On Sat, 11 Dec 1999, Damien Broderick wrote:
> "...Among the metaphysical questions Cho and her colleagues want considered:
> Is it appropriate to define life in narrow, scientific terms, or is there
> a spiritual component to being alive? There is a "serious danger," the
> team warns, that the creation of new life forms will be "perceived by the
> public as proving that life is reducible to, or nothing more than, DNA."
> Ah me oh my. Where would we be without such deep-thinking worryworts?
> Just imagine the horror - one day, science might prove that vitalism
> isn't true! (The shock, the horror!) And we'd better put off any more of
> those blasphemous space probes, in case they smash into the crystal
> spheres, or run down one of the angels pushing the planets along.
This question came up when Ralph Merkle discussed Cryonics at the A4M. Someone asked the thorny question of what happens to the spirit of the individual when s/he is frozen & reanimated. Ralph pointed out with his usual skill that as a scientist he couldn't answer this question but it was clear that the people who as embryos were frozen, thawed and then implanted, that their spirit was doing just fine.
The only way to deal with this is to differentiate "Mind" from "body". In that area, the December Scientific American has an interesting discussion on scientists unraveling both the "Movie in the mind" and the "Observer of the Movie" that seem to make up the essence of the "spirit" argument.