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Atheist Community of Austin
Imbrication as a method of viewing death - not a good solution IMHO

A big issue when discussing with a religious person is attempting to explain how atheists view "life after death", or more likely lack of life after death. It's stupid to discuss this because we actually don't know either. We know what death is from the outside, we know that the brain is lost, and with it, loss of self, of self identity, of perception over both time and space, of memories, of personality, of everything which makes us what we are. So, when asked by a religious person "so what happens after death in YOUR perspective, atheist?", answering "Nothing" is perplexing to them. "What do you mean, nothing? There has to be something.". Actually, what is this "Nothing"? You can't say you spend TIME in a void, since all track of time is lost, entire Universes can die and reemerge and we wouldn't have felt a second go by. The following statement is usually presented "We move to non-existence". When asked "what is non-existence", the following analogy is given (and in my opinion, one of the dumbest analogies ever): There's a chair. It's there, it exists. Now, we burn it. It's not THERE anymore. It no longer exists. This is an observation done by an individual OUTSIDE the realm of the chair. Therefore, in order to explain such phenomena, we place ourselves in a state of metaexistence, where both existence and non-existence are like separate domains, and we move these entities called consciousness or point of view or whatever you want to call it (i call them "observers"), out of existence and into non-existence. Poof, that's death. But this view is so goddamn WRONG because it substitutes one imbrication for another. You see, God is viewed as a being outside the realm of existence, in a metaexistence, where he and angels and heaven and hell and star wars exist. When a man dies, he moves from existence in the universe to heaven or hell or whatever. So when you're doing the chair analogy, you're not actually moving forward. You're still implying an imbrication, and thus making an assumption that actually the "observer" is superior to the realm of existence, as he exists in the metaexistence where both existence and non-existence are. But in order to disprove God, why not disprove metaexistence as a whole? Discuss and I will elaborate further.

Foxman, How weary, flat, stale and unprofitable seem to me all theological discussions similar to this one. When fabulous prizes are offered (in this case, immortality) and the evidence is flimsy, suspect that fraud, ignorance, stupidity, disrespect, etc. are all present.

Mr. Kumalo, a Nigerian prince emailed me today and informed me that his rich son Absalom died a week ago in South Africa and has left a grand fortune of 1,304,976,551 ZAR ($163.63 million USD). He cannot claim the entire sum himself because of his noble status in a foreign country, and the government will take the fortune for itself soon. Thus, he asked for my help in transferring the money due to my excellent credit. In return, he will let me keep almost half of the sum ($75 million USD) which will really help me finance my new Honda and townhouse and allow for a really fun trip to Las Vegas.

This is also the basis of Pascal's Wager.

And the rhetoric of despots and demagogues:

By means of shrewd lies, unremittingly repeated, it is possible to make people believe that heaven is hell -- and hell heaven. The greater the lie, the more readily it will be believed.

My point here, Foxman, is that we might properly address this issue by just stepping over this dog turd, and then continue walking.

Atheists do not need to be respectful to disrespect.

Where does the light go when it goes out ?

What is the sound of one hand clapping ?

How many angels can dance on the head of a pin ?

Don't know? - - - Ha Ha ! Gotcha !

Now You Better Join Our Church ! ! !

Actually, the tone of the conversation is seldom about they trying to convert me to their Church. That's because, very much alike Christians that claim to have had a personal experience that proved to them that God exists, I also had an experience at the verge of consciousness that made me sure that God does not exist. Just as stubborn as they are, I am also, for I have seen how hypocritical is our own self, how brain chemistry is the one keeping our thoughts happy and sad, and how easily tricked you can be by your own perception. This discussion was not whether I buy into their pathetic bullshit or not. It was regarding using the correct analogies in order to explain what happens to the observer when the machine dies. It's more of a philosophical discussion, actually.

Foxman8472 said, "A big issue when discussing with a religious person is attempting to explain how atheists view "life after death", or more likely lack of life after death."

There is no life after death.

Foxman8472 said, "It's stupid to discuss this because we actually don't know either."

The real problem - this is nothing more than Gothic fiction masquerading as science. It's for those who believe in absurdities, such as, ghosts and goblins. in This is about the metaphysical not science. There is no overlapping of life and death . We can be sure that the motion of the planets are not governed by a superior being who is constantly "fine tuning" the universe and Intelligent Designing or (evolving) life.

Foxman8472 said, "We know what death is from the outside, we know that the brain is lost, and with it, loss of self, of self identity, of perception over both time and space, of memories, of personality, of everything which makes us what we are. So, when asked by a religious person "so what happens after death in YOUR perspective, atheist?", answering "Nothing" is perplexing to them."

What does "We know death is from the outside" mean? We do know when the brain is dead we are dead and we also know the human body can only live for a certain period of time and then it will die. We even know why; its programed into our DNA. At the tips of the DNA molecule is a part of the double-helix molecule that contain a kind of chain of repeating pairs of enzymes called telomeres. Telomeres are programmed to die! Scientists observe that the length of telomere chains becomes shorter as we grow older. Eventually the telomeres become so short that cell replication produces lethal errors or missing pieces in the DNA sequence, ending the cell's ability to replace itself. At this point, when the cell has lost vital DNA code and cannot reproduce, is called the Hayflick limit. It's the measure of how many times a cell can copy itself before it dies. If scientist find a way to turn off the programmed to die telomeres people could live forever. Science would be the reason for our living forever or for eternity - now isn't that amazing?

Foxman8472 said, ""What do you mean, nothing? There has to be something.". Actually, what is this "Nothing"? You can't say you spend TIME in a void, since all track of time is lost, entire Universes can die and reemerge and we wouldn't have felt a second go by."

Those who claim that some form of consciousness prevails after we die and decay into their organic atoms are WRONG! The laws of physics underlying everyday life are completely understood, and there's no way within those laws to allow for the information stored in our brains to continue after we die. Those who claim our soul continues after we die have never defined soul? Wishful thinking is not proof of an idea. There is not one shred of actual proof of a soul or anything outside of our existence.

Foxman8472 said, "The following statement is usually presented "We move to non-existence". When asked "what is non-existence", the following analogy is given (and in my opinion, one of the dumbest analogies ever): There's a chair. It's there, it exists. Now, we burn it. It's not THERE anymore. It no longer exists.

I don't think that would be what an intelligent person (let alone an atheist) would answer. I'll bet you don't know what their answer would be either. This is not what non-existence is about. It's not about burning something (a chair) because it will still exist in another state. Ashes.

Foxman8472 said, "This is an observation done by an individual OUTSIDE the realm of the chair. Therefore, in order to explain such phenomena, we place ourselves in a state of metaexistence, where both existence and non-existence are like separate domains, and we move these entities called consciousness or point of view or whatever you want to call it (i call them "observers"), out of existence and into non-existence. Poof, that's death. But this view is so goddamn WRONG because it substitutes one imbrication for another."

There is something outside the realm of the chair? Prove that realm exists. What proof is there of a metaexistence. I doubt that anyone with much sense would use your analogy to prove anything.

Foxman8472 said, "You see, God is viewed as a being outside the realm of existence, in a metaexistence, where he and angels and heaven and hell and star wars exist."

Oh! Well now, all the atheist has to do is say "show me some proof of a metaexistence" a realm outside existence. I can demonstrated that there is nothing outside existence. Quantum Fluctuations are the random nature of matter's state of existence or non-existence. At these incredibly small sub-atomic scales, the state of reality is changing from nanosecond to nanosecond. By detecting and measuring the density fluctuations in the cosmic microwave background using the WMAP space mission we are learning about the early universe; and we begin to understand the basic ingredients that make life possible. In the future we will enhance these efforts with other missions, such as NASA's Einstein Inflation Probe, which would strive to detect the gravity disturbances from the era when the universe originally inflated. We know that the universe and life in the universe came from natural processes. We have observations that say that the radius of curvature of the Universe is bigger than 70 billion light years. Everything that we measure is within the Universe (there is nothing outside the realm of existence) we see no edge or boundary or center of expansion. So, we can't see that there is anything that the Universe could be expanding into. The point is that there is nothing outside (existence) or the Universe.

