You are here:

Atheism/Do atheists ever wonder?

Advertisement


Question
Do atheists ever wonder if an afterlife may well be within the mysteries of nature? Or is that just too dangerous and outrageous?

Answer
Hello, Charles,

Actually, the issue you bring up is one I have addressed in previous questions, as well as in my recent book, 'Beyond Atheism, Beyond God'.  In fact, I advanced the notion that a version of the "afterlife" might conceivably within the investigatory purview of modern physics, namely quantum physics.

Basically, there can be a rudimentary natural afterlife if one subscribes to the notion of real de Broglie waves, as postulated by the Stochastic Interpretation of Quantum Mechanics. Real, physical de Broglie waves, by the way, were originally detected in the Davisson-Germer experiment. The experiment revealed wave patterns from which the de Broglie wavelength  could be computed.

This  experiment consisted of firing an electron beam from an electron gun directed to a piece of nickel crystal at normal incidence. An accident occurred in which air entered the chamber, producing an oxide film on the nickel surface. To remove the oxide, Davisson and Germer heated the specimen in a high temperature oven, not knowing that this affected the formerly polycrystalline structure of the nickel to form large single crystal areas with crystal planes continuous over the width of the electron beam. To make a long story short, when the experiment re-commenced  the electrons were scattered by atoms which originated from crystal planes inside the nickel crystal, leaving patterns from which the de Broglie wavelength could be calculated according to:

n L = 2d sin (90 - theta/2)

Where L is the deBroglie wavelength

This astounding result showed that matter can appear as waves, just as light can.

The point of all this is that de Broglie waves represent the wave mirror image of matter. When matter degenerates or corrodes, and according to conservation of mass-energy, de Broglie waves will survive. The issue is whether these waves can encompass consciousness and it isn't a stretch or excess speculation to believe they can. (Look at the Ca++  ions crossing the synaptic cleft for example as Henry Stapp has. If rudimentary consciousness is tied to the de Broglie wave of such ions,  then those associated waves ought to be able (theoretically) to survive physical death.

We know de Broglie waves exist - they've been proven by experiment. We also know that they can be tied to consciousness, as David Bohm has shown in his assorted papers, e.g. . Bohm, D. and Hiley, B.J.: Foundations of Physics, Vol. 12, No. 10, p. 1001.

Thus, if the preceding template is accepted, then it is feasible that de Broglie waves could provide the basis for a rudimentary, impersonal, wave-based consciousness (nonlocal) that continues after death.

Hope this provides some insight!

Atheism

All Answers


Answers by Expert:


Ask Experts

Volunteer


Philip A. Stahl

Expertise

I specialize in the areas of scientific materialism and consciousness described as a materialist epiphenomenon. Also can answer questions pertaining to general atheism, atheist-agnostic differences etc.

Experience

I have been an atheist for over 36 yrs. and have written four books on the subject: 'The Atheist's Handbook to Modern Materialism'(2000), and 'Atheism" A Beginner's Handbook', 'Dialectical Atheism' (2011), 'Beyond Atheism, Beyond God' (2013)

Organizations
Intertel, Mensa, American Mathematical Society, American Astronomical Society, American Geophysical Union

Publications
Atheist articles: 'The American Atheist' magazine, assorted U.S. newspapers (e.g. Baltimore Sun, Denver Post); papers-articles published in Intertel's Journal: Integra. Books: 'The Atheist's Handbook to Modern Materialism'(2000), 'Atheism: A Beginner's Handbook' (2007), 'Dialectical Atheism' (2011), 'Beyond Atheism, Beyond God' (2013)

Education/Credentials
Master of Philosophy in Physics. Also took more than 3 yrs. of theology and metaphysics courses at a Catholic University (1964-67) - before I became an atheist. Thus, I have much more religious familiarity & background than many atheists.

Awards and Honors
Writers' Digest Award for the essay 'The Atheist in America' (2000), Government of Barbados research in solar physics award (1980-84), AAS Solar Physics Award (1984)

Past/Present Clients
American Atheists, Barbados Philosophical Society, Harrison College- Barbados, Colorado Springs Freethinkers

©2016 About.com. All rights reserved.