Monday, May 16, 2011

Life After Death - A Curveball

One problem I've had with the claim that there is no life after death is that it involves making a bet that even a die-hard atheist shouldn't be confident making.

See, the focus is normally on particular kinds of life after death - "you die and then you're in heaven/some place". Now, I think there's actually some very suggestive evidence there, empirical and philosophical and otherwise.

Now what about actual physical resurrection? That's key in the Christian tradition of course, and apparently so in the jewish and muslim ones as well. Oddly enough - without getting into questions of deeper metaphysics - superficially it seems even a materialist would have to entertain the logical possibility of life after death if it's put in the form of a resurrection. Put the right matter back the right way and, there you go - death undone.

But here's where the problem comes in. Eternity... that's a very long time, and even the atheist is going to believe in eternity by and large. And if at death you either don't have consciousness, or don't have the right sort of consciousness, any resurrection of your body at any point is going to make any amount of time pass in a blink for you. Couple that with matter/energy being unable to be truly destroyed as opposed to changed - according to scientific theory - and it seems to me you have reason to be pretty spooked about the possibility of life after death, even if you're an atheist.

Granted, this leaves all kinds of specifics up in the air, and it's certainly not a proof of *heaven* or the like. My greater point here is that a lot of things can happen given eternity, and there is no quicker way to wait through eternity than to die or sleep through it.

3 comments:

Codgitator (Cadgertator) said...

And then there's the issue of how many worlds theories guarantee that a great many "versions" of ourselves will indeed be reconfigured and resurrected in the span of eternity. And that we have been resurrected before in the same ways, etc. It may be that ours is a world in which the link between a certain set of epistemic and bodily commitments (viz. Christianity) is directly tied to being so resurrected. Not much of a victory for orthodoxy, granted, but it underscores your point that deniers of the afterlife have to say it's either a logical impossibility or simply a part of their creed. Time will tell, as you say. And they say theology is not verifiable!

Codgitator (Cadgertator) said...

Are you perchance riffing on this? http://www.npr.org/blogs/thetwo-way/2011/05/16/136358335/stephen-hawking-heaven-is-a-fairy-story?sc=emaf

Crude said...

Yeah, I'm partly going off that, though it's a thought I've been toying with for a while. The basic point being that eternity is a very long time, and the universe is a very odd place. And death is a great way to make a tremendous amount of time pass in less than a blink, under the scheme of people who deny any afterlife.

I had a similar discussion with an atheist once re: gods. They insisted that the universe came from nothing uncaused, a pretty typical view. But my thought was.. if a person really thinks that can happen - if some things can just begin to exist like that - then it seems like you're practically guaranteeing the existence of gods at some point. (Naturally I mean 'gods' like Zeus, or something akin to the mormon God, or all those gods Feser would call naturalistic.) After all, if a universe can do it, why couldn't a god?

Once again, eternity is a very long time.