Foxman8472 said, "When a man dies, he moves from existence in the universe to heaven or hell or whatever. So when you're doing the chair analogy, you're not actually moving forward. You're still implying an imbrication, and thus making an assumption that actually the "observer" is superior to the realm of existence, as he exists in the metaexistence where both existence and non-existence are. But in order to disprove God, why not disprove metaexistence as a whole? Discuss and I will elaborate further."

Nobody has to prove metaexistence (a metaexistence where both existence and non-existence are) except those who are making a claim. Of course you are actually assuming that there is heaven or hell, as well.

The paradoxical thought experiment named "Schrodinger's Cat", the original point of it was to illustrate some of the problems of observing subatomic systems and drawing conclusions when the act of observation could skew the results. "Schrodinger's Cat" is essentially an object lesson on the problems of relying on observation alone when dealing with subatomic systems.

Theoretical mathematics can get quite complex and abstract, making it difficult to understand what Schrodinger was trying to explain. Schrodinger's cat is a thought experiment in quantum mechanics, from the cat's point of view, Schrodinger experiment had nothing to do with being dead-and-alive at the same time or life after death.

You obviously got the wrong message. You're preaching to the choir here, I already know what you told me. It was more of a philosophical discussion about what is death for the 1st person perspective. And if non-existence can not be proven, then it shouldn't be taken for granted when making such analogies. And when I say non-existence, I mean STUFF NOT HAPPENING AT ALL, not a chair being there or not. That's why the analogy is lame.

Linda Second Answer: It's was very clear what you were saying because it's right there in black and white.

Foxman8472 said, "A big issue when discussing with a religious person is attempting to explain how atheists view "life after death", or more likely lack of life after death. It's stupid to discuss this because we actually don't know either."

My answer was in dispute of what you' re saying. We actually do know. "We do know when the brain is dead we are dead and we also know the human body can only live for a certain period of time and then it will die. We even know why; its programed into our DNA. At the tips of the DNA molecule is a part of the double-helix molecule that contain a kind of chain of repeating pairs of enzymes called telomeres. Telomeres are programmed to die!

Since you can't dispute this (as per usual) you can pretend that somebody didn't understand your really deep thoughts. I don't agree with your thoughts.

Foxman8472 said, "We know what death is from the outside, we know that the brain is lost, and with it, loss of self, of self identity, of perception over both time and space, of memories, of personality, of everything which makes us what we are."

I ask you what you meant by "we know death from the outside" and you didn't answer. We don't know our own death from the outside because when we are dead our brain is dead and we know nothing.

Foxman8472 said, "So, when asked by a religious person "so what happens after death in YOUR perspective, atheist?", answering "Nothing" is perplexing to them."

Why would it be perplexing to a religious person that an atheist does not believe anything happens after death? Since most people that aren't "smart- at-all" know atheists believe death is the grand finale - there is nothing more.. Most religious people look at someone who is dead and they don't think the person is gone forever. They think that they are in another realm.

Foxman8472 said, ""What do you mean, nothing? There has to be something.". Actually, what is this "Nothing"? You can't say you spend TIME in a void, since all track of time is lost, entire Universes can die and reemerge and we wouldn't have felt a second go by."

I'm sure that this can't be the believer saying "nothing" so it has to be the atheist. Then the cleaver little believer says, "You can't say you spend TIME in a void," entire Universes can die and reemerge and we wouldn't have felt a second go by."

This has to be the sentiments of the believer since an atheist knows that death doesn't mean spending time in a void! As I told you before an atheist wouldn't say any of that to explain death.

Foxman8472 said, "The following statement is usually presented "We move to non-existence". When asked "what is non-existence", the following analogy is given (and in my opinion, one of the dumbest analogies ever): There's a chair. It's there, it exists. Now, we burn it. It's not THERE anymore. It no longer exists. This is an observation done by an individual OUTSIDE the realm of the chair.

That has to be the atheist telling the religious person what "non-existence" is since an atheist knows that non-existence means something that does not exist - you know like god. The analogy that you say is given (and I agree it's very stupid) must be coming from the atheist since the believer didn't tell anyone that something would move to non-existence. However, as I have told you no atheist would give that analogy. It is something that no person with a lick of sense would say to explain non-existence or death because it's childish. And for sure no atheist would.

I asked you what OUTSIDE the realm of the chair was supposed to mean? You didn't answer. You just went to telling me how I didn't understand all of this. I understand double talk very well! What realm is the chair in? The realm of non-existence? No atheist believes that there is such a realm.

Foxman8472 said, "Therefore, in order to explain such phenomena, we place ourselves in a state of metaexistence, where both existence and non-existence are like separate domains, and we move these entities called consciousness or point of view or whatever you want to call it (i call them "observers"), out of existence and into non-existence. Poof, that's death."

Well, this has to be (supposedly) what an atheist would tell a religious person because a believer would never say anything but we go to heaven or hell when we die. Now we are in Never, Never Land and the entire universe is a manifestation of "consciousness" a great story but it doesn't prove that something outside the universe exists, as well as, explain which came first consciousness or the Universe.

I question the use of the word "domain" by any atheist to describe existence and non-existence. They are separate things but something that doesn't exist doesn't have a domain or an observer.

Foxman8472 said, "But this view is so goddamn WRONG because it substitutes one imbrication for another. You see, God is viewed as a being outside the realm of existence, in a metaexistence, where he and angels and heaven and hell and star wars exist. When a man dies, he moves from existence in the universe to heaven or hell or whatever."

If you start with a false premise any answer is wrong. To say nothing of the fact that this proves nothing. The logic also requires non-existence to be something that it wasn't just a few moments ago!

Foxman8472 said, "So when you're doing the chair analogy, you're not actually moving forward. You're still implying an imbrication, and thus making an assumption that actually the "observer" is superior to the realm of existence, as he exists in the metaexistence where both existence and non-existence are. But in order to disprove God, why not disprove metaexistence as a whole? Discuss and I will elaborate further."

This works if metaexistence exists but not in the way that anything else that exists - exists.

OK, let me give out a clarification:

<!<!My answer was in dispute of what you' re saying. We actually do know. "We do know when the brain is dead we are dead and we also know the human body can only live for a certain period of time and then it will die. We even know why; its programed into our DNA. At the tips of the DNA molecule is a part of the double-helix molecule that contain a kind of chain of repeating pairs of enzymes called telomeres. Telomeres are programmed to die!

Since you can't dispute this (as per usual) you can pretend that somebody didn't understand your really deep thoughts. I don't agree with your thoughts.>>

I was talking about death from the 1st person perspective versus death from the other people's perspective. We observe death from the outside when it happens to others. We draw conclusions. We know that when you die, you lose everything that makes you. This right here is the argument for why there isn't such a thing as a soul: because a soul would have no purpose, since all that makes you the way you are is in the brain, which is lost. Give you another brain, you're another person, simple as that. We're in a deterministic universe, our paths and future could theoretically be calculated if only we had all the details (well, barring the obvious paradox that knowing your future changes your future). The facts that you listed do not touch on the subject but talk about DNA and how we are programmed to die, and how we die when our brain dies. True, but this is a question of "what makes you, you". Do you see yourself as an individual with thoughts and feelings and memories? Then sure, you die when your brain does. Do you see yourself as an experience-absorbing observer being told the story of a machine? When I said "we don't know", I really meant "we don't know what death is like from a 1st person perspective, or rather what happens AFTER the point when you die.". And that's when you say "NOTHING". And when you are asked "What IS this nothing?" you go on about DNA and brain death. Yeah, I know that, but that's observations done by someone who is observing death, not dying himself. that's why I said you are preaching to the choir, you're repeating yourself.

Reply to: Foxman8472 (Posted Sep 6, 2012 at 1:16 am)

Foxman8472 said, "OK, let me give out a clarification:" Then Foxman8472 copied my paragraph without the name of the person who said it.

Foxman8472 said, <!!<!!My answer was in dispute of what you' re saying. We actually do know. "We do know when the brain is dead we are dead and we also know the human body can only live for a certain period of time and then it will die. We even know why; its programed into our DNA. At the tips of the DNA molecule is a part of the double-helix molecule that contain a kind of chain of repeating pairs of enzymes called telomeres. Telomeres are programmed to die! Since you can't dispute this (as per usual) you can pretend that somebody didn't understand your really deep thoughts. I don't agree with your thoughts.>> Linda said.

Foxman8472 said, "I was talking about death from the 1st person perspective versus death from the other people's perspective. We observe death from the outside when it happens to others. We draw conclusions."

