16 July 2013

Five Questions, Series 4 #1

Sorry, it's been too long since I posed the five questions of Series 4, and thus my answer the the first of the questions is long overdue. So here we go ...

Question 1: What happens after we die?

Well wouldn't we all like to know! However it seems to me that this is one thing we can, by definition, never know. That doesn't mean that all the reports of "near death experiences" are meaningless or imaginary; they may well not be. But clearly, despite appearances, the people experiencing them aren't actually dead, so they don't (and in my view never can) tell us what happens after we die.

As a scientist the reality seems to me to be summed up in the words of Genesis 3:19:
In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread, till thou return unto the ground; for out of it wast thou taken: for dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return.
and the Burial Service from the Book of Common Prayer:
Forasmuch as it hath pleased Almighty God of his great mercy to take unto himself the soul of our dear brother here departed, we therefore commit his body to the ground; earth to earth, ashes to ashes, dust to dust; in sure and certain hope of the Resurrection to eternal life ...
(Isn't that just so much nicer English than all this modern stuff?)

So yes, the scientist in me says that we disintegrate back into the environment for we are no more than a collection of chemicals: earth, dust and ashes.

However ... our thoughts can go on: as books, music, art, whatever. In that sense we may be dead but our brains are never buried, never lost, ever immortal.

And yet. And yet there remains that nagging little doubt somewhere deep inside which says that there is some form of reincarnation. Not in the Biblical sense of a Day of Judgement. More perhaps our "soul" (whatever that is) gets chopped up in some way and distributed (with bits of others?) to future beings. Who knows? We can likely never prove it. But it would explain a lot. And it would be a whole lot more fun than earth, dust and ashes.

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