Discussion (38)¬

  1. Simon says:

    typo “ulikely” panel 3

  2. dr john the wipper says:

    3rd panel: “ulike” misses an “n”

  3. paradoctor says:

    My theory of the afterlife is that others will be alive after you are dead. That should be afterlife enough for anyone. It isn’t, but it should be.

  4. jb says:

    There are many theories of the afterlife — some are more plausible than others.

  5. Author says:

    Thanks dr john and Simon. Fixed.

  6. Succubus ov Satan says:

    This is where the believers are mistaken – ‘god’ and the ‘afterlife’ are not neccesarily linked. It is theoretically possible to have a deity but no afterlife, it is also theoretically possible to have some form of ‘afterlife’ without any form of ‘god’ existing

  7. cjsm says:

    My late MIL would say: If death isn’t sweet oblivion, I shall be vastly disappointed.

    Me, too.

  8. Rebecca says:

    My great auntie used to say: I can see why someone would believe in heaven if they could…but why would anyone choose to believe in hell?

  9. Oolong Colluphid says:

    Succubus ov Satan: the philosopher J. M. E. McTaggart was an atheist who believed in souls and an afterlife, when he wasn’t proving time didn’t exist.

  10. Joanne says:

    I suspect Rebecca’s great aunt was too nice to say it, but I think people want there to be a hell for those people who don’t get their payback here on earth. Of course, we (whoever “we” are) are too good too end up there.

  11. M27Holts says:

    The major sales pitch for the gullible….

  12. paradoctor says:

    Rebecca: Hell is for other people.

  13. dr john the wipper says:

    one word wrong:
    Hell is the other people.

  14. M27Holts says:

    Hell is especially inhospitable for those who don’t buy into a particular persons delusion….

  15. Donn says:

    Sure, technically it’s possible to have a deity and no afterlife, but is there a single example of a religion like that shared by multiple people? I doubt it. I’d bet religions start with afterlife and sketch in some kind of deity stuff to get the priesthood on a more secure footing.

    The converse is probably more common, but not worth taking seriously. If you believe you have a mystic persona that survives your death, that’s a fairly concrete fantasy faith. Simultaneously not having any god faith seems … could be done, but it’s rickety.

  16. Shaughn says:

    Donn, As I’m told by a rabbi, judaism comes pretty close to having a deity and no afterlife. There are hints, according to some, but nothing significant.

  17. jb says:

    A recent article in The Atlantic mentions in passing (in reference to a person who was considering suicide) that:

    “Traditional Maasai cosmology [which does include gods] includes no afterlife, no reward or punishment in the hereafter…”

    I Know I’ve seen the same said of other traditional societies. I don’t think it’s all that rare.

  18. M27Holts says:

    There is no doubt that if we do not destroy ourselves we will find out a way to copy our brain comfiguration into a computer or even a replicant type vessel for a kind of immortality. All you would need then is a charge every now and then…

  19. Donn says:

    Wikipedia has an article on Afterlife, for us to get the quick story without a lot of paging through religious texts.


    The Talmud offers several thoughts relating to the afterlife. After death, the soul is brought for judgment. Those who have led pristine lives enter immediately into the Olam Haba or world to come. Most do not enter the world to come immediately, but experience a period of reflection of their earthly actions and are made aware of what they have done wrong.



    Having been judged, the resurrected will cross the bridge of As-Sirāt over the pit of hell; when the condemned attempt to they will be made to fall off into hellfire below; while the righteous will have no trouble and continue on to their eternal abode of heaven.

    Of course from the point of view of the article, traditions that have an afterlife are more interesting than those that don’t. I looked around for info on the Maasai, and most references seem to agree they aren’t believers.

    There are a variety of traditions that don’t have the Happy Hunting Grounds type of afterlife – and instead you’re reincarnated or become one with the holy Mess or whatever, but for me that’s splitting hairs. They still believe in a persona quality that isnt’t subject to material death.

  20. Donn says:

    As for digital immortality … that practically belongs in the category of beliefs that require faith. It will sure make a difference if and when we ever discover how the brain works. Quantum effects in microtubules? Ha ha, well knows. But computer technology activity tends to lean towards things that are useful, and duplicating human brain function is arguably a complete tangent in that sense – we already have a surfeit of human brains on hand, and it’s hard not to doubt at this point what they’re really good for.

  21. jb says:

    M27Holts — I think it’s highly unlikely that we will ever be able to do this. The brain is extraordinarily complex, and the idea that we will ever be able to probe a living brain and determine anything approaching it’s complete state just doesn’t seem plausible. After WWII there were people who, extrapolating from the technological progress and new physics of previous decades, were confidently predicting that by the 21th century we would be traveling to the stars. But past performance does not guarantee future results. I think the people today who are predicting a “rapture of the nerds” are making the same kind of naive, overconfident predictions. Just because a lot of things are possible it doesn’t follow that everything is.

  22. M27Holts says:

    JB and Donn. You are really faith heads…The Brain wasn’t designed by God as you seem to suggest. It evolved. And to say that mere men cannot replicate gods work is just bollocks….

  23. M27Holts says:

    And Faith heads always say that scientific pursuit for the most difficult answers is equitable to their faith that men cannot aquire the knowledge that only god can know…Tis Tosh…I am jotva mannof faith. I am a man of logic. And Logic tells me that which has been evolved, can eventually be reverse engineered. It might be tricky as Deep Thought suggested….and might take us hundreds of years….

