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 Post subject: Views on life and death?
PostPosted: Wed Mar 30, 2011 2:11 am 
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Disclaimer: I don't intend to start a topic or debate on religion here. I've seen it happen before and it never ends well. This topic concerns life and death from a non-religious point of view. If you want to debate about religion please don't post here.

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Recently, I have been faced with the most difficult part of being an atheist, which is, for me, dealing with the concepts of life and death. Consistently, since I rejected religion, the "atheist" point of view of death has become extremely challenging for me to accept. Part of me understands the fact that everybody, and everything living, must die at some point. But of course the big question I face is what happens after death. Sure, it would be nice to have an afterlife, but logically I just can't accept it as a possibility. But emotionally, the idea that death = consciousness, my life, my memories, will cease to exist, is difficult to accept.

I'm posting this here because I think this forum has a lot of like minded members who may be able to shed some insight on how they came to terms with this part of life. I've come to realize, since this question started burning in my mind, that there is no right answer, and everyone has to deal with it in their own way. I'm hoping that maybe hearing some responses from other people can at least point me, and others facing the same questions, in the right direction.

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Last edited by Garrett on Wed Mar 30, 2011 8:04 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: Views on life and death?
PostPosted: Wed Mar 30, 2011 2:27 am 
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You have life, then death then either nothing or something else. Life (and for some people, death) is full of surprises. There's no reason what happens next cant be the same.

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 Post subject: Re: Views on life and death?
PostPosted: Wed Mar 30, 2011 2:54 am 
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If you pass on your DNA to your children, then that's your afterlife. Otherwise its the life of all the little bugs and worms that chomp their way through your smelly carcass. But most important, your afterlife is the memories and legacy that you leave behind to others. And the difference you made in your life.

Whether you're religious or not, make the most of your life, and leave behind a better world for those who follow - that's your afterlife, and your legacy! :D

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Last edited by KelvinS on Wed Mar 30, 2011 6:02 am, edited 2 times in total.

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 Post subject: Re: Views on life and death?
PostPosted: Wed Mar 30, 2011 4:34 am 
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Religion is the only solution to your afterlife question. It is impossible to prove or disprove what happens after death, because mortals cannot record their observations. What started the big bang? The matter in our universe didn't create itself. Every conscious being has a soul. Belief in a creator gives a deep inner peace and comfort that is otherwise absent without it. Seek and you shall find. You have the right to chose the path you follow.

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 Post subject: Re: Views on life and death?
PostPosted: Wed Mar 30, 2011 4:54 am 
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Religious beliefs aside, (thank you for the disclaimer) I believe the only way to 'ensure' you have a 'life' after death is to be a good person in life. The deeds you do, the people you affect in this life will enable you to be remembered when you are gone. For me there would be nothing worse than the thought that I will be forgotten the day after I'm gone.
Yes, I know I have the bug and I'm sure she will remember me fondly while she is selling off all my puzzles, but I hope that I would have had some small meaning to people other than her.
Over the years, I have had many acquaintances pass on, and truth be told, those I remember most often are the ones who showed kindness, caring, compassion...Good friends from my misspent youth (those I partied with) who are no longer alive...well, they have faded in my memories. They have gone back to the dust from whence they came.

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 Post subject: Re: Views on life and death?
PostPosted: Wed Mar 30, 2011 6:27 am 
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Garrett wrote:
Sure, it would be nice to have an afterlife, but logically I just can't accept it as a possibility. But emotionally, the idea that death = consciousness, my life, my memories, will cease to exist, is difficult to accept.


Great thread. Lets hope it will stay religion free as intended.
As a hardcore atheist I totally agree with the above statement. I tend to ignore my emotions though since I know they are merely survival instincts and have no bearing on the reality of what happens after death. Whether we want to have an afterlife or not is irrelevant to what actually happens.
Recently I have started to think about this subject from a different angle. 'Life after death' quickly becomes a road block since we have no way of knowing for sure. So I have started thinking about 'death before life'.
For several billion years I was essentially dead (I assume) but now I am alive. Out of nothingness I suddenly came to exist. (I am talking about me as in my conscious mind). This kind of throws the whole 'once your dead your dead' argument out of the window. If it happened once why shouldn't it happen again? I assume this has been discussed by philosophers and scientists but I've personally never heard it mentioned before but then I don't read stuff. It's certainly not my main belief though see it as a possibility.
There is also one other glimmer of hope for the hardcore atheist. We assume we know all the possibilities but I suspect we don't. What happens after death might be something completely logical but unknowable to our tiny minds.

This is my personal probability chart-

96% Death ends our conscious existence for ever.
3 % Something else occurs we have never even considered.
1 % One day we may exist again out of nothingness since it happen at least once already.
0% Any sort of religious based occurrence.

