a poll on death and religion

what do you think happend when you die

  • when you die that it , nothing more

    Votes: 12 42.9%
  • when you die you have a spirt that carrys on thoughout time

    Votes: 5 17.9%
  • are your religious and there an after life where you can go to. in heaven

    Votes: 6 21.4%
  • if your religious do you beleve in serching a perfict life so you can be with a spreem beeing ie god

    Votes: 1 3.6%
  • are somthing else

    Votes: 1 3.6%
  • Last are you afraid of death "yes"

    Votes: 4 14.3%
  • Last are you afraid of death "No

    Votes: 20 71.4%

  • Total voters
    28

DannyBBaby

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I was just wondering what people think of death.
the reason I ask some people are afraid of death. and I was wondering if you are.
for me death is just a door way and we must all walk though is. so no I'm not
 

mickdl

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I think the much more relevant question is what you do while alive. My experiance is, that those who fear the death often also fear the live too. It my help to believe into something but I think the most radical and motivating insight is to recognize that there‘s most likely nothing that comes afterwards. Threre“s no trick and no double floor for living as some belivers may think... ;-). What’s left are the fading echos from the things you did while you was alive.
 

chamberpot

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Death is nothing to fear , live your life , live it well, do onto others as you would that they would do unto you.. a good life with good deeds goes on for eternity after you have left this world
 

dogboy

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I've seen a real genuine ghost so I guess life in some form goes on but I sure don't want to be some asshole ghost. I would be the first to admit I know almost nothing about everything.....sigh.
 

Schwanensee

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I lost my father early in life, and grew up with people telling me that he was watching me from the clouds...so at some level that is what I imagine the afterlife to be, just chilling on clouds and seeing what happens down there. Of course it's a childish notion, but why not? No one knows any better, anyway. And I like the idea that he would look at me and be proud of what I am doing with my life, see how I am sort of following his footsteps. And of course that would mean that when I die, I will get to see him again.

...and here is where I made myself cry by remembering a dream that I had recently and that only now came back to my memory: I had been hired on a boat (he worked on a boat for a while as a young man, probably where my subconscious got the idea) and he was there, as well. Not like he had never been gone, but like he had been stuck on that boat for the last 13 years. I woke up before any real conversation could happen, but I remember feeling so happy to get a chance to talk to him again, to hug him, to tell him about my life. I am...not in the greatest place mentally at the moment, maybe that was him visiting me in dreams to tell me I'm not alone? Or maybe it's just my subconscious dragging up my childhood trauma since my mind is all upside down. Who knows.

Anyway, I am not afraid of death. I am scared, however, that my death would cause my loved ones pain. I am scared of not getting a chance to say goodbye, especially now that I am half a world away from home - how long would it take for them to notice if anything happened to me? Who would contact them? Who here even knows how to get a message to my family? My mother never wanted me to leave, would she blame herself for letting me go?
I am also scared of losing more people. The fact that it is inevitable sometimes keeps me up at night, and when I was living at home I would sneak into my mother's room just to listen to her breathe. Thoughts of a pretty afterlife don't help much then, and I wish I had enough faith to pray for my loved one's well being and have that reassure me enough to sleep.

Apologies for taking this a bit off topic, it is late over here any my thoughts are turning rather morose
 

RadioactiveSquirrel

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I think this is it - one and done. I hope I’m wrong, but that’s the conclusion I’ve arrived at.

Do I fear death? Not really. In my mind, once I’m gone, I’ll cease to exist, so there’s - quite literally - ‘nothing’ for me to be afraid of!

That being said, I’m not afraid of death, but I am afraid of dying. I hope when my time comes that it’s quick and painless, and not the opposite.
 

Teddy02

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Woody Allen said “I’m not afraid of dying, I just don’t want to be there when it happens”! There is not much point in being afraid of something that is inevitable, apprehensive, possibly but most of you are young and death is a long way away. I am now 70 and have had a very good friend die at 65 and it hurt, I have two more friends who are ‘on the way out’ about my age, so it does make you think ‘when is my time up?’ Enjoy each day, make it creative, put love and energy into everything, i think that is the essence of a good life.
My spirit will continue for rebirth until I reach ‘nirvana’, is what I have been taught will happen.
 

bounduptoplease

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After I casted my vote I see I am in with the majority. After life also implies there is a God, if there really is then going by what my life has been like, he (or she) is a mean SOB!

Sorry if that offends, but I keep it real.
 
