Nature of God

Eternity

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John Prytz

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Regarding the Afterlife
« on: October 13, 2016, 04:52:41 am »
One reason for inventing a supernatural deity is that death is something natural, yet something that we would like to avoid. Since that's not possible, the next best option is an afterlife - an 'eternal' afterlife. However, since we cannot undergo that phase change all on our own, we need a supernatural agent to help us make that phase transition. So it should come as no surprise that the afterlife is one of the major tenants of many religions, yet the concept has to be flawed.

Firstly, since your body / brain goes nowhere post your demise, you'd need to demonstrate actual mind / body duality - an immaterial something that's part of you (i.e. - soul, essence, spirit, personality, whatever) that still exists (if it can be said that something immaterial or non-physical actually has existence) post your kickin' the bucket. Considering that you weren't conceived with anything non-physical, you'd need to explain where in fact your non-physicality bits came from. Further, all immaterial or non-physical concepts only can come into actual 'existence' when consciously thought about or subconsciously stored in memory. Both thought and memory are purely physical processes.

The main problem I have is that the immaterial part of you - your soul, etc. - has no sensory apparatus (eyes, ears, nerves, taste buds, etc.) and no brain to process any sensory data. Therefore, in the afterlife you would be deaf, blind, etc. How does your soul actually experience the external reality that you inhabit in your afterlife?

But there are two other problems. The first is that 'eternal' bit. An eternal afterlife sounds nice until you realize you'd outlast the Heat Death of the Universe, trillions of years hence. If you get bored on a weekend afternoon, imagine trillions upon trillions of them. The question is, how can you fill in that time without going stir-crazy with boredom hundreds of times worse than anything you've ever experienced before?

The second problem is more significant. Since that you that is you changes from day-to-day, which version of you is that you that gets the afterlife? Changes in you are not just physical in that old cells die, new cells form; atoms come, atoms go; you put on weight, you lose weight; you change hairstyles or grow a beard; you age (gracefully or otherwise); your health and fitness changes as well, usually going steadily downhill. Changes are also apparent in your very essence which alters over time too in terms of memories and knowledge acquired and forgotten; likes and dislikes ditto. So that you at your death could be just a pale reflection of that you in your prime. But your prime isn't the maximal prime when it comes to all of the facets that make you, the you reading this right now, you. Your health or fitness could be better or worse tomorrow. Your interests different tomorrow. Your new experiences now added on to what came before; or maybe forgotten. However, you could argue that God could resurrect you in such a fashion as to combine all of the various maximal primes you had at various ages into a new and improved version of you. But what about the baby / infant who hasn't achieved any real prime bits yet. All their prime bits are theoretical and just potential future ones. But when the baby dies they had no knowledge, no real experiences, no memories, and no real fitness (physical or mental). What kind of eternal afterlife could that infant have, or does an all-knowing God just resurrect the baby knowing what kind of maximal primes it would have had? Does that really even make any sense? That sort of negates any free will that baby would have had!

The moral of this little segment is to make the fullest use of this go-round that you can for once it's done, it's done. That's it. As Yogi Berra once observed, "it ain't over till it's over", but once it's over, it's over! So "do not go gently into that good night. Rage, rage against the dying of the light." 

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Harvey

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Re: Regarding the Afterlife
« Reply #1 on: October 16, 2016, 04:34:59 pm »
Firstly, since your body / brain goes nowhere post your demise, you'd need to demonstrate actual mind / body duality - an immaterial something that's part of you (i.e. - soul, essence, spirit, personality, whatever) that still exists (if it can be said that something immaterial or non-physical actually has existence) post your kickin' the bucket. Considering that you weren't conceived with anything non-physical, you'd need to explain where in fact your non-physicality bits came from. Further, all immaterial or non-physical concepts only can come into actual 'existence' when consciously thought about or subconsciously stored in memory. Both thought and memory are purely physical processes.

a) The non-physicality doesn't have to come from anywhere. For example, if virtual particles pop into existence there doesn't have to be a "energy reserve" where this energy comes from.
b) I agree that thought and memory involve physical processes, but that's not to say that this is all that thought and memory are. For example, we remember the past and discover the future, but there's no reason to think that we are living "in the Now." It is quite possible that there are future Nows which haven't happened yet for us, but in some other reference frame they have already occurred. This is one of the implications for special relativity with regard to the relativity of simultaneity. Hence, our memories might not exist "yet" in our reference frame, but in another reference frame those memories exist. That would suggest that information about ourselves does not disappear when we perish but rather it lives on (otherwise how do you explain the relativity of simultaneity?).

