Our thought process emanates from two main sources: (1) intellect and (2) emotions. Intellect is more associated with self-controlled thought, while emotions are guided more by chaotic and less controlled thinking.
These are the same two sources that can be both distracted and activated by our five senses. For example, a magnificent view of the ocean or melodious performance of Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony could distract us from recalling a really bad day at the office. Anger or fear could trigger heightened sensations, thus exaggerating our perception of reality and precipitating actions that we ordinarily would not take.
So, what is reality? Perhaps, it is just our perception through our senses. The real truth may be completely different than what we perceive. For example, we may see the world in three dimensions, but it actually may have more dimensions that are invisible to us. Time is considered by some scientists to be the fourth dimension, but there may be many more. Our perceived dimensions may even be inside larger dimensions. Or our dimensions may consist of many miniature dimensions.
But what would reality be like if we had no senses? If the five senses were eliminated and you were still thinking, then your primary insights into reality would be left to logic and emotions. There are few examples of this experience for us to study, but one may be sensory deprivation used in torture and punishment. People subjected to this treatment, I am told, typically start hallucinating within minutes.
Our species likes to consider itself as being independent and capable of managing any situation, but sensory deprivation proves otherwise. Man cannot deal with sensory deprivation alone. Emotions generally dwarf any intellect we may carry into this experience. Chaotic emotions will prevail, completely erasing any logic. Logic is based on something solid to hold onto. Logic is like gravity in that it keeps you grounded. Emotions are like quantum mechanics in a random universe where anything is possible, and you have no control over them and there is no logical outcome.
So if you died and were still thinking, you would have to rely on logic and emotions to create your new reality. But as a practical matter, your emotions would prevail, leaving logic in a dark corner. Further, none of the five senses would be available to distract or activate your thoughts. This new reality could become a nightmare of immense proportions. If you fear being confined in tight spaces, you may imagine yourself stuffed headfirst into a dark tunnel with decreasing circumferences. Your emotions would turn against you without the stability of logic.
What are the odds of you being conscious after death? Well if there is any chance at all, you should be prepared for it. And clearly, there is some chance of that happening. What is my argument supporting that conclusion? Your brain will die, so that part of your thought process will disappear, but what about the awareness that seems to make us different from other animals? What about our free will in making decisions that does not seem to exist anywhere else in the animal kingdom? And if there is something different about Homo sapiens that we don’t find in other species, then there is a chance that this consciousness that may be unique to us will continue into the afterlife… wherever and whatever that might be.
Some people might say that awareness after death is impossible because there is nothing we can see or touch in our bodies that provide evidence supporting such a case. Physicians and scientists might say that since the brain dies, there is nothing visible left to continue the thought process. But the problem is that the great majority of our universe, perhaps well over 99%, is invisible to us. Dark matter, dark energy, the quantum world, the part of our universe we can’t see because its light has not reached us, future in the time dimension, and the potential for other dimensions all make up what is hidden from us. There also are mysteries of the universe that we will never understand. There even may be other universes. So it would be rather bold for us to state with absolute certainty that it would be impossible for us to continue thinking after death.
Religion or a strong faith-based logic would be very helpful if afterlife were thinking without your senses. Of course if you died and you were not still aware or conscious, then this essay would be moot. But since there is no guarantee that you will not be thinking after you die, you might want to consider what that might be like.
Certainly, your perception of reality without your senses may change your new surroundings dramatically. Reality is perception. Without your senses to distract you, your new reality might be whatever you think it is. It might be like in the movie, Ghostbusters, when Dan Aykroyd thought of the Stay Puft marshmallow man, who then proceeded to attack him. Aykroyd’s thoughts created the giant monster. So, living with your thoughts for eternity may not be such a good thing.
