[Discussion] Afterlife (and related) general discussion

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millefeui

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Mar 31, 2018
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I asked @Serge if it was okay to make this thread. Since there are numerous threads about afterlife, reincarnation, heaven and hell, limbo, nirvana, the list goes on, I thought it was a good idea to make a general thread for the subject.

Let's try to respect each other's views. No one knows what awaits us after we die, if anything other than nonexistence awaits us at all. So, views on the matter are purely opinions, shaped by subjective experiences rather than solid, irrefutable evidence. I think if respect is kept, the thread could be really useful in more ways than just one.

Peace.
 
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millefeui

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Mar 31, 2018
1,049
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My views on afterlife-related matters is that... There might be something out there, yes, but there also might not. Before you call me out on the extremely boring view on afterlife stuff, let me explain:

I have experienced a bunch of weird stuff in life, and I am sure I am not the only one. It is easy to attribute the weird, unexplainable events to a supernatural cause, but the truth is the weird stuff I experienced only really happened when I was surrounded by religious people and visiting churches, temples, etc... In my, until that point, seemingly endless search for my true self. So, I would hear about this kind of stuff ad nauseum.

These days I don't really "see" or "hear" anything, nor I feel. It makes me wonder if the weird experiences I had weren't stuff from my, at the time, rather vivid imagination. I would listen to people saying that they saw or heard X or Y, and perhaps in an subconscious level, I wanted to be able to experience the same things... And so I did.

I don't really have any reasons to believe in afterlife, though what my heart truly desires would require dying first, so... Well, some sort of life after death would be required for my dreams to be realized. Yet, I can't really say I expect anything other than nothingness, but I might be biased — After all, the nature of my dreams and wishes is... Complicated, to say the least. I know that the odds, at least in theory, are against me, so the second best thing to me would be to just... Disappear. Hence the "I might be biased". It would do no good if afterlife is a thing, but my wishes are still impossible.

My numerous prayers were never answered. I never seen or felt or heard spirits or angels, nor have I felt the touch or the love of God. I never saw demons or whatever. I did, however, see people who were supposedly possessed by entities and I do have to admit they acted nothing like the actual persons being supposedly possessed, but... That is not really enough, now is it? Weird stuff, hard to explain, but far from being proof that there is more after one's death. It is only enough to make me consider the possibility, but I need more to accept it is as a fact.

One thing that I do find interesting is that some religious teachings have very similar teachings, yet I don't think it is a case of copy & pasting beliefs, since they originate from times where worldwide communication was pretty much nonexistent. Of course, the teachings might have changed through the centuries, so there is that, but it is interesting to me, nonetheless. That could mean there is something else out there, and that different people from different times interpret what comes after death in different ways. It could also just mean that humans are significantly less complex than what we are encouraged to believe, and that people having overly similar ideas is just a very common thing.

I could go on for hours and hours. It is a tiring subject for me, though, so I will stop here.
 
Fylobatica

Fylobatica

Inactive
Apr 1, 2018
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I think I've devoted more than one hundred posts to this topic, so I'll summarize them shortly answering that I don't have any belief in an afterlife -no matter how we're trying to fabricate it imagining all kinds of praises or punishments while we're alive-.

Our brain requires an exceptionally fine tuning to perform its functions and maintain through time our personality, the sense of self, and there's striking evidence about it. This machinery is not physically equipped to "pop out" its contents in a supposed n-th dimension where we could go on living indefinitely.

Anyway, I don't want to bore anybody. I just find it weird that people like speculating about possible other conclusions, since they would require death to deliberate about what's real and what's not.
 
NoLifeNoPain

NoLifeNoPain

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Jun 17, 2018
1,383
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Hell
Here's what I believe: there's too much data which indicates that we are not just this physical body (born blind people seeing in NDE, people reporting what the doctors and the nurses were doing while they were brain dead, people reading 5 code numbers while out of body, people sharing the same dream, people having dreams that predicted their future, people having the same "hallucination", remote viewing, sumerian tablets, quantum mechanics, too much similarity in NDE (almost everyone sees basically the same thing, the tunnel of light, the life review yada yada). And there is more data but I won't continue with the list. Religion has nothing to do with this. We might just live in a virtual reality created by consciousness.
 
P

Panda

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Jun 25, 2018
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Here's what I believe: there's too much data which indicates that we are not just this physical body (born blind people seeing in NDE, people reporting what the doctors and the nurses were doing while they were brain dead, people reading 5 code numbers while out of body, people sharing the same dream, people having dreams that predicted their future, people having the same "hallucination", remote viewing, sumerian tablets, quantum mechanics, too much similarity in NDE (almost everyone sees basically the same thing, the tunnel of light, the life review yada yada). And there is more data but I won't continue with the list. Religion has nothing to do with this. We might just live in a virtual reality created by consciousness.
I believe an alternate explanation to everyone "seeing the same things" is simply that, outside of people personal mental nuances, brains function mostly the same ways. If the brain were to attempt to interpret that gap in function then it would make sense that separate brains may interpret it in similar ways.

