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Killing Immortality - Leon Kass :: Simon Smith


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#1 Bruce Klein

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Posted 04 December 2002 - 12:55 AM


Immortality Institute's director, Bruce Klein, was quoted recently by Betterhumans writer Simon Smith in a rebuttal to Leon Kass's stringent stance against immortality

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Killing Immortality
Bush bioethicist Leon Kass wants an end to life extension efforts. But he has yet to offer a good reason.


by: Simon Smith

[Tuesday, December 03, 2002] Leon Kass wants me to die. And you too. In fact, he thinks it's good for us.

If you don't know who Kass is, you should. Born in Chicago, Illinois in February 1939, this conservative thinker chairs the US President's Council on Bioethics -- an organization that advises on biomedical science and technology issues, and ultimately steers related US legislation and policy.


According to Crisis magazine, Kass has criticized society's movement toward feminism, gay rights, divorce, single parenthood and premarital sex. He has also vocally opposed abortion, euthanasia, therapeutic cloning and stem cell research. And he has made his position on such matters unchallengeable. "He has crafted and promulgated, as a core aspect of his philosophy, an entire pseudo-intellectual defence of 'yuck' reactions, which he terms 'the wisdom of repugnance,'" notes The American Prospect.

Not a great start if you're a Transhumanist -- or any other type of rational humanist, for that matter. And it gets worse. Kass's Chairman's Vision hints at what influences his beliefs. "We must avoid runaway scientism and the utopian project to remake humankind in our own image," Kass writes.

"In our own image" obviously contrasts "in God's image," and shows that Kass's bioethical thinking is religiously influenced. Lee Silver, a Princeton molecular biologist and the author of Remaking Eden: Cloning and Beyond in a Brave New World, believes that Kass is a theologian in a secular philosopher's clothing. Bush couldn't have appointed a Catholic bishop to head his bioethics council, says Silver, but gets essentially the same thing with Kass along with an MD and PhD to provide a veneer of secularity (Kass is Jewish, but is often identified with the Christian right).

Which brings me to Kass's latest project: battling against life extension. Lately, it's occupying more and more of his attention -- this month, for example, he gave a talk in my home town of Toronto called "Why not Immortality?"

Your dreams of living a long, healthy life are his nightmares. Kass promotes conservative, religiously influenced opinions on life extension rather than rational arguments. And he has a major influence on US biomedical policy. Beware if you hold progressive, liberal views about extending life. And heaven help you if you're striving for immortality.

Radical life extension

In Kass's praise, however, I will say this: Unlike many top public figures, he is at least aware of important scientific and technological advances. "Laboratory-assisted reproduction, artificial organs, genetic manipulation, psychoactive drugs, computer implants in the brain, and techniques to conquer aging -- these and other present and projected techniques for altering our bodies and minds pose challenges to the very meaning of our humanity," Kass said in a May 2000 talk called "L'Chaim and Its Limits: Why Not Immortality?"

Specifically related to life extension, Kass has addressed three approaches: Hormone replacement, stem cell technology and genetic engineering. He points to the use of human growth hormone to restore and enhance youth, the use of stem cells to replace worn out organs and tissues and the use of genetic engineering to manipulate switches that control aging. Alone or in combination, these could radically extend lifespan -- and relatively soon.

But unlike many people, Kass doesn't see hope in such developments. He is concerned with the entire endeavour. "It is most worthwhile to re-examine the assumption upon which we have been operating: that everything should be done to preserve health and prolong life as much as possible, and that all other values must bow before the biomedical gods of better health, greater vigor, and longer life," he says.

Social consequences

Kass believes that life extension will have bad social consequences and impair distributive justice. Extending everyone's lifespan, he suggests, could be a Tragedy of Commons in which, say, demographic changes lead to massive environmental degradation. Alternatively, radical life extension -- or even immortality -- will be unfairly granted only to the wealthy, he believes.

