Adam_Gollner

Life Eternal

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Hour 2:           Humans have been obsessed with living forever since, well, forever. Why do some people still believe it’s possible to cheat death? This hour, we’ll look at key figures in the quest for life eternal with Adam Leith Gollner, author of “The Book of Immortality: The Science, Belief, and Magic Behind Living Forever” (Scribner, 2013).

  • Guest

    If you don’t believe in an existence after this life, what’s your motivation for living or loving? All that you do in this life will be lost or can be completed by others if your existence ends at a physical death.

    • Clyde Seeger

      Quite simply life wants to live — it’s a powerful motivator. So powerful that we seek life beyond this one.

    • Michaela Samuels

      Life is far more than just a road to another dimension. Assuming that goodness and love can only be desired because of some afterlife reward or punishment really limits the very ideal of goodness and love; indeed, an argument can be made that one is only truly loving and good without the belief in some posthumous reward.

    • Robin Burke

      Well it’s often because of our children, notice how teens & adults often aren’t civic minded or simply don’t vote until kids come into their lives, suddenly they realise there’s a big picture than just them and now & after their passing from this mortal coil.
      I don’t believe in a spiritual afterlife yet I try to do good for the greater good. As a species, we have a very advanced perception of time, we know there’s a lot of time to come & we can see the affects of our present actions on that future.
      Besides, we’re very little more than our DNA & it’s driving purpose is to reproduce & advance against dangers by adapting via mutation and cross-mixing. We’re just a very small part of the bigger puzzle of life on this planet, just a shame we’re making a mess of it for ourselves & everything else.

  • Guest

    If you don’t believe in an existence after this life, what’s your motivation for living or loving? All that you do in this life will be lost or can be completed by others if your existence ends at a physical death.

    • Clyde Seeger

      Quite simply life wants to live — it’s a powerful motivator. So powerful that we seek life beyond this one.

    • Michaela Samuels

      Life is far more than just a road to another dimension. Assuming that goodness and love can only be desired because of some afterlife reward or punishment really limits the very ideal of goodness and love; indeed, an argument can be made that one is only truly loving and good without the belief in some posthumous reward.

    • Robin Burke

      Well it’s often because of our children, notice how teens & adults often aren’t civic minded or simply don’t vote until kids come into their lives, suddenly they realise there’s a big picture than just them and now & after their passing from this mortal coil.
      I don’t believe in a spiritual afterlife yet I try to do good for the greater good. As a species, we have a very advanced perception of time, we know there’s a lot of time to come & we can see the affects of our present actions on that future.
      Besides, we’re very little more than our DNA & it’s driving purpose is to reproduce & advance against dangers by adapting via mutation and cross-mixing. We’re just a very small part of the bigger puzzle of life on this planet, just a shame we’re making a mess of it for ourselves & everything else.

  • Clyde Seeger

    Another excellent show.

    Kris and Staff, I’ve been a fan of your show and NPR for many years. I listen to KERA all day every day and your show is consistently among the very BEST NPR has to offer. But I know that only because I’m lucky enough to be in your broadcast area.

    Years ago I speculated this show would go National at any time. Year after year since then, I just shake my head and ask why?

  • Clyde Seeger

    Another excellent show.

    Kris and Staff, I’ve been a fan of your show and NPR for many years. I listen to KERA all day every day and your show is consistently among the very BEST NPR has to offer. But I know that only because I’m lucky enough to be in your broadcast area.

    Years ago I speculated this show would go National at any time. Year after year since then, I just shake my head and ask why?

  • Christopher_Graves

    There was a lot of slip-sliding around in this discussion. First, a dismissive reason was offered as to explain away universal belief in an afterlife–viz., that we cannot conceive of our non-existence. The problem with this psychological explanation is that it is simply untrue. As Arthur Schopenhauer observed we can conceive of our non-existence by simply reflecting on the fact that we did not exist before we were born. Our own oblivion is very conceivable. I realized that when I was a child yet I have always believed in life after death.
    Then we heard that there is no empirical evidence for life after death. This claim is, again, simply untrue. As was brought up later in the program, near death experiences offer empirical evidence of life after death (for both people who return to life and people who pass on as they report what they are experiencing as they pass on). But when near death experiences were taken up, the standard presented by both Ms. Boyd and Mr. Gollner was moved from empirical evidence to proof. If proof means mathematical certainty, then, of course, life after death has not been proven to the satisfaction of those of us still here, but nothing is ever proven in a strong sense by empirical evidence. Consider here Karl Popper’s understanding of the scientific method and the nature of induction.
    Mr. Gollner writes off his own out of body experience as a way to escape pain, but people frequently do not feel pain when they are badly injured without escaping from their body. This explanation also fails to account for how other people, and perhaps Mr. Gollner as well, sense events surrounding their trauma from a perspective that would be impossible for them to experience from their own body or in the condition their body was in at the time. As far as those who cite near death experiences as “confirmation bias,” writing off such evidence is more relevantly characterized as an example of belief bias effect, i.e., the human tendency to overlook or reject evidence that conflicts with one’s pre-conceived beliefs. If we simply ignored all evidence in favor of what we have a prejudice to reject as merely confirmation bias, then we could never falsify our own beliefs.

  • Jason

    Where is he getting this idea of time not existing? Pretty sure it’s not Gödel…

  • Jason

    Where is he getting this idea of time not existing? Pretty sure it’s not Gödel…

  • advancedatheist

    I don’t know about the “living forever” part, but some mainstream neuroscientist think we can turn death from a permanent off-state into a temporary and reversible off-state by pushing hard with current brain preservation techniques. Look up the website of the Brain Preservation Foundation. Michael Shermer, the critic of pseudoscience and editor of Skeptic magazine, serves as one of this foundation’s advisers, so he apparently considers its goals scientifically defensible.

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