View Poll Results: Do you believe in Reincarnation?

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Thread: What Are Your Opinions on the Possibility of Reincarnation and "Past Lives"?

  1. #101
    Senior Member OnePercent's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Hamar Fox View Post
    Consciousness has no identity in and of itself. My consciousness and yours are at root identical.
    This is quite an assumption. First of all, it is impossible to separate consciousness from personality, since consciousness is one's experience of reality, and the way we experience reality is unavoidably influenced by our personal traits. Moreover, the existence of consciousness in any person but oneself cannot be proven but only inferred through that person's behavior or personality. So for all practical purposes the only evidence we have of consciousness IS personality.

    Also, since many scientific studies (observation of identical twins separated at birth, ect.) have shown empirically that genes play a large role in our personality traits, this means that from the moment we are born our individual perceptions of reality are going to be unique from one another because of the influence genes have over our individual personalities.

    Thus, if we as individuals have no a priori existence, as you seem to be claiming, than our existence only begins when we are born, yet when we are born we already have pre-determined genetic traits make us different from others, which would seem to contradict the idea that all consciousnesses are identical.

    Quote Originally Posted by Hamar Fox View Post
    If you subtract wordly experience and brain function, then what remains would just be raw potential, it would have no essence other than pure existence.
    This is another assumption that cannot be proven, just like the the idea that if we were to strip away those things there would still be an individual existence or soul that remains behind.

    Quote Originally Posted by Hamar Fox View Post
    But I deny even that raw potential. It itself is a facet of brain function that doesn't exist apart from the material brain. It's not a singular entity that receives experience and exerts itself through neural pathways. Rather, it's something that's exhausted and recreated at every moment. Its 'continuity' is an illusion crafter through continuity of experience/memory and continuity of available mental resources. However, this continuity works only on a moment to moment basis. Over lifespans, the continuity fades. A child isn't the same being as the old man it eventually becomes. Even on a literal level, most of its cells have been replaced. The ones that aren't replaced (i.e. neurons) are degraded, or the networks in which they were involved have degraded. Nothing connects the child and the old man but the illusion of continued identity.
    Once again, I have to point toward the role genes play in an individual's existence. Genes connect the child and the old man and genes also connect the parent to the child. Even though the physical materials and circumstances composing an individual's existence may change, that individuals existence is still built upon the same genetic structure throughout his life. In this regard DNA works like a computer program, in that it is a code that controls the structure of the physical material that makes up an individual, while at the same time influencing the individual's personality. Much like a computer program as well, DNA is immaterial information that self-replicates using available resources.

    In fact, it is interesting in this context to compare the existence of DNA to that of a soul. For example, DNA physically exists within a cell, however when that cell stops existing so too does that physical manifestation of the DNA. However, if that cell has reproduced than the exact same structure of DNA continues to exist in its ancestor cells, which are essentially clones of the "mother" cell. In the case of a soul, when the physical life ceases to exist the soul (consciousness, personality, whatever you want to call it) would seem to vanish along with it. However, is it not possible that like the DNA that is the basis of our very consciousness, the soul is more than a simple physical/material construct, but actually immaterial information that works like the aforementioned computer program which continues to exist even after the computer that was running it is gone?

  2. #102
    Senior Member Schopenhauer's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Hamar Fox View Post
    I've come to realise mystics don't really care what's true, only what sounds good. Mystics believe in reincarnation because it makes them feel good. They don't believe peanut butter controls our consciousness because it doesn't make them feel much either way. But if it made them feel more secure or more profound, they'd believe it; and if it made them feel bad, they'd viciously deny the possibility in a way that would put their self-proclaimed 'open mindedness' to shame (as they already do with science).
    One can say the same for Dawkins and his followers with their materialist dogmas. Dawkins is really nothing more than the mirror image of some fanatical iman shouting his fatwas at the modern world, except with Dawkins it's materialism instead of Allah.

    Of course reincarnation is meaningless because if the conscious ego can not be preserved, then nothing else matters. Rematerialization is the goal, not reincarnation.

