This is what draws us to religion. That we can escape death while wasting our life on earth in trivial pursuits. Even psychopaths believe that a lifetime of spreading mayhem and death will end in an afterlife, even if only in Hell.
The belief in afterlife is the most destructive idea conceivable. Every moment of life is a moment gone forever.
The only way to attain “immortality” is to be a part of all life, which is about learning how to help others. Instead of listening to our hearts, we listen to religious, philosophical and political noises, which are only the death ritual. If we could see through the afterlife fantasy, we would all be better persons while still alive on earth. But instead we destroy each other and ourselves in a frantic quest for false labels and unprovable doctrines that have nothing to do with life and everything with death.
Make every moment in your life count, no matter how minor. The clock is ticking.
I agree, OP.
How many religions have hit upon the everlasting life hook to gain members? Do they all have some form of it?
Are there any religions that don't have this feature?
People join religions to network with people they think will help them. Usually, they are wrong.
They pretend to believe all that crap, but nobody over the age of 20 actually does.
How do you know what "draws us" to religion? Religion seems to have evolved seamlessly with the entire human race, like art and music. I don't think you should dismiss it so glibly.
Maybe the dominant religions in East and West are bad (I would agree), but I doubt it has anything to do with belief in an afterlife.
The Ancient(Pre-dynastic)Egyptians were said to be the most religious people on earth, and they were also said to be the happiest and healthiest. Some of the Native American cultures were also peaceful and happy folks and they believed in an afterlife.
Not everyone interprets an afterlife the same way. If you believe that this life and the afterlife are two sides of the same coin, you may not have the kind of conflicts you describe in your OP.
Hmm. If there's no afterlife (as you define it), then why did Steve Jobs say "Oh wow. Oh wow. Oh wow." upon dying? What was he experiencing?
I know a nurse who's been present with many deaths. He always sees when a person dies, a humanoid bust (with everything below the bust sorta fading out) exit the person, going up and to the right. Unfailingly, with each death he's seen. So, what is going? Where is it going? Why is it going?
I can't claim to know what happens or what IS after this life, but there's something.
I agree we should make the most of what we have.
My grandpa was quasi conscious for days just moaning and groaning, when he actually spoke he said "Oh Jimmie's come to meet me", then died. Jimmie was his son who died ten years earlier.
Zen Buddhism does not support the belief in an afterlife if the Dali Lama is to be believed.
You mean there won't be pie in the sky when we die?
I want coconut cream pie forever R7. And cars and houses made from candy and rivers of root beer.
I have absolutely no interest in an afterlife.
R4 wtf is a humanoid bust? I'm freaked out.
r6, the Dali Lama is into female pedophilia like his adversary, Mao. Great minds think alike! Western leaders like Mountbattens and the Bushes tend to be into young boys.
Though a lot of attention is focused on the Catholic Church regarding pedophilia, pedophilia is an universal feature in ALL religions. I personally would ban male teachers before the 9th grade in both religious and public schools.
Moving on to older victims, sexual abuse of adults is also a common problem among clerics. Basically, religion along with psychiatry, is really about sex. These professions are a magnet for psychopaths seek to gratify themselves at the expense of others.
Want to sexually abuse others? Don't become a Hollywood producer, become the local minister!
Near-Death Experiences Explained by Science
Charles Q. Choi, Scientific American September 12, 2011
Approximately 3 percent of the U.S. population says they have had a near-death experience, according to a Gallup poll. Near-death experiences are reported across cultures, with written records of them dating back to ancient Greece. Not all of these experiences actually coincide with brushes with death—one study of 58 patients who recounted near-death experiences found 30 were not actually in danger of dying, although most of them thought they were.
Recently, a host of studies has revealed potential underpinnings for all the elements of such experiences. "Many of the phenomena associated with near-death experiences can be biologically explained," says neuroscientist Dean Mobbs, at the University of Cambridge's Medical Research Council Cognition and Brain Sciences Unit.
For instance, the feeling of being dead is not limited to near-death experiences—patients with Cotard or "walking corpse" syndrome hold the delusional belief that they are deceased. This disorder has occurred following trauma, such as during advanced stages of typhoid and multiple sclerosis, and has been linked with brain regions such as the parietal cortex and the prefrontal cortex—"the parietal cortex is typically involved in attentional processes, and the prefrontal cortex is involved in delusions observed in psychiatric conditions such as schizophrenia," Mobbs explains.
