Contemplating one's own non-existence can be, not only terrifying, but seemingly impossible or unreal. I can't blame anyone for preferring a more comforting narrative, even if it might happen to be unverifiable.
There are only two ways, that I can think of, to build a worldview. One is to use only currently verifiable facts and let the chips fall where they may, comfortwise. The other is to step just slightly outside of verifiable science where we can construct a more comforting narrative that we can claim is likely to be verified by science in the future. (OK, a third way is to just to abandon yourself to irrationality altogether, but...)
I don't begrudge anyone their comforts; life is hard enough already without deliberately making it more painful for ourselves, but I think it's good to at least be aware of which path we're taking. But I also realize that the comforts of self-delusion aren't nearly as comforting when we suspect we're fooling ourselves, so choose your poison carefully.
For me personally, the greatest peace comes from aligning my worldview, as completely as I am able, with well-established science, chips be damned. When science finally approves those comforting hypotheses, I'll be more than happy to embrace that liberation then. For now... I am at peace with my perceived limits.
Science will never point to an after life. The entirety of our consciousness is due to the brain. Plenty of brain injury cases or degenerative brain conditions like Alzheimer’s for example demonstrate changes in a persons personality, perception, and physical/mental abilities. There is no soul, there is only matter. And over time you will decay into carbon, oxygen, and hydrogen atoms. I’m going to turn this into a kids book.
I stumbled across this years ago, and it seems a rather fitting response. I will always side with science. It's all the comfort I need.
By AARON FREEMAN:
You want a physicist to speak at your funeral. You want the physicist to talk to your grieving family about the conservation of energy, so they will understand that your energy has not died. You want the physicist to remind your sobbing mother about the first law of thermodynamics; that no energy gets created in the universe, and none is destroyed. You want your mother to know that all your energy, every vibration, every Btu of heat, every wave of every particle that was her beloved child remains with her in this world. You want the physicist to tell your weeping father that amid energies of the cosmos, you gave as good as you got.
And at one point you'd hope that the physicist would step down from the pulpit and walk to your brokenhearted spouse there in the pew and tell him that all the photons that ever bounced off your face, all the particles whose paths were interrupted by your smile, by the touch of your hair, hundreds of trillions of particles, have raced off like children, their ways forever changed by you. And as your widow rocks in the arms of a loving family, may the physicist let her know that all the photons that bounced from you were gathered in the particle detectors that are her eyes, that those photons created within her constellations of electromagnetically charged neurons whose energy will go on forever.
And the physicist will remind the congregation of how much of all our energy is given off as heat. There may be a few fanning themselves with their programs as he says it. And he will tell them that the warmth that flowed through you in life is still here, still part of all that we are, even as we who mourn continue the heat of our own lives.
And you'll want the physicist to explain to those who loved you that they need not have faith; indeed, they should not have faith. Let them know that they can measure, that scientists have measured precisely the conservation of energy and found it accurate, verifiable and consistent across space and time. You can hope your family will examine the evidence and satisfy themselves that the science is sound and that they'll be comforted to know your energy's still around. According to the law of the conservation of energy, not a bit of you is gone; you're just less orderly. Amen.
If a person concocts some far-fetched world view just to be comfortable then of course that would cast doubt on the validity of such a world view.
On the other hand, a great many very intelligent people, going back to earliest history have toyed with the idea of universal consciousness. That includes several of the founders of modern physics. I do not feel that it is correct to write off the opinions of such eminent people by ascribing to them a fear of death. There are other reasons for their metaphysical thinking.
That said, in the final analysis no one knows the answer, or IMO even understands the question.
I find the idea of death itself very comforting. It's like getting to stay in a luxury hotel, running up extravagant room service and other charges, trashing your room, and then sneaking out before you have to pay the bill. Of course, timing is everything ...
An interesting post. Probably concentrate on what is here now because whatever the ultimate outcome is probably can’t be changed from the vantage point where we current stand
Here is an interesting view of the middle way an, old folk tale sung by Steeleye Span, ‘Thomas The Rhymer’
I can mentally construct a worldview that it includes an afterlife in paradise, reincarnation, a combination of the two with ascending levels over multiple lifetimes, or one in which our consciousness merges with some universal force in eternal spiritual communion, but the only version that doesn't sound like some childish fairy tale is one in which we live one life and fade into oblivion.
I don't find the prospect of death to be so terrifying. Living everyday and eventually moving forward without the people I love is terrifying. Dying first and never having to grieve again seems damned idealistic.
Warning, spiel ahead:
Life and reality ARE difficult which is why I stopped considering religious/spiritual people as "weak". It's cpmpletely understandable to adopt a world view in which there is some kind of eventual justice, and something to look forward to after enduring this world.The only reason I wish there was some kind of cosmic judgement is all the senseless tragedies.
I overdosed into a coma and essentially "died" back in 2016(I'm totally sober now), and being "dead"(or the closest you can get to it) was honestly the most peaceful experience I had. It's like being asleep without dreaming, just a blissful nothingness. It's why I no longer have much fear regarding death. I just want to leave something good before I go.
Choosing a world view, beliefs, opinions, etc. for the comfort they bring is idiotic to me. Why would one NOT want to align with reality? Facts? Truth? Keep searching. Keep learning. Life is not about numbing away the discomfort, smoothing all the edges, babyproofing the world around you so can't get bumped in the noggin. Confront reality. Embrace it.