Well, lets see why I said that shall we? By looking at what you were saying we can put this all into context. Foxman8472 said, "A big issue when discussing with a religious person is attempting to explain how atheists view "life after death", or more likely lack of life after death. It's stupid to discuss this because we actually don't know either."

My answer was in dispute of "we actually don't know either," which is what you' re saying. We actually do know. "We do know when the brain is dead we are dead (changes in conscious experience can be directly measured by functional MRI, electroencephalography and single-neuron recordings) and we also know the human body can only live for a certain period of time and then it will die. We even know why; its programed into our DNA. At the tips of the DNA molecule is a part of the double-helix molecule that contain a kind of chain of repeating pairs of enzymes called telomeres. Telomeres are programmed to die! Since you can't dispute this (as per usual) you can pretend that somebody didn't understand your really deep thoughts. I don't agree with your thoughts."

Foxman8472 said, "We know that when you die, you lose everything that makes you. This right here is the argument for why there isn't such a thing as a soul: because a soul would have no purpose, since all that makes you the way you are is in the brain, which is lost.

That's true unless you are making qualifying and weird statements like you did Foxman8472 said, "we don't know what death is from a "1st person perspective versus death from the other people's perspective."

Foxman8472 said, "Give you another brain, you're another person, simple as that."

Is it really? How about give your body another brain and you are just dead.

Foxman8472 said, "We're in a deterministic universe, our paths and future could theoretically be calculated if only we had all the details (well, barring the obvious paradox that knowing your future changes your future)."

What's that got to do with is there anything after death?

Foxman8472 said, "The facts that you listed do not touch on the subject but talk about DNA and how we are programmed to die, and how we die when our brain dies. True, but this is a question of "what makes you, you". Do you see yourself as an individual with thoughts and feelings and memories? Then sure, you die when your brain does. Do you see yourself as an experience-absorbing observer being told the story of a machine? When I said "we don't know", I really meant "we don't know what death is like from a 1st person perspective, or rather what happens AFTER the point when you die.". And that's when you say "NOTHING". And when you are asked "What IS this nothing?" you go on about DNA and brain death. Yeah, I know that, but that's observations done by someone who is observing death, not dying himself. that's why I said you are preaching to the choir, you're repeating yourself.

I can't be repeating myself - I'm just answering your strange weird ramblings - and you are getting nowhere! And those were very nice after the fact statement but lets go back to the actual statement.

Linda Second Answer: It's was very clear what you were saying because it's right there in black and white. Foxman8472 said, "A big issue when discussing with a religious person is attempting to explain how atheists view "life after death", or more likely lack of life after death. It's stupid to discuss this because we actually don't know either."

My answer was in dispute of what you' re saying. We actually do know. "We do know (Neuro-scientists can predict human choices from brain-scanning activity before the subject is even consciously aware of the decisions made) and (Neuro-scientists know what goes on in the brain when we die.) When the brain is dead we are dead and we also know the human body can only live for a certain period of time and then it will die. We even know why; its programed into our DNA. At the tips of the DNA molecule is a part of the double-helix molecule that contain a kind of chain of repeating pairs of enzymes called telomeres. Telomeres are programmed to die!

Foxman8472 said, "Give you another brain, you're another person, simple as that. We're in a deterministic universe, our paths and future could theoretically be calculated if only we had all the details (well, barring the obvious paradox that knowing your future changes your future).

You really don't know much about real science. That's not where science is going at-all, but "Give you another brain" is just giving another person your body. your body with someone's brain doesn't make you a different person - it makes you dead. When the brain is dead you are dead.

What science is working on is to download the human mind into a robot. Human brainpower transplanted into a mechanical robot. That means dispensing with the physical brain and uploading consciousness directly to a computer or robot, which does away with the organic matter entirely, making a permanent version of your consciousness as a CD-ROM.

And if that's wasn't enough - hold on to your hat! UCLA biochemists have mapped the structure of a key protein-RNA complex that is required for the assembly of telomerase, an enzyme important in both cancer and aging.

Oh, and suffice to say, we know much more about the brain and death through science than you think. Using brain scans alone, neuro-scientists have even been able to reconstruct, on a computer screen, what someone is seeing. Thousands of experiments confirm the hypothesis that neuro-chemical processes produce subjective experiences. There is no evidence of a soul and I really do think that we have come clue scientifically that it did exist - if it did indeed exist.

You just don't understand the answers when you get them, and in addition to that, you didn't answer one third of the contents from my previous reply.

"What is NOTHING?" is a misleading question. "Nothing" is not... period. It's absurd to ask "what is it?" "Nothing is nothing" is a circular definition, but the only one that makes any sense. Attempts to understand what "nothing" is, how universe appeared from "nothing" and how we turn into "nothing" when we die are amusing. Discussions of "nothing" are just that - empty. We can neither visualize nor understand it. We can visualize empty space or vacuum, but that's "space" with three dimensions which is "empty" (a property). We can visualize blackness, but cannot explain what it is without explaining what light is. The concept of nothing is circular and self-refuting. We can tell more of black holes than of nothing. It's an apriori concept. We cannot experience it nor explain what it is or what it is like. Piglet has put it the best: "It's like nothing, like a big, huge nothing!" :) Since when atheists are interested in explaining or understanding what does not exist? "Whereof one cannot speak, thereof one must be silent." -- Ludwig Wittgenstein.

Do we turn into "nothing" after we die? Does our identity disappear? It does not seem so. The body remains, although dead and incapable of moving. Our DNA can be analyzed thousands of years after our death and protons composing our body may be found in some star a billion years from now. Dead people continue to exist in memories, their thoughts, recorded or remembered, affect generations after death. Their images and memories of them create emotions. Ideas created by a brain do not die when brain dies. They keep replicating themselves in other people's minds and give birth to other ideas. Can it be called "life after death"? Dawkins has even invented a buzzword for this "spiritual" form of life - memetics. Am I being mystical or irrational? Do I say something that contradicts experience?

Please, don't take this as proselytizing. I don't mean to say this as a proof of existence of souls and spirits. I think, "souls" and "spirits" are metaphors for things that scientists and psychologists explain in different terms. It's just my subjective and preferential point of view.

AG said, "What is NOTHING?" is a misleading question. "Nothing" is not... period. It's absurd to ask "what is it?"

Nobody ask what is nothing except you - what was said is that there doesn't have to be a "cause" for the universe to exist.

AG said, ""Nothing is nothing" is a circular definition, but the only one that makes any sense. Attempts to understand what "nothing" is, how universe appeared from "nothing" and how we turn into "nothing" when we die are amusing. Discussions of "nothing" are just that - empty."

Yes trying to mix where we go when we die with a scientific theory is pointless. Where we go when we die is a myth since we don't go anywhere. We just die.

AG said, "We can neither visualize nor understand it. We can visualize empty space or vacuum, but that's "space" with three dimensions which is "empty" (a property). We can visualize blackness, but cannot explain what it is without explaining what light is."

It's very possible to explain what light is and to explain that darkness is the absence of light.

AG said, "The concept of nothing is circular and self-refuting. We can tell more of black holes than of nothing. It's an apriori concept. We cannot experience it nor explain what it is or what it is like. Piglet has put it the best: "It's like nothing, like a big, huge nothing!" :) Since when atheists are interested in explaining or understanding what does not exist?

Atheists are not explaining what does not exist (we ignore it) like god.

AG said, ""Whereof one cannot speak, thereof one must be silent." -- Ludwig Wittgenstein."

Well then, maybe the fanatics should shut the fuck up about a god that there is clearly no evidence of it's existence. Years of being brainwashed in Sunday School just to learn how to garbled a message? What is your aim in philosophy? To show the fly the way out of the fly-bottle. Ludwig Wittgenstein. Wittgenstein wasn't suggesting anything about why the universe exists because he was not a physicist. Most modern physicists agree that universe exists because of a quantum vacuum fluctuation.

Zero-point energy fills even empty space and it answers the question of how the universe got started, from empty space, the vacuum, the void.

zero-point energy in any particular mode of an electromagnetic field is minute, there are so many possible modes of propagation (frequencies, directions) in open space, the zero-point energy summed up over all possible modes is quite enormous; in fact, greater than, for example, nuclear energy densities. And this in all of so-called "empty" space around us. With such large values, it might seem that the effects of electromagnetic zero-point energy should be quite obvious, but this is not the case because of its extremely uniform density.

