Agnosticism, Atheism, Faith, God

A Problem with Immortality

Well, sorry I’ve been away so long. Things are going well — I’ve just been busy with work and haven’t had a whole lot to say lately. But yesterday, I ran across a really interesting article that I wanted to share with all of you.

Paul Sagar, the author of the article, discusses several possible problems with the notion of immortality and asks if it’s even something we should really want. But what I found most interesting was his suggestion that our innate desire for immortality might not really be about wanting to live forever, but about being able to control when we die.

Christopher Hitchens famously said:

I do not especially like the idea that one day I shall be tapped on the shoulder and informed, not that the party is over but that it is most assuredly going on — only henceforth in my absence.

That seems to be the hard part. We worry that our time will come too soon, when there are too many things left undone — too many people still around that we want to spend time with.

But if you live long enough, it seems that there would come a time when that’s no longer the case. When most of the people you’d want to spend time with have already left the party too. Or when your body has worn out to the point that you’re just ready for that final slumber.

And perhaps just as great a fear is living too long. We all know people who have suffered with Alzheimer’s or dementia. Or those who have become physically disabled to the point that they can no longer do the simplest of tasks and remain in great pain. Death can seem like a blessing in those instances.

Of course, when people talk about immortality, they’re really talking about living forever in a perfect state — good health and access to loved ones. Would such an immortality be a good thing? I don’t really know. In the same quote, Hitchens went on to say:

Much more horrible, though, would be the announcement that the party was continuing forever, and that I was forbidden to leave. Whether it was a hellishly bad party or a party that was perfectly heavenly in every respect, the moment that it became eternal and compulsory would be the precise moment that it began to pall.

I can see his point, though this is something I go back and forth over. Maybe such an eternity wouldn’t get boring. Either way, I think most of us wish we had more time than what we typically get.

Of course, it doesn’t really matter whether we wish we had more time or not — wishing for a thing doesn’t make it so. We don’t live forever. And I don’t have any reason to believe that some part of us will continue on after death. So we’re left to focus on living the one life we do have to the fullest extent possible. Take care of those we care about; take advantage of the opportunities we’re given; make the most of each moment; live with as few regrets as possible.

Anyway, nothing I’ve said here is revolutionary or even definitive. I’ve really just been typing out my own thoughts on this. So, more importantly, take a second to read that article, if you haven’t already. I especially enjoyed the story about Bhishma, taken from Mahabharata.

103 thoughts on “A Problem with Immortality”

  1. Thanks Carmen. I’m not always good at diplomacy, but I really do worry about the tone so much of our discourse is taking these days. And while I love the internet for helping me find my way out of my previous beliefs, it’s obviously causing many of us to become entrenched in polarizing views and we start to miss the humanity of the other side.

    You know, maybe Nigel is delusional, but who’s the arbiter of that, right? My mom called me delusional in an email recently. Of course, I disagree with her, but there also wasn’t much point in conversation after that.

    In my reading of this thread, Nigel came out firing right away. And what turned me off the most was his emphatic assertions about why we’re atheists, how we live, etc without actually knowing any of us or taking the time to learn more about our motivations. But offline, he’s probably a very nice person. He obviously cares deeply about the unborn, so I assume he cares about babies and children as well. He seems to be well-read and seems to have concerns about morality. Those are obviously very good things, and I’m willing to bet that he’s ultimately driven by good intentions. In fact, our underlying motivations may all be about the same. Sometimes the internet just pulls out the worst in us. Maybe the three of us would have really enjoyed each other’s company if we’d met in person under different circumstances.

    So I like to give people the benefit of the doubt. I would still be interested in having a real conversation with Nigel if he is open to having a respectful, calm conversation about our respective beliefs. I don’t think such a conversation is likely after his latest reply, but I’m still open to it if he changes his mind. And some of the best conversations I’ve had on this blog and others have been with Christians: UnkleE, Ryan, Josh, Kent, etc. I really like and respect those guys, and they have given me lots to think about over the years.

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  2. Nate, you really are a gem. I can’t help but point out the reason you enjoyed your conversations with the men you mentioned – they don’t make assholish comments. 😉

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  3. Lol, that’s true, Carmen. It’s my hope that even people who are inclined to be more abrasive can be brought around. I guess I still like the proverb “a soft answer turns away wrath.”

    I do completely understand how these things escalate into verbal warfare, but I think it’s good to dial things down as much as possible. There’s so much shouting at each other these days and not enough listening.

