It’s interesting how people think about the afterlife. For the most part, beliefs about the afterlife seem to be a consequence of what we believe on the whole—simply collateral damage of the fight between belief in God and disbelief in God—instead of something we actually think logically about to reach a logical conclusion. Since Deists scrutinize everything by applying the filter of logic, we cannot help but deviate from the norm by trying to analyze theories about the afterlife from a logical perspective.
The afterlife is much easier to rationalize if you consider it from a purely scientific level (contrary to popular belief). Earth and Heaven (Heaven being the arbitrary name I am using to call the afterlife in general) are, really, separate causal domains, because they are casually disconnected in the sense that if I throw a ball on Earth, no one would suppose it to have any effect on Heaven, and vice versa. Modern science—especially quantum theory—has actually taken a dramatic shift in the direction of supporting the possibility (some would say probability) of separate domains or universes (thus making “universe” a misnomer).
The classic philosophy of Platonism (see here) also supports the idea that there are separate domains, if you look closely enough. Stephenson describes this in the book Anathem through “Directed Acyclic Graphs.” Directed because they only flow in one direction, Acyclic for the same reason, and Graphs because they are, in fact, graphs. Basically, the idea is that content, in the form of information, abstract ideas, Forms, etc., flow from one domain to another, or to multiple domains, or from multiple domains, and so on. In Platonic terms, it is easy to see that Forms from the Platonic World of Forms “flow” into our causal domain.
With this in mind, then, it is not hard to imagine that consciousness works the same way. If our consciousness can be projected into this world, then it could just as easily be projected into any other world—one we might call “Heaven.”
But that is not the only support for afterlife theory. The evidence is abundant in Nature, that the same mind can inhabit a body that physically changes—a caterpillar turns into a butterfly, a tadpole turns into a frog. After all, losing a limb or otherwise altering your body does not change who you actually are, and so we should think that the same principle could apply if every bit of matter that your mind “inhabits” were replaced, or, in other words, if the flow of your mind were directed into any other material form besides your current body.
Personally, I am with Thomas Paine, who said:
I trouble not myself about the manner of future existence. I content myself with believing, even to positive conviction, that the power that gave me existence is able to continue it, in any form and manner he pleases, either with or without this body; and it appears more probable to me that I shall continue to exist hereafter than that I should have had existence, as I now have, before that existence began.
You know, his point is right on: it makes sense to say that there is a greater probability for us to continue our existence, than there was for us to exist in the first place.
In any case, we won’t know for sure till we get there—but I, for one, am not dying to find out.