Afterlife

45


Can you have a meaningful life without an afterlife? I asked several friends to join me in exploring the merits of human existence and the concepts of posthumous reward and punishment. It is my hope that this video will answer religious claims that a secular life is meaningless and void and remind us all to cherish our precious and temporary tenure on planet earth.

My deepest thanks to AronRa, DarkMatter2525, DPRJones, Evid3nce, HealthyAddict, Laci Green, Thunderf00t and ZOMGitsCriss for their contributions to this project. I also encourage you to subscribe to their channels and support their work, and I’ve provided links here (in alphabetical order). All my best. -Seth Andrews

Full credits and more info via the YouTube link

Written By: Seth Andrews – The Thinking Atheist
continue to source article at youtube.com

45 COMMENTS

  1. Mr Darcy, why do you believe it’s “too mushy”?  Because it doesn’t call theists such terms as “creatards”?  Seth Andrews is one of the nicest guys you’ll ever meet.  Just because he quit believing, does that mean he supposed to start acting like an asshole?  The angry atheist does little to persuade people.

  2. If there was a heaven and I had to spend eternity worshiping that pathetic monster of a god of the bible, I couldn’t last 5 minutes. On the other hand, without god, eternity might be okay if there was a library with all the books ever created,  a good pub and some forests, woods, jungles and deserts to explore. And maybe internet access would be nice. I might not last eternity, but I could hang out for a long time.

  3. “Men talk of heaven,—there is no heaven but here; Men talk of hell,—there is no hell but here; Men of hereafters talk, and future lives,— O love, there is no other life— but here.”

    “To all of us the thought of heaven is dear— Why not be sure of it and make it here? No doubt there is a heaven yonder too, But ’tis so far away— and you are near.”Two beautiful lines from the Rubaiyat by Omar Khayyam, I particularly like how he emphasizes the here and now, and how beautiful and wonderful it can be – the potential for a tangible loveliness.

  4. While being agnostic, I agree Buddhist-like thoughts telling we can choose having eternally as many life and afterlife experiments that we want just for enjoying encounters of all human and non-human forms of life and worlds (of all dimensions). So it’s a great pleasure for me to read your thoughts and eventually respectfully meet you!

  5. It is my hope that this video will answer religious claims that a secular life is meaningless and void and remind us all to cherish our precious and temporary tenure on planet earth.

    Sorry I think overall, this video failed. It started off on the wrong foot and just kept going. Too much time was spent “trashing” the religious view before any comments were made why a secular life can be full of meaning, beauty, and depth.  Why do we habitually define ourselves by what we do not believe or what we reject? Let’s hear people say what they stand for, what makes them jump out of bed and be immersed in this world. How has death or the loss of a loved one moved them personally? (Thunderfoot at least was most consistent.) Can someone do this with talking about religion — completely with no reference to “that other flawed thought process?” If it is going to be deep and filled with emotion, all the words and comments need to be as meaningful and as elevating as the music and imagery.

    Good try, but the experiences and explanations need to be exemplary.

  6. In my opinion, the central question to the inquiry into an “afterlife” is the determination of the nature of eternity. It appears that most people who discuss this topic are presuming a “Newtonian” view of absolute time and excluding from the discussion the theory of absolute space-time as espoused by Einstein and Minkowski. While I will not attempt to explain the intricacies of the theories of relativity, suffice it to say that Einstein thought that the distinction between past, present and future is an illusion. While most of us continue to interpret our existence in the universe by perceiving the material manifested world around us by employing the skills we inherited through biological evolution, modern theoretical physics has, of course, extended our manner of interpreting the universe to forever alter our understanding of both relative, subjective reality and absolute, objective reality. Albert Einstein stated that “since there exists in the four dimensional structure (space-time) no longer any sections which represent “now” objectively, the concepts of happening and becoming are indeed not completely suspended but yet complicated. It appears therefore more natural to think of physical reality as a four dimensional existence, instead of, as hitherto, the evolution of a three dimensional existence.” Einstein went on to state that there is not a true division between past and future, but rather a single existence. In other words, the distinction between past, present and future is an illusion.