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  4. Speaking of friends on the internet reminds me of my present state – that is, the fact that the hard drive on my old MacBook Pro has seemed to have developed major problems. The only time it ever quit in the last 10 years is once when I clicked on a recipe on FB – got a black screen. Took it to a computer ‘expert’ and he couldn’t do a thing with it. You know who fixed it? Our old friend Arch. He patiently wrote out a list of instructions (I still had email at work) and I followed them. They’re still stuck on my bulletin board to this day and every time I see that list I’m reminded of him. This afternoon’s task is to purchase a new MacBook Air, which our son says will suit me just fine. 🙂 Raise a glass tonight to our blog buddies who’ve been released to the universe, eh?

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  5. “nate,” I only mention “abortion” because it is:
    – the worst sin That Cries To Heaven For Vengeance
    – the worst satanic ritual of all
    – the worst sin of all
    – the worst evil of all.
    – this causes the worst possible special punishments in hell, and this causes the worst possible blood prices to be paid on earth even if you Repent.
    – as the worst satanic ritual of all, it gives you a separate set of special punishments and blood prices, as if you had committed s*c*de; as it double counts as the third worst sin That Cries To Heaven For Vengeance of blasphemy as well.
    – not only causes demonic possession but guarantees some of the worst forms of it.
    – the only thing evil enough to get the devil’s attention
    – the host of mortal sins it qualifies as as well and so on.

    The point being I see no admonishment of your boomer woman attack dogs, let alone rejection of the unimaginable. I would even hazard a guess that you support it.

    This is just the first of the sins That Cry To Heaven For Vengeance, I could mention the other three; your blog is based upon pushing these sins for all I can see. I could mention capital sins, or mortal sins, or venial sins.

    Again, you are a moralizer without morals. Which I wrote a very lovely essay about the absurdity of (one you ignored in totality). your whole blog is meant to damn souls and lead people astray, and here you are hand-wringing like a “queen” about to fire his maid because Love, Absolute Truth, and Natural Law reminds you of who you have wronged. Virtue does make vice uncomfortable, but do you have no self awareness?

    I thought about it for a few seconds once I saw the “circle-jerk” in my email, and then I realized “yes, but only to find things for you to project upon others.” you are committing the mortal sin of despair. Broadly, this is when you project your sin to damn others in your place or to “normalize” what you’ve done.

    To Paraphrase what Kierkegaard said: despair cannot recognize itself.

    So, really, when you claim I am “driving people” away, you are accusing me of your satanic “life”s “work.”

    I don’t know what brought you back here, maybe you got sick. Regardless, you don’t even have the foundation to justify passing the salt across the table (kudos to Chesterton for that one).

    P.S. “delusional” was one of the soviet terms used to send someone to the serbsky institute. “Caren” was just dissociating back to the communism of her youth with her desire to apparently “make me go away.”

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  6. Nate, a new day and a new year! All the best to you and yours – may your troubles be light and your successes plentiful. Here in NS, the sun is shining brilliantly and we are hopeful that the backyard rink at our son’s house is solid so the kids can have a lovely skate. Happy New Year!

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  7. Hi Nigel,
    My blog is actually about trying to find truth. You and I could claim all kinds of things to one another about what is right and wrong, but that’s all meaningless as long as we’re on such different pages. So far, you’re offering no reasons for me to agree with you that I’m a “moralizer without morals” or that there’s any such thing as demonic possession, so what evidence would you present to convince me (or anyone) that your beliefs are correct?

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  8. you are at minimum demonically oppressed, most likely obsessed, but really probably possessed. one cannot devote their entire life to trying to damn souls using every tactic you can find, every lie you can tell, and every knavery you think you can manipulate with, without being possessed. the demon has no need to manifest as you are sufficiently dead by evil and unquestioningly pliable that you do what they demand without any direct influence.

    Strange how you single that part out, which wasn’t even directly meant for you. Virtue makes vice uncomfortable though.

    your blog is about pushing athiesm and attacking Christianity by any means your freemason-offshoot religion allows you. you might title your blog as such, you might claim such, but never pay attention to what someone says only why they say it (to quote Venerable Fulton Sheen).

    My point in calling you a moralizer without morals is a factual statement of how absurd your hypocrisy is, not an argument. My arguments were summarily ignored by you much in the same way anything relating to Love, Absolute Truth, and Natural Law is ignored by you.

    your evil comes by way of voluntarism, which is more modernly known as kantian relativism, where you believe Reality is somehow based on your ego. But like I said, you clearly don’t believe in relativism very much considering how tyrannical you are against anything relating to God and His Church.

    evidence is the byproduct of observation, to you this means “control” and “power.” this is all a shell game for you to try to hide your capital sin of pride from clear refutation by exposing its absurdity to sunlight (I know you’re a bit dull, that’s a metaphor).

    to claim empiricism is only efficacious is self-refuting. you cannot prove empiricism with empiricism & you use a philosophical argument for your blaspheming and special pleading here.

