Christopher Hitchens and Sam Harris on is there an afterlife full debate

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Now it just wants your money to buy private jets, and children to molest.

πŸ‘οΈŽ︎ 489 πŸ‘€οΈŽ︎ u/rickster907 πŸ“…οΈŽ︎ Nov 04 2019 πŸ—«︎ replies

This. This neutered religion is still dangerous and we must never forget what will happen if they regain theocratic power. Something their followers yearn for.

πŸ‘οΈŽ︎ 372 πŸ‘€οΈŽ︎ u/GodsKillSwitch0 πŸ“…οΈŽ︎ Nov 03 2019 πŸ—«︎ replies

I'm a simple man. I see Hitchens, I upvote.

πŸ‘οΈŽ︎ 178 πŸ‘€οΈŽ︎ u/StudentDoctor_Kenobi πŸ“…οΈŽ︎ Nov 03 2019 πŸ—«︎ replies

I do not like the argument made by the man who follows Hitchens. He brings up the theory in physics that there are multiple universes similar to our own but only different in slight ways. Essentially his argument is that there would be universes where life after death exists for humans.

I've heard this before and let me make one thing clear: This is a moronic interpretation of that theory from physics. Anytime someone jumps to that conclusion they are making a leap of faith that is insured under absolutely no evidence. At most, the "slight differences" between our universe and the next one is whether or not a single, specific electron in a single, specific experiment has its spin oriented up or oriented down for a single instance in time. the "slight difference" between our universe and the next one is so mind numbly mundane there is absolutely no way to confidently say that "God must exist in these other universes, he must exist in an infinite number of them!".

No, you are just incorrectly using a scientific theory (which is very early and not well researched!) to meet your ends. Religion always misuses scientific evidence because they cannot produce any of their own evidence.

πŸ‘οΈŽ︎ 67 πŸ‘€οΈŽ︎ u/SnowGrove πŸ“…οΈŽ︎ Nov 04 2019 πŸ—«︎ replies

Religion will fight like a cornered animal before it dies.

πŸ‘οΈŽ︎ 60 πŸ‘€οΈŽ︎ u/Chickenfu_ker πŸ“…οΈŽ︎ Nov 04 2019 πŸ—«︎ replies

This is exactly why i hate progressive liberal Christianity. You can’t just ignore all the bad parts in your bible or sugarcoat them. Passages condoning rape, slavery and beating gay people exist in the Bible along with way worse things that are too much to count. You can’t just pretend they don’t exist and present a propaganda like version of your religion.

πŸ‘οΈŽ︎ 27 πŸ‘€οΈŽ︎ u/carissadraws πŸ“…οΈŽ︎ Nov 04 2019 πŸ—«︎ replies

This is basically why Atheists are so "angry". They have a right to be. Everyone has a right to be. For most of known human history, religion has been weaved into our our governments and societies and has been used to justify heinous things. Around the globe, it still is.

πŸ‘οΈŽ︎ 24 πŸ‘€οΈŽ︎ u/psycharious πŸ“…οΈŽ︎ Nov 04 2019 πŸ—«︎ replies

We don't have to look too far to see how the religious people from these sorts of religions behave when they don't think there's anyone to challenge or check their views.

πŸ‘οΈŽ︎ 18 πŸ‘€οΈŽ︎ u/ONE_deedat πŸ“…οΈŽ︎ Nov 04 2019 πŸ—«︎ replies

Religion really does still believe that it has god on it's side. That hasn't changed. The only thing that has changed is that people are willing to stand up to religion and the bullshit that religion pushes on everyone - regardless of their wishes.

Given the chance, religion will throw us back into the dark ages. Just look at islam, where theocracies control many states. That's exactly where extremist christians want to go. Stoning atheists to death? Yeah, there's plenty of christians that would jump all over the chance to do that.