Our perception of reality, even with our senses, is suspect. An example when our perceptions may be deceptive is the reaction to Edwin Hubble’s famous discovery of the “red shift,” leading scientists to believe the universe was expanding at an accelerated rate. However, the “red shift” could also be evidence that the universe is shrinking at an increasing rate. It is a unique perspective that man cannot easily imagine. But if the forces of gravity are holding the solar system and galaxies in place, it is possible that the majority of the universe that is invisible to us is shrinking the small percentage that we can see. In effect if the galaxies remained constant as to their proportion with each other, a decrease in size among all galaxies also would cause a “red shift.” This shrinking theory actually makes more sense than the expansion theory because after the initial Big Bang, the universe would have started slowing down after billions of years rather than speeding up.
So, how do we prepare to think without our senses? What new perceptions do we need? Christianity works best for me. Of course, there are other faiths that could be just as good as Christianity. It’s a matter of how strongly you believe in that faith. By believing that you will meet Jesus and that all your sins will be forgiven are two major protections that Christianity offers to avoid chaos. (1) You will believe strongly that you will meet Jesus, who will have a familiar human face, who will lead you and provide control. (2) You will not feel guilty about all the bad things you did during your life and will not punish yourself. Armed with this powerful belief, you will not be alone in a strange universe and you will have direction and guidance without guilt.
But it must be an extremely powerful belief. Faith is more complex than just saying you believe. It must be a faith that can withstand thousands of perpetual nightmares that are like the Colorado River grinding and carving out the Grand Canyon. Most faiths are eroded by this onslaught. You cannot grab faith like a life preserver as the boat is sinking. You cannot believe just to avoid chaos. Your belief must be stronger than your imagination. Your belief must be more powerful than your emotions. You must have a belief grounded in intellect. Your belief will become your new reality.
Remember: you cannot do this alone. You need help. If you truly believe in God, the Creator, then He will be inside you as you make the journey through the dark chaos of afterlife. He will be your guiding light.
So, why would you believe in God? You can’t see or touch Him. How can you ever achieve the strong belief in God that is necessary to defeat chaos? The answer lies in your intellect. Existentialists say that life is absurd. But Christian existentialists, like me, say that life is absurd without God. Life is meaningless without God. I offer eight arguments for believing in God.
First, free will is absurd without consequences. It makes no sense for us to have choices in life without a test at the end. Whether you believe the test is graded by yourself, others, or God, there will be consequences. Personally, I would rather be judged by God than by myself and others.
Second, you can sense something within you that is looking out at the universe. If you have ever gone to a quiet corner of the house and were able to dismiss the distractions of life, your intellect would detect something… something that is inside you that you can’t explain. This spark or this conscience or this feeling of awareness makes us different from other animals. Further, it is the origin for a belief in a Creator. We see evidence of this belief by Homo sapiens thousands of years ago in mounds and chiseled rocks for worship. Worshiping God is unique to our species.
Third, without a Creator, the creation, itself, would be absurd. Even if you believe in abiogenesis, a form of spontaneous generation where life came about on earth from non-living compounds, you believe in creation of life. There is much evidence of creation: birth of animals, of solar systems, of stars, of galaxies, and our universe. The stars in our universe create all the elements, so we are made of stardust. But what made the stars? The Big Bang theory is one explanation of the birth of stars and our universe. But what was behind the bang? Didn’t something create the Big Bang? Even if you believe that our universe was created from nothing, logic tells you that there still was a creation. By definition, the Creator created the creation.
Of course, somebody always asks, “Then who created the Creator?” The answer is: “There was no need for creation before the Creator.” By definition, only the Creator creates, so there was no ability for creation prior to the Creator. When I refer to God, I am referring to the Creator. I’m not so anthropocentric as to believe He looks like us. He may be pure energy or something that we cannot even imagine. Most likely, He is outside our closed-system universe because matter can neither be created nor destroyed in our universe. Unless you believe our universe is infinite with an open system that never was created, then you must believe it was created by a Creator… and most likely from outside our universe.
