What happens when you die? Well, it depends…
For the huge majority of us this is an event orchestrated and directed by a religion, primarily Christianity and Islam, although other religions have similar customs and traditions. The essence of religious involvement in death concerns preparation and aid for the deceased to enter an afterlife in the presence of a god or gods in a place of peace and happiness, i.e. heaven. Or… if you do not believe and follow the tenets of the “true" religion, you will experience an eternal existence suffering the agonies of hell. Prayer and supplication are an integral part of religious funeral services designed to influence and smooth your way through the acceptance of the god that determines your ultimate destination. This is the way it has always been, is now, and probably will be for the foreseeable future. Notable exceptions are mass burials of unidentified human beings in the event of a great natural disaster and in the wake of war, which are usually conducted with some reverence; and those killed in mass that are considered as less than human, of inferior races, or as threats to authority, or as chattel of the devil, those of unholy religions. Death is certain, but a pleasant life and a painless death are not. Typically, however, your death and disposal of your remains is determined by three elements of your culture.
1/ The current cultural mores of your religion
2/ The current societal rules and regulations, or lack thereof, which depends on the state of society
3/ The current technology for dealing with and disposing of the deceased human body
But when we die, we are gone, we exit off the stage of life; and despite what our religions teach, there is no evidence of an afterlife, and the supernatural occurrence of a great war between the forces of heaven and hell, and the resurrection of a perfect physical body that lives forever in a perfect world stems from only ancient wishful imagination. The history of our existence survives for a time in the dusty archives of recorded data and now in the cryptic and fragile digital records of our modern cyber world; and the physical essence of our existence, our unique genetic code, the specific molecular structure of DNA that is the pattern of our physical and mental structure, is discarded to the decay and destruction of burial or consumption in the flames of cremation. Only a fragile living memory of our life and who we were remains, for a short time within those that knew us. What we were, what we know of ourselves, the history or our lives, our potential, our talents, our dreams, and what we would tell those who will form the line of our descendants is forever lost. After death our genetic code deteriorates and reenters the biological dance of the elements, and our individual history is lost in the shadows of time and the instability of our cultures.
But now, as never before in human history, it is within our power to preserve for the future our genetic code, the physical essence of our being, and the history of our individual existence, the essence of who we were, for a future that may be beyond our imagination. We can do this individually or collectively. I wrote a short book on this topic, “Preserving the Essence of Human Life", that is available on the internet. The response has been interesting. Some would have no part in preservation of who they were, and are interested in only making the best of this current life, others are of the opinion that in consideration of the future after death, only religion matters, and others find the concept intriguing for a variety of reasons.
What happens when you die? Well, it depends…
Don’t people do this already through the process of coitus?
If you’ve ever been knocked out cold. You’ll know what death is like, exept that you never come to. Death is most likely exactly like it was before we were born. there is no reason to think it will be any different.
As Mark Twain said:
“I do not fear death. I had been dead for billions and billions of years before I was born, and had not suffered the slightest inconvenience from it."
Don’t people do this already through the process of coitus?
You’ve got to be kidding, right? The successful biological outcome of human coitus is the birth of a human child and the biological code that developed that child in the womb and throughout its life is a combination, half and half, of the biological codes of the mother and the father. The child is a unique human being and although mental and physical traits of both parents are present in the child are present in this new human being, it is in no way a replicate of either. Not even Jesus, if he existed, was a clone of Mary since if he was constructed of only her biological genetic material he would have been a she. However it is possible in this amazing age of bio technical science to actually created a biological duplicate of an individual vertebrae through the process of cloning. And if humanity is able to direct and control its minions into a future where compatibility exists between its animal instincts and intellectual capability, the future can be beyond amazing.
However, when I look at what religion with its insistence and dependence on false belief in a supernatural origin, purpose, and direction for humanity, has done to the development and potential future of human society, I see nothing but disaster ahead for humanity. The human population explosion fueled by technological innovation, extensive environmental destruction fueled by pollution, and extreme exploitation of Earth’s natural resources, does not inspire confidence in our future.