    Atheistism, as I've come to realize, represents a sort of philosophical branch of masochism. Another thing I've noticed about atheists is that they tend to have deep seated inferiority complexes that they endeavor to mask behind well cultivated facades erudition. This is why they tend to cluster in quasi-academic environs so as to reinforce their sense of peer acceptance. Really, atheism is nothing more than a kind of lonely hearts club for eggheads and socialists.
    Omnia risus et omnis pulvis et omnia nihil - HPL

    "Oh, you should never, never doubt what nobody is sure about." - Willy Wonka

    “niemand bleibt hier” - Maria Orsic

  3. #103
    Senior Member OnePercent's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Hamar Fox View Post
    Not once has any superstition been proven correct.
    Even though I feel certain that you are wrong about this assumption, for the sake of argument I will just agree with you on this one. However, I think it is quite erroneous to equate the belief in a soul to a simple superstition. Though it may be true that superstitious beliefs about black cats or the number 13 being bad luck can be disproved via the scientific method, the same is not true for the existence of a soul.

    Considering that the entire concept of the soul is as something that is defined as not having a physical aspect in the first place it seems rather silly to think that you are going to find evidence for it in the material world. In truth there is no more proof for the non-existence of a soul that there is proof that the soul does indeed exist. I know that the general retort of the atheist to this argument is that the burden of proof is on those claiming existence, but I would say that exactly the opposite is true since the majority of people (even many well-regarded scientists) believe in the existence of a soul.

  4. #104
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    Quote Originally Posted by OnePercent View Post
    This is quite an assumption.
    Think of consciousness as power. The toaster couldn't function without power, but the power would be useless without the material constitution of the toaster. Our consciousness is as non-descript as electric power. The electricity in the toaster is fuelling the toaster, but remove the matter that constitutes the toaster, and the electricity is as undifferentiated as any other quantum of electricity.

    First of all, it is impossible to separate consciousness from personality, since consciousness is one's experience of reality, and the way we experience reality is unavoidably influenced by our personal traits.
    Consciousness is potential. It has no concrete attributes. You could damage/remove the pre-fontal cortex of any human being, and provided you don't kill him, his consciousness would remain, yet his former personality would not. This is because the neurons available to consciousness that formerly allowed it to operate, function or rather be a particular way are now gone.

    Moreover, the existence of consciousness in any person but oneself cannot be proven but only inferred through that person's behavior or personality. So for all practical purposes the only evidence we have of consciousness IS personality.
    Personality can't exist without consciousness, but consciousness can exist without personality. You can't see micro-organisms without a microscope, but the micro-organisms don't need the microscope to exist.

    Also, since many scientific studies (observation of identical twins separated at birth, ect.) have shown empirically that genes play a large role in our personality traits, this means that from the moment we are born our individual perceptions of reality are going to be unique from one another because of the influence genes have over our individual personalities.
    Exactly. Without those genes, we wouldn't be us. Yet genes are material.

    Thus, if we as individuals have no a priori existence, as you seem to be claiming, than our existence only begins when we are born, yet when we are born we already have pre-determined genetic traits make us different from others, which would seem to contradict the idea that all consciousnesses are identical.
    No. I said a consciousness in pure form (which I maintain is impossible) would theoretically be undifferentiated from any other consciousness. So, basically, I was arguing that our identity, our personhood is defined by material factors (neural wiring, the genes that originally wired those neurons, and the effects of experience on our neurons -- long term potentiation).

    This is another assumption that cannot be proven, just like the the idea that if we were to strip away those things there would still be an individual existence or soul that remains behind.
    Everything we think corresponds to something material in our brain. Show me a train of thought that no neuro-imaging technique can detect. Damage/remove that area of the brain, and you lose that trait, those memories, those dispositions.

    Once again, I have to point toward the role genes play in an individual's existence. Genes connect the child and the old man and genes also connect the parent to the child.
    This is what I meant by common resources. Consistency of personhood, or the illusion of it, is created by consistency of hardware available to consciousness, further tied together by experience and the memories it creates. Think of it as an electric current. It's ever-changing, yet the computer's display, the game, the DVD, remains consistent because of consistency of the computer's hardware. The energy that is our consciousness is also ever-changing, but our genes and neural constitution remain the same, hence we remain -- at least from moment to moment -- the same. Yet we can't exist without these material things, nor beyond them.

    Even though the physical materials and circumstances composing an individual's existence may change, that individuals existence is still built upon the same genetic structure throughout his life. In this regard DNA works like a computer program, in that it is a code that controls the structure of the physical material that makes up an individual, while at the same time influencing the individual's personality. Much like a computer program as well, DNA is immaterial information that self-replicates using available resources.
    I read your post as I was going along, so I didn't realise you yourself used a computer analogy until I'd already typed mine out. But I don't want to delete or change mine I think, though, that this means we're on a similar(ish) path.

