Is it rational to believe this is your only life?

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Reply Sun 26 Apr, 2009 10:23 am
My argument is very simple, and based on no currently established forms of religion of which I am aware.

Anyone who contends that once their life is over, they'll never be anything more is attempting to limit the capabilities of the Universe.

Regardless of what happened to bring the Universe and all of us into existence, it happened, and is certainly possible. Is it rational to assume it couldn't happen again?
 
Didymos Thomas
 
Reply Sun 26 Apr, 2009 08:32 pm
@etcetcetc00,
etcetcetc00 wrote:

Anyone who contends that once their life is over, they'll never be anything more is attempting to limit the capabilities of the Universe.


I do not think anyone actually believes that... or, at least, very few people believe that once their life is over that they will never be anything else.

Most people seem to accept the notion that matter and energy cannot be destroyed. It's a sort of "duh reincarnation" - of course that which comprises you will continue to exist, the only thing that will not continue to exist is the notion of a self that unites all of these things which appear to comprise the self. Or something like that.
 
etcetcetc00
 
Reply Sun 26 Apr, 2009 09:32 pm
@etcetcetc00,
I'm talking more about a second big bang. Or not second, but more likely ((10^500)^500)^500th big bang. I'm talking about the cause of the universe, and how it is illogical to assume what has already happened couldn't happen again. It's not like reincarnation or eternal resurrection or anything of the sort. It's simply a repeat of whatever happened to make us in the first place. I want to know if anyone knows of anything to support the claim that this is and will be the only universe.
 
Ultracrepidarian
 
Reply Sun 26 Apr, 2009 09:51 pm
@etcetcetc00,
Does that have to do with my belief that once I die, I will cease to exist or as you said, I'll never be anything more?

Personally, I don't believe in the big bang as a begging for all of existence either, but the question of what there was or was not before the big bang seems physical or metaphysical rather than epistemological.
 
etcetcetc00
 
Reply Sun 26 Apr, 2009 09:55 pm
@etcetcetc00,
I don't want to ask about the nature of existence or the universe. I posted a similar thread to this in existentialism too, but what I want is a discussion on the logic. Knowing what we know, is it logical or illogical to think it won't happen again.
 
Ultracrepidarian
 
Reply Sun 26 Apr, 2009 11:23 pm
@etcetcetc00,
What do we know?

If only that something happened, then...
the year 2000 happened once, maybe again?

Don't you have to know what caused the big bang in order to know if another one will happen?
 
etcetcetc00
 
Reply Mon 27 Apr, 2009 01:38 am
@etcetcetc00,
That's right. We don't know. I'm not asking if anyone does. We do know it happened. What I want to talk about is whether the logical assumption is that it will happen again or that it will never happen again based only on that knowledge.

let's try it this way. you move into a new house, and on the first night you're there, your next door neighbor leaves the porch light on all night. You know nothing about the neighbor except he turned his light on the first night you saw. Is it more reasonable to think he turns his light on every night, or that it was a one-time only occurrence?
 
Dichanthelium
 
Reply Mon 27 Apr, 2009 04:01 am
@etcetcetc00,
etcetcetc00 wrote:
Regardless of what happened to bring the Universe and all of us into existence, it happened, and is certainly possible. Is it rational to assume it couldn't happen again?


I'm inclined to think it is not rational to assume it couldn't happen again. In fact, models of an expanding universe suggest it must happen over and over, right?
 
Ultracrepidarian
 
Reply Mon 27 Apr, 2009 08:23 pm
@Dichanthelium,
X already happened, so I assume it won't happen again.

I agree, you have to know something about what causes X. I know more about porch lights and people than I do about what happened some 13 or 14 billion years ago.

Mustn't any thinking that the big bang is a one-time thing come from some metaphysical or physical understanding?

People who say another big bang won't happen don't assume so because it already happened. Rather, it is assumed given what they think they know about its nature as a unique event. That's right, isn't it?

Tom made that mistake once. He won't do it again.
The industrial revolution happens only once.
We can never return to the year 2000.
There will never be another big bang.
 
mattmark
 
Reply Sun 3 May, 2009 08:17 pm
@etcetcetc00,
If it's rational to believe in accord with such evidence as is before us, then it's rational to believe that the lives we are currently living are the only ones we will ever experience. We have no evidence of a single identity uniting two lives; nor does this seem to be a coherent possibility.

Your subsequent comments do not bear relevantly on the question you raise. Whatever the phrase 'the capabilities of the Universe' means, we can take for granted that those capabilities, however defined, will be 'limited.' This does not follow logically from the claim that we lead only one life; it's simply existentially consistent with what we know of the universe and the meaning of 'limit.'

You also use 'it' and 'again' in an equivocal way in your final sentence, and later on in the discussion when you moot the possibility of another Big Bang. Even if there were another Big Bang it would no longer be the first Big Bang: that one would have come and gone. The second would be its own 'it,' and the only thing 'again' about it would be that it was another instance of something classifiable as a 'Big Bang' event.

