I don’t know what happens when we die, but it makes me wonder if we would live our lives differently if we knew for certain what happens to us when our lives have played out.
Would we volunteer our time at the homeless shelter more often if we knew that it would get us into Heaven? Would we work harder at being good people if we knew we would be reincarnated into a better life than this one? Would we all become Somali pirates if we knew that there was nothing beyond this life? Would anything change at all?
The only thing I can say with certainty is that we’ll never know. Every religion that’s ever existed has focused on two questions: Why are we here, and what happens to us when we die? I firmly believe that lack of answers is why there have been so many religions throughout human history. Once a religion fails to explain something, it loses credibility. This is why I look to science, philosophy, and the occasional drunken conversation with amateur physicists.
Albert Einstein’s theory of relativity explains the distortion of space time by gravity. This makes me wonder that if space time can be bent, can it be bent back in on itself? The universe is functioning because of circular patterns, circuits, cycles, repetition, and rotations. Planets make circles around their suns. Solar systems make circles around their galaxies. Even at the microscopic level, atoms are circled by neutrons, protons, and electrons. Our bodies are operating on circuits. The food chain is cyclical. Birth, reproduction, and death is a repeating cycle. There aren’t a lot of straight lines out there, so why would we think of time as linear?
Time itself is a man-made idea. The first thing you should do to be able to understand it better is to consider the fact that it doesn’t really exist. There is no beginning and no end. The next thing you should do is to consider that space and time are one. If time has no end, there is no edge of space.
Now imagine standing in a room that has a mirror on each wall, one on the ceiling, and one on the floor. When you look in any direction, it would appear that the room goes on forever. However, it’s a repeating version of itself. This is the way I think about space time. Imagine travelling so far into the universe that you actually came back to Earth. Then imagine travelling so far into the future that you actually came back to the present.
What if this wasn’t the first time we’ve lived this life?
What if this is some version of reincarnation and the afterlife, fate and freedom all at once?
I strongly believe that our lives matter. Every decision we make has consequences, and those may be consequences we have to face for eternity. The ways in which we choose to improve or destroy ourselves, and the ways in which we choose to help or hurt the people around us, suddenly become worth a second thought.