The inexorability of immortality: no need for God?

Norsk Filosofisk Tidsskrift 56 (1):19-30 (2021)
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Abstract

In this paper, I aim to show that a certain form of immortality, without the need for any intervention from a supernatural being, is almost inevitable for human beings. I take a physicalist starting point: I am a certain configuration of physical particles. Thus, if these particles were reassembled in the same configuration, I would necessarily come back into existence. I address a number of objections raised against this prospect by Eric T. Olson, who argues that the reassembly of such particles following their dispersal after death would be simply impossible, and that if it did occur, it would necessarily be a mere replica rather than the real ‘me’. I suggest that the random redistribution of particles can be thought of as the throw of cosmic ‘dice’. With any specific throw, the likelihood that it yields the particular configuration that constitutes ‘me’ is vanishingly small. But over infinite spans of time, this likelihood increases until it becomes a near certainty. I show that even if this reconfiguration lacks the same causal features as those that gave rise to the original me, this cannot imply that the reassembled me is a mere replica. I acknowledge that my conjectured form of immortality may be unappealing to theists and non-theists alike. I also note that it rests on a linear conception of time, which may not harmonise with current thinking in physics. However, these issues notwithstanding, my conjectured version of immortality is at least as inexorable as many other things we take for granted, which also rest on potentially flawed beliefs about the nature of time and space.

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