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Tue Nov 6, 2012, 11:46 AM

Interesting (I hope) thought experiment on the afterlife

Based on a dream I had last night. Yes I know it contradicts several scientific concepts. Dreams tend to.

Imagine that you are definitely dead, and yet remain conscious. No pearly gates or step-into-the-light, but merely a disembodied spectral existence in the same world in which you lived. In short, you are a basic ghost. You can see/hear but not interact with the living, who cannot sense you. There are other ghosts but not enough to indicate that this is a universal experience for the deceased. You are not suddenly granted any greater knowledge than you had as a living person.

This is far from a unique view of post mortem existence. It's the basis of countless ghost stories, mediums, etc. Its putative relevance to religious views is not often considered though. Let's try.

Would it make atheists more open to religious beliefs since at least one claim made by many of them is proven true, for which there is no clear rationale?

Would it make common-garden Protestants less likely to believe as there is no immediate access to heaven or hell or any sign of judgment etc?

Would it make the Catholics who accepted the concept of limbus patrum believe they were in it? Would that change if they were clearly ghosts non-purified from sin?

Would either group be more likely to believe in reincarnation given the dearth of ghosts relative to the number of the dead?

What evidence would any ghost seek to know what comes next? Or would it all be hovering over the bedroom of the cute guy/gal across the street and watching concerts and events for free?

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Response to dmallind (Original post)

Tue Nov 6, 2012, 11:49 AM

1. Very interesting questions to discuss, but better in person group. Sorry, today,....

....I'm too distracted with the election


I've bookmarked to consider later. Thanks for your thoughtful interesting topics.

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Response to dmallind (Original post)

Tue Nov 6, 2012, 12:34 PM

2. It's hard to overlook some of those physical inconsistencies.

"You can see/hear" - How? If you are invisible, light passes through you. You have no eyes, no retina, but even if you did, light would pass through them and not be interpreted by your brain as visual information. Similar with the ears.

But the one thing that's really bugged me about the traditional incorporeal ghost concept - if you can walk through walls or doors, why don't you sink through any floor or surface you are standing on? If you try to explain this by saying gravity doesn't work on you, well the Earth is spinning and hurdling through space - if gravity doesn't work on you, how can you remain "stationary" on Earth's surface?

Yes I know, I'm a "closed-minded" disciple of "scientism" who can't use their imagination.

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Response to trotsky (Reply #2)

Tue Nov 6, 2012, 03:00 PM

7. True, but it's easy to play hypothetical what ifs

Sure we know how sight and hearing require corporeal apparatus for the living, but perhaps some other part of the electromagnetic spectrum resonates with the waveform that is our disembodied postmortem consciousness. As for walls etc I've always assumed that the theory is a ghost simply autonomically controls its movements again as a wave function, and as such can choose through which surface to pass.

Utter speculative tosh of course of which I believe not a word, but that again is fine when playing thought-games (can't really dignify it as an experiment now I think about that).

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Response to dmallind (Original post)

Tue Nov 6, 2012, 12:35 PM

3. I've got to agree with northoftheborder here.

While I think this could be a really interesting topic, I am too preoccupied to think about it.

FWIW, my major dream last night involved going to some huge Salvation Army with truckloads of food. We kept dropping the food on the ground and ruining it, though. Inside, it was a colosseum type structure with a viciously violent football game going on. Whole sections of the stands were throwing their bicycles onto the field. There were small (3 feet square) cages where two people were brutally beating each other. Then I found an area where people were dancing in a euphoric manner. I thought I should feel frightened or threatened, but I didn't.

What do you make of that?

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Response to cbayer (Reply #3)

Tue Nov 6, 2012, 02:53 PM

5. Sorry - oneiromancy another thing I don't accept as valid

It's not that I'm looking for interpretation here. My actual dream had all kinds of weird details I barely remember, let alone understand enough to write down. It's just that as I awoke remembering dreaming of being dead it struck me to ponder how I might react if I am suddenly in the position of knowing that I am indeed dead. Following the heartfelt "Bugger", of course. Thought it might be worth playing with as a distraction to the election before we star seeing returns. I voted a couple of weeks ago and am deep in enemy territory at work so the less I remind people of the election the more chance of them forgetting to vote.



