View Full Version : Afterlife: What Will Happen When We Die?

05-04-06, 10:54
Read this article if you can before posting;


Afterlife Anyone?

Musing on different possibilities...

Question from "Universe in a Box": "If you considered it rational for there to be a 'God', you must also rationalize an afterlife of some sort. My main question is 'What afterlife to you personally find more rational than others and why?' "

Hello Universe,

The belief in God or lack thereof does not necessarily have anything to do with a belief in the hereafter. Some Deists do not believe in an afterlife. Some Atheists do.

Speaking personally, I've given some thought to the mystery of consciousness, where it comes from prior to birth and what happens to it after we die. To simplify things a bit, there are three types of theories:

1. The eternal afterlife paradigm
2. The limited existence paradigm
3. The reincarnation paradigm

All of these theories have their logical problems, at least from the standpoint of how we understand the universe.

I'm inclined to reject the eternal afterlife paradigm, whether heaven or hell or whatever, for a number of reasons. First, it doesn't explain where we came from prior to birth. If consciousness is something that is constant, like energy or mass, than it follows that there needs to be some kind of explanation as to where it comes from. I also don't understand the motivations of a creator to build this wondrous universe only to have it be a way-station for a few brief moments while we make our way to the eternal hereafter. What's the point of the mortal universe at all, then?

At first glance, the limited existence paradigm is the simplest explanation (and therefore endorsed by Occam's Razor) until you consider the paradox of going from non-existence to existence and back to non-existence again. The universe doesn't work that way. Atheists who typically favor this view generally explain that our consciousness is nothing more than an elaborate program, much like a complex computer. In essence, we don't really exist. We're only convinced that we do. Another problem is if it's possible to go from non-existence to existence, then doesn't the Law of Infinite Probabilities mean that we will return to existence again? Since it could happen once, it is by definition possible. Over infinite space and time, it could happen again. If so, how is this different from reincarnation?

Reincarnation as a paradigm fits the model of the universe. Nothing is ever created or destroyed, yet nothing lasts forever. Everything goes in cycles. The problem here is the fluctuating population. One possible explanation is that time is not as linear or rigid as we think. Perhaps our "next life" could be concurrent with this one. You may, by this theory, run into yourself and never know it. It kind of gives literal meaning to "Do unto others..." because it might very well be you.

I'm inclined to think that memory is separate from consciousness and lost at the point of death, if not sooner from injury or disease. My first and third person observations indicate as much. Perhaps death wipes the slate clean so that we may begin again?


Note: My online pen-name is "NobleSavage".

MRMNP: NobleSavage knows well of my respect for his rational thought processes, but reading his posting objectively, I am struck by his, perhaps un-realized, earnest desire to establish a rationale for an afterlife. All living things with brains have consciousness, surely we don't propose that all living thing's consciousnesses have afterlife and pre-life.

God, the creator, started it all, and it has been evolving ever since. Man has evolved to a more advanced level than any other living thing, and will evolve much, much further. Why must God have had in mind anything else but evolution for man? Surely, the evolution of thought, mind, technology, etc. to this stage and further should be enough to satisfy man's appreciation for what God has wrought.

It is man's contribution to the world and ultimately the universe, during his lifetime, that builds upon itself during each subsequent generation through evolution and man's contribution that results in a higher and higher level of existence that is reality. Surely a second time around to try to do a better job at it is a concept easily attributable to man not God.

NobleSavage (Me): Thank you MRMNP. By all means, don't be shy about pointing out any flaws in my reasoning. That's what this is all about. That said, I don't know that there's anything to be afraid of in oblivion, if it is indeed our fate after we die. There will be no eternal torment as with Hell. It will not be painful at all. We will not be aware of any difference or the passage of time. It will likely be very peaceful, although my mind can't comprehend for certain what it would be like to not exist.

