This section is not being presented in a way that modern day philosophy for the most part has become - which simply put it seems to have devolved to a linguistic analysis. What if we cease to exist at physical death? Being mortal with no soul and there is no afterlife. It is the same as never existing in the first place. In my opinion, thinking the preceding in deep thought while alone with one having no hope of the possibility of an afterlife (along with a second part to it which I will not mention as it would not be right to give some people this needless apprehension) is the most unsettling thought there is. Needing to know and to the extent one needs to know all depends on the individual and the animal they are. Life after death can neither be proved nor disproved. This is because one would have to undergo physical death in order to prove or disprove it (and by its very nature, disproving it would not be possible). This is in contrast to something like astrology where one could undertake a study of people born at the same time and evaluate their personality traits and life outcomes at a later time to see if there is any correlation with time of birth. There is no actual direct evidence against an afterlife - only arguments refuting the specific examples of evidence for life after death as not being sufficient proof. Although it can easily be argued that not having direct knowledge of an afterlife constitutes evidence against life after death. Life after death cannot be disproven; only the evidence in its favour can be scrutinized and rational non-believers are left to make the conclusion that life after death cannot be proven. It is hard to imagine any species (ie. mankind) would reach such a high level of consciousness of our own existence if it were all to end with this life. There is no evolutionary advantage or biological need for this. For a mortal life here on earth, the human mind is much more advanced than necessary. Possibly we have reached such a state of consciousness, because there is a continuum to this life after this one ends? Just being conscious of our existence suggests that there may be an afterlife. Why else would we be aware of our mortality or be concerned with life after death? Possibly we can only fathom we could cease to exist because we never will cease to exist? In fact, awareness of our mortality or immortality and what it means goes beyond the awareness you exist (consciousness). Having a soul can explain consciousness, but if we do not possess souls, then how do we account for consciousness? If it so happens that ones existence can end at any time and is not everlasting, it makes ones existence pointless in the first place and really, the ultimate form of cruelty. Why life? There is no scientific reason for the existence of life. The universe doesn't care if there is life in it - it does not benefit from it. Yet life, and especially more advanced life with consciousness like us humans, came about. A 'driving force' in the universe behind it that made it all happen would make some sense of it all. Many would call such a driving force, God. Considering the fact we have our universe and matter and energy in it, we have to think why is there something rather than nothing? For without a Creator or some spiritual force behind it all, would it not be expected there would be nothing? It is difficult for some of us to believe there is life after death because it is all seems too incredible that we have a soul which leaves the body upon physical death and goes on to somewhere else. This is more so the case when many of us are wrapped up in our busy day to day lives with little time for reflection. Then we do not take time out to ponder how the bigger scheme of things might be because it has little bearing on our busy every day life with all its commitments, responsibilities, and distractions. If we were to put ourselves in a very dark room with no sounds or distractions when we aren't tired or sleepy, and engage in deep thought about the subject, then we may have more insight into what may actually be the truth. Of course the alternative, that there is no survival of consciousness, is all too hard to believe for many of us also. If we came from the 'other side', then should we not have fear of returning to it. So we should not have a fear of death as we could make the assumption that we would likely have some instinct built into us that we don't need to worry about our mortality since we are immortal. However, for the large part, this fear of death exists in most people to varying degrees. Why are we not aware of where we came from and where we are going when we die? Why do we exist at all? What is the purpose of our existence and our life in this world? If we are reincarnated so that we may improve our souls, then should we not know this? If, as taught by Christianity this is our only life on earth, then why do we not have direct knowledge of this? Why is God not in direct contact with us? Maybe not knowing is a better 'test' for us. Going into this life on earth maybe we know the answers to the preceding questions, but once here this knowledge is 'taken' from us and we only can speculate - we therefore live our lives differently possibly and are not motivated by some selfish reward for a good life lived and the suffering we endure is of greater benefit to us. In other words, having direct knowledge of the afterlife would mean we would be motivated by reward (spiritual improvement) in our actions and would not suffer as much and therefore would not improve as much spiritually. I don't think it was the intent of God or the 'universal consciousness' (assuming there is such) to reveal all to the satisfaction of everyone of us. For if it had, then surely we would all be believers. It all seems to be part of a greater plan to have it all this way. I don't agree with some who believe mankind is not capable of understanding or comprehending this. For mankind not only has a great understanding of many difficult and complex areas of say science, but also made the discoveries to make it possible. At the very least, if all were to be revealed, the essence of it all should be understood by most. ® Further to the previous point, some sort of cosmic algorithm is likely in place which prevents absolute proof of life after death being made to the level necessary that would be to the satisfaction of all. This algorithm does this for a single proof or for the sum total of all evidence that would amount to proof. I don’t think we will get this type of proof unless we are to be given such at some point in time in the future. We probably need to endure a minimal amount of suffering while here on earth or otherwise we would regress spiritually (due to becoming more smug and taking more of a 'blame the victim' attitude when others suffer and therefore we would become less empathetic when not enduring any suffering ourselves). It is possible that God is the collective consciousness of the universe (or universes). This might be some type of energy field which is the source of all the knowledge, intelligence, and power that guides the universe (or universes). Many of us automatically make the assumption that if life was created or designed intelligently, then there must be an afterlife. However, we are assuming the Creator or the 'force' responsible for the creation 'cares' for us and has given us souls everlasting and it is possible this may not be the case (although there are many convincing arguments and evidence for an afterlife). The reverse, however unlikely, could also apply: that there is an afterlife without a Creator or God. There are 8 unique possibilities as follows: As can be seen from analyzing the above, there are several possibilities. Life after death is not necessarily dependent upon a universe or life on earth having a Creator or Designer. Although