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Old 2007-04-15, 15:53   #34
mfgoode
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Originally Posted by S485122 View Post
Mally,

I agree that life is all to short ! But infinity is definitely too long.
Jacob


Well S485122 Since we are speaking on spiritual matters I can only answer by the Word of God (The Biblical Scriptures).

1 Corinthians: 9 " But as it is written, 'Eye has not seen, nor the ear heard, nor have entered into the heart of man the things which God has prepared for those who love him."

1 Cor: 10 "But God has revealed them to us through the Spirit.
For the Spirit searches all things, yes the deep things of God "

I take you to Revelation the last book of the Bible.

Rev: 21 ;1. "Now I saw a new heaven and a new Earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away. Also there was no sea "

Rev:21, 4 "And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no pain, for the former things have passed away."

Rev: 21 ,5 "Then He who sat on the throne said 'Behold I make all things new" [The Gideons International]

I leave you to ponder over these verses.

Mally
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Old 2008-10-27, 11:23   #35
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Default "Never Say Die: Why We Can't Imagine Death"

Here's an article from this month's Scientific American that discusses this thread's topic:

http://www.sciam.com/article.cfm?id=never-say-die

"Never Say Die: Why We Can't Imagine Death

Why so many of us think our minds continue on after we die"

It's a scientific exploration of why so many people believe in an afterlife.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jesse Bering
Key Concepts

Almost everyone has a tendency to imagine the mind continuing to exist after the death of the body.

Even people who believe the mind ceases to exist at death show this type of psychological-continuity reasoning in studies.

Rather than being a by-product of religion or an emotional security blanket, such beliefs stem from the very nature of our consciousness.

. . .

After all, the brain is like any other organ: a part of our physical body. And the mind is what the brain does—it’s more a verb than it is a noun. Why do we wonder where our mind goes when the body is dead? Shouldn’t it be obvious that the mind is dead, too?

And yet people in every culture believe in an afterlife of some kind or, at the very least, are unsure about what happens to the mind at death. My psychological research has led me to believe that these irrational beliefs, rather than resulting from religion or serving to protect us from the terror of inexistence, are an inevitable by-product of self-consciousness. Because we have never experienced a lack of consciousness, we cannot imagine what it will feel like to be dead. In fact, it won’t feel like anything—and therein lies the problem.

. . .

... a small number of researchers, including me, are increasingly arguing that the evolution of self-consciousness has posed a different kind of problem altogether. This position holds that our ancestors suffered the unshakable illusion that their minds were immortal, and it’s this hiccup of gross irrationality that we have unmistakably inherited from them. Individual human beings, by virtue of their evolved cognitive architecture, had trouble conceptualizing their own psychological inexistence from the start.

. . .

Consider the rather startling fact that you will never know you have died. You may feel yourself slipping away, but it isn’t as though there will be a “you” around who is capable of ascertaining that, once all is said and done, it has actually happened. Just to remind you, you need a working cerebral cortex to harbor propositional knowledge of any sort, including the fact that you’ve died—and once you’ve died your brain is about as phenomenally generative as a head of lettuce. In a 2007 article published in the journal Synthese, University of Arizona philosopher Shaun Nichols puts it this way: “When I try to imagine my own non-existence I have to imagine that I perceive or know about my non-existence. No wonder there’s an obstacle!”

This observation may not sound like a major revelation to you, but I bet you’ve never considered what it actually means, which is that your own mortality is unfalsifiable from the first-person perspective. This obstacle is why writer Johann Wolfgang von Goethe allegedly remarked that “everyone carries the proof of his own immortality within himself.”

. . .

So why is it so hard to conceptualize inexistence anyway? Part of my own account, which I call the “simulation constraint hypothesis,” is that in attempting to imagine what it’s like to be dead we appeal to our own background of conscious experiences—because that’s how we approach most thought experiments. Death isn’t “like” anything we’ve ever experienced, however. Because we have never consciously been without consciousness, even our best simulations of true nothingness just aren’t good enough.

. . .

... The simulation-constraint hypothesis posits that this type of thinking is innate and unlearned. Fortunately, this hypothesis is falsifiable. If afterlife beliefs are a product of cultural indoctrination, with children picking up such ideas through religious teachings, through the media, or informally through family and friends, then one should rationally predict that psychological-continuity reasoning increases with age. Aside from becoming more aware of their own mortality, after all, older kids have had a longer period of exposure to the concept of an afterlife.

