Without an Afterlife, It'd Be As If Our Lives Never Happened to Us Individually

Discussion in 'Politics, Religion, Social Issues' started by MICHAELSD, Jun 10, 2014.

  1. MICHAELSD, Jun 10, 2014
    Last edited: Jun 10, 2014

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    MICHAELSD

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    #1
    If we leave the world in the same state of absolute nothingness we entered it in, then our existence to ourselves does not matter.

    Actually think about this for a second: if there is no afterlife, you'll cease to exist in the same way you did before you were born. You won't remember your life at all, and your generation that did remember you will be gone as well. It would literally be like all your experiences during this life never happened. A total erase button on your life, especially after 200 years when family stops reading about you unless you were famous. But even if you were famous it would be like you were never successful and never felt the sensations you got to experience.

    Maybe this makes the case for there being an afterlife since life itself is pointless without it. I personally believe that a dead person ceases to exist completely.

    Do you think Abraham Lincoln remembers his accomplishments if there is no afterlife? No, he has a perpetual legacy for as long as the U.S. exists but without an afterlife how he lived his life would make no difference to himself in a state of nothingness.

    Nonetheless without an afterlife it would be as if all of our lives never happened to ourselves at least once we're gone. If we enter a state of absolute nothingness, then it would be as if all of our memories, experiences, and sensations did not happen. Sure, they may have an effect on a future generation but if we transcend into the plane of nothingness we originated from then our time here would feel (or not feel ;) as we would be in a state of nothingness) as if it never happened if you can't feel emotion or remember what that life was like.
     
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    mojolicious

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    #2
    Congratulations. You've just described 'death'.
     
  3. thread starter macrumors 68020

    MICHAELSD

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    #3
    It's a revelation to think of life in terms of this though if there's a distinct possibility that what you're doing today will feel completely as if it never happened to you upon your death.
     
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    MICHAELSD

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    #4
    Wow, if you are a Christian (I am not) the bible implies you would forget your life on earth while in heaven.

    So in a sense no matter what you believe regarding the afterlife your life only briefly matters to living generations until all of humankind is eventually gone.
     
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    mojolicious

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    #5
    For your corporeal life to 'feel as if it never happened to you upon your death' would require you to have enduring, post-mortem sentience and memories.

    My belief is that once you are dead there is no longer a 'you'. You are, in fact, DEAD.
     
  6. thread starter macrumors 68020

    MICHAELSD

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    #6
    I did clarify "(or not feel as we would be in a state of nothingness)"

    This thread is revelatory honestly once you realize how temporary life is. Most likely one day it'll be as if everybody reading this never actually read it or lived. It'll simply be as if our existence had never happened. I mean, holy s---. There are an infinite number of possibilities for the world and choices we all make but once humanity is gone they won't have mattered.
     
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    mojolicious

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    #7
    May I ask how old you were when this revelation occurred?

    I don't remember a time when I wasn't atheist, which is probably down to my nominally Church of England upbringing (I'm pretty sure most of the CofE clergy are at best/worst agnostic).

    There are lots of conflicting studies, conducted by groups who have naturally enough skewed their questions to try and engineer the results they want to see, but the bottom line seems to be that between 40-50% of the UK population believe in some form of life after death, and a significant proportion of this group are *not* theists. Not entirely sure how that one works!
     
  8. macrumors 68000

    iBlazed

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    #8
    Funny you say that. I too can't remember a time when I wasn't an atheist. It sort of came naturally to me.
     
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    iMacFarlane

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    #9
    To quote Carl Sagan:

    Now, fast forward a few billion years, when the entire earth is consumed by the sun as it expands to a red giant during it's dying throes. Now, it is as if every single experience of every single living thing never happened.

    Whoa.
     
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    obeygiant

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    #10
    Our time here is finite. We are all part of an organism called humanity. You live, hopefully pass on your genes and die and the wave of human life rides into the future. Get comfortable with the life you're living now and forget about the future.
     
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    Huntn

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    #11
    You are contemplating an age old philosophical debate, the "meaning of life" versus the Atheist view that there is no purpose, complete random chance. On your side of the debate we are here. Of all the possibilities that could of happened, what did happen produced us with the ability to contemplate our existence.

    Although I am non-committal on the truth aspect of the argument, I feel that just by being here, based on what little we know, and having infinity to work with, there is just as likely a possibility we could continue in some form as have this life mean absolutely nothing, period. :)

    ----------

    That's one view, un-verified. :)
     
  12. macrumors 6502

    lannister80

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    #12
    Yes, when you die, you completely cease to exist. No consciousness, no anything. The end.

    This is news to some people?
     
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    MICHAELSD

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    #13
    No, but it's revelatory in my opinion once you realize how what you do from birth to death is basically erased if there is no afterlife. It's as if we're in an instance of a game that we'll forget all about once it's reset for the next generation. If you look at life with a perspective that it'll most likely be as if our lives didn't happen unless we contribute to the world it changes ideology.

    This also begs the question: if we lived but nobody remembers it or has any consciousness if it whatsoever, does it actually matter? If humankind is annihilated in 2220, does it matter that i.e. the U.S. existed or that Apple introduced the first smartphone if nobody is alive to remember it and all evidence of the U.S. or the iPhone is destroyed?

    ----------

    While I have never believed in an afterlife, I am 19 now and honestly would prefer to not have to dawn on an 80-year existence for eternity. I just came across this more depthful questioning if whether our lives matter in a bout of insomnia which can be equated to a meditation of sorts.

