Why I now believe in an afterlife

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Re: Why I now believe in Heaven (arguments "based on reason")

Postby InstinctSage » Wed Sep 10, 2008 2:51 am UTC

yoni45 wrote:
yy2bggggs wrote:In terms of that goal, then, "I cannot be happy without believing in heaven" is a claim that is assumed to be true. But it's not necessarily true. I happen to believe it to be false. You can claim this is an axiom as well, but doing so is pragmatically as useless as the following:
Axiom: I want to be rich.
Axiom: I cannot be rich unless I quit this mediocre job.
Conclusion: I should quit this mediocre job.
...sure, it might be true that you can become rich by quitting that job, but it also might be quite false--it could actually hurt.


It might, but it's nevertheless the most logical step if the given individual wants to attain his goal of being rich.

I want to be fit, as quickly as possible.
The best way to get fit is by going outside to jog occasionally.
Conclusion: I should occasionally go outside and jog.

Sure, it could actually hurt (ie, you could get run over on your jog), but that doesn't make the conclusion any less logical.

If the person's goal is to get rich, and the only way of doing so is (at least in part) by quitting his job, then he should quit his job. As far as your axiom's are concerned, he doesn't have to quit it now, he could plan out his methodology of getting rich, and then quit as part of putting his methods into action, but if he wants to get rich, then he, sooner or later, *will* have to quit that job...


Being the most logical action and being an axiom are different things, though. The point is you can't assume something to be true to suit your goal whilst acknowledging the possibility of it being false, and still call it an axiom.

If the person's goal is to get rich, they very well might believe the only way to achieve that is quitting their mediocre job, either now or in some near or distant future based upon a plan that's logically sound. If they worked harder at their mediocre job rather than daydreaming about being rich in some other fashion they might be promoted to a better position anyway. The proposition that you HAVE to quit your job to become rich isn't true, and you are aware it isn't true. It's a possibility, and it may be the most logical action.

Choosing one possibility over another is quite alright and can be logical, but you can't erase one possibility to make another the ONLY possibility and still call it logic.
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Re: Why I now believe in Heaven (arguments "based on reason")

Postby aurasprw » Wed Sep 10, 2008 6:29 am UTC

What the hell? I could have sworn I posted another message last night. In fact, I distinctly remember several posts that don't exist now.. strange :|

Also, I've revamped the OP so people don't keep misunderstanding my position.

Uh huh... so what are you doing in this thread again?
Knowledge is not the same thing as belief.

The hurry is that one of your premises is based around maximizing your happiness. Right now you're missing out on potential happiness. Every minute that you spend alive is time that sub-optimal happiness is being achieved, and that potential happiness is lost forever. Your premises compel you on this issue.
The stated goal is happiness in this life.

That's not a complete definition. Is it a place that you can reach, or just one whose existence or lack thereof is meaningless because you can never reach it? And if you can, why aren't you changing your behavior to pursue it, now that you believe that it exists?
I will reach heaven regardless of what I do in this life.

explaining reasonable alternative views of my stated reasons for disbelieving your assertions of beliefs would be your best bet
I gave explanations for what you saw as Freudian slips. I don't see what more I can do.
Last edited by aurasprw on Wed Sep 10, 2008 6:31 am UTC, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Why I now believe in an afterlife

Postby Anpheus » Wed Sep 10, 2008 6:31 am UTC

I'm working on recovering all the posts I had cached immediately prior to the downtime and backup. Google Chrome doesn't let me view cached pages directly, so I'm using a notepad, a hex editor and gzip to try and recover some discussions I had participated in. I may have everyone's posts quoted and in order soon.
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Re: Why I now believe in an afterlife

Postby aurasprw » Wed Sep 10, 2008 6:32 am UTC

Oh! Thank you.

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Re: Why I now believe in an afterlife

Postby Anpheus » Wed Sep 10, 2008 7:10 am UTC

Bah, I can't get anything useful out of the cache. Sorry. I have the hex data for one topic but gzip is giving errors on it and I'm tired.
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Re: Why I now believe in Heaven (arguments "based on reason")

Postby yy2bggggs » Wed Sep 10, 2008 1:47 pm UTC

aurasprw wrote:
explaining reasonable alternative views of my stated reasons for disbelieving your assertions of beliefs would be your best bet
I gave explanations for what you saw as Freudian slips. I don't see what more I can do.

