Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Teleportation and the human 'soul'...

The year is 2134. A world Engineering and Scientific consortium has perfected a method of 'transporting' an object from point A to point B without traveling through the intervening space between. They've started small with simple objects made of difference substances. Before transport the objects were characterized completely so as to compare composition after transport. This is done over and over, with items of ever increasing complexity. As nearly as the best of the worlds intellects can tell there is absolutely no difference in the objects pre and post transport. The time is now come for the transport of a much more complex object: a living thing. The moral sensibilities of the time preclude using animal life for such a dangerous experiment. Thusly, it is decided to use a specimen of living plant life: potted tea rose is chosen for transport. Pre-transport characterization of the rose is meticulously carried out. Living matter is far more complex than any piece of human made technology, even at this time. The time comes, the transport of the rose is accomplished. Painstaking analysis of the rose reveals that no appreciable difference exist in the rose post-transport. After several further tests with different plant specimens no deaths can be attributed to effects of teleportation. Emboldened by their success the consoritum begins to conduct experimentation on non-living animal tissue. Yet again, no appreciable difference in the cellular structure of the tissue is found after transport. The question is then debated as to whether or not a living specimen should be transported. After long deliberation it is decided that a sedated mouse will be the next subject of experiement. The experiement is started and the members of the consortium wait breathlessly for the sedated mouse to materialize. The mouse arrives and in time awakens from its induced slumber and seems completely normal! Elation sweeps the consortium! Could it be that human ingenuity has found a way to travel without physically crossing space? All evidence suggests that the teleportation device is completely safe. Humanity is at the dawn of a new age...or is it? Who among us will volunteer to be the first human transported?

I tell this hypothetical story to induce the reader to ponder a very simple and implied question:

Are we humans simply the sum of our matter or is there something more, something immaterial, non-physical that might not be subject to or lend itself to our technology?

If you believe in the human soul, do you allow yourself to be transported?

What is the nature of the soul if it exists?

What is it that makes us who we are?

Would the transported Robert be the same Robert that existed before transport!

Is a non-material soul smart enough to latch back onto its body post-transport?

Ah metaphysics!



Anonymous said...

"do you allow yourself to be transported"

passive? by whom?


SirRobert said...

By a transport system made by humans...

Voluntarily of course...

In-voluntarily implies a lack of choice.


Anonymous said...

you are adding choice. A passive voice does not indicate choice or non choice, only that it was done to you.

Have you read the Stephen King short story on this very concept from "Night Shift"

It is so freakin scary.

SirRobert said...

I've read much of Mr. King's catalog, including the Gunslinger series...

Sadly, 'Night Shift', is not among them perhaps I will read it.


SirRobert said...


I am not sure what you are trying to say here...

All i was trying to do was provoke a conversation on the nature of the 'soul' assuming one exists...

I am making no pronouncements either way.

I find it interesting to speculate upon the idea though.


Anonymous said...

I see, I misunderstood the premise, as a result of not throughly reading what you wrote (the same thing about which I'm always on other people, oh well, "a little of my own back").

Night Shift has been the basis for at least 8-9 movies, it is very, very worth picking up.

But again I am wrong. It is called "The Jaunt" and it is from Skeleton Crew.

Anonymous said...

In fact, your hypothetical bears an uncanny resemblance to King's story.

SirRobert said...

now i am even more intrigued...

Anonymous said...

great minds, and all that crap.

darla said...

ooo oooo pick me..I always wanted to "beam me up Scotty" :)

seriously unless death occurs the soul is stuck with you..that is in my belief until I drop the body the soul is part of me..don't know but it should be tried on a cow..(no wise cracks) and then a man, and then me.. ;)

darla said... are not technically dead..just dematerialized...well I hope my soul hooks back up with me..or I will be a zombie..I still want to try....

SirRobert said...

seriously unless death occurs the soul is stuck with you..that is in my belief until I drop the body the soul is part of me..

So in your opinion is that which is you a function of your body or a function of your soul?

Your answer seems to suggest that YOU think all that what you characterize as you is part of your body not the soul.


SirRobert said...

.just dematerialized...well I hope my soul hooks back up with me..or I will be a zombie..I still want to try....

Ah! That's what I am wondering if the 'soul' will reattach to the body AFTER transport!

This does get a tad silly but it's fun to speculate!


darla said...

I am going to guess Yes the soul will reattach to the I need both, don't I? ;)

not sure the more I think about it..but I still want to try it..what does that honestly say about me?? Robert help! what do you think?

BuddyO said...

"Night Shift" was written under his pseudonym Richard Bachman wasn't it?

"Jaunt" is awesome. I immediately thought of that story when SR mentioned that the Rat was put to sleep.


Our bodies are 'jars of clay'. Not important. That's why I never understood the church's aversion to cremation.

How about the soul is like an iGoogle account. It belongs to you and follows you but it exists elsewhere. So, if you're computer craps out it's still there. Or, to match the analogy of your story... if you check your Google Reader at home, then turn off your laptop and go to Panera, viola! your're still in sync.

Anonymous said...

I think some of the stories in "night shift" were written under a pseudonym, but I don't remember for sure. I beleive that all or most of them preceeded the publication of "Carrie" and were published in some porn magazines the content of which would make the truck drivers I used to ride with blush.



BuddyO said...

My bad... Still some good stuff though:

BTW, why are you anonymous on your own Blog? You are a spy aren't you?

Anonymous said...

ummm, hi Mr. O, this is Jason. I am creepy, but I am way too noisy to be a spy.


Indian Lake Papa said...

A lot of speculation here! :o) I speculate that the soul is a part of living that God created and that it will never be "lost". Somehow it must attach itself "again" to a life form presumably like what we are now. In the Bible it talks of mansions being prepared for us in heaven - that would infer some kind of life form. Even the concept of a hell with an eternal damnation would imply a body that could experience pain. In response to Darla's concept, I would prefer a woman test subject after a cow.

karen said...

I think the soul would reattach...what a bummer if it didn't.
Some metaphysical folk say we attached by a "cord" of some sort that is only severed at death. So, Scotty beaming us out would be like, um, spiritual bungee jumping? :-O Whoo hoo!
Consider out-of-body experiences. Theoretically, we always go back.
Fun speculation, Sir R.

Christian Beyer said...

Damn - Jason and Buddy and Karen all beat me to it. I thought of the "Jaunt" right away. I think Buddy has a point - if the soul is 'metaphysical' and eternal then it should be able to 'find' the new location of the re-integrated body.

If it couldn't that would mean that the person 'died' and we would have an answer to the problem - no more teleportations of humans.

But...what if the soul was cut loose from the disintegrated body, and not knowing where to go jumped into a recently deceased body? Zombies, that's what.

Or what if they couldn't find anything to jump into and floated about in search of a home? Ghosts.

Or what if the soul stays with the body but the body somehow splits into two identical bodies, but with one having the 'good' part of the soul and the other body having the 'bad' part? An excuse for cheesy acting might very well be the result.

Anyway, anyone who has ever read the 'Jaunt' will chicken out and stay home, me included.

karen said...

Mabybe I need to check out the "Jaunt."

SirRobert said...


you're killing me here!


BuddyO said...

Or, what if the "soul" of James Brown inadvertently got reconnected with the body of Clay Aiken...?

The results could be disastrous on a global scale.

karen said...

OK Buddy. I want to see that.

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