Why do humans fear death?

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NeuroHeart
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Re: Why do humans fear death?

Postby NeuroHeart » Sun Feb 12, 2012 9:16 am

From a biological standpoint, there is an evolutionary advantage to fearing death. Fearing something gives a reason to actively avoid it, so people will run away from the dangerous animal, or put insane amounts of work into making sure adequate food is available. This has allowed human beings to survive long enough to produce offspring and care for offspring through the vulnerable years.
Technically, I don't think it's a condition that only exists in sentient life, but sentient life is able to reflect upon it, and name it, and ask what it's for. Life that is not able to ponder such matters must still have the response. If rabbits didn't have a response that caused them to flee from foxes, there would probably be no more rabbits. Fear of death is a biological imperative, necessary for survival of a species.
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BigGuy101
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Re: Why do humans fear death?

Postby BigGuy101 » Mon Feb 13, 2012 9:25 pm

My Name Is Death. Come taste my peppermintly breath. - FD2.
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RichardV1150
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Re: Why do humans fear death?

Postby RichardV1150 » Mon Feb 13, 2012 10:25 pm

Many of us fear the unknown, even if you believe in an afterlife or something there is always that little bit of doubt. Maybe it's not doubt, maybe it's just you won't know how it feels, what the onset feel like.
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triplemultiplex
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Re: Why do humans fear death?

Postby triplemultiplex » Mon Feb 13, 2012 10:56 pm

For humans, fearing death goes far beyond a mere survival instinct. Lots of other species are aware of their own existence and can plan for future events and learn non-instinctual behavior from others. But unlike every other species on this planet, we can actually comprehend our own mortality. We can imagine the world that existed before our memories start and we can can conceive of a world that continues to exist when our own lives end.

And that's some pretty heavy stuff. I know I find it difficult to put into words, the idea of my consciousness winking out of existence as we know it.

Science tells us the mind and our very consciousness are one in the same with our brains. There is no consciousness without the brain. This is why we have no memories before we are like toddlers. The brain is still developing and has no capacity for long term memory yet. Anyone who has been under general anesthesia has experienced the mind-brain connection. If nothing goes wrong, one experiences no feelings, thoughts, dreams or anything while they're under. That was my experience some 15 years ago.

I know for some people, the idea of experiencing nothing after death is anything from unsettling, to scary, to downright implausible. And at this point, it is decidedly beyond our capabilities to get a really good answer, as evidence for just about every idea is lacking. We can only make some inferences based on what we know about the brain. Whatever anyone thinks about what happens to you when you die, my advice would be to keep an open mind about new evidence and remember that investigating this great question scientifically does not mean "let's kill religion".

What happens to us when we die? I certainly don't know, but I am certain that anyone who is certain, is certainly wrong.
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NeuroHeart
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Re: Why do humans fear death?

Postby NeuroHeart » Tue Feb 14, 2012 12:32 am

triplemultiplex wrote:For humans, fearing death goes far beyond a mere survival instinct. ... unlike every other species on this planet, we can actually comprehend our own mortality.

Yes, but before the species could do that, what did we have? Survival instinct. Comprehending mortality just means we can think about how scary it can be, even to expand on how scary it can be, but the fear is arguably ingrained.

I don't find the idea of experiencing nothing after death unsettling, scary, or implausible. Nothingness doesn't hurt, it isn't even uncomfortable, so why would it unsettle or scare me? Certainly, I don't wish my life to end, but once it does I'll hardly be concerned about it, will I? It's also entirely plausible; as you say, consciousness does not exist without the brain driving it. More than one thing has convinced me that my consciousness arises from my brain
To believe in something just because you're afraid of the consequences if you don't believe in something is no reason to believe in something.
RichardV1150
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Re: Why do humans fear death?

Postby RichardV1150 » Tue Feb 14, 2012 1:58 am

Science is a wonderful tool, but even it has it's mysteries, the unexplained and things that just seem down right impossible. People call them medical miracles, so is it so hard to believe what we think is true could be false. Maybe we've all lived past lives, the heavens above are real, or maybe we just rot in the ground and return to the earth. Whatever you believe, the laws of physics usually apply, or maybe they are also false. Such laws dictate that energy is neither created nor destroyed, we also know that energy can carry information; electricity or current helps to move data over the internet, nerve cells carry information to parts of the body. Could the conscience energy our brain store stay together after death. It's a theory of mine, and although their is really nothing to support it, I find comfort in the thought that we may have some possibility to stay here as a conscience ghost, a single thought. Obviously all these ghost stories started from an ounce of truth right? What do you think?
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NeuroHeart
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Re: Why do humans fear death?

Postby NeuroHeart » Tue Feb 14, 2012 4:34 am

RichardV1150 wrote:Could the conscience energy our brain store stay together after death.

And maybe the exact same stream of electrons powers your bedroom light every single day.
Yes, the laws of physics state that energy cannot be created or destroyed, but energy explicitly changes form. This doesn't destroy it, but it's not the same, not even part of the same substance, nor is it running through the same substance. It's possible that it could, I suppose, but the likelihood of that is on par with the likelihood of a lotto jackpot winner being struck by lightning for five consecutive days. Probably less likely than that. There is no "staying together" when it comes to energy. The consciousness isn't made of energy, anyway, not entirely. It's made of patterns of chemistry, animated by electrical pulse, all running through the nervous system. The chemistry isn't fully understood, nor is memory, but those things are what would need to stay together to keep a consciousness intact after brain death.
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Unassumption
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Re: Why do humans fear death?

