Why no worries about life before life?

February 4, 2009 | By | 6 Replies More

This is a comment in the February/March 2009 issue of Scientific American Mind Letters section. The author is “identified as Farlo”:

[W]hy do we perceive death to be different from prebirth or, more precisely, pre-conception?  That is also a time when our brain is not functioning–when it does not exist.  Yet we do not spend nearly as much time pondering what happened to us or where our minds were before we were born.

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Category: Meaning of Life, Psychology Cognition, Religion

About the Author ()

Erich Vieth is an attorney focusing on consumer law litigation and appellate practice. He is also a working musician and a writer, having founded Dangerous Intersection in 2006. Erich lives in the Shaw Neighborhood of St. Louis, Missouri, where he lives half-time with his two extraordinary daughters.

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  1. Not only were our brains not functioning before conception, they were also not mature enough to function properly (for retention of memory, speech, personality, etc.) a year or two after birth.

    My earliest memories that I can recall are very fuzzy. I think this is because my brain was still developing. When my brain developed enough, then I was able to retain coherent memory. Before those fuzzy early memories, there's nothing.

    You'd think that that should be a clue about what the afterlife is like.

  2. Robert: I get what you are saying, but brain development shouldn't have anything to do with our perception of a beforelife or an afterlife.

    I would think that experiencing any sort of life beyond this one wouldn't require what we think of as normal brain functioning. In other words, are there mentally handicapped people in heaven?

  3. Kenny Celican says:

    It may have something to do with the fact that we see other secondary effects outlasting their sources, but not preceding them. Children outlast parents, products often outlast companies, art outlasts the artist. The belief might hinge on the idea that if the body creates the mind, if the mind is capable of becoming an independant entity it might outlast the body in the same fashion.

  4. Niklaus Pfirsig says:

    There are those who believe they were re-incarnated and others who claim to remember bits of their past lives. It seems that they always remember themselves as someone important, like Acktook the Shaman or the woman who thought up sliced bread (but her hubby took the credit). No one ever seems to recall a former life as a stable mucker or the janitor in a Roman vomitorium. It's usually a person of status that cannot be proven to exist. "I was the unknown soldier in a past life! Yeah! THAT's the ticket!"

    Red Foxx had a comedy routine about being re-incarnated as a cockroach, at about the time shoes were invented. Well, that didn't last long.

  5. Erich Vieth says:

    Niklaus: Not to brag, but I have heard it through my family that my great-great-Grandfather was a really and truly a "stable mucker" for Kaiser Wilhelm I, Emperor of Germany. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wilhelm_I,_German_Em… Not that I'm claiming to be channeling Kaiser Wilhelm (or my stable-mucker ancestor).

    I do want to share (I do this every few months) this extraordinary photo of a soul entering the human body. Capturing this moment made for some extraordinary photography–it would have made National Geographic proud. http://www.pixwit.com/rgallery/pages/Abortion_Con

  6. "…or the janitor in a Roman vomitorium."

    Eeeeeeeeeew. That's an image that I'll have to live with until it fades…

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