On both counts, says Bruce Klein, director of a membership-based longevity-promoting organization called the Immortality Institute, Kass is misguided. "Alarmists have been warning for decades that the world's population is growing too large. Yet, as populations have increased, so have the technologies that improve crop yield and increase efficiency. And as technological advancements spill over into developing countries, people's lives are improved," says Klein. "Kass yearns for a politically correct future while at the same time advocating death."

Kass is unabashedly calling for stricter state ownership over its citizens' bodies. The reality is that everyone is entitled to make their own informed choices. As Klein states, "People will rebel against any government attempting to dictate maximal levels of happiness, intelligence and lifespan. Parents will continue to want the best for their children. Individuals will continue to improve and extend their lives. The 'tragedy' would be in trying to deny people this opportunity."

And even if left only to market forces, notes Klein, radical life extension would become widely available. "In the short term, Kass is right. Wealthier people will live longer. But can the rich really bottle up immortality? It's likely they'd not succeed, nor would they even try. Quite the opposite, wealthy individuals will invest their money to promote anti-aging products in the hopes of making even more money. And because of well understood market forces and economies of scale, people will benefit accordingly."

And if not, Kass shouldn't fight life extension to increase equality. He should advocate for public health care.

No death, no meaning

But, of course, countering Kass's opinions isn't that easy: He is dead-set against life extension. "This is a question in which our very humanity is at stake, not only in the consequences but also in the very meaning of the choice," he says. "For to argue that human life would be better without death is, I submit, to argue that human life would be better being something other than human." (A pile of rotting flesh is also something other than human, I believe, but we'll put that aside for now.)

Kass thinks death is both good and necessary. He offers four key benefits:




Interest and engagement: The pleasures of life wouldn't increase proportionately to years, Kass believes. "Would professional tennis players really enjoy playing 25% more games of tennis?" he asks

Seriousness and aspiration: We can't aspire or be serious without (ahem) a deadline, he says

Beauty and love: Like a sunset, Kass suggests, life is beautiful because it has an ending

Virtue and moral excellence: Mortality means that we can give our lives to higher causes, says Kass


None of these benefits stands up to scrutiny.

Take interest and engagement. Kass has distorted the issue by suggesting that people would extend their lifespan just to keep doing things that they've done before -- even if they no longer make them happy. Would they? Of course not. They'd stay interested and engaged by challenging themselves and seeking new experiences. I met a life-extensionist named Robin Helweg-Larsen a few months back and asked what he would do with more time. "I want to live for a few years in every culture," he said. Lacking interest and engagement? Laughable.

"There will never be a shortage of new activities, new understanding, and new experiences," writes philosopher Max More in an essay called "Meaningfulness and Mortality." "Perhaps we might one day come to know a completed physics and chemistry, though even this is denied by some theorists. But we cannot exhaust the technological applications of those physical laws. There will always be innovative art -- music, graphic art, writing, dance, and forms as yet unconceived. There are no limits to the personal relationships we can create and develop. There is no limit to the social forms we can develop, and no limit to the games we can invent."

What about seriousness, aspiration, virtue and moral excellence? Kass is wrong here as well. People become more serious about life with the wisdom of age, not less. The longer they live, the more they can aspire to do. And the greater their abilities, the greater their realm of ethical actions. "How can a dead person help anyone?" asks Klein. "Is it more noble to die and only help a few, or live forever and help an infinite number of people?"

And life would still be beautiful without death. Flowers and sunsets are beautiful because they are varied, unique and evolving, not because they die. Nobody's promoting stagnation, only life extension. "I believe Kass echoes a common misconception about the immortality," says Klein. "He envisions a rocking chair lifestyle for seniors while overlooking the writing on the wall. People are not just living longer, they're living healthier. Scientists are not just in the process of stopping aging, they're working to turn back the clock."

