- Death is the end. No soul. No purpose other than immediate existence. A naturalistic view of the universe.
- There is a unique soul, and eternal consequences for its words & actions. Individual accountability.
- There is a unique soul, but no consequences for words or actions. Amoral relativity.
- There is a life force, but no individuality. Your 'spark' returns to the pool & your individuality is gone.
I can't really think of any other possibilities, from a philosophical POV. If there is not an individual soul.. a unique spark of life that continues in some kind of afterlife, then the result of either #1 or #4 is the same. Your essence, whatever it is, will be lost, & your uniqueness will dissipate into the nether regions of eternity.
But, if there is an eternal soul, that will continue on in another dimension, then the choices we make in this life take on eternal significance.
If we got to choose the above 'reality', i'm not sure any of the choices are very comforting. I've always like Clarke's quote about the supernatural:
“Two possibilities exist: either we are alone in the Universe or we are not. Both are equally terrifying.” ~Arthur C. Clarke
Some people believe in the naturalistic/atheistic worldview. Others believe in a supernatural/theistic ideology. I can't really see that either belief has much comfort to the angst filled person, wondering what the meaning of his life is.
On the one hand, there is eternal nothingness.. end of story. Life is over, & there is no memory, no future, no purpose or significance to our lives, at all. We are a cosmic accident, with no explanation, no hope, no meaning. Not much comfort there, but at least the pain only lasts a short time, while we are alive.
On the other hand, there is eternal existence. A Supernatural Being (or Beings) hold us accountable for our brief lives in this existence, & we will face consequences for our thoughts, words, & actions. There is a possibility that this Supreme Being is very strict &/or ruthless in His standards, & that the 'sins' that we might consider to be small potatoes, relative to other people, are major issues in the Presence of a Holy God. Not much comfort there, either, if there is a possibility of eternal torment, or continued pain from the actions in this life.
And the other unfortunate thing about Reality, is that we don't really get to choose it, regardless of the fantasy illusions of the left, & their identity politics, where you can choose your gender, race, & self image. Actual reality is not so accommodating. It IS, & we had better adapt to it. So hoping that our BELIEFS about the afterlife or the soul is the one that we get to go by might lead to a rude shock. That is why humans for millennia have searched for Truth. Angst is a very real thing, in the human experience, & IMO, it is the ONE clear evidence that we are here for Something More. Angst has no naturalistic explanation. But, it has been recognized by wise men & seekers of Truth throughout history.
“What else does this craving, and this helplessness, proclaim but that there was once in man a true happiness, of which all that now remains is the empty print and trace? This he tries in vain to fill with everything around him, seeking in things that are not there the help he cannot find in those that are, though none can help, since this infinite abyss can be filled only with an infinite and immutable object; in other words by God himself.” - Blaise Pascal (1623-1662)
And the famous quote by Augustine (354-430)
So what is the conclusion? Pick your poison, & hope for the best? That does not seem very wise, since there MIGHT be so much at stake. I submit that the words of Jesus & Jeremiah are good advice, for the human seeking clear vision of Reality.
Jeremiah 29:12. Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.
John 8:31. “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”
If there is something i note from these quotes, it is the necessity of sincerity & honesty, which stands to reason. If there is an afterlife, & eternal consequences for our works, thoughts, & actions here on earth, then a genuine search would let go of any bias or preconceived notions about God or the afterlife, and sincerely seek Reality. Truth is the goal, not validation, or comfort, or justification. The seeker of Truth must be willing to give up all of their beliefs, opinions, notions, and indoctrinations, if they wish to discover it. If there is a God, He is no fool, & will not be deceived by games or manipulations.
And of course, you can just ignore it all & hope for the best. But, if there is an afterlife, and an eternal soul, & a Supreme Being, to whom we must answer for our lives, it seems to me at some point we should make a concerted effort to discover the true nature of Reality, rather than piddle our lives away with temporal distractions. I can think of no more important quest.