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Atheism and the Afterlife

  • 04-01-2016 6:17pm
    #1
    Registered Users Posts: 4,280 ✭✭✭ The Bishop Basher


    Are they compatible ?

    I checked the search function and looks like there hasn't been a thread on this for over a year. Apologies if that's not the case...

    Anyway, reason i ask is, the other thread and discussion of NDE's got me thinking to my own personal struggle with these topics and how I reasoned some things out at the time and now.

    I identified as atheist for about 6 years. At that time I knew I had a soul or at least there was a part of me that was not physical and it was the thing that made me "me". I had no requirement for a God in order to believe that.

    I also didn't believe that the soul could die. After all it's only energy and "energy cannot be created or destroyed, it can only change form"

    So i reasoned quite happily that the energy would live on. I had no concept of how that happened but it wasn't a heaven or a hell as christianity would teach.

    I'm interested to know people's thoughts on this.

    Are they compatible ?

    And the obvious lead on question, Can we prove or disprove the existence of an afterlife....
    robdonn wrote: »
    Hmmmm, I've heard a lot about Eben Alexander and his supposed experiences. He's been shown to alter his accounts of events in a lot of situations, including falsifying evidence in his surgeries.

    But most importantly, his personal accounts are simply just that, personal accounts. It can't really be counted as reliable evidence.

    As for the other links, I'll check out the study that they're referencing on Science Direct.

    The Quora has tons of links for some light reading...

    I completely agree that one personal account is proof of nothing but when you look at the growing numbers of NDE's, many with similar experiences, many with memory of the events we simply cannot explain and with so many high profile cases now documented, surely we have to take them seriously as part of an overall body evidence.


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Comments

  • Registered Users Posts: 3,699 ✭✭✭ smokingman


    I once had a conversation with Jim Morrison which was quite real.....for me.

    The mind is a funny thing but utterly untrustworthy.


  • Registered Users Posts: 4,280 ✭✭✭ The Bishop Basher


    Sure but it's also incredibly predictable and reliable at times. Otherwise we may as well just write off all experience as a trick of the mind.

    But in relation to NDE's I would agree that the mind is certainly capable of creating those experiences. As yet though, scientists remain baffled as to how it's possible while the subject is clinically dead.

    Some research is pointing towards brain stem function as a possibility and I look forward to seeing the results of further investigation on that.


  • Registered Users Posts: 3,163 ✭✭✭ Shrap


    Swanner wrote: »
    I identified as atheist for about 6 years. At that time I knew I had a soul or at least there was a part of me that was not physical and it was the thing that made me "me". I had no requirement for a God in order to believe that.

    I also didn't believe that the soul could die. After all it's only energy and "energy cannot be created or destroyed, it can only change form"

    NED = Extragalactic database?? What's that then?!

    Whatever about that though....why do you know you have a soul, or rather, HOW do you know you have a soul? I don't see any existence of a soul, personally. I would think it was a matter of faith to think I had one, considering the lack of evidence. I'm sure there are others just like you who think that you can be atheist and spiritual, but I only met that with people who couldn't grasp the nettle after leaving a religion, ie. Had trouble with the notion that this is it. All there is. Most likely.


  • Registered Users Posts: 8,974 ✭✭✭ TheChizler


    All soul energy and physical energy have in common is the spelling. Be careful about making false logical proofs.


  • Registered Users Posts: 3,163 ✭✭✭ Shrap


    TheChizler wrote: »
    All soul energy and physical energy have in common is the spelling. Be careful about making false logical proofs.

    Is there a soul energy?! What does it do? I'd genuinely like to know what other atheists think about "soul"....starting with what is it?


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  • Registered Users Posts: 8,974 ✭✭✭ TheChizler


    Shrap wrote: »
    Is there a soul energy?! What does it do? I'd genuinely like to know what other atheists think about "soul"....starting with what is it?
    I think it's what kept James Brown going for so long.


  • Registered Users Posts: 1,102 ✭✭✭ robdonn


    TheChizler wrote: »
    I think it's what kept James Brown going for so long.

