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I'm confused about how to interpret my thoughts concerning the following idea: "If we could definitively confirm that an afterlife is untrue. How would this change our current and future understanding and execution of policies and laws.

I realize that this is a very open ended conversation: theological, philosophical and political. I can't wait to hear the ideas of this knowledge base.    

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Comment Preferences

  •  It would make absolutely no difference to me. (3+ / 0-)

    n/t

    •  Vailidated (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      BMScott, thanatokephaloides

      Good Point. However, is your contention reflected in the general public?

      •  It seems a very safe bet that it isn't, (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        d3clark, thanatokephaloides

        at least in the US.

        •  Big smile (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          BMScott, thanatokephaloides

          Also, why I'm looking at this in general terms.

        •  I doubt that your question would make much (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          G2geek, Mopshell, thanatokephaloides

          of a difference to the kill-crazy, red (handed) states like Texas and several others. They believe in revenge.  And it seems like many of the people in those states are wildly in favor of executing citizens that they perceive as murderers.  Makes no difference if the "murderer" is mentally deficient, if there may be evidence that could make people doubt his guilt, if he's mentally ill.  Makes no difference if the method of execution will use an untested cocktail that might produce a slow death with horrible suffering.

          The organized religions in those areas, for the most part, don't preach "Turn the other cheek," they preach, "Cast the first stone."  Additionally, many of them believe that those executed who don't repent, will burn in hell for eternity. They're perfectly happy to not only kill them, but relish the thought of permanent torture after death.  I think many of them would be upset if there were no afterlife because then these murderers' suffering would stop at their deaths.

          A word to the wise is sufficient. Republicans need at least a paragraph.

          by d3clark on Thu Jul 10, 2014 at 12:59:35 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  To think on (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            G2geek, thanatokephaloides

            While I was looking for more of an altruistic hope within these comments, you did get me to think; which, is a reason for these exercises.  I do have a problem with organized religion, but to heavily-handed associate it with a particular state is of concern, and one that I would have prescribed to about 2 minutes ago, but would now disagree.

            My intention was to look at the value of life and how that value could possibly change policy and laws, but you have appreciatively turned this into a conversation on how religion can be distorted and interpreted in negative ways. Again, speaking for myself, I find organized religion disingenuous, but will not and can not agree that all followers of any religion believe that they are the sole source of morality. You are talking about how religion can be co-opted for personal and political gains and would love to hear from the community on how they deal with this in their lives.

  •  or this way: (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    thanatokephaloides

    If you believe there is a hereafter:  what would be different if it turned out that there was not a hereafter.

    If you believe there is not a hereafter:  what would be different if it turned out that there was.

    In other words, whatever your belief on the subject is, speculate about what would change if your belief turned out to be incorrect.

    (I've written elsewhere about an analogous exercise having to do with beliefs in the existence or nonexistence of the deity.)

    We got the future back. Uh-oh.

    by G2geek on Wed Jul 09, 2014 at 11:07:10 PM PDT

    •  Not the exercise of... (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      G2geek, thanatokephaloides

      I'm not trying to make this an argument about the hereafter. Your argument is great. Quantum physics leads to the exploration and experimentation of your thoughts.

      The idea behind this post is to truly explore the possible changes in societal norms, as if, the original thought premise were true. Specifically, would this change the way we would enact policies? More generally, would this change human interaction?

      Also, would you mind sharing where I could find your writings on this?  

      •  re. changes in societal norms: (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        thanatokephaloides

        I'm inclined to believe that the present statistical distribution of behaviors will remain, but the rationales will change.

        Good people do good, evil people do evil, and each looks for whatever convenient philosophical rationalizations are available.  Theists and atheists alike can be found in the ranks of both the kind and the cruel.

        The idea of a hereafter provides both limiting and reinforcing feedbacks on behaviors: reinforcing certain good behaviors (to get a "reward") and limiting certain evil behaviors (to avoid "punishment").  

        Minus the idea of a hereafter, the feedbacks will shift.

        Atheists probably won't be affected because for the most part they already do not believe in hereafters, and their moral systems are grounded in other foundations such as deontological or consequentialist or utilitarian ethics.

        Theists who are newly stripped of a key foundation of their moral systems, will probably go through cultural existential crises of large magnitude, that will remove certain behavioral limits that presently exist.  As a result of which we will see certain types of evil behavior increase, some lawful and some unlawful.  How long that situation persists remains to be seen but I would give it two generations.

        --

        Re. my other writings: to be published on another site later this year, but I'm not certain I want to cross-link too much for reasons of privacy.  We'll see...

