General Question

DipanshiK's avatar

Do you believe in life after death?

Asked by DipanshiK (818points) May 25th, 2014 from iPhone

Why do people believe that their is something called “afterlife”? We still continue to think that their exists some witting force after we die.
Is it surreal or do we have an evidence for it’s beingness ?

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54 Answers

JLeslie's avatar

They believe it because most of the world believes it, they are told it from very young ages. It is presented like fact. Then, it is reinforced with TV shows and books and the big one—religion. For some people they find it comforting to think their loved ones are in a “better place.”

I don’t believe in it, but if I am wrong I will be fine with that too. I would not argue with someone who believes it, my belief is for myself.

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Seek's avatar

Because death is final and scary.

People don’t want to contemplate their nonexistence. So they make up, as a group, reasons that they will continue to exist after their bodies are beetle food.

PriceisRightx26's avatar

I like to entertain the concept of reincarnation. Although, albeit, a bit on the scientific level: Energy cannot be created nor destroyed, therefore when we die, our energies are fed back into the universe and recycled into something new. See also, “circle of life.”
Though, this also brings on the notion that we are probably in a continuous ebb and flow our entire lives. But I mean, hey, maybe you pick up someone else’s atoms and that’s half the reason we change. I know that there are some unexplained changes I’ve experienced in my life (ie, taste in music, favorite color).
As for some eternal holy land, I don’t believe in that. To be fair, I don’t even want it to be true. I’d rather die and everything end then, rather than float on for eternity. I’m obviously more comfortable with non-existence than the majority, however. Probably more comfortable with death, too. The only time I even remotely consider an “afterlife” is when I’m missing a deceased loved one, and even then, it’s more of pulling their memory into present time and trying to comfort myself with the thought of them still existing (which they do exist, in my memory, and that’s what’s important).
As for evidence, nothing concrete. I don’t think people realize how impressive our minds are, and that they are capable of convincing us of seeing things that aren’t there. But I won’t claim insanity upon anyone that believes they have seen evidence of an afterlife—who am I to decide? To each their own.

Erm, TL;DR: I’m gonna go with probs not. I ramble too easily on this site :p

LostInParadise's avatar

Part of the reason is due to the consciousness illusion. We are wired to think of our consciousness as a non-physical entity trapped in our bodies. It is not that much of a leap to imagine that upon death this consciousness escapes from its physical prison.

What we have learned from neuroscience strongly contradicts our naive viewpoint. There is no center of consciousness. The brain is compartmentalized into highly specialized regions. If and when we piece together the way these different brain regions cooperate to create consciousness, the belief in life after death will go away.

Dan_Lyons's avatar

Of course this is not a naive viewpoint. Neuroscience cannot allow itself to think that this is a possibility or else the scientists involved would lose all credibility and funding.

What evidence do you need for a concept that is part of your very being? Just as their is life before birth, there is life after death.
And for people who have experienced NDE’s (near death experiences) this concept is an utter certainty.
So if it is evidence of life after death you want, it has been supplied to you numerous times by people who have died and then been brought back (or who came back to life somewhat miraculously) right there on the operating table.
Yes, I know, once again alleged scientists will tell us that the lack of oxygen causes hallucinations and delusions of dying and going to a beautiful place and seeing all those we love who have died before us. But once again these scientists have no alternative but to lie to us else they will lose all their funding and credibility and won’t be able to put their children through college.

flip86's avatar

No. When we die, our consciousness ceases to exist. No afterlife. Just non-existence.

Those who perpetuate an afterlife or reincarnation are afraid of their own mortality. Those who kill themselves for their religion, are insane.

flip86's avatar

@Dan_Lyons NDE’s are the biggest load of crap since snake oil. Those people were still alive, else they wouldn’t be here to tell us about their “NDE”. All it is was a dream. No afterlife needed.

Show me a person who came back from brain death with stories of NDE’s. Oh yeah, you can’t.

Dan_Lyons's avatar

@flip86 I’m glad you think so. But your opinion is similar to the opinions of the scientists who say the same. Pretty much worthless.
Sure I can. I did.

flip86's avatar

@Dan_Lyons You were not brain dead. Brain death is irreversible. A coma is not the same thing. People in comas have neural activity. Brain death = no neural activity = no consciousness.

Dan_Lyons's avatar

Gee @flip86 I’m glad you were there in the emergency room back in 1963 when they declared me dead. Was it you who resuscitated me too?

