The Afterlife

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Instead of video games or TV (like most 12 year olds) I would always rather be learning. A topic that really bothers me is the afterlife. My view is that when you die you die. Since your mind or "soul" relies on your brain, how can they explore freely after death? When I try to explain this to other people they always get the message that the only thing you see is darkness. How do I explain this without people getting that message?
 

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  • #2
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The best way to teach people about the afterlife is to kill them.
 
  • #3
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Don't give me ideas.

(Actually I'm asking for ideas, but if i kill them they will die thinking abut darkness -_-)
 
  • #4
Drakkith
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Since your mind or "soul" relies on your brain, how can they explore freely after death?
There is no scientific evidence of a soul. That doesn't mean there isn't one, that just means that it isn't something that can be observed, tested, etc either way. As such there simply isn't an answer to your question.

When I try to explain this to other people they always get the message that the only thing you see is darkness. How do I explain this without people getting that message?
I don't think you can.
 
  • #5
Ryan_m_b
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When I try to explain this to other people they always get the message that the only thing you see is darkness. How do I explain this without people getting that message?
Ask them what they were experiencing before they were born, chances are it's going to the exactly the same as what it will be when they die (absolutely nothing).
 
  • #6
ZapperZ
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Instead of video games or TV (like most 12 year olds) I would always rather be learning. A topic that really bothers me is the afterlife. My view is that when you die you die. Since your mind or "soul" relies on your brain, how can they explore freely after death? When I try to explain this to other people they always get the message that the only thing you see is darkness. How do I explain this without people getting that message?
We don't normally allow blog posts to use as sources, but this is applied to when one is citing physics or science sources. In this case, I would claim an exception because (i) it's written by Sean Carroll, who isn't an unknown "quantity", and (ii) it isn't being used as a science source, but rather in the PRACTICE of science. It presents HOW one would need to do if one would claim that such-and-such is consistent with physics.

He wrote this piece a while back, but it addressed a number of very important things.

http://blogs.scientificamerican.com/guest-blog/2011/05/23/physics-and-the-immortality-of-the-soul/

Note the part where he brought up the Dirac equation.

If you believe in an immaterial soul that interacts with our bodies, you need to believe that this equation is not right, even at everyday energies. There needs to be a new term (at minimum) on the right, representing how the soul interacts with electrons. (If that term doesn't exist, electrons will just go on their way as if there weren't any soul at all, and then what's the point?) So any respectable scientist who took this idea seriously would be asking -- what form does that interaction take? Is it local in spacetime? Does the soul respect gauge invariance and Lorentz invariance? Does the soul have a Hamiltonian? Do the interactions preserve unitarity and conservation of information?
This is important, because it clearly presents what MUST take place if this thing called "soul" actually exists and can be detected, AND, consistent with physics. If one were to argue that this is beyond our current understanding and can't be detected, well then, how would anyone claim to know it exists when no one can sense it? Throw everything out of the window!

So the claim of an "afterlife" depends very much on the existence of a "soul". Without a soul, we have no afterlife. And that's the point here, how does one show that such a thing exists.

Zz.
 
  • #7
Ivan Seeking
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This is important, because it clearly presents what MUST take place if this thing called "soul" actually exists and can be detected, AND, consistent with physics. If one were to argue that this is beyond our current understanding and can't be detected, well then, how would anyone claim to know it exists when no one can sense it? Throw everything out of the window!

So the claim of an "afterlife" depends very much on the existence of a "soul". Without a soul, we have no afterlife. And that's the point here, how does one show that such a thing exists.

Zz.
From a theological point of view, one view might hold that the soul interacts with electrons in precisely the same manner as does our consciousness [the self] because they are the same thing. The soul is generally taken to be the breath of life, and more specifically, that which gives us self identity. So at least in some schools of thought, "the soul problem" is identical to the consciousness problem.
 
  • #8
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Sam Harris put it eloquently when he stated how, if one part of a person's brain is damaged, that person loses the ability to (at full functionality) perform the task that that particular part of the brain is assinged to do.

Why then, do so many people believe that when the entire brain is damaged at death, we can somehow arise from our bodies with full functionality and with full recognition of our memories?
 
  • #9
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From a theological point of view, one view might hold that the soul interacts with electrons in precisely the same manner as does our consciousness [the self] because they are the same thing. The soul is generally taken to be the breath of life, and more specifically, that which gives us self identity. So at least in some schools of thought, "the soul problem" is identical to the consciousness problem.
Well, I'm not surprised that "theological point of view" would use a vague phenomenon as an explanation for an unverified phenomenon. That's like me explaining superluminal neutrinos using tachyons. How much credibility does that hold?

Zz.
 
  • #10
Ivan Seeking
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Well, I'm not surprised that "theological point of view" would use a vague phenomenon as an explanation for an unverified phenomenon. That's like me explaining superluminal neutrinos using tachyons. How much credibility does that hold?

Zz.
This definition has been around a bit longer than the current objections. And it isn't an explanation, it is considered an identity.
 