Instead of a supernatural pie in a supernatural future sky, there should be something real after death that can memorialize and preserve for the future, the physical essence and the life history of each individual human being. Something like this would not take the place of religion but it could possibly provide a rationale, along with the march of scientific knowledge, that would diminish our current wild charge off the cliff of the prophesy of a supernatural apoplectic end to our biologically based existence. For the first time in the history of humanity it is now in our capability to do so. I am probably wildly naive to even have such a thought, but I do, and I’m sure others do also, and so I will express it as I can.
You’ve got to be kidding, right? The successful biological outcome of human coitus is the birth of a human child and the biological code that developed that child in the womb and throughout its life is a combination, half and half, of the biological codes of the mother and the father.No I wasn't kidding. What's wrong with the process of carrying on your genetic code through mating? If you're talking about immortality here I have to ask if you're kidding. Nobody wants to make copies of people. Nobody wants to make another copy of Ralph, or Judy walking around. "Hey look, its just like the old Ralph!!" Nobody gives a crap. I would definitely be against it. I'd be against making another copy of Einstein..let alone you, Martin!
“What’s wrong with the process of carrying on your genetic code through
Well, VYAZMA, there’s nothing wrong with it, it just can never happen. If you read what I had posted you would know that each individual has a unique genetic code that forms, in concert with the environment that the individual occupies, the physical and mental characteristics of that unique individual. The only exception is with identical twins or triplets that form when the a human egg completed divides at first and/or second cleavage and two or more embryos form from a single egg. And because of reduction division of the chromosomes. even the genetic complement in the sperm and eggs from identical twins is not identical in every egg or every sperm. So your genetic code, except for identical siblings, is only yours and it lives and dies with you. It is only a variable half of your genetic code that carries through to your progeny. And to be clear on this, the variables in every human life, even those with identical genetics and similar environments, are so great that the “same" individual could never result from replication of a genetic code. There would be similarities of course, but in individual human being is a composite of a genetic inheritance, various external influences from the womb through development, physical and cultural environment, and random chance during life. Thus Einstein, or you, in another time, another culture, another place would be a different expression of the genetic code that formed you. Some, like you, find the concept impossible, or horrific, ridiculous, and/or “against the laws of the universe", while others might find the possibility intriguing, or at least feel that leaving a physical specimen of their genetic code and a history of their life and times for those that follow them is a worthwhile endeavor.
Another correction in your post that I would suggest is that nobody speaks for everybody, you can just express your own opinion, which you have every right to do. Thus you should change the “nobody" to just plane “I".
Apparently the technology to store one’s genes for posterity has been readily available, for awhile.
for just $399.
But if the technology ever exists to make that genetic material grow into a new being, it won’t be “you”. It would share a lot of your characteristics, but it would not be “you”. It would be another individual with completely different life experiences.
Apparently the technology to store one's genes for posterity has been readily available, for awhile. http://www.dailyfinance.com/2010/06/01/store-your-dna-for-future-generations-is-it-worth-399/ for just $399. But if the technology ever exists to make that genetic material grow into a new being, it won't be "you". It would share a lot of your characteristics, but it would not be "you". It would be another individual with completely different life experiences.It would be more like an identical twin, separated by the number of years it would take to make it happen at which time you would probably be dead. Ifanyone is that interested in having his genes around for "posterity" and doesn't mind paying through the nose for the privilege, even though he'll never see the results--if there are any successful results, he should do it. There are worse things to do with your money. Keep in mind, though, it might take millions of dollars. I suspect someone like Donald Trump might have the money--and the egomania--to try this. So the world will be "blessed" with many Donald Trumps running around being asses. AAARRRGGGHHH!
And to be clear on this, the variables in every human life, even those with identical genetics and similar environments, are so great that the “same" individual could never result from replication of a genetic code. There would be similarities of course, but in individual human being is a composite of a genetic inheritance, various external influences from the womb through development, physical and cultural environment, and random chance during life. Thus Einstein, or you, in another time, another culture, another place would be a different expression of the genetic code that formed you. Some, like you, find the concept impossible, or horrific, ridiculous, and/or “against the laws of the universe", while others might find the possibility intriguing, or at least feel that leaving a physical specimen of their genetic code and a history of their life and times for those that follow them is a worthwhile endeavor.Hi Martin. That's wonderful. So what are you talking about? Let's be clear, although I read it fast and skimmed it, I saw that your initial post had ideas of mortality, religion, carrying on into the future, afterlifes, and such huge disappointments. Interspersed in that you brought up DNA and fabulous new technology. But interestingly, nowhere above do you specifically state what the heck you're talking about. “Preserving the Essence of Human Life"? You mean preserving the "essence" of an individual's life? Notice essence is in quotes? The essence of human life is preserved through pair-bonding and evolution.
