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Why we can’t really live forever via advanced technology

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It wouldn’t really be “us” anyhow. Some thoughts from a political theorist:

The moral philosopher Samuel Scheffler at New York University has suggested that the real problem with a fantasy of immortality is that it doesn’t make sense as a coherent desire. Scheffler points out that human life is intimately structured by the fact that it has a fixed (even if usually unknown) time limit. We all start with a birth, then pass through many stages of life, before definitely ending in death. In turn, Scheffler argues, everything that we value – and thus can coherently desire in an essentially human life – must take as given the fact that we are temporally bounded beings. Sure, we can imagine what it would be like to be immortal, if we find that an amusing way to pass the time. But doing so will obscure a basic truth: that because death is a fixed fact, everything that human beings value makes sense only in light of our time being finite, our choices being limited, and our each getting only so many goes before it’s all over.

Scheffler’s case is thus not simply that immortality would make us miserable (although it probably would). It’s that, if we had it, we would cease to be distinctively human in the way that we currently are. But then, if we were somehow to attain immortality, it wouldn’t get us what we want from it: namely, for it to be some version of our human selves that lives forever. A desire for immortality is thus a paradox: it would frustrate itself were it ever to be achieved. In turn, Scheffler implies, once we’ve reflected carefully on this deep fact about ourselves, we should junk any residual desire to live forever that we might still have. Paul Sagar, “On going on and on and on” at Aeon

Of course, traditional ideas about immortality involve an imperishable world, not simply imperishable people.

Trinity/Andrei Rublev, 1411 or 1425-27

See also: Claim: Yes, You Can Upload Your Brain: Fine print: They might have to kill you first