Just like most people have had dreams where they are not able to get away from something such as the ground sucking you in so you can't run, not being able to throw punches or missing them, not being able to shout out or scream or talk, etc. Most of us have had dreams like that but it doesn't necessarily mean that there are dark forces at work in dream land trying to hurt us. Things can be simpler than they seem when it comes to the mind I think and it's just a human thing to try and explain them in exotic ways.

I think I've devoted more than one hundred posts to this topic, so I'll summarize them shortly answering that I don't have any belief in an afterlife -no matter how we're trying to fabricate it imagining all kinds of praises or punishments while we're alive-.

Our brain requires an exceptionally fine tuning to perform its functions and maintain through time our personality, the sense of self, and there's striking evidence about it. This machinery is not physically equipped to "pop out" its contents in a supposed n-th dimension where we could go on living indefinitely.

Anyway, I don't want to bore anybody. I just find it weird that people like speculating about possible other conclusions, since they would require death to deliberate about what's real and what's not.
Yeah as I was discussing with NoLife last night, albeit I was a little high, I believe there may well be spatial dimensions beyond what we can imagine, but that's all science and it's all things that happened before we were around. Saying the universe is created by consciousness is really just like saying it was created by a god. Quantum mechanics is something that is very hard to explain but that doesn't make it magical or directly linked to our consciousness. The act of observation causing waves to become particles doesn't necessarily mean that they're directly linked either, it's just that we don't understand it.
 
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L

Life sucks

Visionary
Apr 18, 2018
942
3,205
Nobody knows and there is no certain answer but I'll summarize the logic of how each side by assuming afterlife exists (the other side is only needs negation of these points). Just note that in all cases, the identity (as in a state of time/space) is lost

First, assuming there is a greater power, there is a possibility of having another world with other rules but it needs to transfer to something from us (most likely not physical).

Second, the existence of non-physical components within us which means they can get somewhere else outside of the state machine of life.

Third, the existence of a similar world (which is most unlikely and almost impossible but just a theoretical possibility), by taking a state of us in this world and sending it to somewhere else. The state is a result of this world, so its like almost impossible to go to other one but it can be done by a greater power. Which state of us (time and location) and why? are impossible questions to answer if this is what afterlife means.


To say there is no afterlife which is only a negation, one can say:
There is no greater power.
All of what makes us are physical components.
There are no other worlds.

Each one can belive what they want and nobody will know unless they die.
 
chronicpainnomore

chronicpainnomore

Not Circling the Drain Anymore
May 31, 2018
318
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I have always lived a very rational, evidence-based existence, accepting things at face value. I cannot believe at this time there is an afterlife, but I also acknowledge that there is only one way to know: to die.

I'm atheist, but I guess some would consider me agnostic because I acknowledge that I could be wrong. I try to live my life in a kind, compassionate way but I think it's silly to "fear" some imaginary sky wizard and even more silly to "beg" for forgiveness before I die to try to get a season pass into an eternal Disneyland.

If there is some kind of "life after death," so be it. But based on the evidence, I'm moving forward expecting to find nothingness a few seconds after I pull that bag down over my head. "Find" is actually not the right word, because you have to be conscious to find. I will ENTER nothingness, and I will be nothing.
 
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millefeui

Illuminated
Mar 31, 2018
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Yeah. I also expect nothingness to "meet me" in the following minutes after I hang myself... That said, even if nonexistence is my second favorite choice, at least out of all options I can think of when it comes to "after death", it still is difficult for me to place my bets on it. I just have this feeling that there is something else after this, but like I said it is just a feeling.
 
shattered dreams

shattered dreams

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I am a Christian so I definitely believe in an afterlife. I was always taught that there was an afterlife, and I never knew anyone personally who did not believe in one. That is, until I came to this forum. I never heard of this "nothingness" until I came here and could not figure out why. I now realize the reason. In Christianity, it is taught that suicide is a sin. Therefore, I am one of the few Christians on this forum which is dominated by atheists. I personally believe that there is a wonderful afterlife that awaits us all. The idea of nothingness scares the hell out of me. If someone here were to convince me of this nothingness, I would no longer be suicidal, and that also scares the hell out of me since I would have to continue living this horrible life.
 
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millefeui

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Mar 31, 2018
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Although I deeply respect the opinion above (on afterlife existing), it is hard for me to expect a "wonderful afterlife" when this life and this world is so, so, so dreadful in more ways than just one. Also, I don't mean this is an offense or a jab towards believers, but the Christian God, as He is described in the Bible, really isn't that great of a guy... So why would He gives us an eternal (or not) "wonderful afterlife"? Why couldn't we go directly to this wonderful place? Why stop in this hell we live in first? On top of that, why would suicidal people like us be accepted in such place? We are literally throwing away His "gift" of life, after all.

