X-Message-Number: 24724
Date: Sun, 26 Sep 2004 10:00:40 EDT
Subject: religion vs. tradition

This ground has been covered many times, but some things need to be  repeated 
For the most part, "religious" opposition to cryonics is negligible. Many  in 
CI are religious--mainstream Christians and Jews. Most clergymen and  

theologians who have published opinions have shown tolerance, although usually  
with skepticism. We once had an inquiry from someone claiming to represent  a 
Cardinal in the Roman Catholic church in Rome, who was dying and seriously  
considering cryonics (although nothing came of it). Periodicals such as  

Christianity Today have published articles I have written. Clergymen have  been
helpful in obtaining hospital cooperation for some of our patients. A Roman  
Catholic priest once consecrated a cryostat. A Lutheran theologian wrote that  

cryonics is not objectionable, any more than other medical technology, unless  
intent is defiance of divine will.
What must be understood is the difference between religious tradition and  

tradition in a broader sense. In Russa a whole generation grew up with offical
atheism. In China and other Asian countries there never was much religion  in 
the Western sense, only a jumble of confused notions and practices. In the  
west there are large numbers of people who may be nominal adherents of some  

religion but actually mostly ignore it in practice. Yet cryonics has made almost
zero inroads into Russia or Asia or into the ranks of nonreligious people  

elsewhere. It is therefore 100% clear that religion per se is not an important
factor. The important thing is tradition in a broader sense, or cultural  
inertia, and the psychological threat inherent in cryonics.
The chief element of that threat is to one's security and world-view, and  

this has two main parts. One part is just the "agonizing reappraisal." I never
tire of repeating from Dostoyevsky: "Men prefer peace, even death, to  freedom 
of choice in the knowledge of good and evil." For many people, and  

especially those old or sick, surrender has more appeal than struggle. For  

everyone, loyalty to tradition is easier and more comfortable than  revolution.
The world-view threat has additional elements. Most of us were raised to  

believe that there is something grander, more enduring, and more important than
ourselves. Church, flag, posterity, whatever--it is noble and good to 

sacrifice,  bad and ignoble to put your insignificant self first. Even if you 
die, it  
doesn't matter, because your institution or ideal or whatever will endure and 
 flower. Don't whimper at the inevitable, just die like a man.
A subsidiary of this is your own place in the world. If someone highly  

successful today hears about cryonics, at some unconscious level he is  likely 
say to himself: "I am a big fish, even if it is a small pond. If I am  revived 
after cryostasis, I will be only a small fish, even if it is a much  bigger 
and better pond. Also, I jeopardize the esteem of my rich friends and my  
leadership position and the fortunes of my company if I show kookiness and  

cowardice by embracing cryonics. Anyway, I have plenty of time to think about it
to let the technology mature.  Hell with it."
Sure, we like to touch all the bases, and offer "logical" arguments  

especially to Christians. God helps those who help themselves. Praise the Lord  
pass the ammunition. Jesus told his disciples to raise the dead and said,  

"Greater things than I have done shall ye do." Suicide is forbidden. Etc., etc.

But "logic" can only deal with ostensible reasons for opposition, not with the
real, underlying, psychological reasons. These latter can only be undermined  
indirectly, by chipping away at tradition, and we are gradually doing so.
Robert Ettinger

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