Well I'm glad that you're not seeing my position as an attack on a "logical proof" that heaven exists. Though I've already stated otherwise, I was somewhat concerned Griffin's argument may prove too distracting in this regards. Still, revamping the OP breaks the flow of discussion--I wish you would have simply posted the clarification instead, but that's fine.

Counterargument: You cannot simply choose to believe in something for practical reasons.
Yes I can. I know us rational types don't use it very much, but it's called: A leap of faith.

If you truly could believe in something simply by choosing to believe it, then your strategy would work (though it would still be problematic, as it would still be contingent). But no, you can't. The existence of "irrational types" who allegedly do this all of the time, and the naming of said phenomenon, doesn't in any way convince me that you can. In fact, this general pattern of wanting something to be true in order to be happy, then trying to convince yourself that this thing actually is true in an attempt to be happy, is a common source of unhappiness that I see people go through constantly, even and especially irrational types. Furthermore, it's not simply the afterlife where I see this strategy fall flat (I was even married to one of these people at some point--and boy was that miserable).

The main problem with the strategy is that this claim is utterly false--you can't really convince yourself of something simply because you choose to believe it. By the way, I have on my shelf a box, inside of which is a magical fairy. I'm not sure why I'm telling you though, as it's off topic and I can't think of a reason why it would be a concern for you (maybe I'm mentioning this to show you how irrational I am?) But back to the topic--it just doesn't work, but you can pretend it does. But if you do so, you only find yourself pretending you're happy.

If there were another strategy for you to obtain happiness, and this other strategy did not depend on something beyond your control (such as, in this case, whether or not there is a heaven), then this strategy would be far superior in terms of accomplishing your goal of happiness. Any strategy which is contingent is dangerous. What if, let's say, some "rational type" came to you and presented a very convincing argument that there is no heaven? What happens to your happiness then, if it's based on heaven's existence?

Edit: Epictetus is the de facto expert in my proposed alternative strategy (though wiki doesn't seem to have much of his writings on the philosophy of happiness/why people suffer).
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Re: Why I now believe in an afterlife

Postby Anpheus » Wed Sep 10, 2008 3:24 pm UTC

Before the forum was corrupted, you changed your mind about believing in Santa Clause because it made you feel warmer and fuzzier inside.

What if I told you there was an invisible pink unicorn that would come to your bedside every night and gently neigh, whose great powers brought you good dreams?
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Re: Why I now believe in Heaven (arguments "based on reason")

Postby Varsil » Wed Sep 10, 2008 6:10 pm UTC

aurasprw wrote:
The hurry is that one of your premises is based around maximizing your happiness. Right now you're missing out on potential happiness. Every minute that you spend alive is time that sub-optimal happiness is being achieved, and that potential happiness is lost forever. Your premises compel you on this issue.
The stated goal is happiness in this life.


I still find this a little bizarre.

Consider a man sitting in a hole. Said hole is full of irritants (bad smells, a nest of ants, cold, dank, etc). Outside is much nicer, and climbing out is a simple matter, due to a handy ladder. You ask, "Hey man, why don't you climb out of that hole?" And he replies, "No, no... you don't understand. I'm trying to maximize my happiness within the hole!"

Seems a little crazy? Well, yeah.

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Re: Why I now believe in an afterlife

Postby InstinctSage » Thu Sep 11, 2008 3:10 am UTC

For more on Epictetus see Stoicism, as essentially he built on the foundations. I think in reference to y22's argument, it refers to the tethering of one's will to circumstances. The essential question to pose is this:

Why do you need an afterlife to be happy?

I know you have already answered this as point 2 in your OP:

"Fear of nonexistence causes anxiety and impedes happiness. As living beings, this fear is completely natural."

Epictetus says: "It is not what they do to you, but what you do with what they do to you."
In essence, death is not the issue. How you deal with it is more important. By surrendering your will to the proposed existence of the afterlife, you are surrendering control of your happiness to circumstance. Why does death have to cause anxiety or impede happiness? Why can't you be happy irrespective of an afterlife?

