Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Worshipping Death

The Rapture is a popular belief among Christians. This belief states that Jesus Christ will come back to Earth from heaven and send the devout, deserving Christians directly to Heaven just before the Tribulation or Armageddon occurs.

Rapture Letters is an extremely popular website where Christians can set up automated letter e-mailings to their friends and loved ones upon their ascension to Heaven, informing them of their departure. And the Rapture Ready Message Board is a place for Christians to discuss rapture-related issues.

If you spend some time reading posts on the Rapture Ready Message Board, you will quickly see that these Christians are obsessed with the rapture. They want it to happen, and they want it soon. For example, I as I am writing this article, I went to this post and found a registered user with the username "Can't Wait!". It doesn't take a genius to realize what it is that this person can't wait for. This user literally wants to leave this existence and go to the afterlife ASAP. The people on this message board want Jesus to come to Earth, swoop them up, and initiate a deadly Armageddon among those who are "not saved". I have even seen on numerous occasions people writing prayers on this message board, asking Jesus to come quickly; to come now. These people literally want to leave this life and pass on to the afterlife. They worship death in that they pray for this life to end.

This comes back to primacy assignment. These Rapture-obsessed Christians assign primacy to the afterlife, and therefore pray to have this life sacrificed to serve their afterlife desires. This current life plays second fiddle to them, and they only care about their deeds in this life to the point that it serves their position in the afterlife. What can be more inhumane than the sacrificing of their own current lives and the lives of their peers?

This is what happens when someone holds afterlife-belief as true. Christians have been praying for Jesus’ second coming, and the end of life as we know it, for over a thousand years. Of course, to the Christian, their actions are not inhumane. They think that getting more people to pray for the ushering in of the end of life is a good, humane, caring thing. Christians are not willfully evil, it is simply the afterlife-belief that distorts their views into thinking that death-worship is moral. They don't even see death as death, but as an ascension to a better place. Funny that whenever a Christian's life is threatened, instinct kicks in and they fight to preserve their life. When a car is about to run them over, they jump out of the way. When a criminal tries to kill them, they attempt to flee or defend themselves. Is that the sign of a true believer? Is there a good reason that the self-preservation instinct kicks in if they really desire to leave this life? Chief Justice Scalia even once said that it's no big deal if people get wrongly put to death, as God makes things right in the afterlife. Who wants to put their life in the hands of someone like that? Not even many Christians would want to have their life in his hands.

The person that does not believe in the afterlife will not likely wish for this world to end, or for their life to end. I know I sure don't. I am very happy with this life, and I wish to protect it. I value this existence, and my life in it, more than anything else. The Rapture-worshipping Christians do not; they worship death.

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

“I Cut Her Arms Off.”

Dena Schlosser cut her baby’s arms off in a bout of religious fervor on November 23, 2004. Dena was suffering from two things: postpartum depression, and afterlife/god belief. If Dena was suffering from only one or the other, her baby would likely still have all four limbs (as well as it’s life). But mix the two together, and you have a recipe for inhumane behavior.

According to the experts, religion is common among mothers who kill their children. In fact, all the mommy-slaying-baby stories in recent memory involve very religious women, and of course they cite religious factors when asked why they committed their heinous crimes.

Dena said she wanted to give her child to God. How lovely and considerate. At least, in her afterlife-tainted mind, it actually was a kind act. The afterlife is an even happier place than Disneyland! Why not save your dear child from the harsh realities of this life and send them straight to the afterlife, where it’s one big eternal Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory?

Dena confessed to the crime while talking on the phone to a 911 operator. One the 911 tape, the hymn “He Touched Me” can be heard playing in the background. During the crime-scene investigation, police took Bibles from the residence. Funny that Christian groups blame games like Grand Theft Auto for inspiring violent behavior and push to get retailers to not sell the game, but nobody is calling for Bibles to be removed from store shelves after something like this happens. I imagine that if Dena’s home were filled with copies of The Satanic Bible, the Christian groups would be pointing their fingers at that book. Why the double standard? Why don’t we call a spade a spade? In the eighties, there was a Satanic scare where false claims of Satanic-child sacrifice were being thrown around. Yet the Satanic Bible only speaks against sacrifice, and the Holy Bible repeatedly speaks in favor of many kinds of sacrifice, including child sacrifice.

Please realize that I am against all religions, including Satanism. But what I’m trying to point out here, is that people are not objectively looking at the dogma. People have false pictures painted in their heads of what they think these ideologies say, and they set up straw men to validate their erroneous beliefs. Surely, no Christian in America will agree that Dena did the Biblical thing nor did the right thing. Instead, the American Christians will likely claim that Dena was influenced by Satan or was simply crazy. They count the hits and ignore the misses, in addition to setting up straw men about these worldviews. I contend that Dena took a logical course of action in accordance with the ridiculous claims and worldview depicted in the Bible.