    Therefore, if eternity is timelessness and our conscious experiences are part of this timelessness, then do our actions and thoughts exist in this timeless eternity? As theoretical physicist David Bohm stated: “Ultimately, all moments are really one. Therefore now is eternity” Or as theoretical physicist Brian Greene says: “Just as we envision all of space as really being out there, as really existing, we should also envision all of time as really being out there, as really existing too.” 

  7. i still don’t get how people can categorically claim there is no “life” after death.  i don’t mean the silly nonsense that religions propose.  and i get that before we were born, we were, as it were, nothing. but i’d got the impression from sam harris et al that, the manner in which consciousness fits into nature and what happens to it after death are still up for grabs …

  8. I remember feeling not a single ounce of despair, only relief and awe on that day when I acknowledged that there is probably no afterlife and no conscious higher power governing my life. It was overwhelming to think that the universe came to be just because it can, and not because someone deliberately created it.

  9.  I love the fact that when I die, my constituent parts will all be recycled in some way or other…….bits of ‘me’ (or the bits I ‘borrowed’ to be me!) will all become part of something else, mostly the water cycle obviously, but all back into the great organic mulch sooner or later…..I take so much more satisfaction in that than the ludicrous claims about an afterlife…..

  10. The only point I’ve heard Harris make about consciousness after death is that all the evidence points to the physical grey matter of our brains being entirely responsible for consciousness. We know that various parts of the brain are responsible for various aspects of consciousness, as demonstrated by people losing particular parts of their consciousness when they suffer brain damage. So it seems rather unlikely (to put it mildly) that you could retain any amount of consciousness after you die and your brain has rotted away.

  11. thank you for putting it so mildly. i, to put it mildly, didn’t realise that you were so familiar with the points sam harris makes.  i also take it that i must have been making it up, so here is one example of what he’s said, taken from “The Mystery of Consciousness”, which I’m sure you’ve read, that prompted my musing: “
    Absolutely nothing about a brain, when surveyed as a physical system, suggests that it is a locus of experience…”

  12. Don’t care much for the video.

    Anyway, I think the “heaven would be unbearable” argument is weak. I was disappointed that the late, great, Christopher Hitchens kept using it. Everyone designs their own heaven as they see fit.

  13. I think it’s quite reasonable to point out that an eternal afterlife is actually a horrifying idea. But persistently arguing that an atheist life has oh so much meaning is a bit childish. Who really questions that? Seems very insecure trying to convince oneself about the meaning of one’s own life, and I have never met a serious religious person who would be arrogant enough to question the meaning or value of my atheist life.

  14.  

    I understand that our atoms were created in stars, but how will atoms return to stars in the future?

    In about 5  billion years our sun…Sol…will have entered the final stadium of stellar life.
    It will be a dying sun but it will not go quietly into that dark night…it will rage rage unto the dying of the light.
    Maybe 8 billion years of frantic and inevitable burning of the furniture will occur, all the core bound hydrogen, the helium and then a stuttering production of the heavier elements will occur. The physics change the sun will swell and cool and the predominant colour will be red, a huge red disc from earthly horizon to earthly horizon.
    The sun will by the necessity of age be a helium burner…a final curtain… the final glory!
    In time measured in billions of years the Earth and inner planets would have been stripped and melted and vaporized, by an expanding stellar surface, the material from the inner planets spiralling in to the outer atmosphere of an elderly guttering sun.

    Eventually the star convulses and a cloud of hydrogen from the outer layers of the sun plume away from the gravity well of stellar jurisdiction forming a beautiful and sad remnant of past glory, a veil of grief some have said..but a veil nonetheless that glitters like a tiny jewel in the cosmos from afar…and thus on a time scale beyond human comprehension the atoms and particles that once were so alive and with which we were so familiar drifting in cold interstellar space for an eternity measured in the decay of time…return to the void of the interstellar wasteland and eventually to be assumed by a future generation of a stellar body and the circle of life and evolution cranks once more in the stellar dimensions…..leaving a dullish barren, and cold stellar remnant far far behind…a  insignificant clinker holding a raggedy and paucity ridden court in a system grown cold and dark and lifeless….and with a silence of the tomb!

    The sadness in the bitter tears of inevitability in the court of a white dwarf.