Quantum fluctuations of empty space started the Big Bang. Physicists started to develop a theory that the Universe may have originated as a fluctuation of the vacuum on a large scale. Alexander Vilenkin proposed that the universe is created by quantum tunneling from literally nothing into the something we call our universe. These models indicate that physicists are looking to the void and the (fluctuations in them) for their answers.

Spontaneous creation is the reason there is something rather than nothing, why the universe exists, why we exist. The universe didn't need a God to begin; it was quite capable of launching its existence on its own," as physicist Stephen Hawking explains in his book, The Grand Design. "God did not create the universe and the "Big Bang" was an inevitable consequence of the laws of physics" Stephen Hawking

Scientists don't make up laws or assume theories and then work backwards to try and prove them, as Creation science assumes a Creator exists that created the world, and then works backwards to prove it. That's why Creation science is still waiting to get any of the answers. The explosive beginning of our universe, the Big Bang marks the earliest time we can probe with current physical theory. Theory have guided our understanding of many things that couldn't be recreated. However, It is a $4 billion instrument that scientists at the European Center of Nuclear Research, or CERN, hope to use to re-create the Big Bang - the event that caused the beginning of the universe - by crashing protons together at high speed. What theory tells us is that from an initial state in which matter and radiation are both in an extremely hot and dense form, the universe expands and the matter cools. At that time, it is believed that all four of the fundamental forces of nature - gravity, electromagnetism, and the strong and weak nuclear forces - were unified. it is known that by the end of the first second of time, the building blocks of matter had formed. By the end of the first three minutes, helium and other light nuclei (like deuterium) had formed but for a long time, temperatures remained too high for the formation of most atoms. At around one million years following the Big Bang, nuclei and electrons were at low enough temperatures to coalesce to form atoms. But the universe didn't start to look like it does today until small perturbations in the matter distribution were able to condense to form the stars and galaxies we know today.

AG said, "Do we turn into "nothing" after we die? Does our identity disappear? It does not seem so. The body remains, although dead and incapable of moving. Our DNA can be analyzed thousands of years after our death and protons composing our body may be found in some star a billion years from now."

That kind of identity only mean that it might be possible to identify who a dead person was. That is not the same thing as our identity as a person still existing after our death in some supernatural way. We do not exist after death because our brain (our memories) is dead but fingerprints and DNA can identify a corpse.

AG said, "Dead people continue to exist in memories, their thoughts, recorded or remembered, affect generations after death. Their images and memories of them create emotions. Ideas created by a brain do not die when brain dies."

Just because some people remember you and may talk about you doesn't mean you exist. It means your memory will exist for a while. You have no ability to create any ideas of your own after death. When your brain is dead you are dead. The whole idea of people living after their death in la la land is not about living on in the memories of people who knew you. It's not a metaphor - it's a big lie.

AG said, "They keep replicating themselves in other people's minds and give birth to other ideas. Can it be called "life after death"?"

No, it's not life after death. It's not even close! Dead people are not replicating (reduplicating) anything. It's the same old you that will be talked about for a while and then forgotten unless you were a very remarkable or important person; and it's pretty obvious that you are neither.

AG said, "Dawkins has even invented a buzzword for this "spiritual" form of life - memetics. Am I being mystical or irrational? Do I say something that contradicts experience?"

No, that is not the same thing as life after death. A meme is about the spread of ideas or information. The idea that there is a life after death can become a meme and spread all over the world but it's not a fact. There is no life after death.

AG said, "Please, don't take this as proselytizing. I don't mean to say this as a proof of existence of souls and spirits. I think, "souls" and "spirits" are metaphors for things that scientists and psychologists explain in different terms. It's just my subjective and preferential point of view."

No, scientists don't have a metaphor for things that there is no reason to believe exist. This is just the same silly attempt at interposing scientific ideas with religious superstition in order to try and make it seem intelligent and scientific - when it's still the same old ignorance. It doesn't fit at all.

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Foxman8472: If you want to explain to a religious person, what atheists think about death, you could work with analogies. You could start with a comparison of death to sleep. It's interesting to look at the various stages of sleep:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sleep#Sleep_stages

Stage 3 or 'slow-wave sleep' is the most interesting for the comparison with death, because of the reduced consciousness of the sleeper. When I sleep, I sometimes have dreams that I can remember afterwards but that's not always the case. And besides I know through science that I only remember the dreams from the other stages of sleep, not from the dreamless stage 3. It's interesting that stage 3 cannot be observed directly through yourself, because that would require consciousness. Remembering something from stage 3 should be almost impossible. Even if there is a thunderstorm outside your bedroom window, you probably won't remember to have heard any sound at all in the morning. Assuming that that the storm raged during stage 3.

Another analogy is the aging process. Ask a religious person a simple question: Are you the same person, you have been a few seconds ago? For example 30 seconds ago? The answer is most likely "yes", although "countless" chemical reactions occurred during that time in your body as well as in the body of the religious person. As a result it is unclear, whether both of you are still the same beings, you were 30 seconds ago. Then ask the religious person, whether he or she is the same person, (s)he was, when (s)he was six, five or three years old? If the answer is no, when does that mean, that the version of the religious person, who was three years old, in a sense "died" many years ago? If on the other hand the answer is "yes", the next question could be. Did your three-year-old self have the same memories, you have now? And furthermore do you still remember anything from your time, when you were three years old? If you do remember, when what about the time, you were two years old? If your three-year-old self and yourself have profoundly different memories, you could say, that you are both different persons. It is almost the same as if your three-year old self "died" many years ago and only you remained.

In short: Death is something that cannot be observed from a first-person-perspective, because you need a consciousness to do so. It's just like stage 3 of sleep, that cannot be observed from a first-person-perspective either. And it's just like the change of personality over long periods of time. I dare to say that from a first-person-perspective a change of personality cannot be fully observed and yet it happens.

So can death be defined as the absence of the ability for self-observation? Is a virus truely alive? I guess that even a virus can be considered alive, as long as it is interacting with a cell and changing the cell's chemistry to create more viruses, because self-replication is also a (very, very primitive) form of "self-observation". As long as a virus is inactive and not interacting with a cell, it can be considered dead under this definition of death.

However it is also important to look at the consequences of such a lax definition of death. Especially what it means for the law systems of our societies. If a person A shoots another person B in the head, while B is in the stage 3 of sleep, is it murder? After all B is already dead as long as B remains in stage 3. In order to avoid this kind of horrible "mouse traps", I guess, that one has to define death as the *permanent* absence of the ability for self-observation. This way even a person in stage 3 is not truely dead as long as (s)he has the ability to return to a mode of self-observation later on.

This means that talking about a "life after death" is meaningless under this definition of death. Because if you regain your ability to observe yourself after death, even if it happens after millions of years, you haven't been dead at all. So if monotheistic religions were cosistent about their teachings of life and death, they shouldn't say that people would be resurrected after death, because saying something like that is meaningless. They should instead simply claim that life is endless. (of course they would then have to prove in a scientific way that a decomposing corpse with a decomposed brain still has the ability to regain the mode of self-observation. If they cannot prove that, their claims remain in the realm of science fiction.)

Under this definition of death a virus is alive even if it is inactive and not interacting with a host cell, because it has the potential for self-observation through replication. I think that when humans will be able to build conscious artificial intelligence, we will have a much better understanding of life and death and will therefore be able to come up with much clearer definitions of life and death.

For now though defining death as a *permanent* (!) lack of self-observation is enough for me as an atheist. If any of you see some "mouse traps" with this modified definition as well then just say so. The discussion might be interesting. :) -----BEGIN PGP SIGNATURE----- Version: GnuPG v1.4.12 (Cygwin)

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Yes, I talked about this analogy before, in that in it's essence self-observing is a process while objects are and are not. Therefore you can't say that being alive is a state of BEING or NOT BEING, as this would imply the ON and OFF states which lead to the obviously vomited conclusion of meta-existence. The idea of non-existence, and by this I mean in the "being alive" state of non-existence is self-defeating, as one cannot imagine the state of stuff not happening. The sleep analogy works, but the difference is that you wake up from sleep to notice that time has passed even though you did not experience it. Attempting to envision a dreamless sleep from which you never wake up still leads to the idea of being in a different state. If you have two states then you already have a meta-state which contains those two states.Therefore, not implying the unproven and unjustifiable imbrication means not implying there is any state for self-observing outside being alive.

