What would life be like without death? Would there even be such a thing as ‘life’ without death? And why do we die? What’s the purpose of it? Is there even a purpose of it? Is there some kind of masochistic creator who likes to hurt us? And if so, wouldn’t making people die contradict its notion of creating? Or maybe even the creator became confused about the notions of life and death, and in the end decided just to go with it? Whatever the explanation is, death remains a mysterious, yet inescapable, destination we all share.
Let’s see: what causes us to die? Well, death might just come about because of a flaw in our biological make-up; an unintended by-product of the designer of humanity. It might only be due to physical decay that our bodies will – eventually – perish. Death is just another obstacle to overcome in our human struggle with nature, a struggle that we will inevitably come to win. Within a couple of decades from now, people will be able to change their cancerous limbs for platinum replicas. Plastic surgery will be outdated; instead of getting a face-lift at the age of 55, people will get an entirely new face. That’s how we will fight nature. We know after all from history that humans are prepared to do anything in order for them to stay alive; even if their opponent is Mother Nature herself.
Thoughts of death scare us. We long for certainty, for beliefs upon which we can build the rest of our lives. However, all of our intellectual powers fall short of explaining what will happen after we have exhaled our final breath. But although we will never be able to know it, we simply cannot live with the idea that we are destined to enter an unknown world for an unknown amount of time (given that there even would be such a thing as ‘time’ in ‘the afterlife’). And there are many stories we came up with to lighten our sense of despair about death. The issue of death is the prime reason so many religions have come into existence. After all, the idea of a cozy afterlife doesn’t really seem something to worry about, right? But even non-religious people have tried to come up with ‘reasonable’ positions within this debate. Atheists proclaim that no deity exists, which is just claiming the opposite of what religious people do. And even agnostics, although their position might seem more ‘humble’ than the atheists’, find themselves to be justified in making a judgement about the afterlife by saying that ‘we cannot decide whether or not a deity exists’; thereby assuming that, although none of the others are capable of doing so, they can close this debate in a reasonable manner.
Yeah right….Well, let’s look at the counterpart of death: life. Because what would life be like without death? The obvious answer would be: there would be nothing left to call ‘life’, since life can only exist in conjunction with death. But let’s approach this issue from another angle; an experiential angle. Given that we would be immortal, which might be something different than being either dead or alive, how would we then come to value our ‘lives’? Would we still be able to appreciate the beauty of things? Would we even be capable of experiencing emotions in any sense? After all: how happy or sad would we feel if we would come to experience an event that we had experienced an infinite number of times already? Wouldn’t that downgrade the relative value of each moment of – let’s say – sadness? How sad would it for example be to experience your son dying, given that you are destined to experience countless instances of this ‘drama’ again? Or how joyful would it be to experience your son attending his first day of school, given that you’ve experienced this a thousand times already?
There is no life without death; and that not only goes for life in the biological sense of the word, but just as much in the emotional or experiential sense. The notion of value would be non-existent if we wouldn’t face death. Hence we can say that death is a beautiful invention of life. So let’s be grateful for its existence.
But what do you think?
Note: this article has been published at Shaun Rosenberg’s self improvement and motivation blog.