  15. mike_in_tulsa:

    Mr Darcy, why do you believe it’s “too mushy”?

    Just my opinion. Too close too being an advert for the new wonder product “NON BELIEF”.

    NON BELIEF helps you sleep tightly at night, get on well with people, keeps you healthy, – and it even brightens your teeth! 

  16. As a believer I was constantly afraid of life, under the gaze of some totalitarian trickster seeking the torture of humans, often in disguise as some humans infectious mind lying for myths and satiating their emotions due this perversion.
    As an atheist I look forward to death as the best part of what went wrong with my life as a believer – the premise of the religions of lies will be gone forever; the premise that this life is a pain to be endured until the after death. Death is the best friend I ever had awaiting my reception! The only truth I ever came to know was not attempting to, or being coerced to, deceive me!

    I see it as a greater pleasure, in wait, than the life I have endured – the nothing that is far greater than the negation of all truth that has surrounded my existence! 

  17. Robert Green Ingersoll is quoted on ‘Happiness’ at the end. Almost exactly how Ken Dodd sang it, bless him.

    I found this video to be excellent and moving, though admittedly a bit mushy as Mr DArcy said.

    Sometimes ‘mushy’ is good; in videos as in peas.

    The strongest argument here is in that many devout types are often duped out of valuing their most precious possessions, their lives, and fooled into placing their faith in the false hope of afterlife paradise. I have to single out jihadi warriors in this regard. Although they are not the only ones, they are perhaps the worst, with their murderous definition of the martyrdom concept.

  18. Yeah but in most after life scenarios you get no choice. Its for eternity. 
    As Thunderfoot said in the video, it is the mind boggling concept of eternity that is so unpalatable. In the end EVERYTHING would become stale and you would yearn for death.Once you’ve read every book ever written a few thousand times, explored every part of the universe repeatedly, held every conversation possible with every member of the human race and every alien race some thousand times and you realise that there’s nothing new to experience, nothing is ever going to change and you can’t get out?
    luckily there is nothing in this finite universe that suggests that is possible because that would take an infinite amount of energy.

  19. I hope the following:

    1. I die without much pain, or preferably no pain.
    2. My loved ones will get over my death in a short period of time, and continue their lives with joy until their lives will be over.

     

  20. Really? Perhaps this is a difference between your average theist in the US and the UK but here in the US I’ve met several theists who say atheists can’t have decent lives and online many, many more who say that.

  21. Personally I find most of the points made in the video irrelevant. The real issue….afterlife or no afterlife….is that you will never again have any impact upon this Earth as ‘you’. In that respect, death most certainly is ‘the end’ whether you carry on or not…..for as Shakespeare says, no man has ever returned from that far country.

  22.  

    I have never met a serious religious person who would
    be arrogant enough to question the meaning or value of my atheist life.

    Would you regard Cardinal Cardinal Cormac Murphy-o’Conner as a serious religious person?Archbishop of Westminster…the ex-head honcho of the Catholic church in England and Wales.

    No more serious religious person possible I would have thought…

    Interesting what he thinks of Atheists…

    He thinks Atheists are not fully human….would you agree with him?
    Would you not think his arrogance is in directly questioning of atheism and atheists…I call it the greatest insult to label a section of society sub-human.

    The man is a disgrace to his own humanity and to his delusion.

    And atheists are called angry and strident…but to my knowledge no-one from an atheist outlook has ever laid such an accusation against a so called man of god in the media…even though in many cases it is highly deserved.

    Funny how all the on-line videos got pulled overnight after the shit hit the fan and Cormac Murphy found he was in deep shite with everyone…he was used to pontificating on atheists in front of a congregation, he just forgot he was in front of cameras that carried his insults to a global audience…he got caught out being a bigoted intolerant patronizing cretin.

    And he certainly had the arrogance to question the meaning and value of the atheist…in no uncertain terms.

  23. I’m new to the realization of no god or reincarnation and I am finding some comfort in the truth and will eventally find contentment my new world but I mourn the people who live their lives in hunger, sickness, cruelty and despair. Those are the people who’s only hope seem to be an afterlife. What of them?  What can life offer them. They have this one life and it is hell on earth.  I feel for those lives that are lived in pain with nothing after.  That is why they hold on to faith. Its the only thing they have.

