Jan 222014

bladerunner-royI know there are people out there who don’t believe in an afterlife, and who don’t believe that human immortality is possible even in principle. I also know that some of them have children. I don’t understand them.

In a way, yes, I get it. I understand the will to live, and hormonal urges and biological drives. But… how could anyone who thinks all life must die make a deliberate choice to do that?

I think human (or post-human) immortality is possible. I am grateful to the billions of ancestors who came before me that helped to make this possible. Those who struggled and suffered through life, and reproduced, and died with no chance for limitless life of their own, so that some day in the far future someone else could live. They paid the ultimate price for someone they’ll never meet. Our species as a whole has been paying this long price for uncounted centuries.

I hope to see these advances, to maybe be one of the age-less. But if I am not, at least I believe that my sacrifice will lead to our descendants finally achieving this, and hopefully some of them will think of us ancients now and then.

But to believe that all of this is for nothing? That no matter what, all people must die, all things must fade, and the only purpose to life is to reproduce so that endless generations afterward can also reproduce and die? It’s a horror story. It almost feels like the mentality of a virus. I would rather not contribute to that.

  4 Responses to “The Long Price”

  1. I’m similar to you in hoping that we might one day overcome death. I hope we somehow manage to achieve a future like that in Three Worlds Collide (I might also be ok with a singularity but the idea of that is kinda scary)

    Regardless, my only issue with immortality is that if the universe isn’t infinite then there must be some limit.

  2. Are you happy right now? Maybe not this exact moment (especially if you’ve mispredicted where this comment will go), but in general, I’m pretty sure you enjoy life and find it worth living. 100 years is still more than 0 years, so it seems like you should be glad that you’re alive even if you are one of the unlucky few mortals. In fact, your life is worth living even if nobody ever achieves immortality. Even on the off chance immortality (or a multi-billion-year lifespan depending on physical limits) is not possible, you should still be glad to be alive and glad for the people in the future who have even better and more-worth-living lives.

    Of course, I’m still hoping for immortality or at least a few billion years. But failing that, I’m much happier with my 70-100 years than I would be with 45 or 0.

    • Yeah, I strongly agree with that you’re saying there. I wan’t thinking about that part of the post but yeah, it does seem strange to say that unless this is all building to something eternal it isn’t worthwhile. It sounds a lot like arguments some religious people make.

    • Your point is well taken, and it’s a common rebuttal to deathists, so I am technically familiar with it. :) For the most part I am happy, and I know I should be happy for the people who will live. Just the prospect of unavoidable eternal death for everyone is such a downer. I’ve been having an existential-crisis sort of a week, so I’ve been slightly gloomier than usual. Thank you for pointing that out again.

      And yeah, whenever I say immortality I mean “Until the practical heat death of the universe”

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