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Cryonics is fascinating because it's the closest thing to a technological religion so far. (Scientology does not count, it's more like a pulp sci-fi religion.)

St. Paul eloquently described the upcoming Singularity and the raising of the vitrified minds:

"Listen, I tell you a mystery: We will not all sleep, but we will all be changed -- in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed."




I often hear the "cryonics is a religion" claim, but a closer examination refutes this. Unlike religions, cryonics is not exclusive. A person can practice Christianity or Islam and be signed up for cryo. Cryonics makes no claims about morality or politics. There's no dogma about how to live one's life, or the origins of the cosmos, or what happens to consciousness after the brain is destroyed.

The most important difference between cryonics and religions is that religious people are typically convinced of the afterlife. In contrast, cryonicists rarely assign high probability to being revived. Most think of it like an experimental cancer treatment: Unlikely to work, but better than the alternative.

And like experimental treatments, research is ongoing. Since cryonics organizations were first founded, there have been many improvements to preservation protocols. Modern cryopreservation methods allow a rabbit kidney to function after thawing, albeit with some damage.[1] This is very promising, as parts of the kidney have poor vasculature. Brains are much easier to saturate with cryoprotectants.

1. http://www.21cmpublications.com/PubFiles/11/12FahyORG5-3[1]....


I will eschew Wittgenstein's advice and take the bait- I don't think the techno-religion claim is too far off the mark. Of course, the entirety of our argument is over the definition of religion.

| Unlike religions, cryonics is not exclusive.

I think we'd both agree that exclusivity isn't the principle quality of religion, though many religions are exclusive.

Religions typically have some core set of beliefs - some of which may be untestable, ceremony, dress, and often attempt to explain the mysteries of the universe. I'd also throw in the quality that religions advocate their followers either do something they wouldn't otherwise do or abstain from something they would otherwise enjoy. Its possible some religion lacks proscriptions for life, but I certainly haven't met it.

Cyronics certainly has a core set of beliefs (faith!?) that lead to action. I very much doubt that even if we were to develop sufficient technology to unfreeze all those heads, future humans would do so. Perhaps we'd unfreeze some heads for science and then a few more for the novelty. We both agree cyronics is unlikely to work and that there is no way to run this experiment within our lifetime - cryonics requires faith (by any other name) in humanity and technology.

|In contrast, cryonicists rarely assign high probability to being revived. Most think of it like an experimental cancer treatment: Unlikely to work, but better than the alternative.

I know Christians that would describe their experience in similar terms.

| The most important difference between cryonics and religions is that religious people are typically convinced of the afterlife.

Christians believe in an afterlife, but not all religions do, or even weigh in on the matter - Judaism immediately comes to mind. Apropos, cryonics proposes its own cycle of rebirth! Well, possible rebirth until the great robot wars, the sun explodes, or the heat death of our local cluster.

As for the other attributes I mentioned - dress, ceremony, and the like, cryonics offers bracelets, (non)ceremonial decapitation with ensuing vitrification, and requires its devotees to die somewhere convenient! OK, I agree, this doesn't exactly fit the bill.

Precisely defining religion and faith is tricky. At the very least, I would say cyronics is uncomfortably close to a religion.


> Cyronics certainly has a core set of beliefs (faith!?) that lead to action.

You could describe basically every mundane activity as having a core set of beliefs that lead to action, but ok.

> I very much doubt that even if we were to develop sufficient technology to unfreeze all those heads, future humans would do so. Perhaps we'd unfreeze some heads for science and then a few more for the novelty.

Not reviving cryopreserved people is equivalent to leaving them to die... Unless you're counting on future society to be completely 100% morally bankrupt, I would bet on there being eventually at least one person with both enough of a conscience and enough money to fund the revival of people in suspended animation (as the cost of revival should decrease over time with advancing technology). Not that this really seems relevant to any connection to religion.

> Apropos, cryonics proposes its own cycle of rebirth! Well, possible rebirth until the great robot wars, the sun explodes, or the heat death of our local cluster.

FWIW, unlike religion, cryonics does not really claim you can come back from death. Legal death, yes, but legal death is merely a convenient criterion that captures "the point at which we give up on treating a person with current technology". If you set a cryonicist on fire and destroy their brain's information, they are permanently dead, just like anyone else.

(ETA: Since physics is reversible, destroying information is technically impossible, but capturing and calculating reversal of the trajectories of smoke, soot, air and photons back into a whole brain seems thermodynamically infeasible, even for a civilization with Big Angelic Powers.)


iirc physics is non-reversible. Something to do with entrophy and possibly quantum physics.


Quantum Physics is reversible; see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Delayed_choice_quantum_eraser . (Warning: amateur, may be misunderstanding.) You do have to be able to capture the complete environment of the quantum process, which is why decoherence is usually considered one-way.


Upvoted because there's no point in denying that Singularity-related topics do often sound like things in the Bible. But that's only because it stems from the basic human needs - we'd like to not die, not get sick, and to get our deceased friends and family back.

The difference between cryonics and resurrection is, however, fundamental, and we've been through similar processes many times. It used to be that only birds and angels could fly. Then we figured out how to do it ourselves.


Dictionary.com has religion as "a set of beliefs concerning the cause, nature, and purpose of the universe..."

I'm not sure cryo-preserving someone really counts - it's not a belief about the nature of the universe, more some tech to keep you aroud like antibiotics or the like.


Yeah, calling it religion is definitely overselling the case against cryo. At worst, I'd call it speculation.


To make definite claims about what will happen with cryonics patients, the Singularity etc is certainly a religious act. However, there is a distinction worth drawing between those and more moderate claims. I think the best argument for cryonics is 'we don't know the odds of surviving if you're frozen - but we do know the odds of surviving if you're dumped in a hole in the ground to be eaten by worms'.


(Replying to myself because edit doesn't work after a certain time.)

To clarify, I wasn't criticizing cryonics -- just observing that it's a field of technology whose offering is close to religion's traditional core: giving hope of life after death.


Matthew 10 8: Heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, cast out devils

Who else but the cryonicists are trying to raise the dead?

Cryonics is all about preserving information. And the bible tells us that god is information: John 1 1: In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.

Genesis 127: So God created man in his own image.

Since God is The Word, which is information, and if God made us in his image, then we are also information. 2 Corinthians 6 16 we are the temple of the living God.

1 Corinthians 3 17: If any man destroys the temple of God, God will destroy him.

And we cryos are all about preserving information.

Also: 1 Corinthians 15 25-26: He must reign until He has put all His enemies under His feet. The last enemy that will be abolished is death. Cryonicists are engaged in preserving the information that is our soul, saving God's temple from the decay of the grave.

If cryonicists succeed and raise the dead in the distant future through future science, we will be helping God achieve his final goal of defeating death.

There is much more in the bible that supports cryonics....


I'd argue that LessWrong is even closer. They even have a devil, who's name must never be mentioned!


If you don't know that's a lie, then please go and check. Roko's basilisk was overblown and now is just used by some people to score cheap shots against LW.


> was overblown and now is

Was overblown? Now is?

So, it's not a lie. It's just not an accurate picture of the current state of affairs on that site. Or is your position that it never happened in the first place?




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