of course life after death is so much more likely rationally having such. Life forms may have had to start out very simple and then became increasing complex as time passed because the souls to occupy them would have to advance through the reincarnation cycle. Logically this would explain why life on earth evolved the way it did as shown (be it inconclusively) by the scientific evidence. ® To account for the possibility of creating living organisms from scratch (if this is even ever possible) sometime in the future, if there is life after death then the following would have to also occur spiritually: the Creator would have to take responsibility for these life forms and place souls in them (this would have already applied to cloning). Because of this, it may be harder for some to accept that living things have something such as a soul that gives them life. If artificial intelligence is created, consciousness (some of the universal consciousness) could enter it (it may want to 'experience' it) thereby giving it life. Much like energy, I don't think its likely consciousness could come out of nothing. And I doubt (but cannot rule out), that it could be artificially created or induced or simply be some byproduct of sufficient neural or brain activity. ® People (most of them) seem to have a certain amount of wisdom which is evident during childhood which seems could not have just been picked up as a baby (or child). This is more specifically true for having a well developed sense of right and wrong (or even of natural justice). Therefore, we could theorize that this is either a) genetically programmed into the brain prior to birth or b) it is part of the soul which is brought into this physical incarnation. The much more plausible explanation would appear to be we have all this from an existence prior to our birth into this world. Some of us, especially many of you reading this website may feel that your personality ( level of empathy for other life, wisdom to an extent, sense of right and wrong, etc.) has not changed significantly since you have recall for (say age 3 or 4). Your sense of self was fully developed since that early age and has not changed significantly either. What has changed is your knowledge and added memories from life experiences as should be expected. Genes cannot fully account for this. To me this suggests that we could not have developed all this by age 3 or 4 and must have carried most of this in from a previous existence. This would apply to everyone but if you came into this world with a lesser developed soul, you would expect to experience greater changes in your personality and sense of self throughout this life. ® Why do we have desires to accomplish things and improve ourselves where there is no evolutionary benefit to us, our dependents, or our species? Some examples might be (not for monetary or social gain neither): creating music, writing novels, or taking courses solely for interest or accomplishment. Maybe we are more than just our physical bodies trying to survive in this world as Darwinian evolution may have us believe. In reincarnation, one would expect that empathy is the personality trait that would definitely be carried from one life to the next. One could logically assume that a soul would not progress if it does not improve its empathy for other living things; then in subsequent lives it would be incarnated into equal or higher (more intelligent or of higher mental capacity) life forms. This is not consistent with the fact that some humans appear to have lower empathy for other life than do some animals. Possibly, higher life forms are not always incarnations of more progressed souls? For example, the soul born as a dog may have reached a higher level of spiritual development than most humans but may have taken this lower form in order to learn particular lessons in a more efficient way. Another aspect of personality which would make sense to be part of the soul (at least partially) is wisdom. But its manifestation in the individual might be dependent upon the physical body (brain) occupied. Likewise, the empathy shown by the soul may also be likewise restricted by the physical body occupied. It may be likely that empathy and wisdom often go together - ie. a life form often won't have too much of one without having the other in the same range. ® Love or empathy for other species does not make any sense from an evolutionary viewpoint. For example, when an animal is injured or killed for no justifiable reason, we will likely feel bad about it. Yet there is no evolutionary advantage in us feeling this way and in fact it can be argued that it is a detriment to our own survival since we are competing with them. Instead, us having souls which are capable of loving all living things does explain this. If we ask the questions, who or what created our Creator if there is such? When did time start? Where did matter and energy come from? Most likely there is no start point and our Creator has always existed as have matter and energy. Contemplating the preceding, I am more inclined to believe that a Designer is ultimately responsible for the existence of our universe. ® It is possible that there is no start point to the original creation of consciousness (God or the universal consciousness has always existed). Maybe our consciousness has always existed and we simply travel along a closed circle and are free to go to any point in time backwards or forwards. At different points along the circle we have different levels of soul progression. While on earth we planned prior to incarnation for a certain time here and cannot do this but can back in the spirit realm. I don't think this is how it all works and most likely is all wrong but I just wanted to put it forth more to show there could be many possibilities and some we may not even be able to comprehend in our limiting present states. Also, as others have theorized, the past, present, and future may be simultaneously occurring. ® There is the possibility that the God of our universe may have other equivalent Gods who are responsible for their own universes and there is a God who presides over all of them. This chain of hierarchy could even be infinite in length. We could rule out the possibility that a 'higher up' God may not be all good and could destroy anything beneath him (including our souls if that is in fact possible). This is because the 'ultimate' God would not create what may have evil in it and so on down the chain (He is infinitely good and all Gods below him would also be such as He who creates them is). A common argument against an afterlife is all the suffering and injustice in the world and God is nowhere to be seen to prevent it. Neither is the connection to an afterlife fully revealed (or not or hardly at all according to some) and we are left with so many unanswered questions regarding the nature of our existence. The possible rationale for this is: (1) We are on earth to increase our empathy for other life and to be accountable for the effect of our actions and behaviour on the world. An example of this in practical terms is if we know that when we drive recklessly and our passenger dies as a result, we will feel badly. But if we know that they will be reunited with the same loved ones in the afterlife that they leave behind when they die, then our empathy for others will not improve as easily. This is because we know the loss is only temporary for everyone effected and it is as if the person who dies only just goes to a foreign land for what is a very short period of an infinite life. This might be why we do not have a complete knowledge of the afterlife. Note that with the full and complete knowledge of an afterlife, ones actions might improve but our empathy for other living things while here on earth would probably not improve to the same extent. Also, we may be motivated