X-Message-Number: 24886
Date: Thu, 21 Oct 2004 01:36:05 -0700
From: Mike Perry <>
Subject: Immortalism, my comments

To me it is important to have a reasonable hope of immortality, or that 
life--the life of the individual (me in particular, but not just me) not 
come to a permanent end.  A finite total lifespan, however protracted, will 
not do--here I agree with Michael Price. (It is permissible to recover 
consciousness after a period of unconsciousness, of course, and even do 
this repeatedly, so long as the total subjective awake-time, in a 
reasonable sense, is infinite.) The hope of immortality is my inspiration 
for the things I do in cryonics, and without it the effort would, I'm sure, 
be less or I might give it up altogether, knowing in the end it would be a 
lost cause. It also inspires other things I do and it's hard to imagine 
living without it, really. Since it is so important to me to have this 
hope, and at a robust level, I decided some time ago that I would adopt the 
most lenient stance I reasonably could on what it means for a person to 
survive. (I should mention here that I discount any supernatural entity or 
process, so all approaches I consider must be based on reason and science.) 
So I became a pattern survivalist--your bits or information are both 
necessary and very largely sufficient, according to this view. There are 
difficulties with this position, paradoxes associated with duplicate 
individuals, for instance, but all are resolvable in one way or another, at 
least to my satisfaction.

As I see it, there are several theories of survival that I think there is 
no way in principle, ever, to decide between scientifically. We can call 
these theories of the soul--where by "soul" I mean simply what is your 
identity--the real "you"--not necessarily anything supernatural. A 
possibility then is that your soul dies each time you fall asleep and a new 
soul that thinks it is you--but really isn't--takes its place. This theory 
(it is essentially what is known as the day-person hypothesis) isn't taken 
too seriously by most people, but something like it seems to bother some 
would-be cryonicists. They are worried that, given that all brain activity 
would cease under cryopreservation, it might kill your soul (to use my 
terminology). So, while eventual reanimation may occur and restore a person 
who seemed to be you in all respects to the outsider, it wouldn't really be 
you, just another who thinks they are you. This is another issue that, I 
submit, can never be decided scientifically.

Moving from the idea of the fragile soul that dies easily, never to return 
(or maybe goes to an unknown location where there are creepy-crawly things 
or lakes of lava) we can imagine the robust soul that simply inhabits any 
place where, on the face of it, it seems to be present. Such a soul has no 
difficulty, in principle at least, with being many places at once. 
(Subatomic particles, and the matter they make up, seem to have this talent 
anyway, however.) So if you had two duplicates exactly alike or close 
enough to be thinking the same thoughts, it would simply be one soul in two 
bodies. (And note that by our assumption, neither embodied consciousness 
could tell which body it was in, so in this sense you could say you had a 
single, shared consciousness rather than two. "A duplicate consciousness is 
not the same as a shared consciousness" some would say, but I submit that 
this too is one of those issues that can never be decided scientifically, 
so taking the lenient view becomes permissible.) Slap one of the 
duplicates, make a change in its thinking that does not occur in the other, 
and presto! your soul instantly fissions into two distinct souls--there is 
no insurmountable logical difficulty I see here, or anything scientifically 

Given the soul springs up where conditions are right we see how the dead 
could be raised, even in the absence of information describing them, by 
producing the appropriate constructs such as replicas of the original, 
functioning brains--this could occur by a lucky accident for instance. 
Though that may seem so unlikely as to be impossible for practical 
purposes, in fact I think the prospect of such resurrections is realistic 
due to certain other possibilities I consider likely, such as parallel 
universes. It's important to me that a pathway to the renewal of life 
exist--so the dead will have not died in vain, and all will, one hopes, 
eventually enjoy eternal bliss. Overall it suggests that life, not death, 
is the ultimate fate of any individual, even those who are sure they don't 
want immortality--you will just have to learn to live with it, whether you 
like it or not. (You will like it in the end, however, I feel reasonably 
sure.) In the scientifically engineered heaven that I imagine, however, 
there will be a special, privileged position for those of today who choose 
cryonics, and who then may contribute to the engineering process.

More will be found at 
and in my book. I don't feel that science and religion need be separate but 
that a scientific religion is both possible and desirable.

Enjoy eternity,
Mike Perry

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