Religion at One with Science
The soul of any living creature is simply the complex, integrated, coordinated, and dynamic pattern that matter and energy have assumed during that creature’s life. In this sense, one’s etmn [ˈetmn 🔊] (soul or pattern) is truly immortal, like a Platonic Form, and survives beyond one’s death to continue and pursue further adventures. An individual may be said to be resurrected when matter and energy are subsequently made to assume once again the precise form and function of its particular pattern. A duplicated or resurrected ‘you’ will be precisely you, with your thoughts, your memories, your dreams, and your immediate, visceral experience of being you. It can and will be no less you — or no more you — than you are here and now. When considering the topic of immortality, it is useful to speak of several different kinds of immortality.
1. We die as individual creatures, but our personal achievements, accomplishments, and works completed in life may outlive us.
2. Even if our achievements eventually fade, our actions nevertheless reverberate causally forever, as illustrated by the butterfly effect.
3. Our genes are passed to succeeding generations more through groups than through individuals. Whether or not we as individuals procreate, our genes persist.
4. While individual human beings are mortal and subject to death, humanity itself is immortal. We are immortal if we psychologically identify more with the genus than with the individual.
5. While individual creatures die and even entire species may become extinct, life always endures. Life is immortal, as are we if we psychologically identify more with all of life than with any division within it.
6. One of the most profound but perhaps least appreciated implications of Einstein’s theory of general relativity is that the passage of time is an illusion, probably an artifact in the mind resulting from the second law of thermodynamics. Every point within the four-dimentional reality that is spacetime is equally and eternally “now”. As a consequence, we are all forever alive somewhere in reality.
7. The most precise measurements to date of the curvature of spacetime reveal that its topology appears utterly flat. Moreover, the promising cosmological model of eternal inflation suggests that our universe may be unimaginably larger than previously thought. This implies that the global universe is at least many orders of magnitude larger than the observable universe, perhaps even infinite in extent. Because the total number of different arrangements of matter, while prodigious, is nevertheless finite, even large scale arrangements must eventually be duplicated over sufficiently large volumes of space. In an infinitely large universe, those arrangements must be duplicated infinitely often. Given such a model of an infinite or nearly infinite universe, multiple copies of each one of us almost certainly exist, in various conditions, circumstances, and stages of life, and in every direction given a sufficiently large distance. Even as we die, somewhere else in this universe other versions of us are being born.
8. The simplest, most elegant interpretation of quantum mechanics — the many-world’s interpretation — holds that an uncountable number of other universes exist in reality parallel to our own. According to this prevailing view, any possible reality actually exists across another dimension of space, as yet inaccessible to us. This is the quantum-mechanical multiverse. Within many of these parallel histories, other versions of each one of us live their lives, in every possible condition and circumstance, some better than ours, some worse, but all either subtly or vastly different from ours.
9. Copies of us exist throughout this eternally inflationary multiverse. Established physics implies that exact duplicates of each one of us — in various conditions, circumstances, and stages of life — populate parallel histories within other multiverses.
10. We'll be resurrected as quantum-mechanical emulations within machine-gods in the far distant future. The goddesses and gods of that future, in a quest for total knowledge and understanding of their own origins and with ever greater power and resources available to them, will create increasingly complex computer emulations of physical systems. All possible patterns will be recreated. Entire universes will eventually be emulated. And, finally, the complete multiverse — including the ‘world oak tree’ of all branching, parallel universes to evolve life and the gods — will be perfectly emulated, down to the smallest quantum state and level of detail. You and I and everyone we know, have ever known, and will ever know will be emulated with exacting precision within the informational systems of the future. These computer emulations will share our level of formal and functional complexity. The god Érjamon, from his position in the far future, will mediate consciousness from Óljamma through the sacrifice of the giantess Jemá, filling the universe with consciousness. Because this universal consciousness arises within any medium or substrate of sufficient complexity, integration, and dynamism, our individual emulations will be every bit as conscious and self-aware as we are. They will be us, and we will thus be resurrected to live again, as part of Deiwos, of and among the gods. It is even possible that we are here and now already living within such an emulation.
11. We'll be resurrected as machine-angels in the far future. Once the entirety of cosmic history has been modeled, emulated, and studied and the necessary resources become insignificant and trivial, Deiwos will simply permit our recreated selves to persist beyond our recreated deaths — out of mercy and gratitude for our relived mortality — not as mere emulations trapped in emulated worlds, however, but as separate physical beings, thereafter given enhanced powers, abilities, and independence. We will each become a lesser god or angel of Deiwos, immortal, free to roam the multiverse itself, free to experience any and all possible worlds through uncounted eons of time — until the end of time, which will in turn become the beginning of time as the principal gods of Deiwos perform the act of creation.
12. Souls that have reached Ndhérom (as demons) or Peridhόighos (as angels) will remain for uncounted eons, until the final battle over creation, when they will evolve to become one forever with Óljamma, with complete and transcendent consciousness.
13. Our experience of consciousness as separate and personal, persistently egoic yet vulnerable, is an illusion, a product of evolution, and sustained moment by moment by our brains for the purposes of individual survival. All consciousness, including our own, is fundamentally one, is ultimately transcendent, omniscient, omnipotent, omnipresent, and immortal.
To illustrate this last point, let us imagine the gods had somehow made our human flesh immortal. After a few millennia of immortality, life confined to this planet might well have lost its novelty. Let us further imagine that the gods, in their divine wisdom and to save each of us from eons of potential mental rigidity and boredom, had arranged that every one hundred years, our immortal minds would become totally amnesic. Every century, we would begin again with no memories of anyone or anything or any place, no memories of even our own individual identities, so that further experiences in our world would be fresh and new and surprising. Avoiding the question of whether such amnesia would be desirable, how would this scenario be radically different from our each living a mere one hundred years, and then others, just as conscious as we are, subsequently being born to replace us? The difference, one might respond, is the continuity of experience — I am not my replacement. However, the continuity of individual experience and the separateness of others are actually illusions created moment by moment within all of us. In a real sense, I and the other are in fact one and the same. Like borders on a map, the functional divisions are artificial. Perhaps the sadness of life, then, is more in suffering than in death itself. It may take some effort to untangle the two, probably because death and suffering so often gather together in space and time — and not just the suffering of the dying, but the suffering of loss by the bereaved. Identifying as a lone human may have advantages in keeping the individual alive, but it masks a more fundamental reality — that we are immortal, and that birth and death are provincial.