  24.  I think Karl Marx said it best:

    Religious suffering is, at one and the same time, the expression of real suffering and a protest against real suffering. Religion is the sigh of the oppressed creature, the heart of a heartless world, and the soul of soulless conditions. It is the opium of the people.The abolition of religion as the illusory happiness of the people is the demand for their real happiness. To call on them to give up their illusions about their condition is to call on them to give up a condition that requires illusions. The criticism of religion is, therefore, in embryo, the criticism of that vale of tears of which religion is the halo.Criticism has plucked the imaginary flowers on the chain not in order that man shall continue to bear that chain without fantasy or consolation, but so that he shall throw off the chain and pluck the living flower.

  25. Religion is the perversion of being made a slave to someone elses mind, that then pays you in the valueless currency amounting to pornography of another life after death. This in itself is bad enough, but it then gets the unborn prostituted for that same perverted servitude to a total intellectual and emotional corruption of the life the child is now unaware it can never live.

    Like I said earlier: it is a long way down from the place of the death that awaits the individual, in terms of any respect it ought be afforded! It is on par and overtaking the mind of the criminal per se, in that it has etched out for itself demands to be respected for the oppressions it enforces and coerces. Death is much sweeter than all of the lying of religions enterprise throughout the history of humanity. 

    Religion is the premature return, beyond the neck of the womb, into a compression and repression of all that life had potentially delivered it. It is the totalitarian who profit from this, by scheme or naivety. 

  26.  Net,

    “i still don’t get how people can categorically claim there is no “life” after death.”

    First, if you mean by “categorically”  some sort of absolute certainty insfar as being able to formally disprove all other logical possibilities, then that is a straw-man.  I and any other atheist I’ve met who would deny life after death don’t claim to prove any claim to such absurd standards, not do your or I ever demand such standards for very confident statements we think of as “facts” in every day life.  You can have good reasons to be very confident of a proposition without demanding unattainable absolute certainty.   I’m damned sure the Christian God doesn’t exist and have good reasons for believing it.  But I’m quite willing to revise that belief if He suddenly showed up.  That out of the way…

    Do you get how people would claim there is no “paying your bills” or “running for president” after death?   Do you get why people  claim why there is no still using a car or computer after it’s been compacted in the junk yard? 

    All empirical observation points to the fact that cars and computers stop doing what they are doing once they are physically destroyed.  Sure someone can float the question “But can we PROVE that cars don’t go on to another realm were they get to keep driving around JUST because they don’t seem to do so as heaps in a scrap yard?  Or can we PROVE that computers have some computing essence that allows them to keep running Windows in another dimension after they are destroyed?”

    There is no human chaevenism (the way we like to make exceptions for ourselves) getting in the way of our recognizing such claims as ridiculous, counter to all observation, and unsupported speculation.  We can say, as much as we do about any other empirical fact, that we KNOW what happens to cars and computers once they are physically destroyed.  They don’t keep driving or computing and entropy breaks them down, and their micro parts become re-distributed, etc.  We can not only observe these processes of physical disruption and entropy, we can explain them.

    Same with humans.

    It’s rather ridiculous (and always galling to me) when someone says “We
    don’t really KNOW what happens to us after death.”  To anyone who says
    this, I reply: Speak for yourself, don’t confuse your ignorance with the
    rest of us!  Of course we know what happens when we die.  We know it as
    well as we know any other physical facts, and by the same method.

    We have hundreds of thousands of years of empirical observation by humans of what happens when we die.  We stop functioning consciously.  We rot. We are broken down by microorganisms.  We have a very robust understanding of exactly what happens on biological grounds, and in how we are completely beholden to the laws of physics (again…entropy etc).  Human beings are “physical,” determined so in the way we interact with every other physical entity.  That includes our consciousness, which all evidence links with the physical brain.  The only way we interact with human consciousness is through normal physical laws, and consciousness can be physically disrupted piece by piece until it’s gone, like any other physical entity.

