Tuesday, 14 June 2011

Transporting and Resurrection

I made a comment at Fulcrum that I'd like to expand on here.

One of the failings of the Star Trek franchise was the matter of transporting. This was the idea that as matter you could be converted into energy, with a pattern, transported and rebuilt. The amount of energy was never discussed, but it would of course be an explosive amount using Einstein's little formula. Be that as it may, no one would do it.

To go into a transporter is to die. You, the person you experience, would simply end. Then, down on a planet surface, allowing for a remote reconstitution of energy into matter, a reconstruction would take place. That person would have all the same features and memories, and be that person, but despite the internal illusion that person would be different. Yes, he or she can remember walking into the transporter, but the person that did it wouldn't remember anything ever more.

With the job done, the person transports back. And dies as the material is destroyed. The reconstruction back on the ship remembers energising, but the person that energised is dead.

Indeed there is no need to transport the energy at all - just send the pattern, and gather up the energy anywhere. It is exactly like having a copier.

Now I take the view that the resurrection of Jesus Christ, using the texts, is a myth. It is an explanation for an inspiration, legitimacy, leadership and a particular ritual (the meal, the presence of the coming messiah). It is an old belief and not one we share.

But just suppose it was capable of being video recorded, or there was some sort of walking through walls chap after Jesus's death looking like him. The point is that the same argument applies. If Jesus did die, and fully died, then that consciousness went with him. Anything after is a copy.

I just think that both Star Trek transporting and resurrection is drivel. Indeed, what actually DNA reproduction tells us is that there are mistakes in copying. So Captain Kirk would not be quite the same with each copy, nor the one copy of Christ. A little error would appear here or there. Fortunately I believe in neither, and even if copying to such life-enhancing detail was possible, no one would ever enter a transporter from choice.


Murdoch Matthew said...

"If Jesus did die, and fully died, then that consciousness died with him."

Of course, the theory is that consciousness inhabits the body and survives it. Biology indicates that consciousness is an effect of chemical-electrical processes in the organism, and so would cease when the organism died. We feel like pilots sitting a cockpit behind our eyes, but this is an illusion. The "soul" is either a metaphor or a legend; its existence cannot be verified. We live by and in stories, so the concept is influential, if unfalsifiable.

One of the Star Trek movies opens with an important ambassador encountering static while being transported, and arriving disassembled. Then there're the Fly films . . .

Beau said...

There was a great Outer Limits episode that explored a twist on the transporter idea. An alien race brings transporter technology to humans and operates it for them. They make exact copies of humans and send the copies light years away to a vacation planet.

But they must always hit a switch to "balance the equation" after each transport. Someone eventually figures out that when a human is copied and transported, the original human body remains behind in the same closed capsule he/she entered. "Balancing the equation" means incinerating the original - so that there is never more than one copy.

Yewtree said...

There's also a bit in the Hitch-hiker's Guide to the Galaxy series where someone invents the teleport and then realises that there's an ethical dilemma because you have to kill the original, so instead of doing that, they use it as a cloning machine and end up with thousands of copies of the same person.

I always thought it was yukky in Dune when one of the characters died, then his body was reanimated (with a different personality), and then he somehow recovered his original personality.

The whole notion of Jesus being bodily resurrected is simply a mis-translation from the original Greek, according to David Doel. The resurrection body of Christ is his soma (his consciousness) whereas the bit that died was his flesh body. That's also why he says to Mary in the garden, "Noli me tangere".