    The Church stands on Her Own, so does Reality. God, The Church, and I owe nothing to you. The Church Created all you know and take for granted, and you lose it without your Remaining Catholic Capital.

    sniveling by pretending We must answer to your delusion to “almighty” ego, hiding your head in the hopes Reality goes away if you can’t see it, this does nothing.

    Like I said, your moralizing is just a defense mechanism because you cannot answer me and I have already fully refuted you by giving answers to your questions you thought destroyed all possibility of answers. My point is if you are really trying to lie and manipulate, do not use attempts at demands of politeness masquerading as morality, because:
    1) your whole blog is satanic blaspheming, so what “politeness?”
    2) you believe all is mere clicking and popping of chemicals so what “morality” do you claim to have?

    I then pointed out that if you were to make an excuse for that, then you would have to refute one or more of your pagan/gnostic religions in the process.

    P.S. I had to spend so much time refuting your falsehood and emotional manipulation, that my point almost got buried. I will therefore assume you will use the length of this message to try to hide from said point. More of your tricks, so tiresome.

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  9. NO argument has ever been won by constantly attacking the other person; e.g. “You lie, You manipulate, You believe, You condemn … ”

    Obviously Mr. Teapot never learned this.

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  10. Nigel, I’m not really ignoring anything so much as trying to pull points out of your long comments that we could discuss. I don’t really have interest in name calling or making sweeping unsubstantiated claims back and forth, so I’ve been trying to find a starting point for us to have a conversation. Your final paragraph refers to your point, but I’m not really sure what it is. Could you state it simply?

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  11. “nate,” every word I said is Substantive and there for a reason. If you think I write for the sake of you finding cheap tricks to salve your ego and make me your punching bag, I would appreciate if you never replied to me again before I get angry.

    you are just looking for a cheap way out to keep me on the defensive and talking about me instead of the topic of your 7 years of trying to damn others in your place.

    As for your coven of post-abortive, afluent, white, female, ultra liberals (AWFUL for short), I already dealt with them.

    Like St Bernadette said: “My job is to inform, not convince.” “Convincing” is something you do to yourself, which you are very honest here that you make no attempt to even listen. This is a fight for you, unaware that you are Judged for ALL of the sins of the people of your pretend-congregation here. Meaning even if you Repent, if any of them are damned without you disowning and rebuking each of them, then you are damned with them.

    This is serious, playing for keeps, and you suck and suckle upon the devil for delusion of “ye will be like gods” “power” that will never come.

    you have no basis for moralizing, so you trying to do so is absurd. you being a relativist makes you rigid adherence to forcing everyone to be like you in the hopes that if everyone is damned then you cannot be; that’s the lesser-common half of the mortal sin of despair.

    capital sin of pride gets threatened, your hopelessness leads you to try to use your capital sin of pride to:
    1) project your sin onto others in the hopes they are damned in your place (pagans called this “sacred violence” and The Cross destroyed your human sacrifice pretend-weapon).
    2) claim your sin is spread so far and wide that EVERYONE is guilty of it, and so if you are damned then so is all of humanity.

    it’s like the two forms of suicide (in reality, suicide is attempted murder on all of Creation at once):
    1) destroying yourself because you are so turned-inwards you think all of Creation goes with you.
    2) destroying everyone else (think a school shooter)

    Which is yours? All of atheism is an attempt at what is mention above, and it is assumed your blog is the pre-emptive answer: you making this blog to try to make everyone like you. Kind of like how, upon aids diagnosis, sodomites went to give blood en masse and murdered near a million people in the us with tainted blood transfusions.

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  12. I actually think it’s kind of funny that you claim I’m prideful when you act as though you know everyone else’s motives. If that’s not the height of arrogance, I’m not sure what is. And you use your assertions about what other people think (and why they think it) to construct straw man arguments and false dichotomies. It’s a strange approach, because it’s one that never engages in actual meaningful conversation. It’s more like a shout into the void than anything else.

    When it comes to morality, instead of just latching onto some ancient set of teachings, I do the hard work of thinking for myself and trying to reason out what morality is and how to align my life with it. I take ancient teachings, philosophy, rule of law, personal interaction, consequence and many other factors to come up with my own moral code.

    As far as why I blog, it’s not out of some attempt to “make everyone like me.” That’s so counter to how I think that such an approach doesn’t really make any sense to me. I began this blog as a Christian trying to establish a platform for discussing difficult topics. And I kicked it back off as an atheist for the same reason. I have many Christians in my life, and I don’t spend my time trying to change their minds.