Afterlife-belief serves as a motivation and catalyst for inhumane behavior. If Dena didn’t believe in the afterlife, she wouldn’t have killed her baby. This is because she would not have believed that her child would go to a happier place by murdering her. Instead, she would have realized that keeping her baby happy means to provide for it and raise it properly in this life. Postpartum depression or no, Dena really did want the best for her child. She wanted her baby girl to be safe and happy. And it was her religion, her afterlife belief, that twisted her good intentions into a horrible act of infanticide.

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

Schiavo's Dead, But The Discussion Isn't

I know that the Schiavo thing is old and tired, but there are new and very relevant developments in her story, and considering that this is an anti-afterlife blog, it would be immoral for me to not discuss these developments, so bear with me.

The autopsy for Terri was recently completed, and CNN posted an article about the autopsy results. Just to get this out of the way, they found no signs of trauma or abuse from her husband. But let's focus on the most important part of this entire autopsy. Medical examiner Jon Thogmartin had this to say:

"The brain weighed 615 grams, roughly half of the expected weight of a human brain. ... This damage was irreversible, and no amount of therapy or treatment would have regenerated the massive loss of neurons."

This quote, along with the videos that everyone has seen, should make the consciousness-material brain dependency perfectly clear. For the afterlife-believers out there, think about the implications of these circumstances.

Terri was a non-functional human being with a decomposed brain that weighed half the size of a normal adult brain. Her consciousness deteriorated in direct proportion to the material deterioration of her brain. So if there is an afterlife, what happened to her consciousness? Did certain parts of her cognitive ability just float away and wait around for the rest to follow? Do you think the parts of her consciousness without brain matter to support them were waiting in the spirit realm to be reunited with the remainder of her mind once her body fully expired?

Do you think that her memories, which have shown to be composed of material electronic impulses and neural connections inside the brain, could still have "existed" in some other realm even without material support, and then can somehow be reattached to the rest of her consciousness after her death?

No doubt, pretty much all the afterlife-believers would answer yes to these questions. Well, I think that this presents a bit of a problem. To insist that the consciousness is not dependent upon material support for existence is to deny that material conditions can affect it. Therefore, I contend that if the afterlife exists, and material conditions do not affect a consciousness, then Terri Schiavo should have retained all of her conscious capabilities regardless of the condition of her brain. I contend that those portions of her consciousness would never have left her and that Schiavo would have still had full use of her mental facilities and memories regardless of the degree of deterioration of her brain.

If the consciousness truly was not dependent upon a material brain for existence, then it would not be negatively affected by brain damage or deterioration. Therefore, these portions of her consciousness would never have separated from the rest of her mind in the first place.

I contend that the fact that she lost mental capabilities from the deterioration of her brain is proof that her consciousness is affected by her material brain and that it cannot exist without material support.

If the afterlife-believer were to accept falsifiability for their position, then it would have just been proven false in the previous paragraph. If an afterlife-believer, setting up an unfalsifiable version of the afterlife claim, can say that consciousness will exist without material support, then I can use their same argument to insist that my Windows XP operating system will continue to exist after I smash the hard drive into a million pieces. Neither of those arguments would be falsifiable if "immaterialism" is to be incorporated. But if a material, quantifiable standard is employed (detectability of brain waves or other electric signals) then both of those arguments would be proven false.

In previous blog entries, I have given examples of machines that can detect, measure, and interpret thoughts. These thoughts are purely material, they require specific components of a functional brain to exist, and each kind of thought is quantifiable and distinct from the other. In previous blog entries, I have also discussed the burden of proof. I have met the burden of proof regarding the material dependency of the brain. No afterlife-believer has met the burden of proof to support the contention that consciousness can exist without a brain (organic or synthetic).

My proposition (dependency on matter for consciousness) is falsifiable. I never argue against the afterlife with any unfalsifiable argument, for an unfalsifiable argument is no argument at all. Most of the afterlife-believers' arguments are not falsifiable (therefore defeating themselves), and when they are falsifiable, they get proven false very quickly thanks to the evidence I have presented in this blog.

Terry Schiavo's consciousness was dead years ago and this autopsy proves it. Terry Schiavo did not pass into any afterlife. Her consciousness is not eternal; it only existed as long as her brain was able to support it. Terri's consciousness did not exist before she was born, and it doesn't exist anymore now that she is dead.

There is no afterlife.

Monday, June 13, 2005

Off Topic 2.0: Two Posts in One Day!

This blog, Kill The Afterlife, was mentioned in Carnival of the Godless #15. This installment of Carnival of the Godless is hosted by Nick Barlow's Weblog, "What You Can Get Away With".

I suggest you all check it out. All the blogs featured in Carnival of the Godless are worth checking out. Hellbound Alleee is also in there it seems. My blog is the last one mentioned.

