Calvin Mercer asked “Cryonics and Religion: Friends or Foes?” Cryonics, Mercer believes, will require support from more people than just scientists, including religious people. How should cryogenics supporters present these ideas to religious people?
How the discussion will play out, according to Mercer, will include debates between liberal and conservative viewpoints, anthropocentric versus theocentric beliefs, materialism versus the supernatural, pragmatic versus dogmatic outlooks, and revisionists versus traditionalists. This will show up as supporters and critics in the various Christian religions.
Mercer seeks to generate discussion about radical life extension among liberal religious people and someday among conservative religious people, starting with academics. He provided two examples of success, including sessions at a conference and a book.
Liberal religious people are most concerned about issues of justice and fairness. They worry that these technologies will not be available for everyone. On the right are the conservatives, and Mercer said there are degrees of conservatism, but with common characteristics like belief in the supernatural and dogmatic thinking.
Mercer believes some conservatives will in fact embrace radical life extension. They will be torn between their beliefs and their desire to get “being a good Christian” right to avoid going to Hell.
Christian faith includes the concept of the “miracle” of resurrection. On the one hand there is resuscitation of the dead, like Lazarus. On the other there is transformation of the dead, like Jesus. The dialog between radical life extentionists and religious people could be started around their ideas about “indefinite” lifespans and “infinite” existence, respectively.
I would not expect an Alcor Conference talk about “Cryonics and Unicorns.” I would not expect talks about “Cryonics and Astrology,” “Cryonics and Baseball Players,” or “Cryonics and Intelligent Design.” However, I do understand that the majority of people are religious or spiritual. Mercer presented this talk as an academic, rather than a theologist.