What great physicists have said about immateriality and consciousness

In the following video, Barbara Springer gives her testimony as to what it felt like for her to go through the tunnel to a higher 'eternal' dimension:
"I started to move toward the light. The way I moved, the physics, was completely different than it is here on Earth. It was something I had never felt before and never felt since. It was a whole different sensation of motion. I obviously wasn't walking or skipping or crawling. I was not floating. I was flowing. I was flowing toward the light. I was accelerating and I knew I was accelerating, but then again, I didn't really feel the acceleration. I just knew I was accelerating toward the light. Again, the physics was different - the physics of motion of time, space, travel. It was completely different in that tunnel, than it is here on Earth. I came out into the light and when I came out into the light, I realized that I was in heaven." Barbara Springer - Near Death Experience - The Tunnel - video https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gv2jLeoAcMI
And in the following audio clip, Vicki Noratuk, who has been blind from birth, besides being able to see for the first time during in her life during her Near Death Experience, Vicki also gives testimony of going through a tunnel:
“I was in a body, and the only way that I can describe it was a body of energy, or of light. And this body had a form. It had a head, it had arms and it had legs. And it was like it was made out of light. And it was everything that was me. All of my memories, my consciousness, everything.”,,, “And then this vehicle formed itself around me. Vehicle is the only thing, or tube, or something, but it was a mode of transportation that’s for sure! And it formed around me. And there was no one in it with me. I was in it alone. But I knew there were other people ahead of me and behind me. What they were doing I don’t know, but there were people ahead of me and people behind me, but I was alone in my particular conveyance. And I could see out of it. And it went at a tremendously, horrifically, rapid rate of speed. But it wasn’t unpleasant. It was beautiful in fact.,, I was reclining in this thing, I wasn’t sitting straight up, but I wasn’t lying down either. I was sitting back. And it was just so fast. I can’t even begin to tell you where it went or whatever it was just fast!" – Vicki’s NDE – Blind since birth – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e65KhcCS5-Y
And in the following quotes, Mary Neal and John Burke both testify that they firmly believed that they were in a higher dimension that is above this three-dimensional world and that the reason that they have a very difficult time explaining what their Near Death Experiences felt like is because we simply don't currently have the words to properly describe that higher dimension:
"Regardless, it is impossible for me to adequately describe what I saw and felt. When I try to recount my experiences now, the description feels very pale. I feel as though I'm trying to describe a three-dimensional experience while living in a two-dimensional world. The appropriate words, descriptions and concepts don't even exist in our current language. I have subsequently read the accounts of other people's near-death experiences and their portrayals of heaven and I able to see the same limitations in their descriptions and vocabulary that I see in my own." Mary C. Neal, MD - To Heaven And Back pg. 71 “Well, when I was taking geometry, they always told me there were only three dimensions, and I always just accepted that. But they were wrong. There are more… And that is why so hard for me to tell you this. I have to describe with words that are three-dimensional. That's as close as I can get to it, but it's really not adequate.” John Burke – Imagine Heaven pg. 51 – quoting a Near Death Experiencer
Thus besides empirical evidence for eternity from one of our very best, and most well established, theories in science, i.e. Special Relativity, we also have personal eye-witness testimonies from numerous Near Death Experiences testifying to a higher eternal heavenly dimension that exists above this temporal material realm. Verses and Music
Matthew 6:19-21 "Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and decay destroy, and thieves break in and steal. But store up treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor decay destroys, nor thieves break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there also will your heart be." Evanescence - The Other Side (Lyric Video) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HiIvtRg7-Lc
Perhaps it would help the good philosopher immensely to properly understand what eternity actually entails in the first place?
“Eternity is not a long time. Eternity is the opposite of time: It is no time. It is, as Augustine said, "The now that does not pass away." David Steindl-Rast - Music of Silence – pg 7
Perhaps it would also help the good philosopher to know that special relativity reflects this 'eternal now'? The eternity for special relativity is found when a hypothetical observer approaches the speed of light. In this scenario, time, as we understand it, would come to a complete stop for that hypothetical observer as he reached the speed of light. To grasp the whole concept of time coming to a complete stop at the speed at the speed of light a little more easily, imagine moving away from the face of a clock at the speed of light. Would not the hands on the clock stay stationary as you moved away from the face of the clock at the speed of light? Moving away from the face of a clock at the speed of light happens to be the very same ‘thought experiment’ that gave Einstein his breakthrough insight into special relativity. Here is a short clip from a video that gives us a look into Einstein's breakthrough insight.
Einstein: Einstein's Miracle Year ('Insight into Eternity' – Thought Experiment 55 second mark) - video http://www.history.com/topics/albert-einstein/videos/einstein-einsteins-miracle-year
That time, as we understand it comes to a complete stop at the speed of light, and yet light moves from point A to point B in our universe, and thus light is obviously not 'frozen within time, has some fairly profound implications.
“For those of us who believe in physics. the distinction between past, present, and future is only an illusion, however tenacious this illusion may be.” – Albert Einstein – March 1955 – in the letter to comfort the family of a dear friend who had passed away. (of note: Einstein passed away the next month, in April of that same year) Einstein: A Biography, pg. 402 "The laws of relativity have changed timeless existence from a theological claim to a physical reality. Light, you see, is outside of time, a fact of nature proven in thousands of experiments at hundreds of universities. I don’t pretend to know how tomorrow can exist simultaneously with today and yesterday. But at the speed of light they actually and rigorously do. Time does not pass." Dr. Richard Swenson - More Than Meets The Eye, Chpt. 11
The only way it is possible for time not to pass for light, and yet for light to move from point A to point B in our universe, is if light is of a higher dimensional value of time than the temporal time we are currently living in. Otherwise light would simply be 'frozen within time' to our temporal frame of reference. And like General Relativity, Special Relativity is itself also based on a "higher" single four-dimensional continuum now known as Minkowski space. In fact, the higher dimensional nature of special relativity was a discovery that was made by one of Einstein math professors in 1908 prior to Einstein's elucidation of General Relativity in 1915.
