X-Message-Number: 7798
Date:  Mon, 03 Mar 97 00:20:00 
From: Mike Perry <>
Subject: Re "Challenge to Traditional Religions" (#7789)

[An earlier version of this appeared in *The Venturist*, 1st 
Qtr 1997]

Many religious sects and movements advance claims of 
being able to speak for "God" and/or to have other special, 
esoteric knowledge not accessible except through them. 
This of course seems untenable to those of a rational, 
materialist outlook--which includes most people in 
cryonics. We in cryonics in fact hope that people in general 
will use their rational faculties to examine *all* beliefs and 
claims of knowledge objectively. If this can be done, it 
seems reasonable to us that at least some doubt about 
inadequately supported claims and beliefs must linger. 
Once such doubts are acknowledged, the choice of cryonics 
seems called for and even inevitable. Yet cryonics has had 
few takers so far.

Many of those who reject it use the excuse that "God has 
solved the problem of death for those who put their trust in 
him," or some similar rationale. Dave Pizer (#7789) 
proposes one possible way to get through to such people, 
which is to say to them that they can't be *sure* they are 
right, therefore why not opt for cryonics anyway as 
additional protection or insurance of some form of 
afterlife? This will seem reasonable to those of us who are 
skeptical of supernatural claims and beliefs, but for those 
who hold these beliefs it may well be untenable. They will 
be very reluctant to admit to themselves that they may be 
wrong, particularly in cases where such doubting is openly 
discouraged. Such is the case in Christianity, the most 
widespread religion. Christians like to quote John 3:16: 
"For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only 
Son, that *whoever believes in him* shall not perish but 
have eternal life." (New International Version, emphasis 
added.) Unbelievers in turn are sternly rebuked and must 
suffer eternal damnation (Rev. 19:15, 21:8). To many 
people, any serious uncertainty is "unbelief"; it won't do to 
say, "Jesus may well be the Son of God, but I'll take the 
freeze in case he isn't, or God doesn't exist."

But I think the rejection of cryonics goes deeper than this, 
deeper than adherence to any religious belief. Though religious
people do not usually become cryonicists, neither do
nonreligious people. The latter especially have seemed most 
baffling to us: what do they think they have they got to 
lose? Apparently whatever it is has deep 
psychological significance. I have written about this before 
(*Venturist Monthly News* Oct, Nov '96), as have others
before me (Tim Freeman, David Stodolsky on this forum).

People, it seems, have a "cultural anxiety buffer"
that shields them from the 
terror of death *and is mainly reinforced from the outside*. 
They defer to their surrounding culture--its beliefs, 
attitudes and practices, when deciding on a policy about 
death. Cryonics in turn demands independent thought, and 
a willingness to make a decision apart from one's culture. 
This capacity at the level needed is apparently very rare, 
and its rarity seems to reflect a selection process. 
Historically, people with that much of an independent bent--
and who might have chosen cryonics had it been available--
must also have lost out in the Darwinian game of species 

With the end of biological death this "game" will 
certainly change--something we can look forward to!

Mike Perry


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