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Rapture: How Biotech Became the New Religion

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 22, 2003

    It's not 'religious' if you can do it

    I happen to know a few of the people Brian Alexander profiles in his book. In fact, his description of the Extropian scene in the early 1990's made me nostalgic. But he performs a disservice by characterizing the conquest of aging and death through biotechnology as a 'religion,' by which he means a belief system that is impractical or not supported by fact. Scientists have greatly extended the maximum life spans of some species of laboratory animals. Because the genome is conservative across species, presumably similar biochemical pathways would work in humans to retard our aging and greatly extend our healthy lives past 120 years. We can in principle demonstrate empirical progress towards the goal of greatly extended, non-aging life. Religions, by contrast, don't have animal models to show that their beliefs can send animals' 'souls' to some otherworldly heaven, and by implication humans' 'souls' as well. Comparing physical immortalism with a religion is patently absurd. Still, I gave this book three stars because Alexander has provided some useful information and historical insight into a social movement that promises to revolutionize the human condition, barring a catastrophe or the effective opposition from the likes of 'bioconservatives' like Leon Kass and Francis Fukuyama.

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