I’m an atheist. I don’t think it’s the most interesting thing about me, it isn’t something I need tattooed on my forehead, I have other beliefs that would seem to annoy people who disagree with me far more. None of these things would have been true a decade ago, when I was beating people over the head with “The God Delusion”, but you live, learn, and become a determinist. That is a good book though, I should probably read it again.
At any rate, as an atheist, I find the idea of heaven and hell to be laughable. How convenient! Scared of death? Don’t worry! You can’t die, ever. But, if you follow my rules, you live forever in paradise, if you don’t though, just fyi, you burn in hell.
The whole idea of infinite existence is exhausting in either situation, who has the energy for that? If there is a heaven, it’d be punctuated life times in various enjoyable situations. It’d need to have context in order for the joy to be experienced though, otherwise you have the gambler in that Twilight Zone episode where he always wins vibe going on.
That scenario is actually in line with the machinations behind my own secret desire for life after death. This variety of the afterlife, essentially repetitions with variation of the kind of life I lead now seems possible without divine intervention, via two physically possible scenarios. One is that the universe contracts and expands repeatedly, and does so with slight variations. Infinite iterations of the universe lead to a great number of universes in which you exist in some form or another. Life after death!
Another is what is called the coke bottle theory, or I think it’s called that. I think Brian Greene called it that. At any rate, what it comes down to is that in a given area of space there will only be so much material. Too much and it’ll form a black hole, too little and it will disperse to other areas. Given that there can only be so much material, it can only take so many forms. Given enough space and time, those forms will repeat. So, some of those forms will include me sitting at this computer drinking instant coffee because the goddamn jug part of our french press keeps breaking and you can’t just buy the jug part you have to buy a whole new french press and now I’ve got multiple presses and no jugs. Someday I’ll die, but the universe will repeat that french press-less form of me at the computer and presto, life after death!
It’s baloney. One, the universe isn’t contracting, and shows no signs of ever doing so, and if it doesn’t contract it can’t expand. This is the only universe we get, so don’t litter! Even if it did, and in the coke bottle theory of the afterlife, the best you could hope for is that the universe construct an exact replica of yourself, right down to the genetic code. In order for that to be “you” though, you’d have to have some continuity of consciousness, that replication would have to somehow cause you to come online again, which it wouldn’t, because if it did then identical twins would be experiencing each other’s lives, and, as far as I know, they don’t.
So, no afterlife. Which is fine, really. You get to be alive! What crazy universe is this that the dirt stands up and looks at itself? Almost too good to be true. It also alleviates any and all concerns of alternative timelines. There are none. Every choice you’ve ever made is the only choice you will ever make in that exact situation, there is never going to be a do over. So get over it already!
Unless of course this is all just a video game, and maybe I’ve got another guy after this one!