A variety of explanations might also account for reports by those dying of meeting the deceased. Parkinson's disease patients, for example, have reported visions of ghosts, even monsters. The explanation? Parkinson's involves abnormal functioning of dopamine, a neurotransmitter that can evoke hallucinations.
Link to complete article below.
The thing I don't get about the afterlife is doesn't it become insanely boring? Even Hell is something you would get used to. If the fire doesn't kill you, it's more boring than painful. I just don't get it.
[quote]Zen Buddhism does not support the belief in an afterlife if the Dali Lama is to be believed.
His Holiness the Dalai Lama has nothing to do with Zen Buddhism. He is a Tibetan Buddhist.
My bad r15.
R12 you're saying the dali lama is into little girls? Based on what information?
A coconut cream pie told me, r16. And it's a young, female British one, too. But Sir Jim'll Fix It Alright!
Do stray cats and dogs finally find a home in heaven?
R11, he had a hard time describing it to me. I had to ask a lot of questions. What comes out of a person just as they die looks sorta like the person, but sorta not. It resembles a head and the top of the torso, and progressively fades out below that. It's a little transparent, not thick and solid like you and I. That's the humanoid bust he sees. Always a little up and then veers to the dead person's right somewhat before he stops seeing it. He knows they've died, or left, when that happens.
I know that when my mom died, I was not freaked out at all being alone with her body. It was so serene. That was NOT my mother but just the shell she had been in. It wasn't scary or creepy or even sad. I removed her jewelry and smoothed her hair. But the shell was just that, a vehicle that she had been in. I don't know exactly where she went but she was not there in that body, that's for sure. That body she left behind was just a "thing," at that point. Which, somehow, oddly I suppose, gave me great comfort.
The mind can do many things. People who have near death experiences or actually ARE near death, have hallucinations due to the onset of the brain shutting down. They have similar visions; they see a white light, or hear the voice of a dead loved one beckoning them, things like that. They're illusions, a trick of the mind. There is no after life. But it's such a pleasant fantasy to think that you don't REALLY die that many people believe in it.
Sometimes you'll hear someone say they're not afraid of death because then they'll able to see their lost loved ones again. And I think: no, you won't. You'll be in the same STATE they're in, that is, a state of nonexistence. But you will never SEE them or speak to them or be with them again. That's the reality. But most people absolutely do not want to accept that.
[quote]If there's no afterlife (as you define it), then why did Steve Jobs say "Oh wow. Oh wow. Oh wow." upon dying? What was he experiencing?
I say the same thing when I'm orgasming. Doesn't mean I'm experiencing an afterlife. He was obviously still alive as he was saying it, right?
R18, haven't you heard of the Rainbow Bridge?
The buddha didn't answer questions about afterlife, why we exist, etc. He didn't consider such questions useful, or rather, skillful. A truer genius never was.
R19, it sounds to me as if your friend is describing the appearance of early stage pod people in "The Invasion Of The Body Snatchers" (1956 version).
Thanks, r25 -- I think that same visual device was also used in animated cartoons like "Casper, The Friendly Ghost," "Looney Tunes," the Disney 'toons, etc.
I have seen that "spirit rising from the deceased with the bottom half 'wisping' as it ascends" device used numerous times.
I'm guess OP TiVos Real Time with Bill Maher and has all the Family Guy box-sets.
[quote]The only way to attain “immortality” is to be a part of all life, which is about learning how to help others.
No, the only way to attain "immortality" is to have lots of offspring.
Maybe *something* exists after our life here...and it's perfectly scientifically understandable, but science just isn't there yet.
Maybe what's there, isn't exactly what any one of the human-made religions says is there. Maybe it's not reward/punishment in some childish sense like alot of religious people think.
There is a school of thought that says there are multiple lives, and that our lives are lessons we're supposed to be learning. I get what you mean about certain afterlife philosophies leading people to waste time, not live, not try to change the world, or be selfish...but if you take a different sort of afterlife theory, that problem wouldn't arise, because wasting time, or being selfish isn't 'doing your work' or 'learning your lessons'.