Just because you don’t believe something doesn’t make it untrue.

“There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, Than are dreamt of in your philosophy.”

DipanshiK's avatar

I don’t believe in the concept of afterlife. We haven’t found any evidence regarding it’s existence and it’s pretty hard to believe that there is any such thing as life after death.
We humans like to believe that their exists a world after a body is dead (physically). They want to believe that they are immortal and are not afraid of death; which is false. So they introduce the term ‘afterlife’. It’s just a thought process that works inside the brain which gradually leads to the wholeness of the concept.
I think with mortality comes fear of death which constructs the idea of eternal life.

Pachy's avatar

To quote Woody Allen, “I don’t believe in the afterlife, although I am bringing a change of underwear.

Interesting how often this question comes up on Fluther, and as I customarily reply, for me, life after death means being remembered by my friends and love ones.

ragingloli's avatar

If there is an afterlife, it is the HINDU AFTERLIFE

hearkat's avatar

I have a patient who died of a heart attack. He says it was black – no white light, no loved ones to greet him. The one time he did experience a white light was several years later when his defibrillator went off. His experiences convinced him that there is no afterlife. He’s the only person I’ve known that died and told me of the experience. So I don’t buy into the NDE stories, as there does seem to be a biochemical component to it.

For most of my life, I have freaked out when I imagine not existing. It is the ultimate unknown; and the concept of having to choose the right belief system and follow the right set of rules from among thousands of options or suffer unimaginable consequences seems absurd. I generally suspect that this life is all there is. I still haven’t fully come to terms with it, but I am learning to accept that no one can ever know.

I am comforted now by the fact that I have found inner peace and I have finally experienced what unconditional love feels like; so I no longer question if maybe I’m already in hell, as most who are born into abusive or other miserable environments do. My son is grown and is still dealing with his own 20-something angst, but I do have faith in him. My love will be deeply hurt, but we are not co-dependent, so I know that losing me won’t end him. I’m ready to accept death when it comes, which is why I didn’t freak out when I had a cardiac event earlier this year.

I can only hope like everyone else that if my suspicions are wrong and there is a deity, it is kind and forgiving; or that if there is reincarnation that I have evolved and learned enough about struggle that my next go-round won’t be as shitty as the first 40 years of this one was.

LuckyGuy's avatar

No, I do not believe in an afterlife. That’s why I am making this one count.

ARE_you_kidding_me's avatar

It’s not out of the realm of possibility. If the lights truly “go out” when we die then nothing we do, say, experience or influence means a damn thing. I personally do not believe that is the case. We understand so little about our universe that I would not be surprised if there is more to it than that. We all do get to find out though. My grandmother had a NDE but until I do I’ll be skeptical of anyone who says there is one or that there is not one. However if someone hooked me up to a lie detector, put a gun to my head and instructed me to answer the question honestly I would say there is probably something. If I had to guess like that I’d say we are in some sort of game. It’s the only thing that makes any sense to me.

kevbo's avatar

I’ve been following an advaita practice, so my response comes more from that perspective, and is to say that the concept of afterlife as discussed here is only relevant to an ego-based or person-based identity—“I,” the person, dies, and so there is either an afterlife or not, but either way “I’m” dead.

It’s possible in this life while lived to peel away one’s identification with the ego or the person and identify as one’s Self or soul that is merely observing a person experience. It’s also possible to identify “further up the chain,” if you will (toward pure beingness or God). These higher beings were never born and don’t die, so you might say that their is no afterlife or that the “higher” being is the functional afterlife of the person or ego.

With a little training, some practice and perhaps some grace, this can be observed directly. It exists right now in this moment. There’s no real need to wait except to prolong the ego’s sense of a journey.

As person-based identities, we often say “I have a life” or “I choose life.” This is a little nonsensical once it is realized that we are life itself and at this elevated level of identification, there is nothing to perish.

jca's avatar

I like to think there is but of course, I have no definitive way of knowing.

chyna's avatar

Yes I believe in an afterlife. Because I would hate for this life to be all there is.

syz's avatar

No. Wishful thinking doesn’t make it so.

cookieman's avatar

I don’t really believe in an afterlife, but I’d be happy if I was wrong.

DipanshiK's avatar

Why would one want to believe in the concept of afterlife? To me the idea of afterlife would be horrific. I really wanna do everything possible in this life; not in the eternal one.

