Is Life Infinitely Important or Unimportant?

[This is a follow-up to “A Logical Approach to the Afterlife“]

How important is a second? Do you worry about wasting a second of your life?

Well, if you are on a sinking boat with a loved one, you might think every second is infinitely precious! Every moment you have together, everything you say, every gesture becomes an act so important as to be sacred.

You are completely in the here and now – you aren’t day dreaming, you aren’t worrying about whether or not the car will be repaired on time, you aren’t about to bring up past wrongs except to make amends – to authentically and sincerely apologize and forgive – to make peace. Peace would suddenly be one of your highest priorities – peace with others and peace with yourself.

But when we have a lifetime ahead of us? Do we worry about wasting a second by not doing any of these things? Not really. A second isn’t important to most people. On average, a second is only 1/2,500,000,000 of a lifetime.

So what if you are going to exist forever? If a second is inconsequential in a lifetime (1/2,500,000,000 of a lifetime), a lifetime becomes infinitely inconsequential in an eternity! (1/infinity).

Further, what about specific events? What happens to their importance over time? How much do you care about the fight you had over the playdough in kindergarten? How much does it still bother a 40 year old that they got turned down when they asked someone to prom? How much does an 80 year old care that their nephew knocked over the cake at their wedding? The further something is in the past, the less important it seems. In an eternity from now, will you still care what you accomplished or didn’t in this life? Probly not!

So an afterlife basically makes this life infinitely unimportant… Conversely… If this is the only shot at existence you have, then this life becomes infinitely important!

If you don’t believe in an afterlife, you are (or should be) more likely to act like someone on a sinking ship than someone with a vast amount of time – instead of this life being infinitely inconsequential, this life becomes infinitely precious. If you don’t believe in an afterlife, every interaction should be sacred. We should strive to live in peace with each other and find peace within ourselves.

Now, if you think your life is infinitely important, then, by extension, since this is the only life everyone else has as well, everyone elses’ lives are infinitely important, too. If everyone’s life is infinitely important, then logically we should be trying to live life to the fullest and deepest extent we can, while helping others to do the same. If you’re right, and there is no afterlife, then you would have made the best of your existence you could.

And what if you’re wrong and there is an afterlife? And what if you had to act a certain way to get into elysium/heaven/valhalla/etc.? If you believe that your life, and everyone else’s lives, are infinitely important, wouldn’t you live in the same way that most religions say you have to live in order to get the penthouse suite in the afterlife?

So if you’re wrong and there is an afterlife, no harm done. If I was the gatekeeper to the afterlife, I would look most favourably on someone who lived life to the deepest, fullest extent they could, while facilitating others to do the same.

If you believe in an afterlife, then generally the only purpose this life serves is to earn your wings. Instead of living life to the fullest, at the highest expression of yourself possible, you live life in whatever way you’re told to live it. If you’re right, hey, you get your wings, just like I would not believing in an afterlife.

If you’re wrong, well… if your right or wrong, either way I think most people who believe in an afterlife will not live their life as deeply and fully as someone who thinks this is the only shot they have at existence, in the same way as someone who knows they’re going to die tomorrow would live their last day more fully and deeply than someone who didn’t know they were going to die tomorrow.

For me, not believing in an afterlife: 1

In the next post, we’ll talk about being moral, and how believing in an afterlife or not should logically affect how morally one behaves.