    The fact someone can float a spooky-sounding question like “But even though we seem to see humans cease to exist after death,  do we really KNOW what happens to us after we die?” doesn’t grant it any more credence than speculating about magical realms for cars and computers. 

    Yes, to the degree we can say we know anything from empirical observations, we do know what happens when we die, and continuing to be conscious is not one of them.

    Yeesh.

    RH

  27. “The fact someone can float a spooky-sounding question like “But even though we seem to see humans cease to exist after death, do we really KNOW what happens to us after we die?” doesn’t grant it any more credence than speculating about magical realms for cars and computers.  Yes, to the degree we can say we know anything from empirical observations, we do know what happens when we die, and continuing to be conscious is not one of them.”

    I’m affraid I have to point out a self-defeating argument when I see one……if only for the sake of refuting sloppy logic. The whole reason nobody postulates an afterlife for cars and computers is that they are not conscious and there is thus no sense in which either possesses any sort of ‘I’ to survive.

    Thus the whole ‘humans are just machines’ argument misses the point that there is an aspect of humans that cars, computers, etc simply don’t possess. To argue that a human does not ‘survive’ ( whatever that actually means ) because a car or a computer doesn’t is therefore a blatantly erroneous argument.

    I’m not arguing ‘for’ survival…….merely that we are never going to establish anything if people are so convinced of the error of a premise that any old sloppy logic will do in refuting it.

  28. Schrodinger’s Cat,

    While I’d be fine with someone pointing out error in anything I write, unfortunately I don’t see that you’ve done so here.  You didn’t actually say anything to refute what I wrote, and then re-phrased my argument inaccurately.  

    “The whole reason nobody postulates an afterlife for cars and computers is
    that they are not conscious and there is thus no sense in which either
    possesses any sort of ‘I’ to survive.”

    And a “Car-Theologian” could just as well say:  “The whole reason we do not postulate an afterlife for humans is
    that they do not have combustion engines and there is thus no sense in which humans
    possesses any sort of ‘Combustion Engine’ to survive.”

    See that nice juicy non-sequitur – an assumption hanging wholly unsupported, as if there is something special about combustion engines that suggest they are eternal?  Your upbraiding me for not considering consciousness as special in the same way is just as much an unsupported non-sequitur.  The fact a lot of people make this unsupported assumption about our consciousness is no more validating…in fact, special pleading to except human consciousness is just the point.

    You are doing exactly the special pleading for consciousness that I pointed out.  No, you aren’t yourself claiming it survives our death.  But you still seem to take issue with my equating our consciousness and it’s likelihood of continuing with that of other physical entities, like cars or computers.  But….WHY should we make this exception for our consciousness?  A “Car-theologian could point out that, unlike us,  cars have combustion engines, and combustion engines are the only reason they postulate cars continue on after physical destruction.”  Of course that’s just a non-sequitur that somehow ASSUMES combustion engines have this enduring characteristic, with no argument as to why we should take it seriously.  Which is exactly what you just did in talking about consciousness – you mention it AS IF we were supposed to give it special consideration as something that might continue after physical destruction…but give no actual reason why we should make this exception.

    “To argue that a human does not ‘survive’ ( whatever that actually means )
    because a car or a computer doesn’t is therefore a blatantly erroneous
    argument.

    Of course that’s blatantly erroneous; it’s not what I wrote.  I didn’t move from “because a car or computer does not continue it’s existence after physical destruction,” to:  “therefore humans do not.”

    My argument concerned the METHOD of observation and inference we use to establish empirical entities and how they act, and it concerned our being consistent and not making unwarranted special exceptions.

    By all the SAME METHODS we use to determine all other things are physical, like cars and computers, human beings come out as physical.  That includes our consciousness.  As I mentioned, the only way anyone has been shown to interact with another consciousness are via the physical laws that govern all other empirical entities like cars, computers etc.  And we can physically disrupt consciousness, just as we can the operations of a car or computer, and watch that function go away and not operate once the physical substrate (brain) is destroyed.
    Therefore, to it’s special pleading to make an exception for human consciousness; that is to seriously entertain the idea it might go on after it is physically destroyed is no more justifiable than thinking other empirical entities continue to operate once physically destroyed.