Last edited:

tiny

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I'm terrified of dying -- I don't want to be in pain of distress. But being dead doesn't worry me -- it'll be exactly the same as not being born yet.

The idea of an afterlife seems quite strange to me, though. How did anyone even come up with the idea of still being alive when you stop being alive? How could this even be possible?

It sounds like quite a dangerous concept. Seeing the afterlife as a "better place" gives rise to the various religions who promote moral virtues like mass-suicide or terrorism. What could be more noble than sending people to paradise?

If there is an afterlife, then does anything we do in this reality matter at all? And what happens when we die in the afterlife? Is there an after-after-life?
 

dogboy

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The only thing that makes sense to me about this life is that we are supposed to be learning; maybe how to be a sentient being. It's quite possible we are creating what we will become after death.
 

tiny

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The only thing that makes sense to me about this life is that we are supposed to be learning; maybe how to be a sentient being.
I'd say that sentience is a prerequisite of intelligent learning, rather than a possible outcome. I don't think we need to learn to be the sentient beings that we are; we just are, whether we like it or not.

It's quite possible we are creating what we will become after death.
How could we become anything sentient after death? We decompose; our atoms and molecules disperse and become mud and air; some may subsequently form the bodies of other lifeforms. But there is no "us" any more.

If I set fire to a piece of A4 paper, there is no longer that original piece of paper. Nothing has been destroyed -- all the (former) paper particles still exist. But what has been destroyed is the abstract concept that those particles form a "sheet of paper". The soul of the paper (the idea that it is and always will be a piece of paper in another far-away ream realm) doesn't make sense.

Our physical brain determines our personality and cognitive abilities. Brain damage can result in sudden and drastic personality changes. There's a famous case of a decent upstanding family man who suddenly and dramatically became an unashamed sex pest. He'd expose himself in public, make inappropriate comments to any female he came across, sought out depraved pornography, including images of child abuse and bestiality, and lost all social inhibition and self-control. He was quickly arrested and convicted. Soon after, he had an MRI scan and a large brain tumour was discovered. This was removed and his behaviour returned to normal. He appealed his sentence, and was released. A few years later, his uninhibited sex-crazed behaviour returned. He was quickly taken to hospital, and it was found that the cancer had returned. Again he was treated and he returned to being a model citizen.

What I'm trying to say is that... The only reality that we know of is the physical universe. The physical brain appears to be wholly responsible for determining and controlling our personalities.

It's practical to invent abstract concepts to explain human behaviour. On some level, it makes sense to talk about something like human "minds" or "souls". The complexity of the brain is hard to understand on a purely physical level. Just as we can't see what a computer is doing by looking at the circuit boards and analysing the flow of electricity, neither can we examine the electro-chemical activity in our brains to explain what's "really" going on.

Software is an abstract description of a hardware state. Destroy the hardware, and software no longer has any format in which to exist. The hardware will exist forever in some broken physical form, but the software is gone forever. We can talk about abstract non-physical souls, just as we can talk about the human "mind" or "brain software". But how could an abstract soul/mind/software survive the death of the person/hardware?

Richard Dawkins introduced the concept of "memes", and Douglas Hoftstadter talked about "strange loops" in a similar way. We imitate our friends and partners, copy their quirks, become more like them, and we spread the "goodness" they taught us through our own actions long after they are gone. That "dad humour" that you used to cringe at as a kid, yet now inflict in on your own children... The way your partner expertly dealt with a difficult social situation, and taught you the techniques you now use to be kind and gracious whilst still getting your point across... that you used to your advantage last week when you got into an altercation with a traffic warden and ended up befriending them...

In that way, the dead really do live on in "spirit". Aspects of their personality are with you in memory, and live on long after they are gone. But that's not what people normally mean when they talk about the human "soul". I can't see how human consciousness could be totally independent from our physical brains and will persist after death, when we know very well that consciousness depends entirely on the state of the brain.

Death is a terrifying thing. Our brains haven't evolved to comprehend our own death because "staying alive" is the primary evolutionary motive. All of our conscious thoughts occur with our existence as an axiomatic prerequisite. We can't think if we don't exist; our thinking presumes our existence ("I think, therefore I am"). It is impossible for us to imagine experiencing a reality in which we are not alive. Evolution has no interest in anything we're not going to experience, so we're not psychologically prepared to comprehend death.

