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Post-Mortem: A Discussion on the Afterlife

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Haha, wow! I turn my back for two seconds and the thread goes to hell. (Pun, get it?) Long posts are clearly ineffective and are a waste of my valuable time, so let's see if I can turn brevity into an artform.

Eras: Re-read all of my posts. Tell me when it dawns on you. Ancient texts are not the only source of authority on religion. (EDIT: And, let me repeat a question that you ignored earlier: why does it matter that I quote an ancient text? You don't believe in the gnostic gospels, the Koran, or the writings of the Pontifex Maximus, so, wouldn't that not advance our debate in any case? Anyway. My response to Hwi also applies to you, so, keep reading.)

Hwi: Re-read all of my posts. Tell me when it dawns on you. You embody the enemy you decry.

Dragoon: I actually had a serious question about your view of the afterlife that I wanted to ask, but could not because I was busy defending my religious views against the Christian version of the Taliban. You mentioned something about sleep and memory, and I wanted to ask, do you hold the relationship between waking consciousness and dream-state consciousness as an analogy to our present state of subjective awareness and whatever awareness might exist in the afterlife? What I find quite interesting is that the physical presence of dreams--their content, the emotions that we felt--are often annihilated, but their essence is somehow preserved in memory. Might there not be some form of system, network, or phenomenon in the universe that preserves the memories and characters of sentient beings long after their physical forms are gone? I don't know, but it seems like an interesting thing to mull over. Ah, the freedom I have when I am willing to think beyond lonely literalism... but, then again, was that not what the devil fought for in Paradise Lost?

Dante: I think you're right that any form of humanitarian aid that comes on the condition of religious education is a moral wrong. I also think it is a legal one in the United States: I believe that providing humanitarian aid on the condition that religious education is accepted is a violation of the constitutional right to freedom of religion, because it creates an element of duress that forces individuals to make choices about their religious beliefs that are fundamentally unfree. I believe individuals who do anything more than simply state their religious affiliation while providing humanitarian aid are criminals. Morally, I believe they are toads of the lowest order.

Acriku: I believe the consensus is that the spread of AIDS in Africa is largely due to opposition to condom use because of local religious beliefs and the official policies of large religious organizations. A quick Google search reveals that condom distribution has the most significant impact in reducing the spread of AIDS in Sub-Saharan Africa. However, because the source of this information is not an ancient text, I do not believe that all posters on this forum will buy your argument.

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I believe individuals who do anything more than simply state their religious affiliation while providing humanitarian aid are criminals. Morally, I believe they are toads of the lowest order.
Really offensive. Needless to characterize those who do nothing but accuse the hard work and efforts to teach and improve the life of their fellow human who is suffering.

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Yeah, but it's not offensive because they're not working "to teach and improve the life of their fellow human who is suffering." They're actually withholding education and improvement in life unless people are forced to receive some form of religious message. See why that's wrong? It's impossible for you to look at this any other way without completely mischaracterizing what's actually happening on the ground. Also, it's pretty hilarious for you to talk about the offensive: how many times have you gone way over the line in this forum? He who casts the first stone!

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Not a whole lot to say here.

DK: thanks for your posts. They are interesting and enlightening, and I look forward to more from you. The sleep/dream, wake/consciousness thing is interesting, because it gets at the question of what exactly is consciousness? I feel like I'm doing the things that I do, but really, is it some ghost/soul/mind/self, or is it simply the fact that, in a given situation, certain behaviors are more likely to occur, and because I can predict those behaviors I feel a measure of control over them? Going back to dreams; I have, on occasion (maybe 3 times in my life) engaged in lucid dreaming: I consciously controlled the content of the dream. What's interesting about this is that although I felt in control of myself in the dreamstate prior to awareness, once I became aware of the dreamstate and took control, I was able to change things and do things I never would have accomplished otherwise. Can that process be mapped onto waking life?

