We’ve come a long way in understanding how the human body works, but someday they will look at us and laugh. This is only the beginning of modern medicine. Just wait. We can now imagine a future where almost any body part might be recreated. But the brain….that’s the puzzle that keeps us all mortal.

Studies on the brain have taken some interesting turns in recent years. There used to be a strange kind of logic in the idea of freezing our brain until science could bring it back to life in a new body. Now we are imagining a future where we don’t save the brain, we duplicate it. Download it. Can our thoughts and memories exist in such a form that it can be recreated and backed up like a computer? Maybe. And if it can, what will this mean about who we are or what existence even is?

So let’s say I could at any time download my current operating system without compromising my personality, memories, or feelings. Some of you are horrified at the thought. Some of you are rolling your eyes. But I bet more than one of you are thinking, “Sure, why not?” The world changes every time we hit upon technology that meets a human desire. And immortality will always top the list of human desires. It is a driving factor for both science and religion.

If we were to conquer death, what would religion look like? Every generation thinks this is it. We are in the end times, and god is surely testing us. But what if that test becomes the choice of eternity on earth or eternity in heaven? Where does god fit into our lives if he can’t kill us or save us? Would Christians love their god enough, and would they have the faith to die in hopes that heaven would be better? They wouldn’t see their loved ones there. In fact, they aren’t really sure what heaven is. Right now they take it as the better option over hell or nothing at all.

You may believe that god will never allow humans to conquer death. Clearly he gives us free will to do what we want, but when we get out of hand he also likes to murder us and start over. If the earth were destroyed we would still die, and so there would be plenty of religious folks waiting for that. But most of us seek medical attention now to avoid dying, and this would be no different. It wouldn’t be as if Christians were making a choice to avoid heaven, any more than they would be making that choice now by agreeing to a heart transplant. Over time death would simply become less scary and fade into the background.

It is worthwhile for Christians to think about a world where we may never die. It gets at the heart of belief and what god’s role is in our world. Does every Christian truly love god, or do they believe for some other reason? Without death, what does a relationship with god really look like? Superstition is harder to let go of. It’s strange how the question “What will god do to me” can linger far longer in one’s mind than god himself. That might remain. But if no one is dying, would Christians think about heaven? And in time, would we overcome superstition completely?

 

3 thoughts on “Eternal Life on Heaven or Earth?

  1. I think that if we were able to ;back up our brains’ and live in a computer or something, many religious people would probably take that over a afterlife. Just like they visit a doctor instead of praying when they’re ill.
    Humans living in a biological, material form forever would have disastrous consequences regarding overpopulation, but if humans brains could be transferred to computer simulations, that could be very interesting, and people could live in an afterlife of their own choice.
    Who needs God? We can just get an afterlife ourselves! And that will probably be the complete downfall of religion – if it doesn’t fade away on its own before then.

  2. I don’t think we’ll ever truly overcome superstition. Whether it’s the notion of good luck charms (think of all the superstitions in sports players), (un)lucky days of the week/month, or whatever, I think we’re hardwired to this kind of irrational thinking.

    It’s an interesting notion to think what immortality might do to religion, though. I agree it would change it substantially, but I’m not sure it would get rid of it entirely. There are a number of religions that don’t have elaborate concepts of an afterlife, so I’m not sure it’s a required aspect for religion. Christianity has evolved greatly over 2,000 years–I think our immortality would just necessitate one more change.

    1. I agree, but I do wonder how much Christianity would change. Much of what Christians believe is wrapped up in the fear of death, although some are not even aware of it. I think membership would greatly decline. But yes, superstition would remain, and the focus would be more on what God can do for us here on earth. Because it’s always about what’s in it for us. Considering the percentage of unanswered prayer, would this be enough for most Christians?

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