Atheists anti immortality statements
Edward Tabash writes in Free Inquiry Magazine april /may 2012 about Christoper Hitchens; "We atheists know that death is the utter obliteration of each individual human being. The years after our death are no different than the years prior to our births. As realists we know that Hitch is physically gone forever."
Many people believe this as if it is scientifically and unquestionably true. Or one might say "religiously true". This is a belief that is based on faith not science. Religious theories of immortality and life after death are not scientific. The first problem with Tabash's statement is that it is poorly defined. This is likely the reason that the belief in it persists. What is ment by "individual human being"? If an individual human being is obliterated upon death then a individual human being is not a body because after a person death there is still a body. Even after long periods of death there is still bones and DNA or ashes in the after cremation. A body could be frozen at absolute zero, protected from radiation and other changing factors and stay a visible looking body forever. Even if you inclosed the body in a completely sealed container and let it decompose, technically you could put it back together again into a body or any number of different bodies. And if done correctly a live and conscious human body.
Tabash is obviously taking about some "essence" of a person but since atheists do not believe in supernatural things it has to be a natural occurring essence. What essence of a person that is not his body is not supernatural? It seems it has to be some property of matter and energy, if it is not the matter and energy itself. If you are not your body then what are you? You are conscious! When you are dead you are not conscious! Consequently, "you" are not conscious! Or stated differently you are not consciousness. If you are not a body and you are not a consciousness what are you? The problem is with the statement "When you are dead you are not conscious!". It should not mean "you are not consciousness!" because you are consciousness. Consciousness is a property that the body creates through it complex functioning-- this is what science currently believes to be true. Properties of matter and energy if created once have the possibility of being created again. Not only has matter through its functioning produced your current consciousness, it has produced every consciousness that you have experienced from birth (or maybe before) Any of these structures and functioning could be produced again maybe not very likely but definitely more likely than just the current your current consciousness. If your body can exist into the future any length of time it will produce more different experiences through the functioning of matter thus nature should be able to produce those consciousnesses also again.
The second sentence: "The years after our death are no different than the years prior to our births." is also very vague, but the implication is that there is no consciousness that we experience before our birth so there will not be any after our death either. Just because we do not remember being conscious does not mean that we weren't conscious at some time in the past before our birth. There are many things that I have experienced in my life that I now have no memory of. People say they remember me as a baby and young child. I do not remember anything before about the age of five and these memories do not seem to match other peoples memories of this period of time. In the future most of what I experience now I will not remember either.
The third statement is strange in the sense it seems to deal in probabilities. Realists deal with probabilities. A realist knows that you are not going to win the lottery because of actual probabilities of wining, that are known, make it extremely unlikely that you will win. In the statement "As realists we know that Hitch is physically gone forever." how are the probabilities of "being physically gone forever " known. It is based on assumptions. But how valid are these assumptions? The statement does not say mentally gone forever. Can you be physically gone forever and not mentally gone forever? Which is preferable being mentally gone for ever but physically existent or physically gone but mentally existent? I propose it may be good for others if you are physically existent (for family and friends). But for yourself, you need to be conscious, at least some of the time, to exist. For "Hitch" to not be physically gone what needs to be the case? You have to have a body that looks and acts like hitch and maybe a possible explanation of why he is not actually dead when people say that he is dead. We do not know what science can do in the future but it seems possible that some day another person that looks and acts like Hitch could be produced. We can not with any accuracy put a probability on this. The universe is also very large and long lasting so it may not be that we have to make a copy of "Hitch" some other places in the universe may do that randomly accidentally or on purpose. If there are parallel universes there may be many physical versions of Hitch actually existing now or will in the future. The problem is that a replica is not considered to be the original person.
But maybe Tabash ment to say "As realists we know that Hitch is mentally gone forever"
Michael Shermer writes against the possibility of immortality or life after death in the Scientific American magazine april 2012. Shermer proposes four ways to achieve immortality. The first is to never die. This does not help people that are dead. The second problem is that eventually by some cause or another your body will not produce consciousness to the point that it is called death. The third problem is the assumption that if you keep a body alive that for the entire period of time it will produce the same ixperiencitness. The same body matter can be externally manipulated to have any structure and functioning thus producing any consciousness. So you could start thinking you are Harry and then think that you are Jane, Ralph, Jose, etc., etc. as the structure and functioning of your body (specifically your brain) changes over time.
The second way is by resurrection. The fallacy with resurrection is the belief that you have to have the same matter to produce the same consciousness and ixperiencitness. The matter in your body is constantly being replaced. Even the calcium in the bones is being used and replaced. There is little of the same matter in the human body at death as there was at birth. There is also no special quality that old atoms or molecules gives replacing atoms or molecules other than helping maintaining continuity of structure and functioning of the body. Shermer brings up two problems with replicas. They are called the transformation problem and the duplication problem. The transformation problem is solved by repeated duplication over time. The duplication problem is solved by understanding ixperiencitness. What matters in a replica (idoriginal, cidentireplica, videntireplica etc.) is if it has the same ixperiencitness as the original. If it does it is a case of survival or life after death for the original. The strange outcome of this is multiplicity of the ixperiencitness. This means that more than one body can have the same ixperiencitness at the same time. This makes people more than what they are at any conscious moment. Or it can be looked at as you are part of a larger conscious whole. There are two part of this conscious whole. They are the potential and actual. There are a very large set of potential physipaths that will produce an awarepath that you will expereince if they are produced (become actual). There are many positive aspects of this type of immortality. First, it is understandable. Second, it is technologically useful. Third, it ties people together. Fourth, it encourages the pursuit of scientific knowledge. Fifth, it allows for people to be physically and or consciously enhanced and still have the same ixperiencitness. Sixth, it allows for completion and improvement of any and all awarepaths that have or will exist. Not finally, because there is so much more, it allows for the creation of wondrous awarepaths that you will experience when ever they are created in the past or present.
The third way is by supernatural means such as by way of souls, gods, or some sort of spiritual immortality without a body or transported into another body sometime after death. There is no real scientific evidence of supernatural entities existing in reality. If they did exist they would not be supernatural. They exist only in the experiences of conscious beings. The biggest problem with supernatural immortality besides their nonexistence in reality is you can not know enough about them to be technologically useful to conscious beings in any way. In other words things made of matter and energy can be tested and made better and more useful. We know nothing useful about spirits and souls.
The fourth way is not a real form of immortality. Your legacy is just that a legacy or memory of you in other people's consciousness. If you do not experience consciousness it is not you. However, awaretheory predicts that versions of you can have memories of other versions of you. So you can have awareness of other versions of yourself. Awaretheory defines this as legacy immortality. A cidentireplica of you at this present moment in your life, that exists any place or time will have all the memories that you have now. This cidentireplica will know what you were doing. What you have done in your life from your present conscious perspective. What you want to do in the future. Who your friends, loved ones, and acquaintances are. All the information that you "the original" knows about these people. There is no better person that a cidentireplica to carry on your legacy into the future. Theses exact replicas of you can diverge from the structure and functioning of the original "you" at any moment carrying on the legacy of you into the future in many different conscious ways.
If you want to replace religions you need something better that religions to do it with! You need science to show how life after death and immortality are possible, understandable, and produceable through science and technology. The science of superimmortality does this.