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62 Eternal Life

What I am now could have been described before I was born (article 61). That description is not predestination. Superhuman powers did not inescapably determine my present state. There was a necessary and irreversible history leading up to now. It did not depend on foreknowledge. My assertion is only that I could have been described beforehand, establishing timeless existence in concept before birth.

Tuesday’s article further observed that a concept does not end when its physical manifestation and its human memory are extinguished. My spiritual concept also has timeless existence after my death. A fact is true before and after its manifestation, independent of being known by anyone. (Plato's Form of the Good)

There is an assumption that the laws for harnessing electricity existed before Aristotle’s lifetime. Apparently, he did not live to see enough electrical facts emerge to give him any personal benefit. Nevertheless, we are confident that the laws of science then matched the laws of science now. I am positing an infinitely complex reality extending beyond and merging smoothly with the truth that humans observe in any time or place. We are now in a part of a smooth infinite continuum of space and time and who knows what other dimensions.

Article 51 and article 52 describe a sequence of higher orders. Some readers are probably expecting me to take a huge leap of faith—particularly those conditioned to subjugation (for example, to the Bible). I decline. Let me continue a path of logic to describe eternal life. You then conceptualize how your current life is a segment of the form I put forward.

Some teachings of evolution focus on a magical moment when a chemical substance became self-reproducing. That is identified as the spark of life, the process leading to human beings. The theory is like my dream in article 50 about a metaphorical building from which I emerge to continue to godhood. The chemical story and the building story apply similar logic to successive organisms in biological evolution, and to a continuous individual person in the path to godhood. May it appeal generically to polytheists (Hindus?), monotheists (Abrahamic religions?), nontheists (Buddhists?), atheists (doubters?) and all variants of free thinkers.

Logic can feel very impersonal. Why should you even care about any of this thinking? There is a single word that makes the discussion personal: sentience.

Some people don’t even apply the word life until there is sentience—awareness of self. Material substances, including plants and animals, don’t have meaning unless they think, are aware of self. These people lack my awe and reverence for life found in adaptive organisms or even pre-cellular self-reproducing substances. I sympathize with the strong emotional sense that being alive means being self-aware. That has been foundational to the prior discussions of self, others, and meaning. Nevertheless, that is not my complete description of existence.

Awareness-dependent people are terrified of a state without self-awareness. If there is no proof that the spiritual concept (non-physical human essence) is self-aware, they reject its existence. “I will know who I am or I don’t exist.” The Ernstraudian theory of eternal progression incorporates the logic that sentience is part of the spiritual concept package. As a physical chair can be reconstructed from the plan, so the unique spiritual entity of a person is an eternal pattern for realizing the sentient human at whatever order is appropriate.

The concept "chair" does not depend on a physical chair (Plato, above). The concept human does not depend on a mortal body. The key to personal eternal life is that sentience is part of the indestructible individual pattern. Self-awareness takes time to emerge in this world and will appropriately emerge in other orders or states of being.

Following are numerous examples relating to resurrection, religion, and science. They mean different things to different readers.

A few stories might show that words like spiritual concept, immortality, and resurrection are subjects to ponder without hard definitions. The thought process here can loosen up our apprehensions and doubts.

One view of heaven supposes that it is a place where there is no death. However, the Bible shows the resurrected Jesus eating food. It was a suitable demonstration of physical presence, but an unfitting description of immortality that depends on the death of the thing being eaten. If nothing can die, there is nothing to eat. That visual aid taught us nothing about heaven.

Do resurrected beings voluntarily interact with physical matter? Eating food is only one such account. Touching the body of a resurrected person appears in numerous accounts. Most religious sentiment is in accord with this physicality. That raises the question whether a resurrected body also makes physical contact with a bomb explosion. Would a bullet or bomb or even a wooden club injure a resurrected body? Would the most powerful of these disturbances kill it? Since that violates immortality, there has to be some mechanism that avoids this destructive interaction.

Resurrection is undefined for single-cell organisms that multiply by cell division and have no permanent unit of identity.

Supposed science-based proposals are offered for some of these religious questions. They usually seem ill fitted to the problems, like trying to determine the mass of a human soul by weighing a dying person. Nothing in science or religion establishes that relevance.

If all humans throughout history, perhaps together with other life forms, become immortal on this planet, I submit there is not room to hold or nourish them, even assuming non-mortal food. We need other ideas about where to put everything. There are science fiction stories about travel between parallel universes. Sometimes one world is used as a test case to shed light on the other. The transitions between the worlds can be time or space travel or change in a status such as wavelength.

Atomic structure underlies some of the supernatural tales, assuming that atoms are mostly undefined empty space. Properties of matter arise less from the size of particles than from the strong forces between them. For example, the mass of an electron is minute, but if electrons disappeared, unbalanced forces would be huge. If there were hypothetical subatomic particles not subject to these forces, their presence in matter would not disturb or displace it. This idea spawns stories that transitioned beings are present but in a different “wavelength” that does not interact with known matter unless they choose it to. In other words, my parents are here in my space but in a state different from my substance.

The different vibrations theory is an interesting conjecture. It may not be necessary because with infinite available space, one can accommodate all existence without overlapping and folding back in different frequency states. This spread-out existence is suggested by the theory that heavenly beings appear surrounded by intense light because they travel from their distant places at nearly the speed of light, analogous to breaking the sound barrier. That question raises the issue of time travel, asking whether immortal thought can be independent not only of physical substance but also of time.

Whether beings are appearances or apparitions teases the question whether they are subject to gravity. Some accounts put wings on angels; others have immortals floating in the air.

We tend to take these questions too literally. In physics we refine which questions to ask. Who would think that the warmth of a sunny day is the same stuff as the trunk of a tree? Physics recognizes that matter and energy cannot be created or destroyed but can only be changed from one form to another. Combustion, photosynthesis, and nuclear energy demonstrate the thin line between mass and light. Also, atomic physics recognizes a wave-particle duality by which supposedly physical entities demonstrate wave behavior (electrons generate interference patterns). In the current discussion there is mind-body duality. In the spiritual realm, we also learn to classify characteristics without imposing our own definitions.

Fierce independence is sometimes a survival skill. Other times it is an obstacle to progress. Failure to accept help is more often than not a weakness. It restricts one’s ability to achieve. Denying eternal life is a macho kind of pseudo-independence, a declaration “if I can’t do it myself I won’t do it. Let those people consider this bombshell: you did not give birth to yourself! Accept the gift that you exist (forever).

A nonbeliever once told a believer “you will be disappointed after you die that you don’t wake up.” Of course, that left the believer the retort “If I don’t wake up there won’t be anything to disappoint. If we do wake up existing after we die, you are the one who will be surprised.”

There is safety in this last viewpoint. Life is cumulative and everything I do here matters. I want to relate to my work and my surroundings in the most positive way. To the extent that contemplating the future encourages me to appreciate my present reality, I accept the challenge. Today’s article strings together logic and wildly zany thoughts to broaden your range of possible thinking. Nothing here is “The Truth” but you are an enriched person for having considered today’s journey, for thinking about what you want to be forever.

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