Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Nothing Ever Dies

"New Life"
 - dawn in the desert -

I recently came across a fascinating article that reported the research of several prominent contemporary physicists from institutions such as Cambridge University, Princeton University and the Max Planck Institute for Physics in Munich. The article suggested that today’s most advanced quantum scientists actually predict some version of the “immortality of the human soul” and a “life after death.”

This very insightful article went on to describe how the individual brain of a human being is something like the “floppy disk” or a ‘flash drive” on a computer. Each of us saves our life-data on this disk drive, and at the same time,  this information is continuously being “uploaded” into a much grander universal quantum field:

When we die the body, or the physical disk, is gone
but our consciousness, or the data on the computer, lives on.
The body dies but the spiritual quantum field continues.

When I read this eye-opening article it struck me that this explanation about human consciousness continuing after physical death was perhaps the most cogent explanation I have ever yet heard regarding what it may actually mean to claim that we all have immortal souls that live on in “heaven” after we die.

Many religious people talk about “going to heaven” when they die, but the image of heaven as a place up in the sky where you float on clouds with angels and have tea with a long-dead relatives sounds rather childish and even ludicrous to lots of people who have rejected religious claims.  On the other hand, when you start thinking about consciousness continuing in the quantum field even after you die, the notion of life after death begins to sound a whole lot more reasonable even if you don’t believe in “God” or belong to any particular religion.

There is a line from an ancient Christian funeral liturgy that affirms faith in life after death by declaring:
In death life is changed not ended.

After reading that article about the recent observations of quantum physicists, this claim of faith seemed more and more reasonable to me.

I also wonder if the old distinctions between the claims of faith and the discoveries of science are breaking down somewhat in this new age of scientific discovery?  It may well be that today’s “new scientists” are becoming the theologians of our own day, offering us some new pathways for reclaiming the spiritual life.

The Buddhist monk and teacher, Thich Nhat Hanh, once said:

Our greatest fear is that when we die we will all become nothing
but the fact is that
nothing that ‘is’ ever becomes nothing.

It seems to me that the scientific claims of our own day may indeed be helping all of us to allay one of our greatest fears - that fear that when we die we become nothing.

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