I would think there would be a good deal of people with life experience that would show one can be happy irrespective of life experience. Whether you choose to believe this or not is up to you, but then, whether you choose to believe in an afterlife is up to you also. Note that both are dealing with the same issue. One is requiring the existence of an afterlife. The other requires nothing.
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Re: Why I now believe in an afterlife

Postby Kachi » Thu Sep 11, 2008 3:41 am UTC

Fear of nonexistence causes anxiety and impedes happiness. As living beings, this fear is completely natural.


I challenge this assumption, on the grounds that one has no need or imperative to fear nonexistance. A natural tendency, conceded, but one that can be overcome.

The most popularly embraced afterlife is the "heaven" afterlife. It is so widely embraced not because of its offer of existence, but of eternal happiness. Similarly, however, an eternity of nonexistence offers the eternal absence of fear, anger, and sorrow.

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Re: Why I now believe in an afterlife

Postby yoni45 » Thu Sep 11, 2008 5:30 am UTC

So, in short, from your updated OP, you're just saying:

You believe in an afterlife because in dealing with certain facts, it's easier to turn to fiction than it is to deal with established reality.

Which, if it works for you, is fine. This is hardly revolutionary, in fact, much of religion really is based on this - I'm sure some of us would simply have a much harder time essentially lying to ourselves...
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Re: Why I now believe in an afterlife

Postby Anpheus » Fri Sep 12, 2008 8:57 am UTC

Can I keep making up things for you to believe in because I promise good things? Santa Clause and the Invisible Pink Unicorn, shucks, I'm just getting started.
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Re: Why I now believe in an afterlife

Postby xenapan » Wed Sep 17, 2008 1:02 am UTC

aurasprw wrote:This is NOT a proof.
I do not follow any religious services or follow any religious law.
For my argument it is irrelevant whether there actually is an afterlife or not.
Although similar, this is NOT the same as Pascal's wager.

1) I believe the main goal in life is happiness. This is fundamental. If you do not agree with me on this, my argument will not appeal to you.

2) Fear of nonexistence causes anxiety and impedes happiness. As living beings, this fear is completely natural.

3) One solution to this fear is belief in an afterlife.


I think you have a problem.
3 - belief in the afterlife does not change the fact it does (or does not) exist. which is the cause for 2 - because you cannot prove it exists, you post this to relieve that fear. unfortunately the fear is still there. a simple choice to believe in something you cannot prove does not mean your fear will be gone. you are just in self denial which is proven by the fact that you ask for thoughts and opinions. if you had no doubts about your belief you wouldn't post it. after all, if you had no doubts, you would be busy trying to attain happiness. posting this thread cannot lead to happiness unless you find happiness in
a) posting philosophical threads about the meaning of life, fear of death and afterlife. - though from the post it seems you are more interested in attaining happiness by believing in the afterlife. so im discounting this. unless your idea of happiness is going through a paradigm shift in your personal beliefs which i seriously doubt (people hate change.)
b) helping people - you have no reason to help people unless it makes you happy given your assumption for 1. last time i checked, there are few "greater good" philosophies that end with you being happier other than religious ones. thus your belief in an afterlife is actually a faith in a religion you are seeking. (doh)
c) correcting your beliefs (searching for the truth) - you are searching for something better than this plain belief in the afterlife because even though you claim to believe it, something still does not sit right with you which lead to the creation of this thread and the idea that you could possibly revise or improve your idea that belief-> happiness.

so there are 2 solutions to this..
1) find something better to believe in. a religion/sect/cult.. whatever.. as long as you actually stop having doubts about it and stop questioning it
2) stick with this belief of the afterlife. probably means not reading this thread anymore as you may stop believing (which leads to unhappiness)

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Re: Why I now believe in an afterlife

Postby ChickenOfDoom » Wed Sep 17, 2008 8:49 pm UTC

Acknowledging that it would be better for you to believe does not mean you believe, just as acknowledging that your love for someone is inconvenient does not change it.

I have another proof though.

My basic premise is that everything concievable is induced from experience/perception. That is, you observe and are aware, therefore everything. This includes concepts of space and time and your own thoughts and emotions.

Because time is derived from it, concepts of linearity do not apply to it. The present moment, abstract concepts of the future, and memories of the past all occupy the same space, the only real space. Experience is the fundamental core of reality and can be considered an unalterable truth.

