Thomas Pynchon's Gravity's Rainbow (1973)
Why I Believe in Immortality
BY WERNHER VON BRAUN
INVENTOR AND SPACE EXPERT
"I believe ... that the soul of Man is immortal and will be treated with justice in another life respecting its conduct in this." --Benjamin Franklin
TODAY, more than ever before, our survival--yours and mine and our children's- depends on our adherence to ethical principles. Ethics alone will decide whether atomic energy will be an earthly blessing or the source of mankind's utter destruction.
Where does the desire for ethical action come from? What makes us want to be ethical? I believe there are two forces which move us. One is belief in a Last Judgment, when every one of us has to account for what we did with God's great gift of life on earth. The other is belief in an immortal soul, a soul which will cherish the award or suffer the penalty decreed in a final Judgment.
Belief in God and in immortality thus gives us the moral strength and the ethical guidance we need for virtually every action in our daily lives.
In our modern world many people seem to feel that science has somehow made such "religious ideas" untimely or old-fashioned.
But I think science has a real surprise for the skeptics. Science, for instance, tells us that nothing in nature, not even the tiniest particle, can disappear without a trace.
Think about that for a moment. Once you do, your thoughts about life will never be the same.
Science has found that nothing can disappear without a trace. Nature does not know extinction. All it knows is transformation!
Now, if God applies this fundamental principle to the most minute and insignificant parts of His universe, doesn't it make sense to assume that He applies it also to the masterpiece of His creation--the human soul? I think it does. And everything science has taught me--and continues to teach me--strengthens my belief in the continuity of our spiritual existence after death. Nothing disappears without a trace. [emphasis added]
From The Third Book of Words to Live By , (pp.119-120)