I mean, I can relate to wanting an afterlife, or even reincarnation, because a part of me kind of wants to have another chance, you know? If I had the ability to choose how, when, where (etc) of course, as I don't want to roll a dice. But it just seems like wishful thinking. This world sucks. Life sucks for most people. Why would an afterlife, if it exists, be any different? Are we supposed to suffer here to enjoy something better later? If so, why? Also, if afterlife is a thing, what if... What if we are in hell right now? I mean, eternal suffering doesn't necessarily mean suffering in the same body eternally.
 
shattered dreams

shattered dreams

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millefeui,

I know life is horrible for people like us, but most people that I have known were happy. In fact, I have no friends left anymore because they all told me that I just bring them down so they all left.

My hope of the afterlife come from nde's. The common thing among nde's is the overwhelming feeling of being loved, something that I have never had. Also, a common theme is reuniting with dead loved ones. Although my mother destroyed my life by drinking during pregnancy, I still love her very much and miss her terribly since her death in 2005. I do believe this life is hell, at least for some of us, and I hope to escape to a better place. Maybe it is all wishful thinking, but it at least gives me hope.
 
Xmac000

Xmac000

Somewhere...
May 23, 2018
104
240
I am a Christian so I definitely believe in an afterlife. I was always taught that there was an afterlife, and I never knew anyone personally who did not believe in one. That is, until I came to this forum. I never heard of this "nothingness" until I came here and could not figure out why. I now realize the reason. In Christianity, it is taught that suicide is a sin. Therefore, I am one of the few Christians on this forum which is dominated by atheists. I personally believe that there is a wonderful afterlife that awaits us all. The idea of nothingness scares the hell out of me. If someone here were to convince me of this nothingness, I would no longer be suicidal, and that also scares the hell out of me since I would have to continue living this horrible life.
Thats exactly what happened to me. Before sanctioned suicide subreddit and this website I believed in an afterlife. Now I'm convinced theres nothing and it stopped me from killing myself and continuing this miserable existence. I wish i never found SS subreddit or this place. To many atheists on there and I was better off believing that there was an afterlife. I'd advise you to stay away from topics like these before its too late and be careful what you read.
 
junie-est

junie-est

A robot's best friend.
Jul 12, 2018
8
40
Hell
I believe in something but at the same time nothing. The cosmos have a significance to them and whatever they have to offer is much better than this miserable existence. There are only few things keeping me going at this moment in time of course. And little remnants of faith I guess is one way to put it.
 
shattered dreams

shattered dreams

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Thats exactly what happened to me. Before sanctioned suicide subreddit and this website I believed in an afterlife. Now I'm convinced theres nothing and it stopped me from killing myself and continuing this miserable existence. I wish i never found SS subreddit or this place. To many atheists on there and I was better off believing that there was an afterlife. I'd advise you to stay away from topics like these before its too late and be careful what you read.
They will never convince me so no worries. I personally have seen a ghost that was later brought up by family members and verified. I also have seen my mother die right in front of me and what happened is below. If it had not been for these 2 instances, they would have already gotten to me.

Back in 1981, my parents bought a brand new house. It had been sold previously, but the owner died before it was finished. I lived there from 1981-2000. I had seen an old man ghost sitting on a chair in the family room many times . Since I am mentally ill, I thought it was just me and I never told anyone. Flash forward to 1999 and my dad died. My mom soon had a new boyfriend who would not spend the night. My mom said he is afraid of the ghost, who I thought she meant was my dad. She told me no, there has always been a ghost in the house that both my mom and sister had seen. I then told her I saw it too. No doubt on this one.

Now we will go to 2005 and my mom is in the hospital dying of cervical cancer. We are talking and she told me grandma is in the corner of the room coming towards her. I looked and saw nothing. She then closed her eyes and died right then. My grandma had passed away in 1996. I have no doubt grandma came and got my mom and they are together now. I also have no doubt my mom is going to come for me too, since my time is very near.
 
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WanderingEremite

Member
Jul 16, 2018
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Hello everyone,

I'm new to this forum. This topic is of most interest to me at the moment.

For most of my cognitively developed life, I was an atheist and an anti-supernaturalist, so I didn't believe in afterlives, ghosts, etc. These stances resulted from my belief that there were no compelling reasons to believe in God or supernatural phenomena generally. My views on these issues gradually changed, such that I now reject atheism and anti-supernaturalism for a number of reasons.

