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Sunday, July 30, 2017

Engineering Eden: The quest for eternal life

Kristin Kostick
Baylor College of Medicine
Originally posted June 2,2017

If you’re like most people, you may associate the phrase “eternal life” with religion: The promise that we can live forever if we just believe in God. You probably don’t associate the phrase with an image of scientists working in a lab, peering at worms through microscopes or mice skittering through boxes. But you should.

The quest for eternal life has only recently begun to step out from behind the pews and into the petri dish.

I recently discussed the increasing feasibility of the transhumanist vision due to continuing advancements in biotech, gene- and cell-therapies. These emerging technologies, however, don’t erase the fact that religion – not science – has always been our salve for confronting death’s inevitability. For believers, religion provides an enduring mechanism (belief and virtue) behind the perpetuity of existence, and shushes our otherwise frantic inability to grasp: How can I, as a person, just end?

The Mormon transhumanist Lincoln Cannon argues that science, rather than religion, offers a tangible solution to this most basic existential dilemma. He points out that it is no longer tenable to believe in eternal life as only available in heaven, requiring the death of our earthly bodies before becoming eternal, celestial beings.

Would a rational person choose to believe in an uncertain, spiritual afterlife over the tangible persistence of one’s own familiar body and the comforting security of relationships we’ve fostered over a lifetime of meaningful interactions?

The article is here.