Eras: There is one thing I love about your posts: when you talk about Dune like you really understand it. Don't you realize that religion in Dune (at least, in Frank's original work) is a tool used by the powerful and learned (the Bene Gesserit, for example) to control behavior? Essentially, that's all religion is; a way to get people to do what you want through various means. In Christianity, those means are typically guilt and a promise of some happy afterlife. In the words of STD in his song "

": "Christians will all turn to zombies upon His return, as if it isn't that much different that is it right now, now it is?" Finally, really, you're on a Dune forum in a thread on the afterlife telling someone that questions about the afterlife belongs elsewhere? Really? Maybe it's just the amount of time I spend on other boards, but it strikes me more and more that you seem to be trollin.

Which brings me to my take on what happens when religions render aid to people in need. This topic was made much more interesting to me recently while watching the Ernesto Guevara biopic "The Motorcycle Diaries" in which Catholic nuns withheld food from doctors at a leper colony because they did not attend Mass. Really, in a lot of cases, Catholics et al. are the only source of meaningful aid in a given situation (unfortunately, our current governments are not as socialistic as some would hope) and therefore have free reign to ask whatever questions, or make whatever requirements they like prior to rendering aid. For example, in Utah, the LDS church has a ton of social initiatives available to poorer members, such as a food supply initiative, clothing/furniture supplies, and jobs. In other words, in some ways, religion serves a truly meaningful purpose in the lives of the poor or disenfranchised. However, if you endorse the help of religions in this situation, you are also endorsing the various other initiatives promoted by the religion in question, such as Proposition 8, in California, as well as a faulty system of behavior control based on guilt and promotion of ineffective concepts of self control.

Sometimes I really think it might be a fun mental exercise to create a new religion. Of course, as we all know, that was L. Ron Hubbard's downfall. Well, that and he was f'ing mental.

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You mentioned something about sleep and memory, and I wanted to ask, do you hold the relationship between waking consciousness and dream-state consciousness as an analogy to our present state of subjective awareness and whatever awareness might exist in the afterlife? What I find quite interesting is that the physical presence of dreams--their content, the emotions that we felt--are often annihilated, but their essence is somehow preserved in memory. Might there not be some form of system, network, or phenomenon in the universe that preserves the memories and characters of sentient beings long after their physical forms are gone? I don't know, but it seems like an interesting thing to mull over.

Sort of like the latest episode of The Doctor (Doctor Who), which was this Season's Finale.

In the episode, since The Doctor's companion, Amy, remembers the Doctor after the collapse of the Universe, he is able to come back to life.

Dante: I think you're right that any form of humanitarian aid that comes on the condition of religious education is a moral wrong. I also think it is a legal one in the United States: I believe that providing humanitarian aid on the condition that religious education is accepted is a violation of the constitutional right to freedom of religion, because it creates an element of duress that forces individuals to make choices about their religious beliefs that are fundamentally unfree. I believe individuals who do anything more than simply state their religious affiliation while providing humanitarian aid are criminals. Morally, I believe they are toads of the lowest order.

Actually, we are trying to mop up after the belief system that 'God wants you to do anything that feels good'.

It does make me nervous that there are men in their 20s and 30s who want to encourage my 15-year old daughter to be 'free' sexually. You wouldn't be 'one of those type of men, would you'?

Acriku: I believe the consensus is that the spread of AIDS in Africa is largely due to opposition to condom use because of local religious beliefs and the official policies of large religious organizations. A quick Google search reveals that condom distribution has the most significant impact in reducing the spread of AIDS in Sub-Saharan Africa. However, because the source of this information is not an ancient text, I do not believe that all posters on this forum will buy your argument.

The number 1 source of the spread of AIDS in sub-Saharan Africa was because of bi-sexual men. Now that pregnant women are spreading it to their children, those innocent children have to suffer.

But that is pretty much how it always is... Not too many facts, lots of stereotypes. Still waiting for those stats from Planned Parenthood that show how VD and HIV can be conatined through condoms. Not too much in the way of data from the 'condom crowd'. Just a lot of fancy dinner parties in the suburbs and in the DC Beltway.

But I do have a question. Do you think a cryogenic man, if awakened, could speak of the after-life?

