Tuesday, April 25, 2006
Can an Atheist Believe in the Afterlife?
In this interesting article, an atheist suggest that the "Self" is part of all mobile organisms: it is rudimentary in most, consisting of the ability of the organism to orient itself in its environment and usually to distinguish itself from what is not itself and friend from foe. More complex organisms evolved a full array of senses and balance. The conscious awareness evolved from the rudimentary to the complex because it enhanced our prospects for survival. The most complex organisms have the ability to foresee their own death and to ponder what happened to a loved one who has died. Neanderthal burial sites, complete with flowers, have been discovered; Contrast this with the fact that by the time a goldfish swims from one end of the tank to the other, it has forgotten that there is a glass wall there! A goldfish's awareness, though sufficient to keep it alive, is nonetheless quite dim compared to ours. But in all cases, the awareness is a process that is established by the nervous system and vanishes into non-existence upon the destruction of that nervous system. Read more.
Get over yourself.
Post-Schroedinger thinkers would counter-suggest a large organism,
( a large interconnected wave packet) unviewable
from our "Goldfish bowl" ,thermodynamically arranging itself out of wave snippets known as us, holographically containing our interference patterns, and thus holding us up, even when certain macro structures (bodies) dissociate.
You might term this
in a planetary sense.
(This could make a fine
Until the relativity/quantum unification we can not say that we understand the universe and ourselves. Quantum Mechanics operates on a given space-time background provided by General Relativity. Life (as we know it) is a subset of the universe and it emerges from the depths of the very small. It is very difficult to draw a definite line between life and energy. Life does not seem to end with the cell or with the virus. It seems the entire universe is alive, like a huge coral. I imagine the Higgs particles as the smallest living entitites feeding on their background, whatever that is.
Quantum Gravity predicts a smallest quantum of Space-Time. ST has to be a physical entity since it has a definite attitude. It provides a causal background and sets the light speed to a constant. ST behaves like a superconductor to impurities (the rest of the energy and matter) it contains. ST couples to light, in fact it is defined by light in Maxwell's eqns. I heard that Mass-Gravity couples to Higgs in a similar way. Things acquire their mass through some Higgs mechanism. It seems the Higgs-Mass-Gravity behaves like a superconductor to Light-Space-Time.
Light has the wonderful property of being the messenger particle for motion. It behaves like water. It can be used over and over again, and it never gets tired, except when climbing out of a gravity hole. It can untangle itself from matter, leaving it intrinsically unchanged, and merge back again later to add heat or motion.
I imagine the background Higgs field like light. Some ancients claim that our spirits work like gravity, and even claim that we can beat gravity solely by our spirits. I don't know about that but if the light analogy is taken further, the Higgs field seems to be the background that our spirits live in. Like light behaving like a messenger particle for motion, Higgs field may provide the background for the spirits to move around.
We accumulate a lot of experience from a relatively long and intersting life in this wonderful arena we call the universe. Isn't it a bit wasteful for all this experience to just dissappear by death? Isn't the universe a super conservative place in it's relentless laws of energy conservation? Existence must have been around for yonks. It must have found a way to preserve knowledge, in addition to the one gained by the known evolution. Spirits may have evolved like parasites. They may move from one living entity to another after the death of the host. Even the universe may have a grand spirit with some kind of weird consciousness, who claimed the universe from it's very beginning, and it gets replenished by all the other smaller spirits gaining experience in it's belly.
Just look around and feel it as deeply and simply as you can. Doesn't it seem like we are living in a huge living entity?
I say "Here Here!"
That's what's around us.
If Teilhard de Chardin
was right even in the smallest way,
God is assembling, out of us.
You may feed it, observe it, dissect it, scan it, eat it...you will never know what it thinks.
Maybe its lack of thinking, its contented enjoyment of a sparkling, perfectly comfortable, watery existence, its simple appreciation of life brings it closer to god.
Maybe the goldfish can't imagine anything else - like the dry world outside of its bowl - or maybe the very enlightened ones can see it. That is why they don't mind being goldfish if it means passing their days staring out at this beautiful world.
I would expect it to be in the form of pure consciousness or "energy" if you wish. But it must contain self awareness, or afterlife as we know it loses it's definition.
If an afterlife exists, my biggest question is, are there trillions of separate entities part of a whole (fractals), or do all of us become assimilated back into one consciousness?
There is something that exists as a base reality of the universe which exists forever, but is it self-aware? It probably contains all experiences ever expreienced in the universe, but can it "think?
(1)"Until the relativity/quantum unification we can not say that we understand the universe and ourselves."
With this unification we would have another theory no more provable than the two we have now. Physicists who think this is the TOE or the "understanding of everything", are fooling themselves. Unification would provide a "step" in further theory, but theory is what it would be.
(2)"Spacetime has to be a physical entity since it has a definite attitude."
