I posted this the other day however, nobody has really explained. I want to dismiss the notion of a soul/spirit, and i believe when I die, my memories/personality/experiences will die with me.

However , this is where the confusion starts for me. Because i was born once, why couldn’t it happen again in the future? I’m saying that after death, we go back into a state of non existence, what’s to say that billions of years later, I’m Reborn as something completely new. With new mind, new personality, new experiences etc. Many things will be born, what to say that I could experience life again? Such as an animal, or a new human. This new being would have no connection to the “me” now. No memories of “me” now would transfer. It would be a new “me”

Anyways. Thanks for reading.

  • Hi, are you sure you have a solid grasp of "I"? What do you mean by a "new me" ? Isn't that contradictory?
    – Ajax
    Jul 11 at 17:19
  • Your question is confused because your use of identity is confused. If there are two people who are exactly the same then either they are the same person (via the law of identity) or they are different people. If they are the same person, there must be something that connects them as one. If they are different people, your question is meaningless. You seem to be asking "What it A=A, except that A≠A?". What answer would you expect for that? Jul 11 at 17:24
  • 1
    If no memory of previous “me” it is not me. Jul 11 at 18:31
  • Your question is about continuity of personal identity. Rather than looking at post-death, I think it's more instructive to examine simpler situations. For example am I the same person I was one hour ago. Am I the same person I was before I fell asleep? What is required for me to be the same person etc. en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Personal_identity Jul 12 at 4:37
  • How do you exactly define the words, "soul" and "spirit"? Various religions and cultures have different explanations and definitions for these words. Do you tend to view the soul (or spirit) as an angelic being or something that is entirely different? Please specify.
    – Alex
    Jul 14 at 4:44

Firstly a modern science take on this.

Your question suggests an infinite time universe. Which inevitably implies a recurrence of the physical structure that is "you" right now.

Just change the assumption to infinite space. What happens then is that your concern about recurrence "billions of years later" becomes RIGHT NOW.

Just as for pi: the digit 1 repeats at the third place, 6 nines occurs in the 762nd place[2] and so on... every conceivable (finite) pattern presumably occurs somewhere or other.

Other famous analogy: Enough monkeys will produce all literature

So likewise you ALREADY "multi-exist" in this infinite universe. Maybe even you already infinitely multi-exist!! Does it change anything in your experiencing? I think not! SO why a billion year worry ?

However this is not a satisfactory answer (to me at least)

Your question is an important piece, maybe even the foundation-stone of all the dharma religions: Buddhism, Jainism, Sikhism and the original root Hinduism. See [1]

You may naturally find the style and language odd due to cultural factors. If you cross that barrier you would find an anormous amount of thought given to this by a wide spectrum of saints, sages, etc across a long stretch of time to this.

The language barrier is there, they call it karma कर्म. (Actually the dharma religions should better be called the dharma-karma religions. Where roughly dharma means the law we 'do' and karma means the law done to us.) No God is handing out reward or punishment. We ask we get. The guiding directing force is our wish. Its famously known as tanha in buddhism or trishna तृष्णा in sanskrit[4]

This word karma is usually kept as is because it has a meaning so deeply rooted in the dharma traditions that it is hard to take out! Still let me try!

Firstly karma means action/work/doing. The most ordinary meaning

Secondly somewhat more widely karma means action AND its consequences

Thirdly in its most generalized setting it just means causality. Alternately law as understood by modern science

Take the law of conservation of momentum.

The interstellar comet borisov split into two as it passed our solar system [3]. The momentum of the two pieces will remain the same as the momentum of the original but its identity is a question mark: Which shall we call borisov?

Reincarnation or karma is similar (at least in the dharma religions)

Everything in life goes by this. Because we wish to eat we cook. Because we wish to keep eating and so on we work to earn. Many people do terrible things because they are consumed by their wish (tanha). Rape, Robbery, Murder etc. All are driven by uncontrolled wishes.

And so what happens if we die before our wishes are fulfilled? The identity disintegrates but the momentum continues. So like Borisov when it splits we may not be able to properly call it borisov because now there is borisov-a and borisov-b. And like the momentum that remains the wishes that we sent out will fructify even if we dont remain to receive those fruits! This inexorable terror is the root problem that all Hindu mythology or Buddhist psychology etc are trying to address.

So in summary the message you will understand (from the dharma religions at least) is stark and simple: If your wishes dont end before your life, reincarnation (Nietzsche called it recurrence I think) will continue eternally meaninglessly.


[1] Dharma by Veena Howard https://www.bloomsbury.com/us/dharma-9781786732125/

[2] Six nines in pi https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Six_nines_in_pi

[3] Galactic comet borisov splits into two https://www.universetoday.com/145603/interstellar-comet-2i-borisov-appears-to-have-broken-in-half/

[4] tanha https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ta%E1%B9%87h%C4%81

  • "Just as for pi:... every conceivable (finite) pattern presumably occurs somewhere or other." It is not currently known whether π is normal.
    – Sandejo
    Jul 12 at 1:19
  • "Other famous analogy: Enough monkeys will produce all literature" This is more of a metaphorical statement. We do not have good reason to believe that it is literally true.
    – Sandejo
    Jul 12 at 1:21
  • @Sandejo re monkeys-typing is a metaphor. You could call it that. Physicists call it thought experiment. The wiki link you gave traces its history to the physicist Eddington etc. Pragmatically I'd be surpirsed if the monkey had enough interest in a typewriter to give us one correct English word - typewriter is not a banana! If you remove the monkey-metaphor the result is a prosaic: "The probability that an infinite randomly generated string of text will contain a particular finite substring is 1"
    – Raveesh
    Jul 14 at 3:40
  • The article does say: "If there were as many monkeys as there are atoms in the observable universe typing extremely fast for trillions of times the life of the universe, the probability of the monkeys replicating even a single page of Shakespeare is unfathomably small." Which is why its only meaningful as a thought experiment. Not very meaningful in my view either. More pertinent it does show that mapping physical reality to math is non trivial. ie the assumption of infinite time in the question is questionable.
    – Raveesh
    Jul 14 at 4:06
  • "The probability that an infinite randomly generated string of text will contain a particular finite substring is 1" This is not correct. For example, a the probability that a sequence of random Latin letters contains a "π" is 0. In addition, one must also consider whether the distributions of each letter are independent and identical, since that also affects whether the statement holds.
    – Sandejo
    Jul 14 at 4:46

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.