Inventing the concept of a "soul" fits in with the the tautological sensation that "I can't imagine what it would feel like to not exist" and our quest to know objective reality; to find "ultimate truths" and an "objective existence" that will destroy existentialism and reduce our moral choices to "obey" or "rebel". Yet even Christianity itself implores us not to reduce the human experience to such binary/authoritarian/judgemental morality.

Positing the concept of a human soul raises so many questions, without providing any answers. What is a soul? Where was our soul before we were born? Why suppose it survives death? How many souls exist? Where are they? Why can we not perceive them? How does the soul of a bacterium compare to the soul of a houseplant, or a pet, or a human? Can some objects have no soul, or several souls attached to them? How and when are souls attached to humans? What is the "glue" that sticks something in physical reality to something in non-physical reality?

In order to say that souls exist, I think we'd have to know what they are and have some basis for showing what they are and how they work. Without that, I don't think the idea of human souls really makes sense or helps explain anything. Isn't it more rational to take the default position and presume that they don't exist until you've seen evidence that they do?
 

ElPulpo

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Our physical brain determines our personality and cognitive abilities. The only reality that we know of is the physical universe. The physical brain appears to be wholly responsible for determining and controlling our personalities. I can't see how human consciousness could be totally independent from our physical brains and will persist after death, when we know very well that consciousness depends entirely on the state of the brain.

What is a soul? Where was our soul before we were born? Why suppose it survives death? How many souls exist? Where are they? Why can we not perceive them? How does the soul of a bacterium compare to the soul of a houseplant, or a pet, or a human? Can some objects have no soul, or several souls attached to them? How and when are souls attached to humans? What is the "glue" that sticks something in physical reality to something in non-physical reality?
Ok, I'm largely with you there. I'm very much into biochemistry and neuroscience. (Some favourites of mine at the moment are Nick Lane's excellent "The vital question" on cell energy and the origin of complex cells and Steve Stewart Williams' "The ape that understood the universe" on evolutionary psychology including memes and religion)

On the other hand, what is a consciousness, where does it come from? If atoms are merely a kind of Lego building blocks combined by physical forces, how does a consciousness emerge from putting lots of them together?

As to the "glue" and "attachment" questions, let me be the devil's avocado here. Hypothetically speaking, there could be a kind of cosmic realm imperceptible to our senses, call it The Great Link, Paradise or Nirvana, where the free souls roam. We don't even what to make of dark matter or energy apart from that they somehow interact with something, and until recently couldn't detect neutrinos, so that's principally conceivable. Hypothetically, brains could be a kind of interface whose electric field serves as a port to a compatible soul. Damage the interface, and just like cutting your spinal cord, some of the possible interaction ceases to function. This could even explain why the neurophysiological "free will" can be measured before it is subjectively perceived.
The fun part of this hypothesis is that if souls really did exist as some kind of strange entities interacting with energy/matter in our universe, it could be possible to detect them and maybe experiment with them some day. A synthetic, complete interface, enabling full communication with a soul from "the other side" would settle the discussion better than a Ouija board. End of hypothetical digression.

Back to topic: Actually, I have no reason to believe there will be anything left of my consciousness after my brain has powered off. Once I'm dead I expect not to bother anymore. But I like living, so at the moment I'm reluctant to die yet.
 

Drifter

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There is no scientific answer to the question "What is consciousness?" There are only hypotheses and beliefs, and possibly some kind of direct knowledge that can't be put into scientific words. We all get to pick the answer that best fits our personality. We are heavily influenced by our upbringing, and many people simply accept the answer they were taught to believe. I see nothing wrong with that since I can't offer anything better. I can disagree with other's beliefs, and be offended by them if anyone tries to impose their beliefs on me, but I don't know "The Truth", which is why I say I can't offer anything better.
If I set fire to a piece of A4 paper, there is no longer that original piece of paper. Nothing has been destroyed -- all the (former) paper particles still exist.
Based on my very limited understanding of quantum physics, the things we call "particles" do go in and out of existence. Current thinking is that particles aren't really little chunks of physical matter but wave phenomena caused by energy interacting with a 'field'. After a particle wave ceases to exist, the energy most likely is preserved but it doesn't necessarily become the same kind of particle again.

Sorry if I seem too nit-picky on this.
Our brains haven't evolved to comprehend our own death because "staying alive" is the primary evolutionary motive.
That raises the question - what came first, the motive or the evolutionary steps to preserve it?
Isn't it more rational to take the default position and presume that [souls] don't exist until you've seen evidence that they do?
Some people take the next step and ask - exactly what is it that is waiting for evidence? And we're back to where we started wondering what consciousness really is.
 