    I thought that was spirits?


  • Registered Users Posts: 9,796 ✭✭✭ MrPudding


    OP, what are your views on homeopathy and reiki?

    MrP


  • Registered Users Posts: 4,280 ✭✭✭ The Bishop Basher


    Shrap wrote: »
    NED = Extragalactic database?? What's that then?!

    My bad..
    Shrap wrote: »
    Whatever about that though....why do you know you have a soul, or rather, HOW do you know you have a soul? I don't see any existence of a soul, personally. I would think it was a matter of faith to think I had one, considering the lack of evidence.

    No one can prove I have any intuition but i know I do because I experience it regularly as do many many others.

    I probably should have avoided the term soul as it has such religious connotations but I have experienced, and tuned into during meditation, an inner essence or calm that extends further then the physical body.
    Shrap wrote: »
    I'm sure there are others just like you who think that you can be atheist and spiritual, but I only met that with people who couldn't grasp the nettle after leaving a religion, ie. Had trouble with the notion that this is it. All there is. Most likely.

    Correct me if i'm wrong but atheism is the lack of belief in a God. What i've described doesn't require a belief in a God. So why couldn't i have been atheist and held this belief ?

    And I was most definitely atheist. My views were as hard line as anyone here and I was very comfortable with that position for a long time. Many of the positions held by posters here are familiar to me

    But i'm not here to defend my theism or lack of i'm just here to discuss the topic..


  • Registered Users Posts: 4,280 ✭✭✭ The Bishop Basher


    MrPudding wrote: »
    OP, what are your views on homeopathy and reiki?

    MrP

    I have no real views on either tbh.

    I don't count them or discount them.

    If people get benefit from them then who am i to judge ?


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  • Registered Users Posts: 11,474 ✭✭✭✭ PopePalpatine


    Swanner, I'm guessing that your spellchecker is automatically turning "NDE" into "NED"?


  • Registered Users Posts: 3,163 ✭✭✭ Shrap


    Swanner, I'm guessing that your spellchecker is automatically turning "NDE" into "NED"?

    Oooh! Ok, ta ;-)


  • Registered Users Posts: 4,280 ✭✭✭ The Bishop Basher


    Swanner, I'm guessing that your spellchecker is automatically turning "NDE" into "NED"?

    Thanks. I'll go back and fix them.

    And apologies Shrap. Thanks for pointing it out. I thought you knew what I meant so didn't explain...


  • Registered Users Posts: 3,163 ✭✭✭ Shrap


    Swanner wrote: »
    My bad..



    No one can prove I have any intuition but i know I do because I experience it regularly as do many many others.

    I probably should have avoided the term soul as it has such religious connotations but I have experienced, and tuned into during meditation, an inner essence or calm that extends further then the physical body.



    Correct me if i'm wrong but atheism is the lack of belief in a God. What i've described doesn't require a belief in a God. So why couldn't i have been atheist and held this belief ?
    I'm not asking you to defend atheism/theism or whatever. I have a genuine question which is that how do you believe in a spiritual thing like a soul or something that extends beyond the physical body without a belief in a supernatural something outside of yourself? And I'm not calling your belief in that as a belief in god, but what the hell is it then?

    Really, genuine question! I have this discussion a lot with people who just say "grand, there's no god, can't see one" and then inadequately (for me) describe the existence of some spiritual thing outside of themselves - the "soul".

    I don't get it. Nor do I experience it.


  • Registered Users Posts: 8,636 ✭✭✭ feargale


    You're all bound for Limbo. :D


  • Registered Users Posts: 4,280 ✭✭✭ The Bishop Basher


    Shrap wrote: »
    I'm not asking you to defend atheism/theism or whatever. I have a genuine question which is that how do you believe in a spiritual thing like a soul or something that extends beyond the physical body without a belief in a supernatural something outside of yourself? And I'm not calling your belief in that as a belief in god, but what the hell is it then?

