[ExI] Religious objections to cryonics

David Lubkin lubkin at unreasonable.com
Tue Mar 8 15:15:04 UTC 2011

Spike wrote in Re: [ExI] deniability of ancient posts:

>Saturday I was having a discussion of cryonics with a believer in a religion
>which has no problem with the notion of cryonics.  I was reminded that those
>guys have their own identity paradox.  What if they get themselves frozen,
>or for that matter if a relative does it, and eventually science inc
>discovers a way to bring back the person.  What happens if the believer
>turns to evil in the bonus life?

I find that the ambulance metaphor is effective, with both 
religionists and non. An ambulance is a technology for transporting 
someone to a place with greater medical facilities for treatment. 
Cryonic suspension is an ambulance through time.

Most religions preach that we have a duty to preserve life, 
particularly our own.

Then an afterlife comes into the conversation. What if your soul is 
stuck in liquid nitrogen?

The answer hinges on the premise that the afterlife is eternal and timeless.

If you are revived from a suspension, then you weren't dead. If you 
aren't revived, you will continue to decay, and will eventually reach 
the point your soul goes off to heaven (or to reincarnation). What's the hurry?

If your soul has left your body, then there are four choices. Either 
revival is not possible; or you'll stay in the afterlife and your 
revived, former body will be soulless; or your revived, former body 
will get a different soul (recycled or new); or you will be called 
back from heaven (or your next earthly existence).

Arguing these depends on the specifics of what someone believes.

My father, otherwise fairly rigorous from his professions of engineer 
and mathematician, believed in an afterlife on sketchy reasoning: 
Life is sufficiently intolerable that it would be unacceptable for 
that to be all there is. (Proof by "the other answer would make me 
sad.") He conceded the logic of cryonics but was unwilling to risk 
its interfering with his article of faith.

Repeat after me: You cannot reason a man out of a position he did not 
reach through reason.

-- David.

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