by spiritual reward and not progress spiritually to the same extent. (2) Taking (1) further, we have decided to come into this world in order to 'fast track' our spiritual progression. We could have remained in the spirit world for this same time period but there, with full understanding, we would not advance as much (we would endure less suffering also). Though it is possible that we could also incarnate into other worlds or universes where full knowledge of life after death and/or God may be given during that lifetime. (3) We may also have perfect knowledge in the spiritual dimension and we may not make the bad choices which causes others to suffer and progress spiritually and is necessary to build bad karma for us, thereby advancing us spiritually later when we suffer the effects of this bad karma. (4) Karma and pre-destined events in our lives might work via something akin to a 'great' or 'grand' algorithm. We might 'input' all this into this algorithm prior to incarnation on earth. (5) Since we are mentally developed to such an extent, we are given limited knowledge (through religion, logical arguments, near death experiences, etc.) so as to give us peace of mind, a sense of purpose and justice in life, and hope. As mankind has progressed through the ages, so as his mental sophistication and that is why greater evidence for the afterlife is needed to satisfy man, not mere almost blind faith. Maybe it is no coincidence that near death experiences are 'allowed' to occur so much more frequently. (6) Empathy is something the soul must develop (as opposed to having it given to it) through suffering, loss. pain, etc. since it does not start with any. This would explain all the suffering in the world. ® There may be a spiritual law (analogous to the laws of physics) that only allows creation of souls from nothing if the new soul is of some say 'zero point' empathy. Then later as this new soul suffers and adds empathy, there would be growth (spiritual) in the sum total of the consciousness in existence. If it could only be created perfectly if it were already part of the existing consciousness present (and broke off from it) and there would have been no resulting growth. As others have put forth, maybe God wants to have all these experiences of life and that is the reason for life. Though some, including myself, think God could just 'dream' it all instead of allowing all the suffering to take place. I think very likely the suffering is necessary for the growth of the sum total of the consciousness plus the positive experiences in life is why there is life also (in addition to this spiritual growth). These positive experiences also make the suffering more tolerable (to varying degrees for each individual consciousness and the life lived). The same observation can easily have different interpretations. Take for example, the injustice of suffering on earth. Some take this as there is no God otherwise why would God let this happen. While others see it to mean there must be a God then to administer some form of ultimate natural justice. If we possess souls and are on this earth to learn lessons and improve our souls, then why do we endure suffering for which we already possess empathy to a high degree for when others suffer the same fate? Unless something like karma can explain this, then this would in fact be evidence against us having souls and a purpose (and hence, life after death). If this is all orchestrated by some supernatural means, then surely this type of needless adversity could instead be made to happen to a person who needs to learn the lesson or improve this type of empathy. Or it could just be that whatever external influence there is is minimal or not exercised at all - because all living things are given free will. Or there could be another purpose for it that we don't see readily or not at all in this life; it could be something that has to do with future events. ® A way of looking at the relationship between the body and the soul is by way of analogy to that of a computer connected to the internet (we'll say a wireless connection to make it more alike). At birth (or conception or somewhere in between), the soul/mind (similar to software with related files) is downloaded onto the body/brain (similar to a computer hard drive). The soul lives through this body just like software does through a computers operating system, hard drive, CPU, etc. (which we can equate to the brain). The mind which is part of the soul works using the bodies brain. Memories of previous lives and the heavens is not known because the 'software' is not able to be fully deciphered by the 'computer' (the brain) and/or all the software isn't sent. This is analogous to a new computer software program not working fully on an old computer operating system or if not enough RAM is available or the CPU is too slow (eg. the latest software doesn't run fully on Windows 98 or less than 128 MB of RAM or Pentium III). At death, the soul is 'uploaded' back to the heavens (internet server) along with modifications to its 'software' code (what transformations happened to the soul during its life on earth) as well as additions to its files (life experiences and memories). We also have to wait for the brain (computer) to develop fully. This is why our wisdom and sense of right and wrong increase at such a fast rate throughout childhood without the benefit of all the life experiences to teach us - it is our soul 'coming through' as the brain develops and is able to interpret what it is bringing with it. This is especially true for the sense of right and wrong which develops very quickly in very young children. Also, our sense of right and wrong may have been given to us by the Creator so we might self evaluate and regulate our actions and behaviours. "I don't know what I may seem to the world, but as to myself, I seem to have been only like a boy playing on the sea shore and diverting myself in now and then finding a smoother pebble or prettier shell than ordinary, whilst the great ocean of truth lay all undiscovered before me". Sir Isaac Newton The questions we need to ask but cannot answer are ones such as: What was before the Big Bang? Why did it occur? What is beyond our universe or is it infinite? Are there more dimensions than the 3 we see plus time? Are there parallel universes? Is our universe but a speck of dust in another much bigger universe and so on? How was matter and energy created or where did it come from? When did time start? Was it an infinite time ago - it never started and has always been 'ticking'? These questions can probably be never answered by science as we know it and require an intelligence much greater than us to answer these for us. Possibly, this greater being is the Creator of the universe (and maybe all universes)? Maybe time as we understand it does not exist beyond our universe. Beyond it, perhaps one could go backwards or forwards in time? This could possibly mean that matter and life (and God) have always existed and there is no beginning to it all. It should be noted that previously, the Big Bang was not the prevailing theory for the origin of our universe as it is now. This Big Bang origin made many people who were against a religious explanation to the origins of the universe, uncomfortable as it does add credence to an act of creation as the start of the universe. In fact, every question posed above indirectly infers a Creator. Recently, physicists have practically come to the conclusion that the universe will continue to expand indefinitely. There will be no contraction and a never ending cycle of big bangs and contractions - our universe is a one time occurrence and this is indirect evidence for a special creation. ® Just as the universe as we know it (and anything beyond it if that is the case) could be infinite in size, matter could be infinitely small. So