No life after death

Discussion in 'The Lounge' started by Higgs Boson, Apr 27, 2011.

No life after death

Discussion in 'The Lounge' started by Higgs Boson, Apr 27, 2011.

  1. Higgs Boson

    Higgs Boson New Member

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    Yes, yes I realise that it must have been here before but I am trying to make a case and I want hear as many (good arguments) against as I can so I can figure out counter-arguments (if there are some at all - if not then kudos to you) as to bolster my case. Observe the following syllogism:

    1. The existence of human mind is sustained by brain activity.
    2. Upon death brain ceases to be active.
    3. Therefore upon death human mind ceases to exist.
    (Hence no life after death excluding stuff like copying your brain pattern into a computer before you die and other science fiction ideas)

    1. Is the syllogism sound ASSUMING that the two premises are correct. (This should be straight forward)
    2. Are the two premises sound? - unlike 1. this wont have a definitive answer but thats basically where the debate lies.

    Hazzah and cheers.
     
  2. ijffdrie

    ijffdrie Lord of Spam

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    1 Yup.
    2 The second one is true. The first one is a point of debate with no definite answer. Ergo, not really much use in debating, because you are gonna walk out saying it's true, that one guy I can't recall is gonna walk out saying it isn't, and I am gonna be indecisive.
     
  3. Higgs Boson

    Higgs Boson New Member

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    Ok, lets take the example of people who suffer from epilepsy and have their brain halves split which results in two completely different personalities developing withing a single human being. Each half of the brain having different beliefs. Isn't that a very good reason to believe that what we call a person is solely a product of the brain?
     
  4. Fenix

    Fenix Moderator

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    I'm fairly agnostic, and what beliefs I have don't lie in the classical Christian direction, but sure, the human mind ceases to exist and the spiritual mind begins. This is why theistic arguements have to be craftily worded.

    As far as actual evidence goes, correct, buuuut (I hope your respect this source):
    "Absence of evidence is not evidence of absence"
    - Carl Sagan
     
  5. Higgs Boson

    Higgs Boson New Member

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    Except from when you expect there to be evidence if your hypothesis is true and there is not.*
    Anyway the whole point is to dismiss the 'agnostic view'. Of course you can never 'know' anything to 100% we would all agree on that I'm sure and yet none of us are solipsists. The point is that this question was given unfair amount of labelling as unknowable in my opinion. I don't believe that it is unknowable. I believe that based on current understanding and scientific knowledge we are already justified in saying "I know there is no life after death" to any PRACTICAL definition of the word knowledge.
     
  6. ijffdrie

    ijffdrie Lord of Spam

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    Current understanding does not mean sufficient understanding. This is like arguing how the execution of the grandfather paradox would influence the space-time strings within a wormhole, whether percy bysshe shelly was using the statue "younger memnon" in his poem or whether gravity is generated by the absence/presence of information. We can make theories that sound very nice, but in the end, we are missing any method of verifying our theorem. And, in contradiction to common belief, modern science is not founded on logic, but on evidence. We miss the technology needed to confirm that the human mind solely consists of brain activity, so no matter the hypothesis, it cannot be tested.
     
  7. Higgs Boson

    Higgs Boson New Member

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    Why is our current understanding inefficient? The only thing that needs to be demonstrated is that mind is the product of the brain. What sort of technology do we need to prove that that we lack? There is a plethora of examples just like the split brain example I listed earlier that clearly point to the premise 1. to being sound.
    It all comes down to Occams razor. My explenation is the most straight forward explenation I could come to by far. If it were not true we would have to introduce more and more undiscovered things to explain that hence you would voilate Occams razor in addition to just being dishonest.
    Now I understand why people dont want to say I know there is no life after death. Especially since most of us really wants one. But at the very least I want to persuade people to stop lumping this question in the 'inherently unknowable/mysterious' category and start thinking about it in real terms and investigate it.
     
  8. ijffdrie

    ijffdrie Lord of Spam

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    Occam's razor is useless in any sort of discussion, because what is the easiest solution is often not objective. For you, the randomness of the universe bringing forth intelligent life sounds like the most simple solution, while for many people it sounds like something utterly unlikely (seriously, how did the chromosone count get so high in many species?). You on the other hand would say divine intervention is highly unlikely, even utterly implausible, while for others it is the simplest explanation. Occam's razor was invented to dismiss theories like "maybe the gravitational force of the sun had a rare effect on the moon of Europe, sending electromagnetic waves towards earth, which then happened to pass through your window and was reflected by your pack of gum, and that's why bubblegum looks pink to you".

