I think that the term atheist has been twisted beyond its original intention, perhaps as a result of the fight with fundamentalism in other religious (to my mind mainly Christian and Muslim sects) arguments and infringements into humanity. I like the summary that exists on Wikipedia:
Atheism is, in a broad sense, the rejection of belief in the existence of deities. In a narrower sense, atheism is specifically the position that there are no deitiesI think that it is entirely possible that there is a creator and that the (human) view of deities is quite wrong. In such a way I see that my view are not in conflict with those of moderate atheists or in contradiction of those who believe that there is a Creator.
A friend of mine (who I think was an atheist but know was a keen astronomer) used to often ponder life and said "there must be more to life than death". In this post I would like to take Kieths ideas examine an alternative view which would perhaps sit between the two worlds of atheism and theism. This idea is complex and requires a lot of groundwork, so please bear with me on this.
I was raised a Catholic and questioned much. I never got good (read satisfactory) answers. I wonder about the soul (far more than I used to since my wifes passing) and wonder about the nature of things which are conceivable but not demonstrable. I wonder if the spirit is not somehow generated as part of the processes which go on in the complex neural system. Similar to the 'creation' of a "new thing" in the training of a neural net. That cognition forms and develops thoughout life is an intriguing idea to me.
Our knowledge of the universe is sparse and incomplete, but from what I know it seems likely that our spirit is akin to some sort of highly complex computational process. We (the societal human knowledge 'we') are uncertain right now if there is a dependency between thought and brain or if there is simply a connection. Just like when a person pilots a remote drone, the drone is not thinking, but is a projection of the thinking happening elsewhere. The physics allows the transfer of that from one place to another.
It seems likely that such process is existing in living things. So perhaps just as when the drone is destroyed the pilot is unharmed, when our bodies stop our spirit continues ... somewhere.
If you've ever played First Person Shooter games you may experience how 'caught up' in the game one becomes. Were there no other distractions to this immersion it can sometimes feel for moments like that is the reality. When playing "massively multi-player" versions of these games we interact with hundreds even thousands (60,000 happens frequenty) of other players the artificial world is quite rich.
Imagine being born into such a game? Your first graspings with this life and years of experience are only with life as you see and feel it through your senses. However rough the analogy is, much like the way people were born into "The Matrix" but yet there it still came down to people in bodies. I mean that the organic bodies and the physical world we feel are the illusion.
Let me propose something ...
First let me say: that my simple mind can actually conceive of it, it makes me believe that the notion is at least flawed and probably wrong. For humans simply can't comprehend such things as infinity properly.
Anyway, back to questioning, we already know that the soul does not reside in the heart, as there are people who have lived on artifical hearts and have had heart transplants. The assumption that because the brain is destroyed the mind is too, may be based on the same logic that an ancient person pulling out the CPU and destroying the radio on a drone has "killed it".
Without knowledge we tend to rely on what we can understand to grasp the new things which we are confronted with.
Below is an animate image of the results of a simple mathematical rule set commonly called Conways Life. It is a simple rule set based on a grid (checker board) which determines if a cell becomes populated (black) or remains in populated. The physics of that universe are simply:
1. Any live cell with fewer than two live neighbours dies, as if caused by under-population.
2. Any live cell with two or three live neighbours lives on to the next generation.
3. Any live cell with more than three live neighbours dies, as if by overcrowding.
4. Any dead cell with exactly three live neighbours becomes a live cell, as if by reproduction.
Once the initial state is set you run the simulation/game and see what happens. Subsequent to its creation many simulations over time have had people discover and identify all manner of patterns.
Most patterns vanished quickly but others persist, such as the glider.
This appears to simply walk along the screen. Soon after this with the advancements in computing people discovered other patterns that could exist in this "universe" which continue indefinitely further to create things infinitely.
This is of course a simple universe with a simple rule set and has only two physical dimensions.
Since its discovery people have taken this exploration further (with the aid of computers).The above images are quite simplistic but in the video below this guy has done a stunning job of compiling some interesting steady state automaton and some interesting growth scenarios. The following video takes you through a few possibilities of how complex things can be there.
I particularly am attracted to the section of the simulation that begins from a few pixels and then rapidly escribes a constantly expanding framework of life activity. Something like a mathematical description of how a big bang could occur. Were something like this to be initiated at a level that follows the rules of Quantum physics perhaps this could explain how a universe could come from nothing
I would encourage you to view that video (albeit long) where a well known physicist and cosmologist attempts to explain how our universe could indeed come from nothing. I do not see how it contradicts anything I'm saying here, save perhaps what I am writing is more reliant on assumptions than theirs is. None the less they find themselves with a creation paradox which can not be easily explained.
The cosmos is made of simpler stuff than our world, in space there are mainly only simple elements and the basic laws of physics, in our world it is complex and faster paced, being made of chemicals (molecules not simple elements), and interactions between chemicals (of course governed by physics). It seems difficult to comprehend that these complex chemistries (like that of our bodies) could have come from such as the fusion in stars (that formed the elements).
However over time we have learned that the building blocks of real biological life interestingly can be formed from natural processes with the basics of organic chemistry actually formable by natural processes.
In time we have also learned that all our chemistry and physics is actually underpinned by a more basic view of the universe, which is quantum physics. Quantum physics essentially breaks things down into descriptions which fit within mathematics. So we seem to have the basics to grasp that the world can be described mathematically.
This is interesting, lets return again to the life simulation and examine this video where a simulation scenario takes that to the next step, and shows that the simulation of "life" can actually support the mechanisms of running life within itself.
This at the very least shows that complexity and computation can come from something which is itself based on a very simple rule set. Just as our biology and our biochemistry supports the consciousness of our minds.
Quantum entanglement shows us that there is a way for such semi-tangible things as photons to interact physically even when separated by physical distances.
Which brings me back to the "remote control drone" example. Are we only here? Could we not also be "there" at the same time. There is of course no way to know.
So with all this groundwork I'll now pose my question:
What if that which is our thoughts and our emotions can by its formation and existence be in some way joined to (or entangled with) something else, perhaps in a universe which we can not comprehend? Would that end when we did? Could that not be the place we consider as 'the after life'?
Try explaining remote control drones and quantum entanglement to a sheep herder from the time of the birth of Christ .... before you start explaining my hypothesis about the mathematical world. I'm willing to bet you're going to start using metaphors and examples they can comprehend. Next thing you know, it will probably start sounding like the bible.
Exploration of the universe by cosmologists is not ruling out that the universe and all the galaxies and solar systems was created. It is seeming logical that such would lead to our creation and so perhaps our minds go on after the death of our bodies and continue to grow and make what is that some call "the kingdom of heaven".
Is there a God? Perhaps there is. But I'm willing to bet that this God is completely different from the visions of human dogmatic religious views. Many of the faiths teach that god is beyond our comprehension. Seems to sit with what I've just said above doesn't it? It also makes anyone telling you that they know what God wills or what God even wishes to seem rather more dubious. Personally all I care about is that I get to be with Anita again.
I wonder if Domingo was right and that: "we are god because only we can create the idea of his existence in our holy brains"
Well one thing is for sure ... the beat goes on...