Life and the Afterlife
In terms of the ‘ultimate destination’ of our individual lives, there is a remarkable similarity among the religions of the world in this sense: that our ultimate destination is a kind of ‘perpetual stasis’.
As important as ‘heaven’ is to Christians, the Bible itself has remarkably little to say about it, but the consensus view is that there will be no more challenge, no more difficulty, no more pain or discomfort of any kind.
In Buddhism the ultimate goal is ‘nirvana’ — enlightenment, which once attained, means a consciousness perpetually free of any pain or discomfort.
In Hinduism the individual continues to reincarnate until they break the cycle of reincarnation and achieve Moksha, at which point the person returns to be with Brahman.
An idea that goes back to Augustine is that G-d can be understood both from the Book of Scripture (the Bible) as well as the Book of Nature — creation itself. Indeed, ‘proofs’ for the existence of G-d generally depend on appeals to the ‘Book of Creation’ — that the nature of G-d can be inferred from it. With that in mind, what might we infer about G-d’s own ideas of what Life is about from Her creation?
Immediately one notices that Life is about constant change, constant motion. One also notices that the evolution of Life on the earth has been a constant cycle of living things encountering challenges and adapting/overcoming them — or else death for the individual and extinction for the species.
We like to think that Homo Sapiens represents the ‘apex’ of Creation, but I submit that the jury is still out on that one — it remains to be seen whether we as a species will come to our senses and take the steps necessary to avoid self-inflicted extinction. I’m optimistic, but time will tell.
If we do render ourselves extinct, I have no doubt that God/Nature will keep right on evolving Life, that the next ecosystem of sentient cockroach/ant people1 a million years from now may well ponder questions such as this once again.
So in that light, I have to wonder if an ‘eternity of stasis’ in the afterlife is consistent with what we know about the nature of G-d and His relationship with Life — as She apparently designed it. I just wonder if an eternal existence with no challenge and no growth is consistent with the nature of Life in general and what it means to be a Human Being in particular.