πŸ‘οΈŽ︎ 18 πŸ‘€οΈŽ︎ u/Thesauruswrex πŸ“…οΈŽ︎ Nov 04 2019 πŸ—«︎ replies
I too struggle with the notion of an afterlife any of us who have stood at the grave of a loved one have had to ask the question now what the idea this evening is to try to explore this question honestly find answers and ask more questions that are other comforting or disconcerting so let's begin my first question we decided to forego long opening statements we're going to make this as conversational and respectful and fast-moving as possible and my first question is going to go to Rabbi Wolfie David do you expect to go to heaven not tomorrow that's the old joke about you know the good news is that there's baseball in heaven the bad news is you're pitching Thursday so what I would say is that that part of the problem the idea of an afterlife is that we tend to make it far more literal than it needs to be and as a result that starts to seem ridiculous I mean before you entered this world could you have imagined mountains and tuna fish and teeth and ideas and music of course not it is literally unimaginable but we make up the idea of another world something that we can imagine and understand and so we reduce it to nonsense it's Mark Twain in letters from earth he said that people assume when they go to heaven they're going to lie on green fields and listen to harp music he says you wouldn't want to do it for five minutes while you're alive but you think you'll be happy for the rest of eternity doing it after you die and the crux of it is and I suspect really what this evening will come down to is do you believe that human beings are entirely material are you only made of stuff or is there something non-physical is there something cereal and eternal about you about us some mystery at the heart of the stuff and if there is then there's a possibility yeah that we'll all I don't want to say go somewhere because that assumes that it's spatial and again that's the way people think and the way we think is not necessarily the way the world is our minds are much too limited to grasp it but I'll just close by saying that I always assumed that human beings were more than stuff and for me at least this came home on an emotional level when a little less than two years ago my father died and as many of you know it is a Jewish custom when someone's buried to throw dirt on the grave and I thought this was going to be extraordinarily difficult to take a shovel full of dirt and throw it on the coffin of somebody that I loved very dearly but I actually didn't find it nearly as difficult as I anticipated and the reason is that I knew that whatever was in that coffin he wasn't there but I also knew that that wasn't the same thing as he wasn't it just meant he wasn't there but he was and he is I just don't know how Sam in the end of faith you chide scientists who believe that consciousness ends with death so picking up a little bit on what on what David said you wrote the place of consciousness in the natural world is very much open to question the truth is we simply do not know what happens after death to my mind this very much leaves the door open for a belief in the afterlife yeah although it doesn't make the traditional beliefs may afterlife any more plausible that's not the point I was making there but it does that point of not knowing what happens after death is what worries me about this conversation I was I've been very worried about this that all of you have given up a perfectly serviceable Tuesday evening only to hear the four of us tell you every which way that we have no idea what happens after that and I expressed the spirit of my wife and she was actually able to put me at ease I'm worried obviously about boring all of you and she said nothing Hitchens does is ever boring so I have that going for me I think we should think about this this what this concept of the afterlife does we will talk about the plausible versions of it and how implausible some of the traditional ones are but I think just to give some context we we're living in a world in which nine million children every year died before they reached the age of five year after year after year and that is that is a an asian-style tsunami of the sort you remember from 2004 every 10 days killing only children before the age of five think about these children think about their parents know that virtually all of these parents are people who believe in God and we're praying all the while that their children would be saved and their prayers were not answered now the afterlife is comes into the midst of this reality and as a promise that all of this is going to make sense in the end that somehow at the end of existence we are going to be all let in on the the punchline and have a mighty laugh with Almighty God for eternity now there's no evidence of that and I think therefore the this concept of the afterlife really functions as a as a substitute for wisdom it functions as a substitute for for really absorbing our predicament which is that everyone is going to die there are circumstances that are just catastrophic Lian fare evil sometimes wins and injustice sometimes wins and the only justice we're going to find in the world is the is the justice we make and I think we have an ethical responsibility to to absorb this really down to the soles of our feet and and this notion of an afterlife that the happy talk about how it's all going to work out and it's all part of God's plan is it's a way of shirking that responsibility so that's where I am Brad three times a day as a religious Jew you would pray the Amidah where you extol the God who resurrects the dead it says that right in and one of the most standard of Jewish prayers do you but do you when you say that what are you saying what do you believe you're saying so I need to take a couple steps back and make this a running jump rather than a standing jump as I understand it rather than simply reducing someone's idea to a caricature which is easy to do on all sides in this kind of a conversation we live in an age in which there are different plausible ways of making sense and connecting the dots one of them is a kind of reductionism in which everything can be explained by its smallest physical components and once you've explained how inert matter operates then you create more complex systems but you've done all your explaining really at the very basic subatomic levels and that's completely plausible and you can tell the entire story that way in a reasonable way I don't think it's the only way one can do it one can also say that there are intimations all the way down of what others have called and I think of as mindfulness and that the mindfulness all the way down emerges at some point into consciousness which emerges at some point beyond that into something even beyond the consciousness we're aware of and we have abilities to access it not necessarily by what we know and here I have to say having having read the books of the authors here I agreed with almost everything that everyone wrote people claimed knowledge where they can't possibly know but what I think we can also claim is intuitions that go beyond what we know things like hope and trust and loyalty we ground our lives in them so there are people who use the afterlife as a way of evading their responsibilities but I know that I am Reb I won't be have sat at the bedside of people who were able to connect with others because this belief inspired them to live each moment with dignity and connection so for me the prayer is literally false having lived one life with flat feet and fat thighs I fervently hope that God does not physically resurrect the dead although I will tell you I'm one of the rabbis dancing in guiding of dancing so I expect to have buns of steel by the time you come back to that but I think it's a metaphor for saying that there is a oneness of which we are in expression and that that does not cease with our death and that in some very important way although not one that is reducible to knowledge I don't claim to know but I trust that we continue beyond the grave thanks Christopher what's what's wrong with that if if a belief in the afterlife helps one as Brad said deal with the inevitability of death maybe this is a good thing well then anything that made you feel better would be okay which I'm sorry to say I think is the contemptible viewpoint here's the problem with the afterlife fantasy it's the same as religion in general oh if you can't hear I hope it's not my fault alright how's that okay [Applause] not to duck the opening question give myself a chance to repeat my answer that would mean that anything that made you feel good or better was fine which i think is a contemptible position I'm sorry to say and it would it would be as good as as drugs for example and I don't believe and in fact Marx never said the religion is just an opiate but religion and the afterlife fantasy have these things in common first they're man-made that's very important they represent claims by humans to be able to interpret the divine and to give themselves power by doing so we all we all admit we don't know it that's because we can't know so the people who have to leave the island right away are those who say they do who for centuries have terrorized and still do millions of human beings by claiming to hold the keys of heaven and hell leading to my second point religion is totalitarian in its practice and it's theory it claims to know things it can't they're only claims to have powers it cannot have it says if you make the right propitiation and the right donation you may get paradise and if you if you don't you may get an eternity of pain that includes by the way the souls have unbaptized children of the millions then this I'm afraid to say thee and also as you'd expect from the man they the argument of fraud st. Peter's in Rome was built on the sale of indulgences that's to say in return for cash the promised of a remission of sin and good time in hell or purgatory there are chances actually quite beautiful ones still all over Europe it's still working prayers being said for the repose and remission of souls Pope Benedict the most reactionary prelate for considerable time to lead the church is trying to restore the idea of remission of sin in exchange for donations or other in-kind operations this this is I'm sorry it sounds unduly functionalist but until we've dealt with these questions we can't have a serious discussion now there's also I think a real problem about anything that's eternal I should put it closer to this I it will happen to all of us that at some point you'll get tapped on the shoulder and told not just at the party's over but slightly worse parties going on but you have to leave and it's and it's going on without you that's that's the that's the reflection I think the most upsets people about their demise all right then let's because it might make us feel better let's pretend the opposite instead you'll get tapped on there and fill on the shoulder until great news this party's going on forever and you can't leave you've got to stay the boss says so and he also insists that you have a good time I've read about David's father I had a bad time when my own father passed on but the father proposed by monotheism is the father who doesn't die who reassures his children don't worry I'll never leave you you'll never see the end of me you'll never get the chance to feel sorry I'm always there I'm the absolute ultimate in dictatorship and in my courts there's no appeal do you really think that this would cheer up anyone of sentience or humanity or capable of feeling of irony I submit it's out of the question I really I just want to say I was completely with you until the end when you got silly on us and the reason I say that is because you you speak about