Why I believe in eternal life in a strictly “cause and effect” universe, and a morality in world without freewill.

 
dazpetty
 
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dazpetty
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26 February 2019 08:17
 

So according to normal definitions I would be an atheist, I do enjoy reading religions and invoking to certain Gods, but I recognize these more so as personas that alter my personal behaviors and attitudes, with the cause and effect being primarily or even entirely psychological.

My justification for eternal life is that humans are biological, bound by the laws of cause and effect, that freewill does not exist and that therefore it seems we must live in a deterministic universe. We are all the universe “we are all one”, there is no separation between us outside of our illusion of self and a pile of memories, when we die our memories die, so if your definition of self is a pile of memories then I guess you really do die.

However, I do not define “self” as a pile of memories, I define it as the constant experience of now, “I think therefore I am”. The experience of “not being” is something you can’t experience, so even if it takes the lifetime of 40,000 universes for another “self experiencing biological machine” to be born it will occur in “the blink of an eye”. If there is any post-death experience to be had it is as another self-experiencing biological machine.

Previously I would describe this to people as being like a linear string of never-ending reincarnations, which is a good start and people understand that concept, however these reincarnations are not just one after another, they are also parallel in the form of other people we meet everyday. Without souls or spirits, that are somehow separate from the laws of cause and effect, we are all part of the one great happening of the laws of physics, along with any parallel universes for however far this great net of cause and effect goes, it’s all part of the one thing. You (the person reading this) is also an incarnation of me and I am an incarnation of you, I am experiencing being you as you it’s just that instead of that life being consecutive to mine, like the past or future lives of reincarnation, it is parallel, as individual humans it is easy for us to think in one linear dimension, but we are actually existing across 4 dimensions of space and time.

This is not the answer people want when I say I believe in eternal life, people generally won’t believe in theories in the afterlife unless it’s something they want. You might say that it is trivial “so what if keep existing but I don’t get to keep my memories, it’s not really me”, that’s fair standpoint to take if that’s how you define yourself, I recognize that a brain injury or new facts coming to light or even just a change in personal focus might mean that I am seemingly a totally different person next year.

As I consider this to be true, it is my foundation for morality in a universe where freewill does not exist, I don’t want to go and do wrong to another person because I am under the understanding that this other person is also me, they just exist at a different place and time, my interaction with them would occur at the same time, but as our births and deaths would likely take place at different times then we exist at separate times as well as different places.

This is something I consider difficult to understand and even if it is understood it is difficult to grasp conceptually, we think about life as “our life” and in linear terms and this means you are off doing billions of things as billions of other sentient beings, humans and animals, you are all the plants growing and you are the sun shinning although plants and stars don’t appear to have a sentient quality. It makes me feel more like a Hindu or a Buddhist, some sort of Dharma faith not an atheist, never the less it makes sense to me that this is the way things really are, and it is poetic that we should be good to each other and be mindful of the experience of others because we are that person also. We are the universe experiencing itself and the golden rule or ethic of reciprocity becomes more important than ever.

 
EN
 
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EN
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26 February 2019 13:01
 

Do you see consciousness as part of the fabric of the universe, like space-time?

 
proximacentauri
 
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proximacentauri
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26 February 2019 13:06
 

It may be fun or comforting to hypothesize that this could be a true representation of reality, but choosing to believe the things you’ve chosen to believe - for which there is absolutely not a shred of evidence - is curious to me how you arrived at these conclusions. However, I will say that your belief system is much preferred over any sort of theistic belief system I can think of. With respect to Buddhism, I think there is certainly some useful wisdom in Buddhism’s 4 noble truths and the 8 fold path, but beyond that I’d be skeptical of any claims to reincarnation, etc.

It’s much more likely, considering the laws of the universe as we know them, that when you die the only thing that lives on are the atoms that make up the mass of your body. These atoms will eventually be re-scattered throughout the universe. So hey, you’re one with the universe now because your body is made from the elements of exploded stars, and you’ll remain one with the universe when you die. Not such a bad thing, in my estimation anyway.

But regardless of which of our views may be correct, I’m in full agreement with what you’ve intimated in the last sentence of your post. If all humanity saw it that way, the chances for long term survival of our species would go up exponentially.

 

 
dazpetty
 
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dazpetty
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26 February 2019 16:50
 
EN - 26 February 2019 01:01 PM

Do you see consciousness as part of the fabric of the universe, like space-time?

Not really no, consciousness as I see it, based on the theory (I prefer to call it a theory rather than a belief) I just gave you, is the product of the physical universe which is governed by cause and effect. So if the universe started out as the big bang theory suggests, then our existence was already pre-determined and implied from the cosmic make up of the universe from the very start.

