General Question

nebule's avatar

What implications do you think of when I suggest a world could exist without death or pain?

Asked by nebule (16452points) August 4th, 2009

Primarily the world would have to be big enough to constantly sustain all life that was created…(and given that procreation was allowed to continue) into infinity…

If this was possible…what implications spring to mind?

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33 Answers

shrubbery's avatar

No appreciation of life or non-pain, perhaps. There would always be something to worry about, even if it was a lesser worry than death or pain it would become the worst worry of that world without death or pain. If that makes sense?

edit :: I think if there was a world without suffering and hardship, no one would ever progress past childhood.

Jack79's avatar

1. We’re not here to do your homework :P
2. Glad you’re getting that damn essay done.
3. Life without pain would be boring. Happiness is always relative, and has existed in the most extreme conditions (my dad was a child during WWII and can remember just as many happy times in his childhood as I can remember from mine in the 70s). In this sense “pain” as in not just physical, but also psychological pain, hardship and strife, can never be completely eliminated. As long as there are feelings, there will be as much pain as there is joy, to keep the balance. It’s like the saying “in a city of saints, the person who double-parked would be a wanted criminal”.
4. Life without death would be unbearable. Not only it would be boring, but since you have eliminated pain (and in order to do that you eliminate feelings), it would no longer be “living”. It would just be survival.

The world you describe can only exist if it is a world of zombies or robots. Humans do not work like that, and our mortality and vulnerability is an intrinsic part of who we are.

hope you’re almost done with the damn thing

PapaLeo's avatar

I see overpopulation, government imposed restrictions on reproduction, and a huge market in replacement body parts, either artificial or donated by the poor.

mattbrowne's avatar

Suppose the trilobites had been immortal. Suppose Earth had never seen natural disasters leading to extinction level events causing pain to living creatures. Suppose climate change in the past hadn’t occurred and our ancestors had never come down their trees in Africa experiencing pain in unchartered territory. No need to develop a language to survive.

So here are the implications: The world would be full of bacteria and maybe some worms and slugs. There would be no one around to appreciate Fluther.

Bottom line: No pain, no gain, no progress. Only stagnation.

nebule's avatar

@Jack79 what’s with all the business with calling my essay a ‘damn thing’!??? lol…and I’m not expecting anyone to do my homework…it’s just a thought experiment and sometimes one needs a little help (and some pretty inventive creative minds…like these on Fluther) to eliminate any avenues of false logic… so :p ;)

@PapaLeo There wouldn’t be overpopulation as God in his infinite wisdom has created a big enough world with big enough resources, and flesh that would not decay…because everything is shufty!

@mattbrowne coool…that’s the sort of theory I’m looking for… Is this based on scientific evidence or theory at all can I get a reference? a link? an particular philosopher that thought this way… or is it just the genius of mattbrowne?? :-)

wildpotato's avatar

If you really are writing an essay, check out Leibniz’s The Theodicy. This is a book that seeks to answer the questions you bring up, and to answer the question of why we don’t already live in that world.

rooeytoo's avatar

There would be a lot of really old probably ugly people and critters running around.

PapaLeo's avatar

@lynneblundell Firstly, your question was “what implications do you think of?” and I answered your question. If you wanted to start a debate, you should have stated your question differently. Please don’t tell me my imaginings are “wrong.”

Secondly, my ruminations were based on current reality. “God” or any other deus ex machina don’t have a place in a discussion based on logic and reason.

Lastly, what in blazes does “shufty” mean?

dynamicduo's avatar

I think of the most obvious incompatibility with your idea, and that is the requirement of food and space. With 6+ billion people now we can’t feed everyone, how will we manage to feed an endlessly increasing stream of people? And eventually space will become an issue. I don’t think you can reasonably say “Oh well God in his wisdom made sure Earth was big enough”, because it’s a true fact that Earth is not big enough even for 6 billion of us. Unless you are talking about some fictitious magic mental Earth, in which case your question is completely different and impossible to answer as I don’t know what fictitious magical mental Earth you’ve created and thus I wouldn’t really want to continue participating here.