    Now I understand why people would want to stop lumping this question in the 'inherently unknowable/mysterious' category, instead of never being sure, but the proof needed to confirm/oppose this is simply not available to us (yet).
     
  9. EatMeReturns

    EatMeReturns Happy Mapper Moderator

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    Just wondering, where are we drawing the line between life and death?

    I knew there was some sort of debate on this, so I went to trusty ol' wikipedia and snagged a quote:

    "However, the category of "brain death" is seen by some scholars to be problematic. For instance, Dr. Franklin Miller, senior faculty member at the Department of Bioethics, National Institutes of Health, notes: "By the late 1990s, however, the equation of brain death with death of the human being was increasingly challenged by scholars, based on evidence regarding the array of biological functioning displayed by patients correctly diagnosed as having this condition who were maintained on mechanical ventilation for substantial periods of time. These patients maintained the ability to sustain circulation and respiration, control temperature, excrete wastes, heal wounds, fight infections and, most dramatically, to gestate fetuses (in the case of pregnant "brain-dead" women)."[12]
    Those people maintaining that only the neo-cortex of the brain is necessary for consciousness sometimes argue that only electrical activity should be considered when defining death. Eventually it is possible that the criterion for death will be the permanent and irreversible loss of cognitive function, as evidenced by the death of the cerebral cortex. All hope of recovering human thought and personality is then gone given current and foreseeable medical technology. However, at present, in most places the more conservative definition of death – irreversible cessation of electrical activity in the whole brain, as opposed to just in the neo-cortex – has been adopted (for example the Uniform Determination Of Death Act in the United States). In 2005, the Terri Schiavo case brought the question of brain death and artificial sustenance to the front of American politics.
    Even by whole-brain criteria, the determination of brain death can be complicated. EEGs can detect spurious electrical impulses, while certain drugs, hypoglycemia, hypoxia, or hypothermia can suppress or even stop brain activity on a temporary basis. Because of this, hospitals have protocols for determining brain death involving EEGs at widely separated intervals under defined conditions."
     
  10. 1n5an1ty

    1n5an1ty Member

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    1. Unknown -- It is very possible that brain activity is the physical projection of a "spiritual" mind.

    2. Zombie Apocalypse.
     
  11. Jshep89

    Jshep89 New Member

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    Higgs, I find your original post to be quite interesting and it does bring to mind a few questions. For a while now I've been working on developing artificial intelligence, and this pursuit has led me to start studying the human mind more closely. In order for me to develop a computer that can think intelligently I have to understand how the human mind creates thoughts. However, your post has me wondering about something else now. How does the human mind store memories? Admittedly I've never really looked into this matter myself, but after reading your post it does seem logical to start there. Up until now I've been working on getting a better understanding on how the mind produces creative thought. This can be explained by brain chemistry for the most part it seems, but creative thought isn't possible without memory is it? So where is memory stored? How do we store long term memories especially. I'm not trying to get this thread off topic, just this also brought to mind some questions I'd like to direct to your post.

    Is something alive only if it has brain activity? I always figured an entity that was defined as living was because it's organic, and requires things like breathing, blood circulation, and growth. The brain agreeably does drive our bodies functions. It tells our body what to do when to breath, how fast the heart should beat, and tells our body parts to move. However, is it really the source of our personalities, emotions, and behavior?

    Take anger or aggression for example. This emotion results in the mind telling the heart to beat faster and for our body to produce adrenaline, but how does our mind know the difference between adrenaline increased for anger and adrenaline increased for excitement? First it would have to understand why its making you angry, and in order for it to understand something it would have to retrieve something from our memory correct? But then.... Where is it retrieving the memory from? And how does it perceive the memories retrieved in such a way to understand that something should make us angry?

    Another emotion I have to look at is sadness. If someone loses something such as a friend, family member, or possession. We first have to remember possessing those things in order to know they are gone. Thus like anger this emotion would not be possible if the brain could not retrieve memory. Like anger, I have to ask the question even after its retrieved the memories necessary to know something is gone. How then does it know to perceive this information in such a way to encourage feelings of depression, and tell the rest of our body to display the emotions?

