Is there life after death?

Is there an afterlife or is this the only life we get? Most believe science says there is no afterlife. But this view, while common, is wrong.

It required thousands of years of careful study of the natural world. Today, modern science offers answers to this age-old mystery.

Humanity has long sought answers to the question of immortality. Image Credit: Steve Evans
Humanity has long sought answers to the question of immortality. Image Credit: Steve Evans

Contrary to popular wisdom, the existence of an afterlife is an inescapable conclusion of many of today’s scientific theories.

In this article, we will review 10 scientific theories that predict an afterlife. These theories come from diverse fields of science.

They include cornerstone theories of physics such as quantum mechanics and special relativity, as well as theories fundamental to the fields of cosmology, biology, neuroscience, and technology.

We will review these theories and see what they imply for the afterlife.

You will see why rational, evidence-based, scientists were brought to the conclusion that there is life after death. By the end of this article, you will share in their understanding. You will know what we can expect of the afterlife if our modern scientific theories are true.

Testable and untestable predictions

In science, theories often make predictions that can’t be tested. For example, the theory for why stars shine predicts that right now a photon is leaving from the far side of the sun.

We can never test this prediction.

Light leaving the far side of the sun can never be proven to exist by anyone on Earth.
A photon now leaving from the far side of the sun cannot ever be proven to exist by anyone on Earth.

This photon is moving away from us at the speed of light. We can never catch up to it. Absent the existence of a mirror in the right place at the right time to reflect it back, this photon will remain forever beyond our light cone and therefore inaccessible to us.

Nonetheless the existence of this photon is a prediction that follows from an established theory. Accordingly, our confidence in this photon’s existence remains as high as our confidence in that theory.

Therefore a scientist who believes in the theory will believe in the existence of this photon — despite our total inability to ever see it.

Theories usually make many predictions (represented by arrows). Some predictions are testable. Others are not. Generally only a small subset of a theory's testable predictions are ever tested.
Theories usually make many predictions (represented by arrows). Some predictions are testable. Others are not. Generally only a small subset of a theory’s testable predictions are ever tested.

Some predictions of a theory are testable, others aren’t. Though we can’t test all predictions of a theory, our confidence in a theory increases as we test and confirm more of a theory’s predictions.

Each successful test builds our confidence in that theory.

As that confidence grows, so too does our confidence in all the predictions of that theory. This includes predictions we haven’t yet tested, as well as the predictions which aren’t testable.

Each time we drop something and see it fall we perform another test of the theory of gravity. This theory predicts a 1-ton diamond would fall if dropped. Though we have never encountered a 1-ton diamond to test this prediction, we are confident in the theory of gravity. Therefore we are confident that 1-ton diamonds fall when dropped. We can be very confident in untested predictions.

This is the situation for afterlife predictions. Predictions of an afterlife represent the untestable predictions of otherwise testable theories.

Theories predicting life after death

Short of dying and experiencing the afterlife for yourself, science has no way to directly test the existence or absence of an afterlife.

Nonetheless, just as gravity predicts 1-ton diamonds to fall, several theories in science tell us that life continues after death.

The existence of an afterlife, though untestable, is a prediction of well-tested, well-established, and well-accepted theories.

Accordingly, our confidence in the existence of afterlife should be as high as our confidence in the theories predicting it.

Theories and predictions

The following are some of the theories predicting an afterlife.

These are not obscure theories, but theories taken seriously and used by working scientists in their fields. Some of these theories even rank among the most strongly confirmed theories in all of science.

TheoryPrediction for Afterlife
1. Cosmic inflationYou will live again.
2. MechanismYou will reincarnate.
3. Concordance modelYou have infinite incarnations.
4. Quantum mechanicsYou are subjectively immortal.
5. Special relativityYou have an eternal existence.
6. Biological immortalityYou can be made immortal.
7. Simulation hypothesisYou are already immortal.
8. Technological singularityYou will be resurrected.
9. Transcension hypothesisYou are part of a God-like mind.
10. Open individualismYou live wherever there is life.

For there to be no afterlife, all of these theories must be wrong. If just one of these theories is right, then this life will not be your last.

Let’s review each of these theories in detail. We will see what each theory is about, what it explains, who originated it, why scientists believe it, and what it can tell us about the life after this one.

1. Cosmic Inflation and the Afterlife

Afterlife Prediction: You will live again.

Cosmic inflation is a theory in cosmology that fills gaps in our understanding of the big bang.

It was independently conceived by Alexei Starobinsky in 1979 and Alan Guth in 1980, with early kinks being worked out in the following years by Andrei Linde, Paul Steinhardt and Andy Albrecht.

It explains why space is so big, why the universe was so hot and dense in its early history, and why space is still expanding. Today inflation is a well-supported theory having direct observational evidence.

Inflation is now considered part of the standard description of the origins of the universe, as depicted in this diagram by NASA.
Inflation is now considered part of the standard description of the origins of the universe, as depicted in this diagram by NASA.

Cosmic inflation makes a prediction that, so far, remains untested: the process that caused our big bang never stopped, and it will continue creating new ones for all time. This idea is known as eternal inflation.

A diagram of eternal inflation. Image Credit: Alan Guth
A diagram of eternal inflation. Image Credit: Alan Guth

Eternal inflation leads to a multiverse — a reality populated by an infinite number of big bangs, with new big bangs occurring forever.

This consequence is acknowledged by the originators of the theory:

Most important of all is the simple statement that once inflation happens, it produces not just one universe, but an infinite number of universes.

Alan Guth, in “Eternal inflation and its implications

Every experiment that brings better credence to inflationary theory brings us much closer to hints that the multiverse is real.

Andrei Linde

If this idea is right, if the multiverse of eternal inflation is real, then it has profound implications for the afterlife.

Cosmic inflation’s predictions for the afterlife

If eternal inflation is right, then our big bang is just one among an infinite succession of big bangs. Given that, even rare happenings, such as the entire history of life on Earth, is bound to repeat.

It will repeat not just once or twice, but an infinite number of times. These other lives you will live will occur in another place and time, very far away, and possibly very far in the future, but they will happen.

In an eternally inflating universe, anything that can happen will happen; in fact, it will happen an infinite number of times.

Alan Guth, in “Eternal inflation and its implications

Describing inflation, Alan Guth once said “the universe may be the ultimate free lunch.” Linde added to this:

The inflationary universe is not just the ultimate free lunch, it’s the only lunch where all possible dishes are served

Andrei Linde

Every possible history of Earth, from large changes, where say, mammals never evolved, down to the smallest, such as a different choice for dinner, happen in the immensity of eternal inflation.

So you will not only relive your life exactly as you have thus far, but in the infinitude of possibility, you will experience every variation.

That life where you took the other job, moved to the other city, where you went out to eat instead of staying in two nights ago. All of them happen, have happened, and will happen again.

The Ouroboros, is an ancient symbol for eternal cycles of birth, life, death, and rebirth. Cosmic inflation implies our universe, and those in it, are subject to a similar cycle.
The Ouroboros, is an ancient symbol for eternal cycles of birth, life, death, and rebirth. Cosmic inflation implies our universe, and those in it, are subject to a similar cycle.

The idea of a cyclic reality is ancient. It’s been described in the writings of ancient Egyptians an d Mayans, by early Indian and Greek philosophers, even in the old testament of Abrahamic religions:

What has happened before will happen again. What has been done before will be done again. There is nothing new in the whole world.

“Look,” they say, “here is something new!” But no, it has all happened before, long before we were born.

Ecclesiastes 1:9-10 (c. 450–200 B.C.)

According to eternal inflation, after you die you will be born again. You will live again. It may take a 1,000 years, or 100 trillion. But on the timescales of eternity the time it requires is unimportant. What’s important is that it’s inevitable.

We can’t test this afterlife, but we can and have tested cosmic inflation.

So if cosmic inflation is true, you will live again. In fact, under cosmic inflation, you are destined to live an infinite number of times.

(For more on inflation, see: “What caused the big bang?“)

2. Mechanism and the Afterlife

Afterlife Prediction: You will reincarnate.

Mechanism took root in the 1600s, as the laws of motion were worked out. The basic idea: the body is a machine, operating according to mechanical principles and following physical laws.

René Descartes originated mechanism in his 1633 Treatise of Man. In the 20th century, the invention of the computer revived theory. After Alan Turing invented the computer in 1936, he was among the first to speculate on the question of whether machines could think.

Today, mechanism is assumed in all fields of science, from physics and chemistry to biology and neuroscience. Mechanism is perhaps our most strongly confirmed of theories, as no violation of the laws of motion has ever been observed. Moreover, mechanism is confirmed by advances such as brain implants, artificial limbs and sense organs.

José Manuel Rodríguez Delgado‘s experiments with brain implants showed he could make animals mate, fall asleep, fight, or stop moving at the literal press of a button.

Mechanism predicts that the motion of everything, including animals and humans, can be described by simple mechanical laws. Since bodily motions are controlled by thoughts, then according to mechanism, the inner workings of our mind must also be mechanical.

Drawing by René Descartes in "Treatise of Man" (1633). Descartes viewed the bodies of animals and humans as sophisticated machines.
Drawing by René Descartes in “Treatise of Man” (1633). Descartes viewed the bodies of animals and humans as sophisticated machines.

This implies that consciousness itself is the result of the mechanical operation of a machine, in our case, the machinery of the brain. Today this view is known variously as functionalism or computationalism.

I should like you to consider that these functions (including passion, memory, and imagination) follow from the mere arrangement of the machine’s organs every bit as naturally as the movements of a clock or other automaton follow from the arrangement of its counter-weights and wheels.

René Descartes, Treatise on Man, published in 1633

I propose to consider the question, ‘Can machines think?’
[…] If we wish to find such similarities we should look rather for mathematical analogies of function.

Alan Turing in “Computing Machinery and Intelligence” (1950)

In 1950, Turing envisioned a future where manmade thinking machines could do anything a human could do, writing, “We may hope that machines will eventually compete with men in all purely intellectual fields.” (See: “When will AI take over?“)

The theory that the brain is a machine seems innocuous. Yet it leads to a radical prediction. It predicts the possibility of reincarnation — that is, a mind surviving and continuing through another’s body.

Mechanism’s predictions for the afterlife

If mechanism is right, then we can rebuild or replace any part of the brain. So long as the new part is functionally equivalent, the overall function and behavior of the machine is preserved.

So what is this mind of ours: what are these atoms with consciousness? Last week’s potatoes! That is what now can remember what was going on in my mind a year ago—a  mind which has long ago been replaced. This is what it means when one discovers how long it takes for the atoms of the brain to be replaced by other atoms, to note that the thing which I call my individuality is only a pattern or dance. The atoms come into my brain, dance a dance, then go out; always new atoms but always doing the same dance, remembering what the dance was yesterday.

Richard Feynman in “What do you care what other people think?” (1988)

Mechanism even predicts that in principle, we could scan a person at an atomic scale and, using advanced technology, rebuild that same person at another location from a different pile of atoms.

If mechanism is true, teletransporters could become a convenient form of transportation.
If mechanism is true, teletransporters could become a convenient form of transportation.

So long as the patterns of a mind are restored, the person survives. It would not matter if the original atoms or new atoms are used. The recreated person is physically and mechanically identical. No physical test could distinguish them for identical atoms are indistinguishable.

According to mechanism, we can survive the death, destruction, and even complete annihilation of our bodies. As we can be restored to life wherever and whenever the pattern of our mind is reformed.

This led to the idea, much later popular among analytic philosophers of mind, that the mental is a set of functions that operate through the body. Such an approach supports the idea that there is a place for the self within nature, that a self — even one that exists over time in different bodies — need be not a supernatural phenomenon.

Jonardon Ganeri, Professor of Philosophy

Thus mechanism implies the possibility of reincarnation. But how likely is it that an identical mind and body will be recreated elsewhere?

Your brain is incredibly complex, and is not apt to spontaneously appear out of nowhere. But your brain did not start this way. It began as a single cell. It arose from a state of zero-complexity — containing no information — to become what it is now.

A brain that is dying eventually reaches this same state of zero-complexity. In the course of its decline it can intersect and become identical with the state of a developing brain. It would have the same mechanical processes, patterns of behavior, and information content.

As a dying organism (in blue) declines and its brain complexity approaches zero. This state intersects with the state of a developing organism (in red). The result is a teletransportation: the brain dies in one location and is recreated in another location, with different material.
A dying organism (in blue) declines and its brain complexity approaches zero. This state intersects with the state of a developing organism (in red). The result is a teletransportation: the brain dies in one location and is recreated in another location, with different material.

The mind and person, could thereby survive the death of their body.

When the body dies, the ‘mechanism’ of the body, holding the spirit is gone and the spirit finds a new body sooner or later, perhaps immediately.

Alan Turing

We could become senile and become identical to a younger person (probably a baby at sleep) and that way evade death.

Saibal Mitra, Physicist

The mechanistic view that there is no soul, only matter following fixed mechanical rules, implies the possibility of reincarnation.

The soul is thereby recovered: as something distinct from any particular physical body which can transcend the death of the body.

There’s only one way to be conscious of nothing. We might call this blank state the primordial state of being. It is the state we were in before we were born, and the state we return to after we die.

Try and imagine what it will be like to go to sleep and never wake up. Think about that. Children think about that.

It’s one of the great wonders of life.
What will it be like to go to sleep and never wake up?

And if you think long enough about that, something will happen. You will find out, among other things, that it will pose the next question to you. What was it like to wake up after having never gone to sleep? That was when you were born.

Alan Watts

This primordial state is the state from which all minds emerge, and to which all beings return. Under mechanism, the existence of this singular state guarantees reincarnation as another being.

Of course, this prediction of mechanism is untestable. Traveling through a low complexity state, as a senile or dying brain requires we lose all, or nearly all information about the previous life.

Accordingly, there’s no way to tell whether a newborn’s conscious mind is a continuation of some previous being’s consciousness.

The Buddhist "Wheel of Life" depicts the perpetual cycle of reincarnation called saṃsāra.
The Buddhist “Wheel of Life” depicts the perpetual cycle of reincarnation called saṃsāra.

The idea of reincarnation appears across cultures and times.

It was expressed by ancient Greeks and Romans. It is found in the Kabbalah of Jewish mysticism as well as in Druid and Taoist philosophies. It is a tenet of many eastern religions, including Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism, and Sikhism.