    In fact, it is interesting in this context to compare the existence of DNA to that of a soul. For example, DNA physically exists within a cell, however when that cell stops existing so too does that physical manifestation of the DNA. However, if that cell has reproduced than the exact same structure of DNA continues to exist in its ancestor cells, which are essentially clones of the "mother" cell. In the case of a soul, when the physical life ceases to exist the soul (consciousness, personality, whatever you want to call it) would seem to vanish along with it. However, is it not possible that like the DNA that is the basis of our very consciousness, the soul is more than a simple physical/material construct, but actually immaterial information that works like the aforementioned computer program which continues to exist even after the computer that was running it is gone?
    While I don't consider the self a true continuity, I think that the momentum of the self constantly being extinguished and reborn is essential to creating a sense of self. If our current selves were extinguished, and a clone of us, with the exact same genetic basis, were created and 'activated', then we would no more 'become one' with that clone's consciousness than we would were the clone activated while we were alive -- because the momentum crucial for a feeling of self-identity was broken.

  5. #105
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    Quote Originally Posted by Schopenhauer View Post
    One can say the same for Dawkins and his followers with their materialist dogmas. Dawkins is really nothing more than the mirror image of some fanatical iman shouting his fatwas at the modern world, except with Dawkins it's materialism instead of Allah.

    Of course reincarnation is meaningless because if the conscious ego can not be preserved, then nothing else matters. Rematerialization is the goal, not reincarnation.

    Atheistism, as I've come to realize, represents a sort of philosophical branch of masochism. Another thing I've noticed about atheists is that they tend to have deep seated inferiority complexes that they endeavor to mask behind well cultivated facades erudition. This is why they tend to cluster in quasi-academic environs so as to reinforce their sense of peer acceptance. Really, atheism is nothing more than a kind of lonely hearts club for eggheads and socialists.
    Wasn't Schopenhauer an atheist? Anyway, I'm not a materialist as such. My complete philosophy is inspired quite a bit by Schopenhauer. It's too complicated to be outlined in this thread, though, without completely derailing it.

  6. #106
    Senior Member Schopenhauer's Avatar
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    OnePercent,

    This may be of possible interest to you,


    Consciousness Beyond Life: The Science of the Near-Death Experience by Dr. Pim Van Lommel
    Omnia risus et omnis pulvis et omnia nihil - HPL

    "Oh, you should never, never doubt what nobody is sure about." - Willy Wonka

    “niemand bleibt hier” - Maria Orsic

  7. #107
    Senior Member Schopenhauer's Avatar
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    Hamar Fox,

    Was Schopenhauer an atheist?

    Good question. I guess you can say that the closet thing Schopenhauer came to religion was his interest in Buddhism and the Upanishad. Although Buddhism, at least as it was originally practiced, was not a religion, but a form of ethical training for the Aryan warrior class, of which Prince Siddhartha was a hereditary member of. That Schopenhauer did not give any thought to Jehovahs and their like seems obvious enough, but when we get to his conception of the Will things get a little murky, metaphysically speaking.

    And of course some lines of Buddhist teaching very much believe in reincarnation.
    Omnia risus et omnis pulvis et omnia nihil - HPL

    "Oh, you should never, never doubt what nobody is sure about." - Willy Wonka

    “niemand bleibt hier” - Maria Orsic

  8. #108
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    Quote Originally Posted by OnePercent View Post
    Even though I feel certain that you are wrong about this assumption, for the sake of argument I will just agree with you on this one.
    Well, find me one superstition on the level of headaches being the result of demons invading the mind, thunder storms being angry Gods, the stars telling our future, our palms telling our future, our 'star sign' predicting our character etc, that was proven correct. I mean, it'd be mighty strange if the dirty gypsies who keep trying to molest my dog were actually well-informed sages.

    However, I think it is quite erroneous to equate the belief in a soul to a simple superstition. Though it may be true that superstitious beliefs about black cats or the number 13 being bad luck can be disproved via the scientific method, the same is not true for the existence of a soul.

