This Blog Has Moved!

This Blog Has Moved!
This Blog Has Moved to a more stable environment. Click the graphic above.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Here I am again, and I suspect this post will generate a lot of controversy. That's OK.
We learn the most from trading thoughts, I hope in an open-minded, civil way.


by Allen C. Dexter

What really happens when this physical life ends?

Some people are very adamant in stating that nothing happens except complete cessation of existence and consciousness – the screen just goes black. Any evidence to the contrary is dismissed as wishful thinking, hallucinations, trickery by psychics, etc.

Others are just as adamant that death ushers us into a spirit realm where we had better make sure our passport and visas are in order – specifically by following whatever prescription they advocate for safe passage. Those prescriptions have changed a great deal over the millenniums and vary greatly from group to group.

I will admit that it is hard for me to contemplate not existing. I almost instinctively feel that I will go on in some other state when this life ends.

At the same time, I know that the mythology most people say they believe is total nonsense. There isn't going to be a “last trumpet call” summoning the faithful dead to resurrect and the living faithful to instantly transform to spirit and meet Jesus in the clouds. No one is going to meet St. Peter at the “pearly gates” and be ushered into a boring heaven where they laze around on clouds and play a stupid harp. I'm not going to take a boat across the Styx. Nor am I going to be condemned to some chamber of horrors called “hell” because I think for myself and tell some pompous religious despot to take a hike.

After I started doing wedding ceremonies, some of Phyllis' relatives learned I was an ordained minister. When they came to me to conduct a couple of funeral ceremonies for departed loved ones, I revised my carefully crafted memorial address and helped them out. Then, I officiated the marriage of one of their sons.

That same son was a diabetic and recently went into a heart attack and coma that led to massive brain damage before he was discovered. In a few days, he died in the prime of his life, a great shock to all, especially his bereaved wife and parents.

I was again called upon to conduct his memorial. March 8, we drove to Scottsdale and I delivered another carefully crafted address that avoided all the mythology but still was encouraging and sympathetic and certainly didn't include HWA's pompous practice of ruthlessly condemning all the “pagan” nonsense.

I got through the occasion and was duly complimented for my inspiring address, but I'm sure it was a disappointment to some of those attending and puzzling to still others who expected the usual reading of scripture after scripture and assurances that the dear departed was now in Jesus' presence. I merely placed him at the scene, aware and appreciative of all that was going on.

How could I do that? Do I really believe he was there and aware? Surprising as it may be to some of you, yes, I do.

No, I'm not ready for the “looney bin.” This is not a casual or totally emotional conclusion on my part. It's based on a lot of study, observation and thought.

There are just too many firsthand accounts backing up after death survival for me to dismiss them casually and dogmatically. I related one of those accounts in my address. It was from a television program I happened upon just a few days previously.

In this program, Rue McClanahan, the actress who played Blanche on The Golden Girls sitcom, related her experience with afterlife survival and communication.

She had a very dear lifelong friend who was dying. She stayed by his bedside, holding his hand until his death.

Because she had doubts about an afterlife, she asked her friend to please somehow communicate with her if he survived after death and to make his communication something electronic so she would know it was really from him.

He died a short time later and Rue stayed the rest of the night. In the morning, she went downstairs with the homeowner. They turned on the recessed lights in the kitchen and started to make breakfast. Suddenly, the kitchen went dark as every bulb on that circuit burned out simultaneously.

A short while later, a relative called, mystified over the exact same thing occurring at their home at about the same time.

I will admit that one occurrence like this in one place could be dismissed as pure happenstance, but not two such identical occurrences on the same day, in the same family and right after the death of a family member asked to communicate in such a manner.

Shortly after this occurrence, Ms. McClanahan was sitting alone and got the feeling someone was watching her. She turned around and sitting in a chair in an adjoining room was her departed friend with a broad smile on his face. I'm not sure whether it was telepathic or audible, but her friend said, “Hey, it's no big deal.”

My studies on the subject have encountered far too many such accounts for me to dismiss them. Some have been related to me in person by people who experienced them.

