X-Message-Number: 10490
Date: Tue, 29 Sep 1998 02:28:20 -0500 (CDT)
Subject: More on religion and cryonics

In Message #10477 from: "den Otter" regarding Cryonics as religion he said in 
>Transhumanism could be easily adapted imo to become a "religion"
>that, among other things, practices ritual freezing of the deceased. 
>Would be fun too, and maybe even an opportunity to make a profit.
>Of course, simple immortalism might do as well. Does anyone know 
>whether rejection of superstition (including religion etc.) would prevent 
>the philosophy from being officially accepted as a "religion", with
>the legal protection of such a status etc?

In the United States, I understand that if you call it a church it is.  The US 

first amendment is supposed to guarantee that right.  Last I heard, it still 

Getting IRS tax exempt status is an entirely different issue.  I understand that
this is why the 

Church of Latter Day Saints (the Mormans) never sought IRS approval as they did 
not wish to 
surrender their rights in the political arena in exchange for tax breaks.

And Mike Perry also suggested:

>The SV [Society for Venturism] has gained recognition from
>the IRS as a "religious, scientific and educational" organization. So far,
>we're a pretty tiny organization. Maybe we need more rituals, songs,
>dances, etc., so long as our basic position is not compromised. Any ideas
>are welcome.

I suspect that sooner or later someone will come along and hijack cryonics as a 
subset of their 

own religion.  Immortalism is what the ancient Egyptians practiced.  I cannot 
see how it will 
not come again.

Additionally, in Message #10481, Scott Badger wrote:
>If I understand correctly, George Smith appears to be suggesting that we
>market cryonics by turning it into a religious movement.  

Immortalism could, I feel, be easily revived from its ancient heritage.  
Cryonics could then 

become a small but vital part of such a religion.  By itself, cryonics lacks 
enough to qualify 
as a religion.  It is a plan for using technology to achieve revival.

With all due
>respect George, I must vehemently protest.  

But why?  If it happens, what is there to protest?  I mean, if the successful 
spread of cryonics 

came about in exchange for everyone wearing purple hats or waving feathers on 

Tuesdays, so what?  I feel many of us could learn to cope with the embarrassment
of just about 
anything after about five or six hundred years.

And I find it peculiar that Mr.
>Donaldson alone responded by saying that it might be a good idea as a backup
>plan in case we ran into legal problems down the road.  Scientology became a
>religion in the eyes of the government only a few years ago and it appears
>that this was primarily for tax purposes.  

I am not an expert on the history of Scientology but this might not be such a 
bad example to 

consider.  When L. Ron Hubbard's "mental health clinics" were being legally 
banned in (I recall 

it was) New Jersey, Mr. Hubbard end-ran the legalalities by immediately closing 
his "Dianetics" 

clinics and opening his "Church of Scientology".  Under this new name, he 
continued business as 

usual ...very successfully I understand.  Mr. Hubbad planned ahead for just such
an event.  
Shouldn't we? 

George Smith is not talking about
>tax advantages though.

Absolutely.  You never get anything free from the government, in my opinion.  
You pay now and 
you pay later.  All else is illusion.

>We all know that there are similarities between religious systems and
>cryonics.  Religion addresses our fear of death...so does cryonics.
>Religion soothes the pain we experience when a loved one passes away...so
>does cryonics.  Religion offers us the hope of becoming more than we are, or
>transcending our selves...so does cryonics.
>But we CANNOT disguise cryonics as a religion.  Religions make
>promises...cryonics does not.  

That may be the precise reason it has grown so slowly.

Religions have a central
>figure/savior/messiah...cryonics does not.  

We have a few "central figures" in the cryonics movement but even these are not 
necessary for a 

religion.  Remember, all religions were invented somewhere by somebody.  People 
like relgions.  
Notice how many there are?  It's not a coincidence.

Religion says, "You must accept
>our philosophy if you are to be saved."...cryonics does not.  

Buddhism does not say this.  The Vedic sages of Hinduism do not say this.  
Taoism does not say 

this.  I believe personal salvation to be primarily a Islamic-Christian dogma.