I think it's the uncertainty more than anything else that makes us fear death. Often I find in dealing with stress, asking what's the worst that can happen is useful. I find the worst case scenario produces far less worry than uncertainty. Perhaps God intended for Death to be the "undiscovered country" for that reason. The suicide rate would be much higher and more disruptive to the natural order otherwise.

I do see a paradox in going from non-existence to existence and then back to non-existence again. The universe doesn't work that way, as demonstrated in the Laws of Conservation. The only flaw to my reasoning that I can see is that I make too much of consciousness (an argument my Atheist brother has made). Can a computer program, no matter how elaborate or large or advanced, ever be self-aware? My understanding is that you can only program a computer to do what you program it to do.

The wonder of self-awareness, by itself, suggests a soul. I may doubt religion but I can't doubt that I doubt. What Descartes said and all.

Why is it unreasonable to suggest animals have souls? My cat certainly demonstrates enough of a quirky personality to suggest consciousness (although there's no way to be certain that anyone but yourself is indeed conscious).

Another thing to point out, MRMNP, is that I take no comfort in my speculations on reincarnation. Since I imagine that I will lose all my memories, the person that I am now will cease to exist. However, it does fit with the cycles I see in nature.

If I am wrong that the limited existance paradigm is unreasonable, I will never know it. In the meantime, I think there's much to be said for your suggestion that we should live as though we have no second chances at grabbing for that brass ring.

Scodras: I personally believe that when we die, that's it, we're over. I don't see any reason to think otherwise. My mind is made up of nothing more than chemical reactions in my brain, that take in input and can make choices enough to be called "conscious" by humans. We know this because people who have suffered severe brain damage went through such a change of "personality" that it wasn't really them anymore, because their mind had totally changed. Knowing this, I conclude that when my brain is gone, or destroyed, there will be no more "me" left. I didn't exist before I was born, billions of years went by without me noticing, as will happen after I die.

NobleSavage: If heard this argument before comparing the human spirit as nothing more than a "program" created by the combination of nature and nurture running itself as directed by these partnered forces. A few proponents of this idea were extreme enough as to have stated that there is no "free will" at all. This is why Atheists are perplexed when I speak of the paradox of going from non-existence to existence and back to non-existence again. They solve the paradox by essentially suggesting we don't really exist at all.

I must respectfully disagree with this attitude, offering instead that consciousness is a great wonder and the human spirit has far more power than most of us give credit. Evidence of this includes our ability to determine our own destiny, to decide what we want our lives to be about, to will ourselves to become well from sickness or to die when we are tired of life, and even to "rewire" and physically alter our brain structure to better suit our ability to think.

Scodras: A lot of people seem to think that regarding our minds as nothing but chemical reactions somehow undermines the "worth" of the human spirit, but I don't see how. Whether our minds were designed specially, or are just products of nature, makes no difference whatsoever about who we are now. The mind is extremely complicated, and there's a lot I don't know about how it works. For instance, I have no idea where the sense of "self" comes from, and why I am me, as opposed to someone else. However, I do believe all of these unknowns about our minds can be explained through natural processes, even if the human race never figures them out. In short, my mind (because that's what I consider myself) is sustained by my body, which is made of matter. If that matter is no longer there, or no longer works, then "I", myself, am gone as well.

NobleSavage: Being spiritual doesn't mean you believe in magic. The term "soul" or "spirit" is a charged word used and abused by faith-based religions, I admit, but I don't have a better term. I speculate that the spirit is very much a part of a natural process that we don't yet understand but may someday. Flying around in a hunk of metal would have been the stuff of magic at one time. One age's "magic" is another's science.

Ironically, I regard Christianity as "spiritually vapid" because it demands conformity and acceptance of doctrines instead of allowing for self-exploration, discovery, and self-reliance.

We may not agree but I hope my logic here is at least clearly explained.

Why I disagree with 1. The eternal afterlife paradigmm

The eternal afterlife paradigm seems more like mythology to me as our conscious souls don't necessarily have memory or "personality". Memory and personality are products of the brain and without the brain they cannot exist.