    Another question your original post brings to mind is, how are understandings and perceptions made? What elements are necessary to put into the equation to give us a certain perception or understanding? Memories and events are two elements, but they can't be all of them can they? How can electrical signals in the mind give us the ability to know what situations should cause us to be angry and what situations should cause us to be sad?

    How does the mind know what information should be put to short term memory, and what information should be put to long term memory? In a computer it has a base set of rules to tell the computer whether this information should be kept or thrown away. Those rules are installed from a human being. A computer does not do this on its own it has to be told to. How does the human mind know when to do this?

    I'm not immediately jumping to the conclusion that memory is stored in the soul, or that this is proof of human spirit. Nor am I saying this is proof of life after death, but I am saying that if the brain is the source of life and our personalities. Then where does it store and retrieve information to and/or from in order to know that we should act or behave certain ways? How is it at birth a living organism can know the difference between pain adrenaline and non-pain adrenaline. How does it know that when your bleeding it needs to tell your body to produce adrenaline, and then use that adrenaline to cause us to feel pain? While I don't firmly believe in the concept of an afterlife or life after death is because I don't know the answers to these questions. Granted I'm not a brain surgeon and I am in no way an expert or even a person who has a good understanding of how the human mind works, so maybe someone already has proven how the mind does this. I'm still researching at this point (while researching forms of technology that can make the computer function in a similar way to the human mind.), and wouldn't know if the answers are already there. However, if you know of answers to these questions that have been proven to be true then please say so and source them for me. Not just to prove your point but so I can use those sources in my own research. But, if there are no proven answers to such questions than I cannot simply just overlook the possibility of the human soul. While its not the most likely of possibilities, it's just still a possibility none the less.
    Again, if you have answers to these questions I ask you to post them, and then source the research which proves those answers to be true. I'd greatly appreciate it due to time it will save me in having to get them on my own, but only if they are proven.
    Answers that are unproven while backed with evidence, are just as valuable as those with no evidence(To people like me trying to produce something by researching and understanding those answers), because if so many answers have evidence to support them then they are all just as likely as the one with no evidence to be wrong.
    In the case of this topic. It means that theories which suggest the human mind is the source of our emotions, memories, and functions, and that the human soul does not exist, while all have more evidence to support themselves then religious or other such theories, they still are all just as likely to be wrong. Simply because of the thousands of scientific theories out there with some or a lot of evidence/research to support them. If one is wrong then how sure can we be that any other theory backed by scientific evidence is not also wrong. Sadly in science only one theory can be proven correct. Which means its not a stretch to think if one is wrong that maybe all theories which back themselves with evidence are also wrong. In which case the one with no evidence(like the existence of a human soul or afterlife) are more likely to be true. Again, I want to say I don't believe in the after life or the human soul my self, but simply don't think someone else is wrong for believing in them.
     
  12. Makki

    Makki Member

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    I Didn't read all of it.. but the parts i read made a lot of sense to me!
     
  13. Higgs Boson

    Higgs Boson New Member

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    Ok Jshep there is no way I am reacting to even most of what you listed there. Even if I was a widely recognized neurologist it would take me ages to react to all of it so Ill just randomly pick up on a point.
    You seem to be saying that you don't know how the brain could store memory and that could be where the soul comes into play? Well ignoring the fact that this looks like an exemplary argument from ignorance I think that memory is one of those things that are being successfuly understood. You can find an example using a simple google search (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Long-term_memory#Biological_underpinnings_at_the_cellular_level). Really if anyone is going to use arguments from ignorance in support of a soul at least use consciousness because to me that looks like the phenomen that is explored the least from all the things that the brain does.
    Regarding souls though I must again point everyone back to the person who had his brain split into two effectively creating two different people in a single brain. That looks like a pretty good evidence against the existance of a soul under most definitions. Unless you would like to claim that the soul was duplicated/split as well which is just more of you (<- meant generally) pulling assertions based on nothing.