Unless you are suggesting that the universe somehow involves some meaningless randomness or conscious decision making outside of the laws of cause and effect then it seems to me that we are living in a deterministic universe. I am expanding from the very same logic Sam Harris uses in his book “Free will” concerning the illusion of free will. There is no quantum physics of consciousness or any other spooky new age reasoning to my theory. Terms like “consciousness” and “God” are often victim to being shifting goalposts especially among new age types.

Regarding the logic behind my theory, that you are the constant experience of having a self, if you were to be knocked unconscious, or perhaps even when you just go into deep sleep, that you simply cease to exist for that period of time and then re-exist when ever you become conscious or wake-up again. Like the rest of the theory this is not something that makes sense in day-to-day language within the subjective experience of being a person having a separate existence from other beings. Even as I re-read this paragraph I can see how convoluted my theory is, you might cease to exist but your parallel incarnations (every other sentient self-experiencing being in the universe) do not cease to exist. Everything is you, but somethings are more you than others.

If there is no agent of free will, sitting inside the skull making decisions and peering out the eyes then floating away like a ghost when we die, then we either need to accept that there is no such thing as a “you” or a “me”, or we have to find some other acceptable meaning to what it is to be a person. Most people I think would typically go with their memories and their personality, if that is the case then I suppose you really do have a birth, life and death. However if you regard the “self” to be the experience of having a self, rather than the sum of your memories and personality, then it seems to me that there is no such thing as death, we are all just branches of the same tree that sprouted the moment the big bang erupted, and perhaps that big bang is just the branch of another tree.

I reject the notion that understanding what we really are, or learning about what happens to us when we die is impossible or something that we must permanently be agnostic towards.

Originally regarding this theory I would think of reincarnation in linear terms, no matter how long you are dead for, even if it is the the lifetime of 5000 universes, the distance between the death in this life and birth in the next would be instantaneous, and that if this is an infinite process then eventually you’d be born as every single person and animal on the planet. It would also mean that you could be born in seemingly random points in time.

However I think parallel incarnation is more accurate to what’s going on here, I am not a separate self, detached from the universe, I am the sensation of having a self and that everything in this consistent realm of cause and effect that has a sense of self is also me because we are of the one origin of cause and effect.

As humans we see that we are separated by air and therefore we are separate beings, however we all know that air is just another form of matter with less rigidity than liquid or solid forms. Subjectively we may look into an empty room and say “there’s nothing in there” but from a scientific perspective it would be equally valid to say that the room is full of only air.

Just because it makes sense to us subjectively to talk about ourselves as though we actually exist as agents of freewill independent from the laws of physics and of cause and effect, or that it makes more sense to say something is empty doesn’t mean it is true. Empty things are usually not empty, they are full of air. If a tire is full of air it is full, if a cup is full of air it is empty. Relative and subjective truth is important, we would have difficulty operating in society if I went to the doctor and said I have a sore leg, and they said “which you?” as though, in the statement “we are all one” I could be talking about any leg belonging to any body in the entire universe.

Subjective and relative terms are important, but they are not necessarily objectively true or true regarding the nature of the laws of physics, they are what software is to hardware, many layers of abstraction away from the physical material.

The experience of being a person is not simply memories and personality, the quality of being a alive is the experience of life itself, feeling the wind in your hair, moments of boredom, terrible pain and intense joy. The experience of who I am might be transient, but the experience of what I am, being alive (as I see it) is permanent. Just as sitting here typing this right now I cannot experience the feeling of what I was doing yesterday, I might be able experience an emotion created by the memory of yesterday or do the same thing I did yesterday, but it is not the same experience as what I was doing yesterday. In the same way that I cannot experience what I was doing yesterday, I cannot experience what other people are doing right now, only they exist on separate dimensions of space to me rather than separate dimensions of time as my former self does. They are parallel incarnations of the same universal self, the fact that I am not directly experiencing what they are experiencing or that it speaking about ourselves as being one all the time is not very practical, it does not mean that it is not the case.

It is not what “I want to believe” I would rather believe in heaven or “true death” into silent oblivion, the notion that we are all the universe separated only by illusion, yet knowing the horrible things people do to each other, that I am both victim and perpetrator is terrifying. I call it a theory, perhaps it is only a hypothesis, I have tried to use deductive reasoning under the assumption that the entire universe is governed by cause and effect as evidence for my claim.