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 Post subject: Re: Views on life and death?
PostPosted: Wed Mar 30, 2011 7:21 am 
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I do not believe in any form of afterlife. I believe that once you die, there's a nothingness. Though this has been the only logical thing for me to believe for some time (since I, like you Garret, decided to leave religion to become an agnostic and now I think I'm leaning towards becoming an atheist), I have what I believe is a very unique experience on this matter; I have been close to death (at an age of 19, which I realize is pretty ridiculous), and at the time I had no awareness of what was happening. I had no level of consciousness at all. Even when I woke up from the coma I didn't realize I had been unconscious until months later. On the contrary, when you sleep you will always know that you've been sleeping afterwards, but the coma-thing and being close to dead; nothing.

I have been thinking a lot about that. And how I think that might be what death is like; no awareness on any level. You wouldn't even know you're dead. I don't know if this is making any sense to any of you, since I assume that most of you haven't been in a coma or close to dying, but I reckon if that's how being dead is, it's not all that bad. The thing that is bad however, is not knowing for sure. And going around thinking about the fact that you are going to die and there's no way for you to predict when it's gonna happen. I think that's what scares people about death; the anticipation of the inevitable.

Anyways, that's just my personal experience.
Tony Fisher wrote:
Out of nothingness I suddenly came to exist. (I am talking about me as in my conscious mind). This kind of throws the whole 'once your dead your dead' argument out of the window. If it happened once why shouldn't it happen again
Tony, I really like your point of view. It really got me thinking.


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 Post subject: Re: Views on life and death?
PostPosted: Wed Mar 30, 2011 7:55 am 
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Well, what cannot be disputed is that there is a difference between living and non-living
things. Scientists are still struggling to create a robot which can walk a few stair steps,
while creating the engineering of a small creature such as a bee is well beyond our powers.

All in all, there are so many things which are unknown, that we will only end up with personal
beliefs rather than facts (and that includes me!). I believe that we are a part of something
wonderful and majestic, something like little gears inside a great mechanism. Now some call
that God, Aliens, Spirits, Ghosts, etc etc etc. But we, as a species, just did not happen like that
and I am not convinced that the Big Bang is even enough to explain it.

Regarding the coma vs death, those cannot be possibly compared, as when in coma
death has not happened yet. But it can certainly be compared to sleep.

And although I am not against any religion, I really cannot stand those who try to enforce
their religions (or non-religions!). Extreme views have been the reason of many bad things
happening in society in our time. Being a Christian Orthodox, I am quite open minded when
it comes to such discussions and I try hard to respect all views.

:)


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 Post subject: Re: Views on life and death?
PostPosted: Wed Mar 30, 2011 8:35 am 
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German Lyricist Rose von der Au wrote

"Manche fürchten den Tod und mancher fürchtet das Leben.
Ich liebe das Leben und fürchte mich nur vor dem Tod von Liebe, Achtung und Freundschaft,
denn mit ihrem Tod vergeht ein Teil der Schönheit die uns umgibt.“

I try to translate (forgive me, I'm no lyricist :) ):

"Some fear death and some fear life. I love the life and fear the death only, of love, respect
and friendship. If they die, a part of the beauty passes off, that is surrounding us."

Epikur:
„Der Tod geht mich eigentlich nichts an.
Denn wenn er ist, bin ich nicht mehr,
und solange ich bin, ist er nicht.“

Wikipedia translation:

"Death is nothing to us. When we exist death is not, and when death exists we are not."

My message is: Do not fear death and stay open for the wonders of life and nature - which includes puzzles as well. :D :D :D

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Last edited by Konrad on Wed Mar 30, 2011 10:28 am, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: Views on life and death?
PostPosted: Wed Mar 30, 2011 8:51 am 
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I am a Christian, so I believe in life after death.
I will try to keep religion out of my post as much as possible, but not completely as my religion is the basis for my belief in life after death.

I would love to argue with some of you over Atheism v. Theism, excluding religion, but as that is not the purpose of this topic I will simply state my beliefs.

When I die, I believe my soul will live on. I think it should be obvious that there is something about humans that vastly differs from all other organisms on earth. Us humans have something in us that is not found in animals, we have a soul.

I don't see how Atheists can explain a soul frankly, but we will put that aside.

Our body is obviously mortal, as all humans die, and we understand what bodies are and are made up of. But the soul, is not made up of atoms and molecules, so why should it follow the laws of nature, when it is not natural?

If you are an Atheist, you have to believe that there is no life after death, because you can't explain it without something supernatural.

So you may consider this religious, but I will keep it in a way that is simply theistic, and just as non-religious as Atheism.

As I stated before, I believe that there is a supernatural power that transcends our mortal universe and our mortal minds. I believe that when I die, I will be judged according to his moral law and will either be judged or rewarded forever.

That is a basic statement of my beliefs without religion. If anyone would like to talk further about Atheism v. Theism through PM, I would be glad to, as I agree with Garrett that open religious debates usually end up in hurt relationships and a lot of arrogance and anger.


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 Post subject: Re: Views on life and death?
PostPosted: Wed Mar 30, 2011 10:18 am 
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I just had a discussion last night on this very subject. I've always believed in the God of the Bible and really have never doubted. Everyone has to make up their own mind and make the right decision. Although my life has been a constant struggle and some bad things have happened to me, I have always had an inner peace and felt comfort from God. This is a great topic. I've debated science vs. religion with some very intelligent people in the past. Just last night my opponent said "I respect your beliefs and I learned something new from you". In turn I learned as well and allowed him to express his viewpoint.