ElPulpo

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Based on my very limited understanding of quantum physics, the things we call "particles" do go in and out of existence. Current thinking is that particles aren't really little chunks of physical matter but wave phenomena caused by energy interacting with a 'field'. After a particle wave ceases to exist, the energy most likely is preserved but it doesn't necessarily become the same kind of particle again.
In a way, yes.
But particles are not created out of nothing nor leave into nothingness. We could go on debating whether the energetic possibility for creating a certain particle is some kind of voucher that's redeemed when the particle appears and reissued upon annihilation. And then wonder what "existence" actually means in the world of quantum physics, where stuff is both wave and particle or maybe something even weirder that only sometimes smells like particles or waves.


However, my understanding of quantum physics is very limited, too. If that was rubbish, I can't tell.

Sorry if I seem too nit-picky on this.
No problem for me, I like nit-picking.
That raises the question - what came first, the motive or the evolutionary steps to preserve it?
In evolution, it's usually gradually both, but beginning with a random evolutionary step that granted some minor advantage. We don't know how life began in the first place, although hydrothermal vents are a popular hypothesis at the moment. The first lifeforms probably were very simple, therefore very dependant of their surroundings and would have died very fast if they left their habitat. Sooner or later, some of them will have evolved minor mutations, some of which may have enabled some to leave their vent just a little more to a less constant environment.
 

CutePrincess

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are your religious and there an after life where you can go to. in heaven


Last are you afraid of death "No


kinda wanted vote for 4 things but these 2 seem to fit best "
when you die you have a spirt that carrys on thoughout time" "
if your religious do you beleve in serching a perfict life so you can be with a spreem beeing ie god"


can fit with the one i voted for. If I am in heaven or other people that died, you in a sense have a spirit that can view a time compressed world, basically omnipresent. I also believe there is some kind of reincarnation thing, when I was born,... rather.. first instance of long term memory... I simply knew too much. In the moment, few seconds prior, sometimes, I know outcomes. .. I... just do not have a full understanding of this regard.

I simply want to know more, no reason for me fear death. I fear more about how I am going to die, I hope it is not something where I suffer a long time.
 

tiny

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On the other hand, what is a consciousness, where does it come from? If atoms are merely a kind of Lego building blocks combined by physical forces, how does a consciousness emerge from putting lots of them together?

As to the "glue" and "attachment" questions, let me be the devil's avocado here. Hypothetically speaking, there could be a kind of cosmic realm imperceptible to our senses, call it The Great Link, Paradise or Nirvana, where the free souls roam. We don't even what to make of dark matter or energy apart from that they somehow interact with something, and until recently couldn't detect neutrinos, so that's principally conceivable. Hypothetically, brains could be a kind of interface whose electric field serves as a port to a compatible soul. Damage the interface, and just like cutting your spinal cord, some of the possible interaction ceases to function. This could even explain why the neurophysiological "free will" can be measured before it is subjectively perceived.
The fun part of this hypothesis is that if souls really did exist as some kind of strange entities interacting with energy/matter in our universe, it could be possible to detect them and maybe experiment with them some day. A synthetic, complete interface, enabling full communication with a soul from "the other side" would settle the discussion better than a Ouija board. End of hypothetical digression.
Sure. Cartesian doubt means the only thing we can be sure of is our existence. We might be a "brain in a vat" or a soul in a non-physical cosmic realm, and everything we see and touch (etc.) might be an illusion. But, whilst we can imagine infinite possibilities, we need some justification to pick one belief over another.

We can't sincerely pick-and-choose our beliefs. It's not possible to truly believe in something you've imagined at random. We need good reasons. What I perceive as physical reality is highly consistent. When I kick a big rock, I stub my toe and it hurts. The rock doesn't jump in and out of reality, or change into a mouse. The experience is reliable and predictable. I can look at other such objects and know that if I kick it hard, it will hurt. If physical reality is an illusion, it's a persistent one. And it's all we have to go on. The concept of "souls" is superfluous; it's unnecessary and rationally unjustified.

But we do need some way to explain consciousness. We need to be able to talk about psychological states, and other higher-level behavioural/subjective abstractions to make sense of concepts such as justice, morality, culpability, which we need to make sense of ourselves and others.