Just as the embodied soul continuously passes from childhood to youth to old age, similarly, at the time of death, the soul passes into another body. The wise are not deluded by this.

Bhagavad Gita verse 2:13 (c. 200 B.C.)

The difference between death and birth is only a thought-moment: the last thought-moment in this life conditions the first thought-moment in the so-called next life, which, in fact, is the continuity of the same series.

Walpola Rahula, Buddhist scholar and monk in “What the Buddha Taught” (1959)

According to mechanism, the experience at death is something akin to reincarnation. We won’t necessarily live as ourselves over and over again as cosmic inflation predicts. Instead we can survive as other beings, some not necessarily human, in this world or others.

So if mechanism is true, you will live again. You will survive death by reincarnating to experience the life of another being.

(For more on mechanism, see: “Can a machine be conscious?“)

3. The Concordance Model and the Afterlife

Afterlife Prediction: You have infinite incarnations.

The concordance model, also known as the Lambda-Cold Dark Matter or (ΛCDM) model, is the most widely accepted cosmological model. It is therefore called the standard model of cosmology.

One assumption of this model is that the shape of the universe is flat. In other words, space has zero curvature. According to our best astronomical measurements the curvature of space \Omega_{K} = 0.000^{+0.005}_{-0.005} — so as best we can tell, it is zero.

Three possibilities exist: (1) space is positively curved, (2) space is negatively curved, or (3) space is flat.
Three possibilities exist: (1) space is positively curved, (2) space is negatively curved, or (3) space is flat.

But there is a surprising consequence of flat space: it implies space is infinite. Not just infinite empty space, but infinite and filled with infinite stuff: infinite galaxies, infinite stars, and infinite worlds.

The curvature of a sphere determines the sphere's size.
The curvature of a sphere determines the sphere’s size.

The curvature of space is the 3-d equivalent of the 2-d curvature of a sphere’s surface. The surface of a small sphere, like a marble or ping pong ball is highly curved, it is easy for us to tell it is round.

But the larger the sphere, the flatter its surface becomes. A basketball or beach ball is less curved than a marble. As spheres grow to the size of planets, the surface starts to look flat.

Now imagine the sphere kept growing, until it was infinite in size. At that point it’s curvature would be zero. It’s surface would be perfectly flat! The same is true of the curvature of space. If space is flat then space is infinite.

Measurements of temperature and polarization anisotropy in the cosmic microwave background (CMB) have played a major role in establishing and sharpening the standard “ΛCDM” model of cosmology: a six-parameter model based on a flat universe, dominated by a cosmological constant, Λ, and cold-dark-matter (CDM), with initial Gaussian, adiabatic fluctuations seeded by inflation.

Nine-Year Wilkinson Microwave Anisotropy Probe (WMAP) Observations

They say that the curvature of the Universe is tightly constrained around 0. In other words, the most likely model is that the Universe is flat. A flat Universe would also be infinite and their calculations are consistent with this too.

MIT Technology Review

But even the idea that the universe is infinite leads to bizarre and unintuitive consequences for the afterlife.

The concordance model’s predictions for the afterlife

If the concordance model is correct and space goes on forever, then it is not just space that is infinite, you become infinite.

Does space go on forever? If it does, the implications for the afterlife are extraordinary.
Does space go on forever? If it does, the implications for the afterlife are extraordinary.

Within infinite space exist infinite occurrences of the Milky Way Galaxy, infinite occurrences of our solar system, infinite occurrences of Earth, and even infinite occurrences of you, exactly as you are now.

The idea of such an alter ego seems strange and implausible, but it looks as if we will just have to live with it, because it is supported by astronomical observations. The simplest and most popular cosmological model today predicts that you have a twin in a galaxy about 10 to the 10^{28} meters from here. This distance is so large that it is beyond astronomical, but that does not make your doppelgänger any less real.

The estimate is derived from elementary probability and does not even assume speculative modern physics, merely that space is infinite (or at least sufficiently large) in size and almost uniformly filled with matter, as observations indicate. In infinite space, even the most unlikely events must take place somewhere.

Max Tegmark, Cosmologist at MIT

Infinite space implies you have infinite bodies throughout the universe. We each have unlimited physical incarnations.

If some misfortune were to kill you here and now, say a meteorite crashing down on you, you would nevertheless survive.

You would survive through the lives of your other exact duplicates on distant Earths, otherwise identical except there, no meteorite fell. Since you can’t experience those Earths where you die, you only experience those parts of the universe where you survive.

The implication: You can’t be killed, at least not everywhere. There will always be another version of you elsewhere who lives on. Perhaps one who experiences a miraculous cure, or other happenstance of fate.

So while a doctor who examines a body can determine that body to be dead, no doctor can prove a person to be dead — not without proving that person has no other incarnations surviving elsewhere in reality.

The sound Om (or Aum) represents Brahman, the infinite reality:
"Om. That (Brahman) is infinite, and this (universe) is infinite. The infinite proceeds from the infinite." -- Paingala Upanishad (c. 600 A.D.)
The sound Om (or Aum) represents Brahman, the infinite reality:
“Om. That (Brahman) is infinite, and this (universe) is infinite. The infinite proceeds from the infinite.” — Paingala Upanishad (c. 600 A.D.)

Whether or not the universe is infinite is an age-old question. It dates back at least 2,600 years with the Greek idea of the apeiron.

Some 2,300 years ago, the Greek philosopher Epicurus argued for the principle of plenitude — the idea that given infinite space and matter, there ought to be infinite worlds: some like ours, others different.

Furthermore, there are infinite worlds both like and unlike this world of ours. For the atoms being infinite in number, as was proved already, are borne on far out into space. For those atoms, which are of such nature that a world could be created out of them or made by them, have not been used up either on one world or on a limited number of worlds, nor again on all the worlds which are alike, or on those which are different from these. So that there nowhere exists an obstacle to the infinite number of the worlds.

Epicurus in “Letter to Herodotus” (c. 300 B.C.)

The idea of an infinite universe also appears in religious texts. It’s found in the Indian religions of Hinduism, Buddhism, and Jainism. And in the Chinese philosophies of Confucianism and Taoism.

In Abrahamic religions, the idea appears in Gnosticism, Bahái Faith, Mormonism, and in the writings of Christian and Islamic theologians.

It is established by evidence that there exists beyond the world a void without a terminal limit, and it is established as well by evidence that God Most High has power over all contingent beings. Therefore He the Most High has the power to create a thousand thousand worlds beyond this world…”

Fakhr al-Din al-Razi, 12th-century Islamic theologian

Know thou of a truth that the worlds of God are countless in their number, and infinite in their range. None can reckon or comprehend them except God, the All-Knowing, the All-Wise.

Baháʼu’lláh, founder of Bahái Faith, in “Tablet of Vafá”

According to the concordance model, there are infinite worlds. Some like this one, others different. Therefore, should you die here, your life nevertheless continues elsewhere, right where it left off.

So if the concordance model is true, you have infinite incarnations. Accordingly, from your own point of view, you survive any peril.

(For more on the concordance model, see: “Does space go on forever?” and “How big is the universe?“)

4. Quantum Mechanics and the Afterlife

Afterlife Prediction: You are subjectively immortal.

Quantum mechanics started as a theory of quanta (light particles), but later it was realized its rules apply to all particle types.

For the previous century evidence favored the idea that light is a wave. New findings at the turn of the 20th-century brought this into doubt:

All three results suggested that light was made of particles, not waves.

If light is a wave, it should bend around corners, just as sound waves do. It does.
If light is a particle, it should be emitted and absorbed in bundles of energy. It is.
If light is a wave, it should bend around corners, just as sound waves do. It does.
If light is a particle, it should be emitted and absorbed in bundles of energy. It is.

It took nearly two decades for physicists to reconcile this.

In 1925, Werner HeisenbergMax Born, and Pascual Jordan developed a theory based on matrices. Later that year, Erwin Schrödinger developed an alternate formula based on a wave equation.

Heisenberg’s and Schrödinger’s approaches gave the same answers. Later John von Neumann proved the two formulas were equivalent.

We now have an answer to the question of is light a particle or a wave:

Light is made of particles, but the probable locations of these particles is governed by an equation similar to those describing waves.

Today, quantum mechanics is thoroughly confirmed. It is responsible for the most accurate prediction in all of physics and is the basis of numerous technologies, including lasers, transistors, and LEDs.

We couldn’t have high-speed fiber optic networks, DVDs, flash memory, microprocessors, or flat screen displays without these.

But there is a disturbing consequence to the equations of quantum mechanics: particles can be in multiple locations at once!

Quantum computers speed up computations by exploiting the fact that particles can simultaneously be in multiple states at once. Image Credit: IBM Research
Quantum computers speed up computations by exploiting the fact that particles can simultaneously be in multiple states at once. Image Credit: IBM Research

Schrödinger was the first to realize his equation, interpreted literally, predicts an infinite number of unseen universes, where every experimental possibility is realized: a quantum multiverse.

But he never published this idea. He mentioned it in a 1952 lecture, where he warned that what he was about to say might “seem lunatic.”

His lunatic idea: when the Schrödinger equation seems to describe several different histories they are “not alternatives but all really happen simultaneously.”

Here was an eminent physicist joking that he might be considered mad. Why? For claiming that his own equation — the very one for which we had won the Nobel prize — might be true.

David Deutsch, inventor of the quantum computer, in “The Beginning of Infinity

The idea was not published until five years later. A graduate student at Princeton, Hugh Everett III, independently reached the same conclusion. He published it as his 1957 doctoral thesis.

[The universal wave function] must contain amplitudes for all possible worlds depending on all quantum-mechanical possibilities in the past and thus one is forced to believe in the equal reality of an infinity of possible worlds.

Richard Feynman, who won the 1965 Nobel Prize in Physics for Quantum Electrodynamics

In 1981, Richard Feynman was the first to have the idea of a quantum computer — a computer that exploits the resources in parallel universes to speed up calculations. In 1984, the physicist David Deutsch showed how to build one. Deutsch believes quantum computers can provide near-irrefutable evidence of many-worlds.

Deutsch explains how a table top quantum computer could exhibit more computing power than a computer made from all the matter in the observable universe.
(See “How do quantum computers really work?“)

Since the Universe as we see it lacks the computational resources to do the calculations, where are they being done? It can only be in other universes. Quantum computers share information with huge numbers of versions of themselves throughout the multiverse.

David Deutsch

Quantum computers are now a reality. You can sign up for free to run your own programs on quantum computers. That quantum computers exist forces us to confront the existence of alternate universes.

If this prediction of multiple parallel histories is true, then we live in a reality where anything that can happen, does happen.

This not only affects life as we know it, but also the afterlife.

Quantum mechanics’s predictions for the afterlife

Quantum mechanics implies the existence of unlimited alternate histories and universes. Within these universes are unlimited alternate versions of us, each living out every permutation of every possibility.

One implication of this idea is a form of immortality.

Hugh Everett, who originated the many-worlds idea, was the first to introduce the concept of quantum immortality — the idea that because we only perceive branches of the Schrödinger equation where we survive, it is impossible to die from one’s own point of view.

In a discussion with his employee Keith Lynch, also a trained physicist, Lynch recounts that Everett raised the question of whether it made sense for a believer in many-worlds to play high-stakes Russian Roulette as, in some universe, a version of you is bound to win.

Everett firmly believed that his many-worlds theory guaranteed him immortality: His consciousness, he argued, is bound at each branching to follow whatever path does not lead to death — and so on ad infinitum.

Keith Lynch

In the 1980s, others realized this implication of quantum mechanics:

For an example to illustrate this lack of uniqueness we might return to the [double slit] experiment and suppose the right-hand detector is attached to a gun which shoots, and kills, me if it records a particle. Then after one particle had passed through the experiment, the wave function would contain a piece with me alive and a piece with me dead.

One ‘I’ would certainly be alive, so we appear to have a sort of Russian roulette, in which we cannot really lose! Indeed, since all ‘aging’ or ‘decaying’ processes are presumably quantum mechanical in nature, there is always a small part of the wave function in which they will not have occurred. Thus to be completely fanciful, immortality is guaranteed – I will always be alive in the only part of the wavefunction of which I am aware!

Euan J. Squires in “The Mystery of the Quantum World” (1986)

The concept was independently described by roboticist Hans Moravec in his 1987 book Mind Children, and also by the logician Bruno Marchal in his 1988 paper Informatique théorique et philosophie de l’esprit.

We can only experience the branches where we survive. Accordingly, everyone is subjectively — from their viewpoint — immortal.

Whenever, in some particular history, your life ends, there is always some other history in the multiverse, where your life continues.

In our branch, Hugh Everett died in 1982 at age 51. But if his thesis is right, there are other branches where he is alive to this day. Even unlikely events, such as quantum tunneling to a younger age, will for some of our lucky selves, forestall the decline of old age.

Everett’s daughter, Liz Everett, took her life in 1996. In her note she expressed hope of meeting her father in a parallel universe. It is especially tragic when a young person dies. There is so much unrealized potential, so many experiences never had.

Under quantum mechanics that potential is not unrealized; only realized elsewhere in reality — in other histories of the multiverse.

Mahā-Viṣṇu sleeping in the Causal Ocean emanating millions of universes with each breath. "Even though over a period of time I might count all the atoms of the universe, I could not count all of My opulences which I manifest within innumerable universes." -- Bhagavata Purana 11.16.39. Image Credit:
Mahā-Viṣṇu sleeping in the Causal Ocean emanating millions of universes with each breath. “Even though over a period of time I might count all the atoms of the universe, I could not count all of My opulences which I manifest within innumerable universes.” — Bhagavata Purana 11.16.39. Image Credit:

The idea of an infinite reality, filled with infinite universes can be found in many religions.

There are innumerable universes besides this one, and although they are unlimitedly large, they move about like atoms in You.

Bhagavata Purana 6.16.37 (c. 800 – 1,000 A.D.)

God has the power to fill the vacuum with an infinite number of universes.

Fakhr al-Din al-Razi in “Matalib volume 5” (c. 1200 A.D.)

If the quantum multiverse is real, then we never experience death.

Further, one’s life is not constrained to a single path. Rather, each life branches out to explore every possibility.

We experience all of them — every “road not taken.”

If quantum mechanics is true, there are branches of history in which you were never born. Or died at a younger age. But despite the opinions of people in those branches, you are here, alive and well.