God in the same way that you would speak about a human dictator as though they were equivalent nice not much less much work it only works you call me wish to go to the Eternity right character resting oh no the absolutism that's not but that I don't worship of him by his except that that's except that that's not at all what any tradition envisions and even if it did envision it as you and I think would both agree the envisioning of traditions of what a gods would be are very limited and partial and so if you want to make it yes that it's North Korea forever then I would say you're belittling the notion of what it means to have a God you're belittling the notion of what it means to have eternity in if not bliss at least reasonable happiness and it's true that you lose everything in this world but also it's not it's not at all the case and you know that it's not the case that the notion of the afterlife invariably leads to neglect of what is important in this world sometimes in fact it does the exact opposite you can take large swathes of belief you mentioned Marx communism for example which repudiated the idea of the afterlife and therefore thought you have to create utopia here and it led it to horrendous misdeeds throughout the 20th century so the belief in the afterlife can be totalitarian and terrible but so can the idea that there's nothing after this world and therefore you have to perfect human beings here it can work both ways I wanted to ask you Christopher do you really believe that Dead is dead you don't believe in any kind of consciousness going after death you don't believe you believed at all dead okay the saliva of consciousness independent of the brain which Sam knows more about than I we're getting better acquainted which is quite different from the just belief in a mandated path by which you can follow or not further leading to reward and Punishment completely different it's different in the same way as says spiritualism was which was really a religion but was a very strong fraudulent movement that not coincidentally flourished after the first world war in the hope of putting people in charge when Jen relatives and not one single interesting thing ever got said from the other side fascinating unity burbling from the beyond but millions of people pitifully paid attention to it I guess my boss has to depend on on David's point about stuff we actually do a great deal more than we ever did than any of our predecessors did about what stuff we're made of we know that our DNA gives us enormous amounts in common with other other animals huge amounts we know that stars had to die Larry Krauss makes this point very well in his lectures on physics stars have to die one every second blew up that is still blowing up since the Big Bang we're made if you want to call it pretty from Stardust ordinarily a waste depending on your on your analysis but there's absolutely no reason to think those molecules would be worth reassembling that they would say will we join as jr. animals and as have done the other speed of species we didn't know about to leave the other human tribes the cro-magnons the Neanderthals the ones not even mentioned in any holy book I only died out about 20,000 years ago who has heaven and hell for them it's as likely for us as it is I think for any other dog whale or bacteria well and they're more than that Sam what does it mean when you write that you think that we that consciousness may indeed survive well there are many odd ways in which consciousness could survive and there's there you can make a philosophically respectable respectable argument that consciousness could survive the the death of the brain it's by no means that the majority opinion in neuroscience or philosophy that it would for instance there's a philosopher Oxford Nick Bostrom this is one of one of the weirder arguments but still more plausible than the arguments you get from religion Nik and it's actually very little you have to assume to make this seem somewhat robust the argument is called the simulation argument and he argues that we are all very likely not not living in a real universe but living in a simulated universe and we are being simulated on the hard drives of computers of the future and now he gets there with a few simple steps you you simply have to acknowledge that consciousness is at bottom the result of information processing at the level of the brain and there's nothing magical about brains it could be information processing in a computer of the future most scientists think that think that's true they don't think there's anything magical about the wet stuff in our heads and the consciousness is at some point going to be instantiated in computers then you simply have to grant that humans of the future will run simulations of the past in the way that we run simulations Sims games and and then there's just one short move that that simulated universes by almost by definition well outnumber real universes and therefore we are a lot more likely to be among the simulated ancestors than the real ancestors now again this is this everyone acknowledges it seems a little crazy but there's but the assumptions that you have to but you take take onboard or not not so weak and I would add to this the somewhat disconcerting idea that if in fact we are running as a simulation on a computer of the future this computer could have been built by Mormons or Scientologists who would want to simulate the truth of their religion and therefore all religions could be true in this simulated universe and we could expect to see Jesus coming back and on clouds of glory and moving to Missouri is that as the warmest inspector so now all that sounds completely crazy but it is not as crazy as the version of the afterlife that is really on offer and traditionally which has been actually neatly sidestepped here because it entails the resurrection of the dead most people think that that the afterlife religion is offering Christianity Judaism and Islam has something to do with the soul floating off the brain into a ton of light and into paradise but that's actually not the canonical afterlife the canonical afterlife God has to do the the humble work of reassembling us and I don't want to take more than my a lot of time here but I think we should talk about just how implausible that vision is because that actually is the vision of the ISM and Christianity in his life I just want to make one quick addendum there's also I thought you were going to talk about this Galen Strawson I mean another Oxford philosopher who says that consciousness is actually so impossible philosophically to figure out that it must be that it exists even in inanimate matter even though it doesn't seem that way so I don't think that it's but let's leave aside how difficult consciousness is to figure out without some sort of either strange hypothesis or spirit yes it's true that much of Judaism talks about resurrection much of it talks about afterlife but there are lots of it there's a plurality of voices and I mean the Talmud says for example you assume that the sages are in paradise but it is not so in fact paradise is in the sages that's not the sort of voice that generally you here when the literalist view of an afterlife is attacked and for more on that I turn to my colleague rabbi Brad Archer I would actually love for us all to go out to coffee and leave them aside so that we could say things like wow that's really interesting I haven't thought about that and what do you do with this rather than the scouring of points and so there's a lot of cleverness and there are a lot of quips but at the end of it what it sounds like we're saying is that religion is a monolith and the worst of religion is compared to the best of science which is fluid and evolving and I'm halfway there with you I think one of the great misses of science is its capacity to be self-reflective and its capacity to change convictions but the wreckage of scientific error is fairly impressive and the diversity of religious thought is also I think under girded unfortunately I think in part because we all had bad religious education as kids and we're still in recovery so but Bradley what I actually I want to accept your challenge but what do you mean is Maimonides the worst of religion Maimonides came right out and said you have to believe in the resurrection is illiterate yes and minorities also said that what I've written in my book is disguised so that people will if they need literalism latch onto it and this what I'm trying to say and he also said that we call the world to come the world to come because we don't experience it during this lifetime but eternity exists at the present and if you attain a great consciousness you can be in eternity now so the challenge is we all come to it with our own different concrete needs but religion is I think far more newest and I guess the plea I would like to offer to you because the parts of your books both of you gentlemen that I agreed with was everything you trashed religion for it deserves to be trashed for I have an autistic son and if I believed in that bully in the sky I would have to tell dr. Wexler that I was leaving my employment but I don't and I don't think that my tradition or the Buddhist tradition or the richness of Hindu tradition understood in the nuanced and ethical way is any more problematic than science capacity to learn from its mistakes and to move on and the way the Bible is used in my community with my students is I would hold up as as ethical as anywhere else and a part of that is the recognition that although we do not know we hold to hopes that for me into us and allow us to value each other as of abiding significance which can be done by anyone who repudiates the supernatural I don't mind attacking religion at its best if you rather I do that I mean behind the idea behind the idea of judgment remember which is possibly deal of the afterlife and the the reward of heaven or hell is some rough concept of justice that there's an equalization of the the odds against which we struggle when we were alive that the chairs are dried and that the wrongdoing is punished very very old wellspring of human aspiration why do the wicked why do the wicked prosper I would really like to know and and wide as Hamlet says so much contemplate each on on the bond the patient and the enemy now the reason why Samms oxyanion friend disturbs us when he lab rates his is we don't like to think they were just digitized by someone else's brain that were rats in some maze someone else's maze nor though rather interestingly do we like to think that everything that happens to us is random we repudiate both ideas they're both equally distressing but the reason why I started with my church a latarian point is this take the case that I still can't get out of my mind the young remember reading about the woman in Austria who was kept in a cellar by her father for 30 years and raped every day and bore him children who he raped also picture how she must have pray how she must have wearied heaven with her present how accidental was her least we even know about you're told those tears will be denied that'll be compensated in other words that has to mean her suffering was part of the plan we let that happen yes we did know we do take responsibility that was part of the design but it'll be better later I think that makes her suffering meaningless and in fact rather obscene we'll do that to her but we'll make it up later on take another great Austrian now deceased born in brown out on the inn and daddy and April 19 for me I think 1945 yes that was all part of the plan too but believe me we'll see to it that he's punished for it now if you don't mind my saying sir away that kind of thinking seems to me to materialize both the worst in the concept