What do you think about this fact-based view on ‘existing’ past the date of our death?
Let’s start with a known fact: our brains stop functioning when we die, and we have no rational reason to believe that our consciousness survives death.
Now, let’s talk about existing past the date of your death…
Many people feel a deep connection to the universe; in fact, we are made from starstuff. We are an organized mass of tens of billions of atoms that were birthed from a star. We have the capability to contemplate our place in the universe and ponder those stars. I find this highly beautiful.
And if you desire a fact-based perspective on existing past death, consider this: We know that the matter and energy comprising you will continue to exist beyond your death, certainly for millions of years past the date that your life ends. You are made of material that has existed throughout the entire course of life on Earth, and in fact, was previously part of other life forms. Their matter and energy exist in you right now, and in the future, yours will exist in others.
Moreover, there’s a chance that your influence may persist in the memories or thoughts of others after you’re gone. Have you made a positive impact on the lives of others?
You can see this when you reflect on famous historical figures and the enduring marks they’ve left. Or think of a family member from your past on a smaller scale. We take bits and parts of others and adopt them into our lives. I think of Carl Sagan, who exists today in my thoughts as I paraphrase him above. His views are my views today and shared by some of you. He exists inside of us. Will you exist inside of someone else after you’ve deceased?
In fact, we see this commonly in people who choose to have children to “keep their legacy alive.” Humanity embodies all the accumulated knowledge and lessons of those who came before us. In the future, if you make a significant impact on others, you might continue to exist in their thoughts and actions for hundreds of years, maybe longer, after your demise.
Another profound way we can continue to exist beyond our death is through organ donation. This selfless act allows parts of us to literally live on in others. Consider the remarkable possibility that your donated eyes could enable someone else to see the world. Or imagine your heart, the vital organ that sustained you, beating strongly in another person’s chest. If this person, bearing your heart, learns about your life, your values, and passes these on to their children, even more of you lives on, influencing future generations. This continuation is not just biological; it’s a transfer of legacy, ideals, and life itself. Organ donation, in this sense, transcends mere physical existence – it becomes a lasting, meaningful extension of your impact on the world, a way to extend your influence and presence, even if you never had children of your own. It’s a tangible, impactful form of afterlife, grounded not in the metaphysical, but in the real, life-affirming connections between human beings.
I don’t make this argument because I feel a ‘need’ to adopt untenable and irrational norms peddled by religion. I feel a need to adopt and embrace that which is based in fact, a view that I’ve no doubt come to embrace because of the lessons of people who lived well before me.
Can you strengthen my case? Am I leaving any FACTS out which further the view that we exist afterlife?
“Every man has two deaths, when he is buried in the ground and the last time someone says his name. In some ways men can be immortal.”-Ernest Hemingway
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A respondent commented: “Research has been done, using all available technology to determine whether any force of energy leaves the body when it dies. Nothing has ever been detected.”
Here’s my response:
Regarding research on energy leaving the body after death, it’s crucial to clarify the distinction between metaphysical concepts like the soul and the scientific understanding of energy and matter. It’s correct to say that no credible scientific research has demonstrated the existence or departure of a metaphysical ‘soul’ or similar force from the body at death.
However, from a purely scientific standpoint, the laws of thermodynamics, particularly the law of conservation of energy, affirm that the total amount of energy in a closed system remains constant. When a person dies, the energy within their body doesn’t vanish into thin air; it merely transforms into other forms. The heat energy dissipates into the surrounding environment, and the chemical energy within the cells is eventually released and utilized by other organisms. Similarly, the matter that constitutes our bodies—composed of various elements—continues to exist in different forms, as it becomes part of the Earth’s ecosystem through natural processes like decomposition.
In essence, the scientific perspective doesn’t support the idea of a mystical energy departing the body upon death in the sense of a soul. Instead, it reinforces the understanding that the energy and matter that make up our physical being persist in the natural world, adhering to the fundamental principles of physics. We know that our energy will continue to exist past our deaths. This is less mystical of course but it connects us to the unending cycle of energy and matter in the universe, grounding our existence after death in the tangible reality of the natural world.