The work of the psychic, John Edward, has also greatly influenced my thinking. I have watched episodes of his television programs and searched for evidence of cold reading or electronic eavesdropping on audience members prior to the program, and I've come up empty. Too often, people will deny or not know what he is talking about only to later realize or find out from someone else that he was right on the mark about some improbable and unknowable to John detail regarding a departed loved one.

Does this mean I'm in danger of reverting back to the nonsense of heaven and hell and all the mythology that pervades the world?

No. Of course not.

I don't know how something survives beyond death or what it is exactly. I just believe the evidence for it doing so is overwhelming, at least to my mind.

Is it part of something divine?

I don't know.

I do know that these manifestations never have any connection with the common conceptions of heaven or hell.

The departed are never off in some mythical place behind pearly gates or skipping down golden streets. They're right here. All around us. If our eyes and other senses were capable, we could see them and reach out and touch them. No first, second, third, etc. resurrection has anything to do with it. No stern judge is sitting on a magnificent throne passing judgment while fawning lackeys cast crowns at his feet like he was some self-important Middle Eastern despot.

So, I'm again an agnostic in another can't know for sure situation. I'm certain I'm not alone in my conclusions and I welcome anyone sharing their feelings and experiences with me. Feel free to email me directly.


Ralph said...

Allen, that was certainly interesting. I did exchange letters several years ago with a lady who was recognized as clinically dead and then revived.

She pointed out that there does seem to be at least one thing many such people share. There is an apparent increase of IQ. They can comprehend things they couldn't comprehend before.

For myself, I'm not really concerned in either case, whether we die or whether we continue to exist. If we really don't die, great!

My concern, however, is not with the idea of whether we live eternally or are resurrected, but how our concepts of life and death are related to our social concepts in the "here and now".

For example, does it lie within the collective power of any group, church or state, to put a person to death? I mean death in the "normal" sense.

For example, if "sin" is lawbreaking(1 John 3:4), then one who sins has merely broken the law.

Assume, for grins and giggles, that there is a God whose law we have broken and therefore sinned. Is there an earthly power that can put us to death?

Here, we have the direct teaching of Jesus regarding that: we are not to practice an "eye for an eye". No vengeance.

Even before Paul tells us to be subject to higher powers, he first warns us in Romans 12 that " 'vengeance is mine, and I will repay' saith God".

The true issue regarding death is not whether we live in some other dimension, but whether we have the right to live, here and now, as we see fit.

If there is one who "died for our sins" and therefore paid the death penalty before law, and if we can't exercise "eye for eye" vengeance, then logically, there exists no such power over us to put us to death.

Therefore if the 'wages of sin is death' as Romans 6:23 tells us, then the gift of God is eternal life.

Assuming your statement above is correct, then life in an eternal sense as you describe it is a gift which no human has the right to take, even for lawbreaking, especially since we already have one who has paid that penalty.

In fact, if we look at the story surrounding Jesus, and take away the Mithra garbage and superstition that tries to elevate human systems to divine authority, we see simply that a man existed who was innocent, yet was put to death, even though he claimed to be a son of God, which was certainly not blasphemy within jewish circles at that time, as Talmudist scholar Hyam Maccoby reminds us in his work "Paul, The Mythmaker".

What we have here, stripped of religious nonsense, is the story of a man who was put to death when he broke no law and harmed no man, and anyone who believes in his story has the right to expect immunity since that person died on our behalf. He "went our bail".

As Ernest Martin pointed out in regard to Romans 5:10, "while we were enemies, we were reconciled to God..."

If, by the death of one man, we are reconciled "while we were enemies", is there a human power that can claim us as enemies, especially if they recognize the sovereignty of God, as all fifty US states do?

By the above statement, they cannot, since all are reconciled to God by the death of his son. Anyone who claims belief in Jesus is immune from legal vengeance.

The evolution of that concept in law is now called the presumption of innocence, contained in Isaiah 54:17 and 50:8, along with the right to face our accuser.

As Paul says more directly in Romans 8:33: "Who can lay anything to the charge of God's elect?"

Assuming you statements above to be true, we see eternal life as a gift of God not to be undone by any judgemental power of man, except as a last necessary resort by the use of trial by jury and settlement outside of human collectivist avenues of power(Matthew 5:25, 18:15-18, 1 Cor. chapter 6).