The first is that the arguments for materialism, physicalism, naturalism, or whatever brand of anti-supernaturalism one prefers are not compelling. Typically they depend on appeals to parsimony: supernatural phenomena aren't in evidence, and there's no need to posit them to explain the phenomena we know about, so we shouldn't think there are supernatural phenomena. All these arguments tend to beg the question in that they assume that consciousness, or the mind more broadly, has been or can be fully explained with reference only to material phenomena. It is simply untrue that anyone has developed such an explanation. It remains entirely mysterious how a wet lump of biomatter (the brain) can generate mental phenomena. Vague claims about the mind being an "emergent property" don't count as satisfactory theories, since they utterly fail to explain the causal mechanisms that make this emergence possible. Subjectivity remains a complete mystery, and materialist philosophers such as Daniel Dennett have done nothing to resolve the mystery other than insist that science will figure it out eventually (a reverse God-of-the-gaps fallacy, as far as I can tell, insofar as the claim is that "science has figured stuff out before in a way compatible with physicalism, therefore [here comes the non-sequitur] we know it'll work out the same way this time"). As it stands, to say we know the mind is a purely physical phenomenon is simply to assume what is at issue. It is entirely possible that the brain is a receiver rather than a generator of consciousness and perhaps other mental phenomena, for example. No scientific fact or body of such facts rules out this possibility, and in fact it is more consistent than materialist accounts with some observations, such as the countless documented cases of individuals who have experienced increased mental lucidity when their brains were impaired (for example, those having near-death experiences or NDEs). People often forget that physicalism, materialism, or whatever is a metaphysical rather than scientific thesis, as is supernaturalism. Such theses can be consistent or inconsistent with scientific data, but to say that materialism or a related view has been scientifically established is simply incorrect: "There is also the inductive generalization from the conspicuous success of materialist science in a wide variety of other areas. This undeniably has some modest weight, but seems obviously very far from being enough to justify the strong presumption in question [i.e. that materialism is true]. Inductions are always questionable when the conclusion extends to cases that are significantly different from the ones to which the evidence pertains, and even most materialists will concede that conscious phenomena are among the most difficult—indeed, seemingly the most difficult of all—for materialist views to handle. Thus the fact that materialism has been successful in many other areas does not yield a very strong case that it will succeed in the specific area that we are concerned with" (Laurence BonJour).

Second, and as alluded to above, there is quite a lot of evidence of phenomena that simply don't fit, or don't clearly fit, into materialist frameworks. Other members, such as shattered dreams, have mentioned NDEs, and indeed no satisfactory materialist account of NDEs has been offered. The idea that NDEs have been successfully explained as results of DMT surges near death is false: no one has demonstrated this, it is merely speculation. In fact, all materialist explanations of NDEs are highly speculative (see https://academic.oup.com/qjmed/article/110/2/67/2681812) and none can account, even in principle, for veridical information gained through NDEs, as in the cases where congenitally blind persons acquire sight through which they accurately describe the appearance of things they couldn't have seen if materialist theories were correct. Various other phenomena that are inconsistent with standard materialist views of reality are treated in detail in the books Irreducible Mind: Toward a Psychology for the 21st Century and Beyond Physicalism: Toward Reconciliation of Science and Spirituality, among others. These works aren't from no-name cranks, but respected academics (for example: https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bruce_Greyson). Unsurprisingly, the arguments in such books don't go without criticism (https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Irreducible_Mind) but I'm yet to be convinced by any materialist critiques, which frequently beg the question and ignore inconvenient findings.

Third, the various philosophical arguments for atheism (and the only real such arguments are philosophical, contra Dawkins and company) are unpersuasive. The argument from evil is perhaps the strongest, but it depends on the assumption that God is omnipotent, which some have argued even the Bible doesn't clearly indicate.

Fourth, many cases of apparent miracles, both modern and historical, are not easily explained in materialist terms, and seem to evidence the existence of God. Attempts at materialist explanations of, for instance, apparent medical miracles tend to invoke bizarre organismic healing mechanisms the reality of which isn't established. So, for example, the most thorough scientific review of the meticulously documented healing miracles at Lourdes shrine concluded that "Uncanny and weird, the cures are currently beyond our ken but still impressive, incredibly effective, and awaiting a scientific explanation" (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3854941/). These and related seemingly supernatural phenomena attending religious activities and events to my mind render theism rationally defensible, though not justified beyond doubt.

Materialism and related metaphysical views don't have much going for them, as far as I can tell. Their supporters are unfortunately quick to try to explain away all apparent evidence that doesn't fit their favored views as resulting from hallucinations, mental illnesses, dishonesty, and so on. This tactic, however, is close to simply assuming the truth of materialism. Positing that the countless people with no history of hallucinations, mental illness, or dishonesty have only experienced what they claim to have experienced due to the first two of these, or one or the other, or are otherwise lying, when there is no evidence for any of this suggests that one is simply closed off to the possibility of being wrong.
 