PriceisRightx26's avatar

Oh hey, I guess this is a nice place to leave one of my favorites quotes:

“From my rotting body, flowers shall grow and I am in them, and that is eternity.” -Edvard Munch

kritiper's avatar

No, there is no afterlife.
People have a great fondness for life as well as great egos. They just can’t see themselves not moving on to another life after this one ends!

BeenThereSaidThat's avatar

yes I do. It would be pretty pointless if this was all there was. As a Christian I believe there was more to the plan.

boffin's avatar

Do you believe in life after death?

You obviously haven’t been where I work at quitting time….

ZEPHYRA's avatar

Life is pointless as it is, if there was no hope of something further, imagine how depressed most would be!

canidmajor's avatar

Interesting that some of the responses above are absolute: “No there is no afterlife.”
“No. When we die, our consciousness ceases to exist. No afterlife. Just non-existence.”
No mention of belief that there isn’t, or that it is neurologically unlikely.

I would like to think that perhaps some kind of dynamic energy goes on, rather than simply assume that there is nothing more.

Dan_Lyons's avatar

The answers which are absolute negatives are indicative of proper brainwashing. Just as with the scientists, many people feel the need to prove they are part of the pack of those who know that there is no God, that there is no life after death, that there is no soul etc…etc…
It is amusing, but as stated above,
“There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, Than are dreamt of in your philosophy.”

Oh, and by the way, animals also have life after death, and all your pets which have died in your lifetime are eagerly awaiting your arrival when you die and go to play with them.

ragingloli's avatar

Many beliefs about the afterlife exclude animals.
Those who believe in the after life must therefore explain, why the souls of animals do not enter the after life. Science has supplied good evidence that suggests that many animals have comparable levels of consciousness and intelligence to humans. What exactly makes humans so different from other animals, that they are the only ones that will transcend death?

The notion of the afterlife is just another symptom of human egocentrism and bloated selfimportance. They think themselves just too special and important to just end with death.

gailcalled's avatar

No. I am concentrating my energy on the here-and-now. I have seen no evidence to the contrary, and I have been open to persuasion many times during my long life.

AshLeigh's avatar

If you ask Relient K, there’s life after death and taxes.
I am envious of those who can still believe in an afterlife. I want to, but I don’t anymore.

antimatter's avatar

Well said @Seek, I can’t even say it better!
We created the possibility of an afterlife because we can’t accept the fact when our brains shuts down than it’s the end. GAME OVER. Einstein had one good theory and he said should we die “perhaps our energy may go to the universe”. I’ll go on @ragingloli statement “The notion of the afterlife is just another symptom of human egocentrism and bloated selfimportance. They think themselves just too special and important to just end with death” I think it’s about the closest to the truth well said. Somehow I also believe that we were “programed or brainwashed” since childhood to believe in the after life because our parents and teachers simply can’t face the truth or did not know how to tell the truth. There are people who believed in near death experiences I can’t explain it, but I think it’s only a trick your mind plays on you like dreaming when it’s deprived of oxygen and adding the religious “programming” to the mix than you see the heaven or hell you were led to believe

BigSexyRick's avatar

Yes there is life after death if you alone believe it to be true.The thing is with a question like this it doesn’t matter the answer cause every single one of us will die sooner or later. Don’t think about questions like this get your butt in gear and do things everyday you enjoy. Once your next in line that’s it.

susanc's avatar

This IS life after death.

ARE_you_kidding_me's avatar

@ragingloli If there is an afterlife and all of my dogs are not there with me, I’ll be pretty pissed off.

LostInParadise's avatar

Not to worry. According to Sylvia Browne’s book, Life on the Other Side, which is based on her contact with the dead, we will be united with all of our pets. How anybody can take this stuff seriously is beyond me.

MollyMcGuire's avatar

Believe as you choose, and don’t feel like I’m interested in why you made that choice. It’s personal.

Remember their, there, and they’re. Also it’s its.

Paradox25's avatar

@Dan_Lyons I hear you. I’ve had ‘odd’ experiences as well, and so did many others I’ve known, but yet for some reason these types of people aren’t prevalent enough on this site to challenge the paradigm on here.

@canidmajor Many of the same people who argue that religious people have an absolutist doctrine appear to have one themselves, go figure. At least the sceptics on here can’t downvote my comments out of existence like they do on quora.