the horrible idea of the human being as an experimental object in a design that so Paik to us where we're played with and to maximize the horror of randomness pick one Austrian make him very nearly the rule of whole Europe the whole of Europe another Australian keeper is a prisoner of her rapist father for three decades and that's all part of the plan - so it's maximizing chaos and it's maximizing tourney and and deliberate cruelty and that's why I think reason has to repudiate this this whole means of thinking and like we were none justice - I shouldn't I'm sure would if religion thought that way but it doesn't this in fact okay that's the move that's really not open to you if you want to change the subject - the bet a truly purified wisdom tradition that is non-dogmatic that's just open to mystery you have no I'm not going to do that okay but if you were to hear the move before Europe you you know but I think you're taking the move that bragging show I might not be well I just let me just report let me just tell you what I heard you do okay you you just you just said really is not the way Chris de Burgh suggested it was and in the vast majority of cases it is and so you have to at least admit that you are you are we are not caricature in R eleven fifty percent of Americans think they're going to see their pets in heaven we're dealing with weapon if you don't right what we're having we're having this conversation in the context of now how religion is is practice soon yes okay please there are strains of religion that are deterministic and say that everything that happens in the world is a plan there are I'm Calvinism for example does that in Judaism that's actually very rare there are a couple of notable thinkers who say that but almost no notable Jewish thinker believes that what happens here is preordained by God and in fact free will and the free will to do horrendous things is built into the system and he is the prerequisite the chance of human beings to both sin and also to do wonderful things so when you say that God made this man do this that's all part of the plan and she's going to be rewarded in the afterlife for the Torah that God had flicked it on her here I can with all good conscience say look I'm not going to speak for for the pet envisioning Christians that you speak for but I will speak certainly for my own tradition and say that that's not actually what Judaism believes it's not what almost any major Jewish thinker says and I wouldn't believe it if it did say that so if Adam that's a great that's a great cafeteria to be shopping at take your pick would you almost no major Jewish both of you confronted with some perfectly clear attribution of the words of the Rambam you said well it's as likely the paradises in the sages as the sages are in paradise I yes yes and your colleague says minorities rights in order to be misunderstood mister Liberty which is but by the way I quite agree with this trustee in reading often that says that that is so but this is a guide to the perplexed what you're saying is he wants to intensify perplexity yes he also look when you say for you have this smoothness let me give you a little example of how Rambam thinks when it says for example in Isaiah that the lion will lay down with the lamb right and you know Woody Allen's lines and the lion will lay down with the lamb but one of them won't get much sleep so the lamb so Rambam says this is not to be understood literally it means big nations and small nations will dwell together in Amity and you should not think that the order of nature will be overturned now I didn't invent that it's right there I can show it just the end of Malacca aim at the end of the code of law and he has a sophisticated understanding of religion if you say to me are there people with an unsophisticated understanding of religion I have no doubt that there are I even know a few but but you're not sitting with them on a stage and and I don't think it's actually I don't understand my task to be to defend understandings of religion that I don't adhere to so I'm happy to argue with you what I understand about religion but obviously if I thought mainstream Christianity was the way to understand religion I'd be a mainstream Christian and and not just want to show you all how the sausage of faith gets made or at least at least argued for - I see two problems with what you just did perhaps you're aware of them one is that Maimonides actually said that this could not be understood allegorically or in any other way but literally he came back 25 years later after he had been misunderstood in the guide to the perplexed and wrote and I think in his commentary to the Mishnah that this that the resurrection is a literal truth has to be believed in there may be some some caveats there in his genealogy but he was talking about bodies being reanimated the other issue is you made this sort of artful move to the free will loophole you said people have free will if a man wants to lock his daughter in a dungeon and have sex with her God has allowed that because he's given us this rather diabolical freedom that doesn't cover all of the other suffering for which only God can be responsible if he exists the nine million children I agree I just talked about dying every year yep through through cancers and violence and accidents and lack of access to clean water and this is this is God's fault if God exists me either he is either he can do nothing about this or he doesn't care - so either he's impotent or evil and this is the this is the problem that you can't eat that the free will does I get you out ain't nothing Brad I wanted to pick up on that point the context of this afterlife issue which is if you believe and adjust God is it how could you not believe in a world to come where the good or the good received benefits and the evil or punished look the challenge here is everyone has great clarity in the God they don't believe it and I don't believe in that God either so you know what's got but HAP so how do you tell us how you understand gratuitous misfortune visited upon the innocent like being in a debate like this my condolences not forgiving so look this is a talk I give to first year rabbinical students and congregations all over the country it is a medieval mistake based on Aristotelian thought that God has to be a simple unmoved mover and thereby eternal omniscient omnipotent and omni-benevolent right those are terms that don't exist in biblical or in rabbinic Hebrew so I apologize for the way the Philosopher's kidnapped the traditions but it's not in the Torah there is no Hebrew word for omnipotent meaning all-powerful and the concept is a nonsense concept so you're saying God can't doesn't have the power to change these things yes of course that's what I'm saying I'm saying that what God has is a different kind of power than the power of the dictator that Christopher Hitchens and I both despise and that what I look to God to be is a persuasive power more comparable to a teacher or a lover or a parent who teaches and inspires you to be the best by seeing your potential and by giving you the vision and the power to rise to it but I don't believe in a God who breaks the rules or who can intervene or who can do magic and the challenge here wait I wanted to if I may I just say one more thing because on me sure it is the hundred and twenty-fifth anniversary of the birthday of Alfred North Whitehead my ready and so in his honor I tell you the following classic story story is told the cuts go Rebbe one of the great masters of the Hasidic tradition who walking past someone's home sees that they're so impoverished they don't have the capacity to have a Shabbat meal and so he prays for her to have a Shabbat meal magically bestowed upon her I mean this only metaphorically and no actual huset involved in the story itself so so he praised that she should have this miraculous Shabbat dinner given to her and she does and he hears a vision which says because you've intervened in the affairs of this world you've lost your place in the world to come and he starts to dance and he says when his students question him he says for the first time I'm able to serve God without expectation of reward that's in mainstream rabbinic tradition so often I had this sense that what's being criticized is a kind of ignorant abuse of religious nuance and we certainly know anyone has been in an airport has read self-help books that claim to use scientific findings to justify all kinds of stupidities which I don't think you can hold science responsible for even though probably numerically there are far more people who have nonsense ideas based on false science as they do in religion the challenge here is you say it's man-made and I agree it is man-made as is medicine as is law but the solution to bad medicine and bad law is not to get rid of it the solution is to have open discussions and continue to refine it and surpass it this there's a story I was told unlike that Roman Catholic priests actually could really be any Christian there's a there's a comparable this is not my fault there's a comparable story I was told about the death but I think it was a Roman Catholic priest it could be any Christian official really who gets to some Peter's gauge and is told William well done good and faithful servant here's the old place we've been preparing for you in paradise and he says disappeared but I see that there's a terrible suffering and deprivation and misery among the souls in Hell surely my place is with them ministering to them and he's told you really don't get it here one of the reasons why I like doing this some people say so much don't I ever get tired of debating with the religious no absolutely I don't because you never know what they're going to say next Sam and I don't mind being called predictable it's very easy we know what we think we say straight out where we think we know and where we think it's not possible to know why we don't think there's a supernatural and so on but this evening already we've had your suggestion that God is only really a guru a friend when you're in need I mean that he wouldn't do anything like butter around with Joe to prove a point which if I now tell you well that must mean that that book is not the Word of God you'd say well who ever believed that ever that ever was the Word of God let me just tell you something for hundreds and thousands of years this kind of discussion would have been in most places impossible to have or Sam and I would have been having it at the risk of our lives religion now comes to us in this smileyface ingratiating way because it's had to give so much ground and because we know so much more but you've no right to forget the way behave when it was strong and what it really did believe that it had God on it son I just want to say so much if this is the free song of the of the rebel and I just want to read you these two sentences it's nonsense to pretend for instance that at this date there's something daring and original and proclaiming yourself an anarchist an atheist the daring thing or at any rate the unfashionable thing is to believe in God I was 2002 Christopher Hitchens in a review of Evelyn Waugh and George Orwell and I think that there's some truth to that it actually is very difficult to argue God in the public square these days but that since since Spinoza yes for you actually since Hitchens and Harris since but but despite the fact that there's no question there is no question as has been not only pointed out but easily admitted that religious thinkers in the 21st century don't actually if they have good sense pronounced identical nostrils to religious thinkers in the second century even though they may use much of the material to explain what they believe the dilemmas and the central answers are