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 Post subject: Re: Views on life and death?
PostPosted: Wed Mar 30, 2011 10:29 am 
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Garrett wrote:
This topic concerns life and death from an atheist point of view. If you want to debate about religion please don't post here.

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 Post subject: Re: Views on life and death?
PostPosted: Wed Mar 30, 2011 10:44 am 
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If it's a discussion of Life and Death from an Atheistic point of view, I don't see how you can say it is not a religious discussion.

Atheism is a religion

Religion: "a set of beliefs concerning the cause, nature, and purpose of the universe, especially when considered as the creation of a superhuman agency or agencies,"

So I think discussing life and death from a theistic approach is on par with atheistic as far as it's involvement in religion.

In my mind, religion is what you believe, so you can't discuss what you believe in any way without some measure of religious involvement.

In that light, I think it is only fair for those of us who believe in God to be allowed to post our beliefs in life after death.


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 Post subject: Re: Views on life and death?
PostPosted: Wed Mar 30, 2011 11:06 am 
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I am also an Atheist, and regarding death (more specifically life thereafter) I feel that it is almost an impossibility.

While comforting to think that both us and those we know/knew will be reunited in an afterlife, scientifically it is impossible for any element of our body to live on directly once we have died. Besides we couldn’t go there in a physical state because as you all know our bodies remain on Earth and if we can’t be there physically, surely that would mean we could exist without organs? Unless we have some form of “spirit” (yet to be proven or found) I cannot see how we could even progress to an afterlife.

It is an incredibly hard matter to comprehend. How can you gauge the end of life?

If indeed an afterlife does exist, perhaps I will see you all there one day :)

Ryan

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 Post subject: Re: Views on life and death?
PostPosted: Wed Mar 30, 2011 12:41 pm 
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RyanA wrote:
I am also an Atheist, and regarding death (more specifically life thereafter) I feel that it is almost an impossibility.

While comforting to think that both us and those we know/knew will be reunited in an afterlife, scientifically it is impossible for any element of our body to live on directly once we have died. Besides we couldn’t go there in a physical state because as you all know our bodies remain on Earth and if we can’t be there physically, surely that would mean we could exist without organs? Unless we have some form of “spirit” (yet to be proven or found) I cannot see how we could even progress to an afterlife.

It is an incredibly hard matter to comprehend. How can you gauge the end of life?

If indeed an afterlife does exist, perhaps I will see you all there one day :)

Ryan


I tend to agree but is your consciousness a physical part of you? What would happen if in Star Trek fashion you were replicated? Would that other you be conscious? Would you suddenly be aware of being in two places at the same time or would a new consciousness now exist but with your memories and likes? Perhaps a bit off topic but before these questions are answered it's difficult to come to a final decision.

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 Post subject: Re: Views on life and death?
PostPosted: Wed Mar 30, 2011 12:46 pm 
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I'll probably post more in this topic later whilst I gather ideas, but in the mean time I'll say this. If there is a life after death, and say there was a life before this life and so forth, how come we can't remember it? And if we can't remember it, it's not our life in the sense that life consists of memories: I personally doubt whether the present actually exists; that there is only past and future (I think like that :P). If we can't remember our previous life then in this life we completely restart ourselves - our opinions in this life our built up of judgements in this time, and so if there is a past me, we would be completely different.

Who knows, maybe in a past life I'm popular. :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol:

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 Post subject: Re: Views on life and death?
PostPosted: Wed Mar 30, 2011 1:11 pm 
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I'm a very spiritual person. I believe in many things and consider myself pretty open-minded on this subject. I accept that it's perfectly possible that this is all there is, however, I don't believe it is for several reasons...and this topic touches on one of the main ones.

I don't believe that this is all there is simply because I can't fathom non-existence. I can't imagine a time in which I can't imagine anything. That's something I think will help you with this realization of mortality. You possess the ability to imagine anything and everything. We can think of things that can never be, yet we can't comprehend the end of our existence. It's literally impossible to imagine. Why? To me, that's one of the big deciding factors.

I don't belong to any particular religion because none of them got it all right. I look inside myself and I look around me. I look at my baby boy. Seeing him is the number one reason for me.

I know there's something after this. It's just up to you whether or not you do.

Don't put a label on your beliefs. Don't think that just because you're an "athiest" it means you have to believe in everything they do...or don't. Make up your own mind. Good luck!

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 Post subject: Re: Views on life and death?
PostPosted: Wed Mar 30, 2011 1:30 pm 
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Tony,

Lets say conscience is in the brain. When you die, it can be assumed that your brain stops immediately, now would your brain would retain all your memories and your conscience or upon you dying lose everything as it is no longer active?

If the brain were to retain all of your memories and your conscience, maybe if it was inserted and connected to a new host (this I guess is impossible with our current understanding of the human body and violate everything many stand for) you would become embodied within another and remember all from your previous life.

But surely your conscience comes with awareness and if you are unaware, i.e. dead, you no longer have a conscience as it would stem from activity in the brain which would have ceased. 

