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April 14, 2012

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I think that belief in the soul and the afterlife are the result of out-of-body experiences that many people have had. You can hardly blame them for arriving at their belief, and if you've never had an OBE yourself (I never have), you can't just assume such people are deluded, though they may be.

All we really know is what we've gone through, and there's a world of difference between getting through a book and undergoing an experience in which you have no control.

If experienced believers were to just keep their beliefs to themselves and not try to convert others, we wouldn't feel compelled to debunk them.

I'm reading "In Search of Schrodinger's Cat", a look at quantum physics. It gets me thinking about a lot...

Before the 20th century we didn't know for sure atoms existed, or what they were made of, how they were formed, much less how to split them and harness their energy. These were things we had no idea of. Things that existed all this time but we had no idea about.

I get that my brain isn't programmed to understand my death or be able to envision it. I get that. I'm programmed for life. But just because I can't envision my death doesn't mean I don't somehow survive it.

Now, do I believe I do? No. I don't. But my therapist has encouraged me, of late, to question more. So, I find myself doing that.

The Milky Way has between 200-400 billion stars in it. It's one of maybe 200 billion such galaxies in the universe. And here I am. Totally the accident of random happenings that have led to my brief meaningless (in the objective sense) existence. I come into being for a flicker of an instant in cosmological time and am blessed/cursed with this thing called 'awareness'. And I find myself wondering, what do I know?

Quantum physics may not lead to quantum 'mysticism' which gives us any hope (or basis) for something after. Lots of folks probably hope for that. But it raises questions for me. If all this stuff has always existed and we didn't know about it.....

I find myself increasingly liking the position of "I just don't know."

The sensation of being alive is a process entirely dependent upon molecular configuration. That sensation is also intermittent, since complex molecular configurations such as human beings can also be entirely bereft of the sensation of aliveness.
However, since there is no entity that can be found that experiences sensations or the lack of sensations, that would, of necessity, imply that both awareness and the lack of awareness are intrinsic to reality itself.
Being alive is being alive. Being dead is being dead. Reality itself has absolutely no problem with this. Being alive entails a certain amount of anxiety about being dead. Being dead cannot involve any manner of concern, because there is actually no one to be concerned about anything.

From what we know, I agree with Willie. From what we know. But what do we know for sure?

NDE's seem likely to be a biological event triggered by our brains shutting down at death. Not the trigger to some afterlife. But.... That's just the most likely hypothesis. We don't know that for sure.

I doubt ghost stories. I'm sure the other skeptical secularists who follow Brian's blog are of the same bent. But in questioning things...ghost stories have been around since the very beginning of humanity. They're not culturally specific. Do all of them have a rational explanation? Every single one that has ever happened?

Maybe. I like proof. I want proof. But I'm finding myself more comfortable just not knowing the answers anymore.

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