Spacetime Excerpt: In 1908, Hermann Minkowski—once one of the math professors of a young Einstein in Zurich—presented a geometric interpretation of special relativity that fused time and the three spatial dimensions of space into a single four-dimensional continuum now known as Minkowski space. A key feature of this interpretation is the definition of a spacetime interval that combines distance and time. Although measurements of distance and time between events differ for measurements made in different reference frames, the spacetime interval is independent of the inertial frame of reference in which they are recorded. Minkowski's geometric interpretation of relativity was to prove vital to Einstein's development of his 1915 general theory of relativity, wherein he showed that spacetime becomes curved in the presence of mass or energy.,,, Einstein, for his part, was initially dismissive of Minkowski's geometric interpretation of special relativity, regarding it as überflüssige Gelehrsamkeit (superfluous learnedness). However, in order to complete his search for general relativity that started in 1907, the geometric interpretation of relativity proved to be vital, and in 1916, Einstein fully acknowledged his indebtedness to Minkowski, whose interpretation greatly facilitated the transition to general relativity.[10]:151–152 Since there are other types of spacetime, such as the curved spacetime of general relativity, the spacetime of special relativity is today known as Minkowski spacetime. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spacetime
One way for us to more easily understand this higher dimensional framework for time that light exist in is to visualize what would happen if a hypothetical observer approached the speed of light. In the following video clip, which was made by two Australian University Physics Professors, we find that the 3-Dimensional world ‘folds and collapses’ into a tunnel shape as a ‘hypothetical’ observer approaches the ‘higher dimension’ of the speed of light.
Optical Effects of Special Relativity - video https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JQnHTKZBTI4
It is also very interesting to note that many of the characteristics found in Near Death Experience testimonies are exactly what we would expect to see from what we now know about Special Relativity (and General Relativity): For instance, many times people who have had a Near Death Experience mention that their perception of time was radically altered:
'Earthly time has no meaning in the spirit realm. There is no concept of before or after. Everything - past, present, future - exists simultaneously.' - Kimberly Clark Sharp – Near Death Experiencer https://www.near-death.com/science/research/time.html 'There is no way to tell whether minutes, hours or years go by. Existence is the only reality and it is inseparable from the eternal now.' - John Star - NDE Experiencer http://www.near-death.com/experiences/research13.html Time and the Near-Death Experience Excerpt: Our time on earth seems like only a brief instance. Time in the spirit realm does not exist. By getting rid of the illusion of time from our minds, we have the power to expand our consciousness. We will realize that we are already living in timelessness right now. https://www.near-death.com/science/research/time.html
In the following video clip, Mickey Robinson gives his Near Death testimony of what it felt like for him to experience a 'timeless eternity'.
'In the 'spirit world,,, instantly, there was no sense of time. See, everything on earth is related to time. You got up this morning, you are going to go to bed tonight. Something is new, it will get old. Something is born, it's going to die. Everything on the physical plane is relative to time, but everything in the spiritual plane is relative to eternity. Instantly I was in total consciousness and awareness of eternity, and you and I as we live in this earth cannot even comprehend it, because everything that we have here is filled within the veil of the temporal life. In the spirit life that is more real than anything else and it is awesome. Eternity as a concept is awesome. There is no such thing as time. I knew that whatever happened was going to go on and on.' In The Presence Of Almighty God – The NDE of Mickey Robinson – video (testimony starts at 27:45 minute mark) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=voak1RM-pXo
As well, Near Death Experiencers also frequently mention going through a tunnel to a higher heavenly dimension:
Ask the Experts: What Is a Near-Death Experience (NDE)? - article with video Excerpt: "Very often as they're moving through the tunnel, there's a very bright mystical light ... not like a light we're used to in our earthly lives. People call this mystical light, brilliant like a million times a million suns..." - Jeffrey Long M.D. - has studied NDE's extensively http://abcnews.go.com/Nightline/beyondbelief/experts-death-experience/story?id=14221154#.T_gydvW8jbI The Tunnel and the Near-Death Experience Excerpt: One of the nine elements that generally occur during NDEs is the tunnel experience. This involves being drawn into darkness through a tunnel, at an extremely high speed, until reaching a realm of radiant golden-white light. https://www.near-death.com/science/research/tunnel.html
These philosophical arguments against eternal life seem to look at it backwards. Rather than worry about infinite time, the heat death of the universe, and the ultimate boredom of having done everything a zillion times, why not look at it simply as life unbounded or unlimited. That is, "do you want to die now or live another year or ten?", and then repeat the question later. As long as we want to and are able to live longer in good health, then that should be enough "eternal life" for us limited and finite humans to desire. And if that condition allows us new and interesting things to do, then why would we not want life to continue? There is no actual infinity involved, just a continuation of life and reality from year to year without any anticipated end. Fasteddious
The point about limited choices makes tremendous sense. America has alwsys pushed the crazy idea that you can be anything if you try. You can be rich and strong and attractive and popular if you try hard enough. Rich and popular people love this myth because it enables them to drive Deplorables to suicide. Come on, loser! You're not trying! You can be just like me if you work harder! I'll even let you work for free! Become an entrepreneur and develop new inventions so I can steal them and watch you fail! Great fun! Deplorables mostly don't understand the point until it's too late. But I'm not sure that this point relates to limited TIME. I can't see the transfer. polistra
I don't think there is any truth to the various scientistic predictions of high-tech immortality being imminent or even to be expected in some indefinite future. So Scheffler's ideas are idle speculations. But anyway, from a cynical point of view, he is merely indulging in sour grapes. He should get off his ivory tower and confront the gritty reality of the suffering of humanity. He airily dismisses by not mentioning, the alleviation as part of the putative immortality technology of the now inevitable decrepitude and disease of old age leading to an often miserable death. Ask any of the miserable inhabitants of your typical old age nursing home whether they would prefer death to a healthy immortality. You know what most would choose - they would say, no worry, I'll be concerned about boredom whenever that time might come. I'll be concerned about the sustainability of it and the existential angst of it all whenever the time comes if ever, not now. For now I want to live. doubter

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