    Unless you can offer some serious evidence that challenges mind-brain dependance and the massive history of observation, combined with what we know of biology, entropy etc…how can you disagree that there is no justification for making an exception for human consciousness?

    Cheers,

    RH

  29. You are right. Perhaps I should clarify what I meant.

    They might take their religion seriously. But intellectually, they are village idiots. They deserve to be laughed at, not engaged in a debate with. You can’t win debating a bigot, a charlatan or deficient person. It only looks like you’re insecure about your self-evident value, like you accept that it is questioned.

    I realize there are even prominent people who might be arrogant and morally corrupt enough to question the meaning of life of an atheist. There are also prominent people who question the value of life of people of different ethnicity, political views, even the football team they support.

    These are not people who deserve to be taken seriously, intellectually. Of course they may be people who are to be feared because they are often violent (like football hooligans or skinheads), or they may have power to oppress other people through political decisions (like Rick Santorum) or both (like Robert Mugabe). They might cause harm, but they receive very little respect beyond their own sad followers.

    It is sad that there are still such medieval people in our midst. It is even scary if their opinions are met with support instead of laughter. I realize such a situation is certainly more threatening than listening to a village idiot.

    My point is: These people should not be debated. They should be reported as human rights violators. A decent society accepts dissent of opinion, but that does not include denial of anyone’s rights or human value, much less if it is hatred against a group. 

    In my non-American or non-UK experience, stating such slanderous opinions from a public position would probably be reported to the authorities, then investigated and possibly prosecuted as inciting hatred against a group of people. Uttered by a private person they would be tolerated as free speech. But a politician would be in serious trouble and a church official would be very close to losing his job.

  30. Online discussions are often garbage. People test their strength and throw up slander they would never do face to face. It also seems that people are more often arrogant and aggressive in their opinions and discourse in the US than in Europe. I’m not from the UK, but it seems that even in the UK people are more willing to give offense in a debate than in Northern Europe.

    I realize there are even prominent people who might be arrogant and morally corrupt enough to question the meaning of life of an atheist. There are also prominent people who question the value of life of people of different ethnicity, political views, even the football team they support.

    But here they are considered either idiots or criminals and face the consequences. I won’t go any more Godwin than that here.

  31.  I see your point and I raise it ;-)

    A decent society accepts dissent of opinion, but that does not include
    denial of anyone’s rights or human value, much less if it is hatred
    against a group.

    That is the rule by which the vast majority of atheist lives by.
    There are nutters in every camp under the sun for sure,  but in general atheists do take that ‘commandment’ seriously enough to obey the spirit and the letter of the law.

    On the other hand the only folk I come across in the real world, the media or indeed online that hold a subjective dollop of supernatural twaddle as sacrosanct are the ones that feel their privilege in society allows them to totally disregard the idea of freedom of speech, when not theirs, and other folks human rights when it gets in their way.

    It is very one way suits them best, and they would prefer that atheism was not regarded as a valid or acceptable opinion.
    They actively try and insure that atheism is smeared by innuendo, tall tales and outright lies…ask any congregation in the mid-west not even the south, what their pastor minister priest says about the A word…guaranteed it will not be ‘ accommodationist’ in the full meaning of that term.

    They have no intention of offering respect or consideration for atheist or atheism.
    They do not really bother about someone dissenting in their opinion, hell they have been dealing with dissension in their own ranks for so long…some dissent so strong they kill one and other over it.

    No that is not the problem…the problem is they do not want atheism to be regarded as a valid or allowable world view, they certainly do not want it in any position of leadership or power.

    They do not want atheism to be regarded as part of society…in some parts of the world they would jail,  torture, and put to them to death .
    Some politicians in America, brown nosing after the theist vote,  would dearly love to do that as well, some would go as far as ‘burnin’ the heretics’…and this sheer drooling insanity is all from theist brain fart, and they have the audacity and arrogance to claim they are being repressed and suffer intolerance from the hater’s of god!

    They do not want dialogue…they say they do when the world is watching…but they really don’t and believing that they do could be regarded as being delusional as they are!
    The reason is that Atheist and Atheism is the only threat they have ever faced in over 2000 years that could actually win the battle…and they are petrified!

Leave a Reply