What happens when you die? 8 non-religious afterlife theories

Source: Hasty Reader

What happens when you die?

As a species, we've been wrestling with this question ever since we could think.

This question preoccupies us so much, we've built countless religions to help explain what might exist "on the other side'. In fact, the central pillar of all religions is providing an answer as to whether there is life after death.

That being said, religion isn't the only source of answers for what comes after death. Philosophy and, recently science, also provide possible solutions.

Unfortunately, while there are multiple possible solutions, none of them are certain and it's impossible to tell exactly what is the true answer.

We have a soul that exists on after death

Central idea: Human consciousness is caused by a metaphysical soul. The body may die, but the soul is eternal.

For centuries, scientists and philosophers have tried to understand the nature of consciousness. What exactly is consciousness? How does it work? What causes it? Why do we have it?

The debate still rages, and there is no 100% proven explanation. However, two possible theories stand out trough the strength of their arguments and popularity.

Physicalism – consciousness exists through biological processes.
Cartesian Dualism – consciousness is caused by the soul.

Physicalism states that consciousness is entirely produced by the brain, through internal biological processes such as nervous signals, chemical releases, hormones, instincts such as desire for food, reproduction, companionship etc.

According to physicalism, you are simply a very complex meat robot, with an operating system built on biological and genetic coding. Your sense of independent thinking is only an illusion and you obey the Laws of Nature.

Cartesian dualism on the other hand, argues that consciousness is caused mostly by the soul.

According to Descartes, the soul is a substance that exists on a higher plane of existence than the reality we live in.

Souls do not experience time, weight, location, smell or any other physical property. A soul simply exists.

How long does a soul exist? Forever. According to most definitions, your soul already existed at the time of the Big Bang, 13.7 billion years ago, and will continue to exist for an eternity more after your death, and the death of the Universe.

That being, Cartesian dualism does allow for some aspects of consciousness to have a biological cause, such as hunger, finding patterns, focusing attention, etc.

So what are the arguments in favor of Cartesian dualism?

The strongest argument in favor of dualism is tightly connected to why we experience qualia (and is occasionally called the hard problem of consciousness)

Qualia is a philosophical term that describes how we naturally seem to understand how objects look, feel, smell or sound like.

For instance, think of the color red.

You've probably already imagined the exact shade of red, an object that is colored red, a memory or feeling that you closely associate with red etc, perhaps you even associate red with a smell, such as strawberries or bell peppers.

This mental image you have formed for the color red is a qualia.

So why is this sensation, or qualia, of the color red a proof that souls might exist?

To understand why, try to imagine yourself explaining the color red to a blind person.

You will likely go through some, or all, of the following points:

Red is the color of passion.
Red is the color of heat.
Red is a certain wavelength of light.

Even if you provide the blind person all the information about the physical properties of the color red, they will still not be able to understand it, because they do not have the "experience of the color red'.

This means that not all information is physical in nature, and that a lot of the information that we perceive exists "outside of nature', and on a different plane of existence than your physical body.

Thus, if there is a separate plane of existence for such information, perhaps the soul might exist there as well.

When you die, you instantly reincarnate

Central idea: After death comes a form of reincarnation. Time perception does not exist while dead, so reincarnation can seem to happen right after you die even if a billion years passes in between.

What if the moment you close your eyes for the last time, you are immediately reincarnated into a different living being?

Consider this: the Universe is only 13.7 billion years old. According to calculations, new stars (thus, new possibilities of life) will continue to be produced for around 100 trillion years.

To put this into perspective, a 100 trillion years Universe has the age of an 80 year old human, while a 13.7 billion year Universe is a 4 day infant.

During this time, you have already been born once. Who can say for sure that over the course of 100 trillion years, you won't be born again?

And even if you won't be born again in this Universe, there is a chance you will be in the next Universe.

According to the Cyclic Universe theory, the Universe undergoes a constant repetitive cycle, where each new Universe starts with a Big Bang and ends with a Big Crunch.

If this theory is correct, the Universe has already had an infinite number of cycles, and will likely continue to have an infinite number of cycles in the future.

And it's possible that each new repetition of the cycle contains a different version of you.

What's more, the transition from one life to another will most likely feel instantaneous. Just as you don't perceive time when you're sleeping, so too you will not perceive time in between lives.

The problems with this theory: The main issue with the Cyclic Universe is that it relies on physics theories that have yet to be proven, and may not be for some time, if at all.

The second problem opens up another philosophical can of worms.

If this theory is true, you've likely already been reincarnated multiple times by now, but have no memory whatsoever of your past lives. If this is the case, are you even the same person you were in the lives before?

The Egg by Andy Weir

The Egg is a (very) short story by Andy Weir, where a man dies in a car accident and then goes on to meet God, who reveals the true nature of human life.

If you just want to know what the main idea is, continue reading. If you'd like to read the short story first, you can do so here.

Central idea: In The Egg, the dead man learns that he is in fact every human who has ever lived, and ever will live. He is both Jesus, and every one of his Apostles. Abraham Lincoln, and his killer, John Wilkes Booth.

The short story doesn't use the word "soul', but the idea is close to it. Instead of each human having their own soul, we all share the same one, except that it's reincarnated in billions of versions from the past, present and future.

When you die, it's only your body that reaches the end. The soul we all share – the soul of humanity – lives on, and will reincarnate a different shell each and every time.

Read the full article at HastyReader.com...


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