Consequences: Life after Death

If Meslier and I are right, and God does not exist, there are consequences. One of them is that there is no life after death, or at least not in the normally understood sense. However, there is a problem with this conclusion. It seems completely illogical that creatures as complex as ourselves should come into existence, live a while, and then disappear without a trace. In fact, from nature’s point of view, that’s not really what happens. The apparent irrationality of it all derives from our identification of our selves with our conscious minds. But nature has played a little trick on us. As far as she is concerned, “we” are not our conscious minds. “We” are the genetic material that has created our conscious minds. Our minds are merely ancillary tools of the essential “us,” like our eyes, hands, and feet, which exist because they have promoted our survival. In other words, the idea that “we” are our conscious minds is merely an egocentric illusion of one of the features of our phenotype, a feature that the essential “we,” our genetic material, has generated over and over again during the course of its existence, sloughing it off over and over again as each physical body carrying that material ages and dies. The essential part of us, the real “we,” has not died since it came into existence about three billion years ago. It has existed without interruption, passing from physical carrier to physical carrier as those carriers evolved over the eons. Our genetic material must not necessarily die, but is potentially immortal. Our conscious minds only exist for a short interval because they have been useful in promoting its survival.

I know that, for some, the conclusion above will always be unacceptable. They will refuse to accept the truth because the truth doesn’t satisfy them. It seems to me, however, that such people are selling themselves short. We have been called out of oblivion and given the opportunity to experience a truly astounding, improbable, wonderful world. Under the circumstances, would it not be best to accept the truth of what we really are and enjoy the ride? Does it really make sense to be miserable the whole time we are here because the ride doesn’t last forever? If it really bothers you so much that there will be nothing left of you after you’re gone, have children. I can’t give you an absolutely valid, objective reason why you should have children. As for myself, I don’t like the idea that I might be a dysfunctional biological dead end. Therefore, I have had children. I have certainly not regretted it.

I will close this post with some words of the great Meslier:

Consent, then, to leave without regret this world, which causes more trouble than pleasure to the majority of you. Resign yourselves to the order of destiny, which decrees that you , like all other beings, should not endure forever. But what will become of me, you ask! What you were several million years ago. You were then, I do not know what; resign yourselves, then, to become again in an instant, I do not know what; what you were then; return peaceably to the universal home from which you came without your knowledge into you material form, and pass by without murmuring, like all the beings which surround you!

and some verse from Edward Fitzgerald’s version of Omar Khayyam’s Rubaiyat:

And fear not lest Existence closing your
Account, and mine, should know the like no more;
The Eternal Saki from that Bowl has pour’d
Millions of Bubbles like us, and will pour.

Author: Helian

I am Doug Drake, and I live in Maryland, not far from Washington, DC. I am a graduate of West Point, and I hold a Ph.D. in nuclear engineering from the University of Wisconsin. My blog reflects my enduring fascination with human nature and human morality.

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