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Religion and Spirituality, Science and Philosophy Use this forum to discuss what you believe in. This is a place where everyone may share their views freely.

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Problems With Atheism - December 1st 2013, 04:40 AM

Hello. Before I say anything I want to stress that I respect others' beliefs and I don't want to impinge upon whatever you might believe, as long as I receive the same courtesy. I'm sure that's redundant, but I don't want to cause any avoidable conflict. Now, the question I have is one that's been bugging me for a very long time: if (as I personally believe) there is no real afterlife, such as heaven or hell, then what happens to the consciousness after death? I don't know if anybody is able to answer that with any confidence, so I'm game for theories as well. What do you think?
   
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Re: Problems With Atheism - December 1st 2013, 10:07 AM

I'm not an atheist (Catholic, for the purposes of honesty), but my understanding of it is that for most atheists their take on it is that the consciousness as such simply ceases to be. It's seen as no more than an extension of the functions of the brain as dictated by electrical currents passing through neurons, and when they cease so too does it cease. Obviously this is going to depend on a person's particular brand of atheism - Buddhism for example is strictly speaking an atheistic philosophy as it rejects the notion of a deity, but at the same time it has an afterlife via reincarnation and nirvana - but for atheists in the most common sense of the word I believe that is the standard viewpoint.

As always, I'm open to correction on this - being religious I don't have particularly recent first-hand experience of this.


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Re: Problems With Atheism - December 2nd 2013, 03:43 PM

'Atheism' of course is categorically not a religion. It does not have official teachings which all Atheists should follow, as religions do.
Therefore, there is not necessarily a definitive answer from the whole of the Atheist community.
Much of it, I'd imagine, would agree that once you're dead, you're dead. Your consciousness dies with your brain.

That's nothing like the comforting thought of Heaven or rebirth which religions provide, but believing in them out of desperation seems illogical to me. If you need comfort or encouragement, I like to think this: if you do something great with this life, you're not being forgotten any time soon. Even if you're not famous per se, you'll stick around in the minds of those still alive.


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Re: Problems With Atheism - December 2nd 2013, 09:27 PM

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Originally Posted by Rachael98 View Post
'Atheism' of course is categorically not a religion. It does not have official teachings which all Atheists should follow, as religions do.
Therefore, there is not necessarily a definitive answer from the whole of the Atheist community.
Much of it, I'd imagine, would agree that once you're dead, you're dead. Your consciousness dies with your brain.

That's nothing like the comforting thought of Heaven or rebirth which religions provide, but believing in them out of desperation seems illogical to me. If you need comfort or encouragement, I like to think this: if you do something great with this life, you're not being forgotten any time soon. Even if you're not famous per se, you'll stick around in the minds of those still alive.
Atheism as I respect their views, should base their view on death on a more reasonable matter. Why say death is all but darkness when you don't have evidence to it? Death is but a mystery and no religion to this present day should dominate it unless science of course, have proven what happens after death.

Also, I wouldn't care if I'm remembered or not. Death is supposed to be reflected on ourselves, not to everyone.
   
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Re: Problems With Atheism - December 2nd 2013, 09:33 PM

Adam and Dave are both correct. Atheism is simply a lack of belief in any deity. That's all it is. Any other beliefs don't really affect their categorisation as Atheists (though it seems to be a personal choice rather than a classification).

Anyway, my family has pretty diverse beliefs, but we are all Atheists. My father, for instance, believes that a consciousness is a chemical reaction in the brain and nothing self-sustaining, so that the consciousness dies with the body. My mother, on the other hand, believes that a person's consciousness may exist outside the body and it therefore lingers after death (ghosts, basically). My sister believes in Heaven and Hell but does not believe there is a god of any sort. I personally share my father's beliefs, but they're all equally valid. That basically exemplifies the fact that Atheists are a pretty diverse (non)group of people.


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Re: Problems With Atheism - December 3rd 2013, 03:49 AM

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Atheism as I respect their views, should base their view on death on a more reasonable matter. Why say death is all but darkness when you don't have evidence to it? Death is but a mystery and no religion to this present day should dominate it unless science of course, have proven what happens after death.
What kind of strawman are you pulling? I've never met a fellow atheist who's said anything of the sort. Most I know, including myself, don't claim to have any certainty as to the fate of consciousness after the inevitability that is death.
How is claiming that consciousness ceases to exist due to the process which generates it stopping not "reasonable"? You demand reason in an approach to it, so I'd like to know how you find the views you think atheists to hold flawed or "unreasonable".