Our ancestors once thought that the mind is completely separate from the body. There definitely seems to be a difference and there maybe a slight difference but overall mind and body are extremely connected. Without the brain the mind cannot exist.

Plus as the article mentioned, the eternal afterlife paradigm places too much emphasize on our extremely finite and limited existence on this world while never explaining what happens before birth. Why does 60-100 years on this small planet at the edge of the milky way galaxy determine what happens to us for eternity after we die? It makes no sense!

Why I disagree with 2. The limited existence paradigm

It makes a bit more sense than the eternal afterlife paradigm but has some major flaws. First of all why would there be any reason to come into existence for such a limited amount of time and then go back into non-existence for eternity? It does what the eternal afterlife paradigm does: emphasize too much on our limited finite existence on this small planet at the edge of the Milky Way galaxy. Non-existence to 60-100 years (some even die at birth!) and then to nonexistence? What the heck?

Many atheists who argue this argument often state that there is nothing special to anything. Well by placing emphasize on this finite existence seems to place a lot of special value in this minor blink of an eye in the cosmic timescale.

However, as noted in the article there maybe no eternal "self" in the sense that our memory and personality may cease to exist when we die. So in a sense we do loose existence however one can argue that this existence may change selves but not cease to exist.

Why 3. The reincarnation paradigm makes the most sense

Our universe is a constant cycle of life and death on every level. Stars come into existence, live, and then die. When they die the matter is recycled into something new. Nothing lasts forever and at the same time nothing is ever destroyed.

Reincarnations explains why our finite existence better than the other two paradigms. It doesn't place emphasize on the 60-100 years of life on Earth which obviously is insignificant compared to the billions of years before and after our lives (which is most likely infinite).

I imagine that a reincarnation is a natural process consciousness goes through when we die. It may involve a fundamental elemental energy we may not know about that cannot be destroyed. Our self maybe described by this fundamental consciousness but it most likely has no personality for memory as these are the product of the body it inhabits for its limited existence.


How do we define death? There have been cases where people have legally died for a few days and came back to life. Furthermore the Cryonics field is improving rapidly and in time we may be able to find ways to bring cryopreserved people back to life. So where would be conscious be in all these situations.

Either a new conscious inhabits the revived body or the consciousness from before, knowing that it would come back later on, will just travel to when the physical body is revived. As the universe is nothing more than a 4-dimensional existence, the consciousness should be able to travel across the t-axis instantly as it can through the x, y, and z axis.

This is the only way we can live "eternally" I imagine.

What do you think?

05-04-06, 18:39
I put Other, because I believe in the after life and reincarnation.

So, in my opinion, we are reincarnated until we are done with our growth. But I don't think we come back as trees or animals. But as Humans.

But who knows.

06-04-06, 00:04
I put Other, because I believe in the after life and reincarnation.
So, in my opinion, we are reincarnated until we are done with our growth. But I don't think we come back as trees or animals. But as Humans.
But who knows.

Why can't we come back as other sentient beings or at least sentient with consciousness (like most animals that have brains)?

Frank D. White
06-04-06, 00:35
I made up my own idea. You never die. Let's say you get hit by a bus & killed. You come back to life just before the bus hits you, only this time it doesn't and you go on living, never knowing you died. Same if you die from cancer. You come back to life , before you you found out about the cancer, and go on living. SOOOO, when you do die, you never know you did, and life continues on for you.
I haven't figured out how to handle death from old age yet. Unless it becomes normal to never die, even when you hit several hundred years old.
The idea of sitting on a cloud, with angels wings, playing a harp seems unlikely to me? Guess it won't be too many years before I find out what death is like at my age.



06-04-06, 01:17
Why can't we come back as other sentient beings or at least sentient with consciousness (like most animals that have brains)?

