A Time Magazine blog has an interview today with a man who is studying what happens when we die.
Many people, the author admits, aren't so sure about the project...
Because we're pushing through the boundaries of science, working against assumptions and perceptions that have been fixed. A lot of people hold this idea that well, when you die you die, that's it. Death is a moment, you know you're either dead or you're alive. All these things are not scientifically valid but they're social perceptions. If you look back at the end of the 19th century, physicists at that time had been working with Newtonian laws of motion and they really felt they had all the answers to everything that was out there in the universe. When we look at the world around us, Newtonian physics is perfectly sufficient. It explains most things that we deal with -- except if you go to the really low level beyond the atoms.
Do we really want to know the answer if there's a possibility it totally rewires our concept of life and death?
Yes, I want to know everything.
Well... that is the answer. What is the question?
"Do we really want to know the answer if there's a possibility it totally rewires our concept of life and death?"
I believe that was the question.
I accept that we are insignificant in the universe. Even if technology could preserve the state of every synapse in our brain (while our brain was still functioning well) and transfer it into some kind of virtual body - would that be "living"? What's so bad about being transient?
42! That's great!
Anyway, I agree with Joel.
"Do I really want to know the answer?"
I don't think that I do. Maybe there is life after death, maybe there is a heaven, maybe we will never know because your "soul" dies when your body dies, or maybe we just become worm food.
Who knows? I would be disappointed with all the "maybe's."
Oh, well. I'll see you on the other side.
For the most part, I agree with Jim!!!. We don't give a second thought about what happens when trees, flies, or wildebeests die: they cease to exist. Why are humans any different?
But there's a part of me that still has serious questions about death; they don't spring from the natural human fear of ceasing to exist, but rather, bizarre phenomena that have persisted over millennia of human history. I'm talking about ghosts. I feel that the phenomenon of ghosts has been too persistent over time for every instance to be written off as paranoid humans. Actual spirits or not, I feel that "ghosts" will eventually be explained by science, one way or the other.
I was amused that at the end of the Time article, one of the links asked "how many Americans believe in guardian angels" A little spurious, wouldn't you think?
"Most Americans" are teh stoopid!
A very good serious question is why are humans so prone to superstition? Some theorize that superstition is overshooting of the instinct to protect ourselves. We think we see things (e.g. ghosts) that aren't there and feel fear. It's mostly harmless, and keeps us primed to jump when there actually is something to fear (like a tiger or a shark).