    Considering that the entire concept of the soul is as something that is defined as not having a physical aspect in the first place it seems rather silly to think that you are going to find evidence for it in the material world.
    So I'd look for it instead in the spiritual world. Except nobody knows how to do that. If we're spiritual entities merely trapped for a brief time in a material carcass, then shouldn't spirituality be as, if not more, self-evident than the material realm? I mean the material and spiritual realms subsist independently of one another. Human beings in life are at the conjoining of the two realms, a bridge between two vastly different modes of existence, yet the material realm takes overwhelming precendence over the spiritual one. Why? Surely we should have equal access to both realms -- I mean, we're grounded, encased in the material realm, but our core is in the spiritual. Knowledge of the spiritual realm should be absolutely intuitive. And having deeply divergent, independent origins, there should be a point at which a spiritual thing is shown not to be intertwined with matter, but simply coinciding with it, neither relying on the other for existence. This simply isn't true. Our 'spiritual' world is filtered through material organs, encoded and stored in material neurons.

    You might want to say that 'intuition of the spiritual realm' is exactly what we have, its primacy the reason for its inconspicuity: consciousness is intuition of the spiritual realm. But it isn't. Everything that we are conscious of is demonstrably material. Objects, pain, emotion, all triggered by material events. We can only conceive of the spiritual by means of analogy to the material: Ghosts look like people (reflect light), sound like people (create vibrations) etc. Only a minority of people, usually Gypsies and other liars, claim to have some primal connection to another realm. So, therefore, even though we're spiritual, qualitatively different from the material, the vast majority of us (and all non-liars) admit to not being able even to conceive of the purely immaterial.

    But in fact, mind and matter are intertwined such that neither could exist without the other. At least not in the way we experience them. It's something of a paradox, for sure, but psychology results from matter, and matter (as we understand it) results from psychology.

    In truth there is no more proof for the non-existence of a soul that there is proof that the soul does indeed exist.
    Proof does exist. Pick a favourite part of your soul, something you want to take with you to the next life, and the life beyond that, and see if it survives a labotomy of the part of the brain in which that part of your soul exists.

    I know that the general retort of the atheist to this argument is that the burden of proof is on those claiming existence, but I would say that exactly the opposite is true since the majority of people (even many well-regarded scientists) believe in the existence of a soul.
    The burden of proof doesn't lie with the least popular, but with the most outlandish claim. Example: Most people think Lil' Wayne is a good musical artist, but the burden of proof still lies with them, because their position is much more outlandish and difficult to maintain than the opposite position, that Lil' Wayne is a shit musical artist.

  9. #109
    Senior Member OnePercent's Avatar
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    Even from a purely materialistic point of view there may be reason to believe that some existence beyond our lives on earth is a possibility. I haven't had the time to do much research on the topic, but I have read many articles over the years about theories in molecular physics that postulate that there may be more dimensions to existence than the four that we are aware of. As I understand it the theorized existence of these other dimensions would help explain some of the otherwise unexplainable behavior of sub-atomic particles. (I have even heard that in some instances these particles behave in ways imply that they are not effected by casualty!)

    Given this possibility it seems illogical to simply rule out the possibility that there may be more to our existences than what we can easily perceive through modern scientific methods. Because it is possible that perhaps when our existence ends in these dimensions we may still have some continuing existence in other dimensions that we cannot normally perceive here on earth.

    I think this idea is best described as the "iceberg principle", in that what we are able to observe of reality is only the tip of the iceberg appearing above the waterline and there is actually much more going on beneath the surface. Using the above mentioned example of the toaster without power, the power may no longer exist within the toaster but it still exists in the power-grid from which it originated. I also like A. Huxley's theory in Doors of Perception that our minds are like funnels that funnel out our ability to perceive anything in existence that is not absolutely necessary to our daily survival (such as what might exist within other dimensions in this case).

    More in line with the topic of this thread, perhaps our "souls" go to these other dimensions of existence until, for whatever reason, we are drawn back into these dimensions of existence.

    BTW, if anyone is interested in reading a really entertaining book about life forms existing in different dimensions I highly recommend "Flatland" by A.E. Abbott. The author was an English math teacher way back in 1884. The story is about a "person" that exists in a world ("Flatland") that is only able to perceive two dimensions. Somehow he manages to perceive into our world of three dimensions (I think this is before the idea that time is a dimension as well) and also down into a world where only one dimension exists (pointland). Even though it was written so long ago it is a very readable book and it is quite entertaining as well.

  10. #110
    Senior Member Dun Holm's Avatar
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    I don't really beleive in it. But, how should I know what there really is and isn't.

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