Ryan

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 Post subject: Re: Views on life and death?
PostPosted: Wed Mar 30, 2011 2:39 pm 
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Tony Fisher wrote:
1 % One day we may exist again out of nothingness since it happen at least once already.

Actually guys, I've been wondering about this for some time now (not the life after death but the possibility that we might live again after we have passed away.
Forgive me if I'm wrong, but I recall reading something having to do with the end of the universe. (Please correct me if I'm wrong) So I'm pretty sure most of us have heard of the Big Bang which created the universe. I read that if the explosion from the Big Bang were to have such force, it would have blasted the cosmos so far that the universe would continue on forever. However, if the force resulting from the explosion was, let say, weak, then the universe would eventually end in what is called The Big Crunch where gravity greatly increases and closes the universe, and thus, the universe will start all over again.

Therefore, it might actually be possible that we have or will live again once we pass away.

On a slightly different note, this is some big stuff Garrett. This is the stuff that I sometimes ponder about before I go to bed. Right now I am just, I guess, befuddled. All I can think of right now is that my mind has just been blown away and I can only say "wow"

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 Post subject: Re: Views on life and death?
PostPosted: Wed Mar 30, 2011 2:54 pm 
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[edit][deleted]: I don't think now as I thought then

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Last edited by blueShinyApple on Thu Oct 27, 2011 9:31 am, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: Views on life and death?
PostPosted: Wed Mar 30, 2011 3:02 pm 
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Ok, I need to expand Garrett's disclaimer (for this wonderful topic) to ensure that we won't have
anyone who gets funny feelings. :)

I have seen many people becoming very uneasy and feeling extremely uncomfortable when talking
about existence issues and what happens when life ends. To some, this happens because of their
deep beliefs, and that is very understandable. It is very normal for someone to feel sad or unsure
or to even think that he/she is crazy. Realizing reality can sometimes be hard, especially to young
people, and it can almost be equivalent to culture shocks.

The fact is that we *do* exist, and thinking too much about matters that no one has ever been
able to explain can trigger many questions that cannot be answered. Therefore, a philosophical
expansion of possible (but unfortunately unproved) scenarios should be allowed to be enjoyable
between all of us.

In the end of the day, it is good to remember that we must always try to respect others regardless
if that will provide some VIP place in the "after-world" when we die. For example, if you see some poor
guy who needs food, and then you feed him, wouldn't that feel nice in your heart? Sure, you may not
be able to save him completely, but in this life it is all about giving chances. The same way, you have
been given one to live in this extremely interesting world.

:)


Pantazis (the crazy philosopher)

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 Post subject: Re: Views on life and death?
PostPosted: Wed Mar 30, 2011 3:21 pm 
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ENCuber wrote:
If it's a discussion of Life and Death from an Atheistic point of view, I don't see how you can say it is not a religious discussion.

Atheism is a religion

Religion: "a set of beliefs concerning the cause, nature, and purpose of the universe, especially when considered as the creation of a superhuman agency or agencies,"

So I think discussing life and death from a theistic approach is on par with atheistic as far as it's involvement in religion.

In my mind, religion is what you believe, so you can't discuss what you believe in any way without some measure of religious involvement.

In that light, I think it is only fair for those of us who believe in God to be allowed to post our beliefs in life after death.


Sigh... Atheism is NOT a religion. It means someone does not accept any god-claim. It is the abcense of religion.
Just like being a-sexual means you don't engage in sexual behaviour, not that you have a-sexual sex.

On topic:
I think death is the end of our conciousness, just like birth(or rather our development in the first years of life) is the beginning of it.
I see no reason what so ever to believe there's any kind of afterlife. This is something I've given considerable thought for at least the past 15 years.

We don't need the concept of a soul to explain what and who we are. Therefore there is nothing that will continue to exist after what we call death.
To the rest of the universe the concepts of "life" and "death" are meaningless. What we call death is just the discontinuation of brain functions.

I think belief in an afterlife is based solely on fear of dying. Humans are almost obsessed with death, and nothing scares us more. So any notion that minimizes that fear is favoured by the brain over the notion of death being the absolute end.


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 Post subject: Re: Views on life and death?
PostPosted: Wed Mar 30, 2011 3:26 pm 
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If only S.Rubiks was here to enlighten us about HIS views on life and death. :lol:

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 Post subject: Re: Views on life and death?
PostPosted: Wed Mar 30, 2011 3:27 pm 
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Pantazis, I'm not really sure if that expansion was necessary. It didn't really expand his disclaimer anyway. It just gave you the opportunity to share your philosophy...which sounds a bit preachy to be perfectly honest. I haven't read anything here that I think is leading to a fight. I think that everyone has stayed surprisingly benign in their posts.

I think Garrett is just looking for ideas and answers. People are displaying a wide array of ideas that touch on a lot of different aspects of this subject. I think that's important for this discussion. Great job Cubers! :P

And again...Good Luck, Garrett!