Byker Bob said...

I guess I'm about 1% agnostic on this issue, basically because all of us humans occasionally have lapses in our faith, aka "doubts".

I'm a spiritual being, for the time being having a physical experience. Described in another way, I'm a seed which must die in order to morph into a beautiful plant or vine. Or, yet another, I'm a larva in my coccoon, soon to become a butterfly. Anyhoo, it's a total gas and most certainly an adventure planning for, and experiencing the things which I must in order to get to the next level.

Hope to have lots of company!


The Painful Truth said...

Now that is interesting Al. Life after death.

I don't buy into the Christ myth or any other sky God theology, but some of the stories from the elderly that I have dealt with in the past, seem to offer a view into another dimension.

If energy cannot be created or destroyed and can only change form, are we talking about the physical only here? Ashes to ashes or do you think that energy is part of the conscious, self awareness that we all have? And where did this energy come from? "Original Thought?"

Allen C. Dexter said...

Now, that's a big question. Where did the energy come from? Sounds like BB may have been reading some of Nealle Donald Walsh's books, as have I. My present concept is that what survives is pure energy, thus electronic recordings of faint, muffled voices at scenes of hauntings.

Energy is the basis of everything in this universe, so it would follow anything surviving physical death is energy.

By the way, these are the kinds of comments I was hoping for.

Mike (Don't Drink the Flavor Aid) said...

If you're talking about an "out of body experience", I remain skeptical.

Retired Prof said...

For more on psychic John Edward, take a look at the Skeptical Inquirer site. Go to and type his name into the search box.

Also read posts by Mark Edward (no relation to John) at Skepticblog on cold readings by a variety of psychics purporting to deliver messages from the dead.

Corky said...

Well, this post, "untitled" inspired me to awaken my ex-Christadelphian blog.

That's about all I can say about this post. I might add one thing.

I have been clinically dead, not once, but twice and there was none of that malarkey that everyone falls for. Ever hear of hearsay?

Where is the evidence of the light shortage? Hearsay. People lie so much that you cannot trust hearsay at all.

John Edward's, "crossing over", that is a known fakery and John Edwards is not the first to try and pull this nonsense. Remember the "Great Kreskin"? Remember how he did it? John Edwards does the same trick.

Is there life after death? yes? Then why is it called death?

Know what "life" is? It's neurons firing in our brains (it really does have to do with electricity) but when we die, the neurons quit firing and our eyes go dim, our hearts quit pumping blood and rigor mortise immediately begins.

Okay, maybe that was more than one thing but people need get their heads out of their - nevermind, you know.

Retired Prof said...

What happens after death? Oh boy, oh boy. Finally a topic on which my experience is both extensive and deep. Up to six and a half feet deep.

Back in the sixties I worked as a laborer on several contracts moving cemeteries out of the basins to be flooded by Beaver Lake and Lake Dardanelle in Arkansas. I helped landscape the new cemeteries sited on high ground and drove a panel truck full of boxed-up grave contents from the old cemeteries the new. But mostly I dug up bones and placed them in boxes to be reburied. So I know exactly what happens to us after we die.

We turn to compost.

I disinterred a Mason once who was buried exceptionally deep: six and a half feet. In spite of the depth, a cedar tree standing next to his grave had sent its roots all the way down into what had once been that man’s flesh. It matted those roots through the black dirt like a thick layer of coarse, tough felt. It wrapped them around his bones so tight it was hard to tell where the Mason left off and the tree began. One root had grown up through the holes in his vertebrae where the spinal cord had been and branched out to pack his skull as full as his brain had. When I picked up the skull to drop it in the box, the spine came with it, and I had to chop the root off at the pelvis to free it.

Based on that experience and many others similar but less dramatic, I can declare with confidence that reincarnation is a fact. I mean reincarnation in the material, the purely chemical sense. Microbes had broken that Mason’s molecules down and made the elements in them available to the tree. Before that, the man’s digestive juices had broken down the molecules in wheat, steers, watermelons, apples, chickens, milk, pigs, turnips, beans, and lord knows what all else. After the tree was flooded by Beaver Lake, aquatic microbes rotted it in turn. Those elements that had previously constituted the Mason, and before that his food, dispersed in the water. They got taken up by microscopic plants, which got eaten by microscopic animals, which got eaten by shad and minnows, which got eaten by crappies and bass, which right about now are getting eaten by Masons.

