What facts would disprove the afterlife hypothesis?

Discussion in 'Critical Discussions Among Proponents and Skeptics' started by SciFiFanatic101, Dec 9, 2015.

  1. SciFiFanatic101

    SciFiFanatic101 New

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    Any successful scientific theory has two main strenghts among others:it makes predictions and can be falsified.We can subject the afterlife theory to the same standard.What facts can falsify it and what predictions does it make?This is more of a mental exercise since we don't know much about it or do but cannot analyse the information clearly with our physical brains but indulge me. Artificial intelligence gaining consciousness or self-awareness would, in my opinion falsify brain independent consciousness,a component of the afterlife theory,showing that no matter the hardware,consciousness will always arise if the system has a certain degree of complexity.Of course you can play the "ghost in the machine" card saying that it houses a soul,but that wouldn't be convincing.The A.I. could be subjected to further study to see if it can generate OBE's,remote viewing,telepathy or other things that would indicate the existence of non-local consciousness.A negative answer will definitely falsify the afterlife hypothesis.
    What are your opinions?Do you have other suggestions?
     
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  2. Artificial consciousness would not prove humans are not spiritual, it would only prove consciousness is not necessarily spiritual. You would still have to answer all the empirical evidence that the afterlife is real. You can make an amplifier out of vacuum tubes, but doing so would not prove that semiconductors are fictional.

    Part of science is finding the "best" explanation for the empirical evidence.

    To "prove" materialism, you would have to consider all the empirical evidence for the afterlife and find material causes that are better explanations of the data.
     
  3. SciFiFanatic101

    SciFiFanatic101 New

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    Rayy Kurzweil considers humans as spiritual.machines,even used this as a title for his book,yet he acknowledges that at death there is only oblivion that follows.That is the reason why he is a strong advocate of transhumanism and life extension therapies.The empirical data suggesting an afterlife is fraught with difficulties,since almost all of it is based in anecdotal evidence.That is why I restrict myself to clear-cut examples(since with anecdotal evidence you can't be 100% sure).
     
  4. billw

    billw New

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    IMO the best evidence we have at this point in time that seems to indicate that consciousness "survives" (long term, not just a little while as some veridical NDE perceptions may indicate) are the best cases among the body of reincarnation evidence.

    Cheers,
    Bill
     
  5. SciFiFanatic101

    SciFiFanatic101 New

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    I read Stevenson's book and was impressed by it,still skeptics posit that he was manipulated by translators who wanted their belief system affirmed,since his research was conducted mainly in India.As always we will never know the whole truth of the matter.
     
  6. SciFiFanatic101

    SciFiFanatic101 New

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    Another fact that would falsify the afterlife theory is a clear materialistic neuropsychological theory that explains out of.body experiences.The efforts of Susan Blackmore and Olaf Blanke fall well short of that,addressing only the perception of being out of.body,attributing eveything else to imagination.This doesn't explain for instance why the projector is aware of reality fluctuations in the real-time zone or Locale 1 in Monroe's classification,for example seeing a red carpet instead of the white one from physical reality.Why would he imagine a different version of his surroundings when he has a clear version of it in his mind?
     
  7. David Bailey

    David Bailey Administrator

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    Well what can you do with extreme sceptics like that? I think they need to show some evidence for what they claim, or shut up!

    David
     
  8. David Bailey

    David Bailey Administrator

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    I think a genuine example of artificial consciousness would make me be more willing to accept materialism, provided that:

    1) The AI - presumably a computer program - was sufficiently well explained to ensure that it did not contain a link to something non-material. I mean, I imagine it might be possible to create something that would operate in the way a brain seems to do, and access a non-material realm. However, if it were possible to design such an object, it should be obvious from the design that that was what it was doing, as opposed to running some sort of AI algorithm.

    2) Enough people had explored the behaviour and design of this artefact to avoid trickery.

    At the moment, it is important to remember that the "Hard Problem" - the question about how to make something that would have feelings and experiences - seems completely obscure. Certainly nobody seems to think their computer is conscious, or has feelings, even though they may not even know how many components it contains - or how they are connected!