It isn't enough to affirm the possibility of other lives and/or other universes. What needs to be shown is that an identity relation between disparate lives or disparate universes is even in principle thinkable. Until that can be done (and, as noted above, I suspect this would turn out to be an incoherent project) it will remain rational to believe that all identities (including the identities of lived lives) are unique.
 
Paggos
 
Reply Sun 28 Jun, 2009 06:39 pm
@etcetcetc00,
Was it Epicurus? Anyway, he thought that when we die our atoms form into space, and we become part of it. I don't really believe this is true considering we don't recycle ourselves, maybe physically into the soil. I believe that our conscience is passive though.
 
richrf
 
Reply Sun 28 Jun, 2009 06:46 pm
@mattmark,
mattmark;61191 wrote:
If it's rational to believe in accord with such evidence as is before us, then it's rational to believe that the lives we are currently living are the only ones we will ever experience. We have no evidence of a single identity uniting two lives; nor does this seem to be a coherent possibility.


Hi,

I believe what is called inherited characteristics is strong evidence of transcendental lives. If such things as a soul passing through multiple physical lives existed then inherited characteristics is exactly the way it would manifest. In other words, the soul is learning. Observe, it is different for everyone and in some people certain skills are very advanced - e.g. Michael Jordon's basketball prowess, Einstein's ability to envision the universe, and a begger's ability to survive by begging.

Rich
 
jeeprs
 
Reply Mon 17 Aug, 2009 06:00 pm
@etcetcetc00,
as a matter of fact, I think the factor that really decides whether you are religious or not - in an inner sense, not in the sense of 'belonging to a religion' - is whether you believe, or accept, that this life is not the only one.

To me, it seems absurd to believe that this identity commenced at the moment of birth, or some time subsequently, when the personality began to form and ideas began to take shape. This body and the personality are both outcomes of processes that began...well, when, exactlly? As some have pointed out, all the heavy elements were once stars...hence, we are stardust.

Then during this life, further actions are set in motion that may extend well beyond the termination of this body by death.

Also, ultimately, the distinction between this self and the world as a whole is iimpossible to delineate, exactly. We have a feeling that 'I am this or that person' but this is largely the action of memory and consciousness attaching itself to what it feels as its own.

So - no anwers from me. Only questions.
 
etcetcetc00
 
Reply Mon 17 Aug, 2009 10:47 pm
@etcetcetc00,
Ok, I want to set a few things straight. I want to address the issue of whether a person is the result of a natural, physical and chemical reaction and association or something of a higher order, and the consequences of each in terms of a man's place in the universe. Assuming the identity as physical, if everything that happened in this universe that resulted in creating a person is repeated exactly in another hypothetical universe would the hypothetical person created in the hypothetical universe be the same person or a copy? If one were to suggest it would be merely a copy, that seems to require some sort of superphysical charicteristic. Science shows that the physical animal that makes my body's chances of being made were 1 against a number several thousand orders of magnitude higher than it. I take comfort in the staggering odds against my existence because it stands, in my mind, as a strong defense of the case that there this isn't the only universe. There are serious theories in Quantum Physics and String Theory that state that there are potentially infinite number of parallel universes, and that universes are made continuosly. If the universe is actually one product of a never-ending cycle producing universes, I think it begs the question.
Also, if you accept a soul, or single consciousness, or just accept the mind as a higher order realm than the physical, what have you, how could reincarnation be unreasonable. I don't want to come off as fanatical. In my mind the prospect seems reasonable enough and profound enough to be worthy of discussion, and that's all I'm looking for. I'd like to discuss the logic of my deductions, particularly the physics part if that could be done I don't want dogma. I want people willing and able to discuss new ideas open mindedly.
 
jeeprs
 
Reply Mon 17 Aug, 2009 11:17 pm
@etcetcetc00,
You should look into Dr Ian Stevenson, late of University of Virginia, who documented a series of cases of children who remember their previous lives. You want a straight answer, this is the closest you're going to get.

Old Souls by Thomas Shroder is quite a well-written account of his research.
 
etcetcetc00
 
Reply Tue 18 Aug, 2009 12:43 am
@etcetcetc00,
I've heard of him, and I'm not really interested. Thanks anyway. I don't see the prospect of an immortal and immaterial soul that passes into other bodies after death. I much prefer the physical explaination, or the collective consciousness explaination. Apart from an entirely different universe, the only idea of reincarnation that makes sense to me is the buddhist tradition, which teaches against the concept of souls in favor of a continuous mind stream that is fundamental to the universe. Self, in their view, is a misinterpretation of the phenomenal world. Any discussion of souls is purely speculative, so I'd rather not discuss that.
 
jeeprs
 
Reply Tue 18 Aug, 2009 12:56 am
@etcetcetc00,
Kind of like 'never let the facts get in the way of a good story', eh?