        We got the future back. Uh-oh.

        by G2geek on Thu Jul 10, 2014 at 03:22:14 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  This is a tough one for me (3+ / 0-)

    because, although I'm not religious, I am a reincarnationist and that does presuppose an afterlife, just not of the "heaven" and "hell" variety.

    My belief encompasses the concept that this is the one and only life in which I will be the me that I am; in no other life will I be this person in these particular circumstances with this particular life experience. You never get the same life again. In that sense, I can empathize with those who don't believe in reincarnation or an afterlife of any sort.

    So I'd have to say, it wouldn't make any difference to me at all.

    Please note that lamps in the Magic Lamp Emporium are on a genie time-share program so there may be a slight delay in wish fulfillment. (◕‿◕)

    by Mopshell on Wed Jul 09, 2014 at 11:16:20 PM PDT

    •  Thank you, but... (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      G2geek, thanatokephaloides

      Maybe, my initial post needs to be changed. I guess, I was wondering more about those religions that believe physical life is finite. Which does make up the majority of the US. The thought of reincarnation could be involved in this conversation; however, I'm trying to not make this a truly theological discussion. More about how the US electorate and their representatives would react to such a nonconforming discovery.  

      •  Since I was at pains to explain (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        G2geek, thanatokephaloides

        that our belief in reincarnation isn't theological then I'm not sure... I don't understand the relationship between the concept of a finite life and how people would see their representatives. Surely if everyone suddenly has this great revelation that life was finite and there was no after life, any thought of their elected officials would be last thing on their minds! Are the representatives themselves having this revelation too? That will really do Ted Cruz's head in!

        Please note that lamps in the Magic Lamp Emporium are on a genie time-share program so there may be a slight delay in wish fulfillment. (◕‿◕)

        by Mopshell on Thu Jul 10, 2014 at 01:50:57 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  it can't help but be theological... (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        thanatokephaloides

        ... because beliefs about hereafters vary widely as a function of religion.

        Reincarnation is important in the US because it's usually associated with Hinduism, and thus is directly relevant to immigrants from India, who are an important cultural influence in certain parts of the USA such as California.

        We got the future back. Uh-oh.

        by G2geek on Thu Jul 10, 2014 at 03:25:10 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  So is everything theological? (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          thanatokephaloides

          Is a belief that the Earth revolves around the sun theological?

          Is the belief that 2+2=4 theological?

          Although I can't see it from where I am, is a belief that France exists as a country in Europe theological?

          Please note that lamps in the Magic Lamp Emporium are on a genie time-share program so there may be a slight delay in wish fulfillment. (◕‿◕)

          by Mopshell on Thu Jul 10, 2014 at 03:44:46 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  now that's silly. (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            thanatokephaloides

            In the entire span of recorded human history across all geographic locations and cultures, beliefs regarding hereafters have been intimately associated with beliefs regarding deities.  

            Notice I said "regarding" rather than "in," because this also works in the other direction: disbelief in one tends to correlate very strongly with disbelief in the other.

            Belief systems that postulate answers to the question of death also almost always postulate answers to the question of deities plural or singular.  

            Beliefs about natural phenomena can become engaged with theology to the extent that naturalistic explanations aren't yet available or aren't satisfactory to given individuals.  This has occurred with regard to Earth and the solar system, and numerous other areas.

            My position is that the existence or nonexistence of deities and immortal souls is empirically untestable, and there is a wide natural variation among humans in the neurophysiological underpinnings of the traits related to religious experience and belief.  Thus in the absence of a clear empirical answer to the question, the fact of natural diversity of belief results in the obligation of societies to protect the individual right to freedom of belief and associated praxis, in the same manner as we should protect individual rights to diversity of gender identification and consenting-adult sexuality.

            I also believe there is a plausible but speculative theoretical basis for the persistence of consciousness following the cessation of brain activity (death), but that is highly contested stuff and is a small minority position in the sciences.

            We got the future back. Uh-oh.

            by G2geek on Thu Jul 10, 2014 at 04:47:56 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  Of course it's silly (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              thanatokephaloides

              It was meant to be silly. You insulted me by saying you know more about my beliefs than I do. I chose to be silly rather than rude, rather than be insulting in return.

              Please note that lamps in the Magic Lamp Emporium are on a genie time-share program so there may be a slight delay in wish fulfillment. (◕‿◕)

              by Mopshell on Thu Jul 10, 2014 at 07:43:42 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  where, exactly, did I say that I knew more about.. (0+ / 0-)

                ... your beliefs than you do?

                We got the future back. Uh-oh.

                by G2geek on Thu Jul 10, 2014 at 11:17:50 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  I say my beliefs are not theological (0+ / 0-)

                  You say they are.