Science versus religion

There's one more opinion Kass puts forward that deserves attention: He believes that humans long for something eternal that they're trying to fill with a quest for immortality, while they should really strive for God. "The promise of immortality and eternity answers rather to a deep truth about the human soul: the human soul yearns for, longs for, aspires to some condition, some state, some goal toward which our earthly activities are directed but which cannot be attained in earthly life," says Kass. "The human taste for immortality, for the imperishable and the eternal, is not a taste that the biomedical conquest of death could satisfy. We would still be incomplete; we would still lack wisdom; we would still lack God's presence and redemption."

Finally, Kass comes clean. It's not life extension that appears to bother him, but our turning away from relying on supernatural forces toward taking responsibility for our future.

Kass sees our quest for longevity as destroying what makes us human. But that's based on his opinion of what it means to be part of the species. Our current quest for longer life is a continuation of our maturity, from a brutish Stone Age existence with 18-year lifespans to a future of expanded health, vitality, wisdom and knowledge.

Kass is entitled to his opinions. But he's not entitled to inhibit the continuation of hundreds of thousands of years of human progress.

Simon Smith is the founder and editor-in-chief of Betterhumans. You can reach him at simon@betterhumans.com.


Original Article

#2 Lazarus Long

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Posted 05 December 2002 - 11:33 PM

Nice rubuttal by both you , Bruce, and Simon Smith.

I enjoyed the article and think that it highlights how much of the current struggle is actually political before even the real work of viable lifer extension technology can even be applied.

There are some very dangerous trends at work in Washington, but then again: What else is new?

#3 bobdrake12

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Posted 06 December 2002 - 01:29 AM

Bush bioethicist Leon Kass wants an end to
life extension efforts. But he has yet to offer a good reason


Bruce,

Leon Kass is just stating the way the system is.


What else is new?


Lazarus Long

Nothing whatsoever is new.

For example, pull up the posts on sugar as discussed in this Forum. They can be found by clicking on the URL below:

http://www.imminst.o...ct=ST&f=7&t=449

A system is in place and has been there for a very long time.

Once that system is recognized realistically, those of us (from various political and belief systems) need to put our differences aside and think outside of the box to achieve life extension as well as possible physical immortality.

Just follow the money trail.


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bob

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#4 thefirstimmortal

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Posted 06 December 2002 - 02:41 AM

Immortality Institute's director, Bruce Klein, was quoted recently by Betterhumans writer Simon Smith in a rebuttal to Leon Kass's stringent stance against immortality.


I'm giving BJ the big standing O on this work also. Unfortunately I'm taking this moment to point out a hard reality. You supported the worse of two evils by voting Republican, and I hope this event shows you why voting Republican is most dangerous to all life-extenders.

Government, (Republican and Democrats) will pose a great hurdle for every serious longevity participant.

That one issue aside, I'm proud to be part of your group, and I am inspired by your quotes in Simon Smiths rebuttal.

Your Eternal Friend
William O'Rights

#5 thefirstimmortal

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Posted 06 December 2002 - 02:54 AM

Bush bioethicist Leon Kass wants an end to
life extension efforts. But he has yet to offer a good reason
By Simon Smith
Posted Image
Simon Smith

[Tuesday, December 03, 2002] Leon Kass wants me to die. And you too. In fact, he thinks it's good for us.


Leon Kass is preaching false consolation and that does not help us, no matter how skillfully and soothingly he arranges nothingness. Leon Kass serves to pretty up and glamorize death, and therefore, in the context of our battle, he stands to weaken and tranquilize our rebellion.

From the immortalist point of view, whoever teaches us to accept or, worse, embrace death in this world can not be the last word.


If the world and I vanish from one another, the world ends too!
William O'Rights
The First Immortal



#6 Bruce Klein

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Posted 06 December 2002 - 02:54 AM

Thanks Bob, Laz, and FirstI...

You supported the worse of two evils by voting Republican, and I hope this event shows you why voting Republican is most dangerous to all life-extenders.


