X-Message-Number: 24851
Subject: Reply to Bruce J. Klein about Immortalism
Date: Mon, 18 Oct 2004 04:50:20 US/Eastern

> Thanks for your kind words, Ben.  You are a great mind.

  These are very kind words. 

> > I believe that it is self-defeating to attempt to live forever by 
> > presenting one's position as an alternative to religion. 
> I see your "attempting to live forever" and "presenting one's position" 
> as separate.  One can focus on living forever as a personal goal, and 
> then work to build friendly relations with religion - at the same time. 

   I am glad that you can see this distinction. In that case, you could
start by trying to understand the thinking of religious cryonicists who
have made significant contributions to cryonics. Perhaps you or 
PHYSICAL IMMORTALITY could interview and analyze the thinking
of such people. I have in mind David Pascal (Roman Catholic),
Joe Waynick (Seventh-Day Adventist), Joe Kowalsky (Orthodox
Jew) and Rick Potvin (unclassified?). All seem strong in their 
religious beliefs. I doubt that Joe Kowalsky has ever posted
to CryoNet, but he is a CI Director and loves giving interviews:


> > I also think that one can never know that one can live forever and 
> > that the belief that one has acheived immortality is likely to reduce 
> > vigilance and hasten death.
> Agree.  Immortality is not a state, it's a process - immortality is a 
> way of life.  We could be immortal now, unless we succumb to unwanted 
> forces(aging) or kill ourselves.  However, saying that one wants to be 
> immortal doesn't mean there is reduced vigilance.  On the contrary, with 
> more life, there is more reason to live, more experiences on how to 
> avoid death and more incentive to preserve knowledge gained. 

   I agree that experience can teach -- and even motivate -- the desire
for more life.  However, it seems to me that this urge people have
to attain the feeling that they have achieved immortality is an 
urge to "relax" and therefore an urge that will reduce vigilance. 

> > How impactful would it be to be told that you could only live a 
> > million years rather than a trillion years?
> Limited lifespan, living 10 more years, or 10 million more years, is 
> irrelevant if death=oblivion.  The pursuit  of infinite lifespan is the 
> best way to overcome this problem.

   I find this statement incredible. If you have certain knowledge that
you cannot live 10 million years you would consider living another
10 years to be irrelevant.  I know values are subjective, but this seems
so outrageous that I find it hard to believe you. 

> > No, my problems with immortalism have nothing to do with my being
> > too mentally weak to be "thinking about 'forever'" . People who spend
> > their time trying to understand "forever" are far less likely to live 200
> > years than people who spend their time trying to solve the practical
> > problems of cryonics and anti-aging medicine. A computer that cannot
> > survive 200 years can hardly be said to be executing "infinite loops"
> > -- except from the point of view of computer jargon. 
> Everyone can't be a philosopher. Practical work needs to be done, and is 
> being done.  However, without a clear reason to live forever, there is 
> left to much wiggle room for us to copout on life.  Rather than water 
> things down or leave the unanswered questions about afterlife to 
> religion, physical immortality needs be the main goal.

  Everyone can't be a philosopher, but a true philosopher is able
to realize the futility of speculating about how many angels can 
dance on the head of a pin -- and will turn the use of his/her mind
to more important issues -- which may be scientific or technical
(or attending to the necessity of getting out of the path of 
an on-rushing vehicle). 

  I have no problem with "copping-out" on life -- I work very
strenuously to survive without believing that immortalism is
possible. You have again opposed your thinking to religion,
which is a poor start on the project of building friendly relations
with religion which you described above. 

      -- Ben Best, speaking for himself

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