I’m not sure what made this pop into my head, but I thought it would be interesting to discuss what we would like to happen when/after we die. It’s a slightly different question from what you believe will happen, and the answers to those questions aren’t necessarily the same. For the sake of this discussion, let’s assume that none of us knows or can know what happens when humans die, and any one possibility is just as likely to be true as any other possibility. I’m interested here in the wanting rather than the believing.
I’m inclined to think that the common human desire for life not to end with death is one of the reasons why religion exists and has been ubiquitous throughout the world for a very long time. Even if there is one true, objectively accurate religion, if you look at the wide array of different religious belief systems that have existed throughout history, some of them are mutually exclusive (e.g. polytheistic vs. monotheistic), so it seems fairly certain that there are at least some people who have (or have had) religious beliefs that do not actually correspond to reality.
We can probably all agree, for example, that the Ancient Greeks didn’t get it right with their hypersexual pantheon. That’s who I’m referring to when I talk about religion existing to explain death – the people, whoever they might happen to be, that believe(d) something that isn’t true. And the explaining death part seems to be a common thread across the board with different religious faiths.
I feel like I might be the exception to the norm in my desire for life to end with death. As a soft atheist, I figure that when I die, it’s the same thing as when one of my guinea pigs dies – it’s just the end. But more importantly for the sake of this discussion, I’m good with life just ending. Scratch that, I’m more than just good with it; it’s what I actively want. I have no desire at all to stick around for eternity in any way, shape, or form. I want me, whatever me is, to end when the electrical activity in my brain stops. I want my body to be burned to transform me into heat and ash, and that’s the end of the story.
I already feel like my natural life is likely to be far longer than I want it to be. My family is ridiculously long-lived, and one of my grandmas is still alive and kicking at the ripe old age of 105. The idea that I might not even be halfway through my natural life is all kinds of repulsive to me. I don’t want to stick around for another 10 years, much less an eternity.
As I said, I’m probably rather unusual in my feelings on the matter. So now it’s over to you – regardless of what you believe is most likely, what would you most like to happen or feel most comfortable with happening when you die?