Even suicide won't work. It's like trying to get out of homework at school, by tearing up the assignment, only to get to class and have your teacher hand you a new fresh copy, and give you an extra day to do it.
The posts about special media effects remind one of how stage magic was used by Helena Blavatsky and others during seances in the 19th century. Blavatsky showed up in the US after the Civil War, where millions of women---mothers, widows and daughters---wished to communicate with their sons, husbands and fathers. After WW1, the same seance craze repeated itself in the US and Europe.
With modern technology, the opportunities to make the credulous believe in the spirit world is almost without limit.
r21, yes you found me out. I'm one of the Elders of Zion, spreading propaganda about the wonders of Judaism. I couldn't help it. But as another poster said about you on another of your race-baiting threads, you are a "sad sack."
It's incredibly arrogant of you, OP, to decide for us that it's a foregone conclusion that when we die there is no other level of consciousness. You don't know. Nobody does. No living person ever will. Therefore, shut the fuck up.
r21, there's an excellent history by Rene Guenon, "Theosophy: History of a Pseudo-Religion." This cult was started by Helena Hahn, who married an elderly Russian general as a teenager, then ran away to London, where she haunted the library at the British Museum. There she concocted a syncretism of all the religions of the world.
She invented the modern interpretation of "karma," which in Brahma metaphysics has an entirely different meaning. In the original, ancient Hindu doctrines, there is no reincarnation. You are a multi-being spread over an infinity of of multi-universes. In these universes, you only appear once, then pass out. And this activity goes on forever. This is the true Hindu conception of immortality.
But it's all an unprovable sci-fi fantasy. You could waste your life studying this nonsense. I have a library full of this stuff, but you're always back at square one.
You're better off playing video games, watching movies and listening to music.
If you want to see God, try pot.
Thanks op, I knew some swinging dick had the answer to the question.
I don't think it's so much a matter of believing in an afterlife as it is being unable to fully comprehend the idea of nonexistence. Let's face it, it's enough to scare the crap out of anyone. I can vividly recall when, at the age of five, I first came to the realization that when we die it's for ever. Mentally exploring the concept of eternity and my place in it is something I've learned not to think about too much because doing so is enough to bring on a panic attack. I've learned to cope with my existential fear by reminding myself that there isn't a damned thing I can do about what's in store for me after I die it's going to be no matter what. The only plan of action that's left to me is that I direct my efforts toward making the best of the life I have now.
The one thing I'm sure of, though, is that after death, we return to the state we were in before we were born.
r35 = a sane human being
Why can't be all do the same? Thanks for your post, r35.
What's so scary about not existing? You've already done it for billions of years, and you'll soon do it for billions more. I personally can't wait.
We may not even exist to begin with. We may be living inside a giant computer simulation.
I struggle just to get through the day. I can't be bothered by thoughts of an afterlife. You can't figure it out, you'll find out eventually like we all do. I guess that's a little buddhist... being mindful of the present moment.
Whether or not there's an afterlife is only dangerous if you care one way or another. If it doesn't matter, there's no power in the idea.
I also don't believe in afterlife, although I think that if it existed, it would be something very different from anything that humans imagined in their religions and mythologies. Sometimes I fear death though, because I can't imagine not existing at all, it's so completely abstract to me, yet I know there is no better explanation of death than complete nothingness.
Except for the "I personally can't wait"
what r37 said.
I can wait another three decades or so, assuming that I'm still enjoying quality to my physical and mental/emotional life.
Face it. Banal as it is, about nine or so months before you were born your biological parents had sex, you were born, physical and mental consciousness ensued and here you are just like 6 billion or so others.
After the Tilt-A-Whirl stops, it's over. and back you go.
That's astounding enough for me. I don't need the afterlife stuff.
I'm an atheist. I also believe in life after death. The two aren't mutually exclusive. I don't need to believe in a god in order to believe in life BEFORE death, so why would I need to believe in one in order to believe in life after death?
I'm with you, R43. But I accept that my belief alone is not proof of anything.
After life is the sweet nectar of cum.