The brain is a vastly complex organ. We know so little of how it functions; but we do know it is vital for consciousness. Since we know of no other non-physical realities, nor of any other significant physical components to our consciousness, isn't it more reasonable than not to tentatively suppose that our brain is wholly responsible for consciousness? (I don't know that our brains aren't connected via some secret back-end interface to the world of souls, but... it seems unlikely...and randomly plucked out of the air...)

In Hoftstadter's "I Am a Strange Loop", he posits consciousness as an epiphenomenon of brain complexity and feedback loops. Primordial organisms evolved to sense, and respond to, the environment. At some point, this involved organisms becoming aware of themselves. This leads to organisms perceiving a neurologically-constructed "reality" which includes artefacts emerging from infinite bio-feedback loops (strange loops)... And this recursive self-awareness of brain states is what we call "consciousness". It's just an idea, but it makes a lot of sense* and demonstrates that you don't need to invent entities like "souls" to explain away complexity with supernatural magic.

* -- if you read the book rather then my rambling garbled explanation!

Another book that helped me understand "what it means to be a living organism" is Steve Grand's "Creation: Life and How to Make it". He designed the computer simulation/game "Creatures" in the mid-1990s. It involves a randomly generated world, and AI creatures who live in it -- a more sophisticated version of Conway's Game of Life.

The creatures were based on a simplified version of real animals. They had genes and chromosomes and hormones, reproduced sexually, with random genetic mutations. They had "drives" like hunger, sex, boredom; limited resources and lifespans; the senses of sight, hearing and touch; and limited memories that encoded attributes of experienced reality and affected future behaviour. There's no detailed science or programming in the book -- it just explains the concepts and how you can put together the fundamentals of what we know about intelligent beings, and create plausibly realistic simulations with just a handful of Duplo. :cool:

If we had sufficiently complex hardware and software that could accurately model human brain activity, I'm sure we could (theoretically) create an artificial intelligence indistinguishable from that of a human.

TL;DR: I don't think the concept of a "soul" is necessary to explain consciousness, or justified by the evidence.
 

ElPulpo

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TL;DR: I don't think the concept of a "soul" is necessary to explain consciousness, or justified by the evidence.
I did read it.
I think we're going a little too far now, though, since we agree actually more than you might think. I'm a software engineer, not a philosopher, and as such sympathize much more with creating a HAL, C3PO or Data than it may seem while I'm contemplating.

Many thanks for the recommendations; I've read Gödel, Escher, Bach multiple times, but not yet the strange loop. I'll raise its priority on my reading list.
 

tiny

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There is no scientific answer to the question "What is consciousness?" There are only hypotheses and beliefs, and possibly some kind of direct knowledge that can't be put into scientific words. We all get to pick the answer that best fits our personality.
I disagree. We can't (rationally and sincerely) just pick the answer that fits our personality. We need justification for any theory if we can possibly believe it.

...I don't know "The Truth", which is why I say I can't offer anything better.
Welcome to the club!

Based on my very limited understanding of quantum physics, the things we call "particles" do go in and out of existence. Current thinking is that particles aren't really little chunks of physical matter but wave phenomena caused by energy interacting with a 'field'. After a particle wave ceases to exist, the energy most likely is preserved but it doesn't necessarily become the same kind of particle again.

Sorry if I seem too nit-picky on this.
Not nit-picky at all, just an admirably fine attention to detail! I was just trying to keep things simple. :p Besides, at the macroscopic level, the existence of particles is quite stable. :)

tiny said:
Our brains haven't evolved to comprehend our own death because "staying alive" is the primary evolutionary motive.
That raises the question - what came first, the motive or the evolutionary steps to preserve it?
The evolutionary process. There are no literal motives involved, just the mechanical unthinking effects of evolution. A species that doesn't value self-preservation as the primary imperative will die due to competition with species who do.

tiny said:
Isn't it more rational to take the default position and presume that [souls] don't exist until you've seen evidence that they do?
Some people take the next step and ask - exactly what is it that is waiting for evidence? And we're back to where we started wondering what consciousness really is.
Cogito, ergo sum. (I think, therefore I am.) I am the one waiting for evidence. I don't need to wonder what consciousness is to be conscious. I (the conscious "I") am self-evident. The idea that I have a soul that lives after death is a random idea plucked out of nowhere. It's no different to believing that giant green lizards live on the dark side of the Moon.
 

Cottontail

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I think this poll is trying to do a few too many things at once. Concise questions with orthogonal answers, please!

Shortest answer for me: I don't know. Longer answer: I hope I go to the Halls of Mandos when I die.
 
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