Ouch!! lol

Government, (Republican and Democrats) will pose a great hurdle for every serious longevity participant.


No doubt about it... the Republican Party poses exceptional threat to the Immortalist movement. I will give the Libertarian Party my due interest. I feel a certain aligned strife as both our causes are considered fringe.

Yet, I still have reservations about voting for a party, knowing full well, I'm really helping the other party because the likely hood of a win is about as likely as being struck by lightning.

#7 thefirstimmortal

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Posted 06 December 2002 - 03:52 AM

From Article
There's one more opinion Kass puts forward that deserves attention: He believes that humans long for something eternal that they're trying to fill with a quest for immortality, while they should really strive for God.


I have administrative bones to pick with Kass. I say God seems to have a kind of laid-back management style I'm not crazy about. I'm pretty much anti-death. God looks by all accounts to be pro-death. I'm not seeing how we can get together on this issue.

Live Long and Well
William Constitution O'Rights

#8 thefirstimmortal

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Posted 06 December 2002 - 04:23 AM

After reading and rereading the Kass, Klien Article, I think all the issues boil down to a single question: Who is going to make the decision about this particular aspect of our life, the individual or somebody else?


Do we get to decide what is best, or does the Administration in Washington?

Why should we care about what Kass thinks? Isn't the only reason why we care, because his power over our future lives.

In a Libertarian world, all individuals would be sovereign over their own lives, and no one would be forced to sacrifice his or her values for the benefit of people like Kass or anyone else for that matter.

I believe that respect for individual rights is the essential precondition for a free world and force must be banished from human relationships.

The world we seek to build is one where individuals are free to follow their own dreams in their own ways, without interference from Kass or from government or any authoritarian power.

#9 thefirstimmortal

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Posted 06 December 2002 - 04:37 AM

Ouch!! lol


The truth will set you free...
But at first it'll make you dam mad.

No doubt about it... the Republican Party poses exceptional threat to the Immortalist movement.


...and I've just sratched the surface, more to follow in the socialist thread on medicine and government.

Yet, I still have reservations about voting for a party, knowing full well, I'm really helping the other party because the likely hood of a win is about as likely as being struck by lightning.


Did you read my follow-up posts in that thread, about spoiler votes and wasted votes???

#10 thefirstimmortal

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Posted 06 December 2002 - 04:52 AM

You supported the worse of two evils by voting Republican, and I hope this event shows you why voting Republican is most dangerous to all life-extenders.

Ouch!! lol


I argue very well. Ask any of my remaining friends. I can win an argument on any topic,
against any opponent. People know this, and steer clear of me at parties. Often, as a sign
of their great respect, they don't even invite me.
[blush] [blush]

#11 thefirstimmortal

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Posted 06 December 2002 - 03:00 PM

Nice pic. You are very young :D

#12 Bruce Klein

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Posted 06 December 2002 - 08:09 PM

yeh.. 28 actually, here's my personal site with a few links and info.

#13 istopdeath

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Posted 07 December 2002 - 06:54 PM

We have inherited a solar powered destructively tested dna rising consciousness context.

Notice how few females are aggressive immortalists, they are strangely absent from the intention to preserve what they build in their bodies, mainly all of us.

I say this is an alarming fact.

I further surmise that the mother must be psycho-genetically anesthetized in order to breed to kill and must be a supreme actress called smoke and mirrors or synthetic charisma aka lying. Further, she must bluff the brotherhood into you can't fight titty hall or "You can't hit girls." Thus the Beta Males can only kill males with the collective anger which is usually stimulated by both sexes. The Anger Diode.

Primates have inherited this beginner pre-ethical psychical sexist regime as a beginning point for negotiations. Certainly, our most recent victims of breed to kill, which I estimate to be about 500 million children, deserve some honesty from the adults they are drawn to trust.