Assume that there is no afterlife. If there is no afterlife, there is instead a state that is devoid of experience. Because an eternal void would constitute experience, absence of an afterlife also implies that this is not experienced either. Obviously the concept of Oblivion is faulty; it attempts to imply that the unalterable truth of experience is false, but since everything is defined on the basis of this truth, it cannot succeed.

Assuming a more perfect definition of absence of afterlife could imply that experience, seen as a boolean value, is false, it contradicts itself, the truth of experience being the basic premise.

I don't claim anything about the nature of experience following death; it seems clear to me that when you die your eyes and brain rot, and the things you saw and thought and the person you were as others saw you and you saw yourself is destroyed. The eternal soul is most likely a myth. But though it is possible to conceive of changes to your world, its nonexistence is not.

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Re: Why I now believe in an afterlife

Postby DougP » Thu Sep 18, 2008 1:12 am UTC

If you can believe in something you realize there is no evidence for, more power to you. The fact of the matter is that even if I came to the same conclusions as you, I couldn't just will myself into believing there is an afterlife of eternal bliss, which seems to be what you claim to be doing.

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Re: Why I now believe in an afterlife

Postby Angua » Sun Sep 28, 2008 5:56 pm UTC

Correct me if I'm wrong, but in my experience most people seem to believe things because:
a) they have been told since they were children that this is true, and so now believe that it is true
b) they have had a life changing experience resulting in an epiphany (usually a near death experience, but Buddha seemed to have one without nearly dying)
c)they become despaired and cling to the hope that there is something better that will make this worth it (this option also allows for those whose death is imminent)

Now, beliefs may fade over time to the point where people don't really think about them much, but what you seem to want isn't really in any of these categories (I guess the closest you've come is c but the people in c are normally at the point where they need the next life to be better than this one to be worth it - an before anyone mentions suicide, in most religions suicide normally means a direct route to hell, so would not help). You have basically decided that in order to get around the fear of death, you can just chose to believe in heaven (though your heaven seems to come with no strings attached, no chance of hell or being reincarnated as a bug). You are now attempting to rationalise this belief, which I don't think really works, beliefs are something that you - having trouble putting this into words, so sorry if it's jumbled - feel an emotional investment in? or something that you KNOW to be true? They aren't something that when someone asks you about you say this is what I've decided.

If you think that this is making you feel happier, good luck with that, but even the religious people I know seem to be afraid to die. It's only the zealots who are truly unafraid.
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Re: Why I now believe in an afterlife

Postby Falmarri » Sun Sep 28, 2008 11:51 pm UTC

Instead of saying that you go to an afterlife after you die, why not just deny that you will ever die? That seems like a more productive thing to do and something that might turn out to be true.

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Re: Why I now believe in an afterlife

Postby jabberwock33 » Mon Sep 29, 2008 9:42 pm UTC

All the OP is doing is choosing to believe that there is an afterlife for the sole reason that it benefits him. He has repeatedly stated that he does not think there is actually any evidence to back it up.

In case you haven't noticed, there are two "layers" of belief:
1) What I consider true in a relatively permanent, long-term fashion
2) Intentionally thinking in such a way as to temporarily simulate my believing in something else entirely

Note that #2 is not merely acting out belief in something, it is a sort of self-trickery. However, it is used consciously, and as such does not truly deceive the user. If you don't get this, you should try thinking in different ways more often.

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Re: Why I now believe in an afterlife

Postby rqm » Tue Sep 30, 2008 5:21 pm UTC

If the OP insists that he can believe anything he wants to without evidence, wouldn't it be better if he just convinced himself to be happy regardless of any circumstances?

I think the best argument against an afterlife is how practically anything bad that happens to our brain that doesn't immediately kill us leaves us mentally impaired. Any sort of trauma, oxygen depletion or tissue degradation can erase our memory, (and make up new ridiculous memories), change our personality, alter our perception or render us stupid if we are lucky. Change us so we laugh out maniacally when somebody we love gets hurt or start cursing and swearing uncontrollably even if we don't meant it.

If our identity hardly ever survives brain damage what suggest you total irreversible brain loss can be rubbed off?