I am not saying that we can't. I have no idea what happens. That is my opinion. To me, the reason why we only incarnate as humans, is because we need to grow and learn as humans. Because, in the after life, I think we are of Human form. Why would we need to incarnated as something else, when we have to learn so much more than animals. EX:We go to school to learn, they don't. But anyway that's just my opinion. I don't know if you're trying to debate, but this shouldn't be a debate. Because how could anyone debate over something that has no inference? We can't, we have no proof.

Mars Man
14-04-06, 05:25
A very interesting subject, indeed, and this is of course not the first time it has come up. I can't recall at the moment it the others had actually had the poll format, but they did ask, basically, ' what is your opinion.' (I lean in the direction of saying that the thread started by Tsuyoiko had actually been in the poll format, but just can't verify that at the moment.)

I voted for other.

This is something which should be discussed, I feel, yet, as Mitsuo Oda san pointed out, our aruguments are based on certain theories and to that degree can only be said to be acceptances of one group of theories or another--since there are so many underlying ones for each of the above given catagories to choose from.

As far as consciousness, that is perhaps the determining matter in the identification of a particular individual brain. As I have, and am still reading and studying that area of neuroscience, I can see that some advances have been made in the last 15 years or so, but there is so much more to learn before we can even pretend to say we know what it is.

As far as death, we must keep in mind that there is Clinical death and somatic death. I cannot swear on it, but bet that I may be correct in saying that a person cannot really be said to be 'legally dead' until the stage of somatic death has been acknowledged by doctors. No NDE (Near Death Experience) cases have come back from somatic death, because at the moment it is impossible. Even the case studies of Deep Freeze returns are based on the fact that the cells have not died, but have just ceased to function.

I do not give credit to traditional reincarnation concepts. That information carrying particles relocate and reform, yes, to that degree reincarnation, but the reformation of a presently unified brain to the degree of consciousness that it contains, no.

Nice link there too. It slightly reminded me of Theolosophy. Thanks for the interesting posts above too !!:-)

15-04-06, 11:31
This afterlife strip gave me a good laugh.


09-05-06, 10:52
In a way, the idea of an eternal afterlife (or perhaps I should say "eternal life", considering I think if existence does not have an end, it does not have a beginning either, so the term "after"life is a bit misleading) is quite alike to the idea of reincarnation. The difference being, that reincarnation means that you get a physical body (or structure) to inhabit, with beliefs varying as to whether that would be human, animal or even plant. Both those beliefs hold the idea of an eternal and continuing existence in some form.

I believe more in the eternal life idea than in reincarnation, because I think that after death our "existence" wouldn't necessarily be restricted to a structure/body. I think we will exist in a way that is different from anything we could possibly conceive of now, while we are still within our limited structure and reasoning from within it.

If I'm wrong, I have nothing to lose! :p

I want to die and find out what happens. I just don't want to go through a lot of pain when it happens. :sick:

Cambrius (The Red)
15-07-09, 02:48
This is a very thought provoking topic.

I believe that we come back as an entirely different consciousness, without any knowledge of who we were in our previous life / lives. Consciousness has no beginning and no end. It is eternal.

27-03-10, 19:50
Ashes to ashes, dust to dust. Tu es poussière et tu retourneras poussière.

31-08-13, 06:32
I believe there are good thought out ideals in Christianity; solving problems with peace and non-violence, however we put a couple humans on the moon and amaxingly never crashed on a plave called heaven, makes me wonder if aliens really visited the earth. I'm sure they said "If all are good then humanity gets to join the aliens in the heavens" and watching the Earth to check on human development including wars and violence. After a person passes away I believe he/she starts out as a spirit and roams around until he/she is ready to move on to the next life.

03-09-13, 07:59
After a person passes away I believe he/she starts out as a spirit and roams around until he/she is ready to move on to the next life.
Unless someone love to travel, there is not much fun in roaming for few thousand years. It's like wasting cosmic calories.

03-09-13, 08:04
Unless someone love to travel, there is not much fun in floating for few thousand or million years. It's like wasting cosmic calories.