    Really, genuine question! I have this discussion a lot with people who just say "grand, there's no god, can't see one" and then inadequately (for me) describe the existence of some spiritual thing outside of themselves - the "soul".

    I don't get it. Nor do I experience it.

    I meet those people too. I was one as i transitioned from atheism into whatever it is i am now so i get what your saying and i get where they come from too.

    Take this phrase..
    Shrap wrote: »
    I would think it was a matter of faith to think I had one, considering the lack of evidence.

    You're absolutely correct. To date we have been unable to prove the existence of this "energy". It is a matter of faith. However if you were to experience it, and I appreciate you're saying that you haven't, but if you did, you would no longer require faith to know it existed.

    I've experienced it. I'm not asking you to believe that and I can't prove it but that's not relevant to the point...

    Because if it's my reality that I experience this "energy" then i'm in a position of believing without the need for faith and without the need for a belief in a god.

    And despite all that, the faith required is a faith in some kind of feeling or energy. It's most definitely not a faith or belief in some kind of deity.

    I would have no problem separating the 2 but i appreciate that's only my perspective.


  • Registered Users Posts: 3,163 ✭✭✭ Shrap


    Swanner wrote: »
    Because if it's my reality that I experience this "energy" then i'm in a position of believing without the need for faith and without the need for a belief in a god.

    Ok, but I'd love to hear an explanation for this energy :) I accept what you're saying though.


  • Registered Users Posts: 15,832 ✭✭✭✭ Pherekydes


    I think that soul is just another name for psyche, or the mind. Or the totality of the self. What makes you you. All of your experiences, memories, likes, dislikes, loves and hates makes you you. You don't come with it all preinstalled at conception. When the power supply is disconnected at death, you lose it all.

    Unless you can download it onto a usb key before you go, of course.


  • Registered Users Posts: 4,280 ✭✭✭ The Bishop Basher


    Shrap wrote: »
    Ok, but I'd love to hear an explanation for this energy :) I accept what you're saying though.

    It's near impossible to describe. It's more of an experience then a feeling. But I tune into it sometimes when I meditate and when I do it's always deeply profound.

    I don't expect anyone on an atheist forum to accept it, but for the purpose of the discussion nobody needs to.

    I am open to the potential that my perception of the experience is biased but it is a common experience among those who meditate and it feels instinctively right. Like down to the core right.

    I was just interested to see the total opposition to any form of life after death on the other thread, when it had never crossed my mind that it would be a problem. I never saw it as requiring any form of god.

    The default position is clearly no and I do understand why. Atheism and an Afterlife just don't sit well together. But I do believe it is possible, given the right circumstances, for an atheist to believe in a continuation of some form of consciousness after death without compromising their lack of belief in any form of deity.


  • Registered Users Posts: 4,280 ✭✭✭ The Bishop Basher


    Pherekydes wrote: »
    What makes you you. All of your experiences, memories, likes, dislikes, loves and hates makes you you. You don't come with it all preinstalled at conception.

    Do you not think you become you at conception ?

    Or do you believe everything that makes you you is environmental and occurs after birth ?


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  • Registered Users Posts: 21,831 ✭✭✭✭ endacl


    Shrap wrote: »
    Really, genuine question! I have this discussion a lot with people who just say "grand, there's no god, can't see one" and then inadequately (for me) describe the existence of some spiritual thing outside of themselves - the "soul".

    I don't get it. Nor do I experience it.

    Are you, by any chance, of the 'ginger' persuasion? I believe they do have some difficulty in this regard.


  • Closed Accounts Posts: 1,193 ✭✭✭ Mark Tapley


    Swanner wrote: »
    I meet those people too. I was one as i transitioned from atheism into whatever it is i am now so i get what your saying and i get where they come from too.

    Take this phrase..



    You're absolutely correct. To date we have been unable to prove the existence of this "energy". It is a matter of faith. However if you were to experience it, and I appreciate you're saying that you haven't, but if you did, you would no longer require faith to know it existed.

