What’s the Least Believable Afterlife Concept?

The Bible speaks of, as I understand it, people ascending up to their afterlife.  Burial customs in the Western world seem to reflect the need to have a complete body after death.

As time past, the idea of an in tact body going somewhere else for its after life became just too far fetched.  That’s when the “soul” became popular.

The problem with the “soul” is it really requires a mind to be a comprehensible concept.  How can someone meet lost relatives with no brain to remember them?

The Resurrection story did not involve bringing a soul back to life, but an entire body.

The attempt to substitute the soul for an in tact body made the afterlife concept even less believable.  Apologists would have been better off saying, “This not something you can expect to believe without allowing yourself to enter the world of magic.  The entire body leaves the grave and goes to heaven or hell.”

I remember reading some 30 years ago a quote from a professor in a large main line denomination seminary.  It was something like, “You will never hear a faculty member here say there is a literal life after death.  Students can decide for themselves and preach whatever they wish as pastors.”

Trying to explain an afterlife as either a body from the grave or as a soul with no brain or consciousness is challenging indeed.

It’s easier to conclude life ends at death.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/scott-macdougall/christian-illogic-life-after-death_b_1955641.html?utm_hp_ref=religion

 

Avatar of Jon Lindgren

About Jon Lindgren

I am a former President of the Red River Freethinkers in Fargo, ND, a retired NDSU economics professor and was Mayor of Fargo for 16 years.
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40 Responses to What’s the Least Believable Afterlife Concept?

  1. Michael Ross says:

    “Trying to explain an afterlife as either a body from the grave or as a soul with no brain or consciousness is challenging indeed.
    It’s easier to conclude life ends at death.”

    You are very closed minded about anything you don’t understand. I thought you “freethinkers” prided yourself on being open minded.

  2. Wanna B Sure says:

    I’m not going to get into this little peeing contest, but it would be advisable to have a clarification of terms even before a sensible discussion can take place. Otherwise everyone winds up talking past the other. That being said, I don’t expect that to happen, and nothing will be accomplished. “Whatever; yawn.

  3. entech says:

    So many preachers, so many afterlifes. I have always like Shmuley Boteach and his reply in debate with Hitchens et.al. on whether there was an afterlife, “of course there is an afterlife”, he said, “problem is too many people think too much about it. The afterlife should be an afterthought, do the right thing now and live a good life”. I don’t agree with the Rabbi’s theology but that is a good thought.

    Jon your reference led me to this link on the same page.
    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/danweiss/heaven-is-real-and-its-a-schlep_b_1949918.html

  4. Stan says:

    Since when does a “soul” require a mind?

    • entech says:

      What is a soul? At what stage of evolution did it begin to exist?

      • Avatar of Jon Lindgren Jon Lindgren says:

        entech 2:29 What is a soul? At what stage of evolution did it begin to exist?”

        I just read on a Christian parody site the soul is in the kidneys, the “reins”. And, the kidneys are this ugly organ, obviously ugly because of the sins residing in the soul. The heart can be full of goodness while the kidney is full of sin.

        I love this stuff. :)

    • entech says:

      Thinking about it, ‘mind’ is difficult to define as well.

      • Stan says:

        Now you are getting it.

      • Avatar of Jon Lindgren Jon Lindgren says:

        entech 2:31 I don’t know if the mind is in the kidneys along with the soul or not. : )

        • Henry says:

          You’d have to ask the Greeks. nephros

        • entech says:

          Could be, or it could be just related to mindlessly using Greek words.

          Come to think of it isn’t there some group that does that already, mindlessly using graphi (?????) although they seem to prefer the Latin translation and call it scripture – always better in translation, easier to make it mean what you need it to mean. Scripture simply means writing – but if you need to you can make it mean infallible writing.

  5. Buzz Marick says:

    great analagy Jon.your pissing your mind and soul away.REPENT

    • Avatar of Jon Lindgren Jon Lindgren says:

      Buzz 5:46 “great analogy Jon. You’re pissing your mind and soul away. REPENT”

      Perhaps pissing was a religious experience to those men who wrote the Bible. “I (Jesus) am he which seacheth the reins (kidneys) and hearts.” Rev. 2:23

      “My reins instructeth me in the right seasons” Psalms 16:7

      “My reins rejoice when my lips speak the right things.” Psslms 23:76

      More than you wanted to know about pissing, Palsms 7:9, Psalms 26:2, Psalms 73:21, Jeremiah 11:20, 17:10, 20:12.