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Fylobatica

Fylobatica

Inactive
Apr 1, 2018
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It remains entirely mysterious how a wet lump of biomatter (the brain) can generate mental phenomena
I wouldn't be so sure, the first hints of a consciousness and a sense of subjectivity emerging come from insects, actually. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4941505/

It is entirely possible that the brain is a receiver rather than a generator of consciousness
it isn't. Our brain has developed, throughout evolution, so many distinctive and specific areas, as well neurochemical interactions, that completely dismiss the chance of it being a receiver. If it was so, it would just be a clump of plain matter without a sophisticated substratum of highly specialized cognitive zones.


indeed no satisfactory materialist account of NDEs has been offered.
NDE are convoluted phenomena to explain because they involve the onset of hormonal activity, fluttering levels of carbon dioxide in the bloodstream, lack of oxygen and several other factors that can contribute to the feeling of being out of our body. Ketamine, for example, can trigger the same effect as well as hallucinatory mind states strikingly similar to NDEs.

I can personally activate a particular biofeedback on my body when the brain is at its most relaxed, but I don't need to label this as 'supernatural'. It can be explained by following scientific parameters, which in the next decades will be more precise and specific to full disclose every secret behind those phenomena.

apparent medical miracles
Somatic recovery is what perform 'miracles'. Nobody has been able yet to grow a fresh new limb out of an amputation, so I'd say that supernaturalism has its limits

I'm fully aware that the universe has to be thoroughly studied and what is labeled as supernatural is actually related to altered mind states or quantum physics, which is not supernatural at all, but please let's not mistake the real origin of those phenomena.
 
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WanderingEremite

Member
Jul 16, 2018
56
137
Fylobatica,

Thanks for your reply.

At all points, your post exhibits the tendency to more or less assume what is at issue, unfortunately.

The first point you try to make isn't supported by the link that you provide, which argues that insects don't tell us "anything" about subjective experience: "Finally, Barron and Klein (1) believe that because insects display selective attention to visual stimuli (or produce upstream neural representations of sensory information), they must be sentient. However, neither selective attention nor neural representations are necessarily indicative of subjective experience (5), a point Barron and Klein (1) acknowledge. Thus, they fail to make a convincing case that insects can tell us anything about subjective experience or consciousness [emphasis added]." Of course, there is no known way to empirically demonstrate that anything has subjective experience. The best we can do on this score is ask other humans about their experiences. In the case of lifeforms with which we can't communicate in a sophisticated way, i.e. all non-humans, there is simply no way to confirm or disconfirm that subjective experience is present. The inability to empirically demonstrate the presence of subjective experience is central to the so-called hard problem of consciousness and related issues such as philosophical zombies.

Your second point fails to address the major evidentiary basis for the receiver hypothesis, namely increased mental lucidity despite brain impairment (in some cases, seemingly total or near-total absence of brain function due to cardiac arrest). Furthermore, it assumes that brain complexity (1) is sufficient to explain consciousness and (2) indicates that consciousness is generated and not received. But you provide no basis for these assumptions.

Your third point on NDEs merely vaguely alludes to the possibility that these can be or at least will be eventually explained in purely materialist terms. The former is false (based on current scientific knowledge), and the latter is an instance of the tendency I noted in my first post, i.e. materialists assuming the very thing at issue. Since there are NDE phenomena that cannot be explained even in principle (as far as I can tell) by abnormal brain activity, such as those involving the acquisition of veridical visual information by the congenitally blind and those in which persons accurately recall events that occurred while they were effectively brain dead, the line of critique you offer is a non-starter.

Finally, your fourth point sidesteps the well-documented seemingly miraculous phenomena at issue, some of which I presented with the link I provided to the Lourdes study. Glibly referring to "somatic recovery" does nothing to make sense of these occurrences, and is simply another instance of assuming what needs to be demonstrated. I'm unaware of cases of limbs regrowing (apart from withered limbs, of which there are cases of miraculous regeneration). There are cases, however, of the equally scientifically unexplainable phenomenon of lost intestines and missing bone regrowing, connected with religious activities or events -- please watch the following video from 01:30 for information regarding an intestine-regrowth case: .
 
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Fylobatica

Fylobatica

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Apr 1, 2018
376
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The first point you try to make isn't supported by the link that you provide,
Actually I posted it because I wanted to underline that very sentence. Just as neural representations alone cannot account for a complete subjective experience, other neural correlates are needed to fire up consciousness. Hence, it's all about having a sufficiently expanded connectome (which in the next decades will be replicated artificially in the attempt to give all the necessary information to understand how the epiphenomenon of consciousness arises from the integration of several brain areas. It's all about computation, just as shown by insects.


major evidentiary basis for the receiver hypothesis, namely increased mental lucidity despite brain impairment
the surge of the sharp increase of gamma oscillations (high frequency brainwaves) usually happens at cardiac arrest as a result of a flood of endorphins (also high bloodstream concentration of Co2, which is noticeably higher in patients who experience bright lights, hallucinations and a sense of peace even among mountaineers) and possible side-effects of anaesthesia and medications administrated to the person who's dying, and the rush of neuronal hyperactivity was noticed in mice as well as in humans, and they also provide increase activity in the visual cortex (this concurs to explain why people - albeit not being 100% right in their reports, posing some doubts in their sightings- have enhanced vision about what is going on around them).

