"Proof" of an afterlife
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01-06-2012, 08:19 PM
"Proof" of an afterlife
Hey everyone,

While I'm fortunate enough to have a family that isn't devoutly religious, my parents do believe in god. While they accept my atheism, they truly just don't understand it, and of course wish that I would at least believe in a higher power. My dad will often ask me questions about why I'm an atheist, and while I do my best to provide logically-based answers, I often find myself feeling really frustrated. I feel like everyone feels I'm an atheist because I'm trying to rebel, or I'm angry at god. Obviously this isn't the case, but no one really cares to hear otherwise. I guess that's besides the point of this thread however.

One day my dad and I were having one of our "discussions" about me being an atheist, and he asked me if I believe in heaven. I told him no, and that because neuroscience has determined that the "soul" is really just the brain, there's really no reason to believe that we go to a magical place when we die. I explained that I find it more comforting to accept that fact that this is the only life we have, and that dying is simply entering a state of non-existence; it's not as though you're going to know you're dead. Basically dismissing all I just said, he tells me that he's heard way too many stories of people dying on operating tables and "going to the light", feeling a sense of peace or love, seeing dead loved ones, angels, etc, etc. This frustrates me beyond belief because "he said she said" near death experience stories don't classify as evidence in the least.

I guess my question is, what would you say to someone you presented that point to you? How would you explain to them, in terms they'd understand, that it's just not rational to think that way? I don't know, it's just something that bothers me.
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02-06-2012, 01:31 AM
RE: "Proof" of an afterlife
Any after death stories I've heard have been described to me using the five senses. Those senses are inturperted in the brain. Mental health patients have the same 'one witness' experiences that they swear are real and happened when they didn't. Thinking something happened and the actual truth are two different things. That's how I kind of see it.

The mind is powerful, and when it's threatened (death) it can 'trip' into being alive (in the afterlife) to keep it alive. The mind is so powerful it can make you believe you saw or heard a particular thing when you did not or mistook what actually happened. It can be a type of survival mechanism like adrenaline. Or it can just be firing off all crazy like a short circuit. Smile
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02-06-2012, 03:33 AM
RE: "Proof" of an afterlife
Glad to hear some parents are open to debate : )

Hope this overview will help to erase some of your “frustrations”

Their default “debate” position takes
· Natural view
· as well as Supernatural view
While your debate position takes
· purely “Natural view”

What/ How the hell is supernatural view or is it a valid/logical view in the first place…. is not the question right now.

Your default position is being challenged: NDE is a proof of supernatural.

Your only option, I think, is to “naturalized” or to bring in conformity with nature, the NDE.

Since they know your only option is “natural view”… the answer I can only think of is:

Natural Science is yet to find out.
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02-06-2012, 04:21 AM
RE: "Proof" of an afterlife
I think a good way is, to explain what exactly is happening in a brain when it is under extrodinary stress and to include some known biology.
His argument is weaker than you might think.
You start explaining what happens when we die:
When it comes down to it what your body does is, it shuts down step by step. First the fingers and toes then hands and feet, then arms and legsand then going towards the organs because the organs keep your brain going, ok? So this "shutting down" means that those parts will feel numb and at some point you can't feel them anymore and can't move them. And that is something that happens before you are dead (if you don't get a shot in the heart or are bein beheaded....). So there is the feeling of being so light and above yourself. It comes from not feeling your body, and your brain is not used to that so it interprets this as a light or floating feeling.
So body has shut down those parts, after this it will be on hyperdrive, right? Body and brain are fight for live although they lost a good part already.
What happens next is shutting down organs that are not AS important. For example the digestive tract and bladder, hence the peeing in pants while dieing or the vomiting while unconcious.
The last thing that dies is your brain. and right under the worst stress, not only from dieng but any stress that is bad enough, like a trauma, like a car accident, like a fire that breaks out in your bedroom, like someone telling you that he will kill you, like loosing a limb in surgery...., so right under the worst stress that your brain encounters it will start working harder, it will start firing and misfiring information like crazy, and there we go with halluzinations: we see a ghost, we feel the limb that we don't have anymore, we hear a godly voice, we see the devil lurking around the corner, and we enter heaven Wink
And if we are saved from dieng having been so close to it that our brains did these things, than those, who are so devout and who have a picture in their mind about what heaven looks like and who would be waiting there, of course they saw it, because these are things they "knew" would happen, and when your brain is misfiring like crazy, of course the things that you conciously "know" will be a big part of that. The gaps are being filled with imagination, because as many people said in the past, the mind is a powerfull tool.
(The light at the end of the tunnel is most likely your eyes shutting down Wink )