I answered your reply above, but there are some issues that you didn't address because you were too busy telling me that if they put someone's brain in our body we would be someone else. I answered that (we'd be dead) and I answered the itsy-bitsy out of context parts you tried to skew an answer to - here's all the rest that you didn't answer.

From: Linda (Posted Aug 31, 2012 at 12:04 pm)

Foxman8472 said, "So, when asked by a religious person "so what happens after death in YOUR perspective, atheist?", answering "Nothing" is perplexing to them."

Why would it be perplexing to a religious person that an atheist does not believe anything happens after death? Since most people that aren't "smart- at-all" know atheists believe death is the grand finale - there is nothing more.. Most religious people look at someone who is dead and they don't think the person is gone forever. They think that they are in another realm.

Foxman8472 said, ""What do you mean, nothing? There has to be something.". Actually, what is this "Nothing"? You can't say you spend TIME in a void, since all track of time is lost, entire Universes can die and reemerge and we wouldn't have felt a second go by."

I'm sure that this can't be the believer saying "nothing" so it has to be the atheist. Then the cleaver little believer says, "You can't say you spend TIME in a void," entire Universes can die and reemerge and we wouldn't have felt a second go by."

This has to be the sentiments of the believer since an atheist knows that death doesn't mean spending time in a void! As I told you before an atheist wouldn't say any of that to explain death.

Foxman8472 said, "The following statement is usually presented "We move to non-existence". When asked "what is non-existence", the following analogy is given (and in my opinion, one of the dumbest analogies ever): There's a chair. It's there, it exists. Now, we burn it. It's not THERE anymore. It no longer exists. This is an observation done by an individual OUTSIDE the realm of the chair."

That has to be the atheist telling the religious person what "non-existence" is since an atheist knows that non-existence means something that does not exist - you know like god. The analogy that you say is given (and I agree it's very stupid) must be coming from the atheist since the believer didn't tell anyone that something would move to non-existence. However, as I have told you no atheist would give that analogy. It is something that no person with a lick of sense would say to explain non-existence or death because it's childish. And for sure no atheist would.

I asked you what OUTSIDE the realm of the chair was supposed to mean? You didn't answer (you made all this into another issue). You just went to telling me how I didn't understand all of this. I understand double talk very well! What realm is the chair in? The realm of non-existence? No atheist believes that there is such a realm.

Foxman8472 said, "Therefore, in order to explain such phenomena, we place ourselves in a state of metaexistence, where both existence and non-existence are like separate domains, and we move these entities called consciousness or point of view or whatever you want to call it (i call them "observers"), out of existence and into non-existence. Poof, that's death."

Well, this has to be (supposedly) what an atheist would tell a religious person because a believer would never say anything but we go to heaven or hell when we die. Now we are in Never, Never Land and the entire universe is a manifestation of "consciousness" a great story but it doesn't prove that something outside the universe exists, as well as, explain which came first consciousness or the Universe.

I question the use of the word "domain" by any atheist to describe existence and non-existence. They are separate things but something that doesn't exist doesn't have a domain or an observer.

Foxman8472 said, "But this view is so goddamn WRONG because it substitutes one imbrication for another. You see, God is viewed as a being outside the realm of existence, in a metaexistence, where he and angels and heaven and hell and star wars exist. When a man dies, he moves from existence in the universe to heaven or hell or whatever."

If you start with a false premise any answer is wrong. To say nothing of the fact that this proves nothing. The logic also requires non-existence to be something that it wasn't just a few moments ago!

Foxman8472 said, "So when you're doing the chair analogy, you're not actually moving forward. You're still implying an imbrication, and thus making an assumption that actually the "observer" is superior to the realm of existence, as he exists in the metaexistence where both existence and non-existence are. But in order to disprove God, why not disprove metaexistence as a whole? Discuss and I will elaborate further."

This works if metaexistence exists but not in the way that anything else that exists - exists.

onemorehuman said, "Foxman8472: If you want to explain to a religious person, what atheists think about death, you could work with analogies. You could start with a comparison of death to sleep. It's interesting to look at the various stages of sleep: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sleep#Sleep_stages"

We are conscious when we are both awake and asleep but sleep is an altered state of consciousness. Being dead is not a state of consciousness. Sleep doesn't work as an analogy for death. This sounds like something you would tell a child not a grownup.

onemorehuman said, "Stage 3 or 'slow-wave sleep' is the most interesting for the comparison with death, because of the reduced consciousness of the sleeper. When I sleep, I sometimes have dreams that I can remember afterwards but that's not always the case. And besides I know through science that I only remember the dreams from the other stages of sleep, not from the dreamless stage 3. It's interesting that stage 3 cannot be observed directly through yourself, because that would require consciousness. Remembering something from stage 3 should be almost impossible. Even if there is a thunderstorm outside your bedroom window, you probably won't remember to have heard any sound at all in the morning. Assuming that that the storm raged during stage 3."

The sleep cycle is made up of four stages that repeat themselves throughout the night. Dreams can occur in any of the four stages of sleep, but the most vivid and memorable dreams occur in the last stage of sleep (also commonly referred to as REM sleep). most people only remember dreams that occur closer toward the morning when they are about to wake up. Dreaming has nothing to do with anything outside of ourselves - it's all coming from our minds and that's how we observe dreams in our sleep. This is not even vaguely similar to being dead because our minds will not be active after death.

onemorehuman said, "Another analogy is the aging process. Ask a religious person a simple question: Are you the same person, you have been a few seconds ago? For example 30 seconds ago? The answer is most likely "yes", although "countless" chemical reactions occurred during that time in your body as well as in the body of the religious person. As a result it is unclear, whether both of you are still the same beings, you were 30 seconds ago."

We know why we get old and die. Its programed into our DNA. At the tips of the DNA molecule is a part of the double-helix molecule that contain a kind of chain of repeating pairs of enzymes called telomeres. Telomeres are programmed to die! Scientists observe that the length of telomere chains becomes shorter as we grow older. Eventually the telomeres become so short that cell replication produces lethal errors or missing pieces in the DNA sequence, ending the cell's ability to replace itself. At this point, when the cell has lost vital DNA code and cannot reproduce, is called the Hayflick limit. It's the measure of how many times a cell can copy itself before it dies. Nobody has the same DNA everyone is unique. I assume that means we are still the same person we were 30 seconds ago or -any number of years because- even though our DNA sequence are altered by aging we are still the same person - we can't be anybody else.

onemorehuman said, "Then ask the religious person, whether he or she is the same person, (s)he was, when (s)he was six, five or three years old? If the answer is no, when does that mean, that the version of the religious person, who was three years old, in a sense "died" many years ago?"

No it doesn't! You don't have to be very smart to distinguish the difference in dying and growing up.

onemorehuman said, "If on the other hand the answer is "yes", the next question could be. Did your three-year-old self have the same memories, you have now? And furthermore do you still remember anything from your time, when you were three years old? If you do remember, when what about the time, you were two years old? If your three-year-old self and yourself have profoundly different memories, you could say, that you are both different persons. It is almost the same as if your three-year old self "died" many years ago and only you remained."

We have information stored in our brain that our conscious mind isn't necessarily always aware of. Sometimes something will jog our memory back to something that happened when we were a kid. We have information stored in our brain and it's always there. You are talking as if there are two people in one self like a schizophrenic. People know that they were once three years old and they can usually remember some of the significant things that happened we have memories because information is stored in our brain that our conscious mind is not always aware of, at that time, and they know it wasn't another person and they don't think their three year old self died. If they do that their three your old self died they are in serious trouble.

onemorehuman said, "In short: Death is something that cannot be observed from a first-person-perspective, because you need a consciousness to do so. It's just like stage 3 of sleep, that cannot be observed from a first-person-perspective either. And it's just like the change of personality over long periods of time. I dare to say that from a first-person-perspective a change of personality cannot be fully observed and yet it happens."

