the skies around the Earth would be choked solid with alien spacecraft.  I believe it is plausible that a small minority of those stories may be true.  

Your regrets argument comes pretty close to the argument some theists make that, "If God doesn't exist, then there's no justice in the universe. Bad people can do bad things unpunished and good people who've been wronged go unrewarded." But I hope even you can see what a lousy argument that is.

I don't really have a regrets argument.  It's just a thought-experiement.  To me it makes perfect sense, that if there was an afterlife, then we would be forced to regret all the crimes which we no longer had a chance to put right.  To me, the punishment by the conscience is the worst punishment of all, and one which we cannot escape.  This would be hell or heaven.  

I guess my biggest problem with your belief in life after death (and before, too, apparently) has to do with the fact we're not talking about the same thing. To most of us here, I'm sure, "life" is defined by biological processes. So, you believe in something other than life which you mistakenly call life.

What is YOUR definition of life? That would be a good place to start.

In this case, I would define it as a certain consciousness and autonomy.  

As Alan Watts, a Buddhist, pointed out (along with Sartre, I might add), it is death which defines a life.

Appeals to authority.  What do you believe?  

Also, I think for life to have meaning, it has to be defined by death.

I think I agree with you somewhat on this point.  Not "defined" by it, but... this is why the issue of life after death matters to me, and, I contend, to everyone who thinks about the issue of defining a life.  Death might be the end, or it might not.  Two different cases which both need to be prepared for.  

What a person is isn't fully defined until their death when they can do no more good and no more harm. Until then, a life is an unfinished work. A life that goes on forever would be like a painting on an infinite canvas which can't be done until it is bounded by a frame.

But then, reality is under no obligation to conform to what you think is reasonable.  

I would assume that most atheists don't believe in ghosts by any name (souls, spirits).

Another appeal to authority.  

Anyway, my main point is that there is evidence of similar quality to the evidence you accept in support of an afterlife which supports flying saucers, chupacabra, bigfoot, pyramid power, the hollow earth, and other such nonsense.

I don't know much about those other issues, and I don't care, because they're separate, and not relevant.  

One last thing, I'm tired of people denying people the right to start drawing conclusions about things without being accused of being closed minded. I'm 65. When, if ever, can I start making decisions about what I believe and what I don't?

Do you think a matter like this can be "concluded" easily?  If you make a conclusion on it, then the argument is closed.  Closed-minded.  You.  

What you believe is up to you, and your own criteria of what constitutes evidence and probability of proof.  I don't believe 100% in life after death, but there's enough of a possibility there - still an open-ended question - to want to prepare for it.  

Anyone who decides what the answer to a question is before they've even investigated the evidence with an open mind, is closed-minded, and is not going to find anything they didn't want to find.  That's no way to do science.  

I respect the fact that you've answered me back. 

Comment by Unseen on May 8, 2012 at 5:16pm

#  The reason I don't believe in the bulk of alien abduction stories is because they are inconsistent, because if there were as many alien visits as people allege, then the skies around the Earth would be choked solid with alien spacecraft.  I believe it is plausible that a small minority of those stories may be true.

* So, you do believe that visits and abductions by flying saucers is plausible. I suppose you are just being consistent in that regard. How sure are you that, taken in the aggregate, stories about afterlife experiences are consistent? Not just a few for if you toss a thousand US coins in the air, mixed denominations, you're going to find a few head-up nickles. By ignoring all the other possibilities, though, you're missing the point that in the aggregate, it's chaos.

#  Your regrets argument comes pretty close to the argument some theists make that, "If God doesn't exist, then there's no justice in the universe. Bad people can do bad things unpunished and good people who've been wronged go unrewarded." But I hope even you can see what a lousy argument that is.

I don't really have a regrets argument.  It's just a thought-experiement.  To me it makes perfect sense, that if there was an afterlife, then we would be forced to regret all the crimes which we no longer had a chance to put right.  To me, the punishment by the conscience is the worst punishment of all, and one which we cannot escape.  This would be hell or heaven.  

* And if pigs had wings. And who is this punisher you're talking about? Sounds like God, to me! I think it's better to promote the idea that whatever you do, good or bad, you only have this one chance, defined by your death, to do it.

#  What is YOUR definition of life? That would be a good place to start.

In this case, I would define it as a certain consciousness and autonomy.  

* Well, that's not the definition of life most people would assume you would mean. Actual people lack consciousness and autonomy (comatose people for one example), and yet we don't consider them dead until their heart stops beating, their brain waves go flat for a period of time, etc.). It impedes communication to be using an idiosyncratic definition, especially when you wait until pressed on the matter to explain it.

#  As Alan Watts, a Buddhist, pointed out (along with Sartre, I might add), it is death which defines a life.

Appeals to authority.  What do you believe?  

* It seems reasonable to me. I'm not in the habit of dropping theories I don't believe without also denying them. At no time was I under any illusion that you'd change your mind because of something Watts or Sartre said.

#  Also, I think for life to have meaning, it has to be defined by death.

I think I agree with you somewhat on this point.  Not "defined" by it, but... this is why the issue of life after death matters to me, and, I contend, to everyone who thinks about the issue of defining a life.  Death might be the end, or it might not.  Two different cases which both need to be prepared for.  

* But I don't believe there can be an afterlife because spirits are nonsensical notions, and quite unnecessary ones to believe in.