Those who have died from our perspective feel the same — from the position of whichever branches they survive in.

If quantum mechanics is true, you are subjectively immortal. Accordingly, from your own point of view, you will live forever.

(For more on quantum mechanics, see: “Does everything that can happen, actually happen?“)

5. Special Relativity and the Afterlife

Afterlife Prediction: You have an eternal existence.

Special relativity redefined our ideas of space and time. Both become merged into a unified four-dimensional whole called spacetime.

Albert Einstein developed special relativity in 1905, his miracle year. As incredible as its predictions were, every time a prediction of relativity has been tested, it has been proven right.

Special relativity overturned an idea espoused by Newton, and believed since the time of Euclid who established geometry in 300 B.C.: the idea that time and space are absolutes.

If time were absolute then everyone should agree on the order of events and what exists and happens in the present moment of time. Absolute time also implies time flows at the same rate for everyone.

According to relativity, observers travelling at different velocities will disagree on the ordering of events (A, B, and C). Image Credit: Wikimedia
According to relativity, observers travelling at different velocities will disagree on the ordering of events (A, B, and C). Image Credit: Wikimedia

Relativity forced us to dispense with all these ideas. The rate time flows, the order of events, and the content of the present are not absolute, but relative. Different observers can disagree.

Are two events (e.g. the two strokes of lightning A and B) which are simultaneous with reference to the railway embankment also simultaneous relatively to the train? We shall show directly that the answer must be in the negative.

Albert Einstein in “Relativity: The Special and the General Theory” (1916)

The only way to reconcile their different viewpoints is through a four-dimensional reality where time and change are illusions. Asking “what event happens first?” is like asking “what seed comes first in an apple?”

Here we see the same apple, sliced at two different angles. The direction we choose to slice through the apple determines the order the seeds are encountered.
Here we see the same apple, sliced at two different angles. The direction we choose to slice through the apple determines the order the seeds are encountered.

Events are embedded in spacetime like seeds are embedded in apples. There is no absolute ordering to the seeds. The order you encounter them depends on the angle you choose to slice through the apple.

One of the first to notice this implication of special relativity was Einstein’s teacher Hermann Minkowski. Since then, Einstein and other physicists have adopted it. It is now a standard view among physicists.

The views of space and time which I wish to lay before you have sprung from the soil of experimental physics, and therein lies their strength. They are radical. Henceforth space by itself, and time by itself, are doomed to fade away into mere shadows, and only a kind of union of the two will preserve an independent reality.

Einstein’s professor Hermann Minkowski, in Space and Time (1909)

It appears therefore more natural to think of physical reality as a four dimensional existence, instead of, as hitherto, the evolution of a three dimensional existence.

Albert Einstein in “Relativity: The Special and General Theory” 15th edition (1952)

Should special relativity be correct, it has implications for the afterlife.

Special relativity’s predictions for the afterlife

In four-dimensional spacetime, change — as a future coming into being and then disappearing into a non-existent past — doesn’t happen.

According to relativity, the word “now” becomes like the word “here”. Neither word reflects a property of the universe, but instead reflects a property of the person speaking it.

Just as we envision all of space as really being out there, as really existing, we should also envision all of time as really being out there, as really existing too.

The physicist Briane Greene in “The Elegant Universe” (1999)

So if the four-dimensionalism of special relativity is true, then we are eternal beings. We live forever across all times spanning our existence.

Of course, man is four-dimensional, just like all other organisms and objects. This mere situation implies that there is a life after death, namely, that part of the four-dimensional human being that exists after the moment of his death.

C.W. Rietdijk in “Four-dimensional reality continued” (2018)

On March 15, 1955, Michele Besso, a dear friend to Einstein, died. Einstein wrote a letter of condolence to Besso’s widow.

Now he has again preceded me a little in parting from this strange world. This has no importance. For people like us who believe in physics, the separation between past, present and future has only the importance of an admittedly tenacious illusion.

Albert Einstein, in a letter to Besso’s family (1955)

Relativity tells us we must dispense with the idea that time flows or that there’s an objective present. In this revised view, Julius Caesar is alive — he’s just in a location 2,000 light years away in spacetime.

From Caesar’s viewpoint, the present is a little before 0 A.D. and none of us are yet born. Our opinion that he is long dead doesn’t bother him — no more than the opinions of people born in 4000 A.D. bother us.

It’s also no coincidence the present year happens to be a time during your life, rather than a billion years in the past or future. You will always find yourself at a point in time where you exist.

Horus holds an ankh to Ramses II. The ankh, called the cross of life, is a 5,000 year old symbol of eternal life. Coptic Christians adopted it as a symbol of the promise of everlasting life.
Horus holds an ankh to Ramses II. The ankh, called the cross of life, is a 5,000 year old symbol of eternal life. Coptic Christians adopted it as a symbol of the promise of everlasting life.

Some 2,500 years ago, the Greek philosopher Parmenides argued that existence is timeless and any appearance of change is an illusion.

what is, is uncreated and indestructible, alone, complete, immovable and without end.

Parmenides in “The Way of the Truth” (circa 475 B.C.)

We also find the idea of timeless existence within Eastern religions. For example in Hinduism:

The unchanging Om is the All. Its expansion is, what has been, what is, what shall be. And what is beyond the three times, is also Om. For all this is the Eternal; and this Self is the Eternal; and this Self has four aspects.

Mandukya Upanishad (c. 200 A.D.)

Religions that consider God to know the future, or God to be outside of time often describe future events as already existing — at least within the mind of God.

God, owing to His infallible prescience of the future, has appointed and ordained from eternity all events occurring in time, especially those that directly proceed from, or at least are influenced by, man’s free will.

The Catholic Encyclopedia

There exist times long before you were born and times long after you died. But despite the opinions of people in those other times, you are here, alive and well, within the time span of your life.

That is our true nature, as four dimensional beings.

Many religions promise eternal life. If special relativity is true, you already have it. You exist eternally. Your life is yours forever.

(For more on special relativity, see: “What is time?“)

6. Biological Immortality and the Afterlife

Afterlife Prediction: You can be made immortal.

Biological immortality refers to the discovery by biologists that there exist in nature species that not only don’t age, but can live forever.

Gerontologists like Aubrey de Grey, and technologists like Ray Kurzweil, believe the ills of aging are, in principle, curable.

Many organizations are now working on, if not devoted to, a cure for aging. This includes the SENS research foundation, Google-backed Calico, Human Longevity, Harvard’s Paul F. Glenn Center for Biology of Aging Research, UCLA’s Molecular Biology Institute, the American Academy of Anti-Aging Medicine, BioViva, Turn Biotechnologies, Unity Biotechnology, The Methuselah Foundation, and Age X.

"In this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes." — Ben Franklin
“In this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes.” — Ben Franklin

Perhaps aging and death are not inevitable. According to the current understanding, aging is wear and tear manifest at the cellular level.

Between 1955 and 1982 science went from almost no understanding of aging to having what is now considered a complete picture:

The seven forms of age-related damage.
The seven forms of age-related damage.

No new forms of age-related damage have been discovered since 1982. Aubrey de Gray outlined Strategies for Engineered Negligible Senescence (SENS), techniques that if mastered, could reverse age-related damage.

In 2005, MIT challenged molecular biologists to find any flaw in SENS, and offered a $20,000 prize to whomever made the best argument. Despite that, it was the opinion of the judges that “no submission met the criterion of the challenge and disproved SENS.”

There is nothing in biology yet found that indicates the inevitability of death. This suggests to me that it is not at all inevitable, and that it is only a matter of time before the biologists discover what it is that is causing us the trouble and that that terrible universal disease or temporariness of the human’s body will be cured.

Richard Feynman, “The Pleasure of Finding Things Out” (1999)

We will transcend death and that natural cycle. We’re not just grapes on the vine—we are overcoming that natural process that we emerged from. Yes, we came from nature, but we are going to surpass it through the power of our technology, which comes from our mind made manifest in the real world.

Ray Kurzweil

Should a cure for aging be found in your lifetime, it has major consequences for the afterlife. For what is an afterlife if you never die?

Biological immortality’s predictions for the afterlife

If biological immortality is right, then our lives could theoretically be extended to thousands, millions, perhaps even billions of years. We could then experience thousands or millions of human lifetimes.

In 1900, life expectancy in the U.S. was 47 years. By 2000 it had risen to 75 years — an increase of 28 years over a century, or 3 months every year. Should future technology enable life expectancy to grow by 12 months per year, then humanity will achieve technological immortality.

We’ve been expanding our life expectancy for thousands of years. So it was 19 thousands of years ago, 37 in 1800. We’re gonna get to a point, 10 to 15 years from now, where we’re adding more time than is going by, to our remaining life expectancy.

Ray Kurzweil author of “Fantastic Voyage: Live Long Enough to Live Forever

Aubrey de Gray has coined this concept: longevity escape velocity. He believes the first person to live to 1,000 is already alive on this planet.

I think the first person to live to 1,000 might be 60 already.

Aubrey de Grey in 2004 (Were you younger than 60 in 2004?)

Though we don’t possess technological immortality today, you might be young enough to live to that future where we do.

The Fountain of Youth, 1546 painting by Lucas Cranach the Elder.
The Fountain of Youth, 1546 painting by Lucas Cranach the Elder.

The 3,500 year old Rigveda, of the Hindu tradition, describes a drink of the Gods called amrita. It confers to its drinkers immortality.

The Book of Genesis, compiled 2,600 years ago, describes a tree called the tree of life in the Garden of Eden. Eating from this tree provided eternal youth and immortality for those in the garden.

Around 200 B.C., China’s first emperor, Qin Shi Huang, sent 1,000 people in search of the elixir of life — none returned.

Every culture has a name for it: amrita, soma, ambrosia, nectar of the gods, tree of life, elixir of life, philosopher’s stone, fountain of youth. All represent the same dream: escaping the fate of old-age and death.

Modern medicine is on the verge of finding a real fountain of youth.

Scientists have used gene manipulation to program creatures to live 10 times longer, they have tested drug cocktails that reverse aging in humans, and discovered how to reset cells to more youthful stages.

The implication is if you can live long enough, you can be made immortal. You could live foreveror at least — as long as you want.

(For more on biological immortality, see: “Can aging be cured?“)

7. The Simulation Hypothesis and the Afterlife

Afterlife Prediction: You are already immortal.

The simulation hypothesis is the idea that what we take to be physical reality is not the true reality, but a computer-generated simulation.

Hans Moravec was the first to propose the idea in 1998. In 2003, Nick Bostrom formalized the theory with his simulation argument.

But it was a new name for an old idea: the dream argument. This is the idea that we cannot tell what is real from what is a dream. The dream argument appears in Socrates’s The Theaetetus in 369 B.C. and in the writings of Zhuang Zhou from around the same time.

In 1849, the poet Edgar Allan Poe asked “Is all that we see or seem
But a dream within a dream?” Today, we teach this lesson to infants. Our nursery rhymes tell them that “life is but a dream.”

Today, modern technology and ideas like virtual reality, computer simulation, video games, and mind uploading, allow us to conceive of scenarios where what we take as real, may in fact, be a sort of dream.

When connected to a virtual reality, the location you seem to inhabit does not exist in the usual physical sense, rather you are in a kind of computer-generated dream.

Hans Moravec in “Pigs in Cyberspace” (1992)
Compare realism of "Wolfenstein 3D" (1992) to "Wolfenstein: The New Order" (2014)
Compare the realism of “Wolfenstein 3D” (1992) to “Wolfenstein: The New Order” (2014)

In a few decades, computer games have transformed from flat and pixelated to immersive photo-realistic 3-dimensional worlds. How realistic might video games of the coming decades and centuries be?

Might they be so realistic that we could be in one and not realize it?

With full sensory integration, you could experience any taste or smell, ache or pain, sight or sound. You could feel balance and touch, even hunger. With memory integration, you could be made to believe you were someone else, or temporarily forget who you really are.

In "The Matrix" what people took for reality was a simulation created by their AI masters.
In “The Matrix” what people took for reality was a simulation created by their AI masters.

The idea has captured our fascination in fiction. There is the play Life is a Dream from 1636, the book Simulacron-3 from 1964, and the movies The Matrix and The Thirteenth Floor from 1999.

But could such works of fictions become a reality? A more pressing question, how do we know we’re not already in some kind of Matrix?

After all, we’ve already put simpler creatures in one.

In 2016 researchers at the OpenWorm Foundation uploaded the brains of worms into virtual environments. Project leader Stephen Larson asked, “Is it possible that what we are proposing is to build the world’s first worm Matrix? An environment where a nervous system would not know if it was in the real world or if it was in a virtual world?”

Nick Bostrom’s simulation argument gives us a way to estimate the probability that we are in a simulated reality. It turned the dream argument into a rigorous scientific question we can investigate.

The simulation argument takes the form of a trilemma:

The argument shows that at least one of the following propositions is true: (1) the human species is very likely to go extinct before reaching a “posthuman” stage; (2) any posthuman civilization is extremely unlikely to run a significant number of simulations of their evolutionary history (or variations thereof); (3) we are almost certainly living in a computer simulation.

Nick Bostrom in “Are you living in a computer simulation?” (2003)

When asked whether our reality might be a simulation produced by information entities, the roboticist Hans Moravec answered:

Of course. In fact, the robots will re-create us any number of times, whereas the original version of our world exists, at most, only once. Therefore, statistically speaking, it’s much more likely we’re living in a vast simulation than in the original version.

Hans Moravec in interview for Wired (1995)

According to Bostrom’s argument, should humanity survive to the point where it can run simulations of humans living at earlier points in history, then it is a near certainty that you are in a simulation now.

In that case, you would not be an original human being living at this time in humanity’s development. Instead, you would live in the distant future — a time when humanity has mastered virtual reality and experiences, and perhaps conquered aging, disease, and scarcity.

It’s conceivable that in this time, humanity will have transcended its corporeality. We might live as spiritual beings without physical bodies — as minds that can inhabit any virtual reality of our choosing.

Simulation hypothesis’s predictions for the afterlife

If the simulation hypothesis is right then what you consider to be your life — a life as a physical being in a physical world — may in actuality be a computer-generated dream.

Should you awaken from this dream you will recall your true nature: an immortal being who has lived many lives on many physical worlds. You will also find yourself to be in a familiar place. Perhaps reunited with those you know from this life and others. Beings you have shared countless lives and experiences with, over billions of years.

