The great mystery of death

Via reader Norm, I came across an article in The Onion that contains an exclusive interview with god where he was asked about what happens after we die. It appears that despite his omniscience, god is as mystified as the rest of us about what happens after we die, and he struggles with the same hopes and fears about it that many people have.

“Some say that when people die, that’s the end, but who knows?” said the Supreme Being, adding that no one in the world could say with any degree of certainty whether one’s existence completely ceases with death. “Others say that at the moment they die, people walk toward a bright light and into another world, but the thing is, only the people who die are the ones who know. I just know that it would be awfully sad to think that when they pass on they’re gone forever.”

But despite this lack of certain knowledge, he still gives us some good advice on how to deal with death.

Concluding that when it came to what He described as “the great, unknowable beyond” His guess was “as good as anyone’s,” the Lord said there was no point in worrying too much about such an inscrutable thing.

“My view—take it or leave it—is that you can talk and argue as much as you want about death, but when it comes down to it, all anyone can do is guess what’s on the other side,” God Almighty said. “In the meantime, humans should enjoy themselves, try to live honestly, be good to one another, and make the most of their time on earth.”

“Because, like it or not, I’ll end all of their lives sooner or later,” He added. “There’s simply no escaping that.”

Makes sense to me.


  1. says

    I never understand this – we’re obviously complicated organic machines that live and exist in a physical framework that doesn’t have any sensible mechanism for “life after death” (or, more precisely: “anything more than life”) Sure, it’d be nice but so would immortality, rocket packs, and trickle-down economics – but there is absolutely no reason to assume any of those are real, either. It’s just the most transparent wish-fulfillment and it’s an obvious side-effect of having a sense of self and an imagination. I imagine myself as a person and then I imagine myself as dead and I still have this left-over “self” that (because it’s what’s doing the imagining) doesn’t go away… It’s only a small step of imagination to imagine that our “self” goes away, too. There is no “other side” at all – there’s no “other side” of “yesterday” and “yesterday” doesn’t have an afterlife, either.

    I’ve always been comfortable with the reality of non-existence, and I get a bit weirded out when I run into otherwise intelligent people who want to talk about “life after death” – it makes as much sense to me as talking about my sandwich having a “life after being eaten” Uh, no, the matter comprising my sandwich gets re-arranged so that, fairly quickly, you’d no longer talk about it as “my sandwich” any more. It hasn’t ceased to be, it’s just not that particular sandwich, now, and forevermore.

  2. says

    (BTW, the “life after death” ideas are pretty patently absurd when you start actually thinking about them. Considering that most of our experience of life is sensory, and sensation is dependent on the physical processes of being alive, when what would life after death feel like?)

  3. says

    What if, when we die, we turn into pizza?

    Stupid question, really, but it makes exactly as much sense as any other hypothetical afterlife. (And actually there’s a good chance that some of your molecules will eventually find themselves briefly in the form of pizza)

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