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The Meaning of a Dead Dog -- Writer's Poke #351

In some ways, Pawel is your average 10 year old. He likes to race and play. He likes to skate. He’s just starting to become interested in girls.

In other ways, Pawel is anything but average. He has his own computer, but he uses it to program, not to play games. He likes story problems. And, he’s interested in finding out the purpose for living.

When Pawel discovers one of the neighborhood dogs dead, its fur frozen in the cold, it not surprisingly depresses him. More than that, however, it also causes him to consider whether or not life has a purpose. What satisfaction can he take in solving a word problem? How powerful are computers if he can’t program them to explain why the living must die?

Pawel’s dad can explain what death is from a rational point of view, but Pawel craves a deeper explanation. His father tells him that the soul is just a term people have developed to make life easier for the living, but even his aunt, who has a strong Catholic faith, probably wouldn’t disagree with that statement. Faith does make life easier, but perhaps it also makes life more fulfilling?

You have developed beliefs about death. What are they? How do people develop views about the afterlife, and why are those views important, especially for the way they live their lives?

“And so it goes.” – Kurt Vonnegut


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