      To our friends on the board here who are “Bible experts”, please don’t ask me to read the context of these passages because I really don’t have time. Thanks.

      • Henry says:

        Jon: “please don’t ask me to read the context of these passages because I really don’t have time.”

        You throw these passages out there to defend against accusation made against you of pissing away your mind and soul, and then explicitly say you will not look at the context of your proof. Nothing new under the sun.

      • entech says:

        Poor Jon, everyone else is allowed to throw biblical quotes as if to prove any specious nonsense they find suitable. The context is always the same, they are the words and thoughts of people that lived a long time ago, they may or may not be true but it is most unlikely that they are. As Mr Ross says “with God all things are possible” (Matt 19:26) – context = basic assumption that there is a God character and that the Mathew character had some special knowledge.

        REPENT the end of the world is nigh – just as it has been thousands of years. But don’t hold on to your waters while you wait, I think a burst bladder would be painful.

  6. Margaret says:

    We have a brain. We have a mind. The brain stays here. The mind ascends.

    • Avatar of Jon Lindgren Jon Lindgren says:

      Margaret 12:51 “We have a brain. We have a mind. The brain stays here. The mind ascends.”

      So, we don’t need our brain to have a mind? I’m afraid that’s impossible. You, yourself, would not know of the concept of the mind without your brain.

      • Michael Ross says:

        “I’m afraid that’s impossible”

        “with God all things are possible” (Matt 19:26)

      • Doubtful says:

        You may be afraid of it Jon but certainly scientists are still arguing about whether or not the brain is the mind. You should get past your fears and learn to think freely.

      • Stan says:

        What is the mind Jon? We don’t know. We have almost no knowledge how the brain works, let alone the mind.

        • entech says:

          I think that is a bit of exaggeration Stan.
          http://science.howstuffworks.com/environmental/life/inside-the-mind/human-brain/brain.htm

          Mind and consciousness are less precise simply because they are intangible, difficult to pin down and measure. The problem with exploring the mind is that all we have to use as a tool is the mind itself. As for the soul that is allegedly being pissed away, that is less than intangible – we can’t pick the mind up, measure it or even be absolutely certain that it will always give the same results, we can verify its existence by its actions – we can have no knowledge of the hypothetical “soul”.
          (his mind snapped, as they say? and after he nearly died he was so afraid that he started going to church every day, or, he nearly died and found the experience removed any fear of an ultimate death and released him from his childhood religious conditioning). Who could say which is the more likely scenario, surely it would depend on prior belief and the ‘state of mind’ that pertained at the time.

          Amazing that people can be so derisive of developing knowledge, of the search for truth and yet turn around and say that they have absolute knowledge of eternal life, the soul, etc, based on a sequence of old books and a warm feeling inside. It is not true simply because it makes a lot of people feel good and that they would like it to be true.

        • Avatar of Jon Lindgren Jon Lindgren says:

          Stan 10:41 “What is the mind, Jon? We don’t know. We have alost no knowledge how the brain works, let along the mind.”

          Let me guess. The mind is in our big toe? What ever the mind is, it is located in our brain, that’s one thing we know. There has never been a dead person with a mind, so far as I know. So, when the person dies, so does the mind.

          • Stan says:

            Jon, the mind is NOT the brain, the mind is the process the brain uses . Part chemical and part electrical. We do not know how it happens, just that it does. A worm has a brain, does it have a mind? Is the mind also the learning it does and the memories it keeps?

          • entech says:

            Two sources on worms.
            I like the bit about removing the brain having little effect on behaviour, reminds me of something, don’t let Henry read the bit about the way they reproduce.

            Have been around 120 million years. They evolved during the time of the dinosaurs; hominids have been around only about 4 million years and Homo Sapiens about 25O,OOO years.

            Lack eyes but can sense light with photoreceptors.

