We’re all afraid of the Reaper — and we’re all pursuing strategies to deny, defy or defeat him. Whether we hope to quaff the elixir of life, to rise again, to live on as a spirit or through leaving a legacy, we’re all following one of four paths that promise a route to life everlasting. Our striving for eternity shapes everything from our choice of breakfast to the clash of civilisations.
But Cave argues that the pursuit of immortality leads us astray: it promotes division and extremism, diverts us from present problems, and cultivates a self-centred worldview. He wants to show us why the quest to live forever makes sinners of us all. But he will also present us with an alternative. Drawing from ancient philosophy and modern science, he will show us how coming to terms with mortality will make us happier, wiser and better people.
Stephen Cave is a philosopher, critic and broadcaster. He has been both an academic, studying and teaching philosophy, and a diplomat, negotiating international treaties. His first book, Immortality: The Quest to Live Forever and How It Drives Civilization (2012), has received wide international acclaim.
This secular sermon took place on Sunday 17th March 2013 at Conway Hall, London.