If we are cremated, the details are different but the principle is the same. The volatile combustion products get dispersed in the atmosphere, from which they rain out or get taken up by green leaves directly. The ashes will eventually (perhaps centuries later) get stirred back into the soil, where the minerals that stiffened our bones while we lived can once again nourish living things.

So now you know all I know about what happens after death: the dissolution and dispersion of our material being and its piecemeal reconsolidation in innumerable new life forms. About whether our spirits live on after death I am at least as ignorant as everybody else, possibly more so.

Fortunately, my ignorance of this matter bothers me not at all. For me it is enough to revel right now in my role in the biotic cycle, which itself depends on the explosion of matter and energy that erupted at the origin of the universe 13.75 billion years ago and will continue to flow for untold billions of years to come. If there is some sort of spirit existence in store for me after my material elements disperse, I will know it within a few years.

No rush, though, about that final quietus, with its subsequent dissolution. In fact, procrastination is the key to my plan. I have resolved to put it off till the very end of my life.

Ralph said...

Corky, again providing interesting thoughts on life after death. When I was exchanging letters with the lady I mentioned above, I always wondered if there wans't in fact, some form of interpretive spark that "took over" our brains as we died. If you expect nothing, you see nothing.

Basically, all we're proving in any case is what we perceive. It boils down to the same kind of division over the "hereafter" that involves most religious notions, and the only conclusion must be agnosticism.

Corky, however, seems to be in the most authoritative position in regard to clinical death.

As for life and energy, I think we're doing the apples and oranges comparison. Energy is contained in non-living things. For example, if you cut a tree for firewood and let it dry out for future burning, obviously the log will be dead. Yet it will still burn and expend even more energy because it is dead and dried out, at a faster rate.

The law of thermodynamics, that energy is neither created nor destroyed, applies to both living and non-living systems of organization. And the further problem with comparing energy to life is that the energy released actually exists in a more disordered form according to the laws of entropy. Entropy, the breakdown of order, will increase or remain the same in a closed system.

If you talk about life, you are of necessity talking about something which exists "outside" closed systems, since there is no way of measuring it in any form, except it is there, or it is not, or it can be 'weakened" by factors within the environment.

Still, however, it remains outside of strict definition.

While we do see manifestations of life in its varied forms, it is the results of various forms of life, and not the defined life itself, that we experience.

If something is dead, then by any physical measurement have, it is dead.

Tony said...

The reports of near death experiences are too far and few between for me to take them seriously.

Why is there such mystery and secrecy if there is something on the other side.

Why are only a few able to connect through electric means. If there was another side surely the millions of loved ones would be making contact, but no, we have only a tiny number.

Corky said...

The Christian religion is not about living, it's about dying. It is a death religion, from the blood sacrifice of animals to the blood sacrifice of a human.

Why a blood sacrifice? Because the "life is in the blood", according to the Bible.

Well, the "God inspired" writers got it wrong. The life of a living thing is not in the blood.

It would be closer to say that the life is in the SOUL. When the soul, or life force leaves the body, the body dies and returns to the earth. But, where does the life force or soul go?

Well, that's why the ancients worshiped the Earth Mother, they understood that everything returns to the earth - including that life force or soul or the energy that made the creature alive. It all returns to the earth from where it came from to start with.

If an astronaut dies and is buried on the planet Mars. That much of the earth's weight will be missing from the earth and added to the weight of the planet Mars.

However, instead of worshiping death and blood sacrifice, as the Christian does, why not worship life?

"Everybody wants to go to heaven but nobody wants to die". I wonder why that is? Can it be that they doubt an afterlife? And, why sacrifice a life you have for a life you don't and have doubts that the life you don't have even exists?

Yes, Christianity is a death cult. It's all about death. From the death of Adam to the inherited Adamic Condemnation of original "sin" to the sacrifice of Jesus to your own sacrifice of this life for the next life of which there is no evidence.

