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Donkin's World: God's Waiting Room

...It would be far more interesting to mill around the waiting room reacquainting Captain Bligh and Fletcher Christian, Charles I and Oliver Cromwell, Brian Clough and Don Revie. Get the introduction over with, then stand well back....

Richard Donkin tells of a book by neuroscientist David Eagleman that imagines what happens to us after death.

Please visit Richard's entertaining and informative Web site
http://richarddonkin.com/

To purchase a copy of his world-famous book visit
http://www.amazon.co.uk/Blood-Sweat-Tears-Evolution-Work/dp/1587990768/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1214554429&sr=1-2

A neuroscientist, David Eagleman has written a book in which he imagines various different afterlives. In one of them, featured here, he imagines people might experience three deaths. "The first is when the body ceases to function. The second is when the body is consigned to the grave. The third is that moment, sometime in the future, when your name is spoken for the last time," he writes.

"So you wait in this lobby until the third death. There are long tables with coffee, tea, and cookies; you can help yourself. There are people here from all around the world, and with a little effort you can strike up convivial small talk. Just be aware that your conversation may be interrupted at any moment by the Callers, who broadcast your new friend's name to indicate that there will never again be another remembrance of him by anyone on the Earth."

Once a name is called the waiting room occupant heads off to the new afterlife. Given all those names in our history books this waiting room must be a pretty crowded place. I suppose Adam and Eve would be the most tired of waiting, irritated at watching the less remembered of us wandering in for a generation or two, then wandering out again when our graves have grassed over and we've been forgotten.

Jesus, Mohammed, Churchill, Hitler, Stalin - they must have been drumming their fingers for years. Then there will be those who expected that they would have made a quick getaway, stalled by the vogue for tracing ancestors and building family trees. How was your great, great, great, great, grandfather to know that you would look him up in some church record and utter his name 150 years after his death?

Shakespeare, Chaucer and Tolstoy would be cursing their choice to be authors, long after exhausting the novelty of their first conversations. Reducing this arrangement to the banality of TV programming it would be eternity's version of I'm a Celebrity Get Me Out of Here.

This waiting room, of course, is a kind of Limbo, although Eagleman does not discuss the possibility of Heaven or Hell whereas both featured strongly in early theological debates about the nature of Limbo. There's no waiting for redemption from the likes of Jesus Christ either because he's stuck there with everyone else whose past life is worthy of continuous study.

I'm not sure I'd be too keen too move on. The next place would be full of Neanderthals, nomadic tribes people, Visigoths and accountants, although I would like to meet the architect of Stonehenge.

No it would be far more interesting to mill around the waiting room reacquainting Captain Bligh and Fletcher Christian, Charles I and Oliver Cromwell, Brian Clough and Don Revie. Get the introduction over with, then stand well back.

I suppose much of the discussion would be focused on the next afterlife, but there would be an even more pressing question in most people's minds, of far greater importance than theological debate, and that is this: why isn't Elvis here?

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