the same and the dilemma that we're facing is the extraordinarily difficult realization that when you die you lose everything and that's always been true and everyone has always faced that and that's I there's a half-time for a really short poem yeah Houseman AE Housman has this kid standing in the town square he says good people do you love your lives and have you ears for sense here is a knife like other knives that cost me eighteenpence I need but plunging in my heart and down will come the sky and Earth's foundations will depart and all you folk will die right it's like you lose everything when you die and that's always been the case and religion in one sense has always realized that which is why which is why you get especially in I'll speak about my own tradition a tremendous emphasis on making this world better which is why you can't build a community without what we would call essentially a welfare state in any Jewish community in the world because the understanding is there will always be suffering there will always be pain and it's the human job to ameliorate that we're actually taking the discussion a little bit to a different level to the consternation of some of my discussion partners which is to say look you all know for example let's think about this not as biologists but as physicists you all know that there's this idea in physics of multiple universes that is that right now there is a universe or many of them that parallel our own with maybe slight differences like maybe there's a universe where a by aartsen and I are winning but other than that there are these multiple universes now in a world in which it is possible to assume that there are multiple universes that go on at the same time is it not possible to believe that there are multiple lives for human beings that live in this universe that's actually despite the fact that I know you have many problems with religious history and religious doctrine that's the question we were asked tonight is the is it possible that there's an afterlife and both from a scientific point of view and from a religious point of view our affirmation is that it is possible it's not certain we don't know what the afterlife is but it is possible and if you come out of this discussion opening your mind to the possibility that this world is not all then we will have one David David I want anyone I want to push you on that because this was actually my first question to you what do you see that afterlife as I and my Angeles tradition I talked about reincarnation but the Jewish the Jewish tradition also is deliberately agnostic about the nature of it so it offers you images it offers you Ghanaian the Garden of Eden about which there's almost no description in the Bible it says yeshiva chamalla that is you get to study Talmud with God as one of my Talmud teachers once said for some people it's heaven for some people to tell but but the point is that you you know it's like what Chekhov said Chekhov said that you you only get multiple treatments for a disease when there's no cure for the disease right if there's a cure you got one treatment you only get multiple images of the afterlife if you don't know what the afterlife is and at least in the Jewish tradition no one was so foolish as to be dogmatic and say this is what the afterlife looks like I'll rest rest with with what in the buck up has John shade say in Pale Fire he says life is such a surprise why should death be any less of one it's big I mean it's very attractive it was clever what David is trying to do Singapore it's very attractive as well it's been clever what David's trying to do so you could stop there saying that think that it's those of us who doubt the supernatural who have the failure of imagination and good move but there's no one who can't play this game there could be an afterlife and no God why not there could be many gods and no afterlife there could be a god with a sense of humor where good people went to hell and evil people and evil people can evil people carried on as in his initial creation ruling the roost I'm willing to admit layer says in Star Wars I I can quote literature in Scripture too [Music] she she wants to borrow Harrison's starship and he's reluctant and her invoice says she's prepared to offer you more money than you can imagine and he says well I can imagine quite a lot I can imagine quite a lot too but here's what I here's what we're meant to discuss I think those who have claimed to know in advance the rules of reward and punishment and the actual details of the earth life people who actually have and continue to rule the mental lives of millions of people who have to explain away things like Sam's nine million dead children I say what answer their souls st. Augustine has to come up with an answer as they go to limbo at least if they're not baptized Catholic that's where they go so millions of people for hundreds of years though that's where their children were a terrible form of sadism and mental serfdom that the church is now considering dropping but that limbo was really real to people when it was imagined for them by a sadistic north-african pseudo-intellectual so they're it's not a failure of imagination to say that this use of imagination is is perverse neither sad nor I've said it's impossible at the be a post life existence we just said that it's not knowable not that it's not known so surely the default position must be that it's those who have ever said that resurrection or an afterlife is a dogma who have the explaining to do for myself I'm / VI I'm very open to that I like surprises Brad I find myself once again agreeing with everything that Christopher Hitchens said I thought I was clever too except for one presenter and and for me the main reason for an afterlife is frankly not to bring justice about in this world but I won't have time in this lifetime to read as much as David will be and I would like to read some of the references that he's able to spit out all the time in such a learning way look you talk about being at a cafeteria and and it does feel to me like we're using a stacked deck so what religion says in the second century is grist for the mill and what science said in the second century is of course outmoded and so so chronologically there's this monolith called religion and then science is only responsible for right now but even right now there are credible physicists who are teaching in universities who teach this theory of multiverse and there are people like Sean Carroll at Cal Poly who say that's not science you can't prove it you can't disprove it so that's nonsense masquerading as science you can't prove or disprove dark matter or dark energy but it does make the theory work right you can't get quantum gravity to fit with relativity but they work in their own so the challenge here is it's a violation I think of accuracy to claim that what science does is only affirm what is verifiable or falsifiable much of science does that and it's a very important corrective tool as I believe it is in most religion today which is you make a claim you put it out there you argue about it you debate it but it's not as though these are an opposite camps so the last thing I want to just state a dissent from is I don't believe that if that religion lost because science won because many of the people who have given us the Enlightenment and science were themselves motivated by a desire to read God's text which is the world so is there a lot of nonsense that is proposed in the name of religion for sure is it egregious absolutely every criticism you've made I think is despicable and and accurate and dead-on but that doesn't taint religion as a whole anymore than the notion that you can measure people's craniums and look at their racial feature and then put up a hierarchy of human mattering which was tenured at Harvard University within the past century discredit science as a whole there is every human enterprise that is capable of egregious mistake and a brilliant insight the last last thing I want to say really the last thing for now is if you insist on reading Shakespeare literally then he also would be a dunce but you would have missed his greatness and some of the greatest literature in the world billions of people have thought were religious literature I find very inspiring much of religious literature and I find deeply offensive much of religious literature but it's literature made by people to make sense of the world and to chart lives of meaning and value I think that's good and I does this buddy would okay daddy it obscures my face it doesn't protect my voice I would like I'd like to be the first to rush to the common ground that's just been offered us which consists of very large and quite long admission that religion is man-made which is our point to begin with thank you I wanted to hear a little bit back towards the afterlife or forward to the afterlife and say you you talked a little bit about that we don't know what happens and this could be the sense of consciousness existing out of our bodies isn't religion all these concepts of an afterlife can't we just talk of it in terms of metaphor and kind of agree that religion is the best metaphor or has provided some metaphors for what the rest of us we call an afterlife is that is that what it amounts to I think there's there's some confusion here I think there's a there's a really a symmetry between science and religion that shouldn't go unobserved and there's a there's an effort on the part of David and Bradley to not own the very clear propositional claims that have been made by every religion for millennia claims about the way the universe is structured claims a very explicit claims about what's going to happen in the future about what happened in the past about what happens after death and these claims are incompatible so for instance if Buddhism is true buddhism purports to be true buddhism has a doctrine of karma and rebirth you can be reborn as an animal you can be reborn in various realms if buddhism is true Judaism Christianity and Islam are absolutely false in their core claims these are not pictures that that can be squared logically and every religion isn't in the in the business of making these claims about the afterlife and about all manner of other thing and the the crucial difference between religion and science is that every religion is beholding to its literature and doesn't think for the most part apart from the fringe of liberal intelligentsia for the most part people don't think it's man-made they don't think that these are just books if everyone read the Bible like Shakespeare we would be hich and I would be doing something entirely unrecognizable right now there would there would be no problem and and so the problem we're articulating is everyone has this idea that they have knowledge about the afterlife the end of days the virgin birth of certain people etc and these are these are claims to truth and they are they're profoundly anti-scientific because you can't edit the books you can't edit the Quran you can't edit the Bible you can't acknowledge freely within the context of the faith that there are just mountains of life destroying nonsense in these books and and that's a problem a little bit then we move on okay I just I want to just say this that there are it is undeniable what Sam said about the fact that there are truth claims in different traditions that contradict each other but here's what I think ought not to go unnoticed I've been at any number as as almost every clergy has at one time or another been any number of interfaith conferences with I mean I she was just spoke at an interfaith conference in San Diego on on labor in different traditions okay and it was everything from Native American there was a Native American dance there was a