And really, it is the Christian's own vanity of thinking of themselves as "special" and "chosen" and what have you.

In a way, it's funny, because vanity and pride is a sin too.

I could say something about arrogance too but I think everyone already knows how arrogant it is when someone knows "the truth" of God and youuuuu don't. Especially if they happen to be the more pronounced "holier than thou" type people who love to thump that bible book.

Thankfully, the "two edged sword" is now dull and doesn't hurt as much when someone thumps us poor infidels over the head with it.

Allen C. Dexter said...

Thanks again for the many good comments. I realize that, as far as the many gods of this world are concerned, I am indeed an atheist and it is mainly in this one area that I am an agnostic. Perhaps that is really a matter of wishful thinking, but I still don't think so.

In the final analysis, anything put forward by me or anyone else can be dismissed as hearsay. That's why eye witness testimony can be suspect because everyone's perception of the same event or occurrence can be different.

This is perhaps one of the most personal questions in existence, and opinions are inevitably extremely personal.

As to where the energy for the life force that may continue on comes from, that is a puzzle. It could be what some refer to as universal consciousness, but where and in what does that consciousness reside? Certainly not in Sol, Amun, Jehovah, Allah or any other deity men have dreamed up.

Maybe we'll never know the answers to such questions, and I too am in no hurry to get to the "other side" to find out. With all its problems, existence in the here and now is too much fun and I want to hang onto it as long as possible.

Ralph said...

Corky, interesting stuff. I was thinking yesterday about that subject regarding christianity and death, especially Jesus' statement in Matthew 24, where his disciples ask him where to gather, and he said, basically, "where the carcass is, there the vultures will gather".

Based on Jesus' statement that God is the God of the living, and on telling a follower to "let the dead bury the dead", I don't think Jesus would have been referring to any kind of true church as vultures gathering around a carcass. But churches actually do gather around a carcass. You see it in most any christian church, a dead or near dead "Jesus" hanging on a cross.

Another analogy is when Jesus told the Pharisees they were full of "dead men's bones". If you think about it, look beside most churches as you ride down the road, and you will see dead men's bones, graveyards, and some churches actually do have the bones interred within the church itself.

As for the soul, Jesus allegedly asked, "what profit is it if a man gains the whole world, and loses his own soul?"

I think the RSV says "life".

But the thing that bothers me quite often is that we already knew much of this before we left the WCG. For example, when I was an ignorant teen-ager in the WCG, I knew that the Constantine churches, and all the daughter churches were pagan. That was part of the doctrine. We didn't share our beliefs with them.

We already knew about the paganism of Christmas and Easter, and we didn't share the idea of a dead crucifix hanging in our group meetings, nor did we exalt steeples.

Much of what we use as "proof" of the the lies of old WCG really isn't proof at all. It was pretty much recognized teachings.

Same for the heaven/hell doctrines, and any idea that we should even begin to believe the nonsense that came from the traditional christian religions.

Oh, and the "two edged sword" actually cuts both ways. It slices human authority in two directions, both church and state.

If we canot organize according to some authority we choose to call God, if the conscience actually doesn't tell us right from wrong, then there is no reason to believe that collectivizing authority in the "default" system of government will provide anything different from religious confusion.

Power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely, whether it resides in church or state.

As Hoffer pointed in his essays in "The True Believer",

"The genuine man of words himself can get along without faith in absolutes. he values the search for truth as much as truth itself...but his appeal is usually to reason and not to faith...Jesus was not a christian nor was Marx a Marxist."

Ralph said...

Nah, I'm more interested in the outcome of "American Idol".

Who do you think will win this time? This is obviously far more important than that 'lady gaga or Madonna" garbage.

Anon, you can't set good priorities no matter what you do.

Anonymous said...

"One root had grown up through the holes in his vertebrae where the spinal cord had been and branched out to pack his skull as full as his brain had."

That's actually kind of beautiful, Prof. Reminds me of the central concept in the movie "The Fountain", where the world-deity in the ancient Mayan myths, created the world-tree, through its own death; in much the same manner you have described the body you disinterred here.