TimB, Thanks for the information on the Swiss DNA bank. I was not aware of the extent of actual activity in this area at this point. I had the idea for a program to preserve an individuals DNA back in the late 70s and wrote a self published book on it in 1981 titled “Project Phoenix". Some people that read it were quite impressed, but I was very busy, did nothing to publicize it and it faded into obscurity . But the idea always hung around in some obscure corner of my mind and in 2014 I revised it, added a chapter on human evolution, and put it out as an ebook under the title “Preserving of the Essence of Human Life". Again I didn’t publicize it, just put it out there. I don’t want to make a business out of it, I just wanted to put the idea and the rationale for it out there and see where it goes. The book is free on Smashwords and 99 cents on Amazon (they won’t let me put a book on Kindle for free…)
“But if the technology ever exists to make that genetic material grow into a new being, it won’t be “you". It would share a lot of your characteristics, but it would not be “you". It would be another individual with completely different life experiences."
I addressed this point in length in the book. Here are two paragraphs from the chapter, Thoughts on Humanity.
“Preservation of the genetic code also creates the possibility that it can be reactivated at some future time and the human being programmed by that code can exist again. Of course, if such a recreation does eventually take place, it would not be exactly the same individual that existed before. There would probably be no continuity of consciousness between the current and future embodiments of the genetic code. However, the importance of that continuity of existence may not be as great as one would suppose. The present, the current consciousness, that flows through all life stages would exist again, and we live in the present, not in the past and not in the future. For example, a child of 15 relocated from a small Asian village to a large western city undergoes many changes in a period of 40 years, and the resulting adult at age 55 is not the same in mind and body as he was 40 years before. Nor is he the same individual he would have become had he remained in the village of his birth.
The person that exists today, the “you” that is present now would not be extended into the future, unless great advances are made in recording and preserving the memory elements of the brain within your lifetime. The future personality would be “you”, again; in a new culture, with a new consciousness and with the knowledge of who and what you were in a previous existence. The consciousness created once by a particular genetic code would exist again, as molded by a different experiential history, and the exhilaration and wonder of existence would be enhanced by the knowledge of a prior life.“
Of course the basic concept, the value of preserving genetic codes and life histories of those alive in this time for what ever the future may bring is a flight of fancy, actually a sort of science fiction. But then to a remarkable degree, science fiction has shaped the structure of our modern technology. Airplanes, for example, were once science fiction. Whoever would have seriously advanced the concept only 150 years ago that millions of people all around the would travel every day in huge flying machines to destinations over oceans and continents? The future is formed by the ideas of the present.
And speaking of science fiction, these are two points from the premise.
“9. There will be a need, when the stars are open to man, for the free and aggressive spirit of the individuals that exist in this time to create the populations of far flung human colonies. Earth will never, barring great catastrophe, have the space to be able to integrate individuals from past populations into an advanced and stable society. However, when the worlds of other stars are available to mankind, Earth’s populations may not be able to fulfill the demands of colonization of new worlds.
10. We should have the technology and science at that future time to recreate the individuals of this and subsequent generations from preserved genetic codes and give them life in new and expanding cultures; and if this occurs, they will be able to carry the knowledge of who they were at some past time into their new existence. The genetic codes of those of us alive today carry the diversity and genius of the individuals that created our modern society from raw natural resources and demonstrated the vast potential of humanity. In fact, the preserved genetic codes of individuals of the present may be one of the greatest of human resources to future civilizations."
Incidentally, the Swiss DNA Bank may be history, I see where their website is up for sale. But there are other sites that offer the same services. One point in favor of preservation of genetic codes, life histories, and outlooks on life is to look at the current end of life practices in human societies. They are still vestiges of ancient traditions, bury and/or burn, leave only a carved stone and a few lines in a lost official document. It seems like we could do better in this developing age of science and technology.
