Is death our final end?
If death is the end, then this life is all we have. Objectively, life can have no meaning if there is no afterlife. Huge amounts of time could be spent on deliberating whether there is an afterlife or not, but here we will take the view that there is no afterlife. This is for two reasons: firstly, belief in an afterlife is, fundamentally, one based on hope. Hope is a dangerous thing, and if this belief is indeed based on hope, then there is no real argument to be concerned about life after death. There are some reasonable arguments for life after death, but overall, the view here is that death is the end. The second reason is that there does not seem to be any genuine reason to believe in such an afterlife. We see death everyday, but we never see life after death simply because it’s not really possible. There may be an afterlife, for who can really say, but perhaps for now we can assume that an afterlife is irrelevant, and it does not really help us, or our lives.
If each person was told that their death was the end, there would probably arise both fear and dread. Perhaps even despair. But this is not the way death should be interpreted. The truth is that we will all die. Even if this does make our lives ‘objectively’ meaningless, this should not lead to a despairing mind-set. On the contrary, death, as we have seen in a previous post, should be liberating. Knowledge that one day all that we have know will be gone can enable us to appreciate life, to seize the short time we have on earth for something we find worthwhile. There may be a God, and there may be an afterlife, but only if we act as if this is not the case can we get the most out of life.
It may be sad to think that life may be meaningless, but life here on earth is full of meaning that we have created ourselves. With or without God, life may be completely meaningless, but as Albert Camus said, this recognition should be a beginning to a new life. For from this we can resurrect as a new, authentic, and ultimately free being.