"Hello, I just recently stumbled across your blog and am very interested in all Christian Immortalist perspectives. I am currently working on a degree in Biology and am fascinated with the union of scientific and religious/spiritual ideaology. We so often see the two beliefs clashing loudly with one another, I love to hear the defense when an intelligent group of people has figured out a way to join the two. So, you said if we have any blog topic suggestions, to email you. Well, I was sort of curious what your thoughts are on Cryonics. Many people are choosing that as an option until science figures out how to deliver telomerase to all of our cells in the future, so as a Christian, how do you feel about Cryopreservation and what do you think is happening to someone's soul if they are Cryopreserved? Thanks for reading my question, I hope to hear your thoughts on this topic!" -MaryAnn
Response to MaryAnn
First of all, on this Thanksgiving Day, thank you for taking the time to contribute a few words to this blog and this website.
Second, I don't know how you stumbled across our blog ("our" blog because it is a public service to the whole Christian Immortalist community) but I am grateful that you did and I hope you will send other Christian Immortalists our way.
Third, I am grateful that you are working on your degree in Biology both because your work could help move the medical side of immortality forward and because you are living testimony that scientists can be Christians just like architects, athletes, business people, teachers, physicians, roofers, janitors, astronauts, politicians, and lawyers can be Christians. . . . okay, maybe not politicians but you get my point. I hope any politicians reading this have a sense of humor as I am well aware that even they can be Christians (Governor Jerry Brown was even a priest once). I think the people who say that science and religion conflict may be a few atheists who deny the existence of all those scientists who happen to be Baptists, Catholics, Presbyterians, Lutherans, Methodists, Evangelicals, Pentecostals and other flavors of Christians. I think some preachers who never saw the inside of a theological seminary or divinity school may have flunked their science courses in grade school hence the misinterpretation of Darwin who was a religious man. Most scientists that I have known either don't talk about their faith or are devout or both. The vocal person may not even be a scientist or a theologian and may not know what they are talking about -- but we have free speech and we do not muzzle even idiots. Though better educated people should hush them. Jesus Himself was a very educated man who knew the Torah and other Scriptures verbatim, could teach rabbis at the Temple at an early age (like a child prodigy or genius), and spoke several languages.
To answer your question on cryonics, I am not the biggest fan of cryonics but I am practical and realize that until immortalists outnumber ephemerals and have taken over political control of the planet, that until that happens safety engineers will not be allowed to safety engineer the whole world and simply make it difficult to die. I refer to automated systems that will detect an injury and immediately summon 911 to the rescue no matter where you are (middle of desert or middle of the ocean on a life raft). Until a safety engineered world and, ultimately, a safety-engineered universe goes from dream to reality, then we will have fatal injuries. Illnesses also kill but at least we have warning in the form of symptoms and can seek medical help. As long as we have injuries and illnesses, then we need a backup to hold people in stasis or cryo-preservation or medically-induced coma until the science catches up with the condition.
The reason I am not a big fan of cryonics is that the technique kicks the can down the road and leaves it to future generations to deal with our problems. Future generations will have their own set of problems: overpopulation (which we actually have now), invading aliens, terminators (AI and robots and drones that have no use for humans), greenhouse effect turning Earth into Venus, melting icecaps reducing the amount of land to live upon (if not quite a Waterworld), the sun going nova, a black hole wandering into the Solar System, an asteroid hitting Earth (like the one that created the Pacific Ocean), et cetera. You could probably list a hundred other things not on anyone's radar. The point is not who is the best prophet. The point is that future generations (if any) will not have the time, interest or resources to thaw anyone out except perhaps for Soyulent Green or Soyulent Red or Soyulent Yellow. The population might be very hungry. Considering how much our society neglects old people who are very much awake and alive and unfrozen, do you really think that humans will change so much that they will care about frozen stiffs? Technically not dead yes but technically not alive either. Clinical death is when your brain wave stops. I wonder if any neurologist has ever boosted the gain on an EEG to see if any patients in a cryonics facility had any Delta waves or Epsilon waves (which is below Delta) ? If so, then that would be proof that they are fully alive (albeit in a very deep coma) and not "technically dead". That in turn would give cryonics patients rights such as right to life, right to care (as long as the trust fund or insurance did not run out).