- Billy


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 Post subject: Re: Views on life and death?
PostPosted: Wed Mar 30, 2011 3:30 pm 
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I'm really glad that this topic has taken a turn in the right direction. Lots of really excellent responses. blueShinyApple, I find yours to be very intriguing. The concept that life is a game, that is testing us from the moment we are "born" until the final end, where are "score" is tallied, is an interesting perspective.

Tony, I have had the same thoughts about "pre-life" too. That we had been not "dead" or "alive" for billions of years before we were born.

^^ Thank you Pantazis for expanding on the "disclaimer". Very philosophical and an excellent explanation for why I'm not keen in "debating", I'd rather share opinions and beliefs in an objective way.

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 Post subject: Re: Views on life and death?
PostPosted: Wed Mar 30, 2011 4:09 pm 
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I am an atheist, but my views on life/death may seem almost religious. Personally, I think that an infinite afterlife is impossible- where can we possibly fit all the souls? However, I do subscribe to the believe of resurrection, something that (as far as I know) has been known to occur. It would seem plausible that souls would be reused over and over again. Sometimes even Supreme beings
(if they exist... I personally am not sure.) need to recycle!

Another interesting perspective I've sometimes thought about: maybe, whatever we truly believe will be in the afterlife, is what we will experience. For example, a Christian or Jew who truly believes they will go to heaven will go to heaven, while a believer of reincarnation will be reincarnated, while a believer of 'dissipation of the soul' will have their soul dispersed and lost forever. It's almost like the supernatural way of giving us some relief after death, to know that we were right and our rivals were wrong!

Of course, I can only end with a quote:
'It doesn't matter who wins the debate-- it's about reality. By just waiting a little longer, we'll get to see who was right.'
-xkcd

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 Post subject: Re: Views on life and death?
PostPosted: Wed Mar 30, 2011 4:12 pm 
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lonogod wrote:
Pantazis, I'm not really sure if that expansion was necessary. It didn't really expand his disclaimer anyway. It just gave you the opportunity to share your philosophy...which sounds a bit preachy to be perfectly honest. I haven't read anything here that I think is leading to a fight. I think that everyone has stayed surprisingly benign in their posts.


I agree with all that this topic is really cool, and I agree with you that that there is nothing
leading to a fight. But maybe I was not clear, so I will give an example:

It *is* a fact that some people feel uneasy. I have seen someone who fainted(!) during such
a discussion, while another person was treated by others as if he was really crazy (which was
not the case). You must admit, this *is* a sensitive topic when it comes to mental stability!
e.g. sometimes the beliefs that people have for decades are crushed - I never said that this is
a bad thing, it may be just too much for people who are not been used to it. Something like
a more extreme adult version of telling a kid that Santa does not exist!

So my intent was to prepare, not to divert, warn or taunt. And when I mentioned "crazy philosopher"
I was being sarcastic to myself. Anyway, let the positive atmosphere to continue to flow!

:)


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 Post subject: Re: Views on life and death?
PostPosted: Wed Mar 30, 2011 5:04 pm 
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I personally am an atheist, but not necessarily in the normal sense of the word:

I don't believe at all in any kind of "omnipotent creator" or anything like that. However, I do believe in a form a reincarnation. I just can't believe that we are just a bag of chemicals, with thoughts bigger than ourselves. I believe that we each have some kind of.... essence? energy? soul? however you put it, I think that that exists after death, and may flow into other bodies, or may not.

There are many stories on the internet that prove back up are similar to my views. The only one that comes to mind is this one of a toddler that could "recall" remarkable things, that he could have only know if he was this particular Japanese pilot, shot down and killed in WWII. He could say what plane, details from the battle, and other facts including the tail number.

Sure it could be a coincidence. but maybe, just maybe....?

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 Post subject: Re: Views on life and death?
PostPosted: Wed Mar 30, 2011 5:14 pm 
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Monopoly wrote:

By just waiting a little longer, we'll get to see who was right.'
-xkcd



But that's the annoying thing. If I am right I'll never know!

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 Post subject: Re: Views on life and death?
PostPosted: Wed Mar 30, 2011 7:30 pm 
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I was raised strictly Catholic and I grew out of it when taking certain courses as a freshman. They state that, according to science, nothing happens after death. But Kelvin Scott mentioned the moral legacy or the genetic makeup you pass on. Sure, the actions you do allow others to construct their own personal afterlife of you, but that means you yourself wouldn't have one to live. However, as DNA replication is a semi-conservative process, part of you will live on through the rest of the family line, straight up until that family goes extinct. That in turn means that you have part of ancient generations in you- the Basic Life, in fact. The Basic Life form, the first one ever, is at the start of all of our family lines and therefore we are the afterlife of that one Basic Life form.

Prehistory aside, we don't know how the brain works. Sure some elite scientists understand the chemical happenings, the way the molecules interact, but in terms of how we recall memory, improvise, plan, and tell fictional stories, it's just too much to understand. For all we know, there could be some special relation with possibly an extra dimension where even death won't put a stop to our thoughts, just our observations. If this is true, we could possibly preserve the thoughts of people and attain advice from those who already died long ago. No, I'm not trying to go all Avatar on you (or Eragon for that matter), but it hasn't been proven wrong. In science, innocent until proven guilty means to look into something or prove it wrong.


