Is there life after death?
Debate Rounds (4)
There is plenty of evidence prooving that death is not the end. Such as officially reports from people who had nearly-death experiences.One of the most peculiar aspects of NDEs is how similar they all are. Hundreds of people who were in state of clinical death visited different visions, they got into the tunnel and saw a bright light. Scientists, skeptics believe that such phenomena are caused by physical and chemical processes in the brain at the moment of dying. But i dont believe that!
The focus of my argument won't be NDEs but rather the metaphysical implications which make the afterlife rather unlikely.
First of all we need to look at the Question of this debate and must be clear what the words mean:
"Is there life after death?"
Life : "Life is often defined in basic biology textbooks in terms of a list of distinctive properties that distinguish living systems from non-living. Although there is some overlap, these lists are often different, depending upon the interests of the authors. Each attempt at a definition are inextricably linked to a theory from which it derives its meaning (Benner 2010)." (1)
Death: A state where a system no longer has these properties or "the irreversible cessation of organismic functioning " (2)
Now asking the question "Can I be in a state where I have these distinct properties after I already irreversibly lost these properties?" can only be answered with: No.
But that is not really the core of the question, is it?
The correct question to ask is:
"Is there something of the self that keeps existing after the physical death of my body?"
To get an answer to that question you first have to ask what it is that we are made of.
If you propose that a person only consists of a physical form, her body, then again the answer can only be: No
If you alternatively propose that there is more to us than just the physical then the answer might be: Yes.
This raises the question, well, what is it? The traditional answer to that question would be: The soul.
Now we are getting to the core of the original question, it presupposes some form of mind-body dualism (from now on refered to as D).
D faces multiple severe problems, such as the interaction problem, the unity of the physical world, the argument from neurobiology and finally Ockham's razor.
In the following I will deal with each of them.
1. The unity of the physical world
This problem only applies to an interactionistic form of D. If that is not pro's position then this is not applicable.
The interactionist argues that this soul is more or less equivalent to the mind and that this immaterial mind interacts causaly with the physical world. This interaction would have to cause fluctuations in the energy level of the universe or at least inside a brain, which there are not.
2. The attachment problem
On the Cartesian model the mind is immaterial and unextended, it has no shape, mass, or any physical property.
How then does such a "thing" belong to any physical system?
3. The argument from development
Noone proposes that germ cells have souls so the problem is when exactly after the fusion of an egg cell and a sperm cell does a human being have a soul? At which point in evolution did we firstly develop souls?
I don't want to attack a strawman here so in case someone argues that germ cells too have souls then that just makes everything even more complicated. In this case at which point in the formation of germ cells do they develop souls? With this regress you could go to a point where basically everything would have a soul which is not really what Christians propose and what brings me to point 4.
4. Ockham's razor
"The Ockham's Razor argument creates a strong methodological presumption against dualism, suggesting that the mind-body split multiplies entities unnecessarily in much the way that a demon theory of disease complicates the metaphysics of medicine compared to a germ theory. It is often alleged, more broadly, that dualism is unscientific and renders impossible any genuine science of mind or truly empirical psychology."(3)
As for NDEs, technically a body is not really dead in the first place since the loss of body functions is not irreversible in such a case.
NDEs happen primarily to victims of cardiac arrests but not to patients who have other cardiac disfunctions or other illnesses. Although the science on this topic is not perfect yet oxygen deprivation, neuro transmitter, or a combination of those and other factors seem to be a likely explanation or at least make an epistemological gap rather unlikely.
First i will clearify for you what is life after death?When a person dies the physical body stop to exist. However, the rest of his existence or consciousness continues. The existence of the person minus the physical body is known as the subtle body(soul) and it comprises of the mental, causal and supracausal bodies.The immortality of the soul seems to be the spiritual equivalent of the conservation of energy. We never observe any form of energy either created or destroyed, only transformed.Thats why our soul will last for eternity. The body is only the carrier of the soul. It is connected with the physical body emotionally but it can exist regardless of it.
The body is a subject that constantly change all the parts in the body.The human body when it is reach twenty years old,none of the particles which were 20 years before in the human body exist anymore.The solid or liquid particles became part of other bodies or humans,minerals.But despite this the soul remains the same.This means that the soul is distinct from the body,it is not material and it continue to exist throught the time.After the death the body decomposit faster,not slowly and gradually like in lifetime.But the soul is still the same.This is proof that the soul can exist regardless of the existance of the body.