The problem with cryonics is the legal side. Our entire system of law, politics and government assumes death and even actively promotes death (war, police with lethal weapons, no enforcement of anti-pollution laws). The system wants turnover: birth and deaths. That means the system needs you to grow old and die. If you take care of yourself and don't look your age and look youthful even though you are seventy, then society does not know what to do with you. The consumer products, music, movies, television and other services are geared for the young and you are no longer young. They don't know how to sell you anything other than life insurance (which should be called death insurance) and grave plots. You pretty much figure out that society does not want you living long if you are above the age of 29. People below the age of 29 are mostly regarded as cannon fodder for armies so they should not feel smug. If you are not in the military, then they can still kill you by selling you fast sports cars that wrap around trees and utility poles, or recreational drugs (including alcohol), or simply gunning you down (by letting crime rates go high). So our entire system is built on death. We need a new area of law, perpetual law, to enforce the rights of immortalists whether walking around or frozen. Right now, there are few or no repercussions if a cryonic facility goes bankrupt or they simply turn off the power, let all the stiffs unthaw and die a second "death". Who will arrest them? And for what? Ephemerals regard us as aberrant and to them death is normal. So letting what to them are corpses rather than patients unthaw without treating or curing what "killed" them is not a problem. To ephemerals, not curing or treating is a solution. The final solution.
My third problem with cryonics is the this head versus whole body nonsense. You want to save money (perhaps you are a poor immortalist) and so you choose the decapitation option. The problem is that recent discoveries have pointed to the existence of a second brain in the mesentery and a third brain in the heart. As a biologist, you know that life begins with the first brain waves (some say the third trimester) and ends with the cessation of brain activity. The Bible says that we are fearfully and wondrously made. This is an understatement because there have been one or two miraculous cases known to medicine where a person came back after their brain waves stopped for a lengthy period. The point is that it is universally acknowledged that your mind is in your brain in your skull or cranium. Many if not most people also believe that our soul is also resident in our brain. Christians have particular revulsion for mind control because of the spiritual implications. With this widespread belief that our personality, intelligence, memory, thoughts, will, soul and maybe even our spirit resides in our head comes a certain shock if recent discoveries are saying that minor parts of that are "backed up" (disaster recovery in computer speak) in other parts of the body. Since I am a Christian, I am not talking about chakras or chocolate or energy centers. I am strictly talking medical science. So my third problem with cryonics that chops off your head is its non-acknowlegement that we are NOT machines despite what the information technology people and gadget addicts and transhumanists might have you believe. We are not modular. You cut off any part of us and stick on a prosthetic robot arm or plastic flippers for legs and we are less human.
Millions of years went into the design of the human body, it simply makes sense to acknowledge that we are still learning things about the body. For example, surgeons used to routinely throw away the spleen and the appendix as vestigial organs and lymph nodes are still regarded by some oncologists as disposable. The spleen is the organ that helps regeneration. The appendix stores needed substances and intestinal flora (probiotics) that get wiped out by antibiotic abuse. Lymph nodes are part of the lymphatic system and the lymphatic system is the biggest part of your immune system although it may be an overstatement to call it The Immune System since the blood contains germ fighters too.
So I say get yourself signed up with a cryonics provider but don't for a second think that this is where your personal responsibility for achieving immortality ends if you do not also exercise, eat for nutrition, meditate, get enough sleep, avoid X-rays, take a defensive driving course and about a hundred other things. And don't trust your cryonics provider if they are not Christians or if they are transhumanists. This has nothing to do with that whole secular humanist nonsense and everything to do with the transhumanist worship of machines and gadgets. We humans use gadgets and machines because we use technology in general. But no Christian should want to replace the temple of God (the human body) with a robot body or with uploading to "the cloud" (where you will be merged into a group mind or erased or owned by Google). This transhumanist abandonment of their humanity is the trajectory of some cryonics advocates so be on your guard. Jesus was human and He never said being human was bad.
In cryopreservation, I am sure that your soul is quite safe. As safe as someone who gets frostbite. The cold simply has no effect on your soul. God has your back. Transhumanist longings to "upload to the cloud" on the other hand, kiss your soul goodbye. Next stop hell.
One more praise of God for making human bodies: If we humans in human bodies are so primitive that we should aspire to create robot bodies in which to park our brains (and then dispose of the brain by "uploading"), then explain why it is universal throughout religion, fiction, movies and every cultural reference that demons want to possess our bodies? Aren't these fallen angels and cohorts of Satan practically gods? Why is there such a thing an exorcism? Why is it that the same people who deny the existence of God will slip up and admit that they believe in the existence of the devil when you get them drunk? They want to possess our bodies because being incorporeal sucks. The passage in Scripture that says we are a little lower than angels is wrongly translated. It actually says that we are a little lower than God. Exorcism exists because people want schizophrenic demons out. Demons want your body because being human in a human body is a step up in Creation -- not a step down as popular culture and transhumanists would have you believe. Even if they possessed our bodies, the demons would not know what to do with it as observing any possessed person will convince you. Atheists believe in the devil because even a glance at the news convinces everyone that evil is quite real. Christians take the next step in seeing that good exists, God exists and God always wins.
Happy Thanksgiving! And keep studying science and mathematics folks.