Free Immortality for Everyone!

“What do you suppose happens after you die?"

This is a question that atheists are frequently asked when they reveal to their God-fearing friends that they aren't believers. Alas, all too often the atheist responds in a rather harsh way:  “My body rots and that's it!”

This usually has the desired effect, which is to shock the believer. There's only one problem with that statement: it's wrong.

Oh, the body does rot, but that's certainly not “it”. Everybody (and everything) who has ever lived is immortal, after a fashion.

Consider this: while you're alive you can't help but affect other things. It might be a minimal effect, such as moving your tiny gravitational attraction from one place to another. Over time this adds up, thanks to what is called The Butterfly Effect. On the other hand, you will sometimes have a much more obvious or even multiplicative effect. Imagine how much you change if, for example, you encourage somebody at a bleak time in their life so that they don't commit suicide.

Not everybody saves a life like that (or knows that they did) but regardless how you live your life, the effects will cause other effects, which in turn will have other effects. And so on, at least until the end of this universe.

That might not sound like a good deal to people who want to live forever, whatever that means — and it actually sounds a bit frightening to me — but non-believers see things differently. They tend to emphasize living in the here and now, not the great hereafter.

But what of the big picture? Well, non-believers like me are awestruck that the very atoms in our bodies were forged in the cores of exploding stars. Wow! That's a far better story than the one in the Bible book of Genesis. At least, I think it would make a much better movie.

And afterward? I don't expect to remain for eternity in this mind, with this name and identity. Who actually wants that sort of thing? Are they mad? Anyway, I don't suppose this mind, as such, will out-live my body at all. But thanks to the cascading of cause and effect, my short time here will be recorded in the very fabric of the universe. And the same applies to every entity that ever lived, whether or not they know it.

In my opinion, this is a better immortality story than the one in the Bible or the Quran. It may not appeal to the ego, but it doesn't require any faith whatsoever, and everybody can plainly see that it's true.


  1. I think there is more to it. Your genes are already almost immortal. Your memes are also.

  2. Those are good points, Circle, though let's not forget that every reproduction causes a 50% loss of information in genes. After only 10 reproductions there is less than one one-thousandth of your genetic information remaining in the descendant.

    As for memes, they degrade even faster — unless you're somebody like Aristotle.

    Nonetheless, your point is valid. If I ever rewrite this article I'll be sure to mention it.

  3. With all due respect. From the gene's eye view there is no loss of information.

  4. Quite so. And from the gene's-eye-view it doesn't matter if it's "free". But this article isn't about the gene's-eye-view.