Postby Unassumption » Sun Feb 19, 2012 8:01 pm

Confusion comes in when a word means lots of different, unrelated things in different contexts, especially when those contexts are unfamilliar to most of us, when the contexts are similar enough to think they're the same, or when there's some overlap but the things are still separate in ways we end up forgetting. Energy seems to be one of those. Biology's definition seems to overlap physics a bit, but not completely, and psychology is closer to everyday life (energy drink style energy)
I don't know much about physics so take this with a grain of salt, but energy seems to be about motion or the potential to move, and consciousness (not being about motion) probably doesn't have much to do with that definition of energy, I can see where confusion would arise though. Thermodynamics 1st law only applies to the physics definition of energy though.

It's order that provides function - how simple things are arranged. DNA is made of 4 simple-ish chemicals, it's how they're arranged that gives them function. I don't know much about computers but the same is probably true of how it's switches are arranged, and probably of nerves in the brain too, it's how they're linked together that matters, the pattern of connections.

A little knowledge can be a dangerous thing so remembering. The "energy is only made or destroyed" law is followed by something often simplified to "disorder always increases." Simplifying leaves off the conditions these laws apply in - only to things small enough to be moved by the random vibrations of heat; nerves and transistors are way too big for it to apply. Energy change and density are also important, but I probably only know a simplified version; DNA is very orderly, but orderly food coming in and being broken down to disorderly water and CO2 all the time lets us maintain it. It's essential for bigger things like our nerves and brains to have this constant input of 'biological energy' to maintain their orderly connections even though the laws don't directly apply to them.

Of course you could say consciousness doesn't have to follow from combinations of things, but disrupting the combination of nerves seems to disrupt consciousness and behavior always seems to need nerves connected to each other and it's complexity depends on how many are connected and the only things that can do things like brains can (Computers, etc) have subunits joined in a specific order, so it really seems to me it's the order things are joined together that gives us consciousness.

This combination of things it's possible to disrupt - permenantly. That doesn't preclude an afterlife, of course, it could happen in another way.

Keep an open mind about the evidence

Agreed on principle but this applies to anything. There could potentially be new evidence that changes any conclusions we've reached - that doesn't mean we can't or shouldn't reach conclusions based on the evidence we have available to us, which is our only guide.
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Kennyluv34
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Re: Why do humans fear death?

Postby Kennyluv34 » Wed Feb 22, 2012 12:20 am

I don't know why others may fear death, but I know why I do.

I'm afraid that after death the body shuts down, you stop thinking, there is nothing, there won't be anything, and it is just never-ending darkness for eternity. I like thinking. I like conciousness. I hate sleeping for fear that I won't wake up.
If you haven't noticed, I am paranoid as sh*t. Every night I worry that someone is going to sneak into my house and murder me.
Unassumption
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Re: Why do humans fear death?

Postby Unassumption » Wed Feb 22, 2012 12:22 am

I'm scared my bed will do this

When i say i think it's instinctive i don't mean we don't have deep thoughts about it, just that those are layers built on our instinct which is older - like vines growing on a wall.
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steelspine
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Re: Why do humans fear death?

Postby steelspine » Thu Mar 22, 2012 5:48 pm

I'll admit as much as I fear death, I fear aging and becoming feeble even more. As it's already been stated by other posters on this thread it's probably the not knowing what becomes of our conciousness after we die if anything happens at all, that we fear. All we can do is speculate and believe what we wish to with hope that maybe there is a possibility that who we are continues to exist on in some form or a higher plane then fading to black and completely ceasing to be. With that being said we are stumbling blindly until the moment comes. As well as the fact that it's a part of life that can come at random and we have no control over.
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triplemultiplex
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Re: Why do humans fear death?

Postby triplemultiplex » Thu Mar 22, 2012 9:36 pm

steelspine wrote:I'll admit as much as I fear death, I fear aging and becoming feeble even more.


And not just physically feeble, but mentally feeble as well. That's even worse. Grandpa Marsh expressed some of that in yesterday's episode. The idea that everything that makes you a person can slowly drain away until you're a bed-ridden meat bag unable to remember all the cool shit you did and awesome people you know seems like a fate worse than death.

I can learn to come to terms with the finiteness of my life and the lives of people I know. But the idea that I might have to spend the last couple years not knowing who I really am is really disturbing. I'll take any physical limitation over a mental limitation any day. I'll happily spend a decade shitting in a bag if it means I'll for sure know the person that walks in the door wanting to talk about the time we saw a ball game and then to the bars afterward and picked up those chicks that we banged.
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srikis
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Re: Why do humans fear death?

Postby srikis » Mon Mar 26, 2012 11:25 am

This is an interesting topic. I think humans fear the death because we aren't sure which happens afterwards. If we would know if there's nothing afterwards, or if there's a paradise or something like this, it would be a little bit easier I guess. We have to live with it anyway... therefore we should live after the carpe diem and do things which makes us happy like watching good movies, enjoying the nature, buy flowers in uk, go to parties and do some crazy stuff!
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Re: Why do humans fear death?

Postby Pip Tweek » Mon Mar 26, 2012 7:16 pm

^^ Don't forget link-spamming forums. It's what makes life truly worth living. :(

Kennyluv34 wrote:I don't know why others may fear death, but I know why I do.

I'm afraid that after death the body shuts down, you stop thinking, there is nothing, there won't be anything, and it is just never-ending darkness for eternity. I like thinking. I like conciousness. I hate sleeping for fear that I won't wake up.
If you haven't noticed, I am paranoid as sh*t. Every night I worry that someone is going to sneak into my house and murder me.


If that's the case, you have virtually nothing to be afraid of. You won't perceive death as eternal darkness - you won't perceive anything at all.

You have no more need to fear death than a light bulb has to fear being switched off. Besides, it's inevitable - you will die.

There's no suffering in death, no problems, no pain, no loss, no anxiety, no conflicts, no regrets, no turmoil...

I think eternal consciousness is actually scarier than death.

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