In this post, I'd like to talk about death, especially about our death, the human race. Just a moment! To those who will say: "What a macabre subject! I don't want to hear about it! It will be enough when it happens!"_ I will answer: To talk and to understand death, is to talk about life: What is our soul actually? And as you will see, if we think once about the death, we'll not be afraid of it anymore.
My opinion is that one of someone, who defines himself as rational and atheist. However, since there is only one truth, you will see that the conclusions I've reached, are not so far from these of the ones who see the death from another point of view. For example, despite that I don't believe in reincarnation, Heaven, Hell, and so on, you will see that the soul, as I define it, is eternal, and that there is a kind of life after death.
How do I define the soul?
According to the dictionary, the soul is the spiritual part of the man, which includes emotions, experiences, thoughts and so on, that causes us to behave in a certain way; that is our conscious and our subconscious.
As a computer scientist, I tend to compare the soul to the software which activates the body. As we know, the software has not a life of its own: it lives only while it's running on a computer (the hardware). But it can run on different computers. Our body is made of cells, among them, the nervous cells (the neurons). There are cells dying all the time, and others who replace them. Each neuron can be connected to another one through a synapse. In Artificial Intelligence, we try to imitate this model using what is called a neuron network.
What is life?
During our entire life, our software runs: we feel things, think, are moved, and behave accordingly. There is an interaction between the software of different people. For example, when a mother tells her child: "Do this!", or when she tells him a story, or shares her emotions. A man's software who passed away can influence the software of a man who lives: for instance, when we learn in history, the life and the action of another man and behave like him. Or when we behave as a person we loved and is not alive anymore. The software of a man is always changing during his life.
What is death, in my opinion, and in what sense there is a life after the death?
The death occurs when at, in one moment, all the body cells stop to work. The death is by definition a definitive thing. But the death of the body doesn't not prevent the software, whose origin was in this body to keep living in other bodies. For example, when I continue to behave, as my father, may he rest in peace, his software continues to run in me. The software can even change: if I say for example that my grandmother, of blessed memory, would have changed her opinion, if she knew the present situation. In that sense, there is a life (software) after the death of the body (the hardware, it was originally running on it).
As I wrote at the beginning, my vision is not fundamentally different from the people that believe in life after death. Both them and myself are feeling the presence of those who passed away (Think about those who are doing seances: all of them concentrate, i.e. dwell on the software of the man they recall). The only difference is that they explain it in a way that is not rational.
How can we accept the death idea calmly, and yet being anxious when our life is in danger?
As a living person, I have happy moments (one says: there is no happiness, there are only happy moments). I have also moments of despair, depression and disappointment. I cope with problems and I am satisfied when I solve them. I love people and there are people who love me. All this will disappear when I die. Furthermore, death sometimes involves terrible pains. For these reasons, I am naturally afraid of death. (Unless, I am a suicidal type: we will talk about suicide later on). And yet, I accept the idea of death calmly, because I know that when I am dead, I will feel no pain, no sadness, no depression anymore. It will not be even a sleep without dreaming, it will be nothing. There is no contradiction about it, since the fear of death is an emotion while accepting the idea of death is a thought.
Why I don't believe in soul, as people who believe in live after death define it, in Hell and Heaven?
First of all, why should I believe it? I know there are testimonies, as the one of Yossi Sarid, where he died clinically for a while, he tells that he had experienced an "almost death" experience. (He tells us how he felt that his soul left him). But I will say that: "almost" death is not death. The similarity _ if there is one _ of the stories of those, who have experienced this, comes from the fact there is something common in their dreams. In my opinion, it's not a surprise, when we know that our dreams express our subconscious – and the collective subconscious say that there is something like a soul, which has a separate life from the body. (It doesn't mean that the collective subconscious is right.)
Likewise, I don't believe in Heaven or in Hell. (Nobody has come back to tell us about those places). But it leads us to this interesting question:
Why so many people do believe in such a soul, in Hell and in Heaven?
In my opinion, because they do not accept a simple fact, which is the absurdity of life!
So, our software doesn't accept that our efforts, our good deed were in vain, but there is an absurdity in life, what can we do about it?
All the human beings agree upon certain values such as the love of other human beings. It's not a surprise, that all the religions, no matter what is their basic principle (God, Buddha…), and all the atheists command us to respect these values. It's because nature has built us from the same material.
So, how can the priests explain to their believers that there is not always a justice in the world, that sometimes the just suffers? My explanation is, again, that there is an absurdity in life! We worth nothing more after our death than the ant, we have just crashed. But since the priest don't accept this absurdity, they have "invented" the Heaven, where it will be good to those who have behaved in the good way, and the Hell, where it will be bad for those, who have behaved in the bad way. I ask you: what kind a life is it where "it's good" all the time or "it's bad" all the time. By the way, correct me if I'm wrong, Heaven and Hell are not mentioned at all in the Bible!
I'll give you more examples of opinions from people, who don't accept the absurdity of life:
· What you don't "correct" in the unit of life, you're presently living _ you will have to correct in your next life; and maybe it will be harder for you, since you didn't learn what you were supposed to learn/to do here.
· Life is a kind of "lesson", we pass on Earth.
· People are afraid of life because they think it's the end. But it is not the end, just another start!
A few words about suicide:
I'll take my cousin Florence, as an example. She thought she was suffering very much in her life. She didn't see any point to continue a life, which was only suffering. At the end, she was spending all her days in sleeping. As she wasn't suffering while sleeping. Until, finally, the idea of an eternal sleep, which is the death, came up to her mind. She preferred the nothing which means no suffering to the continuation of life.
When I think about my own death, no matter if it will happen today or in 20 or 30 years, then I know that after that, I'll not suffer anymore. However, I'll not do as my cousin Florence, who committed a suicide, since I think that all the fun of life is to look for moments of pleasure, and to overcome problems when there are.
Finally, I wish you a long and happy life!