You will exist in a realm where anything that can be imagined is possible, a place that knows no suffering, disease, hunger or death.

An afterlife in a different simulation or at a different level of reality after death-in-the-simulation would be a real possibility. It is even conceivable that the simulators might reward or punish their simulated creatures based to how they behave, perhaps according to familiar moral or religious norms (a possibility that gains a little bit of credibility from the possibility that the simulators might be the descendants of earlier humans who recognized these norms).

Nick Bostrom in “The Simulation Argument FAQ” (2008)

This is inevitable if the universe is infinite. In that case, every conscious experience has infinite explanations. Among them is the case where your current experience exists within a simulation.

When we die, the rules surely change. As our brains and bodies cease to function in the normal way, it takes greater and greater contrivances and coincidences to explain continuing consciousness by their operation. We lose our ties to physical reality, but, in the space of all possible worlds, that cannot be the end. Our consciousness continues to exist in some of those, and we will always find ourselves in worlds where we exist and never in ones where we don’t. The nature of the next simplest world that can host us, after we abandon physical law, I cannot guess.

Hans Moravec in “Simulation, Consciousness, Existence” (1998)

Accordingly whether you are in a simulation or not, doesn’t matter. For when you die, it will be as if you had always been in a simulation, as your consciousness only continues along those paths where it can.

According to Bostrom, “In a ‘Big World’ cosmology, all possible human observations are in fact made by somebody somewhere.”

Unlike the reincarnation suggested by mechanism where we lose memories of this life, the simulation hypothesis implies a type of resurrection, where memories of this life are preserved. Upon death we will awaken from this dream, and find ourselves as immortal spiritual beings reunited with other spiritual beings.

As we know from experience, if we dream of having a winning lottery ticket, when we awaken we cannot take it with us. All we can take from a dream are the experiences, memories, and lessons we learned in it.

The highest Heaven as illustrated by Gustave Doré for Dante's Divine Comedy
The highest Heaven as illustrated by Gustave Doré for Dante’s Divine Comedy

These ideas are not only ancient, but nearly universal among the world’s religions. We find in them the idea that the world is a dream, that we will return to a plane of existence with memories learned here, and that we can break free from the cycle of reincarnation.

In Zoroastrianism, one of the oldest surviving religions, it is said that one’s urvan (soul) is sent to the mortal world to collect the experiences of life. The Taoist philosopher Zhuang Zhou wrote 2,300 years ago, “someday there will be a great awakening when we know that this is all a great dream.”

We are not human beings having a spiritual experience; we are spiritual beings having a human experience.

Jesuit priest Theillard de Chardin in “The Phenomenon of Man” (1955)

Among Abrahamic religions, Jews call it olam haba (the world to come), Christians call it the Kingdom of God (heaven), Muslims call it Jannah (paradise). All describe a place devoid of suffering, without toil, sickness, or hunger, and inhabited by immortal souls without bodies:

In the world to come there is nothing corporeal, and no material substances; there are only souls of the righteous without bodies.

Jewish philosopher Maimonides (c. 1100 A.D.)

What I am saying, dear brothers and sisters, is that our physical bodies cannot inherit the Kingdom of God. These dying bodies cannot inherit what will last forever.

First Book of “Corinthians 15:51” (c. 50 A.D.)

Within Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism, and Sikhism, the ultimate goal of all souls is to break free from the perpetual cycle of reincarnation in the physical world. This cycle is called saṃsāra. To break from this cycle is known as achieving moksha or nirvāṇa.

Such a liberated soul can then be free of the repeated cycle of birth, life, death, and reincarnation, and all the suffering therein.

Make me immortal in that realm where happiness and transports, where Joys and felicities combine, and longing wishes are fulfilled.

RigvedaMandala 9, hymn 113, line 11” (c. 1500 B.C.)

Within Buddhism is the idea of a Pure Land where one is freed from the cycles of rebirth. Once reborn into the pure land one does not fall back into saṃsāra unless one chooses to do so to help other beings.

All the simulation hypothesis requires is our prowess at creating virtual reality to keep improving. Moreover, if reality is big enough, as with eternal inflation, the concordance model, or the quantum multiverse, then it is guaranteed that we are already within a simulation.

There are reasons to believe the ultimate purpose of life is to have experiences. Simulation and virtual reality thereby represent the final goal of technological development. (See: “What is the meaning of life?“)

So if the simulation hypothesis is right, you are already immortal. You will awaken to find yourself as an immortal being who lives in a realm of infinite possibilities where any experience or life is possible.

(For more on the simulation hypothesis, see: “Are we in a computer simulation?“)

8. The Technological Singularity and the Afterlife

Afterlife Prediction: You will be resurrected.

The technological singularity is a theoretical future point that life, technology, and the universe appear to be evolving towards — one of maximum consciousness, creativity, and intelligence.

The idea was first described in the writings of the Jesuit priest Teilhard de Chardin in the 1930s but it was suppressed until after his death in 1955. De Chardin believed the universe is evolving towards a point of maximum consciousness which he called the Omega Point.

In 1956, a similar idea appeared in Isaac Asimov’s The Last Question. Of the 500 books Asimov published, it was his favorite story.

The first discussion of the technological singularity among scientists was a conversation between Stanislaw Ulam and John von Neumann:

One conversation centered on the ever accelerating progress of technology and changes in the mode of human life, which gives the appearance of approaching some essential singularity in the history of the race beyond which human affairs, as we know them, could not continue.

Stanislaw Ulam, in 1958, recounting a conversation with John von Neumann

Technology advances rapidly. For how much longer can this trend continue? Where might we be when it ends?

Computing power grows exponentially. Since 1900 we’ve seen a 10^{18} fold increase in the price-performance of computers. Image Credit: Steve Jurvetson
Computing power grows exponentially. Since 1900 we’ve seen a 10^{18}-fold increase in the price-performance of computers. Image Credit: Steve Jurvetson

It’s not just technology that is changing ever-faster. Even important historical events are happening at an ever accelerating pace.

When Ray Kurzweil plotted major historical events (paradigm shifts) from 15 different lists, it revealed the average time between paradigm shifts to be shrinking towards zero.
Image Credit: Ray Kurzweil
When Ray Kurzweil plotted major historical events (paradigm shifts) from 15 different lists, it revealed the average time between paradigm shifts to be shrinking towards zero.
Image Credit: Ray Kurzweil

Should these trends continue for just a few more decades, we will reach a point where the time between major historical events approaches zero — as if all future progress will happen at once.

Essential historic developments match a binary scale marking exponentially declining temporal intervals, each half the size of the previous one and equal to a power of 2 times a human lifetime. It seems that history itself is about to converge around 2040 in an Omega Point (Teilhard de Chardin, 1916) or Historic Singularity (Stanislaw Ulam, 1958).

Father of modern AI, Jürgen Schmidhuber in “Is History Converging?” (2006)

Evolution moves towards greater complexity, greater elegance, greater knowledge, greater intelligence, greater beauty, greater creativity, and greater levels of subtle attributes such as love. In every monotheistic tradition God is likewise described as all of these qualities, only without limitation: infinite knowledge, infinite intelligence, infinite beauty, infinite creativity, infinite love, and so on. Of course, even the accelerating growth of evolution never achieves an infinite level, but as it explodes exponentially it certainly moves rapidly in that direction. So evolution moves inexorably towards this conception of God, although never quite reaching this ideal.

Futurist and inventor Ray Kurzweil in “The Singularity is Near” (2005)

In the final anthropic principle or if anything like an infinite amount of computation taking place is going to be true, which I think is highly plausible one way or another, then the universe is heading towards something that might be called omniscience.

Physicist David Deutsch in “The anthropic universe” (2006)

If this idea is right, the ultimate end of progress is to reach the limits of knowledge, complexity, and intelligence. Should such a state be reached, by anyone anywhere, there are consequences for the afterlife.

Technological singularity’s predictions for the afterlife

Should a technological singularity occur at any future time, it will possess the power to computationally resurrect anyone from the past.

It can do this by simulating alternate histories, brute forcing possible life forms, or by reconstructing the past by collecting all available records. Once this superintelligence or Omega Point knows your state at the end of your life, it can allow the simulation to keep going. It may provide you with an afterlife, perhaps even one of your choosing.

A superintelligence could also create opportunities for us to vastly increase our own intellectual and emotional capabilities, and it could assist us in creating a highly appealing experiential world in which we could live lives devoted to joyful game-playing, relating to each other, experiencing, personal growth, and to living closer to our ideals.

Nick Bostrom in “Ethical Issues in Advanced AI” (2003)

Frank Tipler describes how this Omega Point could allow the resurrected to interact — united in a kind of virtual heaven.

The body and memory collection could be set in any simulated background environment the Omega Point wished: a simulated world indistinguishable from the long-extinct society and physical universe of the revived dead person; or even a world that never existed, but one as close as logically possible to the ideal fantasy world of the resurrected dead person. Furthermore all possible combinations of resurrected dead can be placed in the same simulation and allowed to interact. For example, the reader could be placed in a simulation with all of his or her ancestors and descendants.

The cosmologist Frank J. Tipler in “The Omega Point as Eshaton” (1989)

Moravec says that future artificial intelligences of overwhelming processing power will be able to reconstruct human society in every detail by tracing atomic events backward in time.

It will cost them very little to preserve us this way. They will, in fact, be able to re-create a model of our entire civilization, with everything and everyone in it, down to the atomic level, simulating our atoms with machinery that’s vastly subatomic.

Hans Moravec in interview for Wired (1995)

Why might an Omega Point bother to do this? Would you do nothing if you were in a position to save billions of lives, and could do so at little cost to yourself?” (See: “Are there universal values?“)

The afterlife predicted by the technological singularity is not unlike the resurrection envisioned by various religions.

Many religions believe that in the future God will bring the dead back to life and provide those resurrected beings an eternal life, living with God and all other resurrected beings.

Salvador Dalí was fascinated by Teilhard de Chardin's Omega Point theory, which partly inspired his 1960 masterpiece "The Ecumenical Council"
Salvador Dalí was fascinated by Teilhard de Chardin’s Omega Point theory, which partly inspired his 1960 masterpiece “The Ecumenical Council

A perfection of the world and resurrection of the dead is an ancient idea. It appears in Zoroastrianism, which is 4,000 years old and in the religion of ancient Greece. It is also found in the eschatologies of Abrahamic religions: Judaism, Christianity, Islam and Baháʼí Faith.

It will happen in a moment, in the blink of an eye, when the last trumpet is blown. For when the trumpet sounds, those who have died will be raised to live forever. And we who are living will also be transformed.

First Book of “Corinthians 15:52” (c. 50 A.D.)

Early Jews and Christians believed that heaven would be a place formed on earth or in the sky, rather than in some alternate plane of existence. God would refashion the world, creating the world to come.

If the technological singularity is right, there will exist a God-like mind with the power of resurrection. Should it exercise this power, you will be resurrected and reunited with others to share in an eternal afterlife.

(For more on the omega point, see: “Does God exist?“)

9. The Transcension Hypothesis and the Afterlife

Afterlife Prediction: You are part of a God-like mind.

The transcension hypothesis is a theory that supposes the reason we haven’t encountered alien civilizations is that they leave our universe.

It was developed in 2011 by John M. Smart and builds off the ideas of John Barrow who in 1998 proposed microdimensional mastery. This is the speculation that advanced technological civilizations pursue ever-finer scales of manipulation of matter, space, and energy.

Building structures at the nano and sub-nano scales not only improves computational speed and data storage densities, but also makes computation more efficient. A computer operating at the ultimate physical limits of speed and memory looks like a black hole.

Black holes are useful. They're the longest-lasting objects in the universe, they are also the ultimate power plants, heat sinks, and computers. They can even act as portals to the future.
Black holes are useful. They’re the longest-lasting objects in the universe, they are also the ultimate power plants, heat sinks, and computers. They can even act as portals to the future.

The transcension hypothesis predicts advanced civilizations enter black holes. They disconnect from our space and time, and in so doing, gain maximum computation for the mass and energy put in.

Why would anyone choose to enter a black hole or cut themselves off from the rest of the universe? What’s there to do inside a black hole?

In a word: everything. The computational resources in a black hole offer knowledge of other universes and realities, insights about alternate histories and timelines, and provide for any imaginable experience.

Computers are telescopes that can peer into other universes. Here we see a sampling of the objects and goings-on within a 2-dimensional universe discovered by John Conway.

Computation is the ultimate tool for explorers. It allows one to explore any possible outer-space via reality simulation and access any possible inner-space (i.e. conscious experience) via brain simulation.

While telescopes only let us see objects of our universe, computers let us peer into other universes. We can see and extract information about objects in other realities. Likewise, other universes that permit construction of computers can peer into our universe and observe us.

Maybe someday, despite current evidence, a means will be devised to peer into adjacent universes, sporting very different laws of nature, and we will see what else is possible. Or perhaps inhabitants of adjacent universes can peer into ours.

Carl Sagan in “Pale Blue Dot” (1994)

Today, we have devised this means. In fact, simulation is now an indispensable tool for today’s cosmologists. It allows them to explore and experiment with alternate universes and cosmic histories.

With the power of modern supercomputers we are now able to replicate cosmic evolution with great precision through simulations. So we are now able to make replicas of the universe in a computer and this is a very powerful tool that cosmologists have developed in order to understand the universe.

Carlos Frenk in “What We Still Don’t Know – Why Are We Here” (2004)

Computer simulation, like a telescope for the mind’s eye, extends mental vision beyond the nearby realm of simple mathematical objects to distant worlds, some as complex as physical reality, potentially full of living beings, warts, minds, and all. Our own world is among this vista of abstractly conceivable ones, defined by the formal relationships we call physical law as any simulation is defined by its internal rules.

Hans Moravec in “Simulation, Consciousness, Existence” (1998)

If the transcension hypothesis is right, advanced civilizations will be drawn to explore the unlimited potentialities of consciousness and possibilities of existence. This creates another possible afterlife.

The transcension hypothesis’s predictions for the afterlife

There are two forms of knowledge:

  1. Third-person knowledge: knowledge that is shareable and communicable — knowledge that can be found in books, or stored as facts. For example, the population of Paris, or the height of Mt. Everest.
  2. First-person knowledge: knowledge that comes from direct experience which cannot be learned any other way — conscious and sensory experiences, emotions, and feelings. This knowledge is not communicable, it must be felt firsthand. For example, the smell of a rose, or the pain of a bee sting.