Just because something can't be observed doesn't mean it's like death, and I dare say, many people remember what they were like as a child. They remember no understanding things that they do understand now etc. Death isn't like any stage of sleep because death is finale. While you are asleep you are in an altered state of consciousness but you can wake up and even hear things when you are asleep. Some people could hear what people said when they were in a coma and they tell them that when they wake up.

onemorehuman said, "So can death be defined as the absence of the ability for self-observation? Is a virus truely alive? I guess that even a virus can be considered alive, as long as it is interacting with a cell and changing the cell's chemistry to create more viruses, because self-replication is also a (very, very primitive) form of "self-observation". As long as a virus is inactive and not interacting with a cell, it can be considered dead under this definition of death."

Death isn't the absence of self-observation since blind isn't dead. Some viruses are very easy to kill even exposure to sunlight can kill some viruses. The human cell replicates and produces DNA sequences, the DNA sequences eventually produce lethal errors or missing pieces, ending the cell's ability to replace itself. At this point, when the cell has lost vital DNA code and cannot reproduce, is called the Hayflick limit. As we all know the human body would decay if it were not embalmed. Embalming came from the Egyptians and so did the belief in an afterlife. Embalming makes no sense at all today but we still do it.

onemorehuman said, "However it is also important to look at the consequences of such a lax definition of death. Especially what it means for the law systems of our societies. If a person A shoots another person B in the head, while B is in the stage 3 of sleep, is it murder? After all B is already dead as long as B remains in stage 3. In order to avoid this kind of horrible "mouse traps", I guess, that one has to define death as the *permanent* absence of the ability for self-observation. This way even a person in stage 3 is not truely dead as long as (s)he has the ability to return to a mode of self-observation later on."

Yeah, nobody compares sleep to death, that's why you can't murder people just because they are asleep, but if any stage of sleep was the same as death you could. No stage of sleep is comparable to death.

onemorehuman said, "This means that talking about a "life after death" is meaningless under this definition of death. Because if you regain your ability to observe yourself after death, even if it happens after millions of years, you haven't been dead at all."

To say nothing of the fact that I told Fox8472: Those who claim that some form of consciousness prevails after we die and decay into their organic atoms are WRONG! The laws of physics underlying everyday life are completely understood, and there's no way within those laws to allow for the information stored in our brains to continue after we die. Those who claim our soul continues after we die have never defined soul? Wishful thinking is not proof of an idea. There is not one shred of actual proof of a soul or anything outside of our existence.

onemorehuman said, "So if monotheistic religions were cosistent about their teachings of life and death, they shouldn't say that people would be resurrected after death, because saying something like that is meaningless. They should instead simply claim that life is endless. (of course they would then have to prove in a scientific way that a decomposing corpse with a decomposed brain still has the ability to regain the mode of self-observation. If they cannot prove that, their claims remain in the realm of science fiction.) "

Their claim are not scientific or provable and I told Fox8472 all of that. You were telling Fox8472 the (s)he could explain death to a religious person by "comparing death to sleep." However, most of what you've written about a comparison between death and sleep was either wrong or not much better than the Fox8472's little venture until you got about half way through and then you realized oops! It doesn't work!

onemorehuman said, "Under this definition of death a virus is alive even if it is inactive and not interacting with a host cell, because it has the potential for self-observation through replication. I think that when humans will be able to build conscious artificial intelligence, we will have a much better understanding of life and death and will therefore be able to come up with much clearer definitions of life and death."

Microtubules are inside all living cells and those in the brain. Microtubules are why living things without a brain can function. Microtubules are filamentous proteins that act as a substrate for the translocation of motor proteins. They are like tiny little computers. The interest in neurobiology, and theories of consciousness (of scientists) is not about finding god it is about making super-fast computers that work like our brains, and our brains do not work like a computer. Nanocomputers and assemblers memetic evolution will bring life-like machines that create from the molecular level. Genetic evolution is limited to a system based on DNA and RNA, and ribosomes, but assembler-built molecular machines will differ from the ribosome-built machinery of life. Assemblers will be able to build all that ribosomes can, and assembler-based replicators will be able to do all that life can, and more. This could lead to a new form of artificial life that (could?)replace us. Tiny robots, each no bigger than bacteria, will be able to make anything

onemorehuman said, "For now though defining death as a *permanent* (!) lack of self-observation is enough for me as an atheist. If any of you see some "mouse traps" with this modified definition as well then just say so. The discussion might be interesting. :) -----BEGIN PGP SIGNATURE----- Version: GnuPG v1.4.12 (Cygwin)"

You don't have to be a "religious person" to think that death may not be permanent in the very near future. K. Eric Drexler a pioneer of nanotechnology invented the word nanotechnology, in his book "Engines of Creation" he says it is possible to make nanobots because life itself is made of them all the tiny machines in our cells and in the cells of all living things are working examples of natural nanotechnology. So if we could make artificial versions of these nanomachines we would have nanotechnology. But we would make the machines stronger. So we'd be making something like life but stronger and more durable. That's why we would have to worry that this new artificial type of life could replace us. We know that it is possible to make nanomachines there is plenty of research going on all over the world that proves this fact. This research is why we need the super-fast quantum computers. With this technology we can copy nature and even surpass it. Engines of Creation: The Coming Era of Nanotechnology by K. Eric Drexler describes a man-made molecular machines technical developing general-purpose systems for directing molecular assembly that consume little to no natural resources and will use very little energy. It would require super-fast computers like we have in our brains.

The biggest challenge is proving that a quantum process could take place in the human brain, which is generally believed to be too warm and wet for a state of quantum superposition to occur. I think that they are very close to proving that a quantum process can take place in the brain, and that would take too long to go into, but it can be found in most science magazines. I wouldn't look for it in apologetics. I don't think the research on consciousness will wind up with someone finding God, but it might wind up with someone playing God.

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Linda wrote: "Death isn't like any stage of sleep because death is finale. While you are asleep you are in an altered state of consciousness but you can wake up and even hear things when you are asleep. Some people could hear what people said when they were in a coma and they tell them that when they wake up."

First of all thanks for mentioning Drexler's book. Maybe I will find the time to read it in the future. I based my argument on the following quote from Wikipedia from the article http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Slow-wave_sleep :

"The highest arousal thresholds (i.e. difficulty of awakening, such as by a sound of a particular volume) are observed in deep sleep."

*Fortunately* many people don't have any experience with the state of coma, you mentioned. An analogy has to be something, a person is familiar with, because (s)he experienced it before and it seems that slow-wave sleep is as close as an average healthy person can get to the state of death. Of course, there may be other forms of the state of consciousness, which go deeper and a healthy person can reach, without experimenting with mind altering drugs - perhaps a deep trance, like hypnosis? However many people don't have experience with this either.

In the end it is, like we both said, the death of an organism can only be observed and described (- the story about telomeres and all that -) by another organism, who is still alive, but obviously not by the organism, who died. A first-person perspective on death is impossible.

Linda wrote: "I dare say, many people remember what they were like as a child. They remember no understanding things that they do understand now etc."

But can one conclude that a person has essentially the same personality, (s)he had decades ago, just because (s)he shares memories with her past-self? I'm not completely convinced that this is the case. Many people on this forum, including myself, have been fervent theists at some point in their lives. If I look back at how I was, before I became an atheist, it is like looking at another person. I read some of the short biographies of the people, organizing this website:

http://www.atheist-community.com/testimonials/

Take Tracie Harris' testimonial for example. Look at the end of her testimonial - quote:

Tracie Harris wrote: "If I were to talk to my past self, I can't imagine I'd have any negative impact on my then-faith. Even I, today, would be as unable to deconvert my past self, any more than I could hope to deconvert a "true" Christian today."

This is, what I mean, by being a different person. The current Tracie Harris shares a set of memories with her past-self. However one cannot conclude from that alone that they are the same people. So in a sense the previous Tracie Harris has been "gradually replaced" by someone else, who is a different Tracie Harris than her past-self in at least one point: Her lack of faith. (Of course there may be other differences as well, we don't know anything about.) Now imagine that the same change had occurred suddenly in just a few minutes and not gradually after many years. Afterwards it would be like talking to a different person. It would be someone, resembling the original theist Tracie Harris but at the same time it would also be someone else. -----BEGIN PGP SIGNATURE----- Version: GnuPG v1.4.12 (Cygwin)

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onemorehuman said, "Linda wrote: "Death isn't like any stage of sleep because death is finale.While you are asleep you are in an altered state of consciousness but you can wake up and even hear things when you are asleep. Some people could hear what people said when they were in a coma and they tell them that when they wake up."