that theoretically, a universe with life in it that is as complex and diverse as our own, could exist in a single atom or even smaller quantum particle, and so on. In other words, a speck inside of our universe may hold a universe of its own and a speck inside of that universe may in turn hold its own universe, and so on, without limit. Likewise, our universe may be nothing more than a speck inside another universe and that universe in turn may be just another speck inside another universe and so on. What is the origin of electrons, protons, and all quantum matter? Where did this matter come from? How did we end up with these nice building blocks called atoms? Why are there approximately 100 unique atoms (elements) in the universe and not say millions or only one? It all seems too ordered and convenient. ® Life could start and new life forms could emerge on their own if atoms and molecules (from one or more or all quantum particles) had some type of inherent intelligence. And the sum of all of the individual intelligences of the atoms and molecules when they combine together in a life form, could be the intelligence of the life form that we observe. However, there is little (from quantum mechanics) or no evidence to support this and thus it is highly improbable. ® Is it possible that the unconditional love possessed by God or the universal consciousness is the source of energy or power that allowed the universe's creation and the life in it and also sustains it? If there are other worlds in this universe which contain life, we should NOT assume that: (1) They are based upon a carbon - oxygen system; it may be even possible for life to exist based only on metals. Or even elements we do not know about. (2) Life is based on cells - it may be of a different form such as a plasma type substance or even liquids and/or gases. (3) Life would be only possible under the conditions we observe it on earth today. It could exist under vastly different temperatures and pressures from that on earth. (4) Life would take a physical form. Life forms could be more like ghosts or spirit-like entities. Energy/matter is never created or destroyed, only transformed (1st Law of Thermodynamics). It would seem to be consciousness is a form of or analogous to a type of energy and therefore it is reasonable to think it cannot be destroyed and at most, only change form. The immortality of the soul may be the spiritual equivalent of the conservation of energy. It is a possibility that the dark matter/energy in our universe which has never been directly measured (and its existence is believed necessary by physicists in order to account for the Big Bang and the way the universe has unfolded since) could partially be made up of consciousness and the spirit world. The anthropic principle states that the universe came about such that life could be possible somewhere in it because many factors just happened to work in its favour (such as the universe expanding at a special rate to allow the universe to become structured; if nuclear forces had been a little weaker only hydrogen would be stable and the periodic table of elements would not exist; if gravity had been much stronger, stars would be short-lived and living organisms would be crushed, etc.). The laws of physics are relatively speaking, simple. And they are such that life can be supported. One may believe that this fine-tuning of the universe was no accident. One may then argue that a Creator may have set the parameters favourable for life to evolve (in case it were not created under the same conditions) on its own without external interference. In this He may also have allowed for some mechanism whereby new species could be perpetually created (not necessarily evolution; especially important not just for diversity but for new species to replace ones that become extinct - note that species are allowed to become extinct because it is the souls that occupy them that matter and not the physical form taken). If there many universes (even an infinite number), then we would expect the conditions favourable for creatures like us to flourish in some of them and we just happen to exist in one such universe. Another way of looking at it is although the odds that everything was favourable to this outcome may be so slim, the fact of the matter is it happened. An analogy might be if the chance of winning a lottery prize of $1M is 1 in 10 million and you just won, then it has already happened and therefore the odds no longer matter as the outcome has occurred. Order in the Universe There are no examples of structure or order in the non-living in nature (decaying life which is losing its structure is not included). Common simple man-made shapes such a squares, rectangles, circles, triangles, etc. are rarely seen in nature. There are no naturally occurring Mt. Rushmores, Great Pyramids, or forests in checkerboard patterns. We do not see a mountain in a perfect geometrical shape nor leaves arranging themselves with the aid of wind into a nice neat pile nor a pile of concrete not yet hardened, form itself into a sidewalk. Nature does not create order, only disorder. Nowhere in nature do we find greater order over time. For example, instead of becoming straighter and eventually ending up like a canal, a river will always cut out a course which meanders more and more from a straight path over time (because it erodes the weakest banks; and has no plan in mind to reach its destination for it does not 'see' ahead). Thus man creates canals that flow straight and are ordered while nature creates rivers that meander without any purpose. This is hard to reconcile with evolution which predicts that nature can also work in the opposite direction when it come to living things (leads to greater order, though the total entropy of the universe could still increase - I'll explain shortly). Life being too complex to come about randomly is evidence for a Creator. The creation of life in the universe by a Supreme Being or Force need not follow the 2nd Law of Thermodynamics or any other physical law (unlike evolution) since it is He who creates the laws of the universe. On its own, nature does not create, it only destroys and causes chaos and disorder. This is what the 2nd Law of Thermodynamics predicts it should. There is no benefit to the material universe if life exists in it; life is not needed to satisfy any physical laws of the universe and if anything, is likely to contradict them. There are two possibilities when it comes to explaining life as follows. A) Proponents from both sides of the evolution vs. intelligent design debate use the 2nd Law of Thermodynamics to argue their position is favoured by it. Both cannot be right. Or can they? Chemically, the creation of a life form leads to greater entropy in the universe (because their is an increase in free energy when the chemical reactions that make the life form occur). However, this does not necessarily mean the randomness of the universe increases - in fact the opposite is probably true. This is because we now have a well structured organism that is much more ordered than the sum of the order of the molecules that made it before it started to be formed. We need to account for the non-chemical and non-'heat' decrease in randomness when life forms come into being. To the best of my knowledge, this is not given a component (like chemical reactions and heat transfer are). Of course it will be hard to assign a relative value to this new component for order. But intuitively speaking, I would expect that the actual (with the new component for order included in its calculation) entropy of the universe decreased when life first started (and possibly also if more complex higher life forms were created from less complex lower ones). For life to have started without a Designer, the required spontaneous self organization needed to occur