Oh well, good luck with it. I think the only way you're going to get the acccount that you want is to build it yourself.
 
etcetcetc00
 
Reply Tue 18 Aug, 2009 11:54 am
@etcetcetc00,
No, not at all. The last thing I want is to live my life with some unfounded belief that requires me to ignore facts. I don't want any good stories to get in the way of the facts, and I don't want to live out the rest of my life with the conclusion that I'll never find the answers to the questions I have. Whatever belief I select, I want to be able to hold to the utmost scrutiny, which is why I haven't found one yet. Even the belief that there is no answer deserves to be held to scrutiny, and the odds against my existence lead me to be sceptical of that deduction. I'm actually pretty offended by what you said. Dr. Stevenson's best evidence is still speculative, so if those are the facts you're talking about, they're not the ones I'm looking for. Birthmarks that look like death wounds are can't hold up to the scrutiny I would want to subject my beliefs to.
 
jeeprs
 
Reply Tue 18 Aug, 2009 03:51 pm
@etcetcetc00,
The point is that Ian Stevenson's work is not speculative. It is scrupulously empirical. There are instances such as those you refer to in his cases - birthmarks that replicate injuries. Stevenson does not elaborate or speculate much - in fact his writing is very dry. That is why the Shroder book is useful although once you get over the 'gee whiz' factor it is not so remarkable. And it is one of the only sources of actual information - as distinct from speculation, folklore or myth - that you will find on this question. So can't really see why you are so keen to brush it aside.

Buddhist doctrine about rebirth is paradoxical. The Buddhist idea of annatta is usually interpreted as meaning that there is no soul or abiding identity. However it is impossible to reconcile this understanding with such practises as the selection of successors of the Tibetan Rinpoches. The whereabouts of the new incarnation will be divined by a dream or an oracle, and then he will be shown items belonging to the previous incarnation, and so on. How you can reconcile this with the idea of 'no soul' is frankly beyond me. Buddhists employ a lot of sophistry to maintain this position, in my view.

Buddhism discourages metaphysical speculation and clinging to ideas about soul, self, or anything of the kind. But there are grounds for saying that the Anatta doctrine does not mean 'no-soul'. It means that everything is without self. Ear, eye, nose, taste, etc, these are not-self. Every phenomenon is without-self or not-self. This, however, does not mean there is no soul.

Quote:
What do the Nikayas have to say of the Self? "That's not my Self" (na me so atta); this, and the term "non Self-ishness" (anatta) predicated of the world and all "things" (sabbe dhamma anatta; Identical with the Brahmanical "of those who are mortal, there is no Self", (anatma hi martyah, [SB., II. 2. 2. 3]). [KN J-1441] "The Self is the refuge that I have gone unto". For anatta is not said of the Self but what it is not. There is never a 'doctrine of no-Self', but a doctrine of what the Self is not (form is anatta, feelings are anatta, etc.).
Contextual doctrinal examples being: "The Self (Attan) is Charioteer"[J-2-1341]. "Ananda, dwell with the Self (attan) as your Light, with the Self as your refuge, with none other as refuge." [SN 5.154, DN 2.100, SN 3.42, DN 3.58, SN 5.163]. "The Self (Attan) is ones True-Nature (Svabhava)" [Mahavagga-Att. 3.270] "The Self is the refuge that I have gone unto; it is the Light, that very same sanctuary, that final end goal and destiny. It is immeasurable, matchless, that which I really am, that very treasure; it is like unto the breath-of-life, this Animator."[KN J-1441 Akkhakandam][Source]


Furthermore, the way Buddhism developed under the Mahayana adds such notions as the Buddha-Nature and the Trikaya (triple-body of the buddha), and the idea that the Bodhisattva will willingly re-incarnate for the sake of all beings.

So be careful in what you attribute to Buddhist doctrine of no-self and re-birth. It is a very deep study.

Other references: The Buddhist Unconscious by William S. Waldron

The Dance of 17 Lives: the Incredible true story of Tibet's 17th Karmapa, by Mick Brown.

Let me observe that your approach seems very impatient.

All the best with it.
 
Krumple
 
Reply Tue 18 Aug, 2009 05:22 pm
@etcetcetc00,
Quote:
My argument is very simple, and based on no currently established forms of religion of which I am aware.

Anyone who contends that once their life is over, they'll never be anything more is attempting to limit the capabilities of the Universe.

Regardless of what happened to bring the Universe and all of us into existence, it happened, and is certainly possible. Is it rational to assume it couldn't happen again?


This sounds rather logical off the cuff but it's not. The flaw is that for every individual born you would have to account for that individual either prior or after. Do you know the number of humans who have ever lived? What is the total number of humans that will live? It is a huge number. How can you account for such a coming and going if your argument were true? You can't and that is the problem.

I do not have any memories that I can readily access despite what some might claim, that I have lived multiple lives. Were those memories trapped in my previous body? Perhaps but if they do not transmutate with the individual how can you ever make a connection? You can't.

Change is the definition of the universe. Nothing remains the same from one moment to the next. NOTHING stays the same permenantly. Therefore it is NOT logical to assume that YOU will remain unchanged for eternity.
 
 

 
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