You would think they would explain what someone was talking about? But no, (s)he makes this out of context comment about something pertaining to another issue. onemorehuman said, "First of all thanks for mentioning Drexler's book. Maybe I will find the time to read it in the future.

You really are all over the place with this one aren't you? I brought up "Engines of Creation" by K. Eric Drexler because of your comment:

onemorehuman said, "Under this definition of death a virus is alive even if it is inactive and not interacting with a host cell, because it has the potential for self-observation through replication"

Another analogy you made much later on in the discussion. It had nothing to do with telling you that death is nothing like sleep.

I was informing you that microtubules are inside all living cells and those in the brain. Microtubules are why living things without a brain can function.

onemorehuman said, "I based my argument on the following quote from Wikipedia from the article http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Slow-wave_sleep : "The highest arousal thresholds (i.e. difficulty of awakening, such as by a sound of a particular volume) are observed in deep sleep."

Now (s)he is back to my comment that sleep is not like death. It may be more difficult to be awakened by sound when we are in a deeper state of sleep but it can be done. You can't wake up a dead person.

onemorehuman said, "*Fortunately* many people don't have any experience with the state of coma, you mentioned. An analogy has to be something, a person is familiar with, because (s)he experienced it before and it seems that slow-wave sleep is as close as an average healthy person can get to the state of death."

You can use something as an analogy if you can prove it's possible. The reason it's known that people in a coma were able to hear is because their brain waves were being observed (proving they were in a coma) and they did know what was said while they were in a coma, which means it's a fact not an assumption like the argument from religious experience that there is no proof of. But I didn't give a coma as an analogy to anything I told you that people in a coma were able to hear what was being said. However, if you want to go there, a deep coma would be much closer to death than anything you have used as an analogy because fairly often people in a deep coma never regain consciousness.

However, you mixed two separate arguments - death is like sleep - with can one hear in certain states of sleep - and now you are merging them. Actually, you are simply wrong about not being about to hear when in a deep sleep and sleep is nothing like death. And your brand-new wrong assumption is that you can't use an analogy unless you have experienced it.

onemorehuman said, "Of course, there may be other forms of the state of consciousness, which go deeper and a healthy person can reach, without experimenting with mind altering drugs - perhaps a deep trance, like hypnosis? However many people don't have experience with this either."

Medically speaking we can tell when someone is near death, but that's not the point! There is no state of sleep unless you are ill that is near death experience. onemorehuman said, "In the end it is, like we both said, the death of an organism can only be observed and described (- the story about telomeres and all that -) by another organism, who is still alive, but obviously not by the organism, who died. A first-person perspective on death is impossible."

I was never saying anything but this - you don't have to have been dead to know that there is nothing after death. And your analogies about death are wrong. The "story about telomeres" is not a story it's a scientific fact and it was a response to you bringing up aging as another analogy.

onemorehuman said, "Another analogy is the aging process. Ask a religious person a simple question: Are you the same person, you have been a few seconds ago? For example 30 seconds ago? The answer is most likely "yes", although "countless" chemical reactions occurred during that time in your body as well as in the body of the religious person. As a result it is unclear, whether both of you are still the same beings, you were 30 seconds ago."

We know why we get old and die. Its programed into our DNA. At the tips of the DNA molecule is a part of the double-helix molecule that contain a kind of chain of repeating pairs of enzymes called telomeres. Telomeres are programmed to die! Scientists observe that the length of telomere chains becomes shorter as we grow older. Eventually the telomeres become so short that cell replication produces lethal errors or missing pieces in the DNA sequence, ending the cell's ability to replace itself. At this point, when the cell has lost vital DNA code and cannot reproduce, is called the Hayflick limit. It's the measure of how many times a cell can copy itself before it dies. Nobody has the same DNA everyone is unique. I assume that means we are still the same person we were 30 seconds ago or -any number of years because- even though our DNA sequence are altered by aging we are still the same person - we can't be anybody else.

The only people who believe that we become someone else are xians who believe they become new creatures in Christ. Nothing scientific about that what-so-ever. It's all about magic.

onemorehuman said, "Linda wrote: "I dare say, many people remember what they were like as a child. They remember no understanding things that they do understand now etc." Let's give the entire conversation instead of just one sentence in order to make some kind of sense of this hodgepodge of crap.

onemorehuman said, "In short: Death is something that cannot be observed from a first-person-perspective, because you need a consciousness to do so. It's just like stage 3 of sleep, that cannot be observed from a first-person-perspective either. And it's just like the change of personality over long periods of time. I dare to say that from a first-person-perspective a change of personality cannot be fully observed and yet it happens."

Just because something can't be observed doesn't mean it's like death, and I dare say, many people remember what they were like as a child.

As I said: We have information stored in our brain that our conscious mind isn't necessarily always aware of. Sometimes something will jog our memory back to something that happened when we were a kid. We have information stored in our brain and it's always there. You are talking as if there are two people in one self like a schizophrenic. People know that they were once three years old and they can usually remember some of the significant things that happened we have memories because information is stored in our brain that our conscious mind is not always aware of, at that time, and they know it wasn't another person and they don't think their three year old self died. If they think their three your old self died - and they are someone else now - then they are in serious trouble. I think it's called personality disorder.

onemorehuman said, "But can one conclude that a person has essentially the same personality, (s)he had decades ago, just because (s)he shares memories with her past-self? I'm not completely convinced that this is the case.

There are no genes that specify personality traits, but some genes do control the development of the nervous system, which in turn controls behavior. We know that humans are very adaptable and we have a brain that is very malleable and flexible structure that allows humans to handle a lot of new experiences and situations without needing to genetically adapt to it. And as we learn our brain stores information. Which means that we are quite capable of change while still remaining basically the same person.

onemorehuman said, "Many people on this forum, including myself, have been fervent theists at some point in their lives. If I look back at how I was, before I became an atheist, it is like looking at another person. I read some of the short biographies of the people, organizing this website: http://www.atheist-community.com/testimonials/ Take Tracie Harris' testimonial for example. Look at the end of her testimonial - quote: Tracie Harris wrote: "If I were to talk to my past self, I can't imagine I'd have any negative impact on my then-faith. Even I, today, would be as unable to deconvert my past self, any more than I could hope to deconvert a "true" Christian today. This is, what I mean, by being a different person. The current Tracie Harris shares a set of memories with her past-self. However one cannot conclude from that alone that they are the same people. So in a sense the previous Tracie Harris has been "gradually replaced" by someone else, who is a different Tracie Harris than her past-self in at least one point: Her lack of faith. (Of course there may be other differences as well, we don't know anything about.) Now imagine that the same change had occurred suddenly in just a few minutes and not gradually after many years. Afterwards it would be like talking to a different person. It would be someone, resembling the original theist Tracie Harris but at the same time it would also be someone else."

The malleable mind of a child is an expression about how children can be made to believe or imagine almost anything. A child may not get the opportunity to experience many things in some situations because of fear that they might not be persuaded into a particular mindset. If these individuals never escape, or even want to, they will never change or grow. But some of them do escape and I think it's the people who are curious and more intelligent. While basic personality traits usually remain certain aspects of your personality can be altered. As you progress and learn more you learn to change some things that could affect your personality in some way. We have a personality that is unique and we have control over our personality. We choose what we want to accept or reject. Being indoctrinated is not how we inherit traits or characteristics, but some characteristics might be caused by either genes or environment, or some combinations of the two. And genes may be related to complex human characteristics. As we learn and grow (or if we learn and grow) most of the time groundless former beliefs will fall away. While basic personality traits usually remain, they may not be as obvious, or as recognizable as they once were. We do not become a totally different person because of new experiences, we are the same person that has changed their thinking, but we still remember who we are - and who we were.

