Sunday, January 23

The Appeal of Immortality

I've been reading "The World Without Us" again.  This book always gets me thinking.  Usually about immortality.  It makes me want to live forever*.  Not in a Tuck Everlasting sort of way because I don't feel like arguing the but-everyone-you-know-will-die-and-you'll-have-to-always-move-around-or-be-found-out problem (longest HYPHENATED SHPIEL EVER).  I want to live forever in a more abstract, intellectual way.  Maybe after a certain point but before my brain goes batsh*t crazy and I start mistaking the refrigerator for Jesus in my old age they can harvest my brain, keep it alive in some juices and just stimulate some neurons so I can still be aware of what is happening in the world around me.  Barring that plan I should probably go back to religion. But I'm getting ahead of myself.

The book makes me want to maintain some form of consciousness or awareness forever so that I can see the future.  Simple as that.  It hurts me to know that after my measly 80 or so years (fingers crossed) of biological activity I'll stop existing and won't get to see what comes next**.  The myriad questions I have about how things are going to turn out will never be answered:  will be destroy the planet? (I may actually get an answer to this).  Will plastic be around forever or will something learn to digest it?  Will the earth return to its former biodiversity?  What will it look like?  What kinda crazy living creatures will mama evolution come up with next? 

This is one of the more difficult things about letting go of religion.  It was helpful to think that I would be around in some form after death; that there would be some omniscient being that could fill me in on the physics of the universe and the reason everything exists.  Heck, I'd probably want to know about Jon-Benet Ramsay and 9/11 (I just need to know!).  But instead, I do believe that when my neurons stop firing my "soul" will cease to exist and I won't get answers to my questions and I won't get to see how the story ends for all of the people that I care about.

Question:  Does anyone else agonize over this?
What has gotten you thinking lately?

*Some of my thoughts about the book are conflicting.  The post I linked above deals with a philosophy that, as humans putting massive strains on the earth, we should allow ourselves to die off.  To leave the earth to recover without us. 
**I have the same problem with the past.  It kills my soul that I can't witness with my own two peepers a dinosaur (alligators don't count, I want a live diplodocus), an ice age, woolly mammoths, early humans, neanderthals, coral reefs boiling with life, vast flocks of passenger pigeons that block out the sun, or taste pristine water with zero human influence.  If someone has a solution for me I'm all ears.

1 comment:

Vixxen said...

Despite being Atheist for over 6 years, I still have a really hard time understanding the concept of "death" in terms of the lack of consciousness. No matter how hard I try, whenever I imagine death, I still have that knee-jerk reaction of viewing it as some sort of continuation of life.

I guess you just have to get all the answers you can while you're still around. That way, if you do stick around after this life, you'll at least spend less time being filled in on the how and why of everything.