VYAZMA, thanks for your recent post. I think the above response to TimB may answer your questions. If not I’ll be glad to address them again.
The only practicality I see in this “Bank” is for the desires of eccentric, wealthy people.
You readily admit that the actual person can never be recreated. That sums it up.
Like I said there isn’t a collective desire to have another copy of Ralph or Judy walking around again. There’s absolutely no impetus for this.
And you’re couching this in terms of immortality, religion, old traditions etc…
It seems like you wanna market this. Go for it. You’ll undoubtedly get takers.
Yes, you are trying to sell immortality.
And that could be in the future. But that is talking about changing a complete framework of humanity.
The current framework works perfectly well, without the need for technology or external systems.
That’s why you couch this in terms of humanity. But it’s not about humanity, it’s about an individual’s desire to live forever.
Otherwise all mating will stop, and we will just keep replicating the same humans over and over again.
Or is it just a privileged thing for people who can afford it…kind of like a future ruling class?
There may well be “takers" in such a program, and there will be (are) many who think as do you. It doesn’t really matter to me what people think of this concept, I have no interest or desire in “marketing" it. And I certainly don’t think that there is any possibly of the replication of the same human genetic codes over and over again. I do think that there may be a need for the genetic material that composes humanity today at some time in the far future, perhaps even the character traits dependent on genetics that have brought us to this point in our history, and if the genetic material of present day humans is not preserved then it would not available in the future. Also ancestral genetic material available to humans in the future would be valuable in tracing ancestry as well as the history and development of genetic disease. We don’t know what the future will bring, what humanity will do with their natural and human resources (hopefully they will have resources), but we should not be culturally presumptive and try to force human development onto the paths, religious or otherwise, that we feel should be their destiny. The operative word here is “force", for example, it is good to provide your children with direction and values, but greatly destructive to force them (and in some situations with some people that is possible) to believe and obey the same tenets that formed you and your life.
I’m not sure why you feel that my motivations for writing about this possibility are venal or self serving, I assure you that they are not. I feel that the human mind should be free of prejudice and judgement, and free to explore the entire universe of thought and expression that science, knowledge, history, and imagination can make open to humanity. The only caveat that could/should be applied actually comes from Christianity, namely the Golden Rule, Do onto others as you would have them do onto you. And that includes belittlement and psychological insult as well as physical and economic insult. Correction should be instructive and not destructive.
Are you talking about saving a bank of “humanity” for future contingency, or saving one human’s DNA for quasi immortality?
Actually I’m not the right guy for this conversation really.
Humanity is not precious to me. Not even a little.
Frankly saving DNA for this purpose is like a vial of Germ Warfare in some gov’t lab somewhere.
Humanity is a virus on this planet. It needs to be cut waaaay back.
There is no potential in humanity. We are an infestation.
And if in the future there were no humans, but a regenerated Earth with all the other forms of life, then this conversation we are having now means nothing.
The sadist thing, AYAZMA, is not that you have a dismal outlook on humanity, the sadist thing is that you have a salient point. We have, and are, trashing our planet with overpopulation, technological expansion with concern but relatively little correction of the consequences of extensive physical and chemical pollution, rapid climate change, and obscene warfare, based in large part, in one way or another, on conflicting supernatural beliefs. If we are to survive as a human civilization on this Earth we must replace the mantra of growth and development, the gospel of our worldwide economy, with a common sense approach of sustainability and stability. Unless we learn to live within the biological and ecological means that Earth can provide on a sustainable basis, ecological collapse is inevitable and a seventh mass extinction, probably including humanity, will change the change the expression of life on our Earth once again, and this time it will no longer be our Earth.
