13 Billion Years of Death
Also sponsored by Earth Pendant at PeacefulJewelry
I fear death much like anyone else. In fact, much like most mammals.
Fear of death is a good thing. It keeps I, even us, out of a lot of trouble.
But humans are nothing if not complicated. Society and culture go along with giant brains that can create mental virtual realities that sometimes cause us to lose touch with the world.
Religions have long appealed to people by promising "life after death." The idea of an afterworld or heaven has competed with the idea of reincarnation for at least 2000 years.
People don't like the feeling of fear. That is the whole point. People have good memories, they see people die, and instead of getting on with life they start dwelling on death. Religions calm some people down: they don't feel they need to worry so much about death as long as they follow their religion's rules for getting into heaven.
Yet religions have many negative consequences, including making people gullible about all sorts of issues. Religious contempt for life can even lead to war, as when the Roman Catholic Popes encouraged Europeans to conquer the Middle East in the Crusades, with a promise that anyone who died in the crusade would be admitted to eternal life in heaven.
I fear death, but I don't want to be paralyzed in life by my fear of death. It is one thing to run away from an immediate, life-threatening circumstance, it is another thing to hide from life itself.
The way I figure it is that scientists say the universe is about 13 billion years old. They might change that figure from time to time, but I'll use it here. I was born in the mid-1950's. Before I was born I did not exist, not in any meaningful way. That was being not-alive, which is to say dead.
So I was dead for 13 billion years. And what of it? No big deal. I did not know I was dead. Nothing to worry about.
I am pretty sure I have just about 3 decades of life ahead of me at maximum. After than I will be dead for as long as the universe, or the space-time continuum, continues to exist. I won't be conscious, so I won't know I ever existed.
That is just the way it is for living organisms. We have our time, then we die. The important thing is to have a good time (defining good however you like) while alive.
Just in case you are missing the idea of scale here, reflect on the number one billion, or 1,000,000,000. Few humans live more than 100 years. 10 times one hundred is one thousand. String together a thousand thousands and you have a million. Then string together one thousand millions and you have a billion.
So I am just a meteor burning in the night. My entire life seems long to me, because I am in it, but to the Universe I am pretty close to nothing.
And I am fine with that. When I die other people will continue to live, animals will continue to live, stars will continue to shine. That is life after death. I won't be there. But as long as humanity endures, people like me will be there. Just as I am here now, long after my ancestors have died.
Agree? Disagree? You can comment on this post at Natural Liberation Blog at blogspot.com
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