How did you feel in, say, the year 1810? Whatever your answer, that’s exactly what it feels like to be dead. There, I’ve solved the mystery of the afterlife.
I hate to break it to you, dear reader, but you have been dead for the past 13.5 billion years. It was only very recently that you became alive. Throughout the vast majority of all time, throughout all of the vast history of the universe, all of us, you, I, everyone, has been dead.
Other than “What is the meaning of life?”, the mystery of death is considered to be the greatest unknown question. In fact, a lot of people assume that this question simply can never be answered because nobody can come back from the dead. But people come back from the dead all the time!
I submit to you that “dead before life” is the same as “dead after life”. Why shouldn’t it be? Every time someone is born, they go from being dead to being alive. All of us know exactly what it’s like to be dead, because we each have experienced it.
It feels like nothing.
It feels the same as being unconscious, or being asleep, or being put under the gas to have your tonsils removed. Without consciousness, you cannot feel. The eight hours you spend sleeping at night passes in an instant, just like the previous 13.5 billion years, and just like the billions of years that will come after you die. It’s all the same; it’s all nothing.
Now, on the sliding scale of certainty, I am far from being 100% certain, but it makes a lot of sense. I just don’t like how people treat death as this evidence-less void of unknowability, and that we are each free to make up whatever we want to believe about the afterlife. Surely, there is a plethora of evidence as mentioned above that death really is “nothing”, certainly more evidence than there is for it being filled with 72 virgins, or for Heaven up in the white clouds.
I’m about 95% certain that death is “nothing”, but let’s entertain the possibility that there is “something” after death: what would that something be? In my opinion, it would in all probability be reincarnation. There is one key bit of evidence that really brings reincarnation into the realm of possibility: incarnation!
That is, we were all obviously incarnated or we wouldn’t be here. Birth = incarnation. This is known as, “If it happened before, it can happen again,” and is the opposite of, “Lightning never strikes twice.” I find this argument to be very compelling, and it can be applied to many other questions. For example:
- Are there aliens out there? I wouldn’t rule it out, because clearly the creation of life is possible and has happened before here on Earth billions of years ago. It seems reasonable that life could happen again on some alien world.
- Is time travel possible? Well, time traveling forward is certainly possible, and at different speeds, so I wouldn’t completely rule out the possibility of making time go backwards.
In much the same vein, my incarnation has happened before, so it seems at least possible that it could happen again. Contrast the evidence for reincarnation with the evidence for ghosts, Heaven, etc., of which there is none.
Obviously, this is a weak argument for reincarnation, I’m not saying otherwise, I’m just saying that it brings it within the realm of possibility. To reiterate: we KNOW that incarnation is possible, at least the first time, and is the first time so much easier to understand than the second? Imagine trying to explain some of the other “firsts”:
- There was nothing, then there was a big bang, and then there was a universe! Um, what?
- There was nothing, then there was abiogenesis, then there was life! Um, what?
- (There was nothing, then God, who existed even though there was nothing, created stuff! Um, what?)
My point is, we accept things like the Big Bang and abiogenesis not because they make sense or are easily explained, but because they obviously HAPPENED. The whole “but it happened” argument is mother nature’s way of slapping you in the face with ultimate evidence that cannot be denied. Incarnation, the idea that a new life can be born, sounds ridiculously unlikely to me, but it happens. So, why not reincarnation?
Why not, indeed. Reincarnation raises a boatload of problems. First, where does the “soul” go in the interim between death and reincarnation? How does it get from one body to the next? What is a soul, anyway? Are there “new” souls, or is everyone reincarnated from “old” souls, and in that case where did the original souls come from? If I was reincarnated, why don’t I remember my previous life, and if we don’t remember, in what sense were we reincarnated at all?
It’s because of all these unanswered questions that I feel reincarnation is extremely unlikely. My other theory, the theory that death is “nothing” and that there is no soul, easily avoids all of these questions and explains everything. To sum it up, I’d give “nothing” a 95% chance of being what really happens, reincarnation a 1% chance, and the other 4% to various other possibilities I haven’t discussed or thought about.