How would the medical world function, is it 100% because of medicine that people can’t die or is medicine no longer needed? So much social aspects will change, families may not have children till way way later or may choose to pop them out like it’s going out of style.

nebule's avatar

@PapaLeo I wasn’t looking for a debate, I was looking for ideas… please don’t get all antagonistic with me.. I did state that the world would have to be big enough to accommodate all people as a premise… but maybe you are right in that I didn’t make that clear enough…and I have got it wrong sorry

@dynamicduo yes i guess one would call it a fictitious mental magic world..but if you don’t want play…that’s fine too.

@wildpotato thank you x that’s very useful .. shall be off now to go and have a look

shrubbery's avatar

@lynneblundell, also look up Augustine and Aquinas, Process Theology, Dualism, Divine Reward and Retribution, Hicks and Irinaeus, Flew, Mackie, Leibniz, and Swinburne, and have a look into the story of Job. I just sent you an e-mail about these people :)

shrubbery's avatar

I just thought that I ought to post something here in case someone else needs to find the answers to this question and they find this one…

A guy called Flew concluded that free will must come from choices within ourselves and not from outside forces. God could have made a world with good-natured people who make good decisions making a perfect world without evil and suffering. But this would mean that humans would becomes puppets and with God influenced their “good nature” it would lessen free will or even remove it.

Leibniz decided that God is all good and all powerful and that he chose the very best possible universe from all possible universes. Every feature in the universe is an essential part of the divine plan, therefore pain and suffering are parts of the best possible universe. Evil contributes to making it a better place than every other possible universe. All evil is for the best but we do not have the same perspective as God so we may not understand exactly how. However one could argue that this is just too convenient to explain away suffering especially when suffering is witnessed first hand.

I think this theodicy is most relevant to the question though:
Swinburne said that some forms of evil are the means to certain goods. God is all powerful and could stop evil but chooses not to because without suffering humans cannot display virtuous acts in response. This is better than a ‘toy world’ without significant consequences (Flew’s world). If there was no suffering and no opportunity to improve then all actions would lose meaning. Humans are free, the universe is unfinished and we need to live in a world with real challenges and actions matter. The world needs to be law-abiding i.e. to form laws of nature. God cannot intervene to remove suffering all the time or there would be chaos and no laws of nature could be made. However this is also hard to accept when you witness all the suffering first hand.

Hope this helps you and other Flutherites.

JLeslie's avatar

Sounds good to me.

PapaLeo's avatar

@lynneblundell Indeed you did. I should have read your premise more closely. And sorry to get all bitchy on you. It gets under my skin when people ask what my opinion is and then start arguing with me about it. There’s a world of difference between “I see it differently” and “You’re wrong.” To be fair, you didn’t say the latter; perhaps I was being oversensitive. My apologies.

nebule's avatar

@PapaLeo No worries in the slightest…I’m a bit sensitive that’s all

p.s. Shufty = hunky dory…lovely, wonderful…(i.e. Christians banging on tambourines! no..only joking!! couldn’t resist!)) etc.

mattbrowne's avatar

@lynneblundell – Well, I guess there’s no single link. Maybe you know the saying ‘crisis is the mother of invention’. Speciation (the development of new species) is mainly driven by environmental pressure and isolation. The closing of the

triggered the

period with a series of ice-ages interrupted by warm interglacial periods. The climate in Africa where our ancestors lived became very dry (environmental pressure). Right now we enjoy a warm interglacial period. If you are really interested in how all of this works you should read

which is a very enlightening book. Increasingly complex life is a result of pain and death. A paradise does lead to a standstill.

wundayatta's avatar

Without death: assuming we’re talking about humans, and this happens as a result of human intervention….

Well, for one thing, the population would grow. There might be a tendency to have fewer children. I don’t think it’s fair to say resources are limitless, since that doesn’t lead to much of a thought experiment. I think people would have to still work to find more resources.

Resources would accumulate amongst the old. There would be no transfer of wealth from the old to their children, so there would be no inheritances. Of course, parents could always gift things to their children. However, I think there would be tensions that develop between the oldest old and those who are younger.