But what if your wish came true and humanity became extinct… That reminds me of the deep philosophical question, “If a tree falls in a forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound?” There are many ways to look at that question. Of course in the physical world, the event would create sound waves, that’s a physical reality. But it introduces the question of the importance of sentient life to identify, recognize, analyze, and perhaps most important, be able to enjoy and appreciate reality. So does reality actually exist if all life is just mindless biological activity? Is it cosmically important for a bunny rabbit to be more than food for a wolf, for it to be an agent that depicts and teaches a love of life to small child? Does human life give meaning to existence? Obviously existence of something material is independent of human perception. A human may be of the opinion that some object, life form, or person does not exist if one is not aware of its actual existence, but that is totally independent of the object in question. The rabbit knows the wolf exists and that is a primary concern, but it cares nothing about whether or not humans exist if they don’t enter its sphere of existence.
In my opinion, being a privileged human being, as are most of us in this country, I’m glad that I exist and I hope that humanity gets it act together and creates a world where all (or most) humans can live a life where life is a pleasant experience and appreciation and care of all human life and the life of our world is respected and conserved. I do not harbor hatred toward other humans or demand that they obey the artificial rules of a particular religious culture. But we are sentient animals with all the emotional and behavioral baggage of our primitive biological past, and that may well create a detour on our path toward coexistence with the natural laws of the universe. I just hope that it is only a brief detour.
The sadist thing, VYAZMA, is not that you have a dismal outlook on humanity, the sadist thing is that you have a salient point.I corrected the spelling of my handle there. Also I'm not a sadist. I'm joking!! :-) Saddest. You mean saddest. I don't care that your spelling is off. I wouldn't ordinarily correct anyone...but the sadist bit was funny. Honestly, I'm not spell correcting you to get some intellectual angle on you Martin. :-) Now back to this.....Importance. You used that word a couple of times above. It could be taken a few ways. But depending on how you are using it, it could have some debatable contexts. Just for the fun of it debates. The question is, is it important we are sentient to analyze and appreciate etc..? Important in one interpretation could mean that there is another possibility. Like, it is important that you remove your shoes. Or important could just mean it is a profound concept in and of itself...this sentience. Like you asked, "does human life give meaning to existence?" That's an "important question. Important meaning weighty. Except to me that is not an important question. Do humans give meaning to existence? Oh yes, lot's of humans do. As in, humans look for and ascribe meaning to existence. Some don't...like myself. But does human life give meaning to existence? As in, there are humans, therefore there must be meaning in existence. First off what meaning could any existence have? Here's a meaning....Mittens. They have an existence, and they have meaning. They keep hands warm.
But what if your wish came true and humanity became extinct... Martin MoeI can see how you would say that given my response above...totally. It's not. That's not my wish. So really, I'm revealing a wish for potential by taking a cynical point of view. :lol: But my own reasoning tells me it's not there. The potential. No.
Darn, Vyazma, you beat me to the punch on commenting on the saddest sadist. But to the actual discussion, assigning meaning is something we humans do. (Mittens, AFAIK, do not assign meaning.) Should we assign meaning to our existence? Yeah. Why? Because we can. Because it tends to make life better.
Darn, Vyazma, you beat me to the punch on commenting on the saddest sadist. But to the actual discussion, assigning meaning is something we humans do. (Mittens, AFAIK, do not assign meaning.) Should we assign meaning to our existence? Yeah. Why? Because we can. Because it tends to make life better.What meaning do you assign to our existence Tim?
Darn, Vyazma, you beat me to the punch on commenting on the saddest sadist. But to the actual discussion, assigning meaning is something we humans do. (Mittens, AFAIK, do not assign meaning.) Should we assign meaning to our existence? Yeah. Why? Because we can. Because it tends to make life better.What meaning do you assign to our existence Tim? When I said "our", I meant that collectively, it is a positive, generally speaking, that individuals assign meaning to their existence, and that this often aligns with the meaning that others assign to their existence. So it is a very personal question that you pose. And I mean that literally. I don't decry those who choose to assign no meaning to their own existence, in the grand sense, beyond their own individual day to day concerns. Because, ultimately, I consider it to be their life. However, I do hold in esteem those who assign a meaning, for their own individual life, that involves doing and advocating things that support others, now and in the future. Because, ultimately, as inherently interconnected social creatures, that tends to be better, I think, for each of us individually.
Do humans give meaning to existence? Oh yes, lot's of humans do. As in, humans look for and ascribe meaning to existence. Some don't...like myself.Yup.