I am new to this forum. I was raised Catholic and spent 9 years at a private school. That's the easiest way to get the christian notion of God beat right out of you. But I was wondering what most Atheists believe is how the universe works. I recently read an interesting book I found on Barnes and Nobles site, called God I Am. The subject of this book is the notion that what should be considered God, or not God for that matter is our own consciousness. I wonder what most Atheists believe happens to our molecular matter, and our consciousness after death. Has anybody read this book? What are your feelings about the end result of our individual consciousness. Does it just stop, or could it become part of something else.
People are often looking for a way to continue at least a faint belief in God—pantheism or our own consciousness, etc. None of these has ever made sense to me, but they allow some to think they are not really atheists and that comforts them.
As for what happens to consciousness after death, I think it is pretty clear it simply ceases to exist as it does when you have a general anesthetic. You return to a state like that before birth—simple nothingness. Oblivion is our ultimate fate and the consolation is that it cannot be painful.
"I wonder what most Atheists believe happens to our molecular matter, and our consciousness after death."
Molecular matter is easy to study scientifically, and is aside from any theological considerations.
Consciousness, too, is easy to answer, and I concur with the good Dr. Clark.
Your consciousness after death is the same as it was before your birth.
Bill, don’t be confused by those who attempt to confound the simplicity of atheism. It is easy to understand, but, for some, hard to accept.
I have not read this book so I'll attempt to show some respect for the author. Having said that, I'll approach your question with the same set of tools I used to establish my atheism. What do I know, how do I know it and why should I believe what anyone else has to say about this subject?
Having evolved towards materialism I believe the mind to be the result of electrochemical reactions within the brain. At death, the machine ceases to function and the life of the mind ends. As much as we might want it to be otherwise, there is no magic involved and no independent mind, spirit or soul.
One life, one chance to experience existence. I can't prove there is no god but I am forced to live as if this were the case. I'll not be be guilted into being a Pascalian t(f)ool.
What happens to consciousness after death?
Consciousness is a product of the brain. The brain is a computer which supports consciousness as a function of its operating system, even as a PC supports Windows, except that there's no hard drive, no non-volatile storage. When you turn off a PC without saving what is in RAM memory, whatever was in RAM is GONE.
Memory storage in the brain, indeed, the entire functioning of the brain, is no different. The brain is a volatile storage and processing medium. Cut the power and ... that's all she wrote.
As far as I am concerned humans are just animals like elephants, rabbits, whales, etc., although a more higher evolved one, of course. What happens to elephants, rabbits, whales, etc., when they die? Do they go to some kind of elephant, rabbit or whale heaven? They cease to exist and become a part of the earth from whence they came. As an animal with mostly the same genes, we do, too. When I was a child, I said if my dog could not go to heaven, I didn't want to go either. Religious people set man up as a special chosen animal. If you believe in evolution, there is no way this can be. I think this is why so many deny evolution just as they deny death.
Life emanates from the earth and to the earth we return on death.
Conciousness ceases on death.
The reviews indicate the book is a dreamy astrological writing. I will not read it.
Nap, the King James Version is the dreamy writing. It reads like poetry and is difficult to understand. Now modern versions interpret it anyway they please to their advantage. However, when I was thirty and still pretending to be a believer, I decided I needed to read the bible all of the way through. "Good News for Modern Man" had just been published so I thought that would be easier to understand. It was very simply written, too simply. It was hilarious and absolutely ridiculous. I don't know if any are still around, but if you ever have a weak moment and want to read it, this is the one to select.
As I see it our molecules get recylced and there is no consciousness after death.
Thank you for all the comments. I cannot at this point say that I am an Atheist. I am searching for some kind of solid ground. In reading the book I mentioned I thought that maybe there was some leeway in what Atheists believed is after death. For me its kinds like saying evolution does not negate the existence of God. Consciousness surviving and somehow contributing to the universe, does not indicate that there is a God. Only that an energy can move on in some form. Or is an energy surviving after death mean there then is in fact a God??????
Recently I suffered a personal tragedy that changed my life. The pain I suffer daily is overwhelming. Sometimes I think I need to just end it to stop the constant pain. I can't because I am afraid of what death might bring. I want to just vanish. But what if there is something after. What if it is worst?
Sorry to hear you have been through something so terrible it makes you feel this way. Many of us have been there as well in the past and feel genuine sympathy for anyone suffering as much as you. It may not help much, but in my experience of 77 years, I have found that if you can hold on, things may get better. If you can find help, that would be a good thing too. The important thing is to know that you are not alone.
This puts your question in an entirely different light and though it doesn't change anything I wrote, at this point any belief that helps you to hang on should be embraced. Getting through this is your first task, sorting things out is for down the line a bit.
Take care and let us know how you are doing.
You are not alone, as nearly all of us have had some sort of staggering personal adversity . . . . or will have.
When considering an alternative to living in the face of your tragedy, what comes after life should not be a consideration.
What you should focus upon is life itself, its potential, and all the wonderful things that will happen for you.
As the Buddha said: “This, too, shall pass”.
Keep in mind that here at Atheist/Nexus you will find some of the most compassionate people you will encounter over the course of your entire lifetime.
I’ve found that atheists love more intensely, empathize more easily, and are more generous with their efforts to elevate all our lives to that level of happiness achievable simply because we are human beings.
Search on, Bill. It’s a great adventure.
Beautifully written, Asa.