Think about the quantum physic it has proven by physical tests that a higher field of consciousness (information field) in the universe exists!The ruling string theory assumes that it has our material universe there are many other dimensions of energy. The headmaster of the Max Planck Institute for Physics in Munich, Professor Hans-Peter D"rr believes that the brain by thinking a field of consciousness (quantum field) forms that can exist after the death of the body in the higher dimension further. In one of his interviw about life after death he answered........'What we consider the here and now, this world, it is actually just the material level that is comprehensible. The beyond is an infinite reality that is much bigger. This world is rooted in. In this way, our lives in this plane of existence are encompassed, surrounded, by the afterworld already. My existence in this world is written on a sort of hard drive on the tangible (the brain). I have also transferred this data onto a spiritual quantum field (independent consciousness field). I do not lose this information, this consciousness. The body dies but the spiritual quantum field continues. In this way, I am immortal. "
Think about the reincarnation research which approaches more and more to the fact that there are past lives. Thousands of reports were investigated . The witnesses could accurately describe the previous places and situations, although they were never there and had heard nothing about it in the normal way. The most well-known reincarnation researcher in the West is Professor Ian Stevenson from the University of Virginia. He examined over the course of 40 years over 3.000 reincarnations situations throughout the world.
'One of the most famous cases of reincarnation in India is Shanti Devi. She was born in 1926 in New Delhi and could remember her previous life as a housewife in Mathura. Although she was never in that location, she was able to describe her previous husband, her previous house, and the city itself. She could even remember where she had always hidden her money in her former life.'
And least but not last is NDE the clinical evidence for life after death is arguable. But what we do know is that there are enough of these kinds of experiences to create a sizable library on the subject. Taken as a whole, this body of evidence shows that as people approach death, many sense they are coming not to the end of existence but to the beginning of another journey.
I know those arguments dont proove that there is life after death.But can we really proove it? I think it depends on what kinds of proof you will accept. It cannot be proved like a theorem in Euclidean geometry; nor can it be observed, like a virus.Certainly it cannot be disproved simply because by definition all experience before death is experience of life before death, not life after death.It is important to understand that the proofs dont make the people to believe but the wishfull thinking.
Your appreciation is a pleasure.
"However, the rest of his existence or consciousness continues. The existence of the person minus the physical body is known as the subtle body(soul)"
From that I conclude that you are in fact arguing for Interactionism and thus "1. The unity of the physical world" is applicable to your position.
"The immortality of the soul [...]"
_ "[...] seems to be the spiritual equivalent of the conservation of energy. We never observe any form of energy either created or destroyed, only transformed.Thats why our soul will last for eternity."_
This is a non sequitur. The first part seems to imply that, just as in the physical realm (i.e. the body), the mental realm would undergo change while the latter seems to conclude from this, that it doesn't.
If you propose that a soul is energy then it still doesn't follow that it is eternal since it is transformable.
"It is connected with the physical body emotionally"
An emotional connection is for the most part a mental state can cause behavior. It is not a literal connection but a metaphorical one.
"But despite this the soul remains the same. This means that the soul is distinct from the body,it is not material and it continue to exist throught the time.After the death the body decomposit faster,not slowly and gradually like in lifetime.But the soul is still the same.This is proof that the soul can exist regardless of the existance of the body."
This is again based on assertions.
"Think about the quantum physic it has proven by physical tests that a higher field of consciousness (information field) in the universe exists!"
The "proven" part needs a citation, yes there have been some wild speculations, but all of them are far from proven.
"Prim"r existiert nur Zusammenhang, das Verbindende ohne materielle Grundlage. Wir k"nnten es auch Geist nennen.[...] Materie und Energie treten erst sekund"r in Erscheinung " gewisserma"en als geronnener, erstarrter Geist.(1)
Roughly translaed this means:
"Primarily there only exist connection, it links without material basis. We could call it mind. Matter and energy emerge secondarily - to some extent like solidified mind."
Although quantum mechanics tells us that the world we percieve is not what it acualy is calling it "mind" is a huge stretch of the term "mind".
Reincarnation as described in pro's penultimate part is rejected by most christian denominations.
(1)P.M. Magazin 05/2007
2. The universe itself is a closed system, so the total amount of energy in existence has always been the same. The law of conservation of energy, also known as the first law of thermodynamics, states that the energy must remain constant"it can neither increase nor decrease only transformed. So the immortality of the soul is the spiritual equivalent of the conservation of energy. If even matter is immortal, why not our soul?
3.The truth is that you cannot proove this topic with quantum physic because science can proove only when something is clearly measurable.As i said before the people dont need the proofs but the wishfull thinking.
