Last night I finally saw the Voyager episode with Q that made people stop watching Voyager. I guess I can see how they misunderstood it. I started thinking about an O.S. Card short story and then I compared that with a Heinlein story and a Dr. Who story, and then... well, I thought to myself all the way walking to school and still haven't figured it out yet.
The subject of immortality is a subject science fiction approaches on many occasions. Is it death that makes people do what they do? Do people try to become great because they know they will die? And is immortality really as evil or as dull as people make it out to be?
Lois, a woman I spoke to about death, life and afterlife, firmly believes that once you are alive, your spirit will never die. She says that there is no such thing as true death, total non-existence. She believes that one a person is a living, sentient spirit, that they will exist "forever-after" in one form of another.
The Voyager episode, "Death Wish" implies that living forever is not what people should strive for because "there is nothing new in heaven or on earth".
If one lived forever, time would pass and pass, and pass. After eons of time, boredom and apathy will emerge. No matter how creative you are, or how much you have done, one day you will become bored. There is only so much to see, only so much to do and think in the universe. According to "Death Wish", any immortal will have seen it all, done it all and eventually wish to be annihilated.
On the other hand, according to R. Heinlein, to live, to exist forever is the dream of all mankind. Life is what people are made for, so life is the basic desire of all. To him, eternity will be exciting and great, but only as long as you have someone to love, a purpose to carry on, and a creative mind. Most people posses all these things. You can do what you enjoy the most, be with the one you love the most forever, without worrying about death, sickness or running out of time.
O.S. Card says that death is, in a way, beautiful. To him it is death that makes man wish to live forever. But people in a sense already live forever through being someone great, or doing something incredible that will still exist long after they are gone. In a sense, their greatness makes them immortal.
O.S. Card also says that beginnings must have endings, and without endings people would not be the way they are. Without death people would have no need to create. Creation is for one who knows he will die, but wishes to live forever. Books, paintings, any form of lasting art in bulk would not exist. Why read it in a book if you've experienced it yourself and you know that everyone else will experience the same thing eventually? Why paint a picture when you have it in your mind, to remember whenever you want? Why write, other than to know what it feels like to write? No one would need to read it, because they will or already have seen, done, and felt what is written.
Doctor Who says has the idea that, he who wants to live forever usually has bad reasons for it. The idea is, we have all been given the time we need. Time was a gift, and trying to get more is not acceptable.
People may live on forever, and people may cease to exist. If one lived in eternity alone, it would be lonely, it would be terrible, and one would get bored, just as one living alone on Earth would. But, different people believe different things; everyone sees the world differently. The universe is infinite; people's imaginations are infinitely different.