Death is inevitable, and as atheists we have nothing to look forward to. But shouldn't that encourage us to make our lives better? We get one shot, and as atheists, we don't get a heaven, but on the other hand, we don't get a hell. Without a hell, we can share in the comfort that hey- we aren't going to just suffer for all eternity if we don't live a perfect life!

(The Big Crunch is just a theory, remember. According to String Theory, gravity isn't completely preserved in the dimensions we observe. It is currently the theory that best explains the nature of gravity, the force which may be the cause of the Big Crunch. Gravity acts on not 3 but 6 spacial dimensions according to String Theory, and the Big Crunch is a theory that only makes sense in 3 dimensions. Another dimension added and the Big Crunch doesn't really make much sense.)

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 Post subject: Re: Views on life and death?
PostPosted: Wed Mar 30, 2011 7:43 pm 
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Saying "from an atheist point of view" in the disclaimer could possibly offend non-atheist people (not me). I believe that "from a non-religious point of view" would be a better choice of words.

Relating to the question, I find myself unable to speak (or type) about these things without much discomfort, so I prefer to stay silent on this matter. I only wanted to help avoid the argument that you are attempting to avoid.

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 Post subject: Re: Views on life and death?
PostPosted: Wed Mar 30, 2011 8:27 pm 
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Adman234 wrote:
If only S.Rubiks was here to enlighten us about HIS views on life and death. :lol:


That would be interesting :lol:

I read that topic and he kind of spoiled an otherwise intelligent conversation.


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 Post subject: Re: Views on life and death?
PostPosted: Wed Mar 30, 2011 8:46 pm 
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I love this thread, I am very into discussing things of this nature with other people.

I was raised, and still am, a very proud Catholic. That being said, I agree with what has been previously said, that we should not focus so much on group religion as much as self-beliefs. Who is to tell me what is just and what is wrong? It changes from case to case. If there is a super-natural being out there, it would be between myself and him/her/it as to whether or not it was good or bad.

There are many ways to approach the "life after death" argument, and ultimately there is no right or wrong answer, and no way to prove one's stance. Just because something cannot be proven to be true does not mean that is doesn't exist, such a statement is a fallacy, using a negative to support or prove a fact. However, it also cannot be said that something must be true simply because it cannot be disproven, another fallacy.

It all comes down to personal belief, which only one person can develop, that being whomever it is reading this and thinking it over. To try to convince someone else of your personal viewpoint will often prove futile. In my religion class last year, a deacon posed many questions to us, all of which were meant to cause us to question our belief. To follow something because a group does is silly, one should follow it because it is what they truly believe. Being raised Catholic since my childhood, I found myself asking "Why do I believe this?" and proceeding my engaging in deep reflection. By forming my own beliefs, do not think of me as a "religious person" as I approach it, but rather a thought-filled individual.

As to whether there is a life after death? Yes, I believe there is, for a few reasons, some of which have been stated.

I believe in the Big Bang Theory, just as I believe in evolution, as well as creation by a supernatural being - in my mind, all these theories work together in harmony. As I believe in a God, I have tried to think of what his/her/it's world is like. Do the laws of physics we know apply? Does chemistry exist? What about light? Or sound? We cannot understand it any more than we can fully grasp the fourth dimension. If there was a being that created this world, somewhere along the lines, these laws of the physical universe that govern our lives (gravity, what constitutes living/dead, etc.) must have either been broken or not have existed somewhere along the line. Therefore, I believe that life after death is possible, for just because we live in a universe where life is defined as some sort of qualities that nonliving objects do not posses does not mean that another universe or "heaven" or "hell" defines life the same way.

Also, aging and death have always fascinated me. The idea of growing older, with a biological clock counting down inside of myself, has intrigued me to no end. I feel that our life must have some purpose (a conclusion I've arrived at after much thought, something that each person must decide for themselves - do we have a purpose?). To prove we serve a purpose cannot be done scientifically, mathematically, logically, it is impossible. As I believe there is some greater good I am meant to do, I do not fear death, I feel it would actually bring me closer to the answers I've been seeking.

Either way, it's a win-win situation. If there is a life after death, then everyone will know and we can all live on. If there isn't, than we won't know, and it won't matter, and we cannot be happy/disappointed for we will not exist any longer.

Sorry for the rambling, I inherited my father's procrastination skills.

Chris

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 Post subject: Re: Views on life and death?
PostPosted: Wed Mar 30, 2011 8:56 pm 
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I believe that When you die, depending on what you did with your life, makes what happens after death good or bad. I'm not talking about Heaven or Hell, but more like if you do good things while you're alive, when you die, everything that happens after that will be good. And the same thing for if you do bad things while you're alive. Regarding what happens after death, I believe that it's what you want it to be. If you believe in what is depicted as Heaven, then you will see that, but I personally believe that you're just in an eternity long life like dream, almost as if you're born again. Life is what you make it, and so is death.