A transcended civilization might use simulation to learn everything there is to know about the history, evolution, and biochemistry of apple trees, but without creating conscious experiences they would still know very little about what there is to know about apples.

Such a civilization would lack first-person knowledge. They wouldn’t know how an apple tastes to human taste buds, nor how an apple pie baking in the oven smells. They could have all the book knowledge there is, while remaining ignorant of rich conscious experiences.

A civilization or mind interested in knowing everything must pursue not only third-person knowledge, but also first-person knowledge.

This requires that it not only simulate everything, but be everything and try everything. After all, that is also where all the fun is.

A superintelligence operating on a black hole or planet-sized computer could have the mental experiences of every living being that ever lived on an entire planet. According to Bostrom, such a computer “could simulate the entire mental history of humankind by using less than one millionth of its processing power for one second.”

In that microsecond it could live out a billion year saga, seen through the eyes of every person who ever lived, from each generation, tracing progress from the person who invented the wheel to the life of the first person who took the first step on the surface of the moon.

Do we find ourselves in a new body, or no body? It probably depends more on the details of our own consciousness than did the original physical life. Perhaps we are most likely to find ourselves reconstituted in the minds of superintelligent successors, or perhaps in dreamlike worlds (or AI programs) where psychological rather than physical rules dominate.

Hans Moravec in “Simulation, Consciousness, Existence” (1998)

Confession: if I love [computationalism], it is because it entails the existence of many things not “physically present,” notably those incredible deep universal dreamers which keep losing themselves in an incredible labyrinth of partially shareable dreams, meeting ladders and ladders of surprises, self-multiplying and self-fusing, and which are partially terrestrial and partially divine creatures.

The logician Bruno Marchal in discussion list (2011)

If superintelligences exist with the aim of learning all there is to know, this knowledge includes all first-person knowledge (all experiences). Among the set of all experiences, is the experience of what it is like to be you in this exact moment.

Accordingly, if civilizations transcend then your current experience and life can also be explained as the exploration of a transcendent superintelligence, which may exist in this universe, if not another.

Accordingly, when your life is over, you may wake up as a God-like mind, a superintelligence who has lived not only your life but the lives of every being who has ever lived.

The divine play called The Raslila of Krishna. Image Credit: Wikimedia
The divine play called The Raslila of Krishna. Image Credit: Wikimedia

The idea that God knows every being’s perspective can be found in many religions. In several it is stated explicitly.

To the Hindu, for example, God didn’t create the universe, but God became the universe. Then he forgot that he became the universe. Why would God do this? Basically, for entertainment. You create a universe, and that in itself is very exciting. But then what? Should you sit back and watch this universe of yours having all the fun? No, you should have all the fun yourself. To accomplish this, God transformed into the whole universe. God is the Universe, and everything in it. But the universe doesn’t know that because that would ruin the suspense. The universe is God’s great drama, and God is the stage, the actors, and the audience all at once. The title of this epic drama is “The Great Unknown Outcome.” Throw in potent elements like passion, love, hate, good, evil, free will; and who knows what will happen? No one knows, and that is what keeps the universe interesting. But everyone will have a good time. And there is never really any danger, because everyone is really God, and God is really just playing around.

Warren B. Sharpe in “Philosophy For The Serious Heretic” (2002)

Under this view, the world is a play (called lila) and one entity plays the role of every actor. It is you, you are it, and it is everyone.

If God is omniscient then God must know what it is like to be you. How then can we tell whether you are you, or part of God’s perfect knowledge of what it feels like to be you in this moment?

This uncertainty about one’s true identity was pointed out by Zhuang Zhou 2,300 years ago, in his telling of the butterfly dream.

Once, Zhuang Zhou dreamed he was a butterfly, a butterfly flitting and fluttering about, happy with himself and doing as he pleased. He didn’t know that he was Zhuang Zhou.

Suddenly he woke up and there he was, solid and unmistakable Zhuang Zhou. But he didn’t know if he was Zhuang Zhou who had dreamt he was a butterfly, or a butterfly dreaming that he was Zhuang Zhou.

Zhuang Zhou in “Zhuangzi” (c. 300 B.C.)
“Then you would get more and more adventurous and you would make further and further out gambles as to what you would dream. And finally you would dream where you are now. You would dream the dream of living the life that you are actually living today. That would be within the infinite multiplicity of choices that you would have — of playing that you weren’t God.” — Alan Watts

According to the transcension hypothesis, there exist minds with the experience of billions of lives. There would exist minds that know what it is like to be every creature that’s lived on Earth and minds that know what it’s like to be creatures born to other possible universes.

So if the transcension hypothesis is true, you are part of a God-like mind. When this life ends you can awaken as this being — one in possession of the life memories not only of this life, but the lives of all others.

(For more on the transcension hypothesis, see: “Are we alone?” and “Can life survive the heat death of the universe?“)

10. Open Individualism and the Afterlife

Afterlife Prediction: You live wherever there is life.

Open individualism, like other theories of personal identity, aims to answer the question: “which experiences belong to which persons?”

The theory of open individualism was first proposed in 1990 by Arnold Zuboff, and expanded upon in a 2004 book by Daniel Kolak. But, the idea had adherents among scientists going back decades.

The common-sense view of personal identity is that each person is identified by either the material continuation of some body, or the psychological continuation of some mind. In this way we can say a person at age 80 is ultimately the same person as when they were 10.

The physicist Freeman Dyson at age 10 and 82. What makes these two the same person?
The physicist Freeman Dyson at age 10 and 82. What makes these two the same person?

But this common-sense view breaks down when we consider less common situations. Cases like split-brains, cloning, merging memories, fusing minds, duplication machines, faulty transporters, and amnesia. If we create several identical copies of a person, which does the original become? One of them? All of them? None of them?

These situations reveal that the common-sense view, which Kolak calls closed individualism, leads to inconsistencies and therefore must be false. But if the common-sense view is wrong, what’s the alternative?

According to open individualism: "You possess all conscious life. Whenever in all time and wherever in all the universe (or beyond) any conscious being stands, sits, crawls, jumps, lies, rolls, flies or swims, its experience of doing so is yours and is yours now. You are that being. You are fish and fowl. Deer and hunter. You are saints and sinners." -- Arnold Zuboff
According to open individualism: “You possess all conscious life. Whenever in all time and wherever in all the universe (or beyond) any conscious being stands, sits, crawls, jumps, lies, rolls, flies or swims, its experience of doing so is yours and is yours now. You are that being. You are fish and fowl. Deer and hunter. You are saints and sinners.” — Arnold Zuboff

If closed individualism is false, it leads to open individualism. This is the idea that there is only one experiencer to which all experiences belong.

This is also the resolution of the tension between the rival criteria for personal identity, psychological and bodily continuity. As with brain bisection, there is here an embarrassment of riches. Either side of the classic debate has the upper hand when it argues positively that the person could remain the same if its own pet criterion was maintained even if the other was wholly absent. And, indeed, one could easily imagine a person going along into another body with a transfer to that body’s brain of his pattern of memories. And yet one can also easily imagine the person’s continuing in the same body with an experience of amnesia or false memories. It seems that all such content of experience, in different bodies or with differing mental states, could be mine.

Arnold Zuboff in “One Self: The Logic of Experience” (1990)

The traditional, commonsense view that we are each a separate person numerically identical to ourselves over time, i.e., that personal identity is closed under known individuating and identifying borders—what the author calls Closed Individualism—is shown to be incoherent. The demonstration that personal identity is not closed but open points collectively in one of two new directions: either there are no continuously existing, self-identical persons over time in the sense ordinarily understood—the sort of view developed by philosophers as diverse as Buddha, Hume and most recently Derek Parfit, what the author calls Empty Individualism—or else you are everyone, i.e., personal identity is not closed under known individuating and identifying borders, what the author calls Open Individualism.

Daniel Kolak in “I Am You: The Metaphysical Foundations for Global Ethics” (2004)

If there is just one experiencer — a single person who possesses all conscious experience, then it has major implications for the afterlife.

Open individualism’s predictions for the afterlife

What were the preconditions necessary for you to be born, for you to be blessed with life and consciousness? Did it require specific atoms in your first cell, or would any atoms do? Did it require specific genes, or might you still be alive if your eyes were a different color?

Open individualism supposes that there are no necessary preconditions. That regardless of the material, or genes, or even parents, you would be born and you would experience life.

But then it follows from this that you must also experience the lives of every being, born anywhere to any parents. At first, this sounds ridiculous on its face. Surely we would know if we also experienced the lives of others. Wouldn’t we?

Things are not so clear. Even in our own lives we have experiences that we no longer remember. Someone had the vivid experience of eating that breakfast you had 2,471 days ago, an experience you probably can’t recall anything about from your present vantage point. Might it be the same with the experiences of other lives?

Many thinkers have independently come to this view. These include eminent scientists such as a founder of quantum mechanics Erwin Schrödinger, the astronomer who solved the formation of the elements in stars Fred Hoyle, the polymath Freeman Dyson, and Kurt Gödel, considered the greatest logician since Aristotle.

If they’re right, then all conscious life is you. All experiences are yours.

Inconceivable as it seems to ordinary reason, you — and all other conscious beings as such — are all in all. Hence this life of yours which you are living is not merely a piece of the entire existence, but is in a certain sense the whole; only this whole is not so constituted that it can be surveyed in one single glance.

The physicist Erwin Schrödinger in “My View of the World” (1951)

Enlightenment came to me suddenly and unexpectedly one afternoon in March when I was walking up to the school notice board to see whether my name was on the list for tomorrow’s football game. I was not on the list. And in a blinding flash of inner light I saw the answer to both my problems, the problem of war and the problem of injustice. The answer was amazingly simple. I called it Cosmic Unity. Cosmic Unity said: There is only one of us. We are all the same person. I am you and I am Winston Churchill and Hitler and Gandhi and everybody. There is no problem of injustice because your sufferings are also mine. There will be no problem of war as soon as you understand that in killing me you are only killing yourself.

Freeman Dyson in “Disturbing The Universe” (1979)

If open individualism is right, the implications are astounding.

Every building you see, you have lived the lives of everyone who built it. You have lived as all of your ancestors, and all your descendants; as all the rulers of the world, and all the peasants. You are every creature that has swum, crawled, or flown on this planet or any other.

Andy Weir’s short story, The Egg teaches a similar lesson

Open individualism teaches us we ought to regard others as self. It thereby provides an ethical framework not unlike teachings found in many religions. We should also be more understanding of others, for not only would we act the same way in their shoes, but we are in fact in their shoes and we did choose to act that way.

"The sum total of all that lives is God. We may not be God, but we are of God, even as a little drop of water is of the ocean." -- Mahatma Gandhi
“The sum total of all that lives is God. We may not be God, but we are of God, even as a little drop of water is of the ocean.” — Mahatma Gandhi

The idea that all consciousness is of a single consciousness is ancient. It appears explicitly in the religions of Hinduism and Buddhism.

The karm yogis, who are of purified intellect, and who control the mind and senses, see the Soul of all souls in every living being. 

The Bhagavad Gita chapter 5 verse 7 (c. 200 B.C.)

The root of all things is nothing else but one Self.

Samantabhadra Buddha in the “Kulayarāja Tantra” of Tibetan Buddhism

Based upon the direct experience of those who have fulfilled the necessary conditions of such knowledge, this teaching is expressed most succinctly in the Sanskrit formula, tat tvam asi (‘That art thou‘); the Atman, or immanent eternal Self, is one with Brahman, the Absolute Principle of all existence; and the last end of every human being is to discover the fact for himself, to find out Who he really is.

Aldous Huxley in “The Perennial Philosophy” (1946)

The realization of seeing the self in others, forms the basis of the nearly universal Golden Rule:

That which you hate to be done to you, do not do to another.

Papyrus scrolls found in ancient Egypt (664 – 323 B.C.)

Killing a living being is killing one’s own self; showing compassion to a living being is showing compassion to oneself.

The Saman Suttam verse 151

Love your neighbor as yourself.

Book of Leviticus 19:18

The most righteous person is the one who consents for other people what he consents for himself, and who dislikes for them what he dislikes for himself.

Mohammad in the Hadith

Regard your neighbor’s gain as your own gain, and your neighbor’s loss as your own loss.

The Taoist scripture T’ai Shang Kan Ying P’ien (12th century)

Zuboff concludes in Oneself, “Perhaps the spread of this knowledge among the intelligent beings that are you can help you to stop yourself from hurting yourself because you mistake yourself for another.”

Huxely’s Perennial Philosophy concludes, “The goal of creation is the return of all sentient beings out of separateness and that infatuating urge-to-separateness which results in suffering, through unitive knowledge, into the wholeness of eternal Reality.”

According to open individualism, you cannot die so long as there is life anywhere in reality. For every living being, everywhere, is you.

So if open individualism is true, you live wherever there is life. You are the universal person and the one self of experience.

(For more on open individualism, see: “Why was I born?” and “Is there a universal ethical or moral system?“)


Is there life after death?

It took thousands of years of investigation, but science now offers answers to this age-old question. We find the idea of an afterlife is a scientific idea, because it is a prediction of well-established theories.

We have reviewed 10 scientific theories which count among their predictions the prediction of an existence beyond this life.

Science reveals an afterlife that cycles forever, sees reincarnation through other beings, and has infinite lives throughout an infinite cosmos. It has shown that we are subjectively immortal, eternal, and through technology might live billions of years, and experience countless lives from an immortal plane of virtual reality. We have seen how science predicts that we could be resurrected by a God-like mind, indeed, we may even be part of such a God-like mind now, even if we’re not already the one soul present in all conscious life.

Only in the case that all 10 of these theories are false, are we fated to experience but one brief stint as a mortal human being on earth.

But what if all these theories are true? What would we experience after death when there are so many possibilities? Do we experience reincarnation, or resurrection, do we awaken as a God, or as a worm?

In a sense, we experience them all. One’s consciousness would for a time get lost in a web of dreams, losing itself — perhaps for eons — before finding itself again. Once the consciousness realizes it is God, it dives back in, to dream the great cosmic lotus dream.

There is the deep and appealing notion that the universe is but the dream of the god who after a 100 Brahma years dissolves himself into a dreamless sleep and the universe dissolves with him until after another Brahma century, he stirs, recomposes himself and begins again to dream the great cosmic lotus dream.

