At a joint birthday party, of all places, I ended up talking to two friends about the desirability of knowing in advance the date of your own death. They both preferred not know; I’d rather know.
Of course, if I spun the crystal ball and it told me I was going to die in 2080, then it wouldn’t make much of a difference; I’d go ahead and live my life much as I’m living it now. But suppose it told me I was going to die in 2013. In that case, I’d dramatically cut back on my student loan payments and do a million other things differently. I mean, think about it: if you had terminal cancer, you’d want to know, right? (another great dilemma from Mad Men).
Perfect knowledge drives out fear. In a way, Christian faith in the after-life is a substitute for knowledge of the date of your own death; since you know what will happen to you when you die, the time or the day is not particularly important, nor should it be a cause for great anxiety. But I’d still like to know!