By your own words this comes from a prediction of something predicted as quantum gravity. Spacetime(a theoretical construct) does not have to be a physical entity. No one has yet proven the existence of a single particle that is the material builder of matter.
Of all the world class theorists in quantum theory, how many believe we have a material world? I read in one book on the new physics that there was a term for those who did & it is "naive realists."
Through history, scientists have no good record of describing anything correctly, but build on the advances & take better measurements.
My bet is that if they achieve unification(and don't go in another direction entirely), they will conclude nothing with certainty.
1. I did not say we would understand everything, though the article seemed to imply it. I think everything can never be understood, almost by definition since infinity is trancendental. Existence can not have a non-trancendental boundary. But this does not imply we can not understand the universe to a good degree. Our 5 senses correlate with the universe's 5 forces. We are pretty well defined with them, therefore a good understanding of the universe seems possible. This should be expected since the universe has a unity to it, that is Hydrogen is Hydrogen everywhere. If it is bounded then there must be other universes since overall existence can not be bounded.
2. By physical entity I meant "existing entity", almost a tautology. Existence does not have to be in the familiar physical forms beyond space-time. All matter is energy, and energy is defined with respect to space-time by the theory of light. Space-time is the arena or the boundary, but what is beyond? Surely something that is different but also somehow related. We could be living in space-time like fish in aquarium in some exotic environment. It could be some cosmic amusement park for some alien beings. Have you noticed how much we like simulated environments for fun and adventure? Is it humans from the future running this show?
What we call "material world" is the world that makes sense in it's canvas, space-time. It is a critical mixture of chaotic and orderly. It obeys mathematical rules. But we don't know how it works yet. Knowledge advances in a mixture of revolution and evolution. When there is a revolution, a qualitatively different state is reached. That is what I meant by understanding. Like a little enlightenment. For us it won't be little though this time around. We may understand ourselves better if we can see how similar we are to the universe and everything else in it. But there may not be a boundary to existence and therefore to knowledge. Amen to that.
Luminous emptiness, without center or circumference: the pure, naked Rigpa dawns.
(Tibetan book of the dead)
This self-originated Clear Light, which from the very beginning was never born,
Is the child of Rigpa, which is itself without any parents--how amazing!
This self-originated wisdom has not been created by anyone--how amazing!
It has never experienced birth and has nothing in it that could cause it to die--how amazing!
Although it is evidently visible, yet there is no one there who sees it--how amazing!
Although it has wandered through Samsara, no harm has come to it--how amazing!
Although it has seen Buddhahood itself, no good has come to it--how amazing!
Although it exists in everyone everywhere, it has gone unrecognised--how amazing!
And yet you go on hoping to attain some other fruit than this elsewhere--how amazing!
Even though it is the thing that is most essentially yours, you seek for it elsewhere--how amazing!
Taken from the book "The Tibetan book of living and dying" by Sogyal Rinpoche. Ran into it yesterday. Seems pretty good. Rigpa, or Ground Luminousity or Clear Light is the place dead go, it says. It is not the known physical light.
I thought it is also like a description of the Higgs field which is supposed to underlie everything, including space-time and light. It is not yet directly observed and predicted to be a "scalar" field. Light is a vector field, as it has two polarised electrical and magnetic fields. A scalar field is like money. It has a value but not a commodity itself. Pure numbers are defined to be scalars. They are just numbers and do not represent any specific thing. Therefore numbers are idealisations. Like numbers are at the base of mathematics and science, Higgs field is a the base of everything we know. Similarly, according to Buddhism, life has Rigpa as the base, where spirits reside. When a spirit takes on life, it is bonded to it until death. Lately I saw a doco on ABC about near death experiences. Apparently there are serious scientists who say that Higgs field may allow impressions on it by life.
With the recent confirmations of dark energy and matter, space-time seems not as empty as it looks. In fact they constitute most of the observable mass, something like 95%.
I've read somewhere that a goldfish loses its memory after about a minute. There is no way they can fathom a world outside of the fish bowl.
the argument is weak and as shorthsighted as that goldfish.
And the very fact that we are limited open the door to the inevitable fact that more evolved being exist.
the fact that we do no perceive them is a very long tediuous quasi tech page.The point is we are limited and
because of the quantum nature of consciousness it is very likelly that any extreme is by design given it's opposite and all the random fluctuations of state:thus creating it's own argumentative failure.
In as much as the goldfish does not comprehend so are we in perspective.And in the distortions of the glass we presume what we see...to be excatedra.
And in fact there is much much more.
death is terminal,a complete end in this reality.
there is no science or voodoo to traverse it.the end is the end.
Considering the vastness and the excusite beauty and the sheer violence of it all,it is too well arranged to be a meaninless incident in the middle of no time.
just as much as the golfish doesn't know that it's keeper went out so are we.
we are very brave in our statement and the impulse is strong but our scope is limited,and bound to a dimension of senses...there is more.
i am not saying anything new,there is beyond the glass of the fishbowl...another reality.