NDEs can also be provided by stimulating the temporoparietal junction, it's all about finding the right setting for the 'experiment', nothing miraculous (whatever this word means) at all.
The core concept is that we need to reverse engineer these physical phenomena to make sense of what's happening.

o "somatic recovery" does nothing to make sense of these occurrences, and is simply another instance of assuming what needs to be demonstrated
Actually psychosomatics has been scientifically proven. Think about what a stressed mind can do to the whole body. Alteration in heartbeats, temporary blindness, profuse sweating, bowel symptoms, wounds that tend to appear and disappear in relation to hysteric somatoform disorders, and many more, all related to unbalanced concentration of adrenaline, cortisol and a whole other setlist of hormones.
Of course our body can regenerate and adapt to some trauma (brain plasticity, where its areas can be slightly repurposed to fulfill different tasks from what they were generated for by evolution, is a prime example), but it can't perform miracles and that's why we will never see people regrowing randomly entire portions of their external body (e.g. the head itself).

I won't be able to answer further since I'm taking a break from posting on the forum, but my main message would be: let's not make the mistake of labeling everything as 'magical' or 'miraculous' before being 100% certain that all of the explanations have been found, just to comfort ourselves.

bye--
 
W

WanderingEremite

Member
Jul 16, 2018
56
137
Fylobatica,

Thanks again for your reply. Although we don't agree, I enjoy discussing these issues.

The first point I want to address concerns you presumption that belief in afterlives, supernaturalism, or whatever is taken on because it is comforting. It is uncharitable to presume that this is always the case. For me, a potential afterlife is not comforting, insofar as it leaves open the possibility that the afterlife, or some people's afterlives, are bad, even hellish. I would take certain postmortem oblivion over some unknown probability of a horrible afterlife that could be inescapable. As I noted earlier, I was an atheist and anti-supernaturalist for most of my cognitively mature life, and found those beliefs comfortable. For the suicidal especially, the prospect of certain alleviation of pain through annihilation of consciousness upon death can be comforting, so the sword cuts both ways here. I reject atheism and anti-supernaturalism now because I have been compelled by evidence to believe that they are false.

The second point is your presumption that all materialist explanations must be fully ruled out before we can reject materialism and related metaphysical views. This is far too strong a standard, and basically begs the question against supernaturalism, since one can always simply insist that all apparent evidence of supernatural phenomena results from hallucinations, misperceptions, scientific errors, and so on. Since one can never rule such things out entirely, and indeed since all scientific theories (let alone metaphysical ones) are empirically underdetermined (see the Duhem-Quine thesis), this would leave us in a condition in which materialism could never be rejected. Furthermore, it can always be posited that there are further as yet undiscovered possible materialistic explanations of apparently supernatural phenomena -- materialists already do this when faced with phenomena that appear to contradict materialism. Once again, this falls into question-begging against supernaturalism.

Now on to your other claims:

"It's all about computation, just as shown by insects."

Once again, and as made clear in the very article you linked, there is no evidence whatsoever that insects have subjective experience. The notion that they do depends on the assumption that certain kinds of nervous structures are sufficient to generate subjective experience. Your points about the level of neural complexity needed to have full-blown human consciousness is beside the point. Again, we have nothing like evidence of subjective experience in anything other than humans, and even that evidence is only available because of the sophisticated communication that is possible between humans, but not between humans and non-human animals or among non-human animals. You argue again that everything will shake out in a way compatible with materialism in coming years; this is just an instance of assuming the truth of your position out of hand, and so isn't persuasive.

On NDEs, you're offering speculations about how various physical conditions could induce hallucinatory experiences in the nearly dead. These explanations have not gained much assent among NDE researchers precisely because they haven't been shown adequate to account for the full range of NDE phenomena -- their limitations are made clear in the article that I linked in my first post from Parnia (an expert on NDEs). More importantly, you are flatly ignoring the aspects of NDEs that seem impossible to accommodate in a materialistic framework: congenitally blind people (note that they have no vision to enhance) somehow acquiring veridical visual information, people recovering from brain death or near-brain death accurately reporting events that occurred while they were brain dead or nearly so (not events that occurred before or after, as all of these "what if NDEs occur before or shortly after brain death" explanations assume). Here is Parnia's summary statement regarding anomalous NDE phenomena that appear to support supernaturalist views: "Given that cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) is insufficient to meet the metabolic requirements of the brain and that brain function ceases even with CPR, and is associated with a concurrent slowing and absence of cortical EEG within 2–20s, reports of consciousness during CPR—i.e. at a time when the brain is thought to be ‘non-functional’—raise questions about the relationship between mind and brain/body".