Fourth, this is a closed universe, which was created outside our universe. If this were an open universe, then there would be no creation. In other words, if our universe were expanding forever into deep space, sometimes called the “Big Freeze,” then our universe could never have been created because creation cannot occur in our universe. Matter and energy can neither be created nor destroyed in this universe. So, what is the evidence proving that this is a closed universe? There are clear boundaries between the macroworld of gravity and the microworld of quantum mechanics. Boundaries between these two universes are obvious because the laws of gravity do not apply in the quantum world. And demarcation lines prove closures exist. The Big Bang theory proves that our universe broke out of a shell as if it broke open the boundary and popped into a closed universe. We cannot see beyond the Big Bang because it probably is not in our universe. The “Big Freeze” theory does not make sense since our universe is expanding at increasing speeds. Clearly, if our universe were headed out into an infinite open space, it would be slowing down. Interestingly, the outermost solar systems in galaxies are moving around the center of the galaxies at the same speed as the inner systems. We would expect the systems near the edge of the galaxy to slow down since the gravitational attraction of the super-massive black holes in the center of the galaxies would decrease. This proves that there is an invisible order in our universe, which would not exist in an open system. It could be dark energy or the original imprint from the creation of the galaxy, but for the purposes of our argument, it doesn’t matter what you call it. We just know that it exists. In an open system, entropy would be the rule as everything slowed down, failed, disintegrated, and came to a final, frozen end. In a closed system, there would be an order and design imprinted on galaxies and everything else in the universe. Of course, entropy also exists in a closed universe, but it is offset by order and design.
Fifth, there is a design in our universe, so there must be a Designer. We know that there is both chaos and control within our universe. The control must come from some design. We see this design in DNA, complex systems like the eyes, evolution, and gravity. It is interesting that creationists and evolutionists take an “all or nothing” approach, when, most likely, they both are partly correct. The two theories actually can blend into the truth. God could provide the designs, including evolution, while evolution would enhance His original design. But God is the power behind design and control.
We also see entropy eroding that control, spinning us back into chaos. The cycle of chaos and control exists in our closed universe. Just like all matter and energy within our universe that is a constant total, chaos and control are also a constant sum. Chaos and control convert back and forth in a perpetual motion dance. Since the ultimate goal of entropy is annihilation of design, there must be a Designer constantly spinning up new designs. Otherwise, the entire universe would be in a state of chaos. As an example, the mass extinctions of entire species, like the dinosaurs, have always been replaced by new species. Evolution explains the changing of new species, sometimes even becoming new species; but evolution does not answer the question of what designed the original life forms from nothing. Design had to occur outside our closed universe by the Designer.
Sixth, I believe in God because 99+% of the universe can’t be seen. In effect, we know so little about our world that we should not discount circumstantial evidence that there is a God simply because we cannot see Him. It would be absurd to not believe in God just because He was invisible. Most of the universe is hidden from us. Scientists know that there is dark energy, even though they cannot see it or even tell you what it is, because of mathematical calculations. Because of our lack of knowledge of the universe, we should err on the side of selecting the option that is the most positive and potentially beneficial. To me, that would be God.
Seventh, even if the odds of there actually being a God were a billion-to-one, I would still believe in Him because of the consequences if you are still thinking after death. Many people spend money on the lottery even though their chances of winning are infinitesimal. If you are still conscious after you die, you better believe in something. My money is on God.
Eighth, even if there is no God, believing in God has made me a better person and it typically provides a moral code to society. There are many examples of religion-gone-bad throughout history, but overall it offers a benefit. The humanness of our species perverts most things that we touch, including religion. But religion should not be discarded because of the weakness in mankind. Religion provides ethics and moral structure that keeps self-interests, mob rule, and chaos in check.
Even if none of the above arguments are persuasive, you must believe in something. Even if you only believe in yourself, that is something. As a practical matter, believing in self probably will not be sufficient in the afterlife. You need to think differently if your senses are gone. I am not going to tell you that my belief in God is better than your belief. But I will tell you that you need to focus entirely on your faith, whatever that might be. And it must be a very, very, very, very powerful belief. Again, only a strong faith-based design will give you a fighting chance to avoid chaos.