Would death still be bad if a positive afterlife existed?

Notice I said “You can spend time with dead loved ones.” I never said you had to. I didn’t want to make the post too long with details but in this afterlife you don’t have to see anyone you don’t want to or anyone at all. You can reside in your own personal domain where you can do whatever you want short of creating actual sentient people.

When you see a young child experience happiness, it’s so full. I also see that in pets. I remember a time when I was expansively happy; I didn’t know anything about death, sex, or the burden of work to support myself.

As an adult, I think we vaguely realize we passed through some things that we can’t un-know. But as a tradeoff, we can experience more complex pleasures. If there is something after death, maybe it’s like that.

One of my favorite movies is “Defending Your Life.” Albert Brooks dies and goes to the afterlife, where they have a sort of trial to determine if he overcame fear enough on Earth to go on to the next phase. He’s meeting with his “lawyer” over lunch. He orders something like you’d get in a restaurant here, but his lawyer is eating something strange looking. Brooks is invited to try it and he does, and it tastes awful. His lawyer laughs, says something to the effect (because he uses 48% of his brain instead of 3% like Albert), “I use my mind to control how it tastes.” Wow, what if you could eat only healthy things yet make it taste like anything you want? Where do I sign up?

So maybe it’s like that…brain power could turn a root canal into the best massage you ever had, etc. Anyway here’s a trailer.

But what if they want to see me? I am just pointing at a logical contradiction: either their wish or my wish will go unfulfilled.
Or is this “heaven” just for me and nobody else? Then it’s me who cannot see them, because they don’t exist. As long as there is more than one actor, there will be contradictions. And if there is only one actor, I see solipsism.

This is pretty much where I am. Furthermore, I don’t want to die anytime soon—and this is still true under the OP’s scenario—because I feel that I still have unfinished business here in this life. I want my life to matter, to make a difference somehow, and once I die I’ve lost my chance for that.

Yeah, this. While there may be people who want to continue in their current life (see some above), there will be a whole lot wo hate this life, or who just want the much, much better life to come a lot more.

There’s a reason most religions that believe in a beautiful afterlife also consider suicide a mortal sin. If suicide still gets you into Heaven, then a lot of people will do it.

H. Beam Piper wrote a story in which reincarnation, rather than heaven, was confirmed to be real. The society that developed didn’t have a major suicide problem (although it was common for people with painful medical conditions), because what life you’d end up with the next time around was thought to be random, so few people were willing to gamble. But they did have a pretty relaxed attitude towards killing in general. Murder becomes a bit less serious when it’s seen as akin to hitting the reset button on a video game.

I suspect the OP’s scenario would produce a similar effect. “So what if I killed him? I did him a favor, now he’s living it up in the afterlife!”

To argue against the hypothetical, the conceptual problems with an “afterlife” is one reason why I tend to lean towards Annihilationism - Wikipedia, which we discussed in this post: Has this theological concept had adherents/ been given a name?

As someone who takes Christianity semi-seriously, what little can be read between the lines in the Bible about after death seems at least to me to lend credence to this idea. Jesus says that God is the God of the living, not of the dead, and Thessalonians says that the passed away “sleep” in Christ. It’s also said of God that Heaven is his throne and Earth is his footstool. Plus of course the fact that the book of Revelations says that after the end of our current universe there will be a new heaven and a new Earth. IOW, physical existence seems to count for something. What “The Kingdom of Heaven” is I don’t profess to know; but it’s supposable that it’s more of realm of Platonic archetypes, of existence in potentia.

And also mass murder, because it would be good for them.

It would be the end of the world.

I did explicitly say you can do “basically” anything you want. There are a small handful of limits that have to exist otherwise it would fall apart and wouldn’t be Heaven so to speak. You can’t make yourself omnipotent like God, you can’t interact with the living and you can’t interfere with other people’s afterlife if they don’t consent. For example a bigot couldn’t spend their time harassing people they dislike but they could conjure artificial people that don’t have actual minds and harass them in their own world if they wanted.

I’m envisioning this scenario like so: our “mortal lives” are a short subset of our current lives; like playing a competitive sport for 30 minutes or so and then going home after and living several more decades. Make the game 5 minutes… you get the idea. During the game/contest life is more stressful, you have limited goals and opportunities to do anything more than compete, there is little to no food/water/comfort available, you have opponents, there is a ticking clock and you either win or lose when the time runs out. So: does the way you feel during or after the game change at all knowing you get to go home afterwards and the game doesn’t matter in the grand scheme of things?