"Actually psychosomatics has been scientifically proven."

The mere existence of psychosomatic healing phenomena isn't sufficient to explain all apparent medical miracles. No one has ever shown that psychosomatic phenomena can cause the regeneration of many centimeters of lost intestinal tissue, as has seemingly miraculously occurred (see the video I linked in my last post) -- that would fly in the face of all established medical science. There is a reason the authors of the review article regarding the Lourdes cures stated that these occurrences await "a scientific explanation," despite their manifest knowledge of psychosomatic healing processes. I should add that some of the Lourdes cures happened to people who were unconscious when they occurred -- this is clearly inconsistent with psychosomatic explanations that posit that religious rituals can engender psychosomatic healing processes.

I think that you should scrutinize your a priori assumptions favoring materialism more closely. What other theory gets a free pass every time it is faced with an observation that directly contradicts its predictions? To make my own position clearer, I don't think that the evidence we have clearly favors any particular religious, spiritual, or other supernatural doctrine. What I claim is that we have much data indicating that naturalism and atheism are probably false, and that some form of supernaturalism is true -- at minimum, received conceptions of naturalism would have to be profoundly reworked to accommodate the findings that I've mentioned, among others.
 
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KCN

El revisionismo en castillano
Jul 17, 2018
234
892
I don't have any particular "supernatural" beliefs. I think that consciousness and awareness cannot be supported without noticeable activity of our brain, as it has been shown during scientific evaluation of different altered mind states.

Also, I have quite some problems with the word "supernatural", because there's so much that has to be discovered yet about quantum physics that there's no need to differentiate between the two, I personally wouldn't draw a line to separate what is thought to be "super" from what is actually natural.

Somebody mentioned "miracles" but I can't put my trust in an hypothetical entity that makes thousands of people die every day for the silliest accidents but it's ok with making a few inches of an internal organ regrow for the sake of it.
 
W

WanderingEremite

Member
Jul 16, 2018
56
137
I find the occurrence of both of the following statements in the same post strange:

"Also, I have quite some problems with the word 'supernatural', because there's so much that has to be discovered yet about quantum physics that there's no need to differentiate between the two"

"Somebody mentioned "miracles" but I can't put my trust in an hypothetical entity that makes thousands of people die every day for the silliest accidents but it's ok with making a few inches of an internal organ regrow for the sake of it."

Since I made no statement regarding whether the existence of miracles indicates that one should "trust" in any particular deity -- in fact I said some things indicating that we don't (and perhaps can't) know how favorable to us the afterlife or afterlives, and by extension supernatural phenomena broadly, will generally be -- I surmise that KCN is meaning to say that the problem of evil is still sufficient reason to disbelieve in God despite apparently miraculous phenomena (I addressed the PoE earlier, btw).

What is odd about this is that KCN is seemingly willing to believe that everything will work out for naturalism in the end, such that there will be no reason to endorse supernaturalism, because our knowledge of quantum physics is still incomplete. The same charity, for some reason, is not extended to the possibility that God exists. KCN seems to imply: There is nothing sufficiently mysterious about God or apparently miraculous phenomena to allow the benefit of the doubt here -- we can be quite sure there is no God because the existence of evil and the existence of miracles just don't seem to align (even if our knowledge is incomplete? or because we know our knowledge is complete on these matters somehow? KCN leaves the critical assumption unclear); only if naturalism, physicalism, or some such respectable view is threatened with anomalous findings can we assume that everything will turn out in a way compatible with such a view, due to our incomplete knowledge. This is the naturalist version of "God works in mysterious ways," looks like yet more question-begging to me.
 
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KCN

El revisionismo en castillano
Jul 17, 2018
234
892
I surmise that KCN is meaning to say that the problem of evil is still sufficient reason to disbelieve in God despite apparently miraculous phenomena (I addressed the PoE earlier, btw).
Not actually, "deities" can be evil how and whenever they want, if they like to. My approach is that what they are supposed to do in this world (or parallel universes, if we like Everett's theories) is utterly and completely meaningless, especially if they claim to have a broader and deeper knowledge, omniscience, of what's going on.
A sufficiently knowledgeable entity that is supposed to have a hold on all physical phenomena should just already know that what it's been set in motion is purposeless, not just because this god is supposed to know all of the outcomes of his experiments, but because the wide range of intrinsic meaninglessness in everything we do can be noticed even by "inferior" lifeforms like us.