Buddhist chant there was a reading from the Quran you know and the Jew talked so it was a true interfaith conference and and here's what was so interesting about the time that we all spent before we went out on stage to do our relative our dances either literal or metaphorical we were all talking about our traditions we all understood that there were serious differences about part of it and everybody there I think in all sincerity and not just to be nice agreed that there was a profound core of similarity in these religious traditions that we saw the world as more than material that we saw human beings as having a sacred destiny not only an occupational destiny that we thought that kindness and goodness was and eight of whatever force we understood to run the world I mean these are serious and they are truth claims but they're truth claims that are outside the realm of science science can't decide whether there is in fact a sacred destiny to your life it doesn't ask those kinds of questions or give those kinds of answers religion does and the day that you say that all of religion is off the table because after all it says in Genesis that the world was created in seven days and we know that's not true then what you do is you throw out the very serious comprehensive and share questions of meaning of human life that really really matter to the way people live and that you ought not to do okay I want to talk a little bit about what what evidence there is for an afterlife because when you read books about it it inevitably comes up that people purport there to be evidence so I wanted you all to share your thoughts on that one of the most common tropes is the the near-death experience there have been I think over the last three decades there has been 40 studies of some 3,400 near-death experiences and they've been published in journals like Lancet and and annals of American Psychological journals and Barbara Haggerty did a book on this called fingerprints of God where she interviewed a lot of the people who who did these studies that were published in peer-reviewed journals and a lot of the people she interviewed said that they cannot help but think after investigating these in a scientific way that they point to something beyond this life say almost that was wrong by definition because it's a near-death experience means you didn't die but it's the best we have know if someone if someone is reported dead on Tuesday and you see them on Friday the overwhelming well not the obvious conclusion is that the initial report was mistaken we have no reason to think otherwise I've read a lot about this stuff I better have to if you care to get the portable atheist which I listed there are two accounts by great philosophers the late ajao and fortunately very current Daniel Dennett about their own so-called near-death experiences Hospital experiences of people who are battling with very grave onslaughts on their health which I recommend you read for the very confirming rationality that they bring to it Dinesh D'Souza who is a frequent debating partner mine has written a book about this too again the most persuasive example from any hospital he's found and I get it all the time is a woman who floated out of her body out of the bed made a tour of the outside of the hospital noticed that there was a running shoe on one of the window sills woke up reported it to a nurse his name we've never been told and who went and looked and there was the shoe now if that doesn't prove it I don't know one time ah I could hardly be really more reassured if I'd been told that it was able to reunite it with it's missing pair NDE is it doesn't count it's not coming back from the dead nor is it an account of what happens to you while you're when you're gone it's what can happen to you with the help of life preserving scientific medicine while you are still alive if you need to look at me I would have said one thing this kind of question is still scientifically tractable people have reasonably serious people have tried to study the near-death experience and this this idea of consciousness somehow rising dissociated from the body and rising to a point above the operating theatre and looking down on the body the phenomenology there is common enough that people seem to think that that this is testable and so some people have put random number generators on the on the top of cabinets in the operating theatre just on the odd chance that someone comes back saying I saw this weird digital readout you know above your cabinets and it was you know three five seven to one that would be very interesting now no one to my knowledge has done that but if people this is something we could set up this experiment in advance it wouldn't be merely anecdote that they put shoes up there because sometimes well it's obviously structured along the same lines but again this is it there's a reason why we can't make a research programme based on that one shoe it's about a testable and there's no so there's no there no data there people are just as convinced that they used in past lives to be it was tends to be a princess you notice or charioteer or something of this that space is real to them as the rest of their pathetic lives our products but it's subjective and it's wish-fulfilling and it doesn't come I'm actually a bit amazed we haven't got to wish fulfilled yeah I say word return I mean Troy did his future of an illusion says that the connection between our desires and our beliefs in the case of the art player is so obvious it's mankind's oldest and most strong dread maybe we could duck the faith that appears to be in store for us that it's unlike any means unlike any belief that Sam and I can offer you maybe all kinds of discrepancies between scientifically visible we cannot promise you things of this kind as religion always has to people doesn't make us morally superior but it does mean we're not particularly happy with what we propose which is overwhelmingly likely that annihilation and extinction await us it's just that the overwhelming weight of evidence seems that way now gained a quote Dinesh he said to me once well I can see why people want heaven for themselves and that that's wish-fulfilling at eternal life even though I think that's a horrible idea myself but still but why do they want help why would why would a wish fulfilled invent the inferno well I think that's pretty obvious it's for other people to go to very old Brian among English Calvinists was certainly we are the pure and chosen few and all the rest at Dan there's room enough and healthy we don't want heaven crown in fact in the work of many early church fathers I'm so glad to find by the way that anything written in the first century of our religious people doesn't count and I wish that more ministers of religion would make that concession yeah but Tertullian or many other many other Christian fathers thought one of the pleasures of happened is it's always been rather hard to describe him ever noticed that eating for a garage of the sound of trumpets was the Reverend Sydney Smith's best shot we knew what the Muslims think for men apparently for women do you know what they get they get their husbands back is that heaven nothing man-made about that right um but but the church he's the Christian Church president one of the pleasures of paradise is surveying and relishing the torments of the Damned when we talk about wish fulfillment or unpleasant of primate species to which we belong and the self-interested fantasies that it will continue to generate I you know one of which is were go ahead Brad two things to say here the first I need to confess to the audience my mother the Atheist the Freudian psychoanalyst atheist wants me to tell you that she's rooting for you guys and and that and the two can play at that kind of clever and cute trick you know so you've confessed that the idea of an afterlife is a hideous idea well of course there's a wish-fulfillment involved in hoping that we're not accountable and if at the end it's all over so one can pathologize the other viewpoint but it's unworthy of you it seems to me that the test in Jewish tradition is not another person's theology but their behavior and that unethical behavior is to be condemned even if it comes from a good atheist just as it is to be condemned by someone who claims to cloak it in religious rhetoric so here's the last religious thing I want to say at the very core of traditional Judaism is the notion of bethere ah of choice which means no miracle is so unambiguous that it key it can't be explained away as secular and no miracle is so overwhelming that you have to accept it so you have a perfect example of that we have this data that suggests that the mind has a far greater range then we have previously admitted that it has my autistic son is capable of hearing through walls he'll listen in school to two classrooms down and accurately we've checked rapport what that teacher was saying when his teacher was too boring to listen to don't we all wish our brains could do that and and so the expanse of the mind is far beyond what we have described it as being capable of being so one can look at this data and say this looks to me like intimations that we do in some key and important way have consciousness that is mediated through our minds but is not limited to our brains and then it's equally plausible to say until you're dead you have no business talking about it it does feel to me that the irrelevant aspect of this and the Freudian in me looks at the Animus here and says that's what needs to be accounted for is that for many of us hope in an afterlife grounds us and gives us direction and the notion that my grandmother and I are not eternally separate is a source of great and abiding comfort to me do you believe you'll see her if I see you want me to walk into something literal you just said you're not eternally separate I don't know what I'm using a matter because I think we are packets of energy look I get that from physics as well we are packets of energy and I don't think those packets of energy are necessarily limited to our body and the last thing I have to say just to clear my reputation here at no point did I say that first century literature was irrelevant what I said is it's not meant to be taken literally I want to piggyback on what on what Brad says no Buddhist we've had this we've had this we've gone around this several times almost every time that that Christopher and I have debated which is now several times I've made the same point but obviously to no effect so either either the point is not good for or or the point is not good but but I want to make it anyway listen when someone explains their own beliefs by reason and explains your belief by psychology you actually don't have to listen to them because this is what happens to religious people all the time I'm an atheist because I'm strong and rational and thoughtful you are about wish fulfillment and therefore religious people are by definition weaker less sophisticated we understand I you know you shouldn't be religious but I understand you need it there are people who believe in the afterlife who are weakened fearful and people who believe in the afterlife who are courageous and strong there are atheists who are weakened fearful there are atheists who courageous were courageous and strong it is an unworthy argument to say that someone believes in something because of wish fulfillment as opposed to someone believes in something because it makes sense or it doesn't make sense that's not the way you want to argue about religion or anything else Bradley just said that his belief in an afterlife is predicated on the effect this belief has in his life it gives him hope he thought he finds it immensely consoling is that why you believe in the afterlife