  • #11
Ryan_m_b
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From a theological point of view, one view might hold that the soul interacts with electrons in precisely the same manner as does our consciousness [the self] because they are the same thing. The soul is generally taken to be the breath of life, and more specifically, that which gives us self identity. So at least in some schools of thought, "the soul problem" is identical to the consciousness problem.
This is little more than wordplay equating mind-body dualism with the idea of an immortal soul. They may use the same word (soul) but they are refering to very different things. The former is in regard to whether or not the mind can be reduced to material components and the latter posits a mind physically seperate to the body that can exist independent of it. The OP is clearly refering to the latter.
 
  • #12
Ivan Seeking
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This is little more than wordplay equating mind-body dualism with the idea of an immortal soul. They may use the same word (soul) but they are refering to very different things. The former is in regard to whether or not the mind can be reduced to material components and the latter posits a mind physically seperate to the body that can exist independent of it. The OP is clearly refering to the latter.
I was responding to Zappers link and the question of how a soul can interact with electrons. And I am taking the defintion of the soul from religious teachings that predate modern dualism by a millenia.

Today we call it consciousness. Traditionally it is called a soul.
 
  • #13
Ryan_m_b
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I was responding to Zappers link and the question of how a soul can interact with electrons. And I am taking the defintion of the soul from religious teachings that predate modern dualism by a millenia.

Today we call it consciousness. Traditionally it is called a soul.
This is the point I was trying to address: this traditional definition is different to what we use now and what the OP is discussing. Even if we take it as read that soul used to be a total synonym of consciousness the "modern" definition bears little resemblence, instead in modern parliage soul means an immaterial copy of the mind (sometimes along with the body and/or spirit) that interacts with the material body and lives on independantly after the death of the material body.

In that respect Zapper's post was accurate, the hypothesis of an immaterial entity that fundamentally interacts with consciousness (which we know to be an emergent property of physical brains) fails in that no interaction is demonstrated and is in fact demonstrated not to be necessary.
 
  • #14
ZapperZ
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I was responding to Zappers link and the question of how a soul can interact with electrons. And I am taking the defintion of the soul from religious teachings that predate modern dualism by a millenia.

Today we call it consciousness. Traditionally it is called a soul.
I disagree.

The scientific study of consciousness does not have any indication of it existence after death. The religious notion of soul does!

I do not see such resemblance that allows you to equate these two.

In any case, call it a cow if you wish. We are sidestepping the fact that Carroll has clearly laid down the challenge that can't be countered by those who would claim such existence.

Zz.
 
  • #15
Curious3141
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I was responding to Zappers link and the question of how a soul can interact with electrons. And I am taking the defintion of the soul from religious teachings that predate modern dualism by a millenia.

Today we call it consciousness. Traditionally it is called a soul.
You have to be very clear about what "religious teachings" you're referencing. If you're referring to Judaeo-Christian thought, I have no comment. But if you're referring to the tenets of Hinduism, a far more ancient religion, and probably the oldest extant faith in the world, then you're quite wrong.

Hinduism, as described in one of the Upanishads, distinguishes the "Atman" or Self, which is the actual soul, from its five sheaths (called "Koshas") - namely the Annamaya Kosha (food-sheath), Pranamaya Kosha (vital sheath), Manomaya Kosha (mental sheath), Vijnanamaya Kosha (intellect-sheath) and Anandamaya Kosha (blissful sheath). These sheaths, which go from the grossest physical self to the deepest emotional core, are responsible for all conscious and even unconscious (dream-state) experience, volition, intellect, pleasure and emotion. Yet they are only coverings (sheaths) of the true soul, which is the "Atman" itself. The true soul is not accessible to common experience. Mistaking experiential phenomena and qualia as manifestations of the soul is highlighted as a common error. The true soul is supposed to be something far deeper than that, completely imperturbable and basically inaccessible, except by the truly enlightened.

So not every religion equates the soul with consciousness.
 
  • #16
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You have to be very clear about what "religious teachings" you're referencing. If you're referring to Judaeo-Christian thought, I have no comment. But if you're referring to the tenets of Hinduism, a far more ancient religion, and probably the oldest extant faith in the world, then you're quite wrong.

Hinduism, as described in one of the Upanishads, distinguishes the "Atman" or Self, which is the actual soul, from its five sheaths (called "Koshas") - namely the Annamaya Kosha (food-sheath), Pranamaya Kosha (vital sheath), Manomaya Kosha (mental sheath), Vijnanamaya Kosha (intellect-sheath) and Anandamaya Kosha (blissful sheath). These sheaths, which go from the grossest physical self to the deepest emotional core, are responsible for all conscious and even unconscious (dream-state) experience, volition, intellect, pleasure and emotion. Yet they are only coverings (sheaths) of the true soul, which is the "Atman" itself. The true soul is not accessible to common experience. Mistaking experiential phenomena and qualia as manifestations of the soul is highlighted as a common error. The true soul is supposed to be something far deeper than that, completely imperturbable and basically inaccessible, except by the truly enlightened.

So not every religion equates the soul with consciousness.
Agreed. And in Buddhism there is no atman/soul at all, yet there is consciousness (viññāṇa)

-DaveK
 

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