How can anyone know the unknown with such certainty? OP and religious people alike.
We have a distorted view of ancient religions, due to modern academic and popular interpretations. This includes other cultures ideas of afterlife.
The Hollywood idea of the entire ego and physical facsimile, intact with its memories, surviving death is strictly a Western one connected to the Egyptian, Greek, Celtic, Germanic and Abrahamic religions. l
The Central and East Asian religions often believe in metempsychosis---that fragments of memory could pass on to the living, often within the same family. This idea was reinterpreted by Helena Blavatsky in the 19th century as the entire ego, hence the modern conception of "reincarnation."
One controversial issue is the influence of Christianity on Central and East Asian religions. One good author to read on this for those unlucky few that care about the completely unimportant is Rene Guenon.
Since the colonization of the non-Western world, the religions in these places have been influenced heavily by Western ideas, especially Christianity. Much of what passes for "Hinduism" and "Buddhism" nowadays are actually Christian syncretisms. The Theosophical movement and modern interpreters of the Vedanta have contributed to these changes. What's called Zen currently is now little more than a Protestant-like philosophy.
So whether or not you choose to believe in the survival of the entire ego/soul/physical facsimile, keep in mind this is a Western conception, even if it's in an non-Western guise.
We believe in an "afterlife" because the fear of eternal oblivion is just too scary for people. It's normal to fear it.
The point is that this makes us highly manipulable.
op your horns are showing in 47
r49, I guess you're one of the unlucky few that cares about the completely unimportant.
Is OP Ricky Gervais?
Just keep it simple....we are matter and energy. The material dies, but our energy is eternal.
We are far more than this tiny speck of lifespan on Earth.
To me the most dangerous ikea is the one in Madrid, a lot of seedy looking guys wait by the exit door
How does one explain population increases?
More eternal beings created out of … ?
When you are running Word on your computer, it is created by electricity within the machine. When you turn off the machine, your instance of Word that you had running doesn't join the universe or travel down a dark tunnel to a bright light. It just dissipates and ceases to exist. The electricity in your brain that creates what you experience as consciousness is like Word on your computer. Someday you will 'shut down'. Unless there is tech by then to 'save your data' then all data that is 'you' will be completely lost. C'est la vie.
I feel like r35 and r55 have the closest thing to the "correct" answer.
And like r35, I used to make myself crazy as a child thinking about exactly how long "forever" is.
Eternal existence holds no appeal to me.
if its sooo fucking unimportant to you why did you waste time and money to spread your gospel
r57, Good to have a repeat customer!
Gore Vidal on the elderly Dos Passos' attack on James Dean and the youth of 1950s:
"I concede that there is some truth in everything Dos Passos says. But his spirit strikes me as sour and mean and, finally, uncomprehending. To be harsh, he has mistaken the decline of his own flesh and talent for the world’s decline. This is the old man’s folly which a good artist or a generous man tries to avoid.
Few of us can resist celebrating our own great days or finding fault in those who do not see in us now what we were or what might have been. Nor is it unnatural when contemplating extinction to want in sudden solipsistic moments to take the light with one.
But it is a sign of virtue to recognize one’s own pettiness and to surrender vanity not only to the death which means to take it anyway, but with deliberate grace as exemplar to those younger upon whom our race’s fragile continuity, which is all there is, depends.
I should have thought that that was why one wrote, to make something useful for the survivors, to say: I was and now you are and I leave you as good a map as I could make of my own traveling."
Afterlife is not what draws people to religion. What draws people to religion is a desire to control things in this life.
r60, spoken like a true Protestant!
On the contrary, all religious idiots are in it for the networking benefits.
r62, I'm not disagreeing with you. Since the Reformation in Europe---and European and US colonization around the globe---the influence of Protestantism has greatly changed the religious outlook of non-Protestant religions. Even Buddhists and Muslims are doing (S)Amway! Eastern religions have learned much from Western religious organizations in terms of marketing and paying membership. Reducing complex religious doctrine to Modonna-like pop simplicity, as well as networking, is part of this evolution (or devolution).
In terms of ALL networking, it's still family, ethnic group, old boy/girl network and the like. Religion would just be one of them.
