The Afterlife vs. Immortality

The Afterlife- Evidence?

1. Near-death experiences- where you get that trip down the tunnel to the light with the clips show of your highlights, although the jury is out on whether some NDEs can provide accurate information which could not have been obtained through normal sensory routes.

2. Mediumship, or seeming communication by a gifted person with the dead, particularly mental mediumship and the cross-correspondences (the latter involving several mediums receiving communications of a complex character that only make sense when the information is consolidated).

3. ‘Peak in Darien’ experiences, where someone who is dying has a vision of someone thought to be alive but who is later found to have died before the vision occurred.

4. Strange death bed phenomena, such as unexplained lights or music, experienced by relatives and carers around the dying person’s bed (hard to explain in terms of biological processes). Staff who work in hospices for example often have these sorts of stories to tell.

5. Terminal lucidity in a dying patient, perhaps someone with Alzheimer’s or who has been drifting in and out of consciousness but suddenly has a spell of recognising people around them and clear thinking just before passing.

A good book for this is Stop Worrying! There Probably Is An Afterlife by Greg Taylor

Immortality- Possible Methods?

1. Biological methods- some cells such as stem cells are in theory immortal (and may soon be used to grow replacement organs artificially), others are not subject to the Hayflick limit. Expression of telomere lengthening telomerase or induction of the large T-antigen are factors supporting longevity.
Larger organisms such as some bacteria and the jellyfish Turritopsis dohrnii are also essentially immortal.
Such phenomena are being studied for equivalents in humans, e.g. through gene therapy, as it may take a long time to wait for them to come through evolution, perhaps through finite telomere regeneration.

2. Technological- whole brain emulation, mind uploading or transference of brain states to an alternative medium such as a powerful computer is favoured by futurists such as Ray Kurzweil and transhumanists.
Cryonics is suspended animation of those who would otherwise be clinically dead with e.g. temperature control, tissue vitrification or chemical brain preservation until they can be resuscitated with future technology from “standby mode”, think Walt Disney’s head rumour or the film AI.
Medical nanobots, or “swallowing the doctor” might allow repair and regeneration internally according to Freitas, Feynman, Hibbs and Drexler.
Cybernetics is a process of transforming a human into a cyborg, by mixing human and robotic components. That couldn’t go wrong, right?

3. Life extension- there is promise that life can be extended by substances such as resveratrol, found in red wines e.g. particularly Pinot Noir.
Anything increasing cell telomerase would be very handy. Intermittent fasting is also showing promise.

4. Alchemy- the Philosopher’s Stone or elixir of life, efforts to find it are called the Magnum Opus. Its like finding the Holy Grail or something.
Going back to Adam there are constant legends of various celebs of their times, e.g. Paracelsus having hold of some, it is a handy stone for all sorts of things, not just eternal life, and comes in red and white varieties. I bet the Count of St.Germain has a chunk, he must be getting on for 700 years old now.
If any gullible billionaires are reading, I can sell you some for a very reasonable price. And some real estate on the Moon.

5. There are numerous spiritual traditions such as breatharianism and rebirthing where the advocates will state certain yogis e.g. Babaji, Bhartriji have lived for extremely long times.
A simple beginning to such practices to emulate them includes pranayama or breath work, e.g. alternate nostril breathing- Inhale through the left nostril and exhale through the right nostril, holding the other closed. Then inhale through the right nostril and exhale through the left nostril. Repeat this cycle three or nine times. Make the breaths as long as you comfortably can. You can either hold the inhale, or you can connect the inhale to the exhale as in twenty connected breaths.
Leonard Orr’s book Breaking The Death Habit: The Science of Everlasting Life is a great starting point.
In Tibetan Buddhist Dzogchen one simply changes ones body into an immortal body of light called the rainbow body.
One of the disciples of Jesus, presumably John, was rumoured to remain alive until the Second Coming, although the chapter itself (John 21:22) is a bit teasy about it. But if so, come around for a cup of tea, St.John, you must be knackered.


2 thoughts on “The Afterlife vs. Immortality

  1. It’s an interfering article and encompasses a lot of the areas I have raised in the immortality section although biological immortality is very different from true immortality because even if you never age there a lots of other ways to die. Below is my list of the paths to biological immortality.

    1. Biotechnology – e.g stem cell therapies, enhanced autophagy, pharmaceuticals, immunotherapies, etc

    2. Nanotechnology – Methods of repairing the body at a cellular and molecular level.

    3. Robust Artificial Intelligence (AI) Combined with whole brain emulation – Where the brain is Uploaded to a digital medium and increasingly enhanced and replaced with non biological components until it reaches a stage where the non biological components can model the biological part so accurately its loss would be irrelevant from a functional perspective.

    4. Robotics – This could lead to the replacement of increasing numbers of body parts and tends to go hand in hand with AI and whole brain emulation. It can be argued that this is not life extension and that it is a path toward becoming a Cyborg but I don’t share that view because even today we don’t view a quadriplegic as less human if he has four bionic limbs and this will hold true as our technology progresses.

    5. Gene Therapies – These could be classified under the first category but I prefer to look at it separately as it could impact the function of the body in very dramatic ways which would suppress genes that negatively impact us and enhance genes which increase our tendency toward longer and healthier lives. See

    6. Whole brain emulation and mindscaping – This is in effect mind transfer to a non biological host although it could equally apply to uploading the brain to a new biological brain created via tissue engineering this differs from point three in that the objective from the outset is to replicate the entire brain but has the drawback that if the original brain continues to exist the second brain would have a separate existence in other words whilst you are identical at the time of upload increasing divergence over time will be inevitable.

    So what is the chance of success? My answer is that in order for us to fail to achieve radical life extension by the middle of the century requires that all of the above technologies must also fail to progress and considering the current rate of development which is accelerating exponentially and then factoring in that only one or two of the technologies are needed to achieve life extension (although the end results would differ greatly) frankly I can’t see how we can fail to make enough progress within 20/25 years to add at least 20 to 30 years to current life expectancy from which point progress will rapidly accelerate due to increased funding turning aging at the very least into a manageable albeit a chronic incurable condition.

    From where we stand now the repair and maintenance or engineering approach see offers the best chance of a big increase in life expectancy in the short term and although a bit hard to grasp I have set it out in a way below that is quite easy to follow, the way it works is this, let’s say you are 60 years old at the time when the first rejuvenative therapies arrive and that this early and fundamentally imperfect treatment repairs 25 years of accumulated damage. Then 10 years later you would reach the chronological age of 70 but would be biologically only 45 years old. We now come to the vital key to the whole theory which is this, let us say 20 years after the first treatment, when you are chronologically 80 but biologically 55 years old, clearly both your doctor and yourself will realize that the damage that was not repaired in the first treatment combined with further damage accumulated over the 20 years since is again posing a health risk. At this point it is time for another intervention.

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