Wednesday, May 30, 2007

do we have a soul? does it survive death?

Blogging about transhumanism I wondered why people, normally so keen on nirvana, heaven etc, are so unimpressed by the idea that we could get closer to that point using technology. Tracy suggests that it's because these high tech solutions seem so distant and unlikely. I think that's a big part of it, it does sound unlikely and kind of crazy (though I also think a lot of people don't like it because the spiritual version just feels so much better).

The thing about the plausibility issue though is, exactly how plausible is it that our consciousness, or soul, survives death? Our minds, along with all our emotions, sense of self etc, are so very dependent on the physical condition of our brains that it seems very unlikely that our consciousness survives death. When someone who suffers from Alzheimer’s disease dies, which consciousness do they get in the afterlife?

Of course that doesn't made the odds that we'll all live a thousand years because of technology, better. Just that we shouldn't laugh at one thing because it's unlikely and then jump on another unlikely bandwagon. In fact I think we should focus our attention where the chances of success are highest, however small they are.


Tracy-Leigh said...

well, i suppose for all of those people who have bought into the eternal bliss thing promised by religions - it's pretty hard to give up. & possibly it doesn't seem likely that this life could ever compare to what creator has made for his good little followers

mutt said...

Thats a good point.

I think from a believers perspective it seems very plausible, so people like me "just don't get it"

Of course, an omnipotent god could make a very cool heaven, but it's funny how bland some descriptions of heaven are (or were). Sometimes there is strange focus on the size of the walls around heaven and the amount of gold around.

Something heaven can provide though that is very appealing is a reunion with dead loved ones.

swart donkey said...

"good little followers"... hehe... we aren't in a condescending mood today are we...

I think the main reason people believe in religion is twofold...

1) Hope -
If your life sucks at times, or something is getting you down, it is nice to believe it will get better. Even if this is not true, a positive mindset will probably stop you from sinking into a pit of despair.

2) Community -
Believing what everyone else believes is a basis for friendship. Someone with no friends and no hope can go to a church/mosque/temple and suddenly they will have friends. Not believing can be quite lonely. If all your friends go to church on Sundays... hey, why not?

As for the meeting up with dead loved ones... the idea of not fearing death is also appealing in that way.


Morpheus said...

Don't worry slaves, I'll free your minds soon.