The Best Presidential advisor would be Laura Bush to move out of her passive "breed to kill" smoke and mirrors act and confess to her children on world television and draw up a world wide plan with all earth mothers to Own their Power and their Responsibility to the victims of breed to kill. Then get real with the sources of male anger so that we can trash the military insanity world wide and apply those largely wasted funds to immortality research and some positive emotional resources. Prostitution, in all of its forms, must end....including taxes and the gayness of heterosexual monogamy.

Don't get me started!

#14 istopdeath

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Posted 08 December 2002 - 06:45 PM

Leon Kass is using up his life force energy to talk against the evolution of life force energy.
Clearly, if he would commit suicide, then we could see how committed he really is in his pavlovian installed fixation on limitation maintenance.

It's like people who drive to a meeting to put a stop to global warming.

#15 Ryanfire

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Posted 08 December 2002 - 07:40 PM

Why does a god grant human life in the first place? Why not create souls that are with him from the beginning? Why all these tests of conflict and change?

Why create a "physical" universe if we're supposed to be worried about the space we take up. The size of the universe is magnificent, there is PLENTY of room out there. We've always been preoccupied with making sure earth is a secure place to live. So we take on jobs, make money, have offspring.. the same old thing time and time again. This Mr. Kass is stagnant.

Must we all live 80-100 years, and achieve a small understanding? Ever wanted to learn something but could never find the time? There is so much out there to do. Even love is rushed because of the biological clock.

I wonder if Mr.Kass would consider sitting down with BJ Klein or another immortalist for a session, really talk things through, rather than just give his opinions as if they are the truth.

Just some thoughts...

Ryan
http://ryan.real.ca
ryan@real.ca

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Posted 08 December 2002 - 09:26 PM

Hmmm , I laugh at the fact that we will all become so bored that we will never enjoy another sunrise..



To be frank it is this small box thinking that eally shows what kind of individuals we are dealing with.

Sorry, I expect to be enjoyng sunrises and sunsets not only on this world , but the billions upon billions of worlds in out own galaxy, Not to mention the other galaxys.

And everywonder I might find upon on those worlds.

He just cannot imagine anything outside his own little death world. He cannot imagine anything better than what is now. He can never imagine leaving gods creation or seeing these sunrised in new ways , what would they look like in infared, or any new and extended range of colors new eyes could give us.

he has no imagination, these are the dullards that plauge us ,

let me rephrase that .. he has but the imagination GOD says he can have in worshiping him.

What a horrible way to live, I think If I was stuck forever with so little
imagination as to not be capable of truly dreaming of somthing new to do or create or build or explore . Then yes I wan HIM and everyone like him to embrace oblivion.

Sadly the real trick is not letting them take you with them.

Lionel Vogt

"No heaven , no hell , No angels , No devils.
And no fate. Save for the ones we make for ourselves.

#17 Cyto

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Posted 08 December 2002 - 10:55 PM

Hah. And then some.

#18 John Schloendorn

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Posted 09 December 2002 - 05:32 PM

I am quite happy to see the debate take this form. I feel that Kass may be doing us greater favors than he intends.
While he challenges the desirability of life extension with full force, he acknowledges its achievability and implicitly projects its achievement to the close to medium future. This can get people on our side.

When we insisted on the feasibility of life extension in the past, we never caught much public attention. When the president’s highest bioethicist and our greatest opponent does, this should have much more weight.

They are beginning to react to what we say and do. Perhaps finally the discussion is becoming serious.

#19 Ryanfire

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Posted 09 December 2002 - 09:05 PM

Leon Kass telling me that I must die is immoral. I'd like to know what the difference is between eternal life as a human, versus a spirit form (if we belong to something "greater" ie. god)?

John Schloendorn, I agree. Bad publicity can lead to good things. Sorta like advertising.

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Posted 11 December 2002 - 11:29 PM

Leon Kass is ignoring some fundamental scientific principals. Our species is approaching an evolutionary threshold to cause us to adapt to a space based environment. An important adaptation to such an environment would be life extension and/or immortality.

