What Dies, Doesn’t Go To Heaven

It should be obvious to all of us that “eternal life” is
imaginary. Simply by understanding the chemistry of life
you can see why life after death is impossible.
To understand how death works, we can start with a
bacterium cell. A bacterium is a tiny bag (a cell membrane)
filled with a variety of molecules. These molecules react
together in different ways to create what we call life. Some
of the molecules react to build and repair the cell wall.
Some of the molecules react in ways that allow the cell to
move. Some of the molecules react to provide energy to the
cell. And so on. A bacterium cell is a little chemical
machine.
One of the molecules inside a bacterium cell is a long DNA
strand. There are molecules floating around the DNA strand
that are able to copy parts of the DNA to manufacture new
molecules that the cell needs.
Although all of these molecules are reacting in fascinating,
interlocking ways, they are still nothing more than
chemicals reacting. The “miracle of life” is no miracle — it
is a big chemical reaction.
Let’s say that a foreign molecule gets into the bacterium
cell and it gums up a part of the DNA chemistry. Or let’s say
that something damages the DNA strand in the bacterium so
the cell can no longer manufacture an important molecule
that it needs. Eventually the chemical reactions inside the
bacterium will stop. The cell “dies.” Its cell wall breaks
down and bursts. All of the chemicals inside the cell float
away and the bacterium ceases to exist.
A bacterium is nothing but a set of chemical reactions.
When those reactions stop, the cell is dead.
Now here is the question: When the bacterium dies, does it
go to heaven?
I know what you are thinking: “Does it go to heaven??? Of
course not!!!” It does not matter who you are — religious or
not. There are not many people in India who believe that bacteria go to heaven. The Gita does not talk
about heaven being filled with all the disease, putrefaction
and pestilence that bacteria cause. And what, exactly,
would go to heaven? Do all of the bacterium’s molecules get
transported to heaven so that they can keep reacting? If that
were happening, there would be thousands of tons of
chemicals leaving earth every day. Obviously bacteria do
not go to heaven.
Next let’s look at a mosquito. A mosquito is much more
complex than a bacterium cell. For one thing, a mosquito is
a multi-cellular insect with some amazing (though
annoying) capabilities. But if you look at each cell in a
mosquito, it is very much like a bacterium in its basic
functioning. A cell in a mosquito is a fascinating series of
DNA-based chemical reactions — nothing more. When
those chemical reactions cease, the mosquito dies.
Mosquitoes obviously do not go to heaven. Think of how
many mosquitoes have lived and died over the course of
millions of years. No one imagines heaven being full of
septillions of everlasting mosquitoes.
What about a mouse? Ditto. Mouse cells are little chemical
factories churning away. They are fascinating, but they are
soulless and inert. Mice do not go to heaven — if they did,
then heaven would be overrun with quadrillions of mice.
What about dogs? Lots of vets and pet owners would argue
with you here, but dogs do not go to heaven either. When
they die, they die.
What about chimps — the closest living relatives to
humans? Ditto.
So what about humans?
The human body is nothing but a set of chemical reactions.
The chemical reactions powering a human life are no
different from the reactions powering the life of a bacterium,
a mosquito, a mouse, a dog or a chimp. When a human
being dies, the chemical reactions stop. There is no “soul”
mixed in with the chemicals, just like there is no soul in a
bacterium, a mosquito, a mouse, a dog or a chimp. There is
no afterlife, no heaven or hell, for the chemicals that make
up a human body.
This concept — this idea that a human being simply ceases
to exist upon death — drives many people absolutely nuts.
They cannot imagine it. “Me? Die? I am going to totally
cease to exist? All my thoughts, all my experiences, all my
relationships, all of my ideas and memories… It all simply
vanishes and I am gone? Impossible!!!”
Nonetheless, that is the reality of the situation.
You are a collection of chemical reactions. When these
chemical reactions cease, you die. When you die, “you”
cease to exist. Imagining eternal life and creating a fantasy
called “heaven” does not change anything. When you die,
you are dead.