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Re: Why I now believe in an afterlife

Postby drunken » Wed Oct 01, 2008 1:48 pm UTC

rqm wrote:If the OP insists that he can believe anything he wants to without evidence, wouldn't it be better if he just convinced himself to be happy regardless of any circumstances?

I think the best argument against an afterlife is how practically anything bad that happens to our brain that doesn't immediately kill us leaves us mentally impaired. Any sort of trauma, oxygen depletion or tissue degradation can erase our memory, (and make up new ridiculous memories), change our personality, alter our perception or render us stupid if we are lucky. Change us so we laugh out maniacally when somebody we love gets hurt or start cursing and swearing uncontrollably even if we don't meant it.

If our identity hardly ever survives brain damage what suggest you total irreversible brain loss can be rubbed off?


This question should not be approached in a scientific way, science is not relevant to the context and can shed no light on the subject.
If you only believe things because you have evidence for them then you believe nothing. It may be possible to have beliefs which go IF(X number of axioms) is taken as true then (Y) must also be true. This is not the same as saying "We have evidence for Y" we ony have evidence for IF X then Y. This type of belief is less useful than a belief that has zero evidence, as we have no evidence for X. We might as well just say "I believe Y because I feel like it" and abandon the stupid pretence that we know anything for sure.

If you have a belief then it is without evidence, by definition, and by necessity.

Also afterlife != preservation of memories, personality, thought, identity. (This is my belief and I have no evidence for it but I think it's nice)
***This post is my own opinion and no claim is being made that it is in any way scientific nor intended to be construed as such by any reader***

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Re: Why I now believe in an afterlife

Postby rqm » Thu Oct 02, 2008 10:38 pm UTC

If you really cared to understand what I said instead of just trolling you would understand that I obviously DO have faith in something: Science, evidence and reason. Tough it would be more correct that I believe I'm not absolutely insane, and I believe in Occam's Razor because i think not doing so is dishonest.

drunken wrote:Also afterlife != preservation of memories, personality, thought, identity. (This is my belief and I have no evidence for it but I think it's nice)


So what part of you does keep on existing according to your beliefs? And why should we even care at this point? You are pretty much as good as dead if the only things that keeps on living after you is an invisible, intangible, undetectable, inconsequential, imaginary "thingy" that doesn't make even a feeble attempt at resembling you.

Your believes are so laughable I have to ask, are you trying to be funny?
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Re: Why I now believe in an afterlife

Postby rqm » Fri Oct 03, 2008 1:38 am UTC

And I've been smitten by the hammer of justice, though I'm not really talking about him but his beliefs.

But my current concern could be better expressed.

I think he is either trolling or sort nerd snipping us. It feels like an argument clinic.

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Re: Why I now believe in an afterlife

Postby Kachi » Fri Oct 03, 2008 2:55 am UTC

If you have a belief then it is without evidence, by definition, and by necessity.


While I am inclined to agree with you, strictly speaking, the dictionary definition does not. That is also why I claim to be a person without beliefs, because using that definition, the idea of believing in anything is absurd.

Having said that, I'm not sure I'd agree with rqm's suggestion that science is something you can believe in, unless you simply accept specific scientific results as some sort of infallible truth. I guess you could argue that the scientific method requires a measure of belief. I wouldn't.

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Re: Why I now believe in an afterlife

Postby rqm » Fri Oct 03, 2008 4:23 am UTC

Well science is basically reason applied to evidence and I accept both on faith, not because I want but because I am compelled.

Let's say I'm wrong in taking evidence based beliefs, you could show me evidence that evidence based reasoning is wrong but then I won't be able to I use that evidence for my reasoning.

Then, I have absolutely no idea what a reasonable explanation of the invalidity of explaining through reason would look like.

Finally it could be that the only reason evidence and reasoning works for me is that I live in false world created by my derailed mind. Now, nothing suggests me I'm crazy, but I might just be really crazy in which case everything I experience, everything I think and every conclusion I reach is invalid, including the concept of invalidity, mental health or the concept of reaching conclusions.

These three beliefs I take because I can't not take them. On the other hand I have to admit I choose not to indulge in self deceiving out of a visceral disgust with the practice. Fortunately I don't have to turn my back on reason and evidence to satisfy this instinctive drive.

