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Hypocrisy_Central's avatar

The people who are said to be “Looking down on us” from where are they looking?

Asked by Hypocrisy_Central (21731 points ) December 4th, 2011

People win an award, gold medal, championship, etc, and they say some friend, family or lost loved one is looking down on them, in pride, etc. Those who do not believe in an afterlife, from where are their loved ones supposedly looking down from? If when you die, and you go “poof” into scattered molecules, some great vacuum, etc, how can your soul, essence, etc be anywhere to look down on anyone or anything?

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22 Answers

lillycoyote's avatar

From up there, somewhere, I would have to assume, since they are looking down on us. If they were looking askance at us, I think it would be more of a sideways kind of thing.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

To some degree, people who don’t believe in the afterlife but say those kinds of things are just participating in a certain cultural trope – we’re just used to saying that like saying ‘oh my god’ or whatever…it doesn’t actually mean that we think they’re there or that if they are there, that it has to be about the afterlife. Sometimes I think about parallel dimensions where maybe people are after death in this dimension but that has nothing to do with an afterlife as thought of by religious people.

Coloma's avatar

It’s a figure of speech based on sentiments that are subjective, at best.

Sunny2's avatar

From the middle of the first row of the second balcony.
Wave back.

Blackberry's avatar

The exosphere, duh.

whitetigress's avatar

Well if you want to get scientifically technical. At least the dead persons molecules are likely to be still on earth, in the same solar system, in the same galaxy…

lillycoyote's avatar

@Hypocrisy_Central Really, I don’t know. I am not at all sure about this, but I will tell you only that I had a number of, multiple experiences after both my mother and my father died, after each of them died, that make me think that they really, maybe, just might be “out there” somewhere. Where? I don’t know? Can I prove it? No. Are there other possible explanations for my experiences? Yes, of course. Do I give a rat’s ass what anyone else thinks and do I feel any need or obligation whatsoever to defend, describe, explain or prove any of what I experienced in relationship to this to anyone else? No, not at all, not one bit.

ucme's avatar

Goodyear blimp?

SavoirFaire's avatar

Since I don’t believe in an afterlife, I also don’t think that anyone is looking down on me. Pretty simple, really.

whitetigress's avatar

@SavoirFaire Just curious. So you through bajillion years of evolutions through out the cosmos, through all the star busting going on that has lead to the evolution of the human brain hence consciousness, you believe it was all random and there is no afterlife of conscious thought? I’m not talking spirituality, I’m talking straight science, consciousness can be measured scientifically and to our knowledge we have the most complex brain.

Hypocrisy_Central's avatar

@lillycoyote If they were looking askance at us, I think it would be more of a sideways kind of thing. Sideways from where? Eventually, if you are regulated to the Earth, sideways is someone else’ bottom.

@Coloma*It’s a figure of speech based on sentiments that are subjective, at best.* Like bamboozling themselves? They say that even when they know, or believe their departed loved ones and friends no longer exist. Like that?

@ucme Goodyear blimp? Interesting, but no, doesn’t work in any configuration.

flutherother's avatar

We feel that others are thinking of us because they are. This is true whether they are with us or not. When they step out the door the feeling doesn’t diminish even if we don’t know where they have gone. Even when they die the feeling remains.

Luiveton's avatar

This made me laugh.

Paradox25's avatar

Honestly I’ve never heard those who don’t believe in an afterlife say those things. They usually will say something like “they would have been proud of you” or something similar.

I know of many Christians that don’t believe in an afterlife either.

JLeslie's avatar

I agree with @Simone_De_Beauvoir. I probably would not use the phrase looking down on me, but maybe I would say, my parents would be proud, or some other reference that they helped me or would have liked to see my accomplishment.

My family uses phrases like, “why is God punishing me?” And, they don’t believe in God punishing at all.

ragingloli's avatar

Heaven, mayhaps?
Of course, the funny thing is that they all assume their guys are in heaven and not in hell.
Where do I think they are looking down from? They do not. They are dead.

Jude's avatar

I’m with @Simone_De_Beauvoir on this one.

downtide's avatar

I guess people used to believe that heaven was literally “up there” somewhere.

SavoirFaire's avatar

@whitetigress “Random” does not seem like quite the right word to use when discussing evolution. The whole point of evolution, after all, is to see how order emerges from chaos—how stable patterns distribute entropy away from themselves. So while I do not believe that the process has been guided from the outside, and while I do believe that chance occurrences are part of the evolutionary process, I would not call nature “random.” That’s one of the amazing things about the natural world: that all this could come to be without anyone consciously bringing it all about. The creation myth seems rather lame and uninspiring by comparison.

As for consciousness, all our evidence suggests that it is an emergent process of the brain as embedded in our bodies. When our bodies have died and all of the electrical impulses in our brains have dissipated, the necessary conditions for consciousness have ceased to exist. As such, consciousness would also cease to exist as it is a function of those conditions. Lose the necessary conditions for a thing and you lose the thing itself. Indeed, I’m not quite sure what the putative ability to measure consciousness (“putative” because we are talking about a science in its infancy, not its mature phase, and because it is only by some definitions of consciousness that we are measuring it) has to do with anything.

wundayatta's avatar

Central Lhasa.

Symbeline's avatar

Well, since I don’t believe in any afterlife, personally I’d say they’re not looking from anywhere, since they’re dead, and when you’re dead, you can’t do anything, as you no longer are. But otherwise, I guess Valhalla Heaven.

lillycoyote's avatar

@Hypocrisy_Central I guess “sideways is always someone else’s bottom” is the corollary to “If you ain’t the lead dog, the scenery never changes.”

Well, I actually gave you a serious answer and you chose to comment on my joke answer. You get what you ask for.

:-)

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