In fact, recent findings show the opposite developmental trend. In a 2004 study reported in Developmental Psychology, Florida Atlantic University psychologist David F. Bjorklund and I presented 200 three- to 12-year-olds with a puppet show. Every child saw the story of Baby Mouse, who was out strolling innocently in the woods. “Just then,” we told them, “he notices something very strange. The bushes are moving! An alligator jumps out of the bushes and gobbles him all up. Baby Mouse is not alive anymore.”

Just like the adults from the previously mentioned study, the children were asked about dead Baby Mouse’s psychological functioning. “Does Baby Mouse still want to go home?” we asked them. “Does he still feel sick?” “Can he still smell the flowers?” The youngest children in the study, the three- to five-year-olds, were significantly more likely to reason in terms of psychological continuity than children from the two older age groups were.

But here’s the really curious part. Even the preschoolers had a solid grasp on biological cessation; they knew, for example, that dead Baby Mouse didn’t need food or water anymore. They knew he wouldn’t grow up to be an adult mouse. Heck, 85 percent of the youngest kids even told us that his brain no longer worked. Yet most of these very young children then told us that dead Baby Mouse was hungry or thirsty, that he felt better or that he was still angry at his brother.

One couldn’t say that the preschoolers lacked a concept of death, therefore, because nearly all of the kids realized that biological imperatives no longer applied after death. Rather they seemed to have trouble using this knowledge to theorize about related mental functions.

From an evolutionary perspective, a coherent theory about psychological death is not necessarily vital. Anthropologist H. Clark Barrett of the University of California, Los Angeles, believes instead that understanding the cessation of “agency” (for example, that a dead creature isn’t going to suddenly leap up and bite you) is probably what saved lives (and thus genes). According to Barrett, comprehending the cessation of the mind, on the other hand, has no survival value and is, in an evolutionary sense, unnecessary.

In a 2005 study published in the journal Cognition, Barrett and psychologist Tanya Behne of the University of Manchester in England reported that city-dwelling four-year-olds from Berlin were just as good at distinguishing sleeping animals from dead ones as hunter-horticulturalist children from the Shuar region of Ecuador were. Even today’s urban children appear tuned in to perceptual cues signaling death. A “violation of the body envelope” (in other words, a mutilated carcass) is a pretty good sign that one needn’t worry about tiptoeing around.

The Culture Factor

On the one hand, then, from a very early age, children realize that dead bodies are not coming back to life. On the other hand, also from a very early age, kids endow the dead with ongoing psychological functions. So where do culture and religious teaching come into the mix, if at all?

In fact, exposure to the concept of an afterlife plays a crucial role in enriching and elaborating this natural cognitive stance; it’s sort of like an architectural scaffolding process, whereby culture develops and decorates the innate psychological building blocks of religious belief. The end product can be as ornate or austere as you like, from the headache-inducing reincarnation beliefs of Theravada Buddhists to the man on the street’s “I believe there’s something” brand of philosophy—but it’s made of the same brick and mortar just the same.

. . .

Back when you were still in diapers, you learned that people didn’t cease to exist simply because you couldn’t see them. Developmental psychologists even have a fancy term for this basic concept: “person permanence.” Such an off-line social awareness leads us to tacitly assume that the people we know are somewhere doing something. As I’m writing this article in Belfast, for example, my mind’s eye conjures up my friend Ginger in New Orleans walking her poodle or playfully bickering with her husband, things that I know she does routinely.

As I’ve argued in my 2006 Behavioral and Brain Sciences article, “The Folk Psychology of Souls,” human cognition is not equipped to update the list of players in our complex social rosters by accommodating a particular person’s sudden inexistence. We can’t simply switch off our person-permanence thinking just because someone has died. This inability is especially the case, of course, for those whom we were closest to and whom we frequently imagined to be actively engaging in various activities when out of sight.

And so person permanence may be the final cognitive hurdle that gets in the way of our effectively realizing the dead as they truly are—infinitely in situ, inanimate carbon residue. Instead it’s much more “natural” to imagine them as existing in some vague, unobservable locale, very much living their dead lives.
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Old 2008-10-27, 16:18   #36
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cheesehead View Post
Here's an article from this month's Scientific American that discusses this thread's topic:

http://www.sciam.com/article.cfm?id=never-say-die

"Never Say Die: Why We Can't Imagine Death

Why so many of us think our minds continue on after we die"

It's a scientific exploration of why so many people believe in an afterlife.
What a load of horseshit. And the researcher's language is so grating. The "irrationality" of people that believe in an afterlife. What a condescending description of a huge fraction of the population.