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Re: Problems With Atheism - December 3rd 2013, 05:08 PM

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Originally Posted by Take Heart View Post
Atheism as I respect their views, should base their view on death on a more reasonable matter. Why say death is all but darkness when you don't have evidence to it? Death is but a mystery and no religion to this present day should dominate it unless science of course, have proven what happens after death.

Also, I wouldn't care if I'm remembered or not. Death is supposed to be reflected on ourselves, not to everyone.
Again, Atheism =/= 'Follower of Science' or whatever else you're trying to make the term mean [and, of course, one does not 'follow' science - it isn't something one can 'follow' anyway, it just is.]

I don't think it's unreasonable anyway to presume that consciousness ends when the brain stops working, since we can pinpoint all consciousness to specific brain activity. I certainly didn't, incidentally, use the words, 'death is all but darkness,' or anything similar.
Death is a mystery? Meh...what happens after death is somewhat mysterious (although I'm personally going with the 'I have no reason or evidence to believe anything supernatural happens, so I'll assume that nothing does' theory, which tends to work pretty well), but death itself is quite easy: you die.

The onus, by the way, is not upon science to disprove religious claims. The burden of proof is upon the religions who make them in the first place. Again, unless I'm given proper, conclusive evidence, I'm not going with it.

My words specifically were
Quote:
If you need comfort or encouragement...
If you don't, great - what I said was something which can help to do what religion does, but without believing in the whole religious thing . I think that it would be nice to have made an impact upon someone's life, though - preferably positive. I didn't say that death itself had to be reflected upon others, I was hoping life might be.


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Re: Problems With Atheism - December 3rd 2013, 05:22 PM

I'm not entirely sure what I believe in regards to the afterlife, I don't really think of it often. I mean, why waste life thinking about what happens when you die? *shrugs*

But anyway, if after death there is nothing then it'll just be like before you were born where your consciousness didn't exist. I don't see why after death it would really be any different.


   
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Re: Problems With Atheism - December 3rd 2013, 06:26 PM

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Hello. Before I say anything I want to stress that I respect others' beliefs and I don't want to impinge upon whatever you might believe, as long as I receive the same courtesy. I'm sure that's redundant, but I don't want to cause any avoidable conflict. Now, the question I have is one that's been bugging me for a very long time: if (as I personally believe) there is no real afterlife, such as heaven or hell, then what happens to the consciousness after death? I don't know if anybody is able to answer that with any confidence, so I'm game for theories as well. What do you think?
It's a silly question. You need to ask the dead, not the living, the living doesn't know... the living believes they know.

Regardless, my view on it is simple. When we die, consciously, it is like before we were born.

Is there a god? Is there reincarnation? Is there any consciousness? I don't know. I'd think it's not very likely. I didn't have it pre-life, why should I expect it post-life?


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Re: Problems With Atheism - December 3rd 2013, 07:20 PM

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Originally Posted by Rachael98 View Post


Again, Atheism =/= 'Follower of Science' or whatever else you're trying to make the term mean [and, of course, one does not 'follow' science - it isn't something one can 'follow' anyway, it just is.]

I don't think it's unreasonable anyway to presume that consciousness ends when the brain stops working, since we can pinpoint all consciousness to specific brain activity. I certainly didn't, incidentally, use the words, 'death is all but darkness,' or anything similar.
Death is a mystery? Meh...what happens after death is somewhat mysterious (although I'm personally going with the 'I have no reason or evidence to believe anything supernatural happens, so I'll assume that nothing does' theory, which tends to work pretty well), but death itself is quite easy: you die.

The onus, by the way, is not upon science to disprove religious claims. The burden of proof is upon the religions who make them in the first place. Again, unless I'm given proper, conclusive evidence, I'm not going with it.

My words specifically were

If you don't, great - what I said was something which can help to do what religion does, but without believing in the whole religious thing . I think that it would be nice to have made an impact upon someone's life, though - preferably positive. I didn't say that death itself had to be reflected upon others, I was hoping life might be.
I can understand why the majority of Atheism doesn't have a religion which therefore why you jump back to "Death is death" since you don't place your belief on current religions.

My point is, you can't really prove anything about death unless you go through it. How can you know for certain that when death takes it pick on you, you become nothing. Let's just hope some E.T comes to earth and gives some knowledge on this... really would stop us all arguing.
   
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Re: Problems With Atheism - December 3rd 2013, 08:42 PM

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I can understand why the majority of Atheism doesn't have a religion which therefore why you jump back to "Death is death" since you don't place your belief on current religions.

