Personality shift

Traditional religion’s ethereal immortality doesn’t strike Martine Rothblatt as much of a trade-off for dying.
   To the millionaire entrepreneur, who launched both Sirius Satellite Radio and one of Maryland’s largest biotech companies, death is both tragic and, through not-yet-invented technology, avoidable.
   Rothblatt embraces a more tangible immortality, a digital, downloadable one — a “transreligion for technological times.” And she’s asking you to join in, by uploading everything about yourself to the Internet so researchers can spend the next couple of decades figuring out how to create a digital version of you to transfer to an alternate body when your current one dies.

That’s the opener to a longish article in today’s Baltimore Sun. An awful lot might be said about this item, about even just these initial few sentences. Let’s limit ourselves here, though, to the following brief reflection: that whatever the category of ‘traditional religion’ at the article’s beginning is supposed to include, it doesn’t include anything that could be regarded seriously as the Christian tradition. No merely ‘ethereal immortality’ is a feature of traditional Christian religion. A bodily resurrection, a bodily life to come, and one Man who has already realized this resurrection in his own body and in whom his people already find that very life opened to them, whole and eternal: these are what Christian tradition firmly insists on. You don’t have to be a theologian to get this, you just have to read the New Testament with a little care. On this much, if nothing else, that collection of documents is repetitiously direct & very consistent.

Why it should be that in popular views of Christianity this centrality of resurrection isn’t more widely grasped is a problem that still hasn’t been studied enough, maybe.

(In fact, by the way, it’s the idea of a ‘transferable’ personality, of personality which merely inhabits one or more bodies rather than being of itself, in part, body, that leaves immortality an essentially ‘ethereal,’ intangible possibility. And to say that that’s what it must mean for the human being to have immortality — if there is any human immortality — doesn’t just reinterpret an ancient concept found in various religions, it puts a distinctive definition to the idea of the human — with extensive repercussions for social understanding & for our common life. But that’s another discussion.)

4 Replies to “Personality shift”

  1. I’m not sure Descartes is wholly to blame. In fact, placing blame is a fine way to while away the hours and avoid responsible action here and now. Beyond that, I’ll have to think on all this. I’m on record as thinking the whole transhumanist movement is hogwash, but this deserves some few more words…

    Peace out.

  2. This is good. — Nicer would be the three of you around a table with this subject & a bottle of something to add a little to the cross-cultural warmth. That would be a conversation.

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