-----BEGIN PGP SIGNED MESSAGE----- Hash: SHA1

onemorehuman wrote: "But can one conclude that a person has essentially the same personality, (s)he had decades ago, just because (s)he shares memories with her past-self? I'm not completely convinced that this is the case." Linda wrote: "There are no genes that specify personality traits, but some genes do control the development of the nervous system, which in turn controls behavior. We know that humans are very adaptable and we have a brain that is very malleable and flexible structure that allows humans to handle a lot of new experiences and situations without needing to genetically adapt to it. And as we learn our brain stores information. Which means that we are quite capable of change while still remaining basically the same person." onemorehuman wrote: "Many people on this forum, including myself, have been fervent theists at some point in their lives. If I look back at how I was, before I became an atheist, it is like looking at another person. I read some of the short biographies of the people, organizing this website: http://www.atheist-community.com/testimonials/ Take Tracie Harris' testimonial for example. Look at the end of her testimonial - quote: Tracie Harris wrote: "If I were to talk to my past self, I can't imagine I'd have any negative impact on my then-faith. Even I, today, would be as unable to deconvert my past self, any more than I could hope to deconvert a "true" Christian today. This is, what I mean, by being a different person. The current Tracie Harris shares a set of memories with her past-self. However one cannot conclude from that alone that they are the same people. So in a sense the previous Tracie Harris has been "gradually replaced" by someone else, who is a different Tracie Harris than her past-self in at least one point: Her lack of faith. (Of course there may be other differences as well, we don't know anything about.) Now imagine that the same change had occurred suddenly in just a few minutes and not gradually after many years. Afterwards it would be like talking to a different person. It would be someone, resembling the original theist Tracie Harris but at the same time it would also be someone else." Linda wrote: "The malleable mind of a child is an expression about how children can be made to believe or imagine almost anything. A child may not get the opportunity to experience many things in some situations because of fear that they might not be persuaded into a particular mindset. If these individuals never escape, or even want to, they will never change or grow. But some of them do escape and I think it's the people who are curious and more intelligent. While basic personality traits usually remain certain aspects of your personality can be altered. As you progress and learn more you learn to change some things that could affect your personality in some way. We have a personality that is unique and we have control over our personality. We choose what we want to accept or reject. Being indoctrinated is not how we inherit traits or characteristics, but some characteristics might be caused by either genes or environment, or some combinations of the two. And genes may be related to complex human characteristics. As we learn and grow (or if we learn and grow) most of the time groundless former beliefs will fall away. While basic personality traits usually remain, they may not be as obvious, or as recognizable as they once were. We do not become a totally different person because of new experiences, we are the same person that has changed their thinking, but we still remember who we are - and who we were."

Let's assume two monozygotic twins, who grew up in the same environment, participated in exactly the same social activities, ate exactly the same food and so on ... . Almost everything was exactly the same for each of the twins. Of course there were things beyond human control, that could not have been exactly the same. Nevertheless if those twins grew up in such an environment would their basic personality traits be mostly the same as well with only minor differences or would there be major differences? In this thought experiment I assume that both twins lived separated from each other so that they couldn't influence each other's basic personality traits from the start, when they were still little children. And I also assume that both twins have been raised by two authority figures, who acted as their "mom" and "dad". These authority figures were monozygotic twins themselves and had at least to try to act in the same manner in front of the children as their twin counterparts in the other environment. For example both authority figures would have to exhibit similar traits of calm and rational behaviour and magnanimity and so on. Even if some of them aren't like that in real life, they would have to act like that in front of the children.

If the differences in the basic personality traits of these children in this strictly regulated and carefully engineered artificial environments would be mostly minor then after reading the argument, you made above, one could conclude that these twins are essentially two variations of the same person. And yet we both know that this conclusion is invalid. But then one has to conclude as well that even if a person's basic personality traits remain mostly the same as the years go by, they slowly become a different person, compared to how they have been before. -----BEGIN PGP SIGNATURE----- Version: GnuPG v1.4.12 (Cygwin)

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There is no reason to copy what someone has posted unless you have an actual fact based rebuttal - and you don't.

onemorehuman wrote: "But can one conclude that a person has essentially the same personality, (s)he had decades ago, just because (s)he shares memories with her past-self?"

Well now you're changing the argument FROM - onemorehuman said, "Another analogy is the aging process. Ask a religious person a simple question: Are you the same person, you have been a few seconds ago? For example 30 seconds ago? The answer is most likely "yes", although "countless" chemical reactions occurred during that time in your body as well as in the body of the religious person. As a result it is unclear, whether both of you are still the same beings, you were 30 seconds ago."

Your comment does not prove anything about becoming an entirely different individual because of a chemical change in the body - because there is no proof of that - and even thought you brought up aging as a rebuttal you couldn't imagine why I was talking about telomeres being programmed to die! You don't understand my answers.

We know why we get old and die. Its programed into our DNA. At the tips of the DNA molecule is a part of the double-helix molecule that contain a kind of chain of repeating pairs of enzymes called telomeres. Telomeres are programmed to die! Scientists observe that the length of telomere chains becomes shorter as we grow older. Eventually the telomeres become so short that cell replication produces lethal errors or missing pieces in the DNA sequence, ending the cell's ability to replace itself. At this point, when the cell has lost vital DNA code and cannot reproduce, is called the Hayflick limit. It's the measure of how many times a cell can copy itself before it dies. Nobody has the same DNA everyone is unique. I assume that means we are still the same person we were 30 seconds ago or -any number of years because- even though our DNA sequence are altered by aging we are still the same person - we can't be anybody else.

A so-called rebuttal - onemorehuman said, "But can one conclude that a person has essentially the same personality, (s)he had decades ago, just because (s)he shares memories with her past-self? I'm not completely convinced that this is the case."

This is not a rebuttal, you didn't give any actual fact based information for your theory or stance. The rebutter is a debater who refutes or disproves what has been said by offering evidence to the contrary. "I'm not convinced" is not a rebuttal or evidence.

And neither is: onemorehuman said, "many people on this forum, including myself, have been fervent theists at some point in their lives. If I look back at how I was, before I became an atheist, it is like looking at another person." etc.

Maybe (but that's not proof that anyone is "a different person") We have information stored in our brain that our conscious mind isn't necessarily always aware of. We have information stored in our brain and it's always there. You are talking as if there are two people in one self like a schizophrenic.

Everyone was two years old once - and they probably believed anything anyone told them. However, most of us (but not all) out grew that kind of gullibility, but we were not another person and we don't think our two year old self died.

Linda wrote: We know that humans are very adaptable and we have a brain that is very malleable and flexible structure that allows humans to handle a lot of new experiences and situations without needing to genetically adapt to it. And as we learn our brain stores information. Which means that we are quite capable of change while still remaining basically the same person."

The malleable mind of a child is an expression about how children can be made to believe or imagine almost anything. A child may not get the opportunity to experience many things in some situations because of fear that they might not be persuaded into a particular mindset. If these individuals never escape, or even want to, they will never change or grow. But some of them do escape and I think it's the people who are curious and more intelligent. While basic personality traits usually remain certain aspects of your personality can be altered. As you progress and learn more you learn to change some things that could affect your personality in some way. We have a personality that is unique and we have control over our personality. We choose what we want to accept or reject. Being indoctrinated is not how we inherit traits or characteristics, but some characteristics might be caused by either genes or environment, or some combinations of the two. And genes may be related to complex human characteristics. As we learn and grow (or if we learn and grow) most of the time groundless former beliefs will fall away. While basic personality traits usually remain, they may not be as obvious, or as recognizable as they once were. We do not become a totally different person because of new experiences, we are the same person that has changed their thinking, but we still remember who we are - and who we were

At this point onemorehuman throws monozygotic twins into the wash - that doesn't change a thing and isn't a rebuttal because that wouldn't mean a thing concerning anyone becoming an entirely different person. However, Identical or monozygotic twins form when a single fertilized egg splits; these twins share nearly identical DNA, but as soon as the single fertilized egg splits things start to occur that can cause differences in each twin. Identical twins may share a placenta, or they may each have their own, depending on when the fertilized egg splits. If the twins share a placenta, one twin could have a more advantageous connection to it, and receive more nutrients than the other twin, resulting in a size difference in the twins. Although identical twins have the same genetic makeup there fingerprints are different because of factors during the pregnancy, like the position of each twin in the womb and the growth rate of the fingers at the end of each trimester causes differences in each twin's fingerprints. Identical twins have physical differences no matter how similar their DNA is, they will always be unique even though they share genetic component, identical twins are unique individuals.

Identical or monozygotic twins can also be different in another way - they may exhibit mirror-image features or behaviors. For example, they may have opposite hair whorls or opposite dominant hands or even mirror-image fingerprints. Mirror-imaging is related to the timing of the splitting of the fertilized egg. As many as 25% of all identical twins exhibit some kind of mirror-imaging. And some studies show that their personalities can be opposite.

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