Of course, all the implications I suggest could potentially be seen as causes of pain. You do not specify if you are only talking about physical pain. Although, even if you are, I don’t think you can separate emotional pain and distress from physical pain.

I think that struggle motivates us. If we had no struggle, we’d end up doing next to nothing. Why would we have to? I mean, with no pain, we’d have no boredom, so we wouldn’t have to find things to interest us. I think we’d end up as @mattbrowne said: as very large lumps of organic matter. Our brains would atrophy, since we wouldn’t need them to survive. We wouldn’t need muscles or anything else. We’d probably end up as lumps of protoplasm. We’d have no children, and little of anything else.

I think without things to struggle against (such as pain), we would have little or no advancement. There would be no point in it. There would be no point in thinking. I think it is struggle and death that push us to fight pain and death, and that is what makes us cleverer and cleverer about ways to reduce pain and push off death.

We may not like pain, but that is exactly why we need it. I’d hesitate to say we need death, because I don’t like the idea of dying. However, I think that the possibility of fending off death does motivate us. Death needs to exist, but it doesn’t have to happen to everyone in order for it to motivate us. All we need is the possibility of death if we are not careful enough, or we don’t constantly seek to improve our chances of avoiding death.

Are you thinking of suggesting the existence of such a world? I have to think that if such a world existed from the beginning of time, there would be no biological matter at all. Nothing would ever need to fight to stay alive, so it never would change. The first form of life, whatever it was, would be the only form ever to exist. I’m not even sure we would recognize it as life. There would be no need for change. The universe would be static and consciousness would never develop. Without consciousness, nothing could be said to “exist,” because there would be no entity capable of becoming aware of existence. The universe would become irrelevant. Poof!

nebule's avatar

I think you’ve both hit the nail on the proverbial head..thank you! xxx

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

I thought plenty of people would drop religion

ShanEnri's avatar

Utopia, Zen, Nirvana…these are the things that come to mind. As far as implications I can’t really think of any right now!

Aliza's avatar

To me, the pleasure without pain is a big deal…having contrasts allow for things to be seen/felt more clearly…I don’t know, but I think numbness would eventually set in.

Apart from that, I saw a tv show or movie where people could not not die and it showed people who had been in a car accident, burned, disfigured, cut in half, but still alive. While you mention that there would be no pain, it seems as if it would be a pretty miserable existence for those who would experience such accidents and given a long enought period of time, it would be nearly inevitable for all of us to suffer such a fate.

erniefernandez's avatar

No pain? If that means any kind of unsatisfactory states/suffering, then who cares? Game over! Check mate! We all win! WooHoo!!

YARNLADY's avatar

You goota wonder how “procreation” would occur without any pain?

lloydbird's avatar

@YARNLADY Very slim babies?

nebule's avatar

@YARNLADY like it…like it ..A LOT! x

wildpotato's avatar

@shrubbery Nice list! Don’t forget Griffin, Hartshorne, Whitehead, Sherburne, Pike, Whitney, Davis, Levinas, Kierkegaard, and Arendt.

derekpaperscissors's avatar

I’d imagine something in the lines of the last few scenes of Red Son. Read it so I won’t have to spoil it.:P

Nially_Bob's avatar

Worldwide apathy

Trillian's avatar

I think of Robert Heinlein’s Sailing to Byzantium. And ZARDOZ. And David Bowie singing; “Well ya walk past the cafe, but you don’t eat when you’ve lived too long. Oh oo oo oh, you’re a rock-n-roll suicide.”


One implication is that we wouldn’t know what real happiness or pleasure would be like, because without experiencing any pain or suffering, or even death, we would eventually get bored with life and want a diversion. Lol.

YARNLADY's avatar

@MRSHINYSHOES It would end up being a Darwinian fulfillment of survival of the fittest, meaning those that can find happiness, excitement and anticipation in eternity will survive, and those without the inner resources necessary wouldn’t.

talljasperman's avatar

Lots of sleeping in sunshine. Also overcrowding.

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