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Re: Why I now believe in an afterlife

Postby SJ Zero » Fri Oct 03, 2008 4:34 am UTC

My counter-arguement: It's illogical to fear non-existence. Non-existence is liberating. You don't need to worry about how history will judge you, you don't need to plan for eternity, you don't need to worry about anything but the moment.

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Re: Why I now believe in an afterlife

Postby Enigmocracy » Sat Oct 04, 2008 2:01 am UTC

SJ Zero wrote:My counter-arguement: It's illogical to fear non-existence. Non-existence is liberating. You don't need to worry about how history will judge you, you don't need to plan for eternity, you don't need to worry about anything but the moment.
Personal preference. You can't really argue that. If it makes him feel better, than it works. If it doesn't, than it doesn't work. It's hard to convince someone otherwise.

My belief in God is based on similar principles. "There's no way to prove or disprove God 100%, so I'll side on belief because I think it will improve my quality of life through prayer and satisfaction."

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Re: Why I now believe in an afterlife

Postby rqm » Sat Oct 04, 2008 2:32 pm UTC

And I'll side with evidence as doing otherwise is just-plain-wrong. Seriously duuuuude (gender neutral) how can you admit to deliberately believing in something out of convenience? Doesn't that ring of morally corrupt to you? Doesn't your God say "Thou shall not lie"? Don't you think that includes lying to yourself? If you go around honestly-spreading your dishonestly-acquired opinions, isn't that tantamount to lying?

Keep in mind that not only there is no evidence supporting God (or an Afterlife even one that doesn't preserve your identity ;) the evidence actually does speak of God and indicates that's its a myth.

How do you honestly deal with the questions at http://www.godisimaginary.com ?

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Re: Why I now believe in an afterlife

Postby SJ Zero » Sun Oct 05, 2008 4:37 am UTC

rqm, you walk a dangerous path.

Our way of life is paid for with the lives and suffering of billions elsewhere. If you follow the chain, the conclusion is inescapable. Now lots of perfectly fine and good are going to reply disagreeing with me, which is a good thing, becuase if we really all knew about the cost of our way of life, this society and this way of life likely would end.

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Re: Why I now believe in an afterlife

Postby Kachi » Sun Oct 05, 2008 6:06 am UTC

Fine, I'll bite.

Please expound on what you're trying to suggest.

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Re: Why I now believe in an afterlife

Postby qinwamascot » Sun Oct 05, 2008 6:20 am UTC

Axiom: I want to be rich.
Axiom: I cannot be rich unless I quit this mediocre job.
Conclusion: I should quit this mediocre job.


This is fallacious. You make the assumption that the possibility of getting rich is the same as getting more money. However, it is not. I retranslated your first axiom to "I want to have as much money as possible" because this seems more in line with what you argued. If you really don't care if you're making $0 or $40,000 a year (so long as it isn't $1M/year) then by your axioms you should quit your job, but the understanding I got was that you had an incomplete axiomatization of your system.

With regards to the main poster, if you feel more satisfied believing in things that are almost surely false than be my guest. Personally, I find comfort in knowing my belief system (atheism) is the most likely to be correct, and that my beliefs are based on what has the greatest possibility of being true. If you can convince yourself that superstitions which make no sense on an objective level are true, and it makes your life somehow better, I may feel pity for you for needing a crutch, but I certainly won't try to take away your crutch

With regards to the fear of death, I find it amusing that people are afraid of dying. Everyone will die at some time, and being afraid of dying doesn't change this at all. When I die, I will be content knowing that I didn't have to believe in some silly superstition to lead a life without fear of dying. To make an analogy, most christians believe they will go to heaven when they die, but if you tell them they are going to die in one minute, many would be scared. However, I would not really mind, since death is something everyone has to go through anyway. In fact, I would feel proud knowing that somewhere someone thinks he is going to heaven, and yet in the end I was right and he was wrong.