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  13. That last point of yours is a good one, Nate. We all have Christians in our lives; some of them very close to us. (Nan is friends with me on FB and she knows what I mean. . Smile). Not one second of our lives is spent trying to change anyone else’s mind. Nigel might be surprised to learn that three of my friends on FB are ministers – an Anglican and three United Church of Canada. (Two women and two men). I like to think that all my friends are very good people – the most important personality trait. Oh, and the chances that I’d EVER read any of Nigel’s screed from any of my four clergy friends? (Or any of my friends, period)
    Zero

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  14. to the demon (lit. “the divider” referring to how demons seek to damn mankind by sin out of jealousy and fear): the mortal sin of despair I described last time. I mentioned it happens when the capital sin of pride (spiritual pride) is threatened.

    What is spiritual pride? the opening yourself to all death, evil, sin, etc by the delusion you arrogate to yourself Divine Will by “wishful thinking/gnosis/enlightenment/illumination/etc.”

    How exactly to type.

    you are trying to drag others into the pit you fell in, period. you project (either onto specific people or all) when threatened.

    As I have been saying for over a year now: you have no foundation, and your ego isn’t a substitute.

    you, as Chesterton would say in his essay “the maniac,” “believe in yourself.”

    to the AWFUL: the awful is friends with a freemason and three satanists, why would that be shocking to me? this reminds me so much when the “rigid,” Faithful Monks traveled from Ireland into pagan europe and destroyed the “dark ages” by bringing the Christendom of the Medieval Era. all the pagans tended to be ex-Christians who were old, senile (even senile before they ever got old), married to the age, and tried DESPERATELY to Martyr the young, strong Catholics who were Beyond Time.

    Throughout history, the demonic have ALWAYS been among the old, and always born in the “Good times make weak men” part of the cycle. your lives have been the “weak men make hard times.”

    We are currently in the phase that Chesterton (paraphrased) described as “when you forget what is Good and True, your sons and grandsons will rise up against you and kill you in revenge for what you hid from them.” The “hard times make Strong men” part into “Strong men make Good times.”

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  15. “Hard times make Strong Men”
    How did that work for A.A. Allen, Jim Bakker, Jimmy Swaggart, Ted Haggard ? Oh let’s not forget one of the greatest apologists of them all, Ravi Zacharias ! You couldn’t carry their Bibles, Nigel and yet what did they all have in common ? It’s obvious none were strong enough to follow their own preaching. At least Nate is strong enough to follow his own convictions. Why ? Because he has no one to point a finger to but himself. If there would be a God, I believe he would have more respect for Nate than any of the previous people mentioned and even you ! I said it because Nate is too kind to do so. By the way, Happy New Year Nate. Glad to hear you’re doing well ! And to Carmen and Nan. Glad to see you both here !

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  16. Greetings to you, kcchief! Hope all things are well in your neck of the woods – here, all things are well. Nice to hear from you! 🙂

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  17. I am Catholic, not a protestant heretic.

    you are again, projecting by the mortal sin of despair. the mortal sin of despair is when you try to damn others in your place by projecting your sin upon them.

    when pride (spiritual pride, the delusion you have “usurped” Divine Will by “wishful thinking/gnosis/enlightenment/illumination/etc”) is threatened it degenerates to despair.

    your friend nor you have ANY foundation for anything.

    From a man named “piggers71” on youtube near 5-7 years back:
    “When an atheist starts in with me, I simply remind them if they are right, then they are nothing but matter that doesn’t matter and therefore neither does the noise being emitted by their random chemical reactions. After their initial dumbfounded reaction is set upon their face, I tell them that they’re irrelevant according to their own world view and I don’t have time for their meaningless fizzing and popping.?”

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  18. And yet how much time have you devoted to us, Nigel? Methinks he doth protest too much (which I think I have already told you)

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  19. As much as is necessary to answer you. you came to attack me days ago.

    “to the AWFUL: the awful is friends with a freemason and three satanists, why would that be shocking to me? this reminds me so much when the “rigid,” Faithful Monks traveled from Ireland into pagan europe and destroyed the “dark ages” by bringing the Christendom of the Medieval Era. all the pagans tended to be ex-Christians who were old, senile (even senile before they ever got old), married to the age, and tried DESPERATELY to Martyr the young, strong Catholics who were Beyond Time.

    Throughout history, the demonic have ALWAYS been among the old, and always born in the “Good times make weak men” part of the cycle. your lives have been the “weak men make hard times.”

    We are currently in the phase that Chesterton (paraphrased) described as “when you forget what is Good and True, your sons and grandsons will rise up against you and kill you in revenge for what you hid from them.” The “hard times make Strong men” part into “Strong men make Good times.””

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