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Nick Olson on the False Hope of Cryonics

Olson’s article ought to give us pause to reflect on how we often think about such a resurrection, and the immortality promised us in Christ.

Our very own Nick Olson recently published an article on ThinkChristian regarding the “renewed interest (and false hope) in cryonics.” Cryonics, if you didn’t know, is the process of preserving the body — or parts of the body — at extremely cold temperatures (think -196°C) with the hopes of reviving it at a later date. Those who submit to the process are essentially hoping to cheat death, and essentially experience a sort of immortality.

Such attempts may seem foolish to Christians, since we believe in both a bodily and spiritual resurrection. However, Olson’s article ought to give us pause to reflect on how we often think about such a resurrection, and the immortality promised us in Christ. He writes:

A confession: if I thought God’s Kingdom was going to be a spiritual eternity of higher-conscience floating around, I’d probably hope against hope for cryonics, too. Indeed, there’s something inherently dissatisfying about these mythical visions of a disembodied afterlife, and I think that “something” is the negative connotations it provokes about created existence itself. It implies a pronouncement of Heaven defined in wholly escapist terms. This implicitly negative pronouncement runs counter to a holy judgment on created existence rendered from the beginning: “It is good.”

What’s more, cryonics — even if were successful, and so far, there’s no real evidence that is successful — fails to address a deeper issue (emphasis mine).

[I]nterest in cryopreservation isn’t just the natural desire for bodily immortality. It’s also representative of an imaginative investment in avoiding mortality in both word and deed. Absent the confessed need for the Physician and the spiritual transformation He brings, cryonics is an unwitting quest to preserve ourselves as we are in our spiritual impoverishment. Part of our collective existential plight is the day-to-day refusal to think about death’s impending doom and why it hovers over our collective conscience. We fill our daily lives with all manner of distraction from this reality — including the prospect of literally avoiding death via cryopreservation. But our unwillingness to face the inevitable is a willful ignorance which produces a false reality wherein certain spiritual and moral questions are rendered avoidable.

The interest in cryonics is yet another example of how things that were, for so many years, considered the domain of sci-fi, are making inroads into the cultural consciousness, and will likely present growing challenges to long-standing notions regarding human existence.

This entry was originally published on Christ and Pop Culture on .

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