The Eternity Fallacy -- Why Doom Isn't That Bad, and the Value of Being Mattered
Updated: Dec 31, 2023
Reflections on Legacy in a Finite Universe
There's a bittersweet irony in crafting a legacy, isn't there? We pour our hearts and souls into building monuments, writing stories, and preserving traditions, even though we know that existence is bound to demise from the very beginning. Even with a library of 2,000 crafted articles I plan to leave as a minimum, or historic empires lasting for centuries, time is a great teacher, but it's a shame it kills off each and every one of its students. He leaves no one alive forever.
Planets have a lifespan of their own. They do not last forever. As long as we won't be able to leave the Solar System, and colonizing a new system, our fates and the fates of our projects are forever sealed with those of the planets on which we reside. Therefore, when they die, we will die too, unless we, as a species, even get to survive that long.
Preservation of traditions and legacies is somewhat "funny" because there is no true hope of eternity in anything that we will ever do. There is no such thing as a true "immortalization" as long as we stand upon ground that is doomed to demise by the inevitable decay of the sun. Even satellites that we may send to outer space with containers of their own are suspectable to destruction by whatever danger lies in their path -- asteroids, gravity, storms, explosions, and so on. Outer space is a pretty dangerous place, especially for humans.
We are, technically, in outer space. It's like claiming that North Korea isn't a part of the world, even though it is a piece of land on Earth, just because it is a hermit state. Even after a million years of safety, nothing ensures that no comet will crash on Earth and wipe out much of its life.
So, we can safely say that not only existence is not eternal, but it can also end at any moment. And if not existence in general, then specific features of it. Depend too much on anything or anyone in this world, and you'll risk the implications of unnecessary dependence.
To put it simply, not even the multi-generational preservation of legacies like my own can ensure its own eternity. Unless we get to colonize other planets, and eventually leave the Solar System, we will be doomed by the time this planet or the Sun will die. We all live on borrowed time. We "borrow" this time from hiding from dangers.
And I am too wise to take risks of intense gravitude. Nor on my life in general, nor on my mentality. Adversity remains my greatest teacher.
Finding Meaning in a Finite World
This is where nihilism comes in: It whispers in the shadows, reminding us that everything fades, from childhood memories to civilizations. It argues that this inevitable end renders life meaningless, a justification for apathy or even true evil.
I'm not referring only to death but to extinction, destruction, and annihilation of anything, for anything is destructible. The nihilistic premise is that everything and everyone don't matter because they all end someday, and there is absolutely nothing we can do to change that fact. For nothing is certain, but change. The only absolution that is change can serve as the breeding grounds for the disregard for any objective meaning among nihilists and would-be nihilists.
In the absence of a concrete, objective meaning to govern our lives, there is allegedly a justification for the behavior of characters such as The Joker and Kefka from "Final Fantasy 6", in real life. This is how dangerous nihilism can get, with its disregard of any order of any kind. To mentally survive and maintain my sanity, I refuse being a nihilist myself. Hence the power of ideology, whether it is based on the truth or is false. It is in their nature to serve a function, as fundamental as it can get.
Likewise, this site won't last forever, as will the host that provides it, the country that contains it, the region it resides in, and so on. The nihilistic conclusion, which comes from said premise, is to either give up on life, and risk entering into what I call, "the Darkness DIlemma", or devolve into a total jerk who has absolutely no values or respect for anything or anyone. Thus, in the absence of objective meaning, moral depravity is technically justified.
The topic of religion attempts to defend itself by suggesting three possibilities: eternal salvation, eternal damnation, or (eternal?) reincarnation. If the religion you're supporting (or born into) is indeed the correct and true one, you will gain the first (salvation and even paradise); if you do not, you will be cursed with the second (reincarnation. In Judaism one can regard it as a series of something called a "Tikkun").
Finally, if karma/dharma is true on the universal scale, then you will reincarnate regardless of your actions, for it is believed that the soul is eternal and transcends physical existence. Of course, it matters not if it is believed, as belief is different from what we're doing here: the study of truth. It only matters if it's true.
But, regardless if the eternity of the soul exists or if there are in fact souls (and not as metaphors), we shouldn't bother ourselves with lamenting the lack of eternity in this universe and in our lives and civilization. That is simply because things don't have to be eternal in order for them to be worth something to us.
I had a wonderful childhood, for example, but I am aware that it will never return, for there is no greater graveyard than the past. I do not delude myself into thinking that I will once again return from school to my mother's apartment, eat lunch, and play Suikoden IV on my PS2 on my cube-shaped TV. In truth, the nostalgia bias might effect my vision, as I experimented with it.
Therefore, regardless of my nostalgia, I have prepared myself for the fact that this period in my life will not return; a period that is nowadays considered "retro", and, in time, will become "ancient", just like games from the 80s and 90s.
I also had another game, an online one, where I actually made an organization of a few dozen real people and called it "Storm Alpha Squad". It was my first ever venture on the internet, and my first attempt at running a larger powerbase. That game eventually got shut down more than a decade ago, and is now run on illegal servers, which I do not intend to use. I might not play that game anymore, but that fact does not eradicate the fun I had and the memories that followed.
Do not submit to the death of the past, when much potential from it, can be mined for the acutalization of a greater future. Do not submit the tempting thought, that it might nowadays be a useless feature to ever consider significantly again. For power is everything. And so is anything that can matter enough, to fuel an entire industrial complex.
To last as long as possible,
And to give as much significance to this world,