naturally seems impossible to explain in terms of the 2nd Law. This effectively rules out the first cell originating purely by chance but may or may not do so for life originating from RNA molecules. Though I would expect that the long term cumulative effect will still be an overall increase in the entropy of the universe due to the living processes of the life form contributing increases in entropy, there is no provision for planning in the 2nd Law of Thermodynamics and nor should there be. Changes in entropy can only be measured at that particular moment in time because that is how the universe behaves. The universe cannot and does not undertake any planning whatsoever unless somehow a Designer intervenes. B) The 2nd Law of Thermodynamics is not violated when life is formed in reproduction. If it were, then since life is continuously being formed, it would then be false and no longer a law and thrown out by now. When life is formed, there is a net increase or no change in the entropy of the universe since life formation requires the input of energy from the surroundings (ie. the sun) - the entropy of the life form decreases while that of the surroundings increases. The sum total of the entropy change of the universe is greater than or equal to zero. Plant life is given the necessary energy to start as life (eg. a seed has the energy requirements contained within it to become a plant which is much more ordered than the seed - thus the input of energy required). Non-plant life has the same requirement for energy but needs something to 'kick start' it into action because in order for it to start functioning as a living self sustaining entity, it needs an input of energy which it has to acquire from it's surroundings (in the case of a single celled organism, it would be from the parent cell and for animals, the embryo would get this from the parent). ® Nevertheless, life itself leads to an increase in the entropy of the universe but evolution to higher more complex life forms and the origin of life itself may be a contradiction of the 2nd Law if a component is given to the resulting greater complexity of the structure. This is where an input of energy or possibly involvement of consciousness (and/or even outside interference from a Designer or Creator) might be necessary. The energy necessary would be extracted internally from within our own universe or it could even be possible that it comes externally from outside this universe (the former would be more likely I would guess). Any time there is an increase in complexity (macro-evolution) at the DNA level and of the life form itself, then the entropy of the universe is reduced unless what causes the complexity increase is an external energy input at least sufficient enough to satisfy the 2nd Law (possibly from a Designer intervening/consciousness involvement). Therefore, I think macro-evolution could only occur without design/consciousness involvement if it is the result of a series of many successful random mutations. Limitations I wish to digress for a moment and point out that although science is our primary tool for the understanding of life and the universe, it cannot possibly, nor should it be expected to, answer all of our questions - especially those of a non-empirical nature. Sometimes we just have to rationalize and look beyond the limited scope of science, though only when we have no other choice in the pursuit of knowledge and truth. Often, our belief system clouds our ability to rationalize and be objective. Our belief system is something that is formed through the knowledge we acquire, our experiences, and from what we are taught by people who help shape us. New information we receive is first 'filtered' through this belief system and this is how we decide whether or not to accept this information as true or not. Unfortunately, many hold their beliefs as absolute and as a result are overly biased and simply just reject information they receive that contradicts their belief system. The following would not constitute scientific evidence for life after death but many of us would give it some weight: Suppose an alien civilization visited us on earth and revealed some things to us about the universe such as it was created by a Divine Being and that we have souls that survive physical death. Some would accept this at face value and because they have faith in what the alien beings revealed, would consider this sufficient proof for the claim. Most of us (myself included) would take this as evidence (how good it is would depend upon the individuals own rationalization) but not proof. Others, including atheists (and scientists who are atheists) would not consider this as evidence as it goes against their belief system and does not have any scientific value. Of course, if they were told by the aliens that the speed of light is variable or there are at least a thousand elements in the universe (without being presented this evidence), these same people would be inclined to believe! There is what could be considered an inherent bias that some scientists hold in that they believe that everything in the universe can be explained by materialism. Science is open minded (and realizes its limitations where warranted) even if some scientists are not. Science only believes what it can measure, replicate, and understand the physical mechanism of (if it cannot do all of these, it simply dismisses the data). It is only one way of seeking answers, and by no means a be all and end all. It is not all encompassing. There are many questions it cannot and will never be able to answer. For example, we do not call on it to explain art, history, morality, ethics, human nature, philosophy, etc.. Thus if we attempt to employ present day science to explain spirituality and the existence of an immortal soul, we are bound to fail and I believe rationalization is the superior approach. [Note: I do regularly read the atheist materialistic publications, "Skeptical Inquirer" (website: http://www.csicop.org) and sometimes "The Skeptic" in order to make sure I get the best arguments from that viewpoint] . If we truly wish to follow science, then emotions do not exist because there is no way of physically measuring them (measuring something like seratonin levels in the brain does not do this as we cannot differentiate what it actually indicates - it's levels are influenced by various factors other than emotions). So according to science, love, hate, and jealousy do not exist. Science has it's limitations but somehow this fact seems to be going over the heads of some of the narrow-minded (but otherwise intelligent) scientists. It requires faith in it to believe it has all the answers just like it requires faith to be a truly devout Christian, Hindu, Muslim, Jew, etc.. Without realizing it, science becomes a religion for some. But science does moves forward and come to our aid on different things. This is because science is always evolving and expanding its scope. Newton's Laws of Physics were found to fall apart for matter moving near the speed of light by Einstein and he replaced them with the General Theory of Relativity. Now at the quantum (sub-atomic) level, Relativity does not hold and some other physical explanation(s) is needed. At one time, phenomena such as electromagnetism (it was also once thought incorrectly that electricity and magnetism were separate forces) and radio waves were unknown. This did not mean they did not exist. Later, they were understood and became part of science. Science simply has to progress to the stage where it can measure and quantify the phenomena. This is likely what will happen with some of the psychic phenomena one day and we may be in the initial stages of this in the near future with our improving understanding of quantum mechanics. Origin of Life Nearly everyone will agree that complex non-living things, such as