Biblical texts that seem to imply belief in reincarnation
The most "convincing" texts of this kind are the following:
1) Matthew 11,14 and 17,12-13, concerning the identity of John the Baptist;
2) John 9,2, "Who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?";
3) John 3,3, "No one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born again";
4) James 3,6, "the wheel of nature";
5) Galatians 6,7, "A man reaps what he sows";
6) Matthew 26,52, "all who draw the sword will die by the sword";
7) Revelation 13,10, "If anyone is to go into captivity, into captivity he will go. If anyone is to be killed with the sword, with the sword he will be killed."
First of all I personally don't think souls exist and as I lined out in my opening statement, souls presuppose some form of substance dualism for which there are multiple problems, as long as one cannot solve these problems talking about immortality of the soul or personal identity is futile.
"2. The universe itself is a closed system, so the total amount of energy in existence has always been the same. The law of conservation of energy, also known as the first law of thermodynamics, states that the energy must remain constant"it can neither increase nor decrease only transformed. So the immortality of the soul is the spiritual equivalent of the conservation of energy. If even matter is immortal, why not our soul?"
Energy is a fundamental physical property and if souls are in some sense equivalent to energy then they can be, as you said, converted into different forms.
The energy level remains constant, the forms which energy is in don't which means that it is entirely possible for this soul to be converted into mental joules of electrical energy, kinetic energy or other forms.
One cannot think of energy as some kind of interrelated object.
"Biblical texts that seem to imply belief in reincarnation"
I guess we should have clarified what kind of afterlife we will be discussing but still any form of reincarnation requires some sort of non physical part of a person which in the end still leads to the problems presented in my opening statement.
*side note: Of course I meant Occam's razor earlier but in my native language occam is spelled ockham, sorry for the typo!
Addressing my opponents points....
1.The French philosopher Descartes believed that the soul separated from the body and communicates with it through the pineal, a small organ located at the base of the brain. Now according to a basic principle of physics, matter and energy are changing and moving only under the influence of matter and energy. The soul is great conservation of energy, so it could affect the electrical and chemical activity of the pineal or any other part of the brain.
The major argument for substance dualism is parapsychological phenomena. Mental powers such as telepathy, precognition, telekinesis, and clairvoyance are all impossible to explain within the boundaries of physics and psychology. These phenomena reflect the nonphysical nature that dualism gives to the mind. Because I believe in these phenomena, it seems logical to me that parapsychology is an excellent argument for substance dualism.
2.The immortality of the soul is the spiritual equivalent of the conservation of energy.It means that energy provides the soul with 'fuel' for eternity. The soul cannot be converted into kinetic energy or other forms. When energy is changed from one form to another is that it is transferred between different particles, of between particles and fields they interact with. Soul doesnt interact with physical system.
Some things simply can't be prooved directly. You can only find the side effects. Since some people claim they have been outside there body, floating on the ceiling and such during clinical death, perhaps there is. Yet they could be lying so perhaps there isn't. It is something that can't be measured. Maybe you can only find out the answer to your question when you die.
Thank you very much for your arguments! :)
"Only a few people accepted Descartes' pineal neurophysiology when he was still alive, and it was almost universally rejected after his death. Willis wrote about the pineal gland that "we can scarce believe this to be the seat of the Soul, or its chief Faculties to arise from it; because Animals, which seem to be almost quite destitute of Imagination, Memory, and other superior Powers of the Soul, have this Glandula or Kernel large and fair enough" (Willis 1664, ch. 14, as translated in Willis 1681). Steensen (1669) pointed out that Descartes' basic anatomical assumptions were wrong because the pineal gland is not suspended in the middle of the ventricles and is not surrounded by arteries but veins."(1)
"Mental powers such as telepathy, precognition, telekinesis" No justification given.
"It means that energy provides the soul with 'fuel' for eternity."
So the soul is not spiritual energy, because it is fueled by that. I guess then the conservation of energy does not even on your view make the soul eternal since it is not energy but rather spiritual matter?
If you want a spiritual equivalent to energy then you also need a spiritual equivalent to matter for the energy to "fuel" anything.
Then apparently the 2. law of thermodynamics also applies i.e. the energy fueling the soul is converted into something else and entropy rises thus leading to the heat death of the spiritual realm.
"and therefore can no longer sustain processes that consume energy (including computation and life)"(2)
I don't think "computation and life" can in this sense be seen analogous to "souls"
Furthermore you can't have a soul that both consumes energy and has no particles for the energy to interact with.
"It is something that can't be measured."
I didn't argue for scientific approaches, I only rebutted your scientific analogies,
I presented problems of the metaphysical presuppositions for an afterlife.
Lastly I can only repeat myself, I don't think souls exist, the immortality of he soul as an argument for the afterlife is only convincing to people who already think we have souls and thus will be "alive after we died".
Thank you for this debate.
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