                  Please note that lamps in the Magic Lamp Emporium are on a genie time-share program so there may be a slight delay in wish fulfillment. (◕‿◕)

                  by Mopshell on Fri Jul 11, 2014 at 02:59:49 AM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  that comment was originally a reply to... (1+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    Mopshell

                    ... CinncyDem, to say that one can't have a public conversation about death & hereafters without people also bringing up theology.

                    There are cultures, belief systems, and individuals such as yourself that/who are exceptions, but those who are exceptions are not the ones who bring theology into discussions of hereafters.  

                    The ones who bring theology into those discussions are those for whom the beliefs are interconnected, such as the majority of Americans, who adhere to Abrahamic beliefs.

                    Buddhism does not postulate a deity, but many are the local cultures in which Buddhism has syncretized with pre-existing beliefs that do involve deities (usually polytheistic).  Hinduism clearly espouses reincarnation and also espouses polytheism.  Various forms of paganism and animism and indigenous religions ascribe spiritual aspects to elements of nature in a manner that gives them roughly theistic characteristics.

                    All of these variations already occur and more are possible, but when discussing hereafters in the US, it's inevitable that people from the Abrahamic traditions and various other traditions will introduce theology into the discussion.  That's all I was trying to get at, not to dis you or your beliefs.  Sorry if it was badly stated or misunderstood.

                    We got the future back. Uh-oh.

                    by G2geek on Fri Jul 11, 2014 at 03:20:27 AM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

                    •  Self-administering head slap here! (1+ / 0-)
                      Recommended by:
                      G2geek

                      It was my bad, not yours - I didn't check to see where you were in the thread in relation to my comment.

                      Please accept my most heartfelt apologies for being such a twerp.

                      On top of that, I agree with you!  I cannot do otherwise since I see the same in religions with hereafter concepts. I think over the years, I've become way too sensitive to those who refuse to acknowledge that one can have a belief in an after life that isn't predicated on religious beliefs. I've been shut down so often I expect it when it isn't there.

                      Again, my sincere apologies.

                      That will teach me to leap to conclusions!

                      Please note that lamps in the Magic Lamp Emporium are on a genie time-share program so there may be a slight delay in wish fulfillment. (◕‿◕)

                      by Mopshell on Fri Jul 11, 2014 at 01:14:19 PM PDT

                      [ Parent ]

                      •  all's good; "crossed wires":-) (0+ / 0-)

                        I've also found that it's difficult to follow who's replying to who in long threads: column indentations aren't sufficient, maybe color-coding would make it easier.

                        And I'm also a case of minority belief-system about all of these things, for which reason I've embarked on the project of writing it up & planning to publish it later this year.  I fully understand about "A does not correlate with B" in such things, because I have a bunch of those too.  

                        I'd be interested in hearing more about yours, and also, I think it would be most interesting if a bunch of us with unusual or minority beliefs started publishing.

                        In any case it's been an interesting conversation, all the better because neither of us got mean about it.

                        Be well-
                        -G2G.

                        We got the future back. Uh-oh.

                        by G2geek on Fri Jul 11, 2014 at 06:41:28 PM PDT

                        [ Parent ]

                        •  I'm privileged to have this conversation with you (0+ / 0-)

                          I feel very silly... but happy all the same!

                          I have about half a diary written up on the subject. I'm in the process of moving house so, when I have and I'm settled, I'll endeavor to finish it. I have qualms about posting it but I think I will take the plunge after all - mainly thanks to you.

                          I will finish mine then wait til you publish yours because I think one such diary on it's own will seem isolated - two such diaries might give people more pause for thought. It doesn't matter how different the diaries are, just that they are about unusual or minority beliefs.

                          It has been a very interesting conversation and I'm grateful for your persistence in getting through to me! Because neither of us were mean about it, we end up doubling our respect for each other and that's no small reward.

                          Take care -
                          Mops.

                          Please note that lamps in the Magic Lamp Emporium are on a genie time-share program so there may be a slight delay in wish fulfillment. (◕‿◕)

                          by Mopshell on Sat Jul 12, 2014 at 01:58:42 AM PDT

                          [ Parent ]

          •  Um. (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Mopshell
            Is a belief that the Earth revolves around the sun theological?
            You might say so, yes.

            I support a Biblical definition of marriage. When do I get my concubines and second wife?

            by jackdabastard on Thu Jul 10, 2014 at 01:02:29 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

    •  I have had experiences of people and former pets (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Mopshell, G2geek, thanatokephaloides

      come to me in dreams and sometimes semi-physically as well.  I had a dog that lived to age 16, for instance, who after he died, I would still feel him come on to the bed and do his 3 turns and scrunch bedcovers to make himself comfortable and then I would feel him lay by me to sleep.  This happened until my current dog came into the picture.  

