Tuesday, January 24, 2006


The Implications of Frozen Brains on the Afterlife

In the 1950s, hamster brains were partially frozen and revived by British researcher Audrey Smith. If hamster brains can function after being frozen, why can’t ours? In the 1960s, Japanese researcher Isamu Suda froze cat brains for a month and then thawed them. Some brain activity persisted. But what if there is an afterlife? If we can someday freeze a human brain and then revive the person in a 1000 years, did that person already experience the afterlife while his brain was lifeless? I discuss this and similar questions in Sex, Drugs, Einstein and Elves.

The idea seems to be that because the soul (or mind or "something")
supposedly undergoes a journey upon death, the NDE (near-death experience) represents the
beginning of that journey. I wish I could believe that, but I don't
think you can extrapolate from what happens in the dying brain,
possibly triggered by oxygen shortage or other stressors, to what
happens after death. The opposite seems more likely: NDEs may be
partly responsible for the idea that the soul undergoes a journey
upon death. (Didn't some NDEs occur even before the development of
modern resuscitation techniques?)

If I froze your brain indefinitely, you would never enter the afterlife? Well, that's an altogether easier question. With little constraint on
what may or may not be, a wide range of speculations may be indulged

Maybe the soul of someone in suspended animation goes into limbo?
Or maybe not, as the Catholic Church has recently decided to phase
out limbo. I wonder whether Augustine or Thomas Aquinas ever
considered the question?

questions like this make it easy to be an atheist
Those of us who believe in an afterlife assume that there is a mechanism that couples our nonmaterial essence (soul) to our meat-based bodies. At true death, they are uncoupled and the soul goes... where it is meant to go. There are a range of grey areas where people describe "near death" experiences and then come back from "the brink". My minister refers to death as "pushing through a membrane", an allusion I like (I assume the birth imagery is deliberate). If we believe that the hours of our life are numbered and that we die precisely when we are "meant" to die, then I have no difficulty at all with cryogenic suspension as a haitus in consciousness just like sleep, coma or anaethesia are "gaps" in our conscious experience. I don't beleive we would experience anything in such a suspended state, however long it may be. The thing to remember is that the afterlife will have no regard for linear time in the way we understand it. When we pass from time into eternity, one moment is as infinitely close as any other to "go over", comparitively speaking.
The brain is just an instrument.
Consciousness is an attribute of the soul, not of the brain.
Intelligence, love, compassion, etc. are inherent in and pervade all creation. Brains are filters that tunes into various levels of such aspects of creation.
"You" (soul) are not = your brain.
developments like this merely make us redefine the point at which 'true death' occurs. It used to be when the heart stops - developments in medical science have shifted the goalposts so now death is said to occur when the brain stops - and now, if this freezing idea works, then it'll be pushed back even further - as will the point at which the putative afterlife begins.
If there's some interface between soul and brain, it seems like the brain would need to be active for it to work. If the brain shuts down, the soul goes free.

If this isn't the case, then the criterion for final seperation would seem to be whether the brain would reactivate *in the future*, which seems to defy causality and cast doubt on the notion of free will.

Another option would be that the interface lies somewhere in the hardware of the brain and remains active even if the brain is not. It seems unlikely, though, that there's a physical organ that tethers the incorporeal spirit.

I think, however, that the "hardware" premise is necessary if you believe that an inactive brain tethers the soul indefinitely as long as it remains intact.

Other possibilities include:

1. The soul *does* leave and actually comes back once the brain reactivates. If the brain is "just an instrument," I don't see why this couldn't happen.

2. A new soul is born (just as in an infant) when the brain activates, and subsumes the old one's role. The old soul remains in the afterlife or in a new body.

3. The brain reactivates, but has no soul. Would anyone be able to tell the difference?

4. Whatever spiritual entity happens to be nearby inhabits the empty brain.

5. Of course, it's possible that there's no such thing as souls or spirits.
390 words

What is misunderstood statically as "the soul"
is a dynamic local mirroring of the Gaian life hologram
moderated by and occurring in the electrochemical
process of each body, most concentrated
in nerve tissue, and therefore, the brain.

The dynamic is the essence.The process,
electrochemical for us, electromagnetic for Gaia,
must be ongoing, for "life" to manifest.

Therefore, stopping process movement,
as when a child slips beneath ice in a river,
gives the appearance of "death".

If that child is rescued,
warmed, & stimulated,
the electrochemical process is able
to resume, the child revives,
and we have a miracle.
If a body were frozen so quickly
that no cellular disruption occurred,
and if no degradation in chemical mix
happened in the frozen state to
forestall process on thawing,
theoretically no bar exists
to process resumption.

The trick to full awakening is synchronization
of the small local Gaia snippet hologram
weakly arising in our body process
to the general Gaia of its awakening time.

If Gaia evolves, as I think she does,
it might come to pass that the small
hologram of a body frozen too long,
is no longer compatible
to the Gaia of its awakening time,
and will not lase, will not gain strength.
In this case the resurrection will hang fire.

This would mean that Jurrassic Park
would be impossible.

The planetary life hologram, Gaia,
has given up species to die before,
so don't expect easy resurrections
until or unless a more intentional
Gaian outcropping,
such as a Teilhardian Omega-critter,
with a nostalgic bent, such as
your trad Christ or Buddha might have,
decides to check its nether end,
and pulls all us dead-'uns in.

I firmly believe the best sense
we can make of nirvana, reincarnation,
paradise, the second coming,
omega point, whatever,
is this backward reaching soul-sweep
out of the future into all pasts.

Its bow wave, coming backwards out of time at us,
just may be Gaia and our corps of avatars.

It's trans-temporality, and its dynamic nature
explain very easily why divinity can be not here now,
but here later, and why we can be dead now,
and "alive" later.

If thawing frozen heads, you'd better go get
the rest of the body, or it can't chemically process.
The brain is not the seat of the hologram,
just the weir of its collection.
Wow. js_vp, can I have some of what you're smoking? I won't do bad things, even if the voices tell me.
Oh man. What a deep question. I don't think if I were to stay up all night I could come up with something that profound.
This is rather deep and thought provoking. I remember when I was younger I watched a show called "So Weird" and it involved something similar to this question. The guy in it was frozen in hopes that later on technology would be advanced enough to cure some sort of cancer he had. They cured it, but he seemed almost cold and empty...like he was missing something. In the end, an elderly magician that was dying was told to give the guy his hand and the magician's soul went into the man's body.

I do not know what to think about this development, but I will say that the post and the comments are very interesting.
Eventually, a frozen human brain will be thawed. If normal brain functioning returns, its owner will have no memory of an afterlife. Those who believe in an afterlife will explain this away as the way the afterlife works--if you come back to life, you don't get to remember. Those who don't believe in an afterlife will have this experience to add to their pile of evidence. And the debate will be right back where it began. Yay.
Freeze a perfectly intact brain in
life preserving solutions until a time when cloning bodies is routine and a former headless, bodiless individual
can live again.

Granted a male brain in female form or visa versa may tick off this newly alive person somewhat but were human
and some slight glitches may crop up like that from time to time.
If they don't perfect freezing the human brain, all is not lost. We can take the one that does work- the hampster brain.

You wouldn't care in the slightest where you were for the last thousand years, & there wouldn't be any technological advancement.

But what does it matter when you are spending your life riding ferris wheels, eating, & copulating with every female hampster on the planet?
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