    In summary, a really good and detailed explanation of how we experience and achieve what we humans do, would be enormously persuasive that there is no non-material realm. Somehow I don't see that happening - though some may try to make the claim!

    David
     
  9. SciFiFanatic101

    SciFiFanatic101 New

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    I like to imagine how stumped scientists would be if the AI has a OBE,searches his database for an appropriate context for it's experience,then begins spouting New Age philosophy.I mean in people there is maybe precedent for mystical experiences and such due to our violent evolutionary history.Due to fear of death,psychological defense mechanism develop to allay those fears which can trigger a neurochemical response like DMT and opioid release.That in turn generates the OBE or NDE,thus offering a calm transition into oblivion.While in AI,when you exclude software & hardware malfunction or outright deception,you are left with something that truly happened and.may be part of reality
     
  10. SciFiFanatic101

    SciFiFanatic101 New

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    Let's try a prediction.Consider the tulku/lama phenomenon in Tibetan Buddhism.When a revered teacher or lama dies,he provides details about his future reincarnation to his followers so they may recognise him in his future lifetime.An experiment of this kind would involve a skilled practicioner of yoga/buddhism to give details about his future reincarnation to a committee comprising scientists(psychologists,psychiatrists etc.),buddhist scholars,honest skeptics and believers.The information received will relate to physical characteristics,description of parents,place.of.birth,timeline to incarnation you name it.Then the committee verifies its findings.If large discrepancies are present then the theory falls.If very small or no discrepancies,you got yourself a solid theory.
     
  11. David Bailey

    David Bailey Administrator

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    The trouble with AI, is that you can always 'fix' it to do something if you are specific enough. Indeed, here is a program that will spout Chopra-ese:
    http://sebpearce.com/bullshit/
    This means that any assessment of AI has to require some judgement, and some understanding of how it achieved its goal. For example, you could imagine a program that would GOOGLE to find passages to spout about death - so it is essential to understand something of what it did - or at least to exclude certain things.This of course is why Turing made his proposed assessment open-ended.

    BTW, the above scenario doesn't make sense from a materialist point of view - though I have seen similar ideas suggested - because from that POV brain mechanisms have to provide some selective advantage, and anything that operates at or near death can't really offer any selective advantage! The other thing to notice from that scenario, is just how little is really understood - I mean DMT, for example, acts by binding to a receptor - so in a sense all it does is to supply one real number - its concentration at the receptor site. What the brain does in response to that receptor is still obscure. This seems to be a general problem with materialistic explanations of sensations - all they do is push the explanation one stage back. A signals B, which signals C, which signals D and E, and E signals F, ................. What else can a materialistic explanation of sensation (qualia) do?

    David
     
  12. Hurmanetar

    Hurmanetar New

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    Good questions and it is a good mental exercise... I have tried to come up with an answer; however, I think it might be a koan. If someone can provide a clear explanation of the afterlife theory without logical contradictions, then maybe we can figure out ways to falsify it or make predictions from it. As Raymond Moody likes to point out, the phrase "life after death" is nonsense... an illogical contradiction because by definition life and death are opposites. We have to redefine terms to eliminate this paradox, but then what does that do to the rest of our model of reality? Our logical models of reality are built on axioms or primitive notions - terms which require no explanation because they are self-evident and any attempt to do so would lead to the abyss of self-reflection: a vicious circle or infinite regress. The common model of reality has the primitive notions of life and death baked right into it. An expanded model of reality that can "incorporate" an afterlife (no pun intended) requires a new set of axioms or primitive notions which will reveal new patterns. Science is the examination of data to infer patterns (mentally created patterns) and determine probable causes of those patterns. In order to begin to do this with the afterlife, we have to frame reality in such a way that the afterlife "makes sense". If we frame reality in the typical fashion that says that corporeal consciousness is the only source of data, then we have eliminated any possibility of having a scientific afterlife theory... which in turn means that it is not falsifiable and cannot make useful predictions.