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I'm sort of at a loss for why people expect something after death. Our brain is where we derive reality, where we experience the world around us. It's a big organic complex chemistry set that exclusively lets us experience life. When we die, or when that big organ in our head gets shut down, our experience stops. We might have some neurons firing randomly, creating hallucinogenic experiences right before death, but once we're dead, that's it. How can we experience an afterlife without the very instrument of interpreting reality?

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Regarding the notion of religion merely being a tool to control the masses, one could say the very same about governments and their systems of law and order. Therefore, religion seeking to control/improve human behavior is, in and of itself, neither a negative nor a unique concept. But to imply that this is all that religion is demonstrates a lack of discernment and a distinct inability to ponder concepts beyond the limits of one's material reality.

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Regarding the notion of religion merely being a tool to control the masses, one could say the very same about governments and their systems of law and order. Therefore, religion seeking to control/improve human behavior is, in and of itself, neither a negative nor a unique concept. But to imply that this is all that religion is demonstrates a lack of discernment and a distinct inability to ponder concepts beyond the limits of one's material reality.

I actually wouldn't disagree with either of those points. Governments, religion, parental units, advertising... essentially, any organization with a set of rules exists to manipulate human behavior. I also would agree that I have fostered an inability to seriously ponder concepts beyond the material reality, at least when they are couched in the ideals of formal religion. Religious experiences, historical accounts, and, yes, even miracles can be accounted for with science (primarily psychology) and technology.

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Religion is so much more than a tool to control people's actions. It's a method by which to engender thought patterns, to make the masses want to be dictated to. It's a development of ancient charlatanism, claiming knowledge of the unknowable. It's a circus, parading impressive sights and sounds before an easily cowed populace. Governments are answerable to the governed, but religions are answerable only to their own invisible sky wizards, thus only to themselves. A ridiculous state of affairs, frankly.

Pay attention to this next bit, it's off topic but rather important.

The comparison between religion and government lacks a rather vital understanding of what it is exactly that governments are supposed to do. The purpose of a government is not to control, it is to administrate. To govern is to manage, not to dictate. The term "leader" is misleading, adopted out of old habit when refering to absolute monarchs or warlords. We are not supposed to be led. We are supposed to lead ourselves, nominating a small number of our own to oversee the paperwork.

That is what a government does. That is not what a religion does. A government's laws are derived from the people it serves, a religion's laws are defined from whatever the leader was smoking that night he got high in the desert. A government's laws are constantly reviewed, updated, modified, by and large improved. A religion's laws, if claimed to be immutable laws of the universe instead of guidelines for man to govern himself, must forever be unchanging, for if they changed then the masses would question what prompted the change in the universe?

The comparison is therefore invalid.

I'm not responding to Dragoon simply because I don't see any merit in his hypothesis. It depends too much on assumption and poorly defined premises. Shame, because he is trying to keep us on topic, but meh.

It does make me nervous that there are men in their 20s and 30s who want to encourage my 15-year old daughter to be 'free' sexually. You wouldn't be 'one of those type of men, would you'?
You're an idiot. Just wanted to repeat that to put the following in context. Also you misplaced that second punctuation mark, it should have followed "men," not "you." The point is moot of course because you were suggesting Wolf might be a paedophile, which you lack the courage to do directly.

Now, I can't speak for anyone else but my interpretation is that nobody is encouraging "free love;" what is being encouraged is self-determination. Or in other words, your daughter's actions are her own. Whether or not to obey you, the laws of the land, the pressures of her peers or her own will, these are decisions that she makes own her own, and there comes a point when neither you, nor anyone else, will be able to dictate them for her.

Or at least, that's the ideal.

And considering the kind of parent you seem to be, the sooner she starts making up her own mind the better.

A cryogenically frozen person would have no memory of the afterlife, because there is no afterlife. Occam's razor, people.

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I'm not responding to Dragoon simply because I don't see any merit in his hypothesis. It depends too much on assumption and poorly defined premises. Shame, because he is trying to keep us on topic, but meh.