. This is the naturalist version of "God works in mysterious ways," looks like yet more question-begging to me.
No, it's more like a statement that sounds like that: "Rome wasn't built in a day, science figures out things slowly and thousands of years can be needed to fill all the gaps. In the meantime, there's no need to make preposterous assumptions. Let's just wait and see how research turns out".
People always have displayed this tendence to research on some subject until things become apparently too hard to figure out for them, and they start putting random gods here there and everywhere because they've given up.

What would have people from the neolithic age thought about teraelectronvolts, sphalerons, neutrinos, chromodynamics, string theory? "Oh, what's this. it's impossible". Impossible until somebody figures it out. And we don't know what the future research has in store, even for what's is loosely called "supernatural", a word that does not have absolute meaning at all, neither is useful to qualify and describe a phenomenon.
Have patience. Things need to be figured out thoroughly before we start imagining quick ways to fill the gaps
 
W

WanderingEremite

Member
Jul 16, 2018
56
137
You write as if there's universal agreement on the "intrinsic meaninglessness" of everything. This is false. Even many atheists reject that idea, as a look at the relevant contemporary philosophy literature will bear out. I don't see any basis for your confidence that something as tenuously supported as the notion of the "intrinsic meaninglessness" of everything must be recognized by whatever God or gods might exist. I'm glad you acknowledge that deities needn't have any particular moral quality, but at this point you're effectively conceding the irrelevance of your "trust" point, at least to anything I've written.

Regarding the other subject that you address, I now have the impression that our views aren't as distinct as we might have thought. For example, what you may see as a highly revised naturalism necessitated by developments in physics may qualify as supernaturalism in my mind, especially if it ends up confirming the reality of paradigmatically supernatural phenomena like postmortem survival (some physicists already take this possibility seriously in light of certain views on quantum phenomena). Of course, it is possible that naturalism as we know it will remain in tact and be able to accommodate the anomalous phenomena I've discussed, along with many others. I doubt it, however, and it wouldn't be the first time anomalies have forced the development of science in ways that have completely revolutionized our fundamental understanding of reality. For example, lots of physicists, e.g. Henry Stapp, now take very seriously the possibility that the mind interacts with the physical world in ways completely unanticipated by the great mass of earlier theories in physics, which had no place for any mind-to-world interaction in the relevant sense. As indicated and generally speaking, the bases for these enormously important paradigm shifts are anomalous phenomena, i.e. anomalous relative to existing frameworks. Whether skeptic-types want to realize it or not, physics certainly has moved closer to supernaturalism or something very much like it and away from naturalism as it has long been understood. This shift is reflected also in the increasing unpopularity of physicalism and naturalism more broadly among analytic philosophers. Whether strict supernaturalism will ultimately be favored cannot be known at this point.

Perhaps the major sticking point here is theism. My approach is to interpret the evidence I have before me in what seems to me the most straightforward way. To my mind, certain miraculous occurrences and the facts surrounding them are most straightforwardly interpreted as resulting from the actions of a divine agent or agents. There are other possibilities, obviously: maybe it's all a great deceptive conspiracy, or aliens tricking us, or whatever. But these just look like efforts to avoid the most direct and fact-correspondent explanation. I have no particular inclination to assume these phenomena will eventually be explained in the old naturalistic framework. I recognize that that's possible, but doubt it will happen, because of how anomalous the phenomena are.
 
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KCN

El revisionismo en castillano
Jul 17, 2018
234
892
You write as if there's universal agreement on the "intrinsic meaninglessness" of everything. This is false. Even many atheists reject that idea, as a look at the relevant contemporary philosophy literature will bear out. I don't see any basis for your confidence that something as tenuously supported as the notion of the "intrinsic meaninglessness" of everything must be recognized by whatever God or gods might exist. I'm glad you acknowledge that deities needn't have any particular moral quality, but at this point you're effectively conceding the irrelevance of your "trust" point, at least to anything I've written.
Your favourite deity could reveal what the "infamous" number 42 stands for, but that wouldn't be nothing more than further information about existence disclosed. If everything is prompted to end once this 'revelation', then it could be classified as absolutely meaningless. Entertaining at best, but not ultimately meaningful.

The whole concept of meaning is a fraud.

Regarding the other subject that you address, I now have the impression that our views aren't as distinct as we might have thought.

Since I'm typing from my phone I can't write down essays, let's just say that I don't see the need to qualify something as "supernatural" while what's natural, therefore Physics as a whole -- has not yet been laid out in ALL of its aspects.

What looks "weird" (aka "miraculous") to some people it's not. Combustion of thiocyanate mercury, as the simple chemical phenomenon that it is, leaves many with their eyes bulging. Does it mean that it's supernatural or weird? No. They just don't know how things work and they fall in a stuporous state.
 

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