Date : 09/02/03
On Being Erased
one should expect nothing after death

he single most important feature of life, in my opinion, is its brevity. No one "finishes" a life. There is always much left undone and we find little fulfillment in the journey. Those who believe in a "life after death" to make up for the shortfall would be wise to look upon the sobering facts that nature places before us.

Information is not 'saved"

There are several levels of information that can be identified. The first level is physical information ... the objects themselves. The universe deals directly with this information and acknowledges its significance at all times in accordance with its rules concerning gravity, mass, charge, etc.

A secondary level is that of information carried genetically. The universe acknowledges this information only within a narrow and specific context. DNA floating in outer space is only subject to the ordinary rules of physics ... but in the context of a cell in a viable habitat, that information is transformed into a physical being.

There is a tertiary level of information which is as that carried in the memory of living things ... and now in the files of computers. And this is the most important sort of information to us because it is that of which we are composed.

And ... it is this type that is not acknowledged by the universe of inanimate matter. It does not reject this information ... rather, it does not recognize it in any way demonstrable. The universe does not see us as worthless but rather, does not see us at all. Hence, we are ended when the genetic information (which the universe sees in a narrow context) that makes us live, becomes nonviable.

The great universe of infinity does not know we exist.

There are many examples of the erasure of tertiary information

These facts below may one day be the impetus that drives man to fashion himself into a mechanical being of great sophistication. Then we could "back up" our existence in other places on a daily basis so that when we die we can be restored with only the loss of one day's information.

  • The information contained in a book does not outlive the book. If we burn the thing, it is gone for good unless that information is stored in another place as well.
  • The information on your computer is lost if your hard drive is melted in a house fire ... unless you've backed it up elsewhere.
  • Your conversation on on audio tape is gone if it burns up as well (unless you've made a copy and can restore its existence from that).
  • A TV program on video tape is gone forever unless backed up elsewhere.
  • DVD, memory stick, flash memory, photos, IRS files, letters ... .
  • Your brain ... unless it is "backed up" elsewhere.

The evidence against life after death is both compelling and awful. But it must be acknowledged if one wishes to live in a rational civilization. We are not intrinsically worthless. Rather, we have value only to ourselves. The universe sees us not.

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