Re: Eternity, Infinity, Religion and Transhumanism

Michael Lorrey (
Mon, 18 Nov 1996 09:02:27 -0500

Jake Costello wrote:
> Sometimes terms like "eternal life" and "immortality" seemed to get
> tossed around pretty casually around here. This is a bit curious to me,
> since one of the main driving forces behind my leaving Xtianity (and
> ultimately bumping into transhumanism)that the idea of truly eternal
> life ceased to automatically be appealing or even make any sense.
> What do I mean, it doesn't make sense? Eternal life and
> immortality as traditionally conceived refer to infinities. (I'm using
> "eternal" in its temporal, rather than atemporal, sense). Everybody
> on this list is certainly well acquainted with the fundamental
> difference between an infinite quantitity and a finite quantity, no
> matter how large. An infinity is as different from a finite quantity as
> any finite quantity is from a zero.
> To make a not exactly logical leap here, it seems equally
> obvious that an infinite (or semi-infinite) lifespan is as different
> from any finite lifespan as a finite lifespan is from never existing at
> all. Theologians have long recognized this difficulty. Unfortunately,
> the answers they give tend to boil down to the most intellectually
> dishonest trick in their arsenal: It's beyond human understanding.
> What I want to know is, how many of you want real eternal life
> as opposed to an indefinite lifespan? (The difference here is a fuzzy
> part of these wonderings, but the real difficulties that come with
> eternal life don't seem to be a problem with indefinite lifespans.)
> For those of you who do, how do you conceive of such an existence?
> Much has been written in extropian circles about how one can
> meaningfully retain one's identity while vastly augmenting one's mental
> capabilities. It seems to me that if one proposes truly eternal life,
> the task must be at least partially repeated to justify a claim to being
> the same person, living eternally.
> As to myself, I'm inclined towards a bit despair (not very
> extropian, for sure.) Some form of atemporality seems the best option,
> but this is really fuzzy territory.
> dreaming of Rivendell,
> jake costello

I guess to me, since none of you existed before I was born, and none of
you will exist to me when I'm dead, then I already have eternal life as
much as can be, as the universe only exists for me for my whole life.
Unfortunately, I don't seem to have enough eternal life coming to me
(probably only 70 more years) unless I do something about it. We wish
to live as much life as we want to. When we have no more need of life,
its our choice to end it.