But on the other hand, isn't cryonics saying (at least implicitly), "Sign up or 
die dead 
forever... guaranteed?  

>involves worship...cryonics does not.  

Hmmmm.  I could point out that our word for worship comes from the Sumerian 
meaning "to work 
for" and that we must work for our cryonic "salvation", but I won't.

Cryonics does not seek to replace
>anyone's religion.  And if we were to attempt to do so we would face serious
>problems.  It has been my understanding that cryonics is compatible with any
>religious belief system.  

Christian Science, too?  Seventh day Adventists, who reject even blood 

If cryonics makes it possible for you to live for
>5,000 years, you will *still* have to deal with your particular deity when
>your time *does* come.

Unless, as is the case in both Buddhism and Hinduism, you eventually come to be 
free of the 
illusion that you were seperate from that "deity" in the first place.

>As for NDEs, I read a considerable amount regarding the research on NDEs.  I
>was enthralled by the idea and the strong anecdotal evidence offered.  Even
>so, veridical studies have been disappointing and it all smacks a bit too
>much of "New Ageism".  

The people the NDErs seem to be talking to and identifying with ARE New Agers.

George mentions the altered personalities of NDEers,
>and I can see where those who have experienced severe anoxia and then been
>revived might make some significant changes in their belief systems, but
>that doesn't make the afterlife a reality.  

But what they say is all in regard to their belief in that "afterlife", whether 
any one of us 

likes it or not.  And the personality studies have validated profound and long 
lasting changes.

Even so, only about 1/3 of those
>experiencing clinical death also experience an NDE.  Why?  

I didn't realize that figure was so high!  (George fumbles for his library).

These people
>typically have a profound, and renewed appreciation for life, and they no
>longer fear death because they are convinced there is an afterlife.  That
>still doesn't make the afterlife a reality.  

It is "reality" as far as they are concerned, right or wrong.

Many are convinced that they
>have increased psychic abilities, but then again, they also start reading a
>lot more about such things and they *would* be expected to pay more
>attention to and be attuned to so-called "psychic phenomena".  They would
>also be expected to make more out of coincidences than the average person.

Makes you wonder why that might be so, doesn't it?

>You see the problem.  They're no longer objective and their bias
>disqualifies their revelations.  

Like every other human being.

And it still doesn't make the afterlife a
>reality.  But I am not here to argue the existence or non-existence of an
>afterlife.  I am suggesting that NDEs don't succeed in making the case one
>way or another.  

It isn't an issue of proof.  It is an issue of what happens if millions of 
people believe it.

It is a social issue that I am discussing here.  Not the truth or falsity of an 

I also doubt that one who is brought back after 50 years
>will be substantially different from one who is brought back after 20
>minutes of clinical death.  But I guess we'll find out once the folks at
>21CM work out reversible suspension.
Let us pray that they succeed.  (Sorry.  Couldn't resist).

>But back to my main point.  Cryonics should be presented for what it is...a
>rational approach to life-extension.  It should certainly not be couched in
>religious dogma.  No religious symbols, no devotion, no promises, no savior.
>It's my bet that, ultimately, cryonics will be taken advantage of mostly by
>humanists with a lust for life and frankly, those are the people I want to
>hang around with in the future, anyway.  Not someone who was conned into
>cryonics under religious pretenses.

Frankly, this is where I simply disagree.  All the previous I wrote is just for 
argument's sake 

regarding social trends which I suspect will be inevitable.  We must overcome 
any anti-religious 

bias regarding the future events which will come to cryonics from a world which 
is dominated by 
deeply religious beliefs.  That's just the way it is. 

Religion is something people do.  Until this moment, it has dominated the whole 
of human society 

and history.  It even deeply influences the mental models modern scientists 
create to try and 

develop new paradigms.  (The Big Bang certainly came from Genesis, Chapter 1, 
verse 1, for 

example).  Do you honestly think it won't happen in this area which plays footsy
with such 
concepts as death, transcendence, and the future of mankind?

And as for ethics, I leave you with just one thought:  Would you "con" someone 
to save their 

My best wishes to you ...ALWAYS.

-George Smith

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