Ok, so here’s the short and absolutely most truthful answer you’re ever going to get.
There are two camps of people when it comes to debating this. There are the believers and then there are the sceptics.
If I’m honest I dislike the sceptics and the hardened atheists quite a bit more than the believers, because where the believers offer quite a hopeful possibility – sometimes a hideous one depending on how religious they are - atheists are relentlessly miserable in their outlook. It seems their entire goal in life is to inflict everyone with a sense of purposelessness and to reduce any mystical experience to probably having eaten cheese the night before.
Scepticism is a good thing in many ways; I don’t think it’s ever sensible just to drink the Kool Aid because someone has demanded that you do.
There are plenty of useful times in which to evoke scepticism and it is best deployed when the evidence for an argument is on shaky ground and requires you to ignore reality, or where there is money involved.
The problem with sceptics is that their own view is always without fault, and like believers they refuse to give any ground to the other side. Sceptics do not give any credence to the unexplained or the grey areas of existence. They attempt to explain everything, sceptics are huge on evidence and explanation, they believe that hard scientific fact cuts through delusion like a light sabre of pure thought, but I’m uncomfortable with this level of conviction, because science has one thing that works against it – it is always shifting, science is constantly re-inventing itself and modifying its observations.
There was an interesting debate on The Big Questions this morning – Is there Life after Death, which would be contested by the usual range of individuals; the rabbi, the Christian, the muslim, the sikh, the animal mind reader, the healer and of course the collection of dog eared sceptics who I think I’ve seen appearing on shows like this for 20 years now, always bringing exposure to their miserable message that basically life is just a shitty accident of no meaning whatsoever. During that time they have calmly regurgitated their sobriety, reminding those that seem to have had some extraordinary experience where they felt the healing power of love, to being nothing more than a chemical reaction and psychological manipulation.
With their devotion to measurement and facts they disregard and dismantle these individually committed and unique lives, with a condescending explanation of why it is their out of body experience was just that of a giant hormone rush, how being able to describe the actions of the medical team while they were raised from the dead was nothing more than some background process as yet undetected by science.
At this point, I’m aware that the argument has gone full circle, and I hoped it would be capitalised on by some religious opportunist but it wasn’t. The female sceptic in this instant, who offered the previous explanation about an out of body experience, suggested that it is the definition of death that was inaccurate. The person was not dead at all and that it was a limitation of the instruments used to monitor the activity of the heart and perhaps other systems still in motion. She concluded that just because we cannot see evidence of life, doesn’t mean that it’s not there.
How is this any different to hypothesising about the existence of an afterlife?