I'm just curious no but there's one other chance of it okay so as a consequence but that doesn't mean that that's what look I find it enormous ly consoling and wonderful to think that my daughter loves me but I don't believe it because I find it enormously consoling I believe it because she does okay she's a team to do right okay just just little empirical verification there there's this there's a false assumption about science operating here science is not in principle committed to the idea that there's no afterlife or that the the mind is identical to the brain right or that materialism is true science is completely open to whatever in fact is true and if it's true that the consciousness is being run like software on the brain and chemistry by virtue of ectoplasm or something else we don't understand can be dissociated from the brain of death that would be part of our growing scientific understanding of the world if we could discover it now and there's their way as we could in fact discover that if it were true the problem is there are very good reasons to think it's not true and we know this from now 150 years of neurology where you damage areas of the brain and faculties are lost and they're clearly lists not that everyone with brain damage is perfect as their soul perfectly intact they just can't get the words out this is that you everything about your mind can be damaged by damaging the brain you can cease to recognize faces you can cease to know the names of animals but you still know the names of tools I mean the fragmentation in in the way in which our our mind is parse elated level the brain is not at all intuitive and hid and there's a lot known about it and what we're being asked to consider is that you damage one part of the brain and the mind something about the mind and subjectivity is lost you damaged another and yet more is lost and yet if you damage the whole thing at death we can rise off the brain with all our faculties intact recognizing grandma and speaking English [Music] David and I think much more important point is if everything you're saying about your religious orientation is true because you're basically confessing a kind of scientific attitude toward the mysteries of subjectivity and and what happens after death then the usefulness of holding to these traditions and these first century books is is I'm completely at a loss it seems like you're in the wrong line of work you get the psychology and I'm sorry to say David that your your shorthand account of our disagreement it's a little a little deceptive I mean you if you say to me of yourself the the fact that I hold a belief that makes me feel better has nothing to do with why I hold the belief I might just believe it from you I suppose but Freud isn't as crude as you make him sound he said that too just to ask people to accept that humanity's oldest fear that of death and oldest wish that of the ability to survive it has nothing to do with the faith in an afterlife it's only a coincidence if it makes people feel better I'm not going to accept that and you shouldn't be putting it about either David you didn't get a chance to respond to the near-death do you does that have any impact on your beliefs so well I'll just say this about near-death experiences first of all I would love well I wouldn't like to have one but I'd love to have one and and I've been operated on several times with the sad result of having nothing other than unconsciousness during the operation but eight million people have reported these near-death experiences according to a Gallup poll in 92 so presumably others have had it since then the sort of William James pragmatic test of whether an experience is real is that in fact many many many of them report that they no longer feel fear death that their lives have radically changed as result of it and the only thing I would say is I do I do I say that this is proof that there's an afterlife my answer is no but and here's the but there's this philosopher named Jackson I think Fred Jackson who proposed the following experiment Dennett's commented on it I don't know if either of you have but I'd be curious to know what you what you think he said look let's say you had a brilliant scientist in a room with a black-and-white television in a black-and-white room and the only thing she ever saw was black-and-white and she became the world's expert her name is Mary and his experiments became the world's expert on the physiology of vision she knew everything about vision about the neuroscience of vision about the way the retina works and so on she knew as much as it is possible to be known now he said imagine that you turn on the television and it's in color has she learned something in other it is there's something you learn from experience that is not reducible to intellection and my sense is yes she would have learned something if all of a sudden she saw colors that she could not have known if she was an expert in the neuroscience of color someone who has a near-death experience is saying to us I actually learned something from the experience that you can't reduce to this is some kind of trick that we don't understand yet that your brain did I'm not willing to say that it's proof of the afterlife but I'm also not willing to dismiss it with a few laughs and say that all the millions of people who have this experience and have felt that it gave them important information about life are wrong and foolish how does the eight billion stack up against the people who've been inseminated by UFOs or their pilots I [Music] think I think there's probably some overlap although it's certainly nothing compared to those who've seen the Virgin Mary's statues move or bleed nothing like but does that mean you believe that they in fact didn't have such an experience is that what you're saying no I think that the experience is real to me to them all I ask is that they keep it to themselves if they possibly can I mean I knew I knew very well and I named Hugh Montefiore who was one of the only two Jewish boys at English boarding school until one day Jesus of Nazareth came into his room and said follow me which he did for the rest of his life he ended up was very senior member of the church behind a bishop in fact in fact the Bishop of Birmingham which by the way is the first line of a limerick and actually acted throughout as if that was as wield him as anything could be and wrote some very interesting books indeed and terribly upset the only other Jewish boy in that school who was left as the only other Jew but yes of course I have to grant that these things are real to him I'm not sure I believe that the mass visions of weeping and bleeding statues are as real I think there's a lot of political assassination right well then if you ask people to draw what the Virgin looks like when they've only had a vision offer it's always like the last icon that they saw I'm not I'm not saying that that we should fall down every time terra cotta gets wet I mean that's not my my statement here and I don't believe in weeping statutes but you anthologized two of these experiences it's just that people gave them different interpretations of them so I have to think that you actually take these experiences seriously there's nothing in the portable atheist about visions of the Virgin Mary crying but but you put a or and Dennett's experience in there they didn't necessarily think that it proves something about the afterlife but you must have credited the experiences enough to put it in Bock well short because anything that suggests that people are having energies are pretty new and so are a large number of medical and life prolonging techniques I think that's interesting enough in itself people can now live long enough or we well-tended enough right to have experiences of consciousness that we haven't even begun to study yet that yes that of course deserves to be taken seriously but the people who say oh all that does is not really new all it proves is what we already knew from the first vision or from the first promise of the divine are doing what religion always does assimilating what they can of the discoveries that would otherwise make nonsense of it it occurs to me is you're both talking that both of you have faced serious illness in your lives and I'm wondering if that it all has shaped your view of the afterlife David I actually don't think so know it neither it neither mitigated my terror nor did it I think reinforced my faith I I think that although I changed as a person I don't think that I changed at least I hope I changed as a person I don't think I changed belief or or the sense that people were more than stuff Christopher I would say it fractionally increases my contempt for the false consolation element of religion and my dislike for the dictatorial and totalitarian part of it but I presume what I say by the first is self-evident but what I mean by the second is it's considered perfectly normal in this society to approach dying people who you don't know but who are unbelievers and say now are you going to change your mind it's what if a dispositional mr. polite question and as you know there's a long history of fraud about this people claim that Darwin had a deathbed recantation they've made up lies about Thomas Paine it goes on all the time it's a very nasty little history there's also a horrible undertone of blackmail - if you'll write and say look you've got you've got about one chance left now aren't you going to take it I'm writing to you as a friend as if they've even tried on me when I've been very ill and not I haven't had quite the vinegar I'd like to have had in a hospital I don't mind I can take it but I think there are lot of people older than myself iller than myself perhaps at the risk of seeming conceited less educated than myself to whom that's a horrible experience it's very it's very depressing and alarming to be spoken to in that way I mean if Sam and I were to form a core of people to go around religious hospitals which is what happens in Reverse and say to people who are lying in pain say do you say we're Catholic yes well look you may only have a few days left but you didn't have to live them as a serf you know just recognize that that was all the priests the priests have been cheating you and I guarantee you'll feel better I don't think that would be very ethical okay but I think it would be something of a breach of taste but but if it's in the name of if it's in the name of God it has a social license well that is and and will say if it's my last breath thank you right when I was 12 I had what the doctor incorrectly labeled as a terminal inoperable cancer and the first procedure by which they discovered that was as humiliating a medical procedure as a twelve and a half year old boy could possibly go through and raised in a good a theist home and I don't mean that with any irony I mean good atheist home I had this vision with my eyes of Moses and the children Israel going through the split see being that I was a good atheist that passed it turns out that the terminal sentence was a bit of an exaggeration so I recovered the disease came back twice I've survived it thus far although I'm a rabbi so there is some long term consequence that's debilitating I was a chaplain at sloan-kettering walk into someone's room and she said looking at this little twenty five-year-old kid you know what the hell can you possibly say to me you've never had cancer and I blurted it out I did too which was the first time I ever consciously was aware that I had had cancer even though I had gone to cancer words or whatever my point here is that mystical experience did not make me a believer I didn't have a thing to put it on until I became a believer for other reasons and then I remembered it and went oh yeah there