    Too much of the world believes in an afterlife, but people like to (more fittingly: need to) believe what they're doing matters.
     
  14. macrumors 68040

    obeygiant

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    #14
    Why is it so difficult to accept the fact that our existence is random chance. It's a big universe, the odds are in favor of it.
     
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    localoid

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    #15
    "Try and leave this world a little better than you found it and when your turn come to die, you can die happy in feeling that at any rate you have not wasted your time but have done your best."

    Robert Baden-Powell
     
  16. macrumors 68000

    Sydde

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    #16
    You might start by visiting Frogstar World B, where you can experience the Total Perspective Vortex. This device extrapolates the universe so completely that you are able to perceive your significance within it, which tends to leave most people in a state of catatonic despair: when you see how big it all is and how small and insignificant you are, your mind will never be the same (unless you can get the right kind of help from someone like Zarniwoop before you even go in).

    But then you can consider chaos theory – a butterfly in Guangzhou flaps its wings, resulting in a hurricane in Florida twenty months later, due to the precipitating chain of events. What we do here might actually matter in some galaxy far away billions of years from now. It seems impossible in the suffocating bigness of it all, but we cannot be sure that what we know and do will ultimately amount to but dust.

    Of course, there is still the spectre if determinism. The idea of the soul is compelling because it offers us the possibility that our choices are not defined by the sum-total of biochemistry, neurology and everything that has gone before. Yet, we can never really know whether our actions are partially autonomous, wholly predestined, or possibly even guided in some small way by the lives of ancient beings who lived in a distant galaxy billions of years ago.

    So in the grand scheme of things, cause and effect do not really matter all that much. We get what we get, we do what we do, the greater scope of that is uncertain and maybe not all that relevant. As far as we can tell, this is the life you get, use it as well as you can: get out there and flap your wings.
     
  17. macrumors G3

    Huntn

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    #17
    This is the problem I have with some Atheists. You know what you see, make assumptions, and call them truth.
     
  18. macrumors 6502

    lannister80

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    #18
    It's the default assumption. Destroy the brain, destroy self/consciousness. Death destroys the brain.

    If there was even the *slightest* shred of evidence for an afterlife, I'd at least consider it. But there is none.
     
  19. macrumors 6502

    kingalexthe1st

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    #19
    While I think I get what the OP is saying, I'd like to expand on it from my (atheist) point of view.

    My understanding has lead me to realise that we are vehicles for our genes, and our purpose, crudely speaking, is to reproduce. It's what all life is on this earth to do. We are containers that have gained complexity simply to pass on those genetics.

    Yet we have evolved such a high intelligence that, as humans, we are almost totally free from the bounds of natural selection. We have medicine, culture, and technology that get us through what would normally kill us in the natural world.

    And so I see my life as being a blank canvas with which I am free to paint the most beautiful painting I can. I can make what I want with my life because I have the freedom to do so (compared to all other life on this earth). Being an atheist has made me make the most of every single day I have. To quote Neil Armstrong: we only have a finite number of heart beats, and I don't intend to waste any of mine.

    Alex
     
  20. macrumors 68020

    localoid

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    #20
    WE are the custodians of Life's Meaning -- Sagan

     
  21. macrumors G3

    Huntn

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    #21
    That is a good assumption, but IMO still an assumption.

    It can be argued that whether you are a theist, atheist, or agnostic, we all make the beat of our lives. I can speculate that the body is a vehicle for the soul, but acknowledge there is no proof of this.
     
  22. macrumors 68000

    Sydde

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    #22
    Before you can do that, you have to deal with this "soul" business. There is no reason to believe that this unicorn exists, biology accounts for it completely. Self-awareness is a matter of survival (I perceive that my existence is relevant, so I will strive to not be eaten), "soul" is merely an interpretation of that by beings that have intellect.
     
  23. Huntn, Jun 13, 2014
    Last edited: Jun 13, 2014

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    Huntn

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    #23
    I love you confident guys. :p I don't believe they have identified consciousness. Computers receive input. They could be built to receive tons of input and have more computational power than our brains. Do you believe that an intelligent computer could achieve consciousness or would it just be computing tons of data? Hard to say... :)

    (How Stuff Works).
     
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    noodlemanc

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    #24
    How is it possible to stop experiencing things? When you really try to think about what it would be like to "die", you can't imagine it. Because anything you imagine would be an experience.
     
  25. Sydde, Jun 13, 2014
    Last edited: Jun 13, 2014

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    Sydde

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    #25
    Personally, I suspect not. It is my opinion, with or without merit, that self-awareness (consciousness) is an effect of biology. That it derives from the need to survive, as you observe most creatures in most in nature making an effort to not die.

    When we approach the real pinnacle of computer science, we might have machines that seem to be our equal in every way. They will probably declare themselves conscious, but how will we know? I know what my qualia are like, but only mine, I have no idea about yours or about the next guy's. How can I, or you, or anyone, ever be sure a computer is or is not self-aware in the same way as we are?

    My point about the "soul" is that there is an entirely rational explanation for what it seems to be. And, in fact, for why we invented it: few of us find the scythe and the dark very appealing, the thought of the undiscover'd country from whose bourn no traveler returns is much more comforting. In other words, the "soul" is most likely just wishful thinking that falls before the edge of that one guy's shaving thing.

    I do not discount the possibility of spiritual stuff, as I have seen stuff I cannot explain. There is probably more ignorance than understanding in the catalog of our knowledge, and I doubt we will every cross the midline. But making up answers because they are what we want to be true is not the route increasing how much we know.
     

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