Do you think that people who have died, know that they have died and of what they died of when they get to heaven? Do they in fact have conscious thinking?
And what is your beliefs or opinion on whether the dead is still with us in some way or form. I mean do they hear us when we speak to them? Do they still have some kind of presence in our lives?
You ask interesting questions. Here is how I would answer:
I think there are all kinds of mental events (like thoughts, emotions, beliefs, desires, memories, etc.) that are the function of our souls and not our brains. Consciousness seems to be a property of the soul, not of the brain. So although we are dependent on the brain to interact with a physical world, and therefore there is a strong correlation between soul and brain, they are not the same thing.
Therefore I belief we will be thinking, conscious beings, even after death when we have been separated from our bodies (brains). Of course, one could only speculate about what exactly this type of bodiless existence would be like (until we are united with our glorified bodies as Christian teaching explains).
So yes, I do think we will know that we have died. As for knowing what we died of, one might be less sure, since one could have been unconscious at the moment of death and therefore have no memories of anything. Or it might be that the unconscious mind still perceives its surroundings prior to death, even if to a diminished degree, and that one therefore could recall some of what happened during one’s own death.
About your other questions. The extremely popular spiritualist sentiment on several television shows the last 15 years or so, has been that we can make contact with loved ones who have “crossed over to the other side”.
From a Christian perspective this would be untrue. It might be emotionally satisfying to feel that our loved ones can hear us when we speak to them (and even more so when they speak to us!), but I find no support for such an idea, either biblically or philosophically.
Unfortunately many people are being duped by charlatans (such as on the TV shows I mentioned) who are experts at manipulating people at the point of their deepest needs/longings. And not many longings are more acute than to have some kind of continued connection with the people that have meant so much to us in this life.
From a Christian perspective I think there is tremendous comfort in knowing that someone who loved God is now with him after their physical body is gone. It is far more difficult for us who have to stay behind – our comfort is more indirect: we have the hope of being reunited with our loved ones when we share the same love for God, the One who created us and made it possible to have a relationship with him. But in the meantime we have to cope with our grief and sense of loss.
For an excellent discussion on the soul see the following: Do we have souls?
Wat is die verskil tussen ons siel en ons gees?
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