As Bill Hicks said: “Today a young man on acid realized that all matter is merely energy condensed to a slow vibration, that we are all one consciousness experiencing itself subjectively, there is no such thing as death, life is only a dream, and we are the imagination of ourselves. Here’s Tom with the Weather.”

 

 
dazpetty
 
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26 February 2019 16:58
 

I think I should add on here, my notion that “we are all one” has nothing to do with the experience people feel in meditation of us “all being one” whether you are a seasoned meditator or a mentally ill person who lives under constant stress ignorant of their own rambling mind, we are all of the same “one” same universe, whether you are able to understand this, whether you are able to witness your thoughts drift along without engaging you, providing the insight about the nature of existence, we are all still the one universe and every other thing or universe connected to it within the same cycle of cause and effect.

 
Cheshire Cat
 
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02 March 2019 01:24
 

Einstein showed that spacetime was predetermined, implying that our lives are also predetermined. In this view, we are like those fossilized insects trapped in amber, except we are trapped in spacetime. The past, present and future are illusions because they all exist simultaneously. There is no freewill.

I’m not so sure I believe it.

I think there is a randomness and a certain inherent chaos thrown into the mix of this universe. Quantum mechanics reveals that unpredictability is at the very core of this universe. In the Quantum world, nothing is predetermined; nothing is certain. Schrodenger’s cat is both alive and dead. Anything is possible.

In this vein, I tend to think that the universe is more of an improvisation — sort of like jazz. It’s steadily leading toward more complexity of living forms, and it’s becoming more self aware, at least on this planet. As Carl Sagan wrote: “Man is the matter of the cosmos, contemplating itself.”

And I think you are right that, “I am you, and you are me,” in the sense that human consciousness is most likely interchangeable. It’s the individual genetics, the environments in which we were raised, and our experiences and memories that make us seem so different. I think that consciousness itself, is the same in all of us.

The mystery of consciousness is the spark that animates us, yet no one understands how it works. Perhaps all sentient being possess it; maybe even inanimate objects do as well, but in a different form. I know that the self is an illusion. We are not just our thoughts, opinions and memories. We are ultimately, a temporary “organic pattern” existing within this universe.

You bring up reincarnation and vaguely touch upon what cosmologist Max Tegmark calls the Multiverse Level III model, in which cosmic inflation keeps producing universes for all eternity, thus implying nearly infinite variations of each of us. Well, who can say? Perhaps what is really being duplicated throughout the various multiverses is our individual “organic patterns” that I mentioned above.

I’ve been tempted to write an OP for the “Holy Grails” thread, comparing the Buddhist concept of reincarnation with the Multiverse Level III idea. Perhaps the Buddhists are right after all. After countless lifetimes, when one finally attains true enlightenment, your “organic pattern” is once and for all erased from the never ending multiverse. Release from Samsara at last.

 
 
nonverbal
 
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02 March 2019 05:56
 
dazpetty, to EN - 26 February 2019 04:50 PM

. . .

If there is no agent of free will, sitting inside the skull making decisions and peering out the eyes then floating away like a ghost when we die, then we either need to accept that there is no such thing as a “you” or a “me”, or we have to find some other acceptable meaning to what it is to be a person. . . .

Metaphorically speaking of course, I see “self” as floating on paper-thin membrane, at times leaky as a result of meditation, medication or malfunction. Otherwise, the membrane gets held up by a highly reliable breeze.

 
 
Brick Bungalow
 
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Brick Bungalow
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07 March 2019 13:30
 

Consciousness could very well be a property of systems beyond the brain. It’s possible that our experience persists after the death of our brains in some way. These are intriguing speculations.

I’m not seeing a theory here though. Except in the most colloquial sense. There is no prediction. No explanation. No measurable phenomena to stand as proof of concept. No standard of falsification. No properties of a theory as I understand that word.

I don’t discourage the topic as a brainstorm but I’d rather you didn’t use the word theory. I don’t think it fits at all.

 

 
proximacentauri
 
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09 March 2019 11:01
 
Brick Bungalow - 07 March 2019 01:30 PM

Consciousness could very well be a property of systems beyond the brain. It’s possible that our experience persists after the death of our brains in some way. These are intriguing speculations.

I’m not seeing a theory here though. Except in the most colloquial sense. There is no prediction. No explanation. No measurable phenomena to stand as proof of concept. No standard of falsification. No properties of a theory as I understand that word.

I don’t discourage the topic as a brainstorm but I’d rather you didn’t use the word theory. I don’t think it fits at all.

I couldn’t agree more. I don’t think this would clear the bar as a hypothesis either, let alone a theory. I would characterize it as Deepak Chopra-esque and probably deserving of the term “Cosmic-Woo”.