With current advances in science and technology, we are nearing a time when we will be able to defeat death permanently The problem is, cognitive blocks that humans have evolved over thousands of years to handle their mortality are now preventing them from accepting a lack of death. Absurdly, the solution to every human’s most primal fear is now being actively fought against by large elements of society.
Are you okay with dying? Have you made your peace with death? If your answer is yes, then you have conquered life, according to traditional thought. From the Dalai Lama to Jesus, a great deal of the world’s efforts have gone into making peace with humanity’s mortality.
From the beginning of humanity, there is no human who has ever managed to accomplish not dying. With that sort of record, it’s not surprising that the inevitability of human death has become an ingrained mental block for many people. In most cases, even the most optimistic of people believe beyond doubt that they’re going to die.
Over the ages, people have come up with a number of methods for coping with this realization. The most popular is instilling in themselves belief in an afterlife, assuring themselves they will be transported to a paradise upon death. A complementary method, used with or without an afterlife belief, is convincing themselves that death itself is not undesirable, or that living for too long would be negative.
These attitudes cannot be maintained by someone who has a clear understanding of reality, which is why it’s necessary for someone employing these techniques to build mental defense mechanisms. Most often, they will simply bounce their minds off the subject of death when it is raised, and avoid analyzing or considering the subject in detail. An exception being the devout religious, whose firm belief in an afterlife nevertheless prevents them from looking at the subject in a realistic way, and therefore from drawing any meaningful conclusions.
The result of all this is that the average person views death as something akin to a great sleep, or a doorway to another world. This cognitive avoidance prevents all but the most conscious of people from thinking about death in depth–and from having the courage to do anything about it.
Despite all this, if methods to avoid dying were immediately available the majority of people would flock to these methods–regardless of what they may have insisted before–if only due to hard-coded primal survival instinct.
The scientifically illiterate, which the vast majority are, have difficulty comprehending that anything that is not possible today will be possible tomorrow. The primal mind does not like change, and therefore pulls away from it, fearing where it will take it.
Having deeply established beliefs contradicted disturbs nearly anyone. Most will never accept that their life long beliefs are erroneous, even when these beliefs have been shown to be false. Since the inevitability of death is one of the most oft repeated bits of ‘common sense’, it’s a concept that most people will defend to their grave.
To make matters worse, this has been taken to a new level with even many irreligious individuals–who are supposedly more scientifically minded than those subscribing to a religion–viewing it as a basic aspect of the human condition, the removal of which would rob humans of all value in their lives. Not only do they believe that dying is unavoidable, but that it is ‘right’ to die–or that seeking to ‘unnaturally’ prolong life is a negative pursuit. Modern day humanists see death as a part of who we are as living beings.
“[…] living for such long periods would undermine what it means to be human.” — Sherwin Nuland of Yale University and Author of How We Die
“. . . things do not gain meaning by going on for a very long time, or even forever. Indeed, they lose it. A piece of music, a conversation, even a glance of adoration or a moment of unity have their alloted time. Too much and they become boring. An infinity and they would be intolerable — Simon Blackburn of University of Cambridge and Author of Think: A Compelling Introduction to Philosophy
These vague justifications become no more quantifiable or factually valid when their proponents go into further detail. And demonstrate, at their simplest level, a complete lack of knowledge in the fields of neuroscience.
The augment that it is ‘natural’ to die and therefore humanity should accept it, has all the intellectual depth and validity of the response a kindergardener might give to a scientific question. Nature is random and meaningless, this point cannot be overstated. Death is not acceptable simply because it is ‘natural’.
Because Mother Nature accepts evolution as her handmaiden, she is a brutal and psychotic bitch who tortures and slaughters her children. — Tihamer Toth-Fejel
Death is the demon that turns even the greatest humans into victims. No matter how much wisdom, skill and power you have gained through the course of your life, aging will eventually cripple you on your upward battle, and death will rush in to strike the finale blow.
Our current homo sapient bodies are but one step in the evolution of what we can become. Do not become deluded that where we are right now is where we should stay. Humanity has always been evolving and will continue to do so, whether you like it or not. The question is not should this happen, not will this happen, it is: are you going to join the future, or die out like every other extinct creature on the evolutionary ladder? To want to die, to accept death as not only inevitable, but ideal—is spineless, pathetic, and worthy of contempt. To die adds no value to life, it as an insult and a tragedy.
I challenge you to change how you think about death. Rather than accepting defeat by death as “the human condition,” “nature’s plan,” “God’s will” or any other pathological crutch, view it instead as humanity’s greatest challenge to overcome; our mission is the technological conquest of death. We may fail. More likely you may fail. But at least you went down conscious and fighting. Swimming for shore instead of sinking into the water without a struggle.
What the future holds
Living is a beautiful thing (or at least can be), it is a never ending journey of growth and learning. Indeed, for many of us who desire to live forever it is not just out of a fear of death, but a desire to continue to grow, learn and expand ourselves ever further. The prospect of slowly shutting down and withering away does not appeal to us; for us, the journey has only just begun. There is an endless amount of things to experience, of perceptions and feelings–most yet to be discovered. The way humans view the world now is extraordinarily limited. Our brains were never designed to be used for the complex thought processes we use them for. We are pushing our natural abilities to their limits.
Deathlessness and enhanced intelligent will give us an unlimited number of new vistas to explore, life will have far more meaning and value than ever before. Life can be a grand adventure with constant new horizons, rather than a stagnant and highly limited experience with a set expiration date.
The future is beautiful, there is nothing to be afraid of, the largest problems that arise will be due to fear itself. Those fearing change and violently resisting it will be the cause of much chaos and suffering as we step into this new and powerful stage of human existence.
We are a unique concept, and we must continue to push past our limits. It is in our nature to evolve and improve ourselves. The drive to transform ourselves and our environment is at our core. In many ways, becoming nonhuman is the most human thing there is.
We must have dynamic optimism. We should see the endless possibilities that could be, but only if we make them real. We must transcend every limitation. We cannot be cowards; we cannot let fear of the unknown stand in our way. We must have courage, vision, and a desire to do what no one has done before.