Wednesday, 26 May 2010

Afterlife Fantasies

The BBC Radio 4 programme "Start the Week" on Monday featured David Eagleman a neurologist at Baylor College in Texas who has written a sort of science fiction collection of short stories "Sum" which depict various alternative afterlife scenarios. Including one, for example, in which you relive your whole life but with repetitive episodes all gathered together. What puzzles me is that he seems to regard them all as being "possible". The BBC website also speaks of "the afterlife" as if there was no doubt that there was such a thing.

There was also an item on the PM programme in which Eddie Mair revealed the conclusions to the long-running TV series "Lost" and "Ashes to Ashes" which apparently both ended with the participants finding they had in fact all been dead all along and were living in some sort of pergatory or limbo. I've never watched either series, but it seems that dramatists are no longer able to write about reality.

As a rationalist who goes by the evidence available, the idea that there could be any sort of afterlife has always struck me as a particularly obvious case of wish-fulfillment, and incompatible with all the evidence of physics and chemistry. It is also shown to be fantasy by the total lack of consistency between alternative versions, as espoused by different religions. Of course, as with anything, there is no absolute proof of the impossibility of an afterlife, but neither is there any positive evidence for it, and most scenarios are manifestly absurd.

1 comment:

  1. Graham Martin-Royle27 May 2010 at 19:57

    I am more than happy to watch fantasy programs on tv and love reading fantasy. That is what they are though, fantasy. The problems come when people start believing they are for real. Wizards, dragons, magic, afterlives, great escapism all but pure fantasy.