Sunday, May 16, 2010

What Happens When We Die?

Andrew Sullivan has been hosting a spirited back-and-forth on the topic of faith, religion, and death, with readers of his blog and Kevin Drum's chiming in with their thoughts. Nothing like a game of philosophical volleyball between atheists, believers, and everyone in between to illustrate my speck of existence within the galaxies, guys.

Judging from reader contributions, few are on the fence when it comes to what happens when we transition from the living to the dead. There are a lot of comments like, "I'm not sure what occurs, but here's what I hope it all means."

From it all, I see demonstrated an undercurrent of hope (or futility) that what we believe while alive somehow influences events when we're not. That seems to infer an element of control over the universe that I'm not willing to acknowledge, regardless of which side you're on. I can't even get the dog to poop in the back yard consistently, so what makes me think that I get a vote in my afterlife?

This reader observation struck a chord:

Sharing Kevin's sense of never having felt the need to believe in God, perhaps my answer will be of interest.

I have always felt that when I die, I am dead and gone, my conscious life will end, my interactions with others will end, and I will be simply GONE. I don't know what causes consciousness (call it spirit, call it soul, I don't mean to pick sides with my words), but I expect that it will end. My afterlife will be in the memories of those I knew, those who loved me, those who carry me on in their hearts. I, myself, cease to exist.

This gives me a beautiful, shockingly beautiful sense of the Now. Being in the present, the here and now, is the ultimate reward of life. I am constantly gobsmacked by the minutiae of life; I stand in awe of the things around me right fucking now. There's no reward, no judgment, no heaven, no hell. I live right fucking now.

That pretty much sums up where I stand on the topic, although it's arrogantly presumptuous to assume that anyone gives a rat's ass what I think. But it's my site, and you came here voluntarily (or via some Google magic), so there it is.

Image via Wikimedia Commons

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