      I also had an experience, while my mom was in the process of dying, that I was visited by a presence that sat on my bed beside me every night for the week before she died. I suspect to warn me of her impending doom.  

      Another was a former (ghost) cat of mine would be playing by jumping from my headboard onto my bed while I was trying to sleep.  

      Strange experiences, yes. I have had many others as well.

      I'm not religious and I don't believe in any god, but I do believe in an afterlife.  Go figure..

  •  I don't believe in an afterlife (4+ / 0-)

    But...I believe in the Golden Rule: Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.

    It's the only bit of wisdom that I got out of Sunday school that made any sense. What goes around comes around.

    If there really is an afterlife, I know that Dick Cheney will end up in hell....karma baby!

  •  If an afterlife were or were not untrue, (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    G2geek, Mopshell, thanatokephaloides

    would likely make no difference in how laws are made.  

    Humans are extremely cruel to one another. It doesn't matter if you are the cop who kills a person with a tv remote in hand or a criminal who robs a bank and shoots a hostage.  

    Here is some gruesome reading on beheadings in which the head remained conscience for up to 30 seconds after they had been guillotined.  You would think such a thing would end capital punishment, but it hasn't.

    http://www.damninteresting.com/...

    •  These are extremes (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      G2geek, thanatokephaloides

      We our cruel. Our wars are testament to this. However, would we change our ways if we knew, for a fact, that this is our "one and only chance at individual existence."  Would we care more about the "common man", would we fight for longevity or would our carnal nature consume us.

      •  We are a me, me, me, I want it right now (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        G2geek, Mopshell, thanatokephaloides

        society here in the USA.  Most people don't give much thought about whether their actions now will or will not affect any possible future unknowns as to whether an afterlife exists or not.

        Either you treat the people you come across with compassion and respect or you don't.  For most people, I doubt they give it much thought on whether this is their only shot at life and that they ought to get it right.

        •  Therein lies yet another problem (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          thanatokephaloides

          Since humans aren't perfect, they're never going to get it all right, no matter how much they try. That's got to be a pretty frustrating concept if you believe this is your only shot at life! (◕‿◕)

          Please note that lamps in the Magic Lamp Emporium are on a genie time-share program so there may be a slight delay in wish fulfillment. (◕‿◕)

          by Mopshell on Thu Jul 10, 2014 at 03:53:25 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

      •  Frankly, I think we would care less (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        prettymeadow, thanatokephaloides

        about our fellow human beings. If we knew that this was our "one and only chance at individual existence" then it's the one and only chance for the ambitious to get to the top, for the greedy to amass as much money and goods as they can, for the selfish to take everything they want.

        What motivation would anyone have for to care more about others?

        Please note that lamps in the Magic Lamp Emporium are on a genie time-share program so there may be a slight delay in wish fulfillment. (◕‿◕)

        by Mopshell on Thu Jul 10, 2014 at 03:51:04 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  I will say this, the confirmation that there is (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    thanatokephaloides, prettymeadow

    an immortal soul (or something similar) could have horrific consequences.  Here is an example (thankfully still fairly soft SF for now).

    During the construction of the HHC (Huge Hadron Collider) an accident resulted in the greatest energy breakthrough in the history of mankind.  When a worker was killed in an accident during construction one of the revolutionary new detectors picked up something unusual, a form of energy that leaves the body after death and disappears into nothing, thus violating (or at least appearing to violate) the conservation of energy.  After further experimentation it was discovered that this energy could be captured and used as source of large amounts of cheap, clean energy.  Of course, the biggest problem was that anyone touching said storage equipment would have (or appear to have) auditory hallucinations of someone screaming in agony and begging to be put out of their misery.  That led to some protests once it was revealed but went nowhere as since there is no such thing as an immortal soul according to science it had to be a hallucinatory effect.

    Of course, the above assumes two things.  First, that a "soul" or something like it exists.  Second, that anything that exists can be detected and interacted with given the appropriate technology (after all, radioactivity existed even before it was discovered by Becquerel and his photographic plate method).

    You have watched Faux News, now lose 2d10 SAN.

    by Throw The Bums Out on Thu Jul 10, 2014 at 10:08:51 AM PDT

  •  I'm not sure anything would change. (0+ / 0-)

    If certain religious are refusing to believe the well-documented case of human-caused climate change, why would they believe whatever amount of evidence you might amass?

    I support a Biblical definition of marriage. When do I get my concubines and second wife?

    by jackdabastard on Thu Jul 10, 2014 at 01:06:09 PM PDT

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