What If Everyone Who Ever Lived Was Resurrected?
VOICE OVER: Noah Baum
WRITTEN BY: Spencer Sher
The life and death cycle is one thing we can all be sure about. But, what would happen if a mass resurrection event unfolded? If every human in history was suddenly brought back to life? Not only would it be the strangest, most surreal experience ever, but it could also cause quite a few problems!
What If Everyone Who Ever Lived Was Resurrected?
You’re born. You live. You die. And the circle of life keeps on spinning. That’s the way of the world and, until we achieve that granddaddy of all medical, ethical and technological milestones – immortality – that’s the way it’ll always be. But what if, instead of living forever, you could turn back the clock to bring back everyone who ever lived?
That’s right people; we’re talking Cleopatra, Genghis Khan, Joan of Arc, Socrates, Babe Ruth, Tupac and your great uncle Rufus simultaneously coming back to life. Not to mention every other human to have walked this earth over the past 50,000 years. What would be the immediate, short term and long-term repercussions of such a massive influx of born-again life on our planet?
Let’s start at the beginning: Resurrection Day. It may sound like the title of a direct-to-DVD movie (probably starring Nicholas Cage), but trust us; it wouldn’t be nearly as funny as all that. The fact is that should everyone make a miraculous return, the global population would shoot up from 7.5 billion to almost 108 billion. Squeezing everyone into every corner of Earth’s realistically habitable land, we’d have around 1,500 people in each and every square kilometer available. It’s actually a far lower population density than most major cities, but this would be all across the planet – everywhere you went.
And don’t forget, every part of every era of human existence is here, which means Ancient Egyptians rubbing shoulders with Wild West cowboys; Medieval monarchs with 20th century soldiers; traditional hunter gatherers with today’s lifestyle vloggers. It’d be a social experiment unlike any other, but confusion and chaos would undoubtedly rule.
Even if things were made supposedly slightly easier by every previously dead human being reappearing in their country or region of origin, the landscape would be unrecognizable to most – especially the modern world elements, like skyscrapers, sprawling airports, power plants and sports stadiums. Throw into the conundrum how language has developed over centuries, how people have spread out over time, and how major wars, border disputes and treaties will’ve passed since whenever most of the resurrected would’ve died, and everyone is likely to feel thoroughly lost. Add that every individual timeline up until that point will be slightly different – so one person’s mind is blown by the internet, another’s is blown by running water – and the extent of the mess begins to reveal itself.
Perhaps more than any other age group, there’d be a particular increase in young people - given that life expectancies have never been higher than they are today. However, as every resurrected person would have a different idea of what childhood, adulthood and old age should look like, there’d be yet more cultural clashes to deal with. In terms of school and education, it might initially prove tricky for the resurrected people to even comprehend the contemporary world around them… but in the long run, it could be that we’re the ones who have to adapt, seeing as we’d be so unfathomably outnumbered.
Our now measly-by-comparison 7.5 billion present-day population would see our fields, highways, rivers, villages, towns and cities inexplicably invaded by hordes of reanimated corpses. Even if they’re fully restored to how they looked when actually alive – without any hint of horror movie zombie about them – it’d still be almost impossible to come to terms with. There’d be little time to ask questions like “Why?” and “How?” it happened though, with the immediate focus being “What the heck are we going to do about it?”. Probably first of all, if the internet hasn’t crashed as part of the panic, there’d be #ResurrectionDay trending on Twitter, with the likes of Marilyn Monroe becoming overnight Instagram stars.
The real problems would start after the initial shock had worn off. Most scientists agree that the Earth can only sustain a maximum population of 10 billion people, so our planet would’ve become spectacularly oversubscribed. As such, the period after the resurrection event would probably be characterized by death, and lots of it. Food, water and shelter would understandably be scarce, while the resurrected will’ve also brought with them various historic diseases – like a potential reemergence of the plague across Europe. Perhaps the deadliest development of all though, would be war.
Primarily waged over a lack of resources, these wars would be bloody and drawn-out affairs, with zero need for capturing prisoners because the battle would simply serve to ruthlessly whittle down the population. We’d kill, or be killed – all while watching the billions of dead bodies mount up. Add to the melee that there’d be soldiers from all eras of human history, there could also be a tendency to take up the battles of old. The World War II Allies would once more march against Hitler; Both sides of every Civil War ever fought would meet again; And the Ancient Romans would want their Empire back. Clearly, the giddy novelty of seeing figures like Elvis and Gandhi return would disappear pretty quickly.
Once sickness, starvation and never-ending conflict brings the numbers down, there might be some effort to make the situation work – perhaps forcing the Earth to cater for even upwards of its 10 billion limit. We’d have to build taller than we’d ever done, and more quickly than ever before. All international borders will’ve likely become pointless, so we’d need some kind of global government to organize the efforts. Attempts to create artificial islands could increase, and bids to evacuate some people from the planet entirely – via Mars or Moon-bound spaceships – could pick up some serious pace. All undoubtedly at a massive cost to the global environment, which will’ve already been stretched beyond all reason due to the unprecedented population growth.
But what of the people left? Say the 108 billion starting figure falls to just 20 billion – or fewer. Everyone remaining will’ve seen some serious stuff. Ageism would take on a whole new meaning for one – with the probable emergence of era-ism, as well – as post-resurrection attitudes, beliefs and prejudices would shape a society completely different from our own. Depending upon the ratio between actually alive people and the resurrected, those that were formerly deceased could wind-up treated as second-class citizens. Or, those yet to have died could be seen as inferior, seeing as they will’ve never experienced their own second-coming.
And all of that before we’ve even breached the massive mental health epidemic. Forget the return of celebrities, world leaders and other famous faces… Living in a world where your once-deceased friends and family have returned could at first feel incredible… but might ultimately become quite cruel. Our entire understanding of life and death would have to be thrown out, and all types of grief could again come to the surface. We’d want to care for the immediate generations before us, but they’d want to care for the generations before them, and so on. Rather than bringing us closer, it could push us further apart. And, in the event that the resurrected aren’t immortal, watching them die all over again would be a harrowing ordeal.
If everyone who ever lived really was resurrected, it’d probably be labelled a miracle. But there wouldn’t be much to celebrate. Like a completely messed up Darwinian daydream, it’d be survival of the fittest, and those quickest to adapt would gain a crucial advantage. But, by the time the dust had settled, the very meaning of life will’ve changed forever.