Quote from: JP
The main problem I have is that the immaterial part of you - your soul, etc. - has no sensory apparatus (eyes, ears, nerves, taste buds, etc.) and no brain to process any sensory data. Therefore, in the afterlife you would be deaf, blind, etc. How does your soul actually experience the external reality that you inhabit in your afterlife?

There's different approaches to answer this problem. Christian materialists might hold out hope for a resurrected body kind of what the apostle Paul talks about in I Cor.15. Dualists, on the other hand, might argue that in the afterlife we sense the external reality "directly" versus through the physical continuum.

Quote from: JP
But there are two other problems. The first is that 'eternal' bit. An eternal afterlife sounds nice until you realize you'd outlast the Heat Death of the Universe, trillions of years hence. If you get bored on a weekend afternoon, imagine trillions upon trillions of them. The question is, how can you fill in that time without going stir-crazy with boredom hundreds of times worse than anything you've ever experienced before?

There's a lot of assumptions that are difficult to answer. For example, an afterlife might be a different plane of existence. For example, if we were creatures that dreamt all day, then we might have no clue what awaken state is like. It's a different plane of existence than an low conscious state. Another possibility is that we experience multiple possible worlds at once. Each world is like a room where you have that one experience and you experience it "all at once." For example, that time in childhood when you first realized that you were good at something may have it's own "room." In heaven you are "in" that experience as a holistic experience. We can see photographs without seeing each and every pixel, so it may be part of an afterlife experience where we see an an entire scene as one image. If there are an infinite number of such rooms, our sense of time is completely different. We could be frozen in time at time t, and yet have an infinite number of experiences at time t. There is never an after t, and there is never a point where we don't exist and not experience our own personal heaven. Or, another possibility is that being on a different experiential level we just keep experiencing new experiences forever and ever.

Quote from: JP
The second problem is more significant. Since that you that is you changes from day-to-day, which version of you is that you that gets the afterlife? Changes in you are not just physical in that old cells die, new cells form; atoms come, atoms go; you put on weight, you lose weight; you change hairstyles or grow a beard; you age (gracefully or otherwise); your health and fitness changes as well, usually going steadily downhill. Changes are also apparent in your very essence which alters over time too in terms of memories and knowledge acquired and forgotten; likes and dislikes ditto. So that you at your death could be just a pale reflection of that you in your prime. But your prime isn't the maximal prime when it comes to all of the facets that make you, the you reading this right now, you. Your health or fitness could be better or worse tomorrow. Your interests different tomorrow. Your new experiences now added on to what came before; or maybe forgotten. However, you could argue that God could resurrect you in such a fashion as to combine all of the various maximal primes you had at various ages into a new and improved version of you. But what about the baby / infant who hasn't achieved any real prime bits yet. All their prime bits are theoretical and just potential future ones. But when the baby dies they had no knowledge, no real experiences, no memories, and no real fitness (physical or mental). What kind of eternal afterlife could that infant have, or does an all-knowing God just resurrect the baby knowing what kind of maximal primes it would have had? Does that really even make any sense? That sort of negates any free will that baby would have had!

If we look at the "being in a room" metaphor, you could be a different physical reconstruction of you. Where you exist is simply those points where you were happiest. We don't even need to constrict this to your actual experience. We could involve possible worlds where you could have experienced such and such but didn't, but in this room you do experience it. So, for example, when you lost someone very close to you, one of the rooms could contain the future where you reconnect with that person. These are just examples, of course.

Quote from: JP
The moral of this little segment is to make the fullest use of this go-round that you can for once it's done, it's done. That's it. As Yogi Berra once observed, "it ain't over till it's over", but once it's over, it's over! So "do not go gently into that good night. Rage, rage against the dying of the light."

That's incorrect though. And, you are many times more likely to commit suicide once Alzheimer's sets in, or you suffer from cancer, or arthritis, or depression, or the loss of someone that you feel you cannot go on. If you have hope of an afterlife reuniting with a loved one, then life holds meaning. Let's face it, if all you are is a material thing then from the perspective of the universe (or the earth for that matter) it really doesn't matter if you live a lifetime or a few seconds. Once you are sufficiently lonely or sufficiently in pain, this kind of thinking would often drive many people to suicide or at least a very miserable existence. However, if you believe that you will join with your loved ones, then there's no rush because you know you will have an eternity with them. You ought to live every second as happy as possible so that you can give back as you were ordained to do.