Aug 22, 2005

Vanilla Sky, Cryogenics, and Materialism

I just watched the movie Vanilla Sky with Tom Cruise--I know, I know, I'm very much behind the times. But, I couldn't help but bring it up on the blog given the clear implications of the movie's message regarding the nature of human beings.

The movie really does tout the possible virtues of cryogenic technology (for those who don't know, cryogenics refers to the "science" of freezing the bodies or brains of people who have died in the hope or expectation that the future will see a cure for what killed them, and then they can be "resurrected" to a virtual immortality). I just wanted to make a philosphical comment for those who may be "enamored" by the possibility of such technology.

Cryogenics presupposes a materialist view of the human mind. The idea that people can die, be frozen, and then thawed out to live again assumes that the mind is nothing more than the brain and its physical functions. There is an implicit denial that humans have an immaterial soul that is the true seat of one's personality and can survive the death of the body. For on this traditional view of humans beings the "cryogenic hope" is a fool's errand--when one dies, his soul leaves his body and then goes to either heaven or hell. There is no possibility of being brought back by human technology.

It is not my purpose here to defend the traditional view (though I am inclined to do so), but simply to help any readers who might think that cryogenics is "neat" and maybe "worth a try" to see the philosophical (and theological) implications of their views.

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