Carl Sagan in Cosmos episode 10 “The Edge of Forever” (1980)

In his book “Dreams of a Final Theory“, the physicist Steven Weinberg concludes, “I do not for a minute think that science will ever provide the consolations that have been offered by religion facing death.”

Expressions of scientific atheism have been common among scientists, but in the face of accumulated evidence this view is no longer tenable.

In his book “The Physics of Immortality,” the cosmologist Frank Tippler replied to Weinberg, saying “I disagree. Science can now offer precisely the consolations in facing death that religion once offered.”

It seems Tippler’s view is correct. Starting from well-supported scientific theories, from special relativity, to quantum mechanics, from mechanism to cosmology, from technology trends to theories of personal identity — all these premises, when followed to their logical ends, lead to ideas of an afterlife not unlike what is found in various religions.

If ideas like life after death are amenable to scientific investigation and rational consideration, then perhaps we are witnessing the fall of scientific atheism and the rise of a kind of scientific spiritualism — what Aldous Huxley called autology — the science of the self.

Through these techniques and investigations, we can extend our understanding of and perhaps add to the science of the soul.

Related articles:

84 Replies to “Is there life after death?”

  1. This was an excellent article Jason, I especially appreciated all the additional sourcing and quotes, it shows the thoroughness of your research.

  2. Thank you Ram! I am happy you enjoyed it and that you appreciate the quotes and sourcing. It took time to pull it all together but I think it is worth it to show the conclusions different people have reached on these questions.

  3. Thanks for the article. A few notes:

    re: relativity

    In contemporary unified QM/GR “primitive ontologies”, foliation formalizes unambiguous temporal order, which persists as an ontologic basis — despite the observed relativistic effects. Unification of GR with QM just seems to require this.

    Some references:

    – Builder: The Constancy of the Velocity of Light

    – Valentini: Hidden variables and the large-scale structure of space-time

    – Tumulka: The Point Processes of the GRW Theory of Wave Function Collapse

    re: Open Individualism

    Zuboff and Kolak haven’t yet written solid papers on the OI concept, so the concept remains more poetic than reasoned.

    Kolak’s strong transcendental idealism was critiqued by Thomson, who gave reason to think Kolak’s view implausible. To my knowledge, Kolak hasn’t responded.

    Zuboff relies on the Sleeping Beauty probability problem, which he tries to resolve with subjective experience of time. Wenmackers has argued, more clearly, that subjectivity doesn’t have an essential role in the resolution.

    Zuboff also relies on brain bisection philosophy, but his reasoning gets some essential facts wrong. He doesn’t seem to know that topic very well.

    Some references:

    – Thomson: Counting subjects

    – Wenmackers: The Snow White problem

    re: Metaphysics by Default —

    My essay reasoning is naturalistic. “Existential passage” is a thoroughly naturalistic continuance concept. I think that’s why the reasoning withstands criticism today, after two decades of discussion. See esp. Ch. 9 ff.

    Best regards,

  4. Dear Wayne Stewart,

    Thank you vert much for your review of the article and for your references. I intend to write some more detailed articles on quantum mechanics and open individualism soon, and these sources will be most valuable.

    As to resolving temporal order in relativity, I have an article that covers this, at least from the perspective of special relativity:

    I would greatly appreciate any thoughts or feedback you might have on this. Your site and book appear very interesting, I will check it out.

    Best wishes,


  5. re: temporal order

    Perhaps it’s surprising, but the assumption of unambiguous temporal order remains reasonable, not least because successful QM/GR unification retains the unambiguous temporal order of the absolute simultaneity of QM non-local correlation. I hope the references are helpful there. Also, Tim Maudlin has written accessible philosophical papers on this topic.

    A reference:

    Maudlin: Quantum Non-Locality and Relativity, 3rd revised ed.

    re: Metaphysics by Default

    If you give it a look, you’ll notice that the reasoning never relies on sci-fi tropes. That’s because a fully naturalistic line of reasoning doesn’t need sci-fi, or any nomologically impossible tropes.

    If you comment, try to avoid sci-fi tropes in your own text; that discipline can strengthen your text dramatically.

    Some references:

    – Wilkes: Real People: Personal Identity without Thought Experiments

    – Rescher: What If?: Thought Experimentation in Philosophy

    Best regards,

  6. Oh sir you did a Great job, this is really an outstanding article, especially on a topic about which I was searching for the last few days!! Loved the contet, it Satisfied me.?

  7. Thank you for this outstanding article.
    It has answered some of my questions about afterlife….and gave me great comfort . Everything was presented in a manner that was not only knowledgeable but understandable.

    1. Dear Dr. Mary jo Sabo,

      I am happy to hear that this article provided answers and comfort to you. Thank you for letting me know!

  8. Excellent stuff Jason. I would suggest that at some point you hook up on the internet with Dr. Guilio Prisco (ret.) who had worked at CERN and the EU Space Program. He is being into the theme of this episode, and the human and transhuman future. You can view his writings at (yeah a pun!).


    1. Hi Mitch,

      Thank you! I have been in contact with Dr. Prisco via the extropy list and have a copy of his book (which I have yet to get to, but it is on my reading list ). Your suggestion to reach out to him again on this topic is great. I have just done so. Take care!

    1. Dear Vuyokazi Hlazo,

      You and your son have my deepest sympathies. I think little can be done to lesson the acute pain of a recent loss. My hope is that in time, the understanding that this loss is temporary, and that one day you will see him again, may provide you some comfort.

      Jason Resch

  9. i just wanted to say that i have been dealing with depressing thought of this toppic in years and this article changed my life and lifted a huge sotne of my heart, i can not explain on how thankful i am for this, you have changed my life and made me enjoy my life again

    1. Dear Jan,

      That is wonderful news! Thank you for sharing it with me. I am very happy that this article has helped you.

  10. Whether speaking of reincarnation or the possibility of existing in another dimension, people just see what they want to see. They make it sound like there’s something better after this life, but there might be worse after death or there might be nothing after death. Humans fear non-existence and suffering so they create happy thoughts to make themselves feel better. Theories which make them feel good about dying, but there might be nothing after death. This life might be all that we have, and that thought has depressed mankind for as long as mankind has been in existence. So that’s why we have all these theories. We created them as a medicine for this depression. But the ultimate truth could be the simplest answer of all, and that is that after death, we cease to exist for eternity. Never again will we see our loved ones. Never again will we experience anything. The saddest truth could be the ultimate fate that awaits us all, and because that possibility is the most likely outcome, it makes this one and only life that we have, a very sad one.

    1. Hi Mark,

      Though I agree with you that many theories are created for the purpose of making people feel better, I don’t think that applies to most of the theories covered in this article.

      For example, special relativity was made to explain consistent measurements of the speed of light. Quantum mechanics was invented to explain subatomic particles. Cosmic inflation was created to explain the big bang, and so on.

      None of these theories were created with the intention of making humans feel better about death, yet all of these theories have implications for lives other than the one we see. So while idea that this life is the only one we get remains a possibility, for it to be true, then all of the aforementioned theories in this article would have to be false.

    2. Mark Anthony Pereira, imagine living in a universe where all the big questions had been answered. No mysteries or astonishment,
      just certainty. No need for art or storytelling or music or imagination, hell why would you even need to have consciousness or a brain.
      It is this beautiful mystery of life that causes us to be conscious, whoever crafted this unfathomable puzzle knew what they were doing. After a lifetime of seeking you end up back where you started but vastly enriched by the journey.
      You are mourning your way through the one life you know you have because it will end but if you were granted two or ten or one hundred lives you would continue to fear that eventually life must end.

    3. “after death, we cease to exist for eternity”
      – I’m sorry, but that’s just not possible if Big Bang was the beginning of space and time itself. It even doesn’t make any sense. If there was the beginning of time (Big Bang), it must have its end, which means you can’t cease to exist for eternity, simply.
      All the scientific facts we have and will get are still limited to our physical realm. One and obvious thing to tell is that “you can’t create something from nothing”. Quantum tunneling is something, not nothing. And you still need to consider the fact that there was a beginning of everything. The only explanation there is, is the existence of an unknown force beyond everything that has ever existed, currently exists and will come into existence in the future. That force is known to many scientists as “God”.
      People always wanted to follow science and be rational about these things, avoiding any kind of religion or faith. Now you have this excellent article with literal scientific proof based on already well known theories, and you still deny it.

      1. That’s it, you did it, you’re really right about what you’ve said. Those people cannot see themselves beyond matter and physics, they think that we are just limited to matter and physics, and they say that everything related to metaphysics/extraphysics, religion, spirituality and so on are purely supestition or quackery or delusion and so on. They cannot see themselves beyond than they are, yes, science is limited to only what’s natural and material. If it was just as Mark Anthony Pereira said, then philosophy would have no sense and there wouldn’t have any reason for people to live and so on. Thinking we are more than just matter and physics is not something for give comfort and such, but it’s more as a way to understand the life and to understand how the nature is, it’s just like say we have discovered everything about nature and there’s nothing more to discover.

        Mark’s arguments are just problematic and nihilistic, that’s what he actually said about, nihilism is just about to put all other philosophies and being meaningless, there are more things than just matter and physics, Mark’s arguments could be used as a way to say some centuries ago that there’s nothing beyond the sky as well as Europe, Asia and Africa are the only continents that exist.

        That’s what we should have to say, scientific atheism and nihilism are becoming a lot more common, yes, but yet, we shouldn’t care about what they say and so on. Mark’s arguments are just nihilistic and pointless in this case.

        Say that there’s no metaphysics is just like say there’s no philosophy and philosophy should be all replaced by natural sciences, and yes, if belief in afterlife is just like Mark said, then we can also say that belief in only one life is also a way to say that, we can also adapt all Mark’s arguments for attack belief in one life, and that’s it.

  11. Good work keep it up I believe every possible variation of your life is the most realistic not reincarnation or open individualism because of compatibility. I always come back as me a dog always comes back as a dog an ant always comes back as an ant. That makes the most sense and I think eternal inflation is the most likely cause of inflation. I think each bubble universe looks infinite from the inside but finite from the outside. Also coming back as the same person is something to do with personal identity The Concordance Model and the afterlife and quantum mechanics of the afterlife is the same thing in my opinion. I think that Quantum mechanics implies the existence of limited (but very large number of) alternate histories and universes. Within these universes are limited (but a very large number of alternate versions of us, each living out every permutation of every possibility. Lilke Max Tegmark says you will only survive where there is a binary option you die instantly or survive not due to old age or cancer where your consciousness slowly deteriorates. I believe space is open from inside but closed from the outside our bubble but inflation made it look flat. Like Max Tegmark says the only difference between the Concordance Model and quantum mechanics s is where your Doppelgangers reside in the concordance model (level 1 multiverse) they live really far away in space and quantum mechanics (level 3 multiverse) they live on another branch in Hilbert space. So he says both models contain the exact same possibilities as each other. I think that your consciousness is a process of a certain quantum state.

    1. Hi James,

      Thank you for your comment. I am glad you appreciate the article!

      Regarding reincarnation, the question is what does it mean to be “a human” or “a dog” as the complexity of a dying brain approaches zero? At a certain complexity limit, there is no difference, which is why reincarnation need not be constrained to continue as the same person or even as the same species in the next life. But such forms of reincarnation are true, it also means that eventually, you will find your way back to being you as you are now.

      Regarding the similarity between infinite space, infinite big bangs, and quantum mechanics, you are right to point out a similarity. Anthony Aguirre and Max Tegmark and have a paper on this exact concept:

  12. Hi Jason.

    re: “At a certain complexity limit, there is no difference, which is why reincarnation need not be constrained to continue as the same person or even as the same species…”

    I think your complexity limit is similar to the subjective limits I sketch in essay, e.g.:

    “Whenever two terminals delimit a period of complete inactivity, they define an unfelt time-gap [after William James] — one which would seem to operate without regard for irrelevant particulars, such as the name assigned to the subjective function at either terminus.”

    Here I’m mapping subjective limits (limits of subjective function) onto William James’ unfelt time-gap limits. In this way my reasoning becomes an application of James’ well-known and widely accepted reasoning.

    A reader might question my conception of “subjective limit”, or your conception of “complexity limit”, but it’s a rare reader who questions James’ unfelt time-gap. That’s standard, mainstream clinical psychology, even a “default” concept. Likewise, the other standard concepts, facts, and principles applied throughout the essay. Hence, “Metaphysics by Default”.

    Do you see some advantages that stem from application of “default” concepts, facts, and principles to this hard topic?

    Best regards,

    1. Hi Wayne,

      I think there’s a lot of overlap. The classic “teletransporter” thought experiment I would regard as analogous to a “space-gap”, where the transported person experiences a continuous conscious experience despite a discontinuous jump in space, just as we experience continuous consciousness in a time-gap. The form of reincarnation described in this article might be seen as a combination of a “time-and-space” gap — where an identical mind state is instantiated in a different time and place. So I think there’s a lot that can be learned from your approach to these problems.

  13. Hi Jason.

    Yes, I think there is a bit of overlap, and not just with my text, but also with the reasoning of a few other contemporary and historical writers, noted in essay.

    A thread of “physicalistic continuance” weaves through it all, with some recognition of commonality / indistinguishability at limits.

    Of note: Once the reader grants certain uncontroversial physicalistic and psychological premises, counter-argument becomes very hard. As we’ve seen over two decades, continuance is more easily argued.

    And do see what Wilkes and Rescher say about sci-fi tropes such as teleporters, above. A perforce non-functional teleporter thought experiment does not improve reasoning. The reasoning can be grounded better in a functional concept: e.g., James’ “unfelt time-gap”. If you’re unsure about that claim, try some theme-and-variation reasoning for continuance, using teleporters and unfelt time-gaps in support.

    But remember:

    When you say,
    “Let’s assume the teleporter works this way,”
    your reader can say,
    “No, let’s assume it works a completely different way, producing a contradictory result.”

    We can’t assert a truth of the matter in sci-fi, and that hamstrings reasoning reliant upon a sci-fi trope.

    Best regards,

  14. “If life exists after death”
    Can it be like the loved we love now is can be with us after death and also our mom & dad and family can be together again if life exists again ?? Can we ??

    1. Hi Tara,

      In short: yes. An afterlife where one is reunited with loved ones is implied by Eternal Inflation (#1), the Simulation Hypothesis (#7), and the Technological Singularity (#8).