I've never had any fear of death, and I have no doubt that my death (should I be so lucky as to live a lengthy life), will most likely be anonymous and alone. My decomposed remains will become a part of the earth around me, however, which just may connect me to this world, in a way I have never felt to date.

Not that I'll "feel" it at that point, of course, but the idea here-and-now, that I will be connected to this world through my death...kind of makes me feel connected to it now, in my life. Which is definitely an improvement!

So, thanks, Prof! I hope my rambling paragraphs above convey how much I appreciated your comment, and the positive effect that it had for me.


Anonymous said...

"Anon, you can't set good priorities no matter what you do."

And yet oddy enough, this comment is not perceived as an ad hominem attack. Whereas the original anon comment Ralph is responding to, has been deleted. (Which one was it again?)

Seems a bit heavy-handed IMO.

Corky said...

Ralph said...
Corky, interesting stuff. I was thinking yesterday about that subject regarding christianity and death, especially Jesus' statement in Matthew 24, where his disciples ask him where to gather, and he said, basically, "where the carcass is, there the vultures will gather".

Actually, they didn't ask him where to gather. I suggest that Jesus is just continueing with his warning against the false prophets in their future.

"For wheresoever the carcass (the dead body) is, there will the eagles (predators) be gathered together"

This actually goes along with what you have been saying, Ralph, and also is the same thing the apostle said in Acts 20:29.

Of course. After the "short work" (Rom. 9:28) of the witnesses the spirit gifts were to cease (I Cor. 13:8-10) which would naturally leave a "body" behind with no spirit gifts, ie, a carcass, which is a dead body.

Ralph said...

Purple hymnal, it does seem a bit heavy handed, doesn't it? The "Anon" responded to was actually referring to a survey about lady gaga and Madonna or some such. It was in the spirit of ad hominem I suppose. However, to say "you can't seem to get your priorities right", is of the same obviously joking spirit in which he intended the post. Notice I was talking about "American Idol" versus the famous characters he mentioned. If you think I was in any way serious about the importance of "American Idol" versus any other nonsensical TV program, then I suppose I do underestimate your intelligence.
If I had called him a knuckle dragging neanderthal with a pea brain, it would have been ad hominem. However, he wrote a message and I responded to the message and only the message in the spirit it was intended.

Ralph said...

Interesting application, Corky. Pretty darn good, in fact.

Retired Prof said...

Thanks for the comment, Aggie. If you're interested, two or three years ago, in the PT essay "My Spiritual Blindness," I explored in greater detail the idea that a materialist outlook can satisfy one's need to feel connected to the universe.

The Painful Truth said...

Purple Hymnal said...

"And yet oddy enough, this comment is not perceived as an ad hominem attack. Whereas the original anon comment Ralph is responding to, has been deleted. (Which one was it again?)"

It was spam from someone pasting an ad here. That is why it was removed.

Anonymous said...


Thanks for the heads-up on your article. I have been letting materialism percolate in my worldview for some time now, and am still not sure what to make of it all, for myself.

You might also be interested in this article by a Quaker Nontheist on Materialism and Spirituality. Happy reading!


Anonymous said...

Hey, Prof, do you have a link for that article? I can't seem to find it on the site, either by searching, or the Site Map.

Alternately, you can email it to me at


The Painful Truth said...

Try this Purple:

Anonymous said...

Thanks James.

Retired Prof said...

E-mail sent, Aggie.

The piece James referenced (thanks, James) is a science fiction story with theological overtones, not the essay I had in mind. I'm not ashamed of the narrative or anything; it just doesn't bear directly on the potential satisfactions of a materialistic world view.

Ralph said...

That's a good science fiction story. I'm curious to know if something sounded "just like a message", what would the message be? Regular patterns that suggests non-randomness?

That would create interesting problems regarding the general definition of information, wouldn't it?

If, in facty, as Claudse Shannon pointed out, the more probable a mesagfe, the less information it contains. But in fact, as you seem to use it, the probability of the message is what implies the possible information that other forms of life exist.

Of course, Norbert Weiner reversed this definiton somewhat, and defined information more in terms of "meaning" consistent with his ideas on Cybernetics.