    I've experienced it. I'm not asking you to believe that and I can't prove it but that's not relevant to the point...

    Because if it's my reality that I experience this "energy" then i'm in a position of believing without the need for faith and without the need for a belief in a god.

    And despite all that, the faith required is a faith in some kind of feeling or energy. It's most definitely not a faith or belief in some kind of deity.

    I would have no problem separating the 2 but i appreciate that's only my perspective.

    I think you have swapped your mumbo jumbo for some gobbledegook.


  • Registered Users Posts: 37,527 ✭✭✭✭ the_syco


    Swanner wrote: »
    Atheism and an Afterlife just don't sit well together. But I do believe it is possible, given the right circumstances, for an atheist to believe in a continuation of some form of consciousness after death without compromising their lack of belief in any form of deity.
    An afterlife is made by those who want to profit from those who fear death.

    As no-one comes back from the dead, no-one knows if it's wasted money until they're dead, and by then it's too late.


  • Registered Users Posts: 26,973 ✭✭✭✭ Hotblack Desiato


    That guy who dropped LSD and met Jesus was convinced that was real, too.


  • Registered Users Posts: 4,280 ✭✭✭ The Bishop Basher


    I think you have swapped your mumbo jumbo for some gobbledegook.
    That guy who dropped LSD and met Jesus was convinced that was real, too.

    What's with the dismissive one liners ?

    I'm not challenging atheism or anyone else's belief or lack of here.

    I'm simply putting forward an approach that allows atheism to co exist with a belief in a continuation of some form of consciousness after death.

    As i understand it, atheism has no belief system so surely it allows for very different approaches to these problems. I understand the evidence based approach taken by many of you and on that basis, the evidence is at best inconclusive. No one has ever proved it but neither have they disproved it and there is evidence to support both sides. So surely it has to be approached with an open mind ?


  • Registered Users Posts: 15,832 ✭✭✭✭ Pherekydes


    Swanner wrote: »
    Do you not think you become you at conception ?

    Not at all.
    Or do you believe everything that makes you you is environmental and occurs after birth ?

    Quite a lot of it. Me and my siblings are like chalk and cheese. There's wide variety within my own offspring. It's mostly picked up by learning, osmosis, peer groups and so on.


  • Closed Accounts Posts: 1,193 ✭✭✭ Mark Tapley


    Swanner wrote: »
    What's with the dismissive one liners ?

    I'm not challenging atheism or anyone else's belief or lack of here.
    I'm simply putting forward an approach that allows atheism to co exist with a belief in a continuation of some form of consciousness after death.

    As i understand it, atheism has no belief system so surely it allows for very different approaches to these problems. I understand the evidence based approach taken by many of you and on that basis, the evidence is at best inconclusive. No one has ever proved it but neither have they disproved it and there is evidence to support both sides. So surely it has to be approached with an open mind ?

    I think you need to accept your existence is finite and stop grasping at straws. This mystic bollòx is more irritating than religion.


  • Registered Users Posts: 3,163 ✭✭✭ Shrap


    endacl wrote: »
    Are you, by any chance, of the 'ginger' persuasion? I believe they do have some difficulty in this regard.

    What?! Oh yes, that's right ....we have no souls and are spawn of the devil or something. I remember now :(


  • Registered Users Posts: 3,163 ✭✭✭ Shrap


    Swanner wrote: »
    It's near impossible to describe. It's more of an experience then a feeling. But I tune into it sometimes when I meditate and when I do it's always deeply profound.

    I don't expect anyone on an atheist forum to accept it, but for the purpose of the discussion nobody needs to.

    I am open to the potential that my perception of the experience is biased but it is a common experience among those who meditate and it feels instinctively right. Like down to the core right.

    Oh that. Right, no I've meditated and all that jazz, but can't say I'm any closer to "feeling instinctively" that I have a soul. Perhaps it comes down to one's perception of the experience, right enough.


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  • Registered Users Posts: 17,709 ✭✭✭✭ kylith


    Do animals have souls, OP?


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