a car, could not possibly form on their own randomly (not to mention sustaining themselves by fueling, performing maintenance, repairing, and reproducing new models of itself). But some of these same people choose to believe that the first living organism (a single cell) on earth could have or did all this by random chance. Actually, we will make the probability more likely by allowing for the construction of just a RNA molecule from a simulated primordial soup in the laboratory (this is known as the RNA World hypothesis). This is the most basic self-replicating molecule known (from which DNA could have 'evolved') and 'one step' less complex than DNA which makes it. RNA forming by random chance is so much more probable than a cell coming about in whole randomly. Even so, no one has been able to do this no matter how favourably they tweak the conditions and even though the incentive to succeed is great. To be fair though, in actual fact random chance had in its favour perhaps a billion or so years for this to happen and so much of the earth's area to utilize for such a chance event to take place. On a side note, we should be careful not to give organic matter any special treatment. For there is nothing especially different between organic and inorganic molecules other than that the former are carbon based and able to form long chained molecules (polymers). Prior to the origin of life, carbon (most likely in the form of carbon dioxide or methane) would have to somehow react with amino and carboxylic acid groups to form nucleotides which are the building blocks of RNA. To the best of my knowledge, we still do not see nucleotides occurring naturally anywhere except where associated with living systems (plant and animal life). Of course in the natural world, there is a bias (due to free energy considerations) towards the formation of molecules made up of fewer rather than greater numbers of carbon atoms and this is the problem for the formation of nucleotides. So if nucleotides are not to be found today on their own, there is really nothing to suggest they would have formed before life began on earth (even if there may have been more favourable conditions for there synthesis which is debatable), and then arranged themselves in order to start something so incredibly complex as RNA, then DNA, and then a living cell. Are we then left to thinking someone or something synthesized the nucleotides necessary and arranged them into the RNA and DNA so that life could start? Additionally, amino acids would have to be synthesized into the necessary proteins to construct a cell. In cells, this is done in ribosomes. Outside of a cell it might be possible (though it has not really been demonstrated) that ribozymes (catalytic RNA), though relatively rare, could have taken this role that ended up resulting in the first cell. There are extra-terrestrial theories for the origin of life also (for example, Fred Hoyle and Chandra Wickramasinghe's theory that life on earth was 'seeded' from space). ® We are so advanced in terms of science and technology, yet why is it that we cannot make a living cell? Put another way, if the first living cell could have just come about by random chance as some believe, and even if we cannot replicate the randomness of such an event, then it would really not be that miraculous if we were to create a living cell from scratch in a laboratory (if it were only a chance event, surely we should be able to replicate it if we take the chance element out?). Not only can we not do this, but we cannot even create a dead cell! This being the case, it just makes it harder to believe something so complicated and complex could have appeared through random chance. A simple analogy is the formation of a plastic bag or pouch (like the type that is used to hold frozen vegetables in the grocery store). If we compare this to a cell membrane, we will see both are made of organic compounds. Since it is a relatively simple structure formed from petroleum, why does it not arise by chance? No matter what temperature, pressure, and atmospheric conditions petroleum is subjected to, we do not get a plastic pouch. It has to be intentionally created. Consciousness Science does not understand how the mind works (contrary to how the well known psychologist, Steven Pinker, misleads us). There is no mechanism for how the brain can generate thoughts let alone how consciousness could come about. Brain cells have not been shown to give us thoughts and consciousness. Having a soul would explain all this if we choose to or deem it necessary to invoke the soul. ® We are conscious of our existence but also are capable of being conscious of our mortality or immortality, and coming to the realization that it is all for naught if we do not have eternal life – one could kind of think of this as the next level beyond consciousness. Considering we have such a high level of consciousness, I think we all have (to varying extents just like other traits) some part of our brain (coded for genetically which was probably designed for although it could have evolved also) which somehow stops us from thinking about the possibility we could cease to exist. Because the anxiety would be too great and would be such a detriment to us. For there is no evolutionary benefit to having such a level of consciousness if this anxiety comes with it and in fact would be a really harmful trait to have for any species with this accompanying burden. To later evolve a compensating trait (this ‘filter’ to stop us from thinking about ceasing to exist) would not make sense in terms of evolution – it would have to come about at the same time as the jump in consciousness and this is so highly improbable (much like an irreducible complexity scenario). Otherwise, this level of consciousness would be filled with such anxiety that it would be too much of an impediment for survival and would not be passed on – it would be a very negative mutation indeed. The other possibility is that to keep us from being too anxious of our own mortality, our consciousness would have to be held back and evolve to this higher level we now possess in a series of steps. In between somewhere along the way to this advancement in mans consciousness, before it got to the point we were aware of our mortality/immortality implications and the state of hopelessness we would have been put in, this limitation on such thoughts would have to have evolved. Of course this would mean evolution is planning ahead and this is not what it does and we should not have to put it down to evolution being very lucky. Nor does the evidence showing the evolution of our consciousness show it occurred in a series of steps and instead the evidence shows a one time big jump in consciousness. One can try to think about ceasing to exist or an afterlife but I have noticed (even though I can contemplate this more freely than most), that even with myself I feel the thoughts are to a certain extent usually 'blocked' (and its always been like this with little change since over time, and only a bit less 'blocking' of these thoughts when working on this subject) and the brain doesn't always 'allow it'. Even with so called learned people who take interest in all kinds of subject areas, including many that would be considered by most to be obscure ones, if this topic of life after death comes up, they can't even bring themselves to think about it let alone discuss it (though I personally hardly ever really try to engage with others in this area and more so indirectly the very limited times I do). ® From birth to say the age of 5 there is such a jump in our cognitive abilities and consciousness and thereafter at a much slower rate. It seems as if the brain develops just enough to allow some of our consciousness through (otherwise the ‘reducing valve’ is too strong – for example, prior to the age of 