If sole doesn't eat, where does it get energy for flying and roaming from?

03-09-13, 21:41
Energy/Electricity is in us all, without it we cannot survive. We can't plug and unplug ourselves but live within us as electrolytes. Here is a quote from Albert Einstein; http://www.goodreads.com/quotes/4455-energy-cannot-be-created-or-destroyed-it-can-only-be. The spirit could be reborn if he/she choses to be.

04-09-13, 05:06
Energy/Electricity is in us all, without it we cannot survive. We can't plug and unplug ourselves but live within us as electrolytes.
Electricity/energy in us is from chemical reactions of food we consume and oxygen we breath and burn in our cells. We are like rechargeable batteries. I don't think it is the case in spirits.
Yes, we can unplug ourselves, if we stop eating or breathing we die shortly, because the energy is gone.
Unless spirits are perpetuum mobile, they need energy from something.

05-09-13, 08:00
Heat and electricity, before Thomas Edison and Testla the spirits usually got their energy from heat and now that heat can come into electricity also. Point taken though, my sources is kind of a spin off from Chinook beliefs; the belief I was partly raised by through my step dad while my Mom is Catholic

07-09-13, 01:40
We return to the elements that are the origins of the universe. All water came from extraterrestrial impacts. We're also carbon units sprinkled with other elements found on Earth.

An afterlife is nothing more than a response to fear of death. Heaven, an afterlife... just a relief from the certain. Man invented God just as he developed dogs from wolves. It was useful. Only man could conceive of death, thus he needed a place to go. A god to answer the unanswerable and take care of people in primitive times because ignorance and the world was frightening. An afterlife is an escape from fear of death.

06-06-16, 07:02

Consciousness after clinical death: “Whether it fades away afterwards, we do not know”The results revealed that 40% of those who survived a cardiac arrest were aware during the time that they were clinically dead and before their hearts were restarted. Dr. Parnia, in the interview stated: “The evidence thus far suggests that in the first few minutes after death, consciousness is not annihilated. Whether it fades away afterwards, we do not know, but right after death, consciousness is not lost. We know the brain can’t function when the heart has stopped beating. But in this case conscious awareness appears to have continued for up to three minutes into the period when the heart wasn’t beating, even though the brain typically shuts down within 20-30 seconds after the heart has stopped. This is significant, since it has often been assumed that experiences in relation to death are likely hallucinations or illusions, occurring either before the heart stops or after the heart has been successfully restarted. but not an experience corresponding with ‘real’ events when the heart isn’t beating. Furthermore, the detailed recollections of visual awareness in this case were consistent with verified events”.

Is There A Soul? Beyond Belief - ABC - Dr. Sam Parnia


06-06-16, 07:22
Eben Alexander: A Neurosurgeon's Journey through the Afterlife


EVIDENCE that the SOUL Exists: Pam Reynolds' NEAR DEATH Experience


06-06-16, 07:49
I am agnostic, but spiritual, and very hopeful of God and life after death. I choose to identify more with Christians than other agnostics because they share the same hope I do, and I find this healthy. As far as evidence, I am very glad that we are closer and closer to proving the existence of life after death and hope and pray that some time soon, we will have a breakthrough to prove it beyond doubt (or at least almost beyond doubt).

15-06-16, 00:58
I will pass infront of Aiakos and Radamanthes

15-06-16, 18:56
I believe any number of things are possible when our bodies die. Some may go to a heaven, some may go to a hell, some may reincarnate, some may reincarnate after a time elsewhere, some may discorporate and pass on their traits to multiple people, some may become ghosts, some may just wink out of existence. I would tend to think that what one expects, even if only subconsciously, may play a role, along with (for those of us who are religious theists) our relationships to various gods/spirits.

13-09-16, 03:41
in order to know about the afterlife, we need to receive divine revelation. there is no other way to know about it. all opinions, suppositions etc. will be waste of time.