    Why would AI falsify incorporeal consciousness and why wouldn't the ghost in the machine be convincing? Supposing that the body is likened to an avatar inside a video game, creating an artificial body and brain might be like creating a vacant controller for someone on the outside to pick up and begin playing. There is a decent chance that our bodies might have originated as some sort of "AI" project that took on a life of its own. This means that for an AI to truly gain consciousness (if we assign free-will to consciousness) then it cannot be purely deterministic or even chaotic/deterministic. There must be some method of inserting pure raw uncertainty into its computations that would allow a will an "open controller". <Enter quantum computation?> (I don't intend to misdirect this thread into ANOTHER argument about free-will)

    I don't see how AI that appears to be conscious yet is unable to experience psi would disprove non-local consciousness. How do you verify that it is truly conscious? I've never remote viewed or had an OBE, so does that mean I'm not conscious or that I don't have the potential to some day experience non-local consciousness?
     
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  13. malf

    malf Member

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    Unless we get some idea of the mechanism of this so-called "afterlife hypothesis" I'm not sure science can say anything. It would appear to be outside of its scope.
     
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  14. SciFiFanatic101

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    This is such a difficult and ambiguous subject to tackle that I don't know where to start.We don't know much about the brain.Our imagistic machines(MRI,PET) can't penetrate to the level of individual neurons or groups of neurons.We don't have a workable theory of how memory is encoded and we have no idea how a lump of nervous tissue can produce qualia.Because of our poor understanding,there is no reason why we cannot speculate on a nonphysical consciousness interacting with our brain.But AI's are our creation and by the time they achieve consciousness we will have an almost complete understanding of their functioning.So invoking a nonphysical counterpart that makes them conscious will be superfluous.
     
  15. SciFiFanatic101

    SciFiFanatic101 New

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    Agreed,but you see,in our society,what is ultimately accepted by the scientific community is branded as "truth",while what is ignored or criticised by it is perceived to be most probably false.Unless there is a genetic mutation that makes us more predisposed to accessing altered states of consciousness or a widespred popular religion that stresses spiritual practices like meditation,yoga,holotropic breathing conducive to ASC's there will never be an acceptance of the afterlife theory.What I like to see is the creation of an Institute or research center dedicated to studying ASC's,specifically the afterlife territories found during an OBE.It should have its own publications and journals and contain a multidisciplinary team of scientists with highly trained observational skills.As far as I know only the Institute of Noetic Sciences and the Monroe Institute does something of this sort,although they are considered by society to be a fringe group.
     
  16. SciFiFanatic101

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    Another matter is tied to how psychopaths fit into the afterlife hypothesis .They possess a brain that doesn't process emotion as we do which gives rise to anti-social behavior.They simply do not.understand empathy,love or .compassion because of faulty brain wiring .Do these people have free will?Is it they're fault for having a dysfunctional brain?Why would someone incarnate as a psychopath?
     
    Last edited: Dec 10, 2015
  17. David Bailey

    David Bailey Administrator

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    Well yes, and there are people that start to behave differently (usually worse) after injury or disease to their brain.

    The problem is that there doesn't seem any way to incorporate consciousness into a materialist philosophy because consciousness isn't just computation - it includes (and is probably dominated by) sensation - qualia.

    I guess someone needs to study lengthy NDE's of psychopaths!

    David
     
  18. People who argue that suffering on the earth is evidence against the afterlife are making a religious argument. They are making assumptions about the afterlife and rejecting empirical evidence because it does not support their assumptions. It is much more scientific to form an understanding about the afterlife based on the empirical evidence.

    What we think we know about the afterlife should be based on empirical evidence. The biggest obstacle to understanding what NDEs, evidential mediums, and other sources of information about the afterlife tell us is the misunderstanding propagated by mainstream religion: that if you are good and worship God correctly He will watch over you and take care of you like a loving father. There is no empirical evidence that this is true. The evidence points to the understanding that the purpose of incarnating is to learn by solving problems. This means we need psychopaths to give us problems and we need to be psychopaths in turn to experience the problems psychopaths have.
     
  19. billw

    billw New

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    Given the amount of evidence we have that consciousness is not brain-generated, it's a good thing that there are scientists who strongly disagree with that.

    Cheers,
    Bill
     
  20. Laurent K.

    Laurent K. New

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    One thing a particular bother me : in an experience with mediums. Some mediums said they did communicate with deceased people. They brought true information. But, in fact, these people were not dead at all. They were alive.
     

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