Profound lines from the movies:
Yeah, that's it. Josey Wales.
If that's what happened, then Josey Wales must be dead.
He is dead.
He sure is dead.
Dead, all right.
"Christianity," said Friedrich Nietzsche in The Antichrist, "creates distress to make itself immortal."
It created a lot of distress in my life before I dumped it.
Studying science helped; I started wanting evidence. I didn't get any and started liking life before death.
I may have put this out there before but ... what the heck:
Back in the day, before computer programmers started to recognize the liabilities inherent in the hardware, there was a truism to their function: if you were in the middle of writing a report or preparing a spreadsheet or altering a JPEG and the power went out ... what happened? The answer is pretty simple: all your work was LOST. This is because that work was being recorded in what is known as volatile RAM - Random Access Memory - which does not retain the data it holds in the absence of the power the computer needs to operate. Many of us have had that happen to us on our computers, and yeah, it is a royal pain in the neck. Finally, the programmers came up with the auto-save function, where the utility being used automatically stores our progress to the hard drive at intervals, so that if there is a power glitch, most if not all of the work in progress can be recovered.
Our brains are very much like that RAM in that, without power, or in our case, without blood circulating to supply the energy they need, after a very brief time span they lose their capacity to work and with it, the stored knowledge or functionality to operate our bodies. That process is irreversible, even as it is with the computer. Worthy of note, too: There Is No Hard Drive Backup, no ethereal reserve second copy of us, waiting to be resurrected when the body does finally fail.
The theists would have us believe that, regardless of the state of our body, that some soul or spirit or other non-physical entity has US imprinted on it. This entity supposedly has the means to survive the loss and decay of the physical body and goes elsewhere upon death, to some reward or punishment or whatever. The obvious problem is that they can't demonstrate the existence of any of the mechanisms they assert, yet they continue to insist that those mechanisms are out there, along with their god, their heaven and their hell. To me, that whole belief system is a product of their fear of their own death, their inability to face their own mortality. As my man put it:
Man is so built that he cannot imagine his own death. This leads to endless invention of religions.
-- Robert A. Heinlein, Stranger in a Strange Land
I suppose that the skeptic in me should allow for the possibility of some as-yet undiscovered biophysical mechanism that would allow our consciousness to survive the fatal malfunction of the body ... except for the fact that there is not even the least hint of any such mechanism. The heart stops, a given period of time passes, and even if resuscitation is successful, the brain remains damaged beyond repair.
My conclusion is simple: that Homo sapiens is a machine - a truly amazing, self-conscious machine - but a machine nevertheless. The fact is that machines fail, and the uniqueness of each of us precludes that spare parts are not available in all cases to effect repair. Entropy in one form or another wears at all of us; the pieces erode, age and finally break down.
We live, we die, we're gone. I can't see it any other way.
I know someone who doesn't believe in God but is intrigued with the concept of ghosts. He seems to find ghosts believable.
There's another dimension - the moral dimension - to God-belief, besides the belief in a supernatural being.
It's that moral dimension of belief that he doesn't have. He doesn't think a supernatural being is intimately concerned with his spiritual health.
Ghosts could be considered supernatural beings, but not necessarily with a moral dimension. They are thought to have supernatural powers, but not necessarily concerned with anyone's inner being.
OK, where's this quote come from...I know I read it recently, but I'm hoping someone else will know it as well:
"There are people who want to live forever but can't think of anything to do on a rainy Sunday afternoon."
Let's come at this discussion from another angle:
What if you couldn't die?
One of my favorite author's growing was the old Libertarian Robert Heinlein and one of my favorite books of his was Time Enough For Love.
He speculates on a time when people can, for all intents and purposes, live forever if they chose to.
But by law, in every hotel room there is a Suicide Switch on the wall that will kill them instantly and painlessly.
Not being able to die is, to me at least, a fate more terrifying than mortality.
I tend to go with what has been proven with everything that has died that I have any knowledge of and the only evidence is that absolutely nothing happens to you, there is no soul or floating consciousness none of it. Every single death shows that nothing happens other than your consciousness ends. I got into an argument with a theist who said,"there is a 50-50 chance of an afterlife." I had to straighten him out, there is a 100% chance that there is no afterlife. There has to be at least one proven afterlife for you to give that side any positive percentage, since there is none, the answer has to be a 0% chance of an afterlife.
Of course this person had a hard time with my reasoning but I do not think you can give something with no actual positive outcomes any positive percentage points. The comeback was a coin could either be heads or tails, thus the 50-50 chance. I replied that you can prove that there are two sides to the coin. With death, you can only prove that absolutely nothing happens.
Then the reply to that was the afterlife is metaphysical so there is no evidence for it, but that doesn't mean it doesn't happen. And my reply had to be there is no evidence of any supernatural event ever happening since the rise of modern man, along with all the evidence of the time on earth before modern man, so how can you base a belief on something that there is absolutely no evidence for? See you can say based on past experience, the earth will rotate so the sun will be visible tomorrow. I have no way of knowing whether or not it will be true but every other day it has been true so I would be betting based on it happening 100% of the time in the past. But betting on something being true when there exists no evidence now or in the past, you would be betting from the longest long shot.
Humans like the idea of an afterlife because it satisfies many of their fears and deep needs for justice.If you believe our story, you will live forever and it will be better than your present life could ever be. If theists really thought this to be true, why do so few work towards having a short life?
An afterlife gives people hope for justice, if there is no afterlife then bad people basically get away with their bad deeds. Yes. But it gives people a sense of justice if they can get revenge by bad people going to a "hell".
An afterlife allows people to reconcile the deaths of young people. "He has gone to a better place and he is with Grandpa and you will see your young son/daughter again when you pass." This is more comforting than a six year old getting gunned down and that is it.
I find that it can be just as comforting to believe the truth rather than spend my life justifying injustices with lies.
Kirk Tingblad, have you ever had any experience where not telling your truth has helped a problem or conflict?
Is it true for you that, "it can be just as comforting to believe the truth, rather than spend my life justifying injustices with lies"?
Well, my wife's nephew drowned from having a seizure and falling into a lake when he was 8 years old. At the time it just seemed cruel to not go along with the rest of the grieving family and bring up the idea that i found the idea ridiculous. So yes I think in a case like that, it does no immediate harm to lie. In the large picture you could say it really does not help by doing that, but causing a ruckus over that at that time did not seem like it would help anyone.
Kirk, I like your take on the subject.
Nerdless, I definitely agree, some bridges need repair and some need to be burned down. I guess it depends on how ruthless and dispassionate and judgmental religious are against others for some constructed reason they believe comes out of their holy book. I have no interest in being gentle with that type.
@ Kirk Tingblad, Point well made.
One suspects you are right. I just reread Shakespeare's soliloquy from Hamlet, about death being an undiscovered country from which no one ever returns. Until they do, the presumption must be that there is no life after death. The more who accept this, the less attention will be paid to religious matters and the more folks will live their lives for the good of all rather than for reunion with a mythical rabbi or partying with 72 virgins.