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Response to dmallind (Reply #5)

Tue Nov 6, 2012, 02:57 PM

6. I don't either, I was just taking the opportunity to unload my disturbing dream.

We are all distracting ourselves in different ways today and I hope there are those that will participate in this, because I agree that it's very interesting.

Have a good one and lay low at work.

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Response to dmallind (Reply #5)

Wed Nov 14, 2012, 11:55 PM

9. How did you react and feel

 

when dreaming of being dead?

Would "indeed" dead be much different, if so, why?

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Response to tama (Reply #9)

Thu Nov 15, 2012, 05:06 PM

10. Well since my brain would be non-functional, it would of course be very different

As different as cheese and the absence of cheese. No brain function, no thought.

How did I react in my dream, as surreal as most dreams are? I was pretty much just a benign bemused ghost, floating around and looking at things.

If by any wild unimaginable and as yet unhinted-at process post-mortem consciousness were possible, I can't imagine I'd initially do much differently in real life...ermmm... real death either.

Depending on what happened after that who knows whether I'd either go Marley or go Pazuzu, given the choice.

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Response to dmallind (Original post)

Tue Nov 6, 2012, 01:07 PM

4. I think it is a universal experience for the living and probably the deceased too.

Accepting the fact that we all have a spiritual dimension has no bearing on religious belief or deities, both of which are human constructs. Reincarnation, who knows, but the fact that we don't recall previous lives (at least, most don't), renders it irrelevant to the one we are currently living.

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Response to dmallind (Original post)

Wed Nov 7, 2012, 08:23 AM

8. I suspect it would open a few eyes (and minds) but not have any significant effect beyond that.

All the following is offered purely as personal opinion with no intention to
cause offence to anyone's beliefs or lack thereof.


> Would it make atheists more open to religious beliefs since at least one claim
> made by many of them is proven true, for which there is no clear rationale?

Not to religious beliefs as such but it would provide the opportunity to embrace that
which most profess to admire: open-mindedness even if the (new) evidence appears
to contradict their previously-held views.

I agree with some of the replies upthread that distinguish between the totally
man-made construct of "religion" and the possibly natural existence of "spirit"
(or whatever term you choose to describe the "ghost" entities in the dream).

As such, I really can't think of any reason why a rational mind would switch to
accepting the dogma of any particular religion simply because of an unexpected
discovery of a facet of nature that had previously been dismissed as "unproven".


> Would it make common-garden Protestants less likely to believe as there is no
> immediate access to heaven or hell or any sign of judgment etc?

Possibly, it depends on the depth to which any particular doctrinal component has been
taken to heart compared to the ability to dispassionately observe the new situation.


> Would it make the Catholics who accepted the concept of limbus patrum believe they
> were in it? Would that change if they were clearly ghosts non-purified from sin?

Again, "possibly" (as above).


> Would either group be more likely to believe in reincarnation given the dearth
> of ghosts relative to the number of the dead?

Hopefully That way they might consider "stewardship" more important than who has
the most toys when they die.

Again though, the expectation is that as we do not consciously recall any previous such
experience, any deflection in belief (in whichever direction) is not guaranteed to lead to
any greater tolerance or other behavioural change in the "next" incarnation. (i.e., still working
within the outline of the OP dream)


> You are not suddenly granted any greater knowledge than you had as a living person.

Beg to disagree: you (in the context of the dream) have suddenly been granted the knowledge
that something exists that was previously just an item of faith (pro or con) due to the lack of
any evidence right up to that point. (Maybe "experience" would be a better word would be a
better word than "evidence" but wth?).


> What evidence would any ghost seek to know what comes next?

Be like a child: explore and see what happens. It is a wonderful opportunity to indulge
curiosity so take it. I would expect that the first things to do would be to establish whatever
relates to motor control (to change location) and communication (to the other "ghosts")
but there would be so many things to do ... including your obvious suggestion:

> Or would it all be hovering over the bedroom of the cute guy/gal across the street
> and watching concerts and events for free?

One would like to think that being freed of the worldly body, one might be freed of the
temptation to indulge previously held fantasies but maybe that is how some people
would define "Heaven" ...


Nice post though - a pleasant distraction from mere worldly thoughts for a few minutes!


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Response to dmallind (Original post)

Thu Nov 15, 2012, 05:13 PM

11. I might see it as an opportunity to assess my life.

It would also lead me to think that if there is this step, then there are likely more.

I would also wonder if I somehow have an opportunity to assist others who love me.

What about you?

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