@LostInParadise Who’s anyone to call another silly for something many believe with fair reason? Some atheists believe there’s a nearly infinite amount of parallel universes that exist, which can never communicate with each other. That to me is taken with more faith than the concept of an afterlife. I can think of other things sceptics appear to take with faith too.

I’ll admit that I was always sceptical of Sylvia Browne, but some of here material, like animals having souls, is well backed up by most secular afterlife researchers like Archie Roy, Robert Crookall, Arthur Findlay, etc. Personally I believe Sylvia Browne gets her material from past research, and makes it seem like she’s getting it from some spiritual guides.

Seek's avatar

I am not terribly well-versed on multiverse theory or really physics in general, but if I remember correctly the existence of multiverse is based on mathematical equations. Some super-nifty math-y thing that should have worked wasn’t working until someone plugged in “what if there were an infinite number of universes” and then the math worked.

Very, very rough description. Maybe someone else can help me out, here.

Dan_Lyons's avatar

The first time I ever heard of a multiverse was reading books by Robert Heinlein and Isaac Asimov. These fellows write Science Fiction.
So apparently science fiction thought it up1st and then the physicists proved it or accepted it as a theory which could help them with their math-y things.
Do you need a citation?

The multiverse hypothesis is a source of disagreement within the physics community. Physicists disagree about whether the multiverse exists, and whether the multiverse is a proper subject of scientific inquiry.[2] Supporters of one of the multiverse hypotheses include Stephen Hawking,[3] Steven Weinberg,[4] Brian Greene, Max Tegmark, and Alex Vilenkin. In contrast, critics such as David Gross,[5] Paul Steinhardt,[6] and Paul Davies have argued that the multiverse question is philosophical rather than scientific, or even that the multiverse hypothesis is harmful or pseudoscientific.
Oh look-y, another citation!

@Paradox25 It’s okay. These paradigm people remind me of a Pink Floyd song which states, “The paper holds their folded faces to the floor And every day the paper boy brings more.”
Interstingly enough, the song is titled, “Brain Damage.”

Seek's avatar

Thank you for the citations.

The fact that something is a source of disagreement is actually quite an exciting thing in the scientific community. That means there’s a question wanting to be answered, and stuff to learn about.

The people who support the inquiry are – believe it or not – not acting on faith at all. They’re attempting to prove (or ultimately disprove) the very hypotheses they are working with and are so excited about.

Dan_Lyons's avatar

What is even more exciting is that the idea of the multiverse was first thought of by such incredible minds as Robert Heinlein (Stranger in a Strange Land) and Isaac Asimov and Ray Bradbury (The Martian Chronicles)
And then scientists leaned on their ideas.

LostInParadise's avatar

@Paradox25 , I don’t think Browne needed any help in making this stuff up. Some of the book is really laugh out loud funny. Did you know that on the other side you can eat as much as you want without going to the bathroom? Everyone looks like they did at age 30 (I wonder how that works with kids). There is wildlife that remains forever at the same age (well maybe after Disney showed up).

Paradox25's avatar

@Dan_Lyons I’ve read some books about both the multiverse theory and many worlds interpretation. These two ideas are different, yet similar.

The multiverse theory is related to the space-time concept of the universe, and is correlated with the problem of the cosmological constant. There are different versions of the multiverse theory, and it can get complicated. Sometimes the multiverse theory is used to get around the anthropic principle and fine-tuning argument.

The many worlds interpretation is based on quantum theory and the light slit experiments. Many worlds basically states that all possibilities are occurring, but the conscious observer has to also exist where these different universes/dimensions are. This opposed the Copenhagen Interpretation stating that all possibilities could occur, but the wave function of energy collapses on observation into one reality.

The multiverse and many worlds, where the former is based on great distances, space-time and inflation, and where the latter is based on quantum theory, interpenetration and superimposition, are similar in the sense being that they claim there are different realities occurring. There’s a lot I’ve left out, and multiverse theory can vary, but I wanted to give a crude description of what I’m criticizing. I’m not criticizing those who are open to these, and other things, nor even the scepticism pertaining to the afterlife, but the dogmatism.

It surprises me when I read typical comments from sceptics and the lesser informed. It just boggles me how people don’t read about the topic they’re criticizing, or only rely on one side of the argument for information. You can clearly see this in what people write, such as making a straw man argument on what they think an afterlife is like, and basing all of their comments from this faulty foundation.