  24. Donn says:

    No one said men can’t replicate an individual human brain. We’re just saying, men won’t. It’s a task of unknown but surely immensie difficulty, and (that I can see anyway) little practical value. Mind you I’m not saying it’s possible either, can’t judge without knowing more about the mechanics.

  25. Donn says:

    But plausibility aside, not sure it exactly addresses the point. This conundrum is sort of staple of sci-fi adventure: We’re getting around by matter transmission, where you step on to the transmitter plate and they beam you down. But there’s no obvious reason why this process has to be destructive, like Scotty’s transporter in Star Trek, so it isn’t and now there’s two of you, one standing on the transporter plate and one beamed down. There’s naturally some rule by which one is chosen to continue living and the other graceful exits, and naturally in the story there’s someone who doesn’t agree with the rule.

    So someone makes a computer model of your brain, and informs you that this copy will live a long time – now what? WIll it just kind of tag along during your dwindling years? Which one is you? Do you mind kicking off pretty much right away, since your copy is ready to take over?

  26. jb says:

    M27Holts — You have far more faith in Progress than I do.

    Donn — Yes, I would actually argue that we can’t replicate an individual human brain, that it will never be possible, that there probably just isn’t any way it can physically be done. The human brain has on the order of 100 billion tiny and delicate neurons, each of which communicates with many others, leading to a fantastically complicated connectome. If you’ve ever had an encounter with graph theory numbers like that should terrify you. And the connectome isn’t the end of it; the connections all have different strengths, which are somehow encoded in the chemistry of each cell. And we don’t even know if it ends there. I just don’t believe there will ever be a way to unravel all that. We shouldn’t fool ourselves; there are many things we would like to have that probably just aren’t going to be possible, ever. These most likely include FTL travel, Star trek style transporters and holodecks, and, I believe, the dream of uploading your consciousness into a machine and living forever. (Oh, and magic. Magic probably isn’t possible either).

    OTOH, I think superhuman AGI very likely is possible, and something we should be at least a little bit concerned about. This doesn’t involve copying a fantastically complicated existing system, but creating something new from scratch, something not remotely human, and potentially very dangerous…

  27. M27Holts says:

    Immortality or just extended mortality is VERY desirable to most people. Thus they buy into the drivel fed to them by the lying clerics. Thus cognitive science is at the very edge of our knowledge, but the fog is clearing slowly. And once the quantum mechanical subroutines running in our organic computer are understood….bobs yer uncle…

  28. M27Holts says:

    And the dim wits don’t understand…that once the organic hardware shuts down…the subroutines running in it are closed and you (ID) cease to exist….till the heat death of the universe…

  29. Donn says:

    Well, let’s say it’s close enough to impossible to replicate the exact, functioning state of a brain … so what? I don’t know for sure what the practical objective would be, so have no idea how exact the correspondence has to be. It’s a little unfair to require truly exact duplication, because all that junk is some degree of flux in the original.

    On the other hand, that flux is itself a critical part of the original. If you provide a detailed duplicate of a human brain, but the duplicate doesn’t also inherit the original’s trajectory of change, then it has fallen far short of the real thing. I mean, I suppose it would be acceptable to steer away from senile dementia etc., but all those synapses are coming and going at some significant rate in a normal brain, as I understand it.

    Anyway, as immortality, it’s a laugh. The thing wouldn’t be me, and I would be no happier at the end. Luckily I haven’t really felt the need to be immortal.

  30. Donn says:

    Ha ha, no need to worry about that time scale with digital immortality, which would be limited among other things by the ability to build and power server farms.

    The rate of increase question applies to any immortal soul concept. Someone who likes math problems might enjoy taking a guess at how many souls extant at this date, assuming no reuise.

  31. M27Holts says:

    I’m with Wowbagger the infinately prolonged. I would insult every living sentient being….In alphabetical order….

  32. dr john the wipper says:


    Yes, Douglas Adams was THE genius of absurdity!

  33. Postdoggerel says:

    Due to the mention of wowbagger I would like to post the rant from John Brunner’s “Stand on Zanzibar”, which could easily satisfy the infinite insults the winger has vowed to complete, but I am giving a forewarning to Author to pull said post if it too much for the Cock & Bull’s distinguished readers. Here goes nothing…

  34. Postdoggerel says:

    You pig-fucking coward. You shit-eating child born from a buggered arsehole. You piss-colored pile of carrion. You dung-fly. You prickless and ball-lacking catamite. You son of a street-walking widow who never had a man except for money. You cock-sucking arse-licking defiler of sacred shrines, you brainless heartless gutless cockless offspring of an imbecile and a deformed cow, you flea-bitten child-robber who poisoned your father and raped your mother and sold your sisters to the Dutch and carved up your brothers for sale in a butcher’s shop, you gutter-hugging trader in second-hand excrement, why didn’t you do something?

    The quote is from the scene where someone has gone amok and slaughtered many innocents, only to be brought down. Then begins the rant. It was a prescient story from 1968.
    from John Brunner’s Stand on Zanzibar

  35. Postdoggerel says:

    Looks like the excerpt was too much. It was from Brunner’s prescient 1968 book “Stand on Zanzibar”. I can supply an indirect link to it if that is not too offensive to the esteemed clientele of the Cock & Bull.

  36. Postdoggerel says:

    Well, I’ll be doggoned. It posted.

  37. M27Holts says:

    Too much, a simple…”the world will laugh when you die” would suffice me thinks….


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