Last October I was privileged to be awarded the Emperor Has No Clothes award from the Freedom From Religion Foundation. The physical trophy consists of the dashing statuette here on the right, presumably the titular Emperor. It’s made by the same company that makes the Academy Award trophies. (Whenever I run into Meryl Streep, she’s just won’t shut up about how her Oscars are produced by the same company that does the Emperor’s New Clothes award.)
Part of the award-winning is the presentation of a short speech, and I wasn’t sure what to talk about. There are only so many things I have to say, but it’s boring to talk about the same stuff over and over again. More importantly, I have no real interest in giving religion-bashing talks; I care a lot more about doing the hard and constructive work of exploring the consequences of naturalism.
So I decided on a cheerful topic: Death and Physics. I talked about modern science gives us very good reasons to believe (not a proof, never a proof) that there is no such thing as an afterlife. Life is a process, not a substance, and it’s a process that begins, proceeds along for a while, and comes to an end. Certainly something I’ve said before, e.g. in my article on Physics and the Immortality of the Soul, and in the recent Afterlife Debate, but I added a bit more here about entropy, complexity, and what we mean by the word “life.”
If you’re in a reflective mood, here it is. I begin at around 3:50. One of the points I tried to make is that the finitude of life has its upside. Every moment is precious, and what we should value is what is around us right now — because that’s all there is. It’s a scary but exhilarating view of the world.