Still, most people on this planet are born into a religion and are into religion for reasons other than networking. When these people are young, they don't really have a choice. As they mature and learn more about the world, the wisest see through the deception.
Somehow matter resonated at some ultimate level we don't know how deep to create articulate, self-reflexive mind pondering its origins.
If it's at a very deep level, who could say that the record of the materialization of a pattern or an idea or a god does not persist in the multiverse.
Maybe those patterns need a receptacle for the preservation of individual consciousness and memory, or maybe they become part of the shape of subatomic matter itself, but I like to believe the record persists in some form.
Or what's a universe for?
From Yahoo Answers:
"The purpose of the universe, as far as modern science can discern, is to enable philosophy students (and even lowly theology "students") with a passing interest in elective science courses to achieve a decent GPA or to develop talking points to promote their personal agendae."
That is a "Protestant" answer. But a "Catholic" answer I think is what r64 is asking. This is what Western philosophers call "teleology" (final cause/purpose).
I don't deal with final purposes unless it has to do with the living. Ultimate purposes concerning the universe are always circular in argument. A teleologically-minded professor (or Jesuit) would have an answer, though I would have to disagree with them.
Happenstance and make the best of it is what we have to deal with at this level, R65, but we are a manifestation of the physical universe, and I don't see any other parts of it looking around and asking, "Huh?"
If the universe didn't have a purpose before, it does now, in the shape of our questions.
The matter that makes up me will carry on when I die, the structure of it will not. You could collect the exact amount of the matter and energy that makes up me, but it would not be me without the structure, so when I die, there is no me, just my 'ingredients' that become separated and parts of new structures/ formations.
I don't find the grand idea of random molecules bumping into each other, temporarily bonding, and then dissipating again very intellectually satisfying, but whatever gets you through the night, R67.
I think the afterlife is like the last time I had anesthesia. I felt woozy and then nothing. That's it. Nothing.
Oh for fuck's sake.
Is this "Datalounge, the Freshman Dorm Night" or something even more stupid?
[quote]I don't find the grand idea of random molecules bumping into each other, temporarily bonding, and then dissipating again very intellectually satisfying
Billions would disagree
The newest new age religion postulates that the universe is a kind of quantum computer. Just like a quantum computer takes advantage of a particle's ability to be in two places at the same time, somehow the universe exists in such a way that all matter and energy is somehow omnipresent. They extend this to knowledge, kind of like the myth of the Akashic record, that there's this... energy field? of all knowledge past, present, and future that anyone can tap into. When you die, they say that there won't be a 'you' but that everything that was you will be incorporated into this universal consciousness. Your thoughts, feelings, dreams, etc. And they've incorporated in a lot of the teachings of the old world religions (Abrahamic, Eastern, etc.) about what you need to do to live a good life. I think their idea is that if you live a good life, more of you will be retained, whereas if you lived a negative life more of you will be rejected from being incorporated into the universal consciousness. It seems like it's just an attempt to modernize a lot of religious concepts outside of their origin texts which have outdated references to stoning your wives and stuff.
R75, if you're absorbed into the vast energy field, or whatever, with all your memories and individuality lost, how is that any different than just rotting in the ground?
There's no "you" in either case.
[bold]September 21, 2013
James A. Haught: Clock is ticking on my life
By James A. Haught[/bold]
CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- West Virginia has a surplus of seniors -- including me. Statistics rank our state with either America's oldest or second-oldest population.
I still work, long past retirement age, mostly because I enjoy the sense of purpose and the daily challenge of analyzing tangled public issues.
But I know that my aging timetable is ticking away, week after week, month after month, and cannot be reversed. I think all of us in our over-the-hill cohort should view our status wisely with matter-of-fact acceptance.
Here's a column I wrote on the topic in the latest Free Inquiry magazine:
I'm quite aware that my turn is approaching. The realization hovers in my mind like a frequent companion.
My wife died several years ago. Dozens, hundreds, of my longtime friends and colleagues likewise came to the end of their journeys. They number so many that I keep a "Gone" list in my computer to help me remember them all. Before long, it will be my turn to join the list.