I have yet to bury a close relative or friend, but I have buried a few pets and considered what death means. You can look at a rock and realize that it has never had a thought and never will; your dead body will behave in a similar way.
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Old 2008-10-27, 17:52   #37
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Quote:
Originally Posted by masser View Post
What a load of horseshit. And the researcher's language is so grating. The "irrationality" of people that believe in an afterlife. What a condescending description of a huge fraction of the population.

I have yet to bury a close relative or friend, but I have buried a few pets and considered what death means. You can look at a rock and realize that it has never had a thought and never will; your dead body will behave in a similar way.
First show me a rational basis for beliefs in the afterlife [or most religious beliefs, for that matter], then we can speak about condescension. In fact your "rock" comment vividly illustrates the irrationality of it all.

There is however an interesting scientific question at the center of this: given the pervasiveness of such clearly irrational beliefs and the apparently innate human tendency to religiosity, is this simply a manifestation of the complex human mind being the only one [we know of for sure] in the animal kingdom which is acutely aware of its own mortality and can imagine alternative possibilities - i.e. is religiosity a mere side effect of cognitive sophistication - or might there actually be some evolutionary benefit to such beliefs, which [on average, and over many generations] confers a survival benefit? If there proved to be support for the latter hypothesis, then we would have an interesting example of cognitive irrationality actually being beneficial under some circumstances.
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Old 2008-10-27, 20:05   #38
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ewmayer View Post
First show me a rational basis for beliefs in the afterlife [or most religious beliefs, for that matter], then we can speak about condescension. In fact your "rock" comment vividly illustrates the irrationality of it all.
I think you and the author are confusing 'arationality' with 'irrationality.'
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Old 2008-10-27, 23:15   #39
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Quote:
Originally Posted by masser View Post
What a load of horseshit. And the researcher's language is so grating.
You seem not to have provided us an objective refutation of any statement in the article. May I interpret that as your admission that you are unable to find any objective evidence that any of the author's statements are incorrect, but your overall dissatisfaction with the article is primarily due to the article's failure to conform to your beliefs?

Quote:
I have yet to bury a close relative or friend, but I have buried a few pets and considered what death means. You can look at a rock and realize that it has never had a thought and never will; your dead body will behave in a similar way.
Did you carefully read the descriptions of studies that have been performed to test the author's contentions?

How about:

Quote:
A study I published in the Journal of Cognition and Culture in 2002 reveals the illusion of immortality operating in full swing in the minds of undergraduate students who were asked a series of questions about the psychological faculties of a dead man.

Richard, I told the students, had been killed instantaneously when his vehicle plunged into a utility pole. After the participants read a narrative about Richard’s state of mind just prior to the accident, I queried them as to whether the man, now that he was dead, retained the capacity to experience mental states. “Is Richard still thinking about his wife?” I asked them. “Can he still taste the flavor of the breath mint he ate just before he died? Does he want to be alive?”

You can imagine the looks I got, because apparently not many people pause to consider whether souls have taste buds, become randy or get headaches. Yet most gave answers indicative of “psychological continuity reasoning,” in which they envisioned Richard’s mind to continue functioning despite his death. This finding came as no surprise given that, on a separate scale, most respondents classified themselves as having a belief in some form of an afterlife.

What was surprising, however, was that many participants who had identified themselves as having “extinctivist” beliefs (they had ticked off the box that read: “What we think of as the ‘soul,’ or conscious personality of a person, ceases permanently when the body dies”) occasionally gave psychological-continuity responses, too. Thirty-two percent of the extinctivists’ answers betrayed their hidden reasoning that emotions and desires survive death; another 36 percent of their responses suggested the extinctivists reasoned this way for mental states related to knowledge (such as remembering, believing or knowing). One particularly vehement extinctivist thought the whole line of questioning silly and seemed to regard me as a numbskull for even asking. But just as well—he proceeded to point out that of course Richard knows he is dead, because there’s no afterlife and Richard sees that now.
... or ...