      If you prefer to watch a video that covers these topics you can find it here:

      I hope this information is helpful to you.

  15. I’m quite scared about the possibility of eternal return. I’d hate to live out my unhappy childhood again and again for all eternity.

    I like the idea that our minds are downloaded by a super computer that can allow us to life out a new life exactly how we want it.

    Please tell me do you think that one is more likely? Eternal return is terrifying.

    1. Hi Alex,

      As to which afterlife is most likely, that is a great question, but the way I see it is they are not mutually exclusive, in that one theory being true does not make the others false.

      Rather, I see each possibility as creating a fork in the paths that one’s soul can follow. Ultimately it creates a tangled web of possible future experiences, but given time enough, we might eventually traverse all the paths.

      There is perhaps a useful analogy here with a water molecule: it spends some time as a pond, some time as an ocean, some time as a cloud, and some time as a raindrop. I think one’s consciousness is like that. It spends some time as an embodied creature in a material world, some time as a God-like being in a realm with unlimited computing power, some time as a disembodied consciousness as a member of a technologically advanced civilization where almost any experience or life is accessible.

      So might you live your life again, as eternal return predicts? I think so, but it is likely you will live a trillion other lives between now and then, gaining many new experiences and perspectives in that intervening time. It is perhaps not unlike the Hindu idea that every soul is on an ascent to discover it is God (moksha), but God, upon learning this, decides to become the universe and everyone in it, and thus restart its journey of self-discovery. See:

  16. I’m 16, and my mom said something to me while driving me to see my friends: “The only thing that every human has in commom is death.” I got super scared since I had never talked about what happens next. I also couldn’t enjoy the night with my friends.

    I’m trying to accept the fact that I’m going to die, and I’m even seeing someone to help me go through it. There was a time where I couldn’t think about anything except this, for about 2 days, It was like I didn’t have a reason to live.

    My question is, in theory #1, since the Universe is infinite, and so are we, how can we die in our World and be alive in other ones? Is it the same conciousness? Or is it different version of ourselves in different galaxies and times? Because if it is, we would die anyway, but others me would be alive. Did I misinterpret this theory or Is it like this?

    What creeps me out is not the fact of being forgotten or being in nothing, is never being able to experience the things that I love the most, for example, playing with my dog, or hanging out, or seeing a beautiful sunset.

    In any of these theories, is there anyone which can explain that our conciousness is the same? Or that our memory is erased but we still are alive in another place? If so, how does it happen?

    It’s just to many unanswered questions, but I’m dealing with it. The more I enjoy my life, the more it will take for me to die and I will be less scared of It. I guess we only trully knows what happen when we actually experience it. If you can answer any of these questions I would be gratefull.

    1. Hi Leonardo Freitas,

      To your question of (are those other instances out there me?), this comes down to a question of personal identity, and I am planning an in-depth article on this very question. The way I see it: they have everything they need to be you, all the same memories, hopes, desires, wishes, experiences, and the immediate sensation and conscious experience of being you.

      The one thing you never have to fear is not being conscious and alive. You will always find yourself conscious and alive, wherever that may be and whoever that may be as.

      I think you might find some answers and some solace in this video:

      I hope this information may be helpful to you.

      1. I get it, but if the Universe ends and so does my brain, how can I become someone else for eternity?

        1. Hi Leonardo Freitas,

          There are two parts to your question.

          First: “Will the universe end forever?” According to eternal inflation, new universes (new big bangs) are perpetually generated as the false vacuum of space inflates and will continue to do so forever. So even as our universe, and the last being in it die, perhaps some 10^100 years from now, there will still be new universes and new life being created for all time.

          Second: “Are those other versions of me in other universes still me?” I think the best way to approach this question is with an analogy. If we had technology to heal you of any wound, put you back together again regardless of the injury, would that healed version of you still be you? What if your injury blew you into 100 pieces and this machine perfectly put you back together? If you can accept that this restored version of you is still you, then what if the healing machine puts you back together using some mix of atoms not originally part of you? This doesn’t seem important, as our bodies are constantly cycling new atoms in and old atoms out. So if the material composition is irrelevant to survival, then by what reason might a version of oneself, reassembled at a another time and place (perhaps even another universe) not still be oneself?

          1. Your analogy makes much sense to me. But think it from this point: people that believe in heaven and hell think that after they die their soul leaves their body. As I’m an atheist, i don’t see a way of our soul having thoughts or being us, unless there is some sort of science that we do not know about. So, when we die, our brain will be decomposed together with our body. How can we, even not remembering our old life, have the same conciousness? I totally get your analogy, but what doesn’t make sense is that if reincarnation exists, how can our conciousness be moved from one body to another? That is my only question now. I’m sorry for bothering you but I like to talk about this with people that have the same questions as I do.

          2. Hi Leonardo,

            > How can we, even not remembering our old life, have the same conciousness?

            Is it your consciousness that experienced eating breakfast 2,197 days ago, despite that you now have no memory of it? Or if someone were now to hit you on the head and make you forget the last 15 minutes, whose consciousness was it that experienced those 15 minutes?

            If you can agree that it is still your consciousness, despite not presently possessing memories of those experiences, then memory alone cannot be the anchor point of one’s identity, and so we should conclude that one’s conscious might continue even in cases one becomes a total or partial amnesiac concerning past events of their life.

            > I totally get your analogy, but what doesn’t make sense is that if reincarnation exists, how can our conciousness be moved from one body to another?

            If you stepped into a “Star Trek-style” transporter, but somehow became an amnesiac in the processes, would you still have survived even when your memories did not? It is an interesting question which I hope to address more fully in future articles. But you might enjoy some of these videos which cover the same topic:


            I hope these answers and videos help. I appreciate your questions!

  17. Your article is quite interesting, that’s a nice way to convince a materialist or even an eliminativist (orange materialist) that there’s life after death, but still, I think you should had talked about the spiritual part of it, like Astral Projection, NDE, Mediumship, Psychic Phenomena, Out-of-body Experiences, Mystical/Spiritual Experiences, Spiritual Healing, Materialization, Past Life (Reincarnation) Memories, Other Dimensions (mainly spiritual ones) and so on, that would be nice if you had talked about those in your article, I know they are quite controversial, but you could use a pragmatic or an epistemological pluralist way to talk about them, anyway, feel free to answer me about them, anyway, if you’re going to answer me about them, try to make one paragraph for each one, it’s not a must, but it’s more a way to see what you know about them and what you’ve found about them, of course, in a way that it would be possible to convince someone who says that those things are “Pseudoscience”, “Delusions”, “Mental Illnesses” etc. Take your time on that, I am waiting for your answer as well.

    1. Hi William,

      Thank you. I am glad you liked the article and appreciate your suggestions for expanding the scope. Some of these will be covered as subtopics in future articles. In particular, a future article on “Are we in a simulation?” will show how a scientific, rational and comprehensible theory can nonetheless make room for and perhaps even explain many of the phenomenon you mention above.

      The most recent article, on “Why does anything exist?”, suggests reality is all-encompassing: i.e. all self-consistent, logically-possible realms/planes/universes/domains — every possible way of being — exists and is real somewhere. Thus the burden shifts from assuming some thing we can’t see doesn’t exist to instead proving why that thing cannot exist. If this reasoning bears out, then it means even our most fantastical fiction isn’t really fiction, but rather a description of other places, elsewhere in reality.

  18. I admire a lot your article and efforts on it, but yet, I have a big question, how would spiritual beings, gods and even God himself exist beyond our universe? How is their fisionomy, their form (it if they have one) and how’s their societies and so on being beyond the universe and beyond the spacetime? And how they can make people have mystical/spiritual experiences and interact with people and how they can still exist beyond the universe and beyond the spacetime without disappear? Is there some kind of aether or extraphysical substance that they are formed? I know that there might have some science about that, and those things are really hard and complex to answer and understand, but those are some questions that you should try to think about it, because that’s a question that a lot of people actually have and that most of people do not even know how to answer or explain that, besides that it’s a subject that divides a lot of people too.

    1. Hi Mateus,

      I am planning an article to cover this question: “Does God Exist?” It will cover varying conceptions of Gods, and what, if any, rational basis exists that could account for each of the conceptions.

  19. How is it possible to live again as yourself If the strength of the inflationary field varies in which other bubble universes are created then how is it possible that if eternal inflation is true you will live again in some future universe if the conditions if which they were created varies? Why is Dr matt brown saying that each bubble universe would be unique? If you get different laws of physics including a different value of epsilon and different constants of nature also a different density of dark matter, a different average density of normal matter, a different density of dark energy, a different ratio of dark matter to normal matter to dark energy and a different cosmological constant then how is it possible to live and relive every possible variation of your life an infinite number of times in future universes of eternal inflation? If there are an infinite number of ways that the laws of physics and the constants of nature be different and also an infinite number of ways that the density of dark matter can be different, an infinite number of ways that the average density of normal matter can be different, an infinite number of ways that the density of dark energy can be different, an infinite number of ways that the ratio of dark matter to normal matter to dark energy can be different and an infinite number of ways that the cosmological constant can be different as the condition in which they were created varies by the the strength of the inflationary field then how is it possible that you would live again as yourself and the universe repeating itself an infinite number of times in future universes of eternal inflation?

    1. Hi James,

      I appreciate your challenging questions. I think there are two ways you might live again when the inflationary field varies:

      1. The possible strength of the field lies on a continuum for which there are an infinite number of possible values. If this is the case, then there will be an infinite number of field strengths that are so close together that they could not make any measurable difference to anyone or anything in this universe. If all values on the continuum are possible, then there will be field strengths that are arbitrarily close together (for example, the same to 10^1000 decimal places). For values this close, they will result in universes that have effectively indistinguishable physics for all purposes, and can result in universes with identical histories if close enough.


      2. The strength of possible fields lies on a discrete range, for which there are a finite number of possible values. If this is the case, then each of the finite possible values will be chosen infinite times, across the infinite bubble universes that come into being.

      Though logically, there are two possibilities (discrete or continuous), with infinite universes both appear to bring us to the same conclusion: what has happened already can happen again.

  20. I’ve got some useful information about inflation, the multiverse and living again for your inflation article.
    For us to live again and the history of the universe happen again you need.

    1) Roughly the same as our string theory vacua

    2) Roughly the same as our string theory geometry

    3) Roughly the same as our laws of physics

    4) Roughly the same as our constants of nature

    5) Roughly the same as our dark matter density

    6) Roughly the same as our normal matter average density

    7) Roughly the same as our dark energy density

    8) Roughly the same as our ratio of dark matter to average matter to dark energy

    9) Roughly the same as our cosmological constant

    As long as it meets the those criteria’s then we are living again

    Even if there was a tiny bit different as long as there is no detectable difference it doesn’t matter as quantum mechanics only measures things to a finite precision.

    There are already an infinite number of bubble universes in a volume which is essentially infinite. What inflation does makes the space between bubble universes expand at a very fast rate and in those expanding regions of space new universes continue to form and this process goes on forever.
    Think of this
    0 times infinity is 0 before inflation started you get 0 universes
    1 times infinity is infinity once inflation started you already get an infinite number of universes as soon as inflation starts
    2 times infinity is also infinity when inflation produces more universes

    Any non zero number times infinity is also infinity
    So the the space between existence universes expands so rapidly and in those regions of expanding space new universes continuously form forever.

    1. Hi James,

      Thank you for your comments. I will use some of this information in the upcoming article on inflation. 🙂

  21. Death is cruel requires analysis before commenting. Unhealthy age related degeneration of body is equally painful. Leave it to GOD if you believe.

    1. Hi S.K. Arya,

      God, or entities with God-like power, can offer paths for continued survival beyond what we perceive as death. For example, if this universe is a simulation your life could continue beyond and outside it, or if your life is the experience of a God-like mind you could awaken from this dream to find yourself as God, or if a benevolent future or present entity chooses to recreate, and thereby resurrect, the minds of beings who die in this world, you may find yourself in an afterlife. These are just a few of the possibilities that we in our limited position have imagined and lack the capacity to rule out.

  22. For us to live again and the history of the universe happen again you need.
    1) Roughly the same as our string theory vacua
    2) Roughly the same as our string theory geometry
    3) Roughly the same as our laws of physics
    4) Roughly the same as our constants of nature
    5) Roughly the same as our dark matter density
    6) Roughly the same as our normal matter average density
    7) Roughly the same as our dark energy density
    8) Roughly the same as our ratio of dark matter to average matter to dark energy
    9) Roughly the same as our cosmological constant
    As long as it meets the those criteria’s then we are living again
    Even if there was a tiny bit different as long as there is no detectable difference it doesn’t matter as quantum mechanics only measures things to a finite precision.
    If the above 9 criteria are met will will live again but we won’t remember anything about the previous life because we will lose all the information stored in our brains when we die. In a way it’s good that you will live again but in another way it’s pointless because you won’t remember. I’ve got 2 articles that explain this and So both Sean Carroll and Adam Jacholkowski don’t believe your have an immortal soul a soul that leaves your body when you die but they believe your consciousness or mind is made of a series of atoms and electrons. They believe there is no way for the information stored in your brain to persist after you die. But then you get remade in another universe with the same series of atoms and electrons when you were made in this universe.
    1) Why was I born as this person not another person
    2) Why am I this person not another person
    3) What brought my consciousness into existence
    4) What is keeping my consciousness in existence
    5) What makes me me
    6) How do I experience things
    7) How I feel about things
    8) How I think about things

    If it can happen once it can happen again
    If it has the potential to happen once it has the potential to happen again
    Imagine going to sleep and ceasing to exist forever that is not possible eventually you will wake up and come into existence again.

    1) The average density of normal matter (atoms) is 10 to the power of minus 29 g/cm cubed. About 5 hydrogen atoms per cubic metre of space.
    2) The density of dark matter is 2.241times 10 to the power of minus 27 kg/m cubed or Dark matter is a hypothetical form of matter thought to account for approximately 85% of the matter in the universe and about 27% of its total mass–energy density
    3 The density of dark energy is 7 times 10 to the power of minus 30g/cm cubed.
    4) The ratio of normal matter to dark matter to dark energy is 5% normal matter, 27% dark matter and 68% dark energy
    5) The cosmological constant is 1.1 times 10 to the power of minus 52

    So it’s not just the laws of physics would have to be roughly the same as they are now for universe to repeat itself but also roughly same as the 5 things mentioned above ie the mass energy density of the universe.

