World War II in some ways grew out of Darwin’s ideas of superior and inferior races, but Epicurean Darwinism grew even more popular in the 1950s. Millions ate, drank, and searched for merriment, since tomorrow might bring nuclear war.
But the years have not been kind to Darwin’s theories. Nineteenth-century scientists did not know how complicated cells are or how exquisitely fine-tuned for human life our Goldilocks planet is. Even if evolution was not increasingly faith-based rather than scientific, it would not satisfy, because it doesn’t provide hope for individuals: Dead is still dead.
Enter a New York Times article last month about Dmitry Itskov, 32, a multimillionaire who started his “2045 Initiative” two years ago. By the time he doubles his age in 2045 and begins to stare at death, he hopes to have produced a lifelike, low-cost robot that can be uploaded with the contents of his brain, complete with personality wrinkles, so a version of him can live for hundreds or thousands of years. He thinks low-cost avatars of that kind could be mass-produced, so millions of people could be “immortal.”
The Times article asked basic religious questions and then turned to some nuts and bolts: “Do people want to live forever? If yes, would they like to spend that eternity in a ‘nonbiological carrier’? What happens to your brain once it’s uploaded? What about your body? If you could choose when to acquire an avatar body, what’s the ideal age to acquire it? Can avatars have sex?”
This is also a gut check for Christians: Does Itskov’s scheme give you a tingle? If you’re 64 now, are you sorry that you’re not 32 and can share in his hope of a dollar-financed scientific breakthrough? Or are you all in with the apostle Paul?