"...When we examine closely their declarations, especially their sense of futility in a world without immortality, we find that, in their philosophy, a true value is only one which is conserved forever in a durational sense. To be valuable, meaningful, non-futile, the achievements and efforts of man must count ultimately and absolutely. They must add something permanently; there must be no chance of that addition being crossed out in some cosmic collision....The immortalist makes permanency an inseparable and necessary accompaniment of value. Anything that is not permanent accordingly lacks value for him. Hence the futility argument for immortality.
This linkage of value with everlastingness is a very dubious kind of procedure. In the first place, it is similar to setting up mere bigness as the standard of worth in that it pushes into the background the qualitative aspects of value. "The length of things," says Santayana, "is vanity, only their height is joy." And long ago Aristotle explained that good will not be "more good if it is eternal, since a white thing which lasts for a long time is not whiter than that which lasts a single day." The glory that was Greece did not endure forever, but that did not make it less a glory. Heroism may bring death to a man, but that does not make him less a hero. Can anyone doubt that spiritually, it is the quality rather than the duration of a life that counts when he considers the examples of a Shelly dying just short of thirty, a Jesus dying near that same age, a Keats dying at twenty-six, and a Joan of Arc dying at nineteen?
Does anyone who has listened to a symphony of Beethoven seriously think its intrinsic beauty and grandeur depend on the number of times it is played in the future? A great joy that has been felt remains a great joy that has been felt, no matter how many worlds collapse. Neither immortality nor the lack of it can alter the fact that there was a great joy and that a human personality experienced it. While it is true that things must have some minimum duration in order to be experienced at all, neither the consummatory heights of experience nor small innocent pleasures wait on any assurance of life after death; they come without reference to the problem of immortality. The futility argument of the immortalist almost totally neglects these considerations; it throws into the discard [heap] the rich and unquestioning experience of every child, every artist, every lover, every partaker in the life of the spirit and the intellect.
In the second place, it is perfectly clear that the great values which the immortalists wish preserved forever are the very values which human life has generated here and now in spite of its brevity, tragedy and suffering. They themselves recognize this point in granting that there are "values in living that inhere in every day's experience and do not ask ultimate questions about eternity." Their argument itself compels them to this admission. For if values existed independently and eternally in another realm, as suggested in Plato's Dialogues, then they would go on existing whether or not human personalities survived death. This is not the immortalists' view, however. And so their argument forces them to say, in essence, that the values produced in this life are not really values and that the highest human accomplishments are not really worthwhile unless they are all set in a framework of everlastingness....
This stand, if held to uncompromisingly, would imply that, were it by chance established that Plato and Paul, Luther and Lincoln, and all the other great and good figures of the past had not, as a matter of fact, survived death as conscious personalities, their lives, in spite of ennobling effects through long centuries, would now become futile. And human life today, were a future life in some way disproved, would at once become worthless."