Death and Meaning of Life Essay

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n the time scale of the history of the Earth an individual human lifetime is a mere blink of an eye. We're born, we live, and we die--and then we are "heard no more". Death is like a dreamless sleep from which we will never awake, our consciousness snuffed out forever [1]. If this life is all there is, what is the point of living? If we're all going to be dead in the end anyway, what difference does it make what we do with our lives? We may influence the lives of others, but they too are doomed to death. In a few generations most of our accomplishments will be totally forgotten, the memories of our lives reduced to a mere name etched on a tombstone or written on a genealogy chart. In a few centuries even our tombstones will be unreadable due to weathering; our skeletal remains will be all that is left of us. Barring fossilization, these too will be disintegrated into the earth and nothing of us will remain. The matter from which we were made will be absorbed into other organisms-- plants, animals, even other human beings. New species will appear, flourish, and disappear, soon to be replaced by others filling in the niche left by their extinction. Human beings too will succumb to extinction. All life on Earth will be wiped out when our dying sun expands into a red giant, finally engulfing the Earth. Ultimately the universe will be incapable of supporting any life as it expands forever, leaving only residual heat and evaporating black holes, or contracts back on itself, fusing all matter and energy into a final Big Crunch. Either way, all life in the universe will disappear forever. Such considerations once led Bertrand Russell to conclude that any philosophy worth taking seriously would have to be built upon a "firm foundation of unyielding despair" [2]. Does the finality of death make life meaningless? Although many people feel that it does, a moment's reflection

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