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To not be or not to not be...

snippet from: Do We Really Want to Live Forever? By Bill McKibben

It is clear that these revolutionary technologies are being driven by people with immortality, or something very near it, on their minds. In genetic engineering circles, much talk in the last year has centered on the promise of longer lives. As Danny Hillis, a computer scientist, says, "I'm as fond of my body as anyone, but if I can be 200 with a body of silicon, I'll take it." One odd thing is that it is precisely this same class of thinkers--hyper-rationalist scientists, who have long sneered at religion as the refuge of the weak--who can’t face the fact of their own mortality.

link: http://www.beliefnet.com/story/147/story_14779_1.html


( 7 comments — Leave a comment )
Nov. 27th, 2007 09:14 pm (UTC)
Speaking as the Token Religious Person (kept strictly for scientific purposes, of course ;)) reading this blog, I would point out that I do not necessarily find immortality in and of itself desirable.

Immortality in unclouded communion with God, and with all other persons who are in communion with God, and the resultant joy and peace, is what I want. Unending existence in our present state of unfulfilled expectation would not be heaven, no matter how pleasant our technological acumen might make it. Loss of the Beatific Vision is by definition Hell, even if it is the Limbus Patrum of the civically virtuous. And of course I think that if we really did achieve immortality, the flaws of human nature would contrive to inflict innumerable agonies upon us.
Nov. 27th, 2007 09:40 pm (UTC)
Achieve Immortality by Not Dying
My thoughts on the topic are complex and half-formed at moment. I'll be working to articulate them in an upcoming installment of the podcast. I'll let you know which one once it hits the web.

Thanks, TRP, and Merry Christmas!


BTW, is your LJ name a play on TV's Pastor Scott?
Nov. 27th, 2007 10:04 pm (UTC)
Re: Achieve Immortality by Not Dying
I say my thoughts are half-formed, but this quote articulates the starting point of my thoughts on the topic:
Real achievement, which augments the sum of human worth and knowledge, is seldom born of a conventional understanding; it is always a shock to the competent who, usually middle-aged, defensive and unprepared for new exertions, depend upon the status quo and have come to accept it as representing the limits of the known universe.

-Robert Grudin
Nov. 27th, 2007 10:51 pm (UTC)
Re: Achieve Immortality by Not Dying
No, it's a play on Prester John.
Nov. 27th, 2007 11:16 pm (UTC)
Oh, and one other response to the above quote: it's no shame to be sneered at as weak and needing a crutch, if, in fact, you really do need one. The contention of Christianity (I can't speak for "religion" in general, as not all religions believe this) is that we are all spiritually, existentially, and eschatologically blind, poor, naked and crippled. If that is true then it is the rugged individualist who is the fool.
Nov. 27th, 2007 11:36 pm (UTC)
I faced my mortality when I was suicidal, I'm not scared of dying. I just don't see the point in NOT trying to extend our lives, because then we can experience as much as possible.
Nov. 28th, 2007 12:26 am (UTC)
I'm an atheist, and I definitely think that atheists are more honest about our mortality than the religionists. Religion is a refuge of the weak. They make up stories of living forever after death. At least we accept that we can't do that.

And therefore, we are interested in living as much as possible while we can. This is the only life we've got, so we'd like to make the most of it.

It's much easier, I suppose to accept your own mortality if you think you will live forever after you have died.

Edited at 2007-11-28 12:27 am (UTC)
( 7 comments — Leave a comment )

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