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Thread: An afterlife?

  1. #1
    Dr.Awkward Robcore's Avatar
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    An afterlife?

    Came across this story on my facebook wall:
    In a mother’s womb were two babies. One asked the other: “Do you believe in life after delivery?” The other replied, “Why, of course. There has to be something after delivery. Maybe we are here to prepare ourselves for what we will be later.”
    “Nonsense” said the first. “There is no life after delivery. What kind of life would that be?”

    The second said, “I don’t know, but there will be more light than here. Maybe we will walk with our legs and eat from our mouths. Maybe we will have other senses that we can’t understand now.”

    The first replied, “That is absurd. Walking is impossible. And eating with our mouths? Ridiculous! The umbilical cord supplies nutrition and everything we need. But the umbilical cord is so short. Life after delivery is to be logically excluded.”

    The second insisted, “Well I think there is something and maybe it’s different than it is here. Maybe we won’t need this physical cord anymore.”

    The first replied, “Nonsense. And moreover if there is life, then why has no one has ever come back from there? Delivery is the end of life, and in the after-delivery there is nothing but darkness and silence and oblivion. It takes us nowhere.”

    “Well, I don’t know,” said the second, “but certainly we will meet Mother and she will take care of us.”

    The first replied “Mother? You actually believe in Mother? That’s laughable. If Mother exists then where is She now?”

    The second said, “She is all around us. We are surrounded by Her. We are of Her. It is in Her that we live. Without Her this world would not and could not exist.”

    Said the first: “Well I don’t see Her, so it is only logical that She doesn’t exist.”

    To which the second replied, “Sometimes, when you’re in silence and you focus and you really listen, you can perceive Her presence, and you can hear Her loving voice, calling down from above.” - Útmutató a Léleknek
    The story speaks to me for a few reasons...firstly because it's kind of clever...secondly, because I've found aspects of the metaphor to be applicable to pretty much all of my life, and even the lives of others (basically, emerging from bubbles of perception(or having them burst for us by facts or whatever), and how that recontextualizes things in a profound way which illuminates how naive we were before).

    That being said, while I do believe in God(provisionally, based on subjective experiences that I cannot 'prove'), I'm not attached to the idea of an afterlife at all...I mean, it's not like it could possibly be disappointing if there were none.

    ...if there is one, I can fathom it as a realm of consciousness, not of physicality...but really, I'm sure that it's beyond imagination if it even is the case(just as most profound realizations cannot be imagined prior to their occurrence, lol).


    Any thoughts on the subject are welcome, but if folks need a further prompt for a response, here are some questions:

    []If you're an atheist, does the metaphor in the story nevertheless bear some significance for you?
    []Do you believe in an afterlife? If so, describe it.
    []If you do not believe in an afterlife, does your mind grasp at the possibility(as mine does when I imagine) of having a moment, when you do die, where you could somehow be aware and know that there wasn't an afterlife? I find it endlessly frustrating, and comical, that my mind has this urge to know what it'd be like to be dead if there was no afterlife.
    []Reincarnation...or progressive incarnations until one's ______(soul?) transcends the duality of being and non-being?

  2. #2
    a cantori Perdix's Avatar
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    1) yes
    2) yes, similar to DMT and other psychedelics
    3) Maybe, I've been "brought back" after hitting a tree skiing going 70mph, and the only thing I felt was raw adrenaline and psychedelicness
    4) Nope, well maybe, but I highly doubt it.

  3. #3
    dormant jigglypuff's Avatar
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    1. no.
    2. there's life after death, but not for "me." so when people talk of an "afterlife" meaning a way for their individual "soul" to live on, i think it's silly that they're hanging on so tightly to themselves.
    3. i don't believe in the conventional idea of an "afterlife" but i'm sure if my death ends up being long and drawn out i'll have the opportunity to think of all sorts of things out of vanity mostly.
    4. maybe, in some sort of life force/energy. possibly, whatever it is, it gets recycled somehow. then there are the questions of how this life force multiplies itself, whether the amount floating around in the world just stays the same, etc. pretty fluffy.

  4. #4
    Sysop Ptah's Avatar
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    No.

  5. #5
    a cantori Perdix's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ptah View Post
    No.
    Well fuck, do you just not entertain the possibility of anything? You have the opportunity to choose from an infinite amount of options.

  6. #6
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    Only entropy. You know, dust to dust.

    OTOH, how many people know anything about thermodynamics? (Or, cell phone modulation protocols, or...?) There isn't enough energy or information to put humpty dumpty back together again after he and you kick the bucket.

  7. #7
    Dr.Awkward Robcore's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Thevenin View Post
    Only entropy. You know, dust to dust.