Oh I completely agree that my idea is probably - nigh on certainly - nonsense.  However, the merit might not lie in the explanation itself, but in the attempt to explain.  Pure logic would seem to indicate that we do simply cease to exist (in any way, shape or form, corporeal or otherwise) after dying, but there's no way to be sure right now.  Perhaps there never will be an answer.  But it's only through discussion of the topic that any answer can hope to be found.  Ignoring it, or classing it as a universal and eternal unknown, would be... something between unfair and irresponsible.

Not that I'm calling you or anyone else who holds to the "nothing" theory anything of the sort.  Nor am I attributing these characteristics to humanity as a whole.  I simply mean that if we humans did not endeavour to find an answer, we would be letting ourselves down.  Philosophy can lead to great things. :)

You mentioned something about sleep and memory, and I wanted to ask, do you hold the relationship between waking consciousness and dream-state consciousness as an analogy to our present state of subjective awareness and whatever awareness might exist in the afterlife? What I find quite interesting is that the physical presence of dreams--their content, the emotions that we felt--are often annihilated, but their essence is somehow preserved in memory. Might there not be some form of system, network, or phenomenon in the universe that preserves the memories and characters of sentient beings long after their physical forms are gone?

An interesting idea.  Akin to the notion that the "dream world" is another plane of existence.  To imagine that our consciousness would live on in a dream state... it's certainly something I could envisage.  Time certainly has little meaning in dreams.  How fast is the speed of thought?  How long could a sleeping (or, indeed, dying) brain draw out a single second?  Consider the possibility that a person could live out an eternity in their minds as the last vestiges of electrical activity leave the brain.

Lord J mentions lucid dreaming (and I'll come to you in a second :)) - if we again consider the possibility that humans create their own universe, their own afterlife in their minds, the abilities granted by lucid dreaming would allow them to live out their remaining existence in paradise, doing whatever they wanted to do.  The only real obstacle to lucid dreaming (i.e. waking up) is removed.  The afterlife is whatever you make of it.

You mention the detachment inherent in dreams - that we feel emotionally separate and can't remember their content.  Indeed, of the seven or so dreams that we have each night, most of us are lucky if we can barely recall one or two.  While the idea of a system or a network seems a little more obscure, I agree that there is a possibility that there is some hidden potential in dreams.  Whether it's in the drawing out of time as mentioned above, or something altogether more sci-fi (shared consciousness, alternate plane of reality, etc.), it's our responsibility to find the answers.

Thanks for your posts. They are interesting and enlightening, and I look forward to more from you. The sleep/dream, wake/consciousness thing is interesting, because it gets at the question of what exactly is consciousness? I feel like I'm doing the things that I do, but really, is it some ghost/soul/mind/self, or is it simply the fact that, in a given situation, certain behaviors are more likely to occur, and because I can predict those behaviors I feel a measure of control over them? Going back to dreams; I have, on occasion (maybe 3 times in my life) engaged in lucid dreaming: I consciously controlled the content of the dream. What's interesting about this is that although I felt in control of myself in the dreamstate prior to awareness, once I became aware of the dreamstate and took control, I was able to change things and do things I never would have accomplished otherwise. Can that process be mapped onto waking life?

You're welcome, and thank you for the compliments. :)

Your observations seem to indicate a possibility that we are observers in our own bodies, with the illusion of control over our actions.  It's an interesting idea to envisage - the notion that, even as I type this, the thoughts that create the text aren't mine, per se.  They simply filter through me, giving me the semblance of conscious thought.  This is very similar to what happens in dreams: unless we are lucid, any decisions we make aren't really ours, or at least not in any rational sense.  We walk into the room, which promptly turns a bright shade of yellow and begins to fill with toasters; we observe that we've made the decision that toasters are not on the agenda, and so now we're on a bus talking to our dead relatives and listening to the conversation as a third, non-existent party.

All of that was complete nonsense, but it would make sense in a dream.  Or to put it another way, we wouldn't be able to tell if it was sense or not.  We have no real concept of logic or causality or the realms of possibility in dreams.  By becoming lucid, however, we impose our conscious mind's order atop this chaos, and a happy medium is achieved.  We know that nothing is impossible, and can shape reality as we see fit.  The catch is that it's relatively easy to determine that we're dreaming, either due to the illogical actions described above, or any of various dream signs.

