The Atheist Afterlife: p17-36

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Today's post covers pages 17-36 of The Atheist Afterlife, by David Staume.

If I were asked to describe Staume's Inside-Out theory in a nutshell, I'd say it argues that the afterlife is a dream-like state. However, by "dream-like," I wouldn't mean to imply "not real." Rather, I'd mean "reality" turned inward, where we would interact with other sentient entities in different "planes" or "dimensions" of existence.

Earlier, I wagered that most of my objections to Staume's arguments in this series would be to claims that could have been stated more conservatively. For example,

There can be no such thing as an eternal Hell. Such a thing is impossible. No matter how bad we've been, no matter how much misery we've caused, the causes must be finite, and finite causes cannot have infinite results. That doesn't mean there couldn't be hellish conditions in an afterlife, because there could – nightmares attest to it – but this would make an afterlife no different from the physical world. The laws of nature wouldn't change simply because our heart stops beating. Finite causes will never bring infinite results; not in this life or the next. Any suggestion of a hell with a capital 'H' is fraudulent. (34)

A quick count revealed a solid ten claims packed into that paragraph. Some of them I of course agree with; others, not as much so. In my opinion, to claim that an eternal Hell is "impossible" seems a bit bold. At the end of the day, we're still the same groping-in-the-dark species that thought the sun revolved around the Earth, and that things like flight and telephones were impossible. As far as the proffered support — that finite causes never bring infinite results — I'd say that depends on the context. If we're talking mathematics, finite causes yield infinite results quite easily, e.g. 10 ÷ 3. If finite causes can yield infinite results in one plane (abstract mathematics), it see no reason to rule out their possibility of doing so in another.

At any rate, these are the type of statements I was alluding to when I said that writers have to be careful because impressionable minds tend to dogmatize. A "newbie" could easily mistake them for reasoned conclusions and run with them. We can argue philosophy and finite causes until the cows come home, but personally, I'm not going to make any sort of truth claim as to whether an eternal Hell is possible or not. Anything I say would amount to reasoned speculation at best. Sure, I can tell you what I believe, but I'm simply not qualified to answer the question authoritatively, and even if I were, it would be impossible to answer it from an unbiased perspective: I wouldn't think any loving person wants to believe that there's such a thing as an eternal Hell.

Moving along, Staume elaborates further on Inside-Out, giving us some of the specifics that draw the theory's parameters:

…while the laws of nature wouldn't change, we can state with confidence that the geometry of space and time would. The geometry of an externalised inner reality would be different from the geometry of outer reality. Outer reality has three dimensions of space and one dimension of time. An externalised inner reality, on the other hand, would have at least one extra dimension of each.

..the theory proposes that inner reality and outer reality have a different geometry. If this is true it would have significant ramifications. It would be persuasive support for mind-body dualism because it would make our brain and our mind different, which in turn would provide support for the existence of an afterlife. It would also provide rich detail of what that afterlife would look like and how it would be experienced. (34-35)

Staume repeats the phrase "externalised inner reality" a few times, which leads one to think this particular afterlife concept is a different beast than the physical resurrection mentioned in the last post.

My question was over the extent to which Staume's "externalised inner reality" coheres with the "spiritual reality" described by the world's various religions. For now, I'll note that generally, the "spiritual realm" is thought to be another "plane" or "dimension" of existence, and this seems to dovetail with Staume's "extra dimension(s)" concept quite well, IMO. 

One comment

  1. Dominic Saltarelli


    By the time you finish the book, you’ll be scratching your head wondering where the ‘Atheist’ bit was supposed to be. If memory serves, he briefly discounts God in a one paragraph, and never makes another mention, just goes from there making one crazy assertion after another and apologizing for them the entire way.

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