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 Post subject: Re: Views on life and death?
PostPosted: Wed Mar 30, 2011 10:42 pm 
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Garret,
I share a very similar point of view to yours (based on your initial post): logically and scientifically speaking, my belief is that there is no life after death, although I agree that this has not yet been proven, and it might possibly prove to be impossible to prove.

Yet, your question sounds to me more about wanting to find a way to cope with the very likely sad reality of death in a positive way which is not just a way to deceive yourself.

You might find interesting to read the book "The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying" by Sogyal Rinpoche, a Tibetan Lama, who proposes our life should be partially dedicated to learning about and preparing for our encounter with death.

(you can also check him out first in wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sogyal_Rinpoche)

Disclaimer: I have not read the book myself, yet. I found it on one of my dad's bookshelf's while visiting last Christmas, started reading the first chapter, found it very very interesting, and then some other family distraction prevented me from continuing to read it. I need to buy it!

Hope this is helpful!

Jorge


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 Post subject: Re: Views on life and death?
PostPosted: Wed Mar 30, 2011 10:51 pm 
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[[This is not intended as a controversial religious post, I just want to throw this out there.]]

I'm an atheist Jew. (Judaism is cultural for me, however I don't believe in a god. Trust me, it works.)

There's a lot of Jewish lore that gets passed down l'dor va'dor, or from generation to generation. Here is one of them:

A Jewish man once walked up to his rabbi and said, "Rabbi, I have a problem. I need to know whether or not God exists."
The rabbi responded, "Well, why?"
"Because I need to know what happens after I die. I have my doubts about God, and want to know the truth."
"It's irrelevant." responded the rabbi, confusing the man.
The man looked at his rabbi, thoroughly confounded.
"It doesn't matter if God exists or not; if there is actaully an olam ha'ba [the world to come]. Live your life as if God exists, and when you die, you will have either lived a good life and end up in the world to come, or you will have lived a good life."

This is the epitome of my beliefs. I do my best to live my life right, and help those around me, and when I die, I will find out. There's not much point rushing that discovery, and I see it as such.

Religion is not mandatory for dealing with this question. Religion is, in my opinion, largely focused around what happens to you after you die (or rather, how you should behave to get there), which is the same question which atheists must ask themselves.

None of us know. All of us theorize. One thing we can all rely on is that we'll all get there eventually. Hopefully not soon, but I do accept it as a mandatory part of life.

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 Post subject: Re: Views on life and death?
PostPosted: Thu Mar 31, 2011 12:07 am 
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I just found this thread, initiated about a review of The Selfish Gene, and the many responses it triggered, very relevant to the topic being discussed here:

http://www.amazon.com/review/R396JHO923 ... hisHelpful

cheers!


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 Post subject: Re: Views on life and death?
PostPosted: Thu Mar 31, 2011 2:03 am 
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im going to say i agree with stardust. without religion, mankind is nothing more than an advanced ape.

Then again, your choice is your choice.

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 Post subject: Re: Views on life and death?
PostPosted: Thu Mar 31, 2011 6:21 am 
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It is of course uncertain whether there will be a life after death. But whether a life after death exists really is not important. Nor is it important when we will meet our death – for we all die some day. What IS important is that we live our lives well – and I strongly believe that the secret to living a good life is far from being materially satisfied – it ALL depends on our heart and attitude towards life.
Although I am not a Buddhist, I strongly agree with something which the Buddhists said – “the environment changes with your heart”. Now even scientists have confirmed that the “shape” of water changes according to our emotions.
So, it really does not matter whether the “2012 rumor” is true or not, or whether the recent Japanese disaster was “the Heaven’s punishment”. And I used to think, as a Social Science student, that our misfortune came from the defects in the dominant institutions in our society, capitalism being a prominent candidate. But now I begin to doubt my own view. Now I am fairly certain that misfortune is a result of OUR OWN failure to maintain a good heart or a correct attitude towards life.
Even if I were wrong, at least I know something which must be correct – if we do not have a good heart, if we continue to keep our undesirable traits – selfishness, lust etc – then we misfortune comes, we will certainly end up in a worse situation than we would have been in had we done the opposite. That is the only sensible answer to the question of what the true “way of life” should be.


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 Post subject: Re: Views on life and death?
PostPosted: Thu Mar 31, 2011 11:06 am 
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jerry533482 wrote:
im going to say i agree with stardust. without religion, mankind is nothing more than an advanced ape.

Then again, your choice is your choice.
In the past topics like this have not gone well, so I am glad this one is staying reasonable.

That said, Rox and I are of course keeping an eye on it given it's demonstrated potential and we'll have to remind people to please stay on topic.

This is not a topic about religion. It's about life and death, a topic in which your beliefs (religious or otherwise) may certainly enter into your comments. If, however, you find yourself commenting on religion but not addressing the life/death issue you are in the wrong topic (and forum. That discussion can be found plenty of other places on the net). Please keep this in mind before hitting "Submit".

Dave :)

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 Post subject: Re: Views on life and death?
PostPosted: Thu Mar 31, 2011 11:33 am 
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I'm very sorry Dave, i don't mean to talk about this (im done already), im mearly saying my stance; i won't argue for it.

