Re: "Spirituality" vs "Life" [was Re: MEDIA: Venter/Celera/...]

James Rogers (
Tue, 14 Dec 1999 12:30:55 -0800

On Mon, 13 Dec 1999, Robert J. Bradbury wrote:
> 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.

My girlfriend asked me a similar question about the soul after hearing other people discussing cryonics. I told her I didn't know, but that the soul was probably suspended and re-animated with the individual, seeing as how the body and soul are inseperable until you are truly dead. And of course, you are not truly dead if you can pop back to life. That seemed to be a satisfactory explanation to her.

It is kind of a weird feeling to be directing logical arguments from what one believes is a false premise (that humans have souls), when you know that the premise is "beyond challenge" for that individual. On the upside, if you are necessarily working from a shaky premise, at least you can occasionally script the results of the argument to leave the person open to considering the concept to begin with.

For people like this, I often find it easier to lead them to the same conclusions as myself and then work backwards to repair the premise. Premises seem to be far more open to attack if changing them doesn't appear to have any dramatic consequences to the world as they know it. In the above case, I was able to eventually make the argument that "souls" were irrelevant to the discussion of cryonics. While <souls> were not illuminated from her world, their importance was decreased.

-James Rogers