Now, finally, we return to our regularly scheduled deconstruction of afterlife belief.

A Little Off-Topic, But...

I made this blog to tackle a somewhat under-addressed issue inside the atheist evangelical community: afterlife belief. All of my blog entries thus far have been about deconstructing afterlife belief. But today is different. Today is the first (although likely not the last) time I make a blog entry without any aferlife belief discussion.

The wonderful owners/writers of three blogs, The Evangelical Atheist, Atheist Revolution, and Freethought Weekly, got together and created a hub of sorts for atheist blogs and information sites! The hub is known as Atheism Online. I have of course placed a link to this site on my links sidebar.

So if any of you readers have of, or know of, atheist blogs, go check out the listing at Atheism Online. If you don't see the site listed, then add it! They also got a forum to chat in and a registration feature to utilize more site features. I suggest you all check it out.

And one more thing: The Evangelical Atheist recently ran a haiku/senryu contest, and I got three haikus selected as winners in the contest! Woohoo! Here are my winning haikus:

Pretends you have a problem
Then sells you the cure

Communism’s dead
Christianity’s dying
Humanism rules

In a modern world
People will still kill for their
Invisible friend

You can find all the winning haikus here. Boywonder and some other people also have some excellent haikus on the page, and I think you will enjoy them.

And now back to our regularly scheduled deconstruction of afterlife belief.

Tuesday, June 07, 2005

Spend Spend Spend!

Why is life valuable? Because we have a finite amount of time. To live life is to spend time, and the fact that our lives are time-limited is what makes them so valuable and so priceless.

What about an eternal afterlife? Is there any value to it? In an eternal afterlife, you have an unlimited amount of time. You don’t even have a million years, or a billion years, or a googolplex of years; you have an infinite, non-numeric amount of time. You cannot quantify the time available in an eternal afterlife other than to say you have an "infinite" amount.

Of what value is something when you have an infinite amount of it? To expand on this question, let's use an analogy (I love analogies). Let's use a "Bill Gates" analogy. Bill Gates will represent a soul in an eternal afterlife, and Mr. Gates' money will represent time.

Now in this world, Bill Gates is the richest man in the world. But even then, his money is finite. It can be quantified in a specific number. For example, Bill Gates can have 99999 trillion dollars and could still earn more money. He can still add to that total. But what if Bill Gates had an infinite amount of money, with no numerical quantification possible? He would not be able to add any money to an infinite total. Bill Gates, with an infinite amount of money, could spend and spend and spend all day long and still have an infinite amount of money. There would be no point in him working for cash, as he would not be able to add to the total amount of money he had, since the amount would already be infinite. The money would lose value to Bill Gates because no matter what he did, he would not be able to get rid of it. Eventually, Mr. Gates could literally buy everything. He could purchase every material possession, he could pay for every conceivable service, to the point where he would have everything and there would be no further use of his money. In time, his infinite amount of money would become worthless.

Now let's apply this to the afterlife. In an eternal afterlife, your time is infinite. You would not be able to get rid of any of it. You would have an unlimited amount of time to do anything and everything. In an infinite, eternal afterlife, eventually you would do everything that could be done. You could eventually run out of things to do or accomplish, but you would never run out of time with which to do it in. Your eternity would, like Bill Gates infinite money, become worthless.

Even a technological immortality (of which I champion in previous posts) would not be like having an infinite eternal life (or afterlife). For a technological immortality would still have risk or finiteness associated with it. The technology wouldn't last forever without care or maintenance. Steps would have to be taken to prolong one's life, but having a guaranteed eternity of life would simply not be the case with a technological immortality. A technological immortality, at best, would simply provide the option of continued life provided that one has the resources, time, and energy to maintain this immortality.

But an eternal afterlife would not have any risk associated with it. No attention need be spent in maintaining this eternal property. An eternal afterlife would not grant time provided that one maintains or spends attention on devices that grant this time, as in a technological immortality. But instead, an eternal afterlife would grant unlimited time immediately, consistently, and without any energy or time spent on obtaining this eternal time.

What other things are found in the afterlife in unlimited, infinite amounts? Learning? Accomplishment? Goal reaching? Can there be an infinite amount of things to learn and goals to reach? I don't think that there can be an eternal amount of goals to reach in an eternal afterlife. Some might say that eternal happiness can be found in the afterlife. Happiness for what? Happiness is caused, and what can cause an eternal happiness? Money in itself doesn't make one happy, as any rich person will tell you. So why should simply being in an eternal existence make one happy? Maybe God would be the cause of the eternal happiness, but then that would be an artificial external happiness forced upon you, rather than being a happiness that comes from within. And in an eternal afterlife, even happiness would get boring.