In the terms which you use to dewscribe it, the apparent messages received would be some form of communication by means of repetitive feedback that signified organization, and if organization, then possibly life.

But would that imply the existence of life? Corporations operate by means of such regulated communication, and we woudn;t call the alive. Viruses act to capture the reproductive processes of cells, cut and snip genetic material, and contribute to evolution, yet they aren't alive.

If we assume that there exists life as a result of a message, is that the only possible definition by which we might assume that life exists?

How about feedback systems, like a thermostat or a toilet flushing?

can we assume that a regulated message that was both probable and understandable, and employed feedback, would be alive?

Cosmopot said...

Regarding death and dying: One thing that I know, well, I should rather say that I feel confident about is this: If there is life for us after our physical death here on this earth, we'll be there in a nano-second, as far as we're concerned. Even if we don't live again for ten billion years, we'll be there in the next split second after we take our last breath in this physical life.

To put it another way, one can say that we have been waiting for billions of years to be born, but the first thing we knew was, here we are, with our earliest childhood memories.

That's one reason why I'm not too worried about death, because if we live again, it will come in "the twinkling of an eye", as the scripture says.

Not that I believe the Bible is the "inerrant word of God", but I do believe there ARE some things in there that are true, and the "twinkling of an eye" description is one of them.

Anonymous said...

"E-mail sent, Aggie."

Received, and read, with much (positive) emotion. Many thanks, Prof! (I also enjoyed the SF story that James linked, and recommend it to others, as well.)

Retired Prof said...

Ralph, I think we would need somebody connected with the Search for Extra-Terrestrial Intelligence (SETI) program to answer your questions. That group is looking for computer time on home computers right now to analyze data from the Aricebo radio telescope, but I don't know exactly what kinds of patternicity the algorithms are set to detect.

The Painful Truth said...

When I read about you doing what you could as to a secular funeral, I could not help to think about a PCG sponsored event of the same occasion. What joy they (PCG members) must have felt in their hearts when they left the funeral home.

Anonymous said...

"Grandma's son said, "My funeral for mother was the week before she died, while I was with her. Those people treated me like I did not belong at my own mother's funeral. I wish I had not gone."

Charming. That's one thing I'm grateful I can say: I've never attended a Worldwide funeral, either when I was in, or after I got out.

Mind, I'm still uncomfortable attending funerals anyway, and I still do have that blase, robotic attitude towards death. Intellectually, I know the process is as Prof describes it; emotionally, I'm still convinced deep down somewhere I can't reach, that "they're only sleeping". No matter how hard I try, I just can't shake that idea, no matter what I do.

I shudder to think what this means for my future.....

Ralph said...

Thanks, prof, that was an impressive sci-fi story. It reminded me a bt of the story "Flatland" and the way the flatlanders would view our 3D world.

The thing I was wondering about was the idea of a regular, repeated message. The movie "Contact" was quite interesting in that regard.

I believe there is talk about our sending out probes with dots arranged in the Fibonnaci sequence:

Where each line of dots is the sum of the two lines before it. It seems there might be evidence of this sequence in living things, or perhaps organic things.

But for me, your story brings out the point, tat we, as human beings, ARE mesages. Seeing myself as a message, I will seek to replicate my "message" as nearly perfect as possible. This seems to be what Richard Dawkins refers to when he discusses the "selfish gene".

I think what we see as Western religion in general is this attempt to replicate "self" nearly perfect into infinity. But that is also the basic definition of cancer. Replication of self while ignoring the changes and necessary adaptations to the world around us.

Not only are we "messages" but life itself is a barrage of messages, more than ever with the internet.

Certainly if we seek a "purpose" for life or death, we won't find it, because the more we are forced to accept the truth of our own life, the less we see of any mechanical, linear, defined "purpose".

But isn't that what's good about intelligence? The fact that each of us can strike out on our own, kick over the traces and start from scratch if need be?

And if there was a God, wouldn't that be his "message" to us, even if we didn't like it?

Retired Prof said...

Ralph, I'm glad you like the story. As you know, we writers always feel gratified when a reader finds our words thought-provoking.

Ralph said...

I enjoy that kind of stuff. It prods me to reach out.