Saturday, December 27, 2008

Eternal Life

This piece in the Times today points out that most theists believe that people from religions other than their own can get into heaven, or as the article puts, achieve eternal life. Even atheists aren’t excluded; nearly half of those polled said godless unbelievers like me can get to live forever in the afterlife.

Frankly, I don’t see the appeal.

When I’m dead, I want to be dead and gone; what’s the point of dying if you just wake up and keep on living in some other realm?

I like the idea of having a lasting legacy; and certainly I want to be remembered by friends and loved ones—to that extent, yes, I do want to live on.

But to have the “me” that is me somehow persist after my body is gone—I’m not into that at all.

What would one do with oneself for all eternity anyway? Sitting at the right hand of God sounds cool for a while, but eventually, I think, it would get tedious. Everything that I find enjoyable—riding bikes, hanging out with friends, reading books, watching Steelers football, writing 327 word essays, traveling, studying and teaching philosophy, practicing yoga, overindulging in food, drink, and plant-based intoxicants—is only enjoyable because I have limited time to enjoy them. Were I faced with an eternity to fill up doing these things, I can’t imagine that I wouldn’t eventually find them all oppressively boring.

Seems to me that the whole point of dying is to get the hell away from one’s self. Personal identity, while indeed the source of any joy we might experience, is also where any pain we experience comes from. As long as there’s an experiencing “I,” there will necessarily be dissatisfactions and discomfort. Or maybe that’s just me.

I love life; in fact, I love it to death—but only till then. I thank those surveyed theists for including me in their eternity, but I think I’m going to have to pass…forever.


Blogger Larry Livermore said...

You'd obviously need to remove your individual ego from the picture to have any hope of appreciating eternal life. But isn't that the ultimate goal of most religions and belief systems?

10:18 AM  
Blogger Arnica Montana said...

i don't know, Larry. I think religion and the belief of an afterlife is the ultimate in ego.

To believe that the way you lead your life on Earth will determine your afterlife creates a state of self-importance. To me, it is the ultimate in self absorption.

9:10 AM  

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