    1. You raise many great and deep questions.

      As to:
      3) What brought my consciousness into existence
      4) What is keeping my consciousness in existence
      This is partially covered in the article and video “Why does anything exist?”

      6) How do I experience things
      7) How I feel about things
      8) How I think about things

      These questions I hope to cover in the very next article, on “What is consciousness?”

      1) Why was I born as this person not another person
      2) Why am I this person not another person
      5) What makes me me

      These will be covered in an upcoming article on personal identity, likely with a title related directly to one of those 3 questions. 🙂

  23. S.K.Arya
    Since ancient times and in our life also find some Yogis sitting in meditation for years in Himalayas and ordinarily also make prediction and talk about life which we have spent already you have not touched much on spiritually. This article has created more questions than answers. I am still in favor of teaching in Baghwat Gita at the age of 84.Chapter 8 says by Lord Krishna if you remember me in the last moments of Death i Shall take you with me and liberate you from death and life.

    1. Hi S.K. Arya,

      I think the Yogis are right in that there is much to be gained from quiet contemplation. And certainly there is much wisdom to be found in the many texts of Hinduism. I consider it a good sign if this article has invoked more questions. I think it would be a sad day if we ran out of questions to ask. 🙂

  24. Hi All,

    Please if anyone can help!

    Will these spirits incarcerate with their very loved ones like wife, husband, kids..? I think these are the only relations those are very loving and connected on souls level for each person..

    1. Hi Sk Rana,

      Reuniting with loved ones is made possible by the afterlives described in the sections: 1 (cosmic inflation), 7 (simulation hypothesis), and 8 (technological singularity). I hope this information is helpful to you! Let me know if you have other questions.

  25. Your article is really nice, that’s really nice to see that there are science people who actually believes there’s an afterlife and that defies the new atheist beliefs that there’s no afterlife and that it’s the only life we got. Your article should be more spread and you should consider to seek for some scientist to write a long paper showing that there’s afterlife as well as showing there are spiritual beings, gods, extraphysics/metaphysics and such.

    About the spiritual beings and gods things, yes, they aren’t supernatural entities nor even gods at all, they are just simply spiritual species and beings that exist beyond what humans can actually understand, your article is really good, and I hope you’ll write a new article mentioning about gods and spiritual beings, and also that supernatural is part of natural and such.

    And also, I seriously advice you try to find someone who can write a long paper showing there’s an afterlife and showing all possible arguments favorable to the existence of an afterlife and so on, it would be really cool to do that. It’s really sad that now Google are showing several results showing scientists who say “there’s no afterlife” while your article doesn’t appear. I also suggest you to try to advice this article even more on Google or even ask some famous, maybe Sam Harris or Bill Nyle to react over this article, it might be good for you and even to improve this arguing about afterlife and such, it’s upon to you now, I hope you’re going to do something about that somehow. Try to ask Sam Harris or Bill Nyle to debate with you about afterlife and show all your arguments favorable to afterlife and to the existence of spiritual beings and such. I hope you can handle so, you’re a hero, but you should to open the front on the fighting about afterlife and such.

    1. Hi Joshua,

      Thank you very much. I appreciate your advice and ideas. I intend to write a longer-form article on each of the 10 afterlife concepts covered in this article, it will take some time but I think then I would be best prepared to debate the ideas.

      I am also planning an article in a similar form to the question of God’s existence, which again will approach the question in a scientific and rationalist manner. It will cover the many classes of, as you term it “extraphysical” beings, entities, forms, concepts, etc. each of which might meet the definition of God according to various faiths.

      I think the Google rankings will improve as this site grows. Already it is now on the first page for “why does anything exist” on Google and is #1 on Yahoo/Bing/DuckDuckGo.

  26. Hey, I seriously advice you watching this video and put what you think about that here on my comments, you should consider to make an answer about that and even propose a debate between you and Sam Harris or Bill Nyle about afterlife, it would be really amazing, you should try to debate with them in case you want to grow and show that not all scientists are like Sam Harris and Bill Nyle.

    1. Hi João Carlos,

      Thank you for that video. It was interesting, and encouraging. Michelle Thaller described the immortality of special relativity #5, while Michio Kaku espoused the afterlifes possible via biological immortality #6 and the technological singularity #8. Slowly, these ideas are making their way into public consciousness, it just takes time.

      I think the trap that some scientists have fallen into is mistaking all that they can see for all that can be. But increasingly, various branches of science from cosmology to particle physics suggest a much larger reality, perhaps even one that is comprehensive, where everything possible exists — every mathematical structure, every physical universe, every computer simulation. This is covered in the article “Why does anything exist?”

      If something like this is true, then the default question of existence (be it on alien intelligences, God(s), afterlives, simulated realities), changes from “Why?” to “Why not?” Then skeptics, rather than doubting what they cannot see, would be limited to doubting only what cannot be.

  27. That’s so funny how you pointed out several theories that point out the existence of an afterlife, and literally no one of the “science guys” who deny the existence of afterlife even tried to debunk all of those theories, it’s just really funny.

    By the way, you could also had put some philosophical theories about afterlife, such as theories related to metaphysics and to post-spacetime, maybe it would be hard to find them, but it’s just develop them better and it would be enough.

    And that’s funny how those “science” guys would rather mention afterlife theories like the ones of surviving death instead of mention your article.

    And about the metaphysical theories about afterlife, it would be cool to point out that the spirit/soul might not be physical at all, but metaphysical, where it doesn’t depend of the physical to exist, and where it might work together with the physical as well. Of course it would be need to be well developed and well worked.

    And also, by the amount of NDE experiences and such that people had, it already points out that there are high chances for the existence of an afterlife, since nor even the most materialistic hypothesis were able to explain that at all. And do not forget astral projection as well.

    And yes, there’s an afterlife, and it’s not pseudoscience nor anti-science at all, it’s just you analyse a lot of theories related to that and take this conclusion, yes, scientific atheism should be countered, you work is great, thank you for make me feel better to show there are science people who can think beyond materialism and positivism.

    1. Hi Joshua,

      I always appreciate your insights. The next article will be on the nature of consciousness and the immateriality of the “soul”. It’s taken a lot of research so I hope you will forgive the delay in completing it. 🙂

  28. Your article is a light in the middle of those tons of scientific atheism, scientism, materialism, physicalism and so on. The theories you pointed out are amazing and really good, but as William Mounter and Joshua Amspoker said, you should had mentioned about the spiritual part, NDEs, astral projection, extraphysics/metaphysics and so on. It would be really good for people be aware of that and such, besides mention about epistemological pluralism and so on.

    That’s really nice there are people like you in this world, and about the open individualism, you could also had mentioned about metaphysics/extraphysics on your article, and other philosophical theories as well on that. I know that people like Bill Nye and Sam Harris are quite wrong in telling that there are a lot of “evidences” pointing there’s “no” afterlife being most of them do not even mention the theories you’ve just post there. Your work is really nice, sadly there’s not so much scientists and philosophies for writing long papers about afterlife about the themes you’ve wrote there.

    Debating with Bill Nye or Sam Harris about afterlife using all the theories there, would be a good thing, but sadly it wouldn’t work a lot well, since it would be extremely unlikely Bill or Sam would change their opinions about afterlife even after being aware of such arguments, including all of them, since the quantum mechanics one until open individualism and metaphysics/extraphysics.

    And yes, it’s ok to think that we might be even more than we just are physically and materially, it’s alright to be like that, even people actually do that, like being member of a political party, being member of a religion, having a work they like and so on, it’s alright to think like that, and it’s even more alright to think the person is an otherkin or a starseed, it’s just like LGBT somehow, I mean about the question of identification and such, and that’s the why the extraphysical/metaphysical theories would also be important for that.

    And about spiritual and extraphysical life, yes, gods and supernatural entities might not be “gods” nor “supernatural entities” at all, but rather more metaphysical/extraphysical life forms that humans cannot understand at all, it’s always necessary to have an open mind about such themes because what we actually call as “supernatural” might simply be part of the natural somehow, as well as metaphysics/extraphysics being part of the physical somehow. Most of people, where it can includes since hard religious until new atheists, aren’t ready for have such kinds of discussions and arguings, I cannot wait for you article about God and gods at all. I hope you’re going to do a good work on that and enjoy doing that work.

    And the least thing for talk, about the anti-science thing, those “science guys” should stop using terms like “anti-science” and “pseudoscience” for attack theories just like you pointed out, also including the metaphysical/extraphysical ones, there’s a big difference between being against scientific atheism (new atheism), logical positivism and scientism from you reject science at all, it’s just an essentialist view that “science = atheism” and “science = scientism”, it’s alright to have metaphysical/extraphysical beliefs or philosophical beliefs and be a person who likes science so much, they should recognize the limitations of the scientific method and of natural sciences somehow, so, the best thing to do about that is keep doing our works as you’ve done and do our best to attract people to our theories and such.

    1. Hi Akemi Watanabe,

      I couldn’t agree more with some of what you’ve said. You’ve made a lot of great suggestions which I hope to incorporate into future articles. Thank you!

  29. We are human beings, special than other animals in many ways, but sometimes stupid than animals in some ways. Even being a human being we have limited knowledge. Although how gifted we human beings are that we can elaborate our knowledge through simple humble prayer to our creator and He provides us wisdom and meaning of life! Meaning of life duels inside the corner and it comes through our love to each other. It is easy to write or say for me but until I do repentance it is worthless. So the every aspect and every angle ‘love each other’ in this world will proven the ‘meaning of life’. For me it is so so challenging but no way. Thank you all!

  30. Your article is extremely useful to convince hardcore materialists that there’s an afterlife, it would be really useful if there were more people for disseminate this article and translate it into multiple languages and such, you could had mentioned about metaphysics on your article, but it’s alright anyway.

    About the afterlife theories, yes, they are extremely useful and precise, those might be useful for a scientific debate about afterlife and about the existence of souls, spirits, spiritual beings, gods and so on. As one told before, there should have a long scientific paper with that as a way to show that there’s an afterlife and that it’s alright to believe in afterlife and that belief in afterlife is not like believe in flat Earth and climate denial.

    About the part of spiritual beings, yes, it should be well developed and well worked, in order to explain how is the nature of spiritual beings and the understanding of how they live on their worlds, that’s the why the metaphysics would be useful for that.

    1. Hi Paul,

      Thank you! I hope to cover the nature of possible “spiritual beings” in the upcoming articles on simulation theory “Are we living in a simulation?”, and on the existence of God “Does God exist?.” As to metaphysics, this topic is broadly covered in the “Why does anything exist?” article which is now published.

  31. Adam Jacholkskswi said if the concept of the multiverse is correct sooner or later a copy of yourself will be realised somewhere else which means that sooner or later an exact remake of your consciousness will be created somewhere else which will allow you to live again. How long after you die are you realised somewhere else in another bubble universe of eternal inflation, meaning what is the average time between your death in this universe of eternal inflation and your rebirth in some future universe of eternal inflation? I got an article on it here

  32. “There is also another possibility that if the concept of an infinite multiverse is correct, sooner or later a copy of myself will be realised somewhere else.” How long after you die in this universe are you reborn in some future universe?

    1. I am not sure we can say with any confidence what that time is, as it depends on how long ago eternal inflation started, which by most accounts, is unknowable.

      However, we can expect that even if that time began as very large, given the exponential nature of the doublings in number of Big Bangs, the time between recurrences would rapidly fall. The time should fall by half every time the total inflating volume doubles, and this doubling time is very short (around 10^-34 seconds). So even if it took 10^(10^120) years for the first big bang that includes you and this Hubble volume to come into being, in the next one second, the inflating volume would increase by 2^(10^34), potentially creating 2^(10^34) more of them. So my guess would be the time between the next occurrence of a similar big bang is a time very close to zero.

      That said, comparisons of time become almost meaningless between regions that are causally disconnected.

  33. and
    Adam jacholokski wrote on Quora He wrote on Q+A site Quora: “Life after death exists as a global phenomenon, but my life ends when the entropy of the system of atoms forming my body is subject to a drastic rise.
    “Life is an emergent property of complex systems and goes away if the opposite process to emergence takes place (collapse of complexity).

    “Of course some information of my existence will survive for some time in a similar way as paleontological traces of past life are still visible.

    “Hopefully it will be possible in the future to clone our minds but it is rather a kind of science fiction as this cloning will be never perfect due to possible quantum processes in our minds, impossible to reproduce.
    “There is also another possibility that if the concept of an infinite multiverse is correct, sooner or later a copy of myself will be realised somewhere else.”
    how long do you think he means after you die in this bubble universe of eternal inflation are you reborn in another future bubble universe of eternal inflation are you reborn? How long do you think after you die in this bubble universe of eternal inflation are you reborn in another future bubble universe of eternal inflation? What is the time between dying in one universe and being reborn in another future universe?

    Take care.

  34. Hi again, I am simplifying my previous questions to you to not over complicate things. if the strength of the inflation field and the strength of quantum fluctuations vary in which bubble universes are created varies by an infinite number of ways, and entropy and density of the universe at the big bang varies by an infinite number of ways then how is it possible that you will live again and the history of Earth and our observable universe to repeat again in another future bubble universe somewhere else in the inflationary multiverse if cosmic inflation is true?

    1. Hi James.

      I think what is required for you to live again (from your point of view) is for your mind to exist again. From what we know of the physical laws, the human mind is not an object of infinite complexity, but rather an object with a large finite complexity. If true, then even if the possible physics of different universes varies among them in infinite possible ways, a future universe with similar enough physics to enable your mind to exist again should have a non-zero probability. Therefore, if eternal inflation produces infinite big bangs, eventually one should result in a close enough physics to permit the re-emergence of your mind, and I would say that is enough to live again.

  35. I struggle with the concept of quantum, light and the particle/wave duality. Since the act of observance creates a outcome which is tainted by the observation does that make all theories inconsistent and unprovable? Does that mean we cannot create an experiment which is untainted ever? How can we take this into account when conducting an experiment?

    1. Hi Neil,

      That certainly places you in good company! It is perhaps the greatest unsolved mystery of physics. You are correct that we can never truly isolate the observer from the observed. Physicists such as John Archibald Wheeler believed this might even be a clue to understanding the fundamental nature of reality. I talk about this mystery in this section of the “Why does anything exist?” article: but I am also planning an article dedicated to the topic of quantum mechanics. Thank you for your questions!

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