Personally I think there’s strong evidence the personality survives physical death based on inference and empiricism. The anecdotal testimonies of many people, including you and myself, seem to form an obvious enough pattern. Tons of brilliant people, once sceptical themselves, have done a great deal of research such as investigating hauntings, poltergeists, death bed communication, precognition dreams, near-death experiences, etc. I’ll use Archie Roy, a brilliant astronomer, as an example here. He has written many journals about his investigations, and clearly saw heavy items such as beds moving, and objects flying around, during many of his investigations.

The problem is with there being a lack of a hypothesis based on math, and opposition to the accepted null hypothesis. There are several hypotheses being developed right now attempting to correlate consciousness to physics and the origins of the universe. One hypothesis suggests that there may be other dimensions of existence that are undetectable to our senses and instruments in most circumstances because things such as Planck’s Constant and other values are changed. Some maths have been developed, but these are still unaccepted fringe theories. I think the current paradigm will change with time, along with enough new generations of less biased people.

I don’t believe in transcendentalism, or the dualist notion that there’s the spirit, and the physical. If there is an afterlife, then this would be a part of science and simply the natural way the universe operates.

@LostInParadise According to multiverse theory I could be a sceptic, and you could be a religious person in one of these universes. Maybe there’s a Disney World where the rides all operate on the power of thought in one of these universes too :)

Dan_Lyons's avatar

If there is an afterlife, then this would be a part of science and simply the natural way the universe operates.
Nicely put @Paradox25

bobwang's avatar

I don’t really believe in an afterlife

Hypocrisy_Central's avatar

Yes there is an afterlife, some would think otherwise, or they say it cannot be proven, I say the very reason people avoid death and don’t want to die attest to that. If there was nothing after death, then why fear death so long as there was not a great amount of suffering to get there? Once you actually die, if there is no afterlife, you would not even know it happened, it would be like cramming for a test, the only reason you know you fell asleep over your textbook at 3am in the morning is that you woke up to the sound of the garbage truck in the wee hours of the morning and see light breaking over the hills or distant houses; with death there is no such reveal, you never ”wake up” so you would never know you were dead. Do people fear falling asleep? Not usually because they expect to wake up, even if they fell asleep un-expectantly.

JLeslie's avatar

^^Most people don’t want to die because they don’t want to leave life. It has nothing to do with what happens when you die.

Hypocrisy_Central's avatar

^ Most people don’t want to die because they don’t want to leave life.
I beg to differ, I believe not wanting to leave this life is a byproduct on not knowing what happens after death. If you knew death would take you somewhere 10,000 times better than here, why would you prolong going? That would make about as much reason as someone who is working a job to pay the bills but not the job they truly wanted, and upon having the opportunity at a job they love and will pay them 1,000 time more than what they are earning say ”I am not sure that other jobs is really a good fit for me, I best stay where I am for a few more years, maybe another decade.”

Seek's avatar

I believe not wanting to leave this life is a byproduct on not knowing what happens after death

What you believe about what other people believe is completely irrelevant to what the people actually believe.

The entire rest of your post is a really good argument for mass Christian suicide, so I’ll leave that alone.

Hypocrisy_Central's avatar

What you believe about what other people believe is completely irrelevant to what the people actually believe.
What good reason is there to be afraid of death that you do not even know you would be in? All the tired reasons for not wishing to die is irrelevant once you die because you would have no knowledge of them if all anyone went is into the great white zephrum or something. There will be no ”you” to fret about who was left or how they felt so any thoughts entertaining such would just be a useless waste of thought and worry. What sensible and not merely personal reason you would fear death for? After all, you won’t know when it actually happens by what you seem to be saying off your belief.

Seek's avatar

That’s a terribly selfish outlook.

I am not afraid of death. At all. I am logically concerned with staying alive as long as possible because I have a family that I love, who love me, and I want to spend as much time with them as I can. If I died tomorrow I would know nothing about it (as I would be dead) but my son would know. And my husband. And my friends. They would be sad, and would mourn me, and their lives would be affected by my absence. I don’t have enough hubris to say that anyone’s life is dramatically better because of my presence, but my sudden absence would cause more harm at this point than my continued existence.

And I rather like being alive. I made a chocolate cake today, and it was lovely. I took a walk with my son and caught Pokemon. Today was way better than nothing.

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