I'm 81 and still work full-time. I feel keen and eager for life. My hair's still dark (mostly). I have a passel of children, grandchildren and rambunctious great-grandchildren. I love sailing my beloved dingy on small Lake Chaweva, and hiking in shady forests with my three-legged dog, and taking a gifted grandson to symphony, and seeking wisdom in our long-running Unitarian philosophy-and-science circle. I now live with an adorable woman in her 70s, and we relish our togetherness. But her health is fragile. Her turn is on the horizon too.
I have no dread. Why worry about the inescapable, the utterly unavoidable, the sure destiny of today's seven billion? However, sometimes I feel annoyed because I will have no choice. I'm accustomed to choosing whatever course I want -- but I won't get to decide whether to take my final step. Damn!
I have no supernatural beliefs. I don't expect to wake up in Paradise or Hades, surrounded by angels or demons. That's fairy-tale stuff. I think my personality, my identity -- me -- is created by my brain, and when the brain dies, so does the psyche. Gone forever into oblivion.
I'll admit that some reports of "near-death experiences" raise tantalizing speculation about a hereafter. But, in the end, I assume those blinding lights and out-of-body flotations are just final glimmers from oxygen deprivation. I guess I'll find out soon enough.
It takes courage to look death in the eye and feel ready. Sobeit. Bring it on. I won't flinch. Do your damnedest. I'll never whimper. However, maybe this is bluster and bravado, an attempt to feel strong in the face of what will happen regardless of how I react.
Unlike Dylan Thomas, I won't rage, rage against the dying of the light. Instead, I plan to live as intensely as I can, while I can, and then accept the inevitable. I find solace in wisdom I've heard from other departees. Just before she died of ovarian cancer, one of my longtime friends, Marty Wilson, wife of a former South Charleston Carbide researcher, wrote:
"I often think of humankind as a long procession whose beginning and end are out of sight. We the living ... have no control over when or where we enter the procession, or even how long we are part of it, but we do get to choose our marching companions. And we can all exercise some control over what direction the procession takes, what part we play, and how we play it."
In The Fire Next Time, brilliant writer James Baldwin said:
"Life is tragic simply because the earth turns and the sun inexorably rises and sets, and one day, for each of us, the sun will go down for the last, last time. Perhaps the root of our trouble, the human trouble, is that we will sacrifice all the beauty of our lives, will imprison ourselves in totems, taboos, crosses, blood sacrifices, steeples, mosques, races, armies, flags, nations, in order to deny the fact of death, which is the only fact we have."
Legendary lawyer Clarence Darrow, wrote:
"When we fully understand the brevity of life, its fleeting joys and unavoidable pains; when we accept the fact that all men and women are approaching an inevitable doom; the consciousness of it should make us more kindly and considerate of each other. This feeling should make men and women use their best efforts to help their fellow travelers on the road, to make the path brighter and easier ... for the wayfarers who must live a common life and die a common death."
My journey on the road has been proceeding for eight decades. Actuarial tables make my future so obvious that I can't shut my eyes to it. Life proceeds through stages, and I'm in the last scene of the last act.
I have a Pantheon of my favorite heroes: Einstein, Jefferson, Voltaire, Lincoln, Carl Sagan, Shakespeare, Martin Luther King Jr., Tolstoy, FDR, Beethoven, Epicurus, Gandhi, etc. They fill a different "Gone" list. They uplifted humanity, even transformed humanity, in their day -- but their day ended, and life moved on.
My day was the 1960s, and '70s, and '80s, even the '90s. I was a Whirling Dervish in the thick of everything. Life was a fascinating carnival. But it slides into the past so deftly you hardly notice.
While my clock ticks away, I'll pursue every minute. Carpe diem. Make hay while the sun shines. And then I'm ready for nature's blackout, with no regrets.
The most dangerous idea is your right everyone who disagrees with you is wrong and stupid and they need to toe your line.
My step-dad saw and talked to his mom just before he passed away. He was 93, she had been dead for many many many years. How do you explain that? Whle you're at it OP how do you explain Theresa Caputo, the Long Island medium. She's made a believer out of lots of skeptics.
r80, regarding your dad, see the link at r13.
Theresa is an actress who does "cold readings," which anyone can do. All reality shows are scripted as attested by the DL posters who work for them.
See link below for more on Theresa.