So if we posit that reality itself could be simply another state of dreaming; that what we perceive as "consciousness" is, in fact, different only from unconscious dreaming by way of content, then therein lies the rub.  If everything we perceive is deemed as logical, we have no dream sign equivalent.  There would be no way to "snap out of it", so to speak.  Under this hypothesis, we'd never be capable of independent thought.  Let's hope this isn't the case. :P

On a final note, I'd heartily encourage anyone and everyone to read up on lucid dreaming.  There are any number of tips and guides online; don't dismiss it as bogus ramblings.  It's often closely associated with things like astral projection, but I can assure you that lucid dreaming is possible.  I, too, have experienced it on two different occasions.  While neither lasted very long (in real time or in the dream), they were both amazing experiences.  There's nothing quite like shaping all of reality to leave you refreshed and ready to face the day. :)

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You're an idiot. Just wanted to repeat that to put the following in context. Also you misplaced that second punctuation mark, it should have followed "men," not "you."

You're right. There are some other mis-punctutation errors that others have committed in this thread. Are you going to point those out, as well?

Try not to be so mad. And don't say something like, "You're a troll.", or "Don't bring up a thread from June." You are the one who keeps calling me names.

But I can take the criticism. I know from history that people called other saints and followers of the Son of God; horrible, horrible names. If those saints of old can suffer, so can I.

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"mis-punctutation errors," not a word, incorrect hyphen, technically a double negative. D- better luck next time.

You do realise that your persecution complex works the other way as well, right? Sodomites have suffered far worse than mere insults throughout the course of history. Castration, starvation, burning, murder. All I have to deal with is lies from morons. If others have suffered worse, I'm quite sure I can put up with your yammering.

Now, back to the afterlife. Who'd like to think that the Norse version is a good idea? Hands up.

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"mis-punctutation errors," not a word, incorrect hyphen, technically a double negative. D- better luck next time.

You do realise that your persecution complex works the other way as well, right? Sodomites have suffered far worse than mere insults throughout the course of history. Castration, starvation, burning, murder. All I have to deal with is lies from morons. If others have suffered worse, I'm quite sure I can put up with your yammering.

Which, as you know, I do not condone any violence. I hope that you feel the same way towards true Christians.

Now, back to the afterlife. Who'd like to think that the Norse version is a good idea? Hands up.

Valhalla or F

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Sure, not violence, never violence. Only spreading soul-destroying, fork-tongued mistruths to vulnerable people. Mental torture is so much better than physical, isn't it?

And I'd like to discuss Valhalla with someone, anyone, other than Eras, please.

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Sure, not violence, never violence. Only spreading soul-destroying, fork-tongued mistruths to vulnerable people. Mental torture is so much better than physical, isn't it?

And I'd like to discuss Valhalla with someone, anyone, other than Eras, please.

My feelings are 'quote, unquote' 'hurt'.

Well, as you know I have a History degree, and a multitude of credit hours in Religious studies, so, oh well.

I find the Viking warrior caste to be very interesting -- and their desire to spread the destruction into the afterlife fascinating. So much so, that the mayhem and carnage continues. This seems to be true as long as the Viking Empire was expanding, even under one of its' nation-states, the Norwegians.

As the Norwegians spread over the North Sea, and into Scotland, this belief system came into crashing contact with Middle Age Christianity...

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Your observations seem to indicate a possibility that we are observers in our own bodies, with the illusion of control over our actions.

Better than I could put it myself :)

If everything we perceive is deemed as logical, we have no dream sign equivalent.  There would be no way to "snap out of it", so to speak.  Under this hypothesis, we'd never be capable of independent thought.  Let's hope this isn't the case. :P

Two points: Firstly; why would we assume a logical existence at all? The world (seemingly, at least) has systems within systems that work nearly devoid of our individual mechanisms. In fact, I would argue that we are really just another system inside of the biological system inside of the physical system, etc. That's really meaningless, though, to proto-human, who is seeing seemingly random events and learning to predict them, in one way or another. What would make the most sense to proto-human is to make an invisible system (based on gods, demons, etc.) to explain why stuff happens beyond her immediate perception."Realization" of this nonphysical existence, through religion, philosophy, or psychoactive substance (even particularly vivid dreams, care of half-rotten meat and fruit), would be the sort of dream sign necessary to see the "hidden world" around you, acting as a biologically salient stimulus event which changes behavior.

