Last weekend I discussed the possibility of an afterlife and offered to share eight wild and crazy notions about it. My ideas look nothing like the religious heaven, do not include god, and are not exclusive to one group of people. Remember, this is not science yet, but it is science fiction! (And who doesn’t like that?) For those who enjoy pondering possibilities, I have included links for further investigation. In this post I’m imagining possibilities, not touting spiritual truths. I gave a crafty name to each one of my “theories,” but it was just for ease of reference. At the very least, I hope you’ll have fun stretching your imagination and inspiring yourself to think beyond what we know. With no further ado, here are my eight atheistic afterlife scenarios:
Dream within a Dream: Much like we awaken from our night dreams into our “real life” maybe death is an awakening into our “real life.” It’s possible that what we believe to be reality is merely an incredibly complex “dream” of our own incredibly complex beings. If this theory pans out, it might mean that some of the people in our dream will be waiting for us in real life, and some of the people here might be figments of our imagination. (This viewpoint is explored in Buddhism, as well as in one of my favorite trilogies, The Matrix.) https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dream_argument
Worlds within Worlds: Just like there is an entire world existing and living at a microscopic level, it’s conceivable that we are living and breathing at a cosmically “microscopic level.” As millions of generations evolve from micro into the macro while conserving their atoms, cells, energy, the basic building blocks of life, maybe we too will evolve into super life forms at the macro level. While we would have no distinct memories of our individual lives at the lower level, our genes would harbor memories and experiences, each lower life enhancing the essence of who we will become in eternity. Check out this amazing article that suggests our genes do in fact harbor basic memories, making them akin in some distant way, to a “biological soul.” https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/07/140731145845.htm
A Mere Game: As some of us immerse ourselves for hours in digital worlds that involve complex storylines, trauma, and even death, maybe this world is an elaborate game designed by us (as eternal beings) to pass the time. It’s possible that we “spawn” into different time periods or places, play for what seems like forever, until we “die.” Then we go back to the “real world” for as long as we like, until we are ready to play again. We could go back to any point in time, be any character, and our avatars would be none the wiser. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Simulation_hypothesis
Biologically Part of a Greater Whole: Just as matter and energy are never destroyed, we all form part of everything that is. Just like the cells that make us up are born and die while the whole continues to live, I believe it’s possible that we can be born and die, while the greater “whole” continues on. The smaller elements that make us who we are have some primitive form of needs, wants, and survival instincts, working together to keep the larger body alive. And clearly the larger body has a more defined concept of self, needs, wants, desires, survival instincts. So it is conceivable that the state of consciousness, after our body dies here, will be exponentially greater. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Self-preservation
Multidimensional Universe: This is the very abstract idea that several universes exist, and we are actually alive on more than one of them. I imagine this could mean that eternity would involve living the same life many times, perhaps with slight variances in each universe. It could also mean that what I consider myself to be is a projection or a creation of my own from a more complex universe (for entertainment perhaps, or education) and I could live simultaneously on each level (allowing for about eight hours of downtime every day in each level of existence, perhaps?) This hypothesis could explain prophecies and premonitions (the feeling that you “know” something is about to happen) http://divine-cosmos.net/planes-of-reality.htm
Parallel Lives: This is another complex concept that suggests there are several dimensions of existence running simultaneously and parallel to one another. In science, this theory is interwoven with the multiverse concept. As an afterlife concept, I think parallel lives would be close to the theory of quantum mechanics, where there are multiple possibilities occurring simultaneously. At times, they might synchronize, like two turntables. Then you might experience a strange sensation, like déjà vu, where an event you are currently experiencing feels like a memory. https://www.livescience.com/48806-parallel-worlds-quantum-mechanics-theory.html
Characters in a Book: Like protagonists that live in the pages of a story, we feel like we have a history and a future that extends beyond what the actual story entails. But the characters in a book simply appear when their first page is written, and the rest is assumed. What’s more, the author could start and stop the story many times, go back and change things even, and the characters would be none the wiser. It’s possible that we are the authors of our own stories. Our real selves reside safely outside, in an eternal universe, and we write new universes on pieces of cosmic paper. http://www.bbc.com/earth/story/20160318-why-there-might-be-many-more-universes-besides-our-own
Cyclical Universe: Beginning with a big bang, and ever extending outward until it collapses upon itself and starts over with another big bang, the universe repeats its existence infinitely. In each of these cycles, billions upon billions of years long, we exist in every form we’ve ever been, from energy, to single-celled organisms, and (since this is a repeating cycle) eventually to the individuals we are today. Nothing changes in the cycle, since it runs in complete clockwork precision, infinitely. This could explain how you long to be with someone that hasn’t come into your life yet, or why we sense we will see our loved ones again. Remember, this current life is just one of the many we would experience biologically, and each cycle would be separated by so many billions of years as to almost feel infinite. https://www.theepochtimes.com/is-the-universe-dying-will-it-be-reborn_516542.html
And there you have them, my eight thoughts on the possibility of an afterlife, each rooted in science, nature and the universe, not god. If anyone has a hypothesis of their own, whether plausible or just for fun, I’d love to read it in the comments below! And just so you know, next week I’ll be back on Earth, pondering more realistic matters…….
Like Santa Claus.