The book I’m currently reading is “Preserving Minds, Saving Lives” edited by “Alcor Life Extension Foundation“:
In this article, I’m sharing with you my reading notes.
This is the seventh article about the book. The other articles about it can be read here.
Cryonics and religion
The book has already mentioned religion and now devotes a specific chapter to the subject.
I myself have addressed religion several times in these reading notes, and this chapter clarifies the relationship between cryonics and religion.
Religion being intimately linked to death one could legitimately think that there can be an antagonism between cryonics and religion.
When semantics is properly established, we realize that the cryonicist vision can perfectly coexist with religious conceptions. The book indicates that some members of Alcor are of religious aspiration, although most are atheists or agnostics.
Cryonics Does Not Resurrect the Dead
Cryonics does not intend to perform miracles. It does not claim to bring the dead back to life.
And this is where semantics is important: death has an irreversible, definitive dimension that only a miracle could subvert.
Cryonics intervenes just “before” irreversible death, to plunge the patient into a state of suspension while waiting for the development of sufficiently powerful technologies to “reanimate” (and not resuscitate) the patient.
But it is according to the speculative criteria of the future’s medicine that the patient is not considered dead by cryonicists, because according to contemporary medicine … the cryogenized patient is indeed dead, and there reside all the stakes of the cryonics paradigm!
Thus for cryonics it is a question of lengthening the patient’s “lifetime”, it does not claim to bring them back from nothing, nor does it claim to confer immortality. Cryonics does not make immortal: an individual could always suffer 1001 fatal events against which cryonics could do nothing: serious accidents, suicides, or any other event sufficiently violent to destroy irretrievably an individual.
When semantics is properly defined, we realize that religions, death and even the notion of the soul can quite coexist and even be adapted to cryonics, as they have always done with historical medical advances.
As the book says, if cryonics achieves its goals, it will not invalidate any religion.
The Duty to Live
Humans have always tried to preserve and lengthen their life. Life expectancy in developed countries has continued to grow. Antibiotics, surgery … we have developed a whole range of life-saving care and it does not seem to have bothered any god.
One could even argue that if a religious person refused medical treatment that could save him, it would be like refusing life and could be considered suicide. Suicide is considered a sin in most religions. If a life imperative seems to characterize all religions, then the preservation of life offered by cryonics would coincide perfectly with this imperative!
It’s not Natural!
No, indeed, prolonging life is not “natural.” And this is not the first time we have been doing something “not natural” … luckily for us!
- Saving an infant from premature death is unnatural.
- Using an antibiotic to avoid dying from an infection is not natural.
- Vaccinating a population to avoid epidemics causing millions of deaths is not natural.
- Getting a shower is not natural, nor is cutting one’s hair.
- Cooking food is not natural.
What would be natural in the end? To live naked, without ever washing, in a cave, at the mercy of the least wild beast or microbe passing by … this would indeed be natural…
After all, is it not natural for us to do everything in our power to prolong and improve our lives?
In any case, this is what the Future Is Great movement thinks, and the main reason for this website to exist.
Act of Faith
If cryonics is not a substitute for religion and can be quite accommodating, it seems sensible to point out a similarity. Cryonics is also an act of faith. The reanimation cycle of cryonics cannot be demonstrated, and cryonicists place their faith in the development of future technologies powerful enough to repair an organism cell by cell. By observing technological sophistication over the past two millennia, or even the last hundred years alone, there is indeed an exponential sophistication that gives hope. Nevertheless, cryonics is an extraordinary act of faith.
There is no doubt that cryonicists are lovers of life; their commitment to being cryogenized is the ultimate proof. In love, only acts matter!
To the question, “Why do you want to live indefinitely?” Stephen W. Bridge, author of the chapter on religion answers:
“Because I like being alive, in this form and in this identity. Because life is a good and infinitely varied. There is much more to learn and experience and explore in this universe (this ‘creation’ if you prefer) than we can do in thousands of years. ”
Note: The semantics used in this article is correct. Cryonics will not resurrect the dead. It intends to reanimate patients who were kept in suspension. This is not necessarily the semantics used in my other articles on the subject nor in the book’s chapters which are non-chronologically spread over 40 years.