How about the concept of eternal boredom? Boredom comes from being static, from a lack of stimulation, from a lack of new material to process. Even a person's favorite ice cream flavor gets boring if it's all they eat. Because an eternal afterlife would have infinite time, things would ultimately be static, or they would at least feel static. Everything that could be done would be done an infinite number of times in an eternal afterlife. The static feel of an eternal afterlife would cause eternal boredom. It would bring a feeling of eternal non-stimulation and eternal over-exposure to everything one could experience.

This is starting to sound a lot like eternal torment if you ask me! Eternal afterlife? No thanks! Quality is more important that quantity. I'll just stick with my finite, valuable, priceless time.

Wednesday, June 01, 2005

Divine Embryos

President Bush recently threatened to use his veto power to stop a stem-cell research bill passed by the senate. If Bush does indeed veto the bill, it would be the first time that he has ever used this power. How appropriate that the most religious president in recent memory might go down in history as vetoing only one bill, and having it be a pro-science bill.

Bush said "I made very clear to the Congress that the use of federal money, taxpayers' money, to promote science which destroys life in order to save life -- I'm against that."

Now we come to the point of this blog entry: Will Bush's veto of this bill "save" human lives (in the form of embryos)? I believe the answer to this question is artistically provided in this cartoon by Ruben Bolling: President Bush’s Photo-op at a Fertility Clinic. It is hosted by pharyngula.com. I didn’t want to post the image directly on my blog due to copyright concerns. So please take a moment to view this link.

Bush is obviously coming from the position that all these embryos have human souls or spirits, and therefore should not be "destroyed" in order to "save" the lives of other humans. For the sake of argument, let's entertain this position of Bush's. Let's imagine that these unborn embryos have human spirits, and that they deserve all the same protections and rights granted to the already-born variety of humans.

So will the defeat of this bill by Bush's veto save any of these embryo-lives? According to the bills supporters, the embryos in question are unused leftovers from fertility clinics that were destined to be destroyed anyway. So these embryos have two possible paths, depending on whether this bill gets vetoed or not:

1. The bill passes, and the unused embryos are "destroyed" in order to "save" lives through research.
2. The bill is killed by Bush, and the unused embryos are "destroyed" without any life-saving research performed.

The most important part to note here is that, if Bush vetoes the bill, these embryos will still be destroyed. The "destroy" factor in this situation never comes into question. The only thing that comes into question is whether or not these destined-for-destruction embryos will be used to save other people's lives or not.

Bush either does not understand the factors involved in this bill, or he is deliberately making false statements about the bill to serve his religious and/or emotional convictions. Personally, I can't figure out which is scarier: ignorance or willful fraud.

Now let's think for a minute about the spirit/afterlife factor involved here. Bush, being a Christian, believes that the spirits of these embryos are destined for heaven. Does Bush think that the spirits of these embryos still exist here, on Earth, inside the embryos themselves? Or does Bush think that the spirits of these embryos already made passage to God's kingdom? If the spirits are still inside the embryos, then destroying them will, in his mind, send the spirits into heaven and amount to "killing" them. But what I don't understand, is why Bush thinks that the embryos will somehow escape destruction if the researchers don't get their hands on them. Is the destruction of excess, unused embryos somehow more humane when they are not allowed to be used for research, but instead disposed of in a biological waste container?

And another factor comes into mind here: the legal factor. If these embryos are to be considered full human citizens with all the rights afforded to other American citizens (as Bush's worldview implies), then these embryos are obviously minors and their parents have full legal custody of them. And if a minor dies or is destined to die, born or unborn, the parents are the ones who are allowed to make the decisions in the minor's life/death journey.

If an already-born child is mortally wounded in a car accident and destined to die, the parents can choose to donate the child's organs to research. So if there are excess unused embryos from a fertility treatment, and they are destined to be destroyed, then the parents of these embryos should be allowed to donate them to research if they so choose. Consider it the ultimate organ donation. If it's noble for a parent to donate the heart or liver of a doomed child, then isn't it even nobler for a parent to donate a doomed embryo in it's entirety?

Clearly, Bush's Christian beliefs are muddling up his "compassionate conservative" side. I am betting that he simply doesn't understand the specifics involved in this situation, and that is why his argument is so obviously flawed. I am betting that he doesn't even realize that these embryos are doomed to destruction regardless of the passage of this bill. I am betting that he doesn't understand that if we are to treat these embryos as full humans and citizens, as he implies we should, then the matter of donating these excess embryos to research should be left up to the parents or legal guardians of said embryos.

Bush wants to save these embryos from destruction, but clearly, his veto wouldn't save them from a Goddamn thing.

Why Bush would want to keep these embryo-citizens from entering a blissful eternal afterlife in heaven is beyond me, but one thing is clear: the only thing his veto would "save" these embryos from, is helping their fellow man learn to survive longer in this life. I find it rather ironic, considering that keeping humans in this existence is exactly what Bush claims to be trying to do.