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Is there such a thing as an ideal afterlife?

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  • #16
    Originally posted by ASchaffer View Post

    What keeps you going if you think everything is meaningless in the end?
    I don't. I'm painting the position of a convinced nihilist.

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    • #17
      Originally posted by RomanJoe View Post

      Yes, but you can bemoan a meaningless existence. Again, I understand the skeptic's aversion to this mindset--"But there still is meaning! Look at the good we can still do in life! charity, scientific advancement, love! Shouldn't we still strive to make things better?" But again, what is the point in a world where our lives are not imbued with eschatological meaning, where everyone is to be annihilated, where the cosmos will eventually be void of life and in perpetual darkness? The saint and the mass murderer meet the same end, are subject to the same sentence: annihilation.

      Regardless of how we feel, there would still be the ontological truth that your grave marks the end. But, one might reply "Can't we still live on in thoughts of others? In the effects we have made in the world?" What does it matter? You are not there to witness the virtuous footprint you left on the world, and in a generation or two your effect will be diminished and forgotten by everyone else. Eventually no one will exist to care about your memory--no one will exist to care about anything. All progress in ethics, science, mathematics, philosophy, will cease. Mankind was spat into the world and in time he will fade out of it forever. The macroscopic fortuity of the universe is inescapable; we all shall vanish into non-existence, our eternal end. We built civilizations, religions, thought-systems, and they will all vanish too with no one to long for them, to remember them, to mourn their passing. The best we can do is remain apathetic about the whole game, to cohere to some social delusion that our lives are purposeful, or to end it and quicken the process of annihilation. We either slowly trudge our way towards non-existence or we face it immediately.
      I found a good way to conceptualize annihilation or oblivion at death is to think that everything (civilisations, all life, the universe etc.) ends there and then because as far as any individual is concerned this is what happens. Nothing continuing in any form beyond that point. Otherwise it felt like I was thinking about oblivion in theory but also assuming that things would continue in existence and in someway I would be able to experience or know about it.

      Thinking about life like this, a kind of span of time book-ended by infinite oblivion makes living really strange and bizarre and seems pretty unnatural.

      The older I get the more life seems brief and ephemeral and tragic in a deep way, there doesn't seem time for it to get stale. The existence of some kind of afterlife seems natural.

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      • #18
        Originally posted by FZM View Post

        I haven't read St. Gregory of Nyssa's Life of Moses, but the general idea with Theosis or deification is that we come to share and participate in God and in the life of the Holy Trinty, and this life is infinitely and inexhaustibly perfect; there is never an 'end point' to it.


        In the Orthodox tradition is also considered possible to experience Theosis in a temporary way while still in this life, if you are granted this kind of grace it would provide the best kind of understanding of what the afterlife could be like. I think in Catholicism the equivalent is being given direct experience of the Beatific Vision of God.
        Very interesting. Thanks for telling me about that, I'll have to check out that book.

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