2). Consciousness is what likely gives us this “jump” to our brains. It hardly seems it can all just be attributable to some extra neural connections and accounted for by the brain alone. Thus, it looks like we start with a blank state for memories (along with life experiences) but not for consciousness. As we develop (and get older), further neural connections formed in the brain, allow us to utilize our consciousness better. ® Consciousness likely has to ‘latch on’ to the brain in order for the soul to inhabit a body and the ‘better’ the brain (even if it is a reducing valve), the better the consciousness can express itself (ie. consciousness or aspects to the soul likely need the brain to allow them to be expressed and even then the expression is not full and only a partial one). A deficient brain may not allow consciousness to be well expressed. ® The soul (consciousness) probably interacts with the brain through an intermediary which, if this is the case, would most likely have to be the subconscious. Direct 'leakage' is likely limited or non-existent and is at least 'filtered'. ® The latest research on human DNA (Journal Nature of 23Nov2006 – Volume 444, pages 444-454; Links: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/science/nature/6174510.stm?ls or http://www.sanger.ac.uk/Info/Press/2006/061122.shtml or http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v444/n7118/full/nature05329.html ) shows we humans do not share 99.9% of the same DNA with each other as was previously thought. Instead there are chunks of DNA coding for genes missing in different individuals (as well as parts of the DNA having variable multiple copies that is different across the population). Possibly (if one assumes we possess a soul), some of the genetic material for the brain which codes for ‘filtering’ of consciousness or a ‘reducing valve’ for consciousness is missing (thereby lessening the effect) and results in greater amounts of consciousness coming through in these individuals. Some of this missing DNA may be what codes for the limiting of our thoughts on life after death and mortality/immortality implications. Something similar may explain past lives coming through (although interestingly we never seem to get cases where a person has conscious memories of an existence in a spiritual dimension prior to incarnation on earth), various psychic abilities, the ability to recall NDEs if experienced, etc.. Each of these would likely have their own individual filters. Alternatively, It could be that the default genetic outcome is that there are no filters and the ‘reducing valve’ effect of the brain limits us and only if either part of it is developed more genetically or is missing do we get to realize one of these abilities. This may also be the case with people who have the interest and take the time to read a website such as this (not to patronize anyone of course). I think we may have genetic coding for this awareness and it could be in the form of how much of a filter on “awareness” of something beyond this life that is part of the brain. In people where this filter is absent or hardly there, they would ‘just know’ there is something beyond this life. People pre-disposed to not having any beliefs (eg. atheists) may have a very strong filter. Of course, as one acquires information and thinks about things like this, one may over-ride this awareness to varying extents with other deductions and end up with lesser belief in an afterlife or to the extreme of even atheism. This ‘extra’ consciousness coming through possibly may have other benefits and manifest itself in other ways also such as giving one more insight, better able to see the ‘bigger picture’ and make connections better between things that may normally appear to be unrelated, more introspection (better self evaluation which is usually but not always a positive) and knowing oneself better and at an earlier age than others, better rationalizing ability (an additional 'second tier' or higher rationalizing ability), and even possibly a more deeper level of wisdom. But I have to give this whole idea more thought. In fact, an alternative model in psychology may better explain personality and other behaviours. A third component of pre-existing consciousness (brought into the body around or before birth) would be added in this model to the existing ones of genetics and environment. In this model, consciousness may to a certain degree ‘over-ride’ our genetics and conditioning. Some of to do with what we observe with the mind/brain can be explained better by dualism but scientists are only taught in terms of reductionist materialism during their education and unfortunately that is their confined referencing system and the core understanding they rely upon. ® There may be self-regulation of awareness of a spiritual realm beyond our own (awareness of an afterlife). This awareness of an afterlife is possibly controlled by the brain and genetically coded for. Further, it may in fact be a self-regulating type of loop with anxiety and awareness as the parameters that are balanced for in it. So for example, if ones anxiety of ceasing to exist at physical death is increased for whatever reason (eg. say from reading some atheist material and being swayed by it) and becomes too great, then some additional awareness is allowed for to compensate and the persons thoughts are brought to a state of ‘normal’ functioning. This type of anxiety can be controlled in the brain by increasing awareness and/or putting limits on these type of thoughts. Physiologically, one or both should be possible. Some kind of ‘processor’ may distribute the relative influence upon awareness and thought limitations. Anxiety can go up from new thoughts generated due to new beliefs, influences, changes to accepting evidence for an afterlife or against one, death of a loved one, serious illness, etc.. It is brought back to a tolerable level through this self-regulating mechanism in the brain. I think there would be four factors that regulate this loop. If one of them knocks the system out of equilibrium, then one or more of the others are adjusted to bring back the system to an equilibrium state. The four factors would be: 1) Awareness; 2) Anxiety; 3) Limits on thinking about mortality/immortality and the implications; and 4) Thoughts we generate which can increase (or decrease - but this might not need to come into the equation) anxiety on ceasing to exist. These thoughts would come about from what we learn, are taught, perceive, experience, etc.. In looking at the flowchart below one can better see how increased awareness as a response (allowing more consciousness through) by the brain would a) effect the type of thoughts (more positive) and b) reduce anxiety directly. A response by the brain of limiting these types of thoughts (labelled as "Limitations" in the flowchart) would indirectly reduce anxiety by decreasing (but not changing) these types of thoughts. A "Processor" would determine the relative influence to be put on "Awareness" and "Limitations". I think the more one is engaged in the material world, the more this awareness may be reduced which is not a problem unless thinking about mortality/immortality implications is done. Then increased awareness and/or greater limits on these types of thoughts would likely be the brains response when needed. Something like meditation could have the effect of increasing awareness and limitations put on these types of thoughts could be reduced. The brains parietal lobes give us our sense of time and space and may as a first order guess regulate for “awareness”. Atheists (as well as some others who hardly give an afterlife a passing thought) would have brains with tightly controlled thoughts on this and would hardly think about the implications of if one were to cease to exist. This is why they are so comfortable with their