My point is, you can't really prove anything about death unless you go through it. How can you know for certain that when death takes it pick on you, you become nothing. Let's just hope some E.T comes to earth and gives some knowledge on this... really would stop us all arguing.
Actually, I think all Atheists have no religion, since - to my knowledge - there are no religions without a deity...which works, since the definition of religion is generally perceived to be one which tells of a deity.

And you're quite right that my personal view is 'death is death' because I am not religious...but then, I don't see why I should place my belief on any religion, and I actually struggle to see how on earth (or not ) anyone else could possibly do so - that's not my choice, though.

Whilst your point stands that I can't necessarily prove that death is death (although it would seem logical to me), the fact that the population is rising would suggest that reincarnation can't happen, the infrequency of so-called 'sightings' of ghosts renders it illogical and unlikely to me that organisms return as spirits, and the idea of any afterlife such as Heaven or Hell which I've heard of from any religion seem greatly illogical also.
So, if you can bring me a theory, and prove it, then I'm likely to change my mind. Otherwise, I'm going with the conclusion which I see to be most logical, which is that death is, indeed, death.

As for E.T., that would be pretty cool, but it would disprove most of this world's major religions on the spot, because it would be near-conclusive proof that no-one created the whole universe solely to have a relationship with specific humans...


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Re: Problems With Atheism - December 4th 2013, 07:15 PM

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I can understand why the majority of Atheism doesn't have a religion which therefore why you jump back to "Death is death" since you don't place your belief on current religions.

My point is, you can't really prove anything about death unless you go through it. How can you know for certain that when death takes it pick on you, you become nothing. Let's just hope some E.T comes to earth and gives some knowledge on this... really would stop us all arguing.
How can you prove that death is anything other then death? Honestly if you're going to say that atheists are illogical because some of them believe that death is just death and nothing else happens then how are you any different? I'm pretty sure that there has to be at least a few atheists that just don't believe god exists but are unsure about what happens after death, so grouping them all together is stupid (just like it is with anything else). To you it may seem logical to believe that conscience just moves on to the afterlife or whatever but really what proof do you have(and if your about to say the bible(or whatever holy book you want to name) I ask you to tell me how you know that wasn't just written as a huge prank, or isn't actually a completely inaccurate recording of events)? Is there something that is missing from a person after death? Is there a physical part of them that actually isn't there, something to prove that something really does happen after death? If you yourself can't say that you are sure your side is completely logical then who are you to say the other side is illogical. If anything both sides know nothing and should just admit they have blind faith in their own ways (and if your about to call me a hypocrite your wrong because I'm agnostic, Ie I admit I know nothing and that either way is possible)
   
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Re: Problems With Atheism - December 4th 2013, 07:30 PM

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How can you prove that death is anything other then death? Honestly if you're going to say that atheists are illogical because some of them believe that death is just death and nothing else happens then how are you any different? I'm pretty sure that there has to be at least a few atheists that just don't believe god exists but are unsure about what happens after death, so grouping them all together is stupid (just like it is with anything else). To you it may seem logical to believe that conscience just moves on to the afterlife or whatever but really what proof do you have(and if your about to say the bible(or whatever holy book you want to name) I ask you to tell me how you know that wasn't just written as a huge prank, or isn't actually a completely inaccurate recording of events)? Is there something that is missing from a person after death? Is there a physical part of them that actually isn't there, something to prove that something really does happen after death? If you yourself can't say that you are sure your side is completely logical then who are you to say the other side is illogical. If anything both sides know nothing and should just admit they have blind faith in their own ways (and if your about to call me a hypocrite your wrong because I'm agnostic, Ie I admit I know nothing and that either way is possible)
With respect, I think you may have missed the point the OP was making. Namely, while we can speak with some authority on the observable phenomena surrounding the physical death of an organism, we're not in a position of knowledge to know authoritatively what happens from said organism's perspective. We really can only speculate either way, and that's not to discredit the scientific method by any means (I am myself an advocate of it) - it's simply to point out the limits of our knowledge at present. In the future, with a greater understanding of how consciousness is generated and more observation data, we may be able to come up with conclusive evidence. At present, however, that is lacking, and so for advocates of either position it is difficult to reach such conclusions by operation of logic. That appears to be what the OP is getting at, and indeed the position you hold yourself.


