As a person with a lot of free time, I often found myself seeking answers to seemingly non-sense questions; one of them being, “What’s the meaning of death”?
Science and Religion have tried over the centuries to answer or at least make sense of this question. From each school, we find arrays of philosophies to get to the answer.
“Philosophy”, Remember this word.
Having asked enough people to call it a sample size of the population, a realization dawns, that the answer to this question, lies in the interpretation of it. Enumerating each interpretation would be a waste of both of our times, so let’s discuss a few I found interesting.
Death as the end
From a hedonistic stand point, death might seem like the end, in other words, all that is, is here. There is nothing else outside of it. Famous atheist Ricky Gervais says, “You stop existing, you’re gone. That’s it. There’s no need to complicate it any further. All you can wish for is to live a decent life that you’ve gotten here”. The Author of best sellers like “The Selfish Gene” and “The God Delusion”, Richard Dawkins seems to share the same view.
While this may, to many, seem like a practical answer to the question, it falls short on just one point. The end of existence can only be understood, when you understand the meaning of it. Since the occurrence of sentient thought, that’s the one equation everyone has tried to solve. From Aristotle to Hawkins, and we’re still almost where we started millennia ago.
The core problem with the life equation is, we not only don’t know the values of all the variables, even the sheer quantum of such variables might be unfathomable to our little minds. Maybe a day will come when we’ll find that one elegant equation, that answers everything. And with it, we might find the answer to this question we pose today.
Death as a new beginning
Over the existence of the Homo-Sapiens there have been theories about death. Most religions, existing or dead, have tried to answer this question.
Popular religions like Christianity, Islam, Judaism, preach of an after-life. Where we’d be judged for our actions in the world we live in today. On the basis of this judgment, we’d be assigned to a eternal bliss, or eternal suffering. The theory changes in fine print from book to book however.
Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism etc preach of re-birth. Where, a soul only travels from body to body, from one life time to another. Getting into fine print, we see a theory of divine judgment in this case too. Deeds committed in this life, will result in the virtues or curses in the next. Another school of thought suggests, deeds would decide the species one would be born in, from human to insects.
A discussion, or argument to this philosophy is futile. It only depends upon the faith of the individual in given theory.
Death as Transcendence
A fair warning, this might come across as pretentious.
A relatively new school of thought says death is but a graduation to a higher dimension. Where, death would result in us passing on to a higher state of being. Recent revelations in the theory of space time, suggest, time is but a part of the fabric of the known universe, and we’re just beings who’re trapped in it, so that we can only move in one direction on it. Kind of like, a linear game like Road Rash, where we could only go left and right, but would have no control over forward and backward. Imagine time as such a dimension.
A discussion over this thought, will take a couple of pieces of their own. For now, let’s leave it at that.
As I said, the answer to this question, has endless answers with their endless interpretations. We can’t be sure, if there’s an answer at all. Where science and religion have tried and seemingly failed to explain the meaning of life and death, it comes down to the individual to interpret. It seems, this question has more to do with philosophy for now, than science. But remember, philosophy asks the questions, that science seeks the answer for.