Those of our species who learn to live in space will open other evolutionary options to evolve into. So our interest in immortality is only consistent with our species evolutionary nature. Which ever position succeeds will no doubt influence our species future survivability.

Brother Apis

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Posted 15 December 2002 - 10:17 PM

Just goes to show that living in the US may. ultimately, be hazardous to your health. Let's change that!!!!!

#22 thefirstimmortal

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Posted 23 December 2002 - 03:13 AM

The immortalist position is that all philosophical systems relating to ethical conduct and the end of man, insofar as they teach us sportingly to accept extinction, are a waste of time. In the face of death, such wisdom is waste of time. The philosophy that accepts death must itself be considered dead, its questions meaningless, its consolations worn out.

Still, eminent men throw their weight against our thesis. Stern leaders admonish us. Simply posting a few of our names should be enough to dissuade the foolhardy from persisting in this unnatural immortality project. What an intimidating billboard! Against such authority, we have only one weapon: to italicize the warnings. At random:Pascal: “Nothing is more dastardly than to act with bravado before God.”Buber: “The lust of the human race to whittle away the secret of death. . . “

The truth is, of course, that death should no more be considered an acceptable part of life than smallpox or polio, both of which we have managed to bring under control without denouncing ourselves as presumptuous. Dr. Salk and Dr. Sabin have not been hunted down as devils for putting a halt to the crippling of children; they were not called proud or foolish for trying. But death kills forever. Why should the hope of overcoming that be thought in any way unnatural? The argument that because everybody has always dissolved painfully back into the earth, that this is exactly what ought to happen, and that we are somehow out of line in trying to prevent it, makes no sense at all.

Hitler, the black plague, floods and hurricanes have also been “part of life.” But since they are an undesirable part, we resist them, or at least build our defenses as best we can.

Leon, leave your gods and your religions; they are only good for putting swords in men’s hands.

Unfortunately, we seldom speaks out against the system which calls for our extinction.

#23 thefirstimmortal

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Posted 23 December 2002 - 03:24 AM

Today we weep to see some child doomed to piteous early death by leukaemia. Adults rush to contribute bone tissues that might reverse the errors in the child’s genes. In another century, we will feel no less anguish at the sight of ageing and death in anyone at all. Life is as replete and meaningful as we make it, and if we can share in the glories of the world for a thousand years instead of a mere 70 or 80, I cannot imagine that a loving deity would resent our tenure here, or punish us for living Long and Well.

#24 kevin

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Posted 04 January 2003 - 07:24 AM

Mr. Kass reflects the commonly held notion that the natural order of things, ie. dying, is a time honored biological tradition that should not be mucked with. Saying that immortality is something we wish to use as a replacement for 'God' is like saying you can't have 'God' without having 'death' because the only way you're going to 'meet' Him is by dying.

I subscribe to view that the two are not mutually exclusive, you can have a relationship with God while at the same time enjoying immortality. If there is a God, (and for me there is no question that there is), he has made a beautiful and complex universe and has brought into being a species of life capable of understanding and manipulating, to some small degree thus far, his handiwork. I certainly don't agree with a religion based concept of God, but for me, everything seems too well organized to be random. As for most religions, anyone who purports to know the mind of God and his/her/it's plans for us, if any, immediately gets the mute button. To try to describe something capable of producing our reality, as well as maybe many others, is laughable and a waste of effort. Better to let that little voice inside us all be the authority on the nature of god and the universe.

There may indeed be an afterlife. I'm not denying the possibility at all. I have a feeling that after a few millenia one might become a little jaded with our 3-dimensional realm and wonder what really comes with checking out which is exactly how I want to go, by choice.

#25 7000

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Posted 16 February 2004 - 01:55 AM

There is something that is called the hidden.This is the hidden word and the hidden word is the hidden and the hidden is what is hidden to human.Tios alpha and omega concept talks about what is hidden to human.