Quote:
In a 2004 study reported in Developmental Psychology, Florida Atlantic University psychologist David F. Bjorklund and I presented 200 three- to 12-year-olds with a puppet show. Every child saw the story of Baby Mouse, who was out strolling innocently in the woods. “Just then,” we told them, “he notices something very strange. The bushes are moving! An alligator jumps out of the bushes and gobbles him all up. Baby Mouse is not alive anymore.”

Just like the adults from the previously mentioned study, the children were asked about dead Baby Mouse’s psychological functioning. “Does Baby Mouse still want to go home?” we asked them. “Does he still feel sick?” “Can he still smell the flowers?” The youngest children in the study, the three- to five-year-olds, were significantly more likely to reason in terms of psychological continuity than children from the two older age groups were.

But here’s the really curious part. Even the preschoolers had a solid grasp on biological cessation; they knew, for example, that dead Baby Mouse didn’t need food or water anymore. They knew he wouldn’t grow up to be an adult mouse. Heck, 85 percent of the youngest kids even told us that his brain no longer worked. Yet most of these very young children then told us that dead Baby Mouse was hungry or thirsty, that he felt better or that he was still angry at his brother.

One couldn’t say that the preschoolers lacked a concept of death, therefore, because nearly all of the kids realized that biological imperatives no longer applied after death. Rather they seemed to have trouble using this knowledge to theorize about related mental functions.
... or ...

Quote:
In support of the idea that culture influences our natural tendency to deny the death of the mind, Harvard University psychologist Paul Harris and researcher Marta Giménez of the National University of Distance Education in Spain showed that when the wording in interviews is tweaked to include medical or scientific terms, psychological-continuity reasoning decreases. In this 2005 study published in the Journal of Cognition and Culture, seven- to 11-year-old children in Madrid who heard a story about a priest telling a child that his grandmother “is with God” were more likely to attribute ongoing mental states to the decedent than were those who heard the identical story but instead about a doctor saying a grandfather was “dead and buried.”
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Old 2008-10-27, 23:46   #40
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Zeta-Flux View Post
I think you and the author are confusing 'arationality' with 'irrationality.'
May we have your definition of arationality and its distinction from irrationality? WTNID doesn't have an entry for arationality. A quick search found http://www.jstor.org/pss/2090031:

Quote:
We define arational behavior as single-ended action in which, from the scientific point of view, means are totally inappropriate for an intended end1.

. . .

1Following Pareto's example we include among arational behavior those actions which, though scientifically unsound in the pursuit of desired goals, are nontheless latently effective. For a comprehensive discussion of "logical" and "non-logical" actiom, see Vilfredo Pareto, The Mind and Society, New York: Harcourt, Brace and Company Inc., 1935, chap. 2.
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Old 2008-10-28, 00:43   #41
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cheesehead,

Until your post, I was unaware that there are actually two completely (almost contradictory) definitions/uses of 'arational.' Perhaps the following example will be enlightening. The two definitions of 'amoral' given at dictionary.com are:

1. not involving questions of right or wrong; without moral quality; neither moral nor immoral.
2. having no moral standards, restraints, or principles; unaware of or indifferent to questions of right or wrong: a completely amoral person.

Apparently, 'arational' has two distinct meanings in parallel with 'amoral.' When I used the term 'arational' I meant it under the first meaning. Something along the lines of "non-rational." In other words, a belief that didn't come from either rational or irrational lines of reasoning. I didn't mean to convey the idea of indifference to rationality.
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Old 2008-10-28, 08:18   #42
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If you die, you die and disappear.

But I believe in pills. )) There's 20-30 years left to immortality.
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Old 2008-10-28, 17:32   #43
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Here's a scientific sort of way to think about this subject. According to science, energy can be neither created nor destroyed, yet when you die all the energy, in the form of electrical activity in the brain, seems to just disappear and stop. It has to go somewhere. The questions are, first, "Where does that energy go?", and second, "Is that energy our essences of our beings as humans?".
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Old 2008-10-28, 18:02   #44
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jwb52z View Post
Here's a scientific sort of way to think about this subject. According to science, energy can be neither created nor destroyed, yet when you die all the energy, in the form of electrical activity in the brain, seems to just disappear and stop. It has to go somewhere. The questions are, first, "Where does that energy go?", and second, "Is that energy our essences of our beings as humans?".
No, the laws of thermodynamics are not broken.

The electrical activity in your body is powered by energy that your body receives.

Energy is received from food, which is metabolized by the oxygen in the air you breathe. If you stop breathing, your body can't use its energy and electrical activity in your brain stops.
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