For me, happiness is in being right. But if truth doesn't matter to you, than by all means practice whatever religion you want. As for free will I encourage people to look at the Free Will Theorem, which is empirically derived from the laws of quantum mechanics. For me it makes more sense that I do not have free will than that elementary particles do, but I don't know about other people.
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Re: Why I now believe in an afterlife

Postby drunken » Mon Oct 06, 2008 2:29 pm UTC

drunken wrote:If you only believe things because you have evidence for them then you believe nothing.

rqm wrote:I obviously DO have faith in something: Science, evidence and reason.

rqm wrote:...you could show me evidence that evidence based reasoning is wrong...

No there will NEVER be any conclusive evidence that evidence based reasoning in principle is wrong.
kachi wrote:Having said that, I'm not sure I'd agree with rqm's suggestion that science is something you can believe in, unless you simply accept specific scientific results as some sort of infallible truth


The point I was trying to make was that we don't have any evidence for or against the OP's belief and therefore bringing up the concept of evidence (especially without supplying any) in disputing it is pointless.

qinwamascot wrote:With regards to the main poster, if you feel more satisfied believing in things that are almost surely false than be my guest. Personally, I find comfort in knowing my belief system (atheism) is the most likely to be correct, and that my beliefs are based on what has the greatest possibility of being true. If you can convince yourself that superstitions which make no sense on an objective level are true, and it makes your life somehow better, I may feel pity for you for needing a crutch, but I certainly won't try to take away your crutch


I don't want to take away your crutch either (scientific reasoning) but I challenge you to show me a scientifically reasoned and evidence based argument that the OP's belief is "almost certainly" false (The wiki article doesn't talk about almost certainly not but I guess that would imply it has a probability of 0? you could try and prove that the opposite of the OP's belief happens with a probability of 1 if you prefer.)
While you are at it prove to me that your belief system has the greatest possibility of being true. I would prefer if you don't refer to any other belief system as you don't know what my belief system is and greatest is a superlative term meaning that you have to show that your belief system is greater than all concievable other belief systems. (unless of course you want to run through every belief system that has ever been held one by one and show why yours is more likely on a case by case basis.)
***This post is my own opinion and no claim is being made that it is in any way scientific nor intended to be construed as such by any reader***

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Re: Why I now believe in an afterlife

Postby Jebobek » Mon Oct 06, 2008 2:56 pm UTC

For posts like these I often go back to the OP's disclaimer, which are:

This is NOT a proof. - I like this one.
I do not follow any religious services or follow any religious law.
For my argument it is irrelevant whether there actually is an afterlife or not. I like this one too.
Although similar, this is NOT the same as Pascal's wager.

In essense, OP, it does not matter what you believe, but as long as it affects you positively in your happiness and your actions, you're free to do what you want. Try not to take people's counter-aguements with a grain of salt because it does not really matter how much others feel differently. I say keep the train of thought, what ever it is, and live life with it.
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Re: Why I now believe in an afterlife

Postby rqm » Mon Oct 06, 2008 10:43 pm UTC

Yes scientific evidence does favor the hypothesis that there is no afterlife.

a) The strong correlation between mind states and brain states indicates they are one and the same entity. Ergo, no brain no mind.
b) There have thousands if not hundreds of thousands of controlled attempts to find evidence of paranormal activity, virtually all of which have returned negative results. If we take all positive data points suggesting an afterlife and throw them with sea of negative data points against it, they'll simply get lost.

To further argue, the common folk argument that "absence of evidence is not evidence of absence" is wrong when the evidence should be there. To reiterate when the evidence should be there and it isn't it counts as evidence of absence. In fact every line of evidence can be stated in the negative and rejected with "absence of evidence is not evidence of absence".

But I'm going a little off topic. The OP has given us much room to argue, he stated that he can believe false things at will and cares not for evidence. Most have answered with a simple "suit yourself". I do so too but feel compelled to add don't you have moral qualms about it?

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Re: Why I now believe in an afterlife

Postby Jebobek » Mon Oct 06, 2008 11:20 pm UTC

Personally I don't have moral qualms about it because I accept the fact that I'm human and imp-erfect. Just do your best and be nice.
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Re: Why I now believe in an afterlife

Postby SJ Zero » Tue Oct 07, 2008 1:49 am UTC

Yeah. We're so stupid and ignorant, we can't even predict where an electron will be at a given moment. We're supposed to be able to know the nature of God?