    OTOH, how many people know anything about thermodynamics? (Or, cell phone modulation protocols, or...?) There isn't enough energy or information to put humpty dumpty back together again after he and you kick the bucket.
    We're getting closer:
    http://www.iflscience.com/chemistry/...oil-egg-whites

    Also
    Quote Originally Posted by someofyou
    answers(paraphrased)
    For the record, those were prompts for discussion, not test questions. Please qualify your answers with explanations, or with questions that further the discussion, thank-you.

  8. #8
    Tawaci ki a Gnaska ki Osito Polar's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Robcore View Post
    []If you're an atheist, does the metaphor in the story nevertheless bear some significance for you?
    Well, sort of. It's a flawed metaphor for atheism, likely written by someone who hasn't made an effort to portray it realistically. An accurate metaphor would be one where one kid said "Outside of the womb, we'll get nuclear-fusion fueled jetskis and live on a planet made entirely of water!" and the atheist kid says "Dude, we have NO IDEA what's out there. Just wait and see before you start making plans for what you're gonna do on your jetski, ok?"


    []Do you believe in an afterlife? If so, describe it.
    Yes. In it, I've been cremated and I live in a jar on the fireplace mantel of an ungrateful descendant.

    Other than that, I would not care to place a bet on any particular outcome. Hell? Valhalla? Heaven? R'lyeh? Styx? I'd go with Pascal's wager here, but all of the endless possibilities seem about as likely as the others. I guess I could pick one that rewards believers upon their death and go with that but honestly it doesn't seem likely enough to matter.

    []If you do not believe in an afterlife, does your mind grasp at the possibility(as mine does when I imagine) of having a moment, when you do die, where you could somehow be aware and know that there wasn't an afterlife? I find it endlessly frustrating, and comical, that my mind has this urge to know what it'd be like to be dead if there was no afterlife.
    Oh, yeah. Of course. My brain has gone through the "we're wrapping this whole YOU thing up now" routine in dreams and visions. It's one of the things that gives you perspective on your life.

    []Reincarnation...or progressive incarnations until one's ______(soul?) transcends the duality of being and non-being?
    I very highly doubt that, but admit it's possible if unlikely, at least in the form that most people frame this idea. Reincarnation supporters sometimes point to the fact that matter is neither created nor destroyed. We're mostly water and it's a substance that moves around our planet in a cycle of existence. So you could say "There's currently a molecule of water in YOU that was once a part of Benjamin Franklin!" Well ... okay. but would that make you or me feel any kind of real kinship or connection to him? Not a significant one, in my opinion.
    "I don't have psychological problems." --Madrigal

    "When you write about shooting Polemarch in the head, that's more like a first-person view, like you're there looking down the sight of the gun." --Utisz

    David Wong, regarding Chicago
    Six centuries ago, the pre-Colombian natives who settled here named this region with a word which in their language means "the Mouth of Shadow". Later, the Iroquois who showed up and inexplicably slaughtered every man, woman and child renamed it "Seriously, Fuck that Place". When French explorer Jacques Marquette passed through the area he marked his map with a drawing of a brownish blob emerging from between the Devil's buttocks.

  9. #9
    Member HilbertSpace's Avatar
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    To be perfectly honest, I think it's embarrassingly maudlin. One could just as easily have an imaginary conversation where the fetuses are speculating about the nature of Mother, and why the majority of fertilizations result in spontaneous miscarriages. To me, it holds all of the significance of a Hallmark card.

    I think it's *functionally* nice if it makes people feel better about themselves or their situation. At the same time, I think that the observation one has to take from it - "Just because you don't understand it doesn't mean it's not real" - is trivial. As a counter-argument to an atheistic worldview, it's a bit of a straw man.

    Like Sam Clemens, I think the after-life is going to be identical to the before-life. I don't think there's a self that persists even through a lifetime, much less before or after. I think that individuals exist in a multi-scale, variously integrated continuum that is always in flux under self-reinforcing and self-dampening processes.

  10. #10
    Amen P-O's Avatar
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    That argument also supports the brain in a vat/matrix hypothesis. Are these likely? I think not.

    But look: If there's something outside this universe controlling the brain, that fact is measurable by studying the brain itself. If there's an external stimulus it will violate one of the conservation laws that govern our universe. I don't think anyone seriously expects to find such a violation in this day and age. It COULD be proved in principle.

    Conversely, if the physical conservation laws are not violated by the brain's function, there's no room for a soul and therefore there's no room for an afterlife.

    The baby analogy doesn't account for the fact that we know things about the world we live in. Death is an understood phenomenon rather than a mysterious disappearance of people through a birth canal.


    I think an afterlife is a nice idea to indulge in...but it seems seriously unlikely as a matter of fact.
    Violence is never the right answer, unless used against heathens and monsters.

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