X-Message-Number: 10492
Date: Tue, 29 Sep 1998 10:09:17 -0400
From: Thomas Donaldson <>
Subject: CryoNet #10485 - #10490

Hi everyone!

If George Smith believes that he can better promote cryonics by turning
it into a religion, he's welcome to try. If he succeeds, we've learned
something. If not, we've learned something too. 

There is another possibility relating religion and cryonics: much of
present religion is built upon the idea that people all die. If that
ceased to be true, then it might change the number of people interested
in religion, perhaps by a very large factor. Even religions such as
Buddhism have death behind them: but unlike (say) Christianity, the
Buddhist idea is that we are not separate and thus our individual death
will not mean our annihilation (as a soul, not as memories). It may not
abolish religions so much as change their emphasis a great deal: rather
than heaven as an end to virtue, they might focus on our fate in our
own future life. (That is, there are lots of things about the world
which we do not control, and some religions may fall back on those
rather than death as their primary emphasis). 

The Epic of Gilgamesh is particularly interesting here because it 
MAY come from a time close to that in which human beings discovered
that they will all die. There are still a few cultures which attribute
death to accidents and magical intervention by others, never to some
process which acts universally on everyone. Generally these are cultures
which lived by hunting and gathering, in which someone was thought old
if they reached the age of 50. Naturally their ideas depended on the
fact that they never saw old age itself, never living long enough to do
so. It's interesting here that such peoples (perhaps now extinct) 
believed in magic and even in "gods", which were more powerful than 
human beings but on the same metaphysical plane... no more to be 
worshipped than we would worship the head of a corporation for which we
worked. Placated, sometimes, yes, but not worshipped.

And as for the number of cryonicists, it has continued to grow. I've
said this before, but will repeat it here: our small size may simply be
a sign of how recently cryonics began. All around us we see lots of
movements with thousands or millions of people. But all such movements
have existed for well over 100 years or more. Yes, we'd like cryonics
to grow more rapidly, but ALL cryonicists cannot spend ALL their
time convincing others of its merits. There are limits to just how
much effort N people can put out in a year, and such growth, in its
early stages, generally follows an exponential curve for just that 
reason. (You may be bothered by this for practical reasons, but there
it is. And if it bothers you BECAUSE you are a member of a small group
and for no other reason, then it may help to reflect that an idea may
be correct even though held by a minority. The universe does not work
by popular vote, only some societies do).

Finally, about "conning people to save their lives": I'm morally happy
with doing this, but also know that in practice, in 20th Century 
America --- and other societies --- conning people is a crime once money
becomes involved, and it is difficult to be frozen if you die in jail.
Nor is the standard of medical care in jails very high.

			Best and long long life to all,

				Thomas Donaldson

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