I had this weird thought. We, you and I, are all in a peculiar spot: we don't know if we'll ever die at all. It is conceivable that, before I die, scientists will discover the secrets to biological immortality. In fact, it's almost impossible that science won't someday achieve immortality for humans. Maybe not in my lifetime, but certainly within 100 to 500 years.
So what happens to Heaven and Hell when people stop dying? Seriously, this will be a real problem for the the Big Three, the Abrahamic religions. Christians, Jews and Muslims all rely on that life-after-death concept to keep believers in line, and as a sort of antidote for all of the trouble that we find here on Earth.
Life sucks? Don't worry, you'll get your reward. Saddam Hussein killed a couple hundred thousand of the Iraqi people? No problem, he's going to suffer forever in Hell.
The Heaven and Hell memes bring a balance into people's lives. They're very comforting, and assure people that, in spite of the apparent unfairness of life caused by government, society and "acts of God," everything will be smoothed over in the end.
But what happens when nobody dies? This is going to be a huge theological problem for Christians, Jews, and Muslims.
I'll make a wager, any amount of money you like, that when the day arrives that science defeats old age, religious leaders will declare that it's a sin, that it violates God's design for us. I'll even bet that it will be taken as yet another sign of the approaching Armageddon.
Of course, I can only pay up if I live that long...
If I knew I'd live this long, I would have taken better care of myself.For those of you interested in reading more about immortality, I'm not the only one who thinks we may live forever. Raymond Kurzweil even wrote a book about this immortality, Fantastic Voyage: Live Long Enough to Live Forever. He claims that if we can manage to live long enough (like, to 120), science will have cured most or all diseases and even conquered old age itself. And it's actually not an unreasonable claim. I fully expect to live to 100 just by taking care of myself.
– Mickey Mantle (American baseball player)