Afterlife

Brain scanning technology is quickly approachi...

Brain scanning technology is quickly approaching levels of detail that will have serious implications (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I owe a hat-tip to my tweep, @NagasakiOsada : Thanks!

I’m not worried by the thought of an afterlife, since I only believed it existed before I found out what I learned after giving up religion, from psychology, neuroscience, physics and cosmology, that souls are unnecessary to explain human thought and consciousness, and that contrary to my wishes, there is no evidence, not just for souls, but for the prospect of an afterlife.

None.

Not a shred.

Not even alleged Near Death experiences (NDEs) make the cut (I’ve had one in 2007, and it didn’t turn me back into a believer — I was not impressed). Here’s a secret: it doesn’t require the nearness of death to have one — other triggering circumstances, like drugs or direct brain stimulation, can suffice. Other sorts of visions and revelations are too contradictory and difficult to corroborate to be credible by themselves, and scripture, across all religions, gives too many mutually inconsistent accounts, and they cannot possibly all be correct.

Every alleged revelation has its rivals.

My awareness didn’t exist prior to my birth, and I’ll feel and know nothing of it after I’m gone. I’ve no good reason to think otherwise.

What about the oft-repeated argument that the soul is eternal because physics says that energy cannot be created or destroyed? Maybe, but we can detect energy, especially sorts not obvious to our naked senses, and while energy cannot be created or destroyed, it does run down, flowing inexorably from a high state to a low state, like a clock’s spring unwinding and needing to be reset to operate again.

But nothing that we could call “soul energy” has ever been shown to exist in any knowable way. All we have otherwise is the mere say-so of theologians and Cartesian philosophers.

The electrochemical activity of our brain, according to the best evidence we have, is what produces what we call “mind” — the mind is what the brain does — and once the energy stops flowing at all along and between the cells of our brains and central nervous systems — brain death — our minds stop, and permanently.

No one has ever fully died and come back to report it, from beyond the state of full brain-death. Near death experiences are called that for a reason, near death, not complete death.

I would no longer even like there to be an afterlife after thinking about it: I find the very notion horrific, spending all eternity even in permanent bliss while the universe grinds endlessly on would be an unbearable bore after the first few million years, and at some point, I would want it all to end.

I don’t need an afterlife, as this life is much more important to me, more urgent, with more good to be done for its own sake and not hope of reward nor fear of punishment in the imagined hereafter.

I will end, you will end, and one day, the universe itself (as far as we know) will end…

…and I’m okay with that.

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