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Re: Why I now believe in an afterlife

Postby gmalivuk » Tue Oct 07, 2008 2:38 am UTC

The reason we can't predict an electron's position is that it doesn't have a single, well-defined position in the first place. It's got nothing to do with human fallibility or ignorance.
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Re: Why I now believe in an afterlife

Postby rqm » Tue Oct 07, 2008 7:48 am UTC

We are so stupid and ignorant, who are we to question how does HE delivers every present in one night in HIS mighty slade.

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Re: Why I now believe in an afterlife

Postby SJ Zero » Wed Oct 08, 2008 4:38 am UTC

rqm speaks the truth. We can't even know how HE sees us when we're sleeping, how HE knows when we're awake, how HE knows if we've been bad or good.

Truly, mysterious.

And seriously, no discrete position? I believe a lot of shady things in quantum physics, but I don't believe that.

I guess that shows though, the problems with trying to argue about things we can't see well enough to understand, like what happens after death.

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Re: Why I now believe in an afterlife

Postby qinwamascot » Wed Oct 08, 2008 5:56 pm UTC

I don't want to take away your crutch either (scientific reasoning) but I challenge you to show me a scientifically reasoned and evidence based argument that the OP's belief is "almost certainly" false (The wiki article doesn't talk about almost certainly not but I guess that would imply it has a probability of 0? you could try and prove that the opposite of the OP's belief happens with a probability of 1 if you prefer.)
While you are at it prove to me that your belief system has the greatest possibility of being true. I would prefer if you don't refer to any other belief system as you don't know what my belief system is and greatest is a superlative term meaning that you have to show that your belief system is greater than all concievable other belief systems. (unless of course you want to run through every belief system that has ever been held one by one and show why yours is more likely on a case by case basis.)


Why (any) religion with a fixed set of beliefs is almost certainly false:
consider the number of possible belief systems. This is certainly infinite, as the number of parameters for which a belief system can have is infinite and each one has several possible options. Depending on what we define a belief system to be, this could even be uncountably infinite. However, one person can only have one belief system; thus, the chance that any person has a correct belief system is 0. This applies to scientific beliefs as well.

The reasons why science is the most likely to be true is simple: 1) Science (in broadest definition) consists of every statement which has not been disproven, so the set of facts is a subset of Science, a property which no religion has.
2) Science naturally favors simpler and more elegant beliefs that can be tested. This is good because simpler beliefs, which are testable, will tend to be easily disproven if false, while complex beliefs take a significant effort to disprove. Thus, Science operates from a 'best approximation' approach: simply take statements which seem to describe a system simply and repeatedly disprove them until one arrives that can not be disproven. This is either a) the truth or b) a good enough approximation for the truth given what we know. (this concept is called Occam's Razor)
3) Science, unlike most belief systems, changes with time to reflect what can not be correct. Because the set of scientific beliefs is infinite, there will always be new ways to explain things.

I never said that atheism or anything else has a probability 1; all belief systems, including the set of scientific beliefs, have probability 0. However, relative to some set of arbitrary beliefs, belief in atheism has a probability much higher than theism by Occam's Razor to be correct. You can't really believe in science, because it is inherently contradictory and imperfect, but if you believe that there is a simple set of laws governing reality and our universe, and that these are fundamentally mathematical in nature, you would have a much greater chance of being correct.

Believing that the existing laws of science are all true though is foolhardy and ignorant. It is likely worse than, or at least no better than, any kind of religion.

That being said, if you don't agree I really don't care, because like I said, I don't feel a need to take away your crutches. I just feel pity on you for having them.
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Re: Why I now believe in an afterlife

Postby Jebobek » Wed Oct 08, 2008 6:15 pm UTC

Maybe your arguement would be more useful to the reader if you could:

A. Define the crutch and exemplify how it negatively affects people.

B. Underline how your striving for the highest-probable belief is not a crutch like a religious belief.

C. Explain why you pity those that are crutched.

D. Explain why you do not feel a need to take someone's crutches away if you feel it is harming them.

Some people believe that focusing and gathering your thoughts between jobs can clear your mind and help you focus better in general. Google corporation has their workers on a forced break where they relax or do something creative. Cold you explain why a Religion crutch activity (praying for guidance) would be a bad decision compared to a non-religious activity?
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