#26 jans

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Posted 21 February 2005 - 12:08 PM

Kass should read the bible:
Genesis 11: 6
... nothing will be restrained from them, which they have imagined to do.

#27 Mind

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Posted 19 August 2008 - 06:34 PM

Just another opinion piece from the Kass side of the aisle (this time from Chuck Colson).

Thanks to genetic, robotic, information, and nano technologies—collectively known by the ironic acronym GRIN—mankind is poised for what some call “engineered evolution.” Nigel warns that the very technologies that can “help us restore function to the disabled and fight disease, can also be used to bring in the ‘Brave New World’—in which what it means to be human, made in the image of God, is fundamentally lost.”

Not only will the results of this “evolution” be unprecedented, but so will the speed at which it happens. “Pain vaccines,” “memory pills,” and “gene doping,” which may turn even the scrawniest kid into a Hercules, are being tested as I speak.

But who will enjoy the fruits of such enhancements? As Nigel writes, developments in “blending human nature and machine nature through such means as the implanting of brain chips for memory, skills, or communication . . . could compound both the intelligence and the wealth of a small segment of society.” This could lead “to a new feudalism, in which power of all kinds is concentrated in the hands of ‘enhanced’ persons.”


I figured this would be a good time for an update, since Kass was making headlines about 6 years ago. Today we are even closer to the point of directed human evolution.

Don't be comforted by the fact that this argument comes from a religious bio-conservative. The argument of "equality before progress" is even stronger from the secular left. The fact is that none of us will have much control over this "next step" in human evolution. The one thing helping the situation and leveling the playing field is ubiquitous information sharing (and instant global communication). This makes it more likely that enhancements will not be exclusive to just a handful of people (in my view). What I would hope to see is that Kass, Colson, and the Secular Left would be able to remain unenhanced and live the way they please in their own corner of the world in an Amish-like existence....but who are we (and they) kidding, 99% of their ilk will be getting age reversal treatments and enhancements as soon as they come available.

#28 Varkaus

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Posted 19 August 2008 - 07:27 PM

Finally some sense. Cheers for Kass.

Edited by Varkaus, 19 August 2008 - 07:28 PM.


#29 Shoe

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Posted 19 August 2008 - 08:46 PM

You know what "kass" means in Swedish? "Sucky". Fitting name. He's really sucky.

Edited by Shoe, 19 August 2008 - 08:49 PM.


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#30 grazan

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Posted 30 August 2008 - 08:52 AM

No death, no meaning

Kass thinks death is both good and necessary. He offers four key benefits:

Interest and engagement: The pleasures of life wouldn't increase proportionately to years, Kass believes. "Would professional tennis players really enjoy playing 25% more games of tennis?" he asks

Seriousness and aspiration: We can't aspire or be serious without (ahem) a deadline, he says

Beauty and love: Like a sunset, Kass suggests, life is beautiful because it has an ending

Virtue and moral excellence: Mortality means that we can give our lives to higher causes, says Kass

None of these benefits stands up to scrutiny.

I disagree. These benefits make sense from a humanist point of view as well as Christian. I know a 90 year old man - extremely healthy and very sharp, who will vouch for the first one listed. He simply no longer has the interest in anything he once did. All points Kass makes here can be supported with ease.

Where Kass goes wrong is in wanting to control people's actions in striving toward immortality. If the God he believes in is the God of the Christian bible, does he really think that God will allow this endeavor to go one millimeter past where he wants it to go? It is a classic case of barking up the wrong tree. This tree (human-created immortality) is not the tree of God, ergo it is the wrong tree, and it is far too tall to ever make it to the top. Anyone attempting the climb will fall down in every attempt, and hopefully eventually turn his attention to the right tree, the "Tree of Life", and find true immortality. No different than any other endeavor born from misplaced energy - just another lesson to be learned.

Don't try to stop people from learning lessons, unless they impose upon another person's right to learn his own lesson.





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