Second; I appreciate your view that independent thought exists, but really wouldn't it be more in line with Occam's Razor to say that "independent thoughts" are actually quite dependent upon previous experience? For example, I am an agnostic (borderline atheist; yes I really do believe in a god of some sort :) I'm just not sure what that sort is yet), but I was raised evangelical in the Southern US. Evangelicals (at least the brand that I was raised) have very clear perspectives regarding existence, so to break with those ideals, I must have a very analytical mind and a strong independent thinking ethic, right? Well, I like to think of it as more of an early tendency to read about other religions (for example, ancient Greek mythology), which was followed by some profound life experiences (my father seriously injuring himself, my mother coming out, my own father's questioning the belief system over and over again, while holding true [dogmatically so] to it's premises, until he was forced to become true to himself), during which (as a teenager of the late 90's/early millennium) I began questioning authority and "reality". This was followed by my attending college, where I got a "liberal" arts education (including a philosophy class and a separate philosophy discussion group) which imprinted that "questioning" tendency. To summarize: my "independent thinking" was actually the product of a long line of highly salient life experiences.

On a final note, I'd heartily encourage anyone and everyone to read up on lucid dreaming.  There are any number of tips and guides online; don't dismiss it as bogus ramblings.  It's often closely associated with things like astral projection, but I can assure you that lucid dreaming is possible.  I, too, have experienced it on two different occasions.  While neither lasted very long (in real time or in the dream), they were both amazing experiences.  There's nothing quite like shaping all of reality to leave you refreshed and ready to face the day. :)

Absolutely, the three occasions that I engaged (accidentally) in lucid dreaming were incredible experiences that I value deeply. The interesting thing about them is that I didn't really do anything amazing in them, I just bounced around, flew, teleported, etc. I wish I knew more about lucid dreaming and could do it at will, I haven't really studied up on it as yet, though. As for astral projection, I have my doubts. In my personal experience it's difficult, but not impossible, to create the world as you see fit in the dream. In fact, I learned early on that walking was an inefficient way to get around because of load times (the amount of time it took for my mind to construct reality), which is why I started teleporting.

Regarding Valhalla; Sorry Dante, I know virtually nothing about Norse mythology. I do, however, support the movement of this topic from Christian bickering. It's all very silly and at least moderately off-topic.

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Erasmus, you can't accuse someone of desiring to sleep with your underage daughter in one breath and then complain about people "calling you names" in the other. This is beside your repeated pattern of harassment toward myself and others because of the profession of our beliefs. Note, however, that I am not so self-righteous as to contemplate that maybe your harassment constitutes righteous suffering that I ought to bear nobly because it is an indication of the correctness of my views. I am not so illogical, nor so desperate for validation that I need to make such a specious and vague claim.

On the point of your daughter, however... I lost my virginity at age 15. Chances are that either she has, or she's contemplated it. Your difficulty lies in the fact that your inflexible and aggressive views on sexuality may prevent her from broaching the subject with you honestly. In this sense, you unconsciously cut off your nose to spite your face.

And finally, it's funny to see someone who hates most Westerners because of their "pagan" background feign an interest in Norse mythology. On this topic, I think it's more important to realize that if Dragoon is right--and that we create our own "eternities" in the recesses of our own minds--the afterlives we experience will be uniquely responsive to us. Whatever good we felt we did in the world we will reward ourselves for. By that same token, whatever weighty guilt we carry, however deeply buried within our consciousness, will manifest itself as a constant and unremitting torment. No one escapes hell simply because they are the genesis of their own afterlife.