I’d say no, death (the contest ending) wouldn’t really be any less bad… and my reasoning is how athletes (or anyone) feels about a short-term competition. If you’re losing you get anxious about how humiliated you look and feel and that you’re running out of time to turn it around and win, if your holding your own and it’s a tie then you stress right to the end worrying that you’ll mess up and lose at the last minute, and if you’re winning you know the fun & glory will end shortly after the buzzer goes. Nobody is completely happy about time running out, despite an easier life afterwards.

I think because during that short game (or mortal existence), the highs and lows are more pronounced, specifically because you only experience it for a short time and there’s no going back and re-doing anything; you only get one shot at it. If you get any pleasure or rush out of mortal life at all, I think you’d still consider death a bad thing. Perhaps the only people who’d feel better would be that small percentage of us who hate every waking moment of mortal life.

I just can’t envision an eternal afterlife as being better than the mortal one. The only way would be if you’re on some sort of drugs than impact how you think/feel. Sort of like getting a divine nicotine patch slapped on and wandering around in a daze. There’d be no winning or accomplishing, because there can be no competition with others; nobody can feel bad for losing so how could you feel good for winning?

Pulling in a big net full of fish or finding a huge patch of ripe berries in the forest only feels good because most nets have few fish and most of the forest only has a few small clumps of unripe berries. Without disappointment/boredom/failure being the normal background (none of which would exist in a “heaven”), there’d be no winning or success. The entire experience would just be numbness.

This is especially so if you retain your mortal memories. Imagine you were someone like Saddam Hussein, and now you’re in this heaven. Does everyone else still remember what a POS you were and dislike you? You’ll also not get to rule and dominate millions of people anymore and live in palaces that nobody else can have (I’m sure that was quite the thrill for him). And, you’d still remember how right at the end of your mortal life you blew it and lost it all… eternal humiliation. I think Saddam would have liked life to go on so he wouldn’t have to admit to himself that he lost the contest.

This reminds me of an old short science fiction story: Outer space aliens in communication with earth DID have incontrovertible proof that there was an afterlife, but kept this fact secret from the people of earth.

According to the story, the people of earth weren’t included in the afterlife - only the aliens were.

Either I don’t understand you or you don’t understand me or we both don’t understand each other. Your heaven seems illogical, contradictory and unthinkable to me, that is all I wanted to say. But if something like what you describe was to be it would look to me rather like hell than like paradise. And here, I guess, my first sentence applies.

If you can manufacture fake people & lands to dominate or abuse (if that’s your pleasure), are you aware of the fakeness, like being in the Startrek Holodeck? Stepping on ants doesn’t bring one much pleasure because nobody else really cares. Killing other people does matter and there are very real consequences for it; the danger & risk seem to be what creates the thrill. Not seeing how there can be high emotion in heaven. Unless we aren’t aware it’s all fake… bringing back my point about wandering around in a daze not knowing what’s real or not.

Yes, you’re aware of their artificial nature though you could alter your memory at will to make yourself think it’s real if you wanted to for a set period of time.

So you can’t create entities with ‘actual minds’ but you can create artificial people and harass them.

There are several philosophical problems with that, but the worst one seems to be the implication that God can create actual people to harass, and does so (repeatedly).

Perhaps we should be glad that we would be denied the opportunity to cause real suffering in this best of all possible paradises, unlike God, who causes suffering abundantly.

Is this afterlife supposed to be Heaven, or Hell?


What happens to children? Do they grow to "adulthood’ or are they locked at the age they died?

Wouldn’t you enjoy creating a little Putin clone with no guards to protect him, and throwing the little midget across your lap and spanking him a few months straight like this?

Oh, for heaven’s sake. The OP is trying to ask us to suppose there’s a blissful afterlife in order to ask a hypothetical. You can define blissful however you want. Maybe your error, OP, was in trying to preempt questions by providing too many details.

If you’re asking if MY death would still be bad, the answer is no, though I’d feel bad for those who’d miss me. No matter how happy the afterlife would be, it wouldn’t be THIS life, and I’d probably be sad about that and about not getting to be a direct, tangible part of my grandchildren’s lives, should I ever have any. Still, I wouldn’t be afraid to die.

I also wouldn’t commit suicide or murder others. This life may include tragedy and pain, but to many of us, it’s worth living, and I certainly wouldn’t have the right to decide when someone else leaves it.

They grow to adulthood.