Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Life after death is impossible (by anon)

I cannot but help to respond to this comment on an earlier post.  The commenter says,

…let me step in the middle of this argument about the "spiritual" world. I noticed the attempt to drive the opposition into submission by providing only two "possible" scenarios and forcing to choose between them. This is neither scientific nor reasonable. In most natural problems there can be near infinite possibilities, and to attempt to funnel it down to two for the sake of winning an argument is downright foolish…

…some people assert the foolishness of others' belief in a supreme being. It is equally foolish to state the lack of one. I'm not trying to say that there is one, or that there isn't one. What I'm really trying to say is that I don't know, and neither do you.  No amount of debate is going to change that.

Ok, let me ask: should we believe that there is such a thing as a round square?  Notice that I am setting up potentially two sides, those who believe that there are round squares and those who believe there aren’t round squares.  Is this bad?  Not particularly since the side one should belong to is the last one.  People should not believe that there are round squares because they are impossible in virtue of the definition.  One can talk all one wants about infinite possibilities of things, but in this case a round square is impossible given definitions.  Period.

Now back to life after death.  If one sets up that life after death is a “spiritual” life AND that “spiritual” means that it is not earthly or physical, then BY DEFINITION one must say that life after death is impossible.  Here’s why.

1.    To say that one lives after death in a spiritual form is to say that one is still living somewhere after physical death.
2.    “Spiritual” means non-physical or non-material.  And this means that a spiritual being cannot have any spatial or temporal dimensions.
3.    To say that one is still living somewhere implies both spatial and temporal dimensions.  “Somewhere” implies some kind of location, some kind of point where something is, and this is a spatial dimension.  To “live” already implies some kind of subsistence from one moment to another.  There is then a temporal dimension.
4.    A contradiction arises between points 2 and 3 by definition ALONE.  That is why it is so confusing to ask, given the definition of point 2, where will I go when I die?  The only possible response is “nowhere” since it is a contradiction to say anything else.
5.    Therefore, life after death is impossible given the definition of point 2.  It is impossible just like the existence of a round square.
So one can jabber over infinite possibilities and the limits of knowledge, but that just doesn’t apply here.  I can well admit that I do not know everything.  Yet, I do know my definitions and how to use logic.  This is not anti-religion by any means.  It is just responsible philosophy.

The more interesting question to me is whether we change point 2 in some way.  What if “spiritual” means something like dark matter or energy (whatever that might really mean)?  Of course, the questions then become (a) where will I actually go then?, (b) is “heaven” actually findable?, (c) is God really living someplace?, (d) how would I still be conscious, and (e) how would I still be myself?  To these questions, I have no answers.


  1. So, what if instead of "life", we say something else like.... eternal consciousness after death? Surely eternal consciousness has no space or time....it just is. So why can't we say that eternal consciousness goes on, and just realize that the term "life after death", by definition as you say, is impossible, for your reasons? Just change the wording and we have a new concept to take the place, but serve the same purpose, of life after death.
    As far as explaining eternal consciousness and the possibility of that... well, we may have a more interesting conversation then... one which I certainly haven't taken enough physics, or biology/psychology even, to really argue one way or the other. Plus, like you said, we just don't know the answers... and unfortunately, those are the answers we need most!

  2. Eternal consciousness sounds interesting. How exactly do you understand what that means? --> a.k.a, are you just trying to come up with something so that our wishes of an afterlife live on?? Reality vs fantasy

  3. Well hang on anon 7:47 - I never said I wished for an afterlife. I'm perfectly fine with ending life and existing just as much as I existed before I was ever conceived. What could be bad about that? I don't remember having a bad time in 1902, or any other year that I didn't exist. All I'm saying is that life after death doesn't have to be thought of as actually hanging out up in the sky somewhere, in some far away land with all of our ancestors and The Beatles and our dead pets. I mean, I don't think we know everything there is to know about life, the universe, and what could possibly be outside of the universe. Sure it sounds a little cooky - but who can be certain that there is no kind of consciousness after death? If there isn't, oh well, if there is, then that's a bonus I guess. Either way, it's just up to the individual to believe what he/she feels like. Personally, I expect nothing to happen, but like to entertain the thought of something else being out there. And it has nothing to do with religion, what I desire, or a fear of dying without going on or anything like that. It's just something I see that fits in the realm of possibility - which makes death just about the most interesting part of life, in my opinion.

  4. Death cannot be interesting because you will not be around to experience it. When you are alive, you are not dead, and when you are dead, you are not alive. Thus, death is nothing more than a one way ticket to personal extinction. You will not be returning! Houdini has not made it back. Bachman said that Irene was a message from Jesus, while Pat Robeson said that the crack in the Washington Monument was made by Jesus as a sign that he is on the way back to straighten this mess out. We may all be extinct before Jesus returns.

  5. What is the purpose of being born on earth ? or in space? ..be born, transform, die

  6. Humans simply aren't, never were, and never will be meant for eternal consciousness. That's the sad truth. We are simply an accident of the universe, one it doesn't recognize. Entirely biological beings with sentience. Mortal. My very existence, what's allowing me to make a sapient reply to this thread, and what allowed you to do the same is out brain. It's the only thing we are. When it dies, we die, our very core of what makes us, us, ceases to exist and stays that way. People can come up with as many half-baked life-after-death theories as they wish, but they're all pipedreams. Wishful thinking. So I guess the point I'm trying to make is that even if there is some greater truth to existence or some kind of spiritual realm or whatever, we humans are not, and never will be a part of it. We simply are what we are: a beautiful, temporary accident of the universe.

  7. You make a serious mistake in assuming the word spiritual means without dimension. Jesus Christ appeared to over 500 people in a physical resurrected body(the same body that hung on the cross).

    He was able to enter a room without walking through the door, and physically ascended into heaven in full view of eyewitnesses. The apostle Paul explains:" All flesh is not the same, there is one flesh of men, one flesh of beasts, another flesh of birds, and another of fish.
    There are also heavenly bodies and earthly bodies, but the glory of the heavenly is one, and the glory of the earthly is another."

    So also, is the resurrection of the dead, it is sown a perishable body
    (we will all die), we are raised an imperishable body (cannot die). What people fail to realize is that they will live forever in a spiritual body specifically designed for one of two dimensions: Heaven or Hell.

    One body will experience eternal pleasures while the other suffers eternal torment. Let him who has an ear listen to what the Spirit says!