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The reason that Eras is justified in claiming persecution for his Christian beliefs and you are not is evident. Eras' views are based solidly upon Scripture and are in line with traditional Christian tenets.  Whereas, your views conflict with Scripture and therefore, you cannot honestly claim that you are being persecuted for "Christian" beliefs (perhaps for your worldly beliefs...)  Your views have obviously been contaminated and compromised by the world.  You embrace and even rationalize their gross immorality, all the while mocking and ridiculing God's perfect moral standards.

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Ugh, wow, how can you not see that you're actually a perfect mockery of the very standards you claim to venerate? And in any case, it wouldn't matter, because that's exactly how I feel about you. Word for word. When you start slinging this stuff, you render the entire conversation meaningless.

But I've missed my intellectual pi

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*Applause*

So my attempt to get the thread back on topic, subtle as it was, has been a bit overshadowed. Watch, mortals, as I be the bigger man and try again.

Valhalla was a particular example, but the question behind the question was simply what shape, if there is one, should the afterlife take? Rather distinct a question from that of existence. A continuous party until the end of the universe doesn't sound like a bad idea to me, especially when one is also preparing for said end of universe. Personally I prefer the idea of a neverending journey. Always somewhere new to go, something new to learn. Always the option of going somewhere instead of returning somewhere.

Now, any thoughts on that?

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The reason that Eras is justified in claiming persecution for his Christian beliefs and you are not is evident. Eras' views are based solidly upon Scripture and are in line with traditional Christian tenets.  Whereas, your views conflict with Scripture and therefore, you cannot honestly claim that you are being persecuted for "Christian" beliefs (perhaps for your worldly beliefs...)  Your views have obviously been contaminated and compromised by the world.  You embrace and even rationalize their gross immorality, all the while mocking and ridiculing God's perfect moral standards.

That was well put.

I think that if an individual believes in evolutionary theory -- that there is no God, it is hard to believe in the afterlife -- after death.

It might be more accurate to ask, Would you like to live forever in this current world?

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That doesn't even make sense.

"I think that if an individual believes in evolutionary theory [that there is no God, it is hard to believe in the afterlife] after death"

See? And I'll take this moment to point out that one can believe in both god and evolution. Indeed, the vast majority of chrsitians do so.

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Yeah, we totally had that conversation a long time ago--and it's a settled issue. Hwi tried pushing for intelligent design and convinced me pretty thoroughly that it's actually an impossible idea/self-defeating premise. And I don't think having some materialist views makes it any harder to believe in an afterlife than it would be otherwise--ultimately, believing in an afterlife should be no harder than believing in a God, right? At the same time, however (and I find this pretty interesting to note) I actually have an inkling that believing in God is easier than believing in an afterlife, now I wonder why that would be?

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Valhalla was a particular example, but the question behind the question was simply what shape, if there is one, should the afterlife take? Rather distinct a question from that of existence. A continuous party until the end of the universe doesn't sound like a bad idea to me, especially when one is also preparing for said end of universe. Personally I prefer the idea of a neverending journey. Always somewhere new to go, something new to learn. Always the option of going somewhere instead of returning somewhere.

Ah, and here is where the veteran fan fictioner gets his ideas...I always wondered ;)

For me, honestly, I've always enjoyed the creating/ruling new universes hypothesis. I haven't played Spore yet, but that game seems to epitomize the concept of what Heaven would be for me. Of course "create your own afterlife" would make sense too. That way, people who want the traditional concept of heaven can take a break if they like, people who continue to feel guilty can feel happy by getting tortured for a while, and those who want sex with virgins can do that if they like. I think if I were a god, that's probably the direction I would go, considering that universe building probably isn't for everyone. I've also fantasized a few times about the idea of, not reincarnation, traditionally speaking, but something kind of like a reload option, where I can select a year or decade in particular and "replay" it, changing this or that to see how things would have turned out. Not that I really regret the majority of my life (it would be a fairly pointless exercise to do so, afterall) but curiosity remains, as always. Either way, I find the idea of a static existence (i.e. Traditional concepts of the afterlife) absolutely boring. Reincarnation would not necesarily be boring, just needlessly painful.

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