    I must sleep but a quick one: ijffdrie occams razor is no useless at all and I think this exact topic is an excellent example of this. You see my argument requires very little to no assumptions (depending on whether you already consider premise 1 to have been sufficiently demonstrated to be true or not) whereas the alternatives require additional things to be invented/discovered. Things like gods, souls, supernatural phenomena, etc.
     
  14. ijffdrie

    ijffdrie Lord of Spam

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    Yes, but your assumption also requires large quantities of chance. How large is the chance of intelligent life developing as the result of some random energy/time explosion vs. how large is the chance god exists. (Or, how large is the chance that a non-bacteria creature with 254 chromosones evolves naturally within the timespace of two billion years, assuming a starting point of a single chromosone in some bacteria and two mass extinction phenomena in the last 500 million years). Furthermore, the alternative only requires one thing: god/divine hand. Nothing else is needed, for He could create it. The atheist theory also only requires one thing: the big bang. Nothing else is needed, for all comes forth from that. So in the end, the question is "what are the chances of a non-existant universe developing divine intelligence before a random explosion". I don't think we have a lot of data on that.
     
  15. Higgs Boson

    Higgs Boson New Member

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    Dude... wow... really? This? I expected a lot of things EXCEPT from the discussion degrading into virtually a creationist (if you really want: Intelligent Design) talk.
    Ok let me handle it like this. I won't argue back - and trust me I would love to but it would simply go off into ontological arguments for the existence of god(s) and so on which is my favourite topic but I came here with an agenda. Let's say that we ignore the 'problem' of the origin of the universe and us (as if there was one *cough*). Let's say that you accept that the things got to this point without an intelligent designer or at least without the need for one. Would you then agree that the conclusion of my syllogism should be seriously considered to become the new status quo when it comes to the question of life after death?
     
  16. ijffdrie

    ijffdrie Lord of Spam

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    The chance that we randomly evolved to have a soul seems pretty low, so of course. Because that assumption is basically what the discussion regarding life after death is about. If you are gonna discuss life after death, you are gonna discuss the mechanics behind the universe. If you discuss the mechanics behind the universe, the origin seems like a pretty good point.

    Also, note that I am not a creationist, but someone, who does not care to choose either side. Both theorems track their origin to a single event and both events sound pretty unlikely.
     
  17. 1n5an1ty

    1n5an1ty Member

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    Actually the chance of the existence of an omnipotent being (and being omnipotent, he can just "be" from "not to be")
    is 100%. Think about that.

    Also, drie.

    The REASON we obverse this universe and ask "how come we are here"? is because the chance of us existing at all is again, 100%. The chance of this universe existing is 0%. (but in probability, as the amount of times the existence of this universe is checked approaches infinity, the universe will exist).
    Thus, we can come up with 2 ideas:
    -our life is the succession of the existence and non-existence of this universe. After eternity passes, infinite times, we "exist" with memories and etc. If this was true, we will never be able to confirm it.

    -we exist because the probability of our existence is 100% as "the times the coin is flipped" approaches inifinity.

    Just in case someone doesnt understand:
    I have a coin. heads = universe 2 exists, tails = it doesnt.
    0% chance of it being heads (well it's actually not 0% but you understand what I mean right?). If i flip it a LOT, the coin will have to land on heads at least once anyways.

    -end rant on chance (cuz chance = 100%)-
     
    Last edited: Apr 28, 2011
  18. ijffdrie

    ijffdrie Lord of Spam

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    The whole chance thingie gets even more confusing considering this "event" would have to take place before the start of time, so anything that has any chance at all of happening would happen, since everything would happen at once.
     
  19. 1n5an1ty

    1n5an1ty Member

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    There are "two" times.
    our time, and what i will call "real" time.
    in real time, eternity was, is, and will be, so the flow is forever with not start, no end (a line).
    it does not matter how far apart or where on this line existence is, because since a line is infinite, it is a continuum (no parts can be discerned).
    maybe all things do happened at once. It does not matter because even then, the passage of "our time" can still be a POINT on the "real" time.

    i shud right an essay on this, just thot up of this thingy lol...
     
  20. ijffdrie

    ijffdrie Lord of Spam

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    The problem with that is that, as far as we currently know, actual time has a starting point (although we do not know whether it has an ending point). And if actual time has an ending point, perceived time could still be infinite, assuming an infinite universe with the possibility of time travel.