            Source 1 says: Earthworms have simple brains which specialize in directing body movement in response to light, and not much else. To show how simple the brain is, if an earthworm’s brain is removed, changes in its general behavior are hardly noticeable

            source 2 says: lack a brain but have nerve centers (called ganglia).

            Are hermaphrodites (both sexes in one animal) but cross fertilize.
            Each earthworm carries both male and female reproductive parts –they are, like snails and slugs, hermaphroditic

            http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=worm-discovery-brain-evolution&page=2

          • Henry says:

            entech: “don’t let Henry read the bit about the way they reproduce.”

            Nor anyone else, especially the “freethinkers”. Worms are also incestuous and pedophilic. It would be wise not to use the worm as a standard for acceptable human sexual behavior. If justification through comparison is the direction you are going/went, I would like to help you save you from yourself.

          • entech says:

            Just a thought on how You think, you seem to get overexcited about anything not “normal”.

    • Michael Ross says:

      Margaret: When Christians reject humanistic reasoning its called “ignorance”.
      When humanists reject biblical precepts its called “enlightenment”. If Jon can’t figure it out, he rejects it but calls himself a “freethinker”.

  7. Margaret says:

    I recently attended the funeral of a young man I hadn’t seen for 9 years. We had talked on the phone for a couple hours every week. When I saw him in his coffin, he looked smaller than I remembered. Then I realized I had gotten to know his “inside” personality; wisdom beyond his years. This had caused my mind to project an image on my brain that he was larger, bodily, than he actually was. He was so much larger within than I knew prior to those phone calls. Because I couldn’t see him, externals hadn’t skewed my perception of who he had become through a decade of suffering.
    Surely we have all “known” something in our hearts, in our minds, that we cannot prove through the brain’s analysis and reasoning. We discern something…have a feeling. A few years ago, a woman said to me that she thought she might be going crazy because her heart knew her husband was cheating, but she had no concrete proof. The mind, the heart, knew what her brain could not prove through concrete evidence.
    The body, with its brain, lies in the grave, but all that went to make a personality lives eternally, no longer impacted by the pizza eaten before going to bed. The mind, will, emotions and spirit of that person, without the earthly troubles that affected them, continue. Surely you see this when you see someone you loved at their funeral. The body is there, but everything that you knew them to be is not.

    • Avatar of Jon Lindgren Jon Lindgren says:

      Margaret 1:09 “The mind, will, emotions and spirit of that person, without the earthly troubles that affected them, contiune.”

      A beautiful piece of writing, Margaret. Thank you for posting it.

      You are correct that a person close to us who dies continues to affect us in many ways. We wonder what the person might have thought, our emotional attachment and loss and so on. I’m just unable to extend that thinking into something about a literal afterlife for that person. That is, that person is not remembering us in some similar way–the brain and any other reminent of life is dead.

      Seeking comfort through memories about the dead is healthy. Trying to believe magic happened and they are still alive is something else again, in my view.

  8. Buzz Marick says:

    suffice it to say you perhaps haven,t earned the right to clarity on this issue.your ego is the barrier to understanding.

    • Avatar of Jon Lindgren Jon Lindgren says:

      Buzz “suffice is to say you perhaps haven,t earned the right to clarity on this issue.your ego is the barrier to understanding.”

      Since we have both a daily blog and sometimes dozens of comments, it would be helpful if you would note who and what you are referring to. I assume all other readers are like myself and have no idea. Thanks.

  9. Margaret says:

    This past Sunday, I had the good fortune to visit with a security guard while out walking my dog. I love to visit with people. Life stories reveal the supremacy of the human spirit over tragedy and great difficulty. This man had been mortally wounded in Vietnam. He went to Heaven. He said the peace was beyond anything he had ever known. I asked him if he saw people he had known in life. He said, “Yes,” enthusiastically, and mentioned them by name and family relationship, including his Great Grandmother, who died when he was eight. He was sent back to earth because he “still had things to do here”. He said he is no longer afraid to die; that it was like taking off your clothes, your “earthsuit.” Currently, he and his brother work part-time to support their 82-year-old mother…one of those things he still had to do here.

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