What is a body made of really? If you take the scientific slant you would have to say just a few pounds of basic minerals, some water – not too much. If you take the spiritual side you could add a soul to the equation. Lets examine both perspectives and see what we are really made of, and answer the question, “Do we live forever?”
From a scientific standpoint energy and matter are neither created nor destroyed. I realize that this in itself is a controversial statement because of special relativity, but lets assume that the universe is a closed system. Anyway, to the point. At the Big Bang a certain amount of energy and mass were created. By the above laws that amount has neither increased nor decreased. Therefore all that any object, animate or inanimate, is made up of lives forever in some form. We, as humans, return to the ground and decay into our component elements. Thus, the circle of life.
If we take the more religious form, we can say that in some way we live forever. In the spiritual circle of life according to some Eastern religions, we ascend into a form that is perfected over time. We are given chances to perfect ourselves through many lifetimes, and at some point we achieve Nirvana. These philosophies also believe in the connectedness of everything and therefore conservation on the same scale as scientists. In monotheistic religions there is some controlling entity which determines our merits and gives us the “gift” of eternal life in one form or the other (i.e., bliss or torment.) Allah awards his followers, and the Jewish/Christian God awards His. Within these systems there is actually not a conservation of mass or energy in the classic sense because the “soul” of the earthly deceased goes somewhere else. There is much discussion as to which is correct (one proof of the soul, some say, is the specious fact that pigs and humans unaccountably lose some weight at death. Does this mean we are on the same plane as pigs? Not even Buddhists believe that. Pigs can’t achieve Nirvana.)
Unfortunately, this is a question that cannot be answered except personally. All of these ideas are taken on one’s own personal belief. But it all comes down to one thing, we are all mineral, definitely. Our bodies do return to the Earth. What happens to us after that is anybody’s guess.