Suppose there was a reality in which death didn’t exist. People lived forever in a state of eternal youth. We all had good health and a complete immunity to death-causing misfortune. Let’s also assume the issue of overpopulation is not relevant here. There are many other things we have to take into consideration when pondering the nature of such a reality including our ability to remember, the lifespan of other organisms around us, implications regarding evolution, etc.
My question however pertains to the fear of death and whether, in our hypothetical reality, this fear would be replaced with a fear of eternal tedium. Whether we’re aware of it or not, our lives revolve around the cognition of death and its inevitability. Somehow, as a species, this knowledge has been gravely misapplied leading to an innate fear of death now central to our nature. So I’ve decided to explore the alternative.
But there are alternative alternatives, too. To oppose death, we can have eternal life or perpetual reincarnation. Some would suggest we can have eternal unconscious life as well but I think this is an unnecessary thought. It’s very possible, by the way, that eternal reincarnation is actually true. But today I wanted to look at eternal life and discuss some of the metaphysical implications of this concept.
One consideration is that our universe simply doesn’t support the idea of perpetual life. If people reproduced and no one ever died, obviously there would be an exponential growth in population but it would get to the point where no planet could ever inhabit such a number of people incredibly quickly. In fact, if we don’t account for crowding and if people decided it was still a good idea to procreate at a steady rate, we could spread the human population out at one person per cubic meter and we’d have used up more space than currently exists in the observable universe.
We must also state the obvious contradiction in polarity here. As it currently is, life only exists in contrast to death. If there was no death, there would be no life (as we know it). Similarly, if there was no life, death would be a redundant concept. And so the juxtaposition of life and death dissolves, uncovering a different state of being. Eternal life would therefore have to be very different from our current understanding of temporary life as it no longer exhibits this familiar transience.
Note that the differences between temporary and eternal life would be infinitely more expansive than just duration.
Sooner or later, I would expect a phenomenon to arise in our reality of eternal life. It may be after 150 years or 1,500 years. But I think the constant effort to continue day after day as a conscious being would become incredibly tiresome. Not necessarily boring, but tiresome. Many people reportedly experience this phenomenon as they age even when there is still the escape route of death!
What’s a much more terrifying thought than having to constantly drag yourself through life is that you can, in theory, suffer for eternity. We struggle to conceive of this because in our reality, eternal torture or suffering is impossible. There is always the liberation of death. But if you cannot die and can still feel both mental and physical pain, it is entirely plausible for you to end up trapped or held captive for hundreds or thousands of years while you suffer every day. That’s not a pleasant thought.
The question of purpose is rife in the reality in which both life and death exist. But I think it would be even more pertinent in a reality where you couldn’t die. We don’t currently have to ponder our purpose too much because eventually we are going to die and so it’s impossible to make plans for much beyond our life expectancy.
But the eternal world is different. I think it would be a form of torture in itself to persist forever in such a random and chaotic reality. It would seemingly become impossible to form goals or aspirations at all or at least in a way in which us mortal folk could appreciate.
There is such a multiplicity of variables to consider in this hypothetical. I don’t think it is possible to even speculate as to what eternity means let alone how a transient being would attempt to participate in such a reality.
I plan on revisiting and expanding on these thoughts in the future.