[ExI] Eternity for Atheists
lcorbin at rawbw.com
Thu Jul 26 22:45:04 UTC 2007
Eternity for AtheistsOlga posted the "Eternity for Atheists" article by JIM HOLT.
It concluded with these two paragraphs:
> The most interesting possibilities for an afterlife proposed in recent years are based on hard science with a dash of speculation.
> In his 1994 book, "The Physics of Immortality," Frank J. Tipler, a specialist in relativity theory at Tulane University, showed
> how future beings might, in their drive for total knowledge, "resurrect" us in the form of computer simulations. (If this seems
> implausible to you, think how close we are right now to "resurrecting" extinct species through knowledge of their genomes.) John
> Leslie, a Canadian who ranks as one of the world's leading philosophers of cosmology, draws on quantum physics in his
> painstakingly argued new book, "Immortality Defended." Each of us, Leslie submits, is immortal because our life patterns are but
> an aspect of an "existentially unified" cosmos that will persist after our death. Both Tipler and Leslie are, in different ways,
> heirs to the view of William James. The mind or "soul," as they see it, consists of information, not matter. And one of the
> deepest principles of quantum theory, called "unitarity," forbids the disappearance of information. (Stephen Hawking used to think
> you could destroy your information by heaving yourself into a black hole, but a few years ago he changed his mind.)
It's sad to see Tipler's scientific analysis stated as though it was
merely on an equal footing with all these other zany views.
The last paragraph is likewise more rubbish:
> If death is not extinction, what might it be like? That's a question the Harvard philosopher Robert Nozick, who died five years
> ago, enjoyed pondering. One of the more rococo possibilities he considered was that the dying person's organized energy might
> bubble into a new universe created in that person's image. Although his reflections were inconclusive, Nozick hit on a seductive
> maxim: first, imagine what form of immortality would be best; then live your life right now as though it were true. And, who
> knows, it may be true. "Life is a great surprise," Vladimir Nabokov once observed. "I do not see why death should not be an even
> greater one."
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