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 Post subject: Re: Views on life and death?
PostPosted: Thu Mar 31, 2011 11:49 am 
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No worries. I didn't mean to call out jerry533482 specifically. Others have leaned off topic above and I'm just reminding people to stay focused. I'm hoping this will be a new example of how our forum can avoid mistakes of the past, but it will require some discipline.

Dave :)

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 Post subject: Re: Views on life and death?
PostPosted: Thu Mar 31, 2011 11:59 am 
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DLitwin wrote:
No worries. I didn't mean to call out jerry533482 specifically. Others have leaned off topic above and I'm just reminding people to stay focused. I'm hoping this will be a new example of how our forum can avoid mistakes of the past, but it will require some discipline.

Dave :)


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 Post subject: Re: Views on life and death?
PostPosted: Thu Mar 31, 2011 2:09 pm 
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I believe one thing that both Atheists and Christians can agree on is that we won't be able to take all our worldly posessions with us after we die. This one question that plagues me sometimes. Whether believers or not, the question has been raised will we still have our memories intact when we pass away? Assuming the afterlife is a place without sin, I am a sinner and have many sinful memories. Will those memories be purged and the rest remain? Some of these questions, I have no answer to. And the question appears in my mind often, especially when I'm doing something I ought not to do, "Is this really going to help me in the afterlife?" My hobbies, such as the puzzles, video games, etc I have collected are not going with me, that's for sure. In a way, they are all meaningless distractions, albeit enjoyable ones.

So, assuming there is an afterlife and I'm going there, and that the worldly side of my soul dies and the spirit side lives on, what of my conscious existence is left? Death is something I'm supposed to look forward to, and yet it scares me to death at the same time. I suppose I have many questions to ask my maker, and to these questions I won't know the answers until I'm gone from this earth. I guess the bottom line is, regardless of what we believe, we will never know for certain until we meet death. In the event that the Atheists are right, we will know nothingness. In the event that the believers are right, we made our own choices in life and will be judged accordingly.

I hope this doesn't offend anyone. I'm not changing my beliefs nor am I asking anyone else to do so either. :oops:

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 Post subject: Re: Views on life and death?
PostPosted: Thu Mar 31, 2011 2:27 pm 
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agreed. :wink:

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 Post subject: Re: Views on life and death?
PostPosted: Thu Mar 31, 2011 2:57 pm 
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Quote:
I believe one thing that both Atheists and Christians can agree on is that we won't be able to take all our worldly posessions with us after we die. This one question that plagues me sometimes. Whether believers or not, the question has been raised will we still have our memories intact when we pass away?


Thats a very good question. My belief has always been that whether or not there is an afterlife, wherever we go after death, we won't take our memories with us. Memories are part of our physical brain, and when we die, the brain no longer functions. Which brings us to another point. Memories are what makes us who we are, it gives us our identity, our knowledge. If it is taken away when we die, and we move on to the afterlife, what is left to tie us to our previous life?

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 Post subject: Re: Views on life and death?
PostPosted: Thu Mar 31, 2011 3:00 pm 
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Exactly what I said in a previous post. If there are no memories, then is it actually us in the future life?

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 Post subject: Re: Views on life and death?
PostPosted: Thu Mar 31, 2011 3:22 pm 
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Garrett wrote:
Memories are part of our physical brain, and when we die, the brain no longer functions. Which brings us to another point. Memories are what makes us who we are, it gives us our identity, our knowledge. If it is taken away when we die, and we move on to the afterlife, what is left to tie us to our previous life?


The brain may be made of more "stuff" than just physical parts. It is in fact the critical connection
to the entire existence of our body, and probably (I have no proof) to our spiritual parts.

I have a personal example here (which is why I am the "at least one" person that believes this LOL)
that I recall some weird "dream" (related to older times and completely unrelated to the present times)
when I was an infant. I'd rather not go into details, but this somehow gives comfort to my entire life.
(and I know this has to do nothing with death, but rather going the other way!)

:)


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 Post subject: Re: Views on life and death?
PostPosted: Thu Mar 31, 2011 3:50 pm 
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While I don't personally believe in any form of an afterlife, it is the one belief I would be most happy to be proven wrong about. Logic and available evidence tell me there is almost certainly no life after death, but I clearly don't have all the facts so I accept the possibility that I am wrong. Also, since we don't have all the facts, we don't know whether or not it is possible to discover for certain what happens after death. It is probably something which is impossible to discover, but there may be a way, and even if there is a way to determine what happens after death we may never figure out what it is.

If there is an afterlife, I would never have thought of the possibility some people just mentioned about getting there without my memories. If I don't have my memories there, what do I have? Would I even be me still? I'll maybe have a think about that one.


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 Post subject: Re: Views on life and death?
PostPosted: Thu Mar 31, 2011 5:15 pm 
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Luke wrote:
Exactly what I said in a previous post. If there are no memories, then is it actually us in the future life?


Accepting for the sake of this discussion there is an afterlife then yes, just as someone who loses their memory or has alzheimer's is the same person. It's the same conscious person even if they have no idea what happened previously. Memories are just the ROM, we are the RAM.

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