position but many religious/spiritual people could never be if they were atheists. Since atheists likely possess near or total limiting on these types of thoughts as well as lesser awareness, they typically see no need for an afterlife. Thus, they may often feel empowered to not care about an afterlife and usually in conjunction with their own distaste for organized religion, may adopt a strict atheistic position where an agnostic position is more rational and warranted. This may explain why some people have varying degrees of belief in an afterlife for which personality traits along with environmental conditioning do not seem to fully account for. Even with a very high IQ (like many academics possess), with this low or non-existent "awareness", which I think probably helps with ones rationalizing ability, and if one additionally possesses a poor or mediocre rationalizing ability anyway due to their brain, one can end up being predisposed to an atheist belief system. Insight will probably be lacking as a result of the lack of "awareness" as this is likely where some or all of it originates. I haven't stated this in the preceding to demean or insult anyone but I think there is a good probability this could be a relevant factor in why some irrationally come to this position of an atheist (I'm not referring to an agnostic one) belief system. Further, it seems atheism and religious fundamentalism usually have two things in common more than the norm: 1) a bit of irrationality and 2) a degree of narrow-mindedness. What might account for an individual ending up on one extreme or the other could be the block on "awareness" (how much "awareness" comes through for that individual), all other considerations being equal (eg. religious influences, upbringing, etc.). ® When a person is forced to come to terms with their death (when they know they will soon die of disease, injury, or poor physical health), the excessive fear or anxiety about ones own mortality might trigger the 'barrier' to this "awareness" to somehow be lowered. Thus, a sufficient amount of additional awareness comes through to enable one to come to terms with their imminent death without too much anxiety. And this is what seems to be all too commonly observed and people in this situation normally die peacefully (which incidentally can be argued is against what evolution would predict). ® The block on this spiritual "awareness" it seems increases as the brain develops (during infancy into childhood) and less of it is allowed through. ® Our consciousness (soul) may bring with it some ‘software’ which determines to an extent how the brain and body are to develop and thereby this become an additional influence on us as people (along with genes, environment, and also highly likely, our souls). This software may act on the ‘junk DNA’ and this may be one of junk DNA's purposes. This may be the case with awareness and limitations of thoughts of ceasing to exist also. ® Maybe the brain stores working memories for a period as well as long term memories and thoughts. Then whatever is deemed important enough to be remembered is passed on to the consciousness of that person. But it has to first go through the persons filter in the brain to do this and also again to reaccess from the consciousness. Thus, something like an NDE with OBE or OBE only (if they are as claimed by their proponents) is only filtered once (not twice like the brain filtered experiences of the physical being are). The NDE with OBE or OBE by itself is only filtered when retrieved back to the brain but not when first registered in the consciousness. This is why the NDE is often described as being 'more vivid than life itself'. It could even be that the people who recall their NDEs may be the ones who have less of a block on their "awareness". Of course I am only speculating here. The NDE with OBE (and OBEs by themselves) may not be recalled always because the memory of the soul when out of body has to be 'downloaded' to the brain upon re-entry. Or more likely, a certain specific pathway is needed to be created in the brain that allows access to the memory of the experience upon re-entry to the body or it is inaccessible from the soul. ® A certain amount of our spiritual/religious predisposition is probably genetic (resulting from consciousness acting on the junk DNA). The other determinants being influences from others, what we are exposed to and learn, how we reason, etc.. ® The most recent research on testing the hypothesis that there is a specific area in the brain or a ‘God spot’ responsible for or a receiver for mystical and religious experiences shows there is none (Beauregard, M.; Paquette, V.; Neuroscience Letters, Vol.405, Issue3, 1Sept2006, pages 186-190). The one flaw possible (and acknowledged as a limitation of the research by the authors) in the study however is that it was based upon subjects reliving their past experiences from memory and were not actually experiencing the event while their brains were being scanned. The study was done this way because the researchers were informed prior by the subjects that are not capable of reaching a mystical state at will. Nevertheless, transcendental and mystical experiences can be brought about easier with stimulations to the brain by electric charges (typically to the right frontal lobe), certain drugs (such as dimethyltryptamine or DMT), seizures, and even brain injury. This is probably due to the resulting lesser ‘filter’ of the brain on ones consciousness. Instead of a ‘God gene’ (or even ‘God spot’), I think it is as least as plausible that we have some kind of ‘block’ which keeps us from thinking about life after death – our level of consciousness is so high and yet, we as a species are not relatively speaking, preoccupied with life after death. This ‘block’ allows us to function without this great debilitating anxiety hanging over us constantly and may have been designed for. Neither do I think it is likely this "awareness" is simply explainable as some genetic component that somehow pre-disposes one to some sort of belief in something 'greater' (analogous to the 'God gene/spot'). One reason I tend to think this is because there are other what would seem to be probably unintended and beneficial enhancing traits that seem to come with this. Such as improved rationalizing ability, greater insightfulness, a deeper wisdom, seeing the bigger picture better, and maybe more introspection (though this could be a negative trait if there is too much of it for some and if there is far too much it, then I think it might even be negative for all due to the influence of the brain on thoughts). ® If the mind and brain are one and the same, then it should be theoretically possible (though not technically possible at the present time) to fully 'download' its contents (personality traits are analogous to programs or software and memories to data) to that of another brain (real or artificial). But if the two are separate (consciousness survives physical death of the brain), then only a partial 'download' would be a possibility (memories and learning experiences experienced in the current brain). ® Consciousness existing as something separate from the brain (and therefore not part of it) could be said to be analogous to dark energy (as compared to known energy). Dark energy has never been directly measured but scientists believe
Life after death
There is nothing more important to us as living beings than that we have something we can describe as a soul that continues to exist after physical death and is everlasting. For without this, it is all for naught and there was no point in existing at all for ultimately it does not matter if we live for a year or a trillion years if we do not have immortality. And in fact not having such would really be the ultimate cruelty.
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