Thursday, September 3, 2009

The Choice of Immortality

A very good discussion came about in class about the matter of immortality and afterlife. Whether it would be good or bad? Whether we would want it or not? So I’d like to elaborate on my own views of the matter.If there was a way to stop Death’s hand from reaching into the pool of our human population and plucking us away as victims of time, would it really be for the best? And without the ideas of death, how would our way of life change? What are the things that could happen and how far could they really go if not limited by time?

Materialistically, we are all immortal. We have been here since the very beginning of the universe, since the Big Bang. The elements of matter that makes your bodies were made within explosions of dying stars that were formed from the hydrogen and helium spread throughout the universe at its origin. We are all from stars. We have existed forever in particles, but that is not the matter at hand.

However, what will be spoken of is an immortality that will ensure nothing can end our lives or do damage to our bodies in any possible way, and it will make our experience in the universe practically eternal. It will also be assumed that it is available to the entire human population.

To vision an everlasting life for a society, without the notion of death, is to vision a new and strange world; one that has been revolutionized, and by the mercy of fate or chance has been either bettered or worsened.

One must realize that something that philosophically separates our perceptions from other species of animals that we know on earth is this fact: we can perceive and understand the meaning of the future. As a result, we perceive how small our own futures are and how vast the futures of other entities within the universe are. Due to this, we not only wished to survive in the present as our other species, but we wanted more. We wanted to live a fuller life, one of meaning, reason, and purpose. So that when the future comes, when death comes, there will be nothing we regret. So we distinguish and frame the universe. We want the truth and peace of mind that it bears. We find ourselves faced with heavy emotions tied to that journey, as we realize what our environments mean to us as we endure this short time. Love is born, faith is born, despair is born, fear is born, and redemption is born. We built a society based on this meaning and journey. We find something to live for, anything. We dream of great and small ambitions in our short lives. We give ourselves a reason, a definition to our existence. We want to know who we are and why we are here. Why? Our very perceptions were born from acknowledge of the future, and how our lives diminish so easily within it. We know we will leave this world.

Without death, how would we live our lives? Is the concept of life defined from the concept of death? Is that not part of its meaning? Some look upon the moments before death as the only time to finally be able to reflect on their entire life. To know how their life was to them, because in those short moments they can finally find the closure to the journey they had been on since birth. They find their destination and with that, peace, and finally: rest. Would we give that up? What would the restless beings of this world become after a few hundred years, after a few thousand, after a few million, after a few billion?

“Life’s tough” is a common saying. It’s something that many think must be endured. It has its joys but pain too. That pain, we feel it more. It’s more real because it lingers longer. It’s more troubling. It keeps you up at night. It ruins your day. It’s what you remember. One must wonder if we are psychologically ready for immortality. The pain is not physical and only happens every once in a while. But what if it were every once in a while for eternity? Would we want to endure eternity? As time draws on, things would lose meaning and seem tiring. Boredom would arise to the majority of trivial minded people, and even the deeper thinkers would likely have to put forth great effort to escape this boredom. Why this boredom? After a while routine things would lose their reasons and necessities, and even become redundant in a person’s view of what they need to live. And also something to consider is malevolent people would always exist in the world. Although it’s more likely they will eventually change, the opposite applies as well. What would stop good people from throwing away their virtues and then picking them back up upon convenience. Over that time would good and evil still exist in our vocabulary? Would we still eat, even for taste? Would we work if we didn’t need money? Would run a society, if we knew that its crumbling wouldn’t end our lives? Would we maintain a house, if for nothing else to own land? My belief is that the immediate answer to questions such as these is yes, but the issue at hand is for how long. Eventually, we would lose interest and all the previously mentioned things and all alike would cease. What can keep its meaning for all eternity?

There is a reverse side to this if we can manage it though. That is, if we as humans could take the right approach to it. If death was thwarted by our human society, then that would give way to assume that other great feats of technology and development would be within grasp as well. It could lead to an almost golden age of knowledge. If we kept our technologies progressing we would find ways to travel to other planets, find a perpetual energy, use teleportation, hover, control weather, and many more things we have yet to develop. Think of the things we would be able to observe. We would be able to watch history continue to unfold, reminiscing older times and admiring present ones. Eventually it would get to a point where maybe we could move across the universe, exploring and witnessing its wonders. We would see first-hand the lives of stars, marvel at comets, and meander in the most fantastic of planets. Many if not all things would diminish before us, but there’s one thing that will not. Our original search for truth and fact would continue forever as we get closer and closer to an answer. Philosophers would have limitless time to develop new and profound meanings of life and enlighten others. Free thought, creativity, and genius would be the foundation of our immortal species. We would find the pathway towards that fuller existence we were looking for and never have to let go.

We would be giving up on the notion of the afterlife and its wonders. We would not find out if the soul goes on to live in a better place, or perhaps just another place on this earth, or maybe a completely new place we could not imagine. But say we pushed onward in search of truth, as mentioned in the previous paragraph. I believe the greatest possible truth we could discover would be the true nature of the afterlife. Maybe we find out that the soul is a hidden trace of energy that coexists with or in the electrical signals that travel through our body from the brain. Maybe we learn that that soul is a sentient form of energy in the same ways our bodies are a sentient form of matter. As immortals maybe we learn that after we die, this energy eternally ascends through more complicated dimensions that are among us but above our four dimensional perceptions. Imagine if we discovered how to go where souls go, how to become what they are, and finally their origins. We would have finally proved that what’s viewed in wonder, mystery, and legend is really only explanation with a couple missing gaps. So say we know how to enter the afterlife even with immortality, turning our own bodies into souls; that special energy. Wouldn’t we as immortals have found the ultimate truth that was seeded at the root of all our desires to begin with? It would be the pinnacle of the future. Having partaken in the most fulfilled lives of knowledge and research to find the answers of the universe, acquiring eons of lifespan, we would now able to leave that same universe without the need of death. And then we would enter into the afterlife as souls, without having to have ever died. We would have not only beaten death but also outdone it, and found a way around it to the afterlife. The ultimate result of our immortality would be that we would be guaranteed to have found what we were truly looking for in this physical universe: to overcome it. And in those new, wild and larger-than-life dimensions we travel to, we would leave this dimension as gods.

The point of all this was to fully elaborate on two opposite possibilities with immortality. One was that we will lose all meaning to redundancy and find ourselves with no motivation. The second possibility was that we overlook the changes immortality would bring to the world and focus solely on our search for truth and unearth the answers to the finals truths of the universe and even transcend to a new existence beyond it. Most likely a mixture of these two things would occur if true immortality ever fell into our laps. Or maybe one result would occur over the other. If so, which would you chose?