#  What a person is isn't fully defined until their death when they can do no more good and no more harm. Until then, a life is an unfinished work. A life that goes on forever would be like a painting on an infinite canvas which can't be done until it is bounded by a frame.

But then, reality is under no obligation to conform to what you think is reasonable.

* And your mind seems under no obligation to conform to what is rational, provable, and most likely to be true.

#  I would assume that most atheists don't believe in ghosts by any name (souls, spirits).

* I don't treat atheists as authority. However, if it was fallacious, it was the bandwagon fallacy. You're obviously someone the bandwagon fallacy wouldn't work on, so it was not a fallacy in intent.

#  One last thing, I'm tired of people denying people the right to start drawing conclusions about things without being accused of being closed minded. I'm 65. When, if ever, can I start making decisions about what I believe and what I don't?

Do you think a matter like this can be "concluded" easily?  If you make a conclusion on it, then the argument is closed.  

* Yes, it's concluded easily. The "what" is there as it is in much of nonsense. Where it breaks down is in the "how." HOW do you think there might be an afterlife? There's delusion, hysteria, and even mass hysteria, but until one explains how something could be, you haven't really demonstrated much.

In no way does drawing a conclusion close one's mind. I've concluded that God doesn't exist, so I'm an atheist. However, a talking burning bush or some such could nudge me to reconsider.

Let me also point out that, if drawing a conclusion indicates a closed mind, then science would never have progressed. Science looks at facts (the what) but doesn't change its mind until it knows the how.

Furthermore, when you state that drawing a conclusion is to have a closed mind, do you make that statement in a state of open-mindedness, or have you drawn a conclusion?

Many people who want to believe in nonsense will roll out the old "You have a closed mind" argument when people point out that what they believe is almost totally lacking in any support that would pass even minimal scientific scrutiny.

That's all I've done here.

Comment by Simon Paynton on May 10, 2012 at 3:17pm

* So, you do believe that visits and abductions by flying saucers is plausible. I suppose you are just being consistent in that regard. How sure are you that, taken in the aggregate, stories about afterlife experiences are consistent? Not just a few for if you a thousand US coins in the air, mixed denominations, you're going to find a few head-up nickles. By ignoring all the other possibilities, though, you're missing the point that in the aggregate, it's chaos.

This is a very good point.  I find that stories about afterlife experiences fall into several well-defined categories, for example:
 
Sleep paralysis / half-asleep dreams
 
Cold-reading by fraudulent mediums
 
"Near-death" experiences
 
Utter nonsense spouted by people like Derek Acorah

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Derek_Acorah#Controversy
 
Psychics making unprompted, true predictions and possessing secret, specific, detailed information which could not be found through ordinary means
 
Alleged eye-witness accounts of seeing spirits
 
Alleged eye-witness accounts of conversing with spirits, and video or audio recordings of these conversations
 
Alleged eye-witness accounts of reality behaving in some crazy way, in conjunction with an alleged haunting.
 
 
Single cases are highly consistent within their categories, and each category as a whole is highly consistent with either: known truth and reality; or falsehood and rubbish; or an ordinary explanation.
 
 
 
 
who is this punisher you're talking about?
 
Our own consciences.
 
 
 
I think it's better to promote the idea that whatever you do, good or bad, you only have this one chance, defined by your death, to do it.

I think it's better to look for an accurate picture of reality, and since certainty on this matter is hard to come by, then to identify reasonable possibilities.
 
 
 
It impedes communication to be using an idiosyncratic definition, especially when you wait until pressed on the matter to explain it.

But then, if we're talking about life after death, it's obviously not the same kind of life that we're all used to, so if it exists, it has a different definition.
 
 
 
But I don't believe there can be an afterlife because spirits are nonsensical notions, and quite unnecessary ones to believe in
 
That's a circular argument, because it's a circular argument.
 
 
 
* And your mind seems under no obligation to conform to what is rational, provable, and most likely to be true.

That's just your opinion.  On what grounds do you say this?  I try my best to be rational.
 
 
 
The "what" is there as it is in much of nonsense. Where it breaks down is in the "how." HOW do you think there might be an afterlife? There's delusion, hysteria, and even mass hysteria, but until one explains how something could be, you haven't really demonstrated much.

This is the basic fallacy I keep talking about.  Why do you think that the only things which can exist, are those you can explain?  How does that connection work?  Why does reality have to ask you first whether you can understand it, before it is allowed to go ahead and exist?  This means that human minds control the universe, which I don't believe is true.
 
 
 
if drawing a conclusion indicates a closed mind, then science would never have progressed.
 
But science doesn't draw conclusions.  Only mathematics and logic can prove their theorems perfectly.  Real-life sciences always treat their theories as working models, not final answers.  Scientists expect that every answer just throws up a load of new questions.
 
 
 
when you state that drawing a conclusion is to have a closed mind, do you make that statement in a state of open-mindedness, or have you drawn a conclusion?

I think I was being forceful to prove a point.  But I do think that to draw a conclusion, to close a matter, is always a mistake.
 
If we claim to be seeking knowledge, then we can't simultaneously claim that we already know the answer to our question before we've started investigating.
 
 
 
Many people who want to believe in nonsense will roll out the old "You have a closed mind" argument when people point out that what they believe is almost totally lacking in any support that would pass even minimal scientific scrutiny.

One person's nonsense is another person's free enquiry.

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