As a little more, you might wanna go and check some reports of people who said they went to heaven. And really analyze them, because they will have some things in common which comes from biology and indoctrination (heaven is a light and friendly place and you will go through the gates of heaven.... + feeling like flying as you lose the feeling of your body)
But apart from the things those reports will have in common, if heaven and hell are real places where good people go, they should look the same for everyone Wink

I hope this could help for the next encounter with this argument Smile


Captain Underpants
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02-06-2012, 05:33 AM
RE: "Proof" of an afterlife
Just like the writing on the bus..."What if God doesn't exist... Now relax, and enjoy life."

I've learned to smile and accept the opinions of others just as I 'wish'
they would accept mine. Best rule... I never discuss religion with
family. We're too close to allow the beliefs of others to enter our life
and tear us apart.

As far as a 'soul' is concerned... If it really exists, then why doesn't it exit the body when I fart? Unsure

"I feel like the weight of the world has been lifted from my shoulders...
Thanks for getting off my back!"
Arcticspear Idea
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02-06-2012, 05:39 AM
RE: "Proof" of an afterlife
If he "just dismissed all you've said," what makes you think saying it again gonna make any difference? Tongue

Peeps get hung up on "the afterlife" mostly out of egotism and shortsightedness. They say "I'm gonna be with my loved ones foreverz," even as they tire of being with their loved ones in the mortal plane. It's absurd.

As for NDEs, they're straight crap. I've had one and I go around saying "beyond the threshold of eternity is beauty for all" because it's all that need be said. Seems to me that biological processes provide for this sense of comfort near the edge, and why not? In times of trauma, the brain produces chemicals to lessen pain and distorts the sense of time and self so that shit ain't as bad as peeps imagine it to be, so why wouldn't biological processes do the same at the end?

living word
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02-06-2012, 05:52 AM
RE: "Proof" of an afterlife
Sounds like you need to stop answering questions all the time and start dishing them out yourself.
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02-06-2012, 08:55 AM (This post was last modified: 02-06-2012 08:59 AM by Thomas.)
RE: "Proof" of an afterlife
Afterlife Defined: "A fate worse than death"
So what are we doing today? What do you mean today? There are no days here. Just one continuous prayer meeting where we worship some narsissitic sociopath. No wonder 1/3 of the angles left before so he went with the mortals for worship.
Who made the stuff up? Were they that crazy or did the originators know it was BS and just used it for crowd control and collecting taxes?

The old gods are dead, let's invent some new ones before something really bad happens.
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02-06-2012, 05:02 PM
RE: "Proof" of an afterlife
Read this .

Then when the subject is brought up you can send them there, and then with a google and a click, many other scientific articles.

Cantor has it right most likely, in that if you were already dismissed the chances of a return trip to instant dismissal are high. Keep your travel bags light and don't forget your towel.

It's unlikely you're going to get anywhere if the other person isn't open to discussion. To be fair though you must also be open to listening to their side and using trickery to debate on their playing field. You're open, they are not, that means you must play the game if you want to win.

"I think of myself as an intelligent, sensitive human being with the soul of a clown which always forces me to blow it at the most important moments." -Jim Morrison
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02-06-2012, 05:42 PM
RE: "Proof" of an afterlife
Christians will always assume that we're "mad at God" or "rebelling against God" no matter what we say. Obviously, you have to believe in God to be mad at or rebel against Him, and that's why it makes sense to them but not to us. A good rebuttal, though, is to ask if they're not Muslims because they're mad at Allah. That should put things in perspective, although it probably won't (rational arguments frequently fail to be understood by irrational minds).

I'd use the same argument about "going towards the light" and other such ideas. The Buddhists seek Nirvana, and a few have even claimed to have reached it. Is Nirvana a real thing because of the claims of Buddhists that believe they've personally experienced it? Of course not. Plus scientists have already discovered that out-of-body experiences are a natural effect of the brain being low on blood and the "light at the end of the tunnel" is a similar effect of a brain in panic. As humans we are poor judges of personal experience, which is why we trust science.

As much as I like to think these are strong arguments, self-justification is a stumbling block to any argument. Cognitive dissonance will cause your parents to just silence doubt and rationalize the problems with their arguments. It does work occasionally, though -- I was once a Christian, and reason changed my mind.

My girlfriend is mad at me. Perhaps I shouldn't have tried cooking a stick in her non-stick pan.
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