was something there so the challenge I would like to make is I think that in some important way we really need to become allies if you'd like to see me as a psychologist and I need you to write a short note to my mother before the evening is out because that will please her no end you know I also want to say that I think that that kind of militant literalism is equally offensive and problematic on both sides I don't recognize myself and I will say here in this audience that neither rabbi won't be nor I are marginal to the religious experience of the Jewish community here so that may be both good news and bad news for you it means you actually have what I think of as secular religious people who are your allies in everything except for the finish line and that may hurt book sales well it's to some degree an artifact of Judaism this is not a problem that I run into with with evangelicals and Muslims I mean this is just this is a it is it is conceivable to be a Jew and be even and a serious Jew someone who takes their Judaism very seriously and be even less religious than you are and to end to engin see to say you don't believe in God and and that isn't that is just a frank contradiction within Christianity and Islam at the moment and it was a frank contradiction certainly at some point in Judaism and certainly Maimonides seemed to think it was I think we can concede however that there is that belief in the afterlife or at least a profession of belief in the afterlife gives you something to say at the most in the most difficult moments in life to others who are losing someone or have lost someone it gives you something to say that that an atheist doesn't have which if believed by the one who has just lost their child for instance is really consoling I mean there is nothing better in terms of consolation than to believe that the you just lost is now someplace perfect and you will be reunited Sam what would you say I mean I get somebody out somebody in that moment asked you I'm about to die what's gonna happen to me what would you tell me that I think actually this this issue of the one who dies is less our fear of death at least as far as I can tell from a sample of one is not of our own death and we all go to sleep every night and just disappear we lose everything we deep sleep for almost everyone is synonymous with oblivion you lose you lose your see a sensory experience you forget your life if you never woke up you wouldn't notice it and this is many people have noticed this perhaps most famously the Roman poet Lucretia's if death is synonymous with with non-existence there really is nothing to fear and slipping into it may feel just as satisfying and slipping into sleep I mean there's just no that's that's not what we're worried about we're worried about the process of dying perhaps in the process of being ill and in pain and we're really worried about losing the people we love while we're alive and having nothing to think that's consoling in the midst of that bereavement I'm really glad to have the chance to disagree with you right [Music] the problem is quite other I mean half my sex life has been lived when I was unconscious look more MORE Ashley more like more than half what you're talking about Graham not all of that was nightmare either which is a thing that really does impress and distress which is as weel to them as waking no no Audrey I wasn't talking about dreams I'm talking about deep sleep know what deep sleep after all of my classes deep sleep is where they come from it this is why Hamlet is so well remembered because when he speaks of the undiscovered country from whose Bourn no traveler returns and he says I can almost do it who would bear the whips and scorns of time that the pranked the pangs of despised love the laws delay the insolence of office and the spurns that patient merit of the unworthy takes if he himself could his creators make with the bare bodkin I think says because in that sleep of death what dreams may come when we have shuffled off this mortal coil when we speak when I speak about annihilation and extinction I mean just that I mean the screen goes blank and that's it right that's surely what makes people fright well though I think don't you think Lucretia's had a point when he when he talked about you're not going to know you're dead but when you're alive and you and your deep sea you can I'm you know Hamlet says the exact opposite he says makes us bear those ills we have than fly to others we know not of in other words over there they're going to be ills - in other words there isn't after about a month oh well his father's just come back from you sorry Claire alright so though he still wants some evidence next three scenes but Kenny I hope not not an average since I want to be peaceful about this yes can we all agree that whether there's an afterlife or not the point of life is to live in such a way that you deserve one well that would be true if there was no God I fear my craft knife in my past which I've already posted there could be no God and an afterlife or no fly to nobody if there is a dictator who distributes reward and punishment then you can never be sure if you're doing a right action or an action born out of fear all the hope of reward so no it's an incitement in a way to to immorality if anything certainly disability which is not a moral position to be occupied no I think well I think we're talking slightly across purposes here I'm talking about unconsciousness that's just the absolute cessation of any kind of experience if the the prototypical atheist is right and there is you just get a dial tone at death that is that is what people claim to fear but not as McLeish has pointed out that is analogous to the time before your birth you don't you were no you no more suffered you'll know more suffer the Eternity after your death and you'll suffer the Eternity the time before your birth and we there was a time where where we're sitting was populated entirely by I think Chumash Indians none of us were here no what was that like not not for the Chumash for us I will say I was a princess I was I I was a princess sanatorium I'm go ahead Christopher on this question of your rabbinic Authority I'd also like to concede because I would say it's someone who says there's no afterlife as I said they're not a Christian or a Muslim and I have found it harder to make that sort of blanket remark Judaism even with Bram bombs stipulation it's not its own optional things where are things you it's a mandatory belief and even with your concession that when you would direct it directly asked you expect to see your grandmother again and you did what very few Jews will do and say well she's only metaphorical I was once by the spur toss in stitute in Chicago which is the Jewish universe there to give a talk on the question do Jews have a gene for atheism and I speculated that the majority do seem to be yes and in truth Jews do not make the mistake of saying the Messiah has already come the crats mistake of saying that random self says he will come but he may tarry no other religion does this what's the name for a heretic in Jew in Hebrew Epicurus epicurean they teach people all the pitfalls of Greek philosophy and hellenism inviting them to discover the joys of saying and ever since Spinoza it seems to me that the Jewish people who probably ought to be doing this because it was their fault to invent monotheism in the first place have become the first to transcend it it can't be coincidence just like people say copycats inseminate Jews win the Nobel Prize I'm serious Spinoza Marx Freud Einstein it goes on and it does seem to be latent in the Jewish demand to ask questions yeah so not very happiness but it's much more of a pleasure to debate Maurice Maurice Samuel who is a Jewish writer and thinker said that the reason that the Jews continue to exist is that they refused to quit this world until they figured out what it was about and Leo Strauss says Britton as he said the purpose of the Jews is to show there's no such thing as redemption the challenge here is again that the pathetic us delusions are not worth interchanging you're you're invoking I think a name that for me suggests something very different Spinoza called himself God intoxicated and it is true that the God with whom he was intoxicated was very different than the literal God of the Bible although he read the Bible as a political track that had great relevance for his own time he used it as a call for freedoms that his own community couldn't see or couldn't understand and he had a notion of an afterlife again very different than the kind of literalist read that I've heard of but there there is a tradition that goes back to the Talmud as well of rejecting that kind of literalism of the whole rabbinic way of doing Midrash of reading biblical stories against the grain and filling in silences or creating extra it wouldn't make sense if fundamentalism was the Jewish norm and I also want to here stand up for the Buddhist traditions which also talk about an afterlife but in ways that some Western monotheists would find profoundly disconcerting but there's a much broader notion and I think it gets back to what rabbi won't be said that the notion that there is a meaning which we are capable of discovering and that its larger than although embedded in our cultures and that we have the capacity to live our lives in harmony with that look for me that comes in part out of evolution our brains have been 14 billion years in the development why would we not also trust the intuitions that we live in a universe that's moving towards greater complexity and greater relationship and greater connection Thanks we have it's basically Facebook is what we're talking about here is there an afterlife on Facebook we have to wrap up but I had I actually just had one small question which is Christopher how are you feeling thank you for asking what I'm dying but but so you having and it gives me the chance thank you again to repair what would otherwise have been an ungenerous omission when I was talking about the hateful attitude look so many religious people to sick people I have had very involved in my care a great American Francis Collins who's the head of the National Institutes of Health and who's to help me sequence my genome amazingly and possibly find a cure for an individualized mutation from which I suffer Francis is one of the most devout believers I've ever met in fact I'm lucky to be his friend because of the religion debate he's a very sincere and devout Christian and all he does is say he won't pray for me and all he does is say he's never seen in his entire medical career anything that he would describe as a miracle cure and on that we have one of the nicest armed truces it's ever been my pleasure to observe thank you that does prove debate like this could be life-saving but the short answer is it's a bit early to say but who can't say that no one's ever more than a breath away from the end and we're born into a visiting struggle and we all knew that but we should from the beginning it's just that I have to think about it a bit anyway thank you so much for coming thank you very much your business quickly [Applause]
Channel: Agatan Foundation
Views: 1,299,480
Rating: 4.8195901 out of 5
Keywords: Christopher Hitchens, David Wolpe, afterlife, Bradley Artson Shavit, Sam Harris, atheist, atheism, agnostic, religion, debate, god, faith, Agnosticism (Religion), agatan, foundation, Foundation (non-profit), anti, theist, anti-theist, anti theist, is there an afterlife, Creationism, Design, Intelligent, Truth, Logic, Proof, Response, Theory, Reason, Belief, Evidence
Id: mlCjy52h0hc
Channel Id: undefined
Length: 97min 50sec (5870 seconds)
Published: Sun May 12 2013
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