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Re: Problems With Atheism - December 4th 2013, 08:36 PM

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How can you prove that death is anything other then death? Honestly if you're going to say that atheists are illogical because some of them believe that death is just death and nothing else happens then how are you any different? I'm pretty sure that there has to be at least a few atheists that just don't believe god exists but are unsure about what happens after death, so grouping them all together is stupid (just like it is with anything else). To you it may seem logical to believe that conscience just moves on to the afterlife or whatever but really what proof do you have(and if your about to say the bible(or whatever holy book you want to name) I ask you to tell me how you know that wasn't just written as a huge prank, or isn't actually a completely inaccurate recording of events)? Is there something that is missing from a person after death? Is there a physical part of them that actually isn't there, something to prove that something really does happen after death? If you yourself can't say that you are sure your side is completely logical then who are you to say the other side is illogical. If anything both sides know nothing and should just admit they have blind faith in their own ways (and if your about to call me a hypocrite your wrong because I'm agnostic, Ie I admit I know nothing and that either way is possible)
I'm not a religious guy, I'm likely just mostly atheism.

To repeat and maybe be a bit clear, You do not know what happens after death.
Maybe there's an afterlife, sure... but there's nothing to prove it.
Maybe nothing happens after death, sure... but there's nothing to prove it.

Without any evidence other than this remotely and barely unsupported source that the brain does a massive nuke on itself (Lots of energy) before it just officially dies.
   
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Re: Problems With Atheism - December 5th 2013, 01:40 AM

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I'm not a religious guy, I'm likely just mostly atheism.

To repeat and maybe be a bit clear, You do not know what happens after death.
Maybe there's an afterlife, sure... but there's nothing to prove it.
Maybe nothing happens after death, sure... but there's nothing to prove it.

Without any evidence other than this remotely and barely unsupported source that the brain does a massive nuke on itself (Lots of energy) before it just officially dies.
That is my point, it's illogical to claim that either side is right when both sides don't have any proof of what they believe. I also believe that because of that it's a bit imature and stupid to tell the other side that they are being illogical if you yourself have an argument that isn't entirely logical itself.
   
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Re: Problems With Atheism - December 5th 2013, 01:43 AM

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With respect, I think you may have missed the point the OP was making. Namely, while we can speak with some authority on the observable phenomena surrounding the physical death of an organism, we're not in a position of knowledge to know authoritatively what happens from said organism's perspective. We really can only speculate either way, and that's not to discredit the scientific method by any means (I am myself an advocate of it) - it's simply to point out the limits of our knowledge at present. In the future, with a greater understanding of how consciousness is generated and more observation data, we may be able to come up with conclusive evidence. At present, however, that is lacking, and so for advocates of either position it is difficult to reach such conclusions by operation of logic. That appears to be what the OP is getting at, and indeed the position you hold yourself.
Exactly, neither side (atheist or theist) can truly say they know what they are talking about because there is no proof either way, and so it is pointless to tell the other side they are wrong if you yourself can't say your sure about your side.
   
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Re: Problems With Atheism - December 5th 2013, 02:54 PM

Since we will never know, I don't think about it. If there is an afterlife, then awesome!! If not, then we cease to be (the "before we were born" thing). Either way, theories don't really matter. None of them come from a verified source. To me, its something I'll think about if it exists. Won't know for a while, though (hopefully).
   
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Re: Problems With Atheism - December 6th 2013, 12:34 PM

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Exactly, neither side (atheist or theist) can truly say they know what they are talking about because there is no proof either way, and so it is pointless to tell the other side they are wrong if you yourself can't say your sure about your side.
Agreed - but again, this isn't what Take Heart said. (As opposed to the OP as I put in my last post, erroneously) I can find nothing in Take Heart's post to suggest he was claiming atheists were wrong - given his expressed position of near-atheism, it would be rather self-hating to do so - whereas there is plenty to suggest he was claiming it was wrong to claim there is objective evidence for either stance. At present you appear to be accusing him of making claims he did not actually make.


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If you're referring to dr2005's response, it's not complex, however, he has a way with words .
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Re: Problems With Atheism - December 6th 2013, 07:55 PM

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Agreed - but again, this isn't what Take Heart said. (As opposed to the OP as I put in my last post, erroneously) I can find nothing in Take Heart's post to suggest he was claiming atheists were wrong - given his expressed position of near-atheism, it would be rather self-hating to do so - whereas there is plenty to suggest he was claiming it was wrong to claim there is objective evidence for either stance. At present you appear to be accusing him of making claims he did not actually make.
I might of responded to the wrong post or read it wrong, either way unless someone can tell me how to delete posts I can't take my word back.
   
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Re: Problems With Atheism - December 7th 2013, 09:31 AM

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I might of responded to the wrong post or read it wrong, either way unless someone can tell me how to delete posts I can't take my word back.
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...well, I try, anyway. .......................
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"May we always remember that we are the rainbow."
   
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