About forty years ago, a respected teacher Fang Lizhi from my alma mater gave a lecture on “Soul Immortality”. Alumni still often talk about it now. But I think most of them don’t remember Teacher Fang’s original intention, thinking that what he said is what people usually say that souls can continue to exist after death. Or by extension, the soul is the non-material thing “attached” to the body, which can be called “spirit”, “ghost”, and can even leave the human body in some cases. After the human body is gone, this thing can still wander around in space, and sometimes it may attach to others, or other animals or even plants again.
But what does Teacher Fang really mean? I think what he was thinking at that time was nothing more than an interesting and meaningful scientific imagination. That is, one day in the future, a person’s soul can be fully understood, and then it can be “copied” and then used as software on computer hardware. Moreover, in the technologically advanced future, this computer hardware can be a robot just like a human being, and it can be a body exactly like the person with the soul, then the robot is that person reborn. These are all possible, as long as the situation on the earth does not deteriorate and people are given enough time, this is even 100% achievable.
But even so, it turns out that as long as the body dies, his soul will die with it. Even if the copied “soul” is exactly the same as the original one, and the body is exactly the same, the robot is still not the dead person.
Of course, some kind of seamless connection can be achieved, for example, as soon as the person falls, the robot stands up. But this immortality is still self-deception.
If the robot evolved from the person who gradually replaced the inoperable parts on his body, it might really make him feel like he never died.
But no matter what the situation is, there is a risk. A robot that matures will probably hate his prototype. Therefore, at some point when he is more mature, he may decide to abandon his original soul and become completely different. This is because he already has free will. Of course, this may not be a problem, just like a person reads an inspirational book and then becomes another person. But if you think about this now, you may feel that the real you will not exist in the future, because you will be replaced reluctantly.
Even if you don’t care, feel that as long as the soul is replaced when you don’t know it, there is still a problem. That is, the environment on the earth is impermanent, and the sun will burn out one day. At that time, if humans do not find a way out, their souls will still die.
Now let us look at what Teacher Fang said:
Regarding the soul, there are generally two views. One thinks that “soul” is a special thing that is not physical, and the other thinks that “soul” is the movement of a kind of matter, that is, the movement of atoms and molecules. There are problems with both views. The former cannot explain how non-physical things govern and determine people’s physical behavior; the latter cannot explain why people have free will. Now I hope to illustrate the “soul” through holism. Holism believes that the temperature in physics, the software in computers and the phenomenon of life are all manifestations of the system as a whole, and cannot be reduced to the sum of local properties. Therefore, the “soul” can be regarded as an overall characteristic of the material brain, which is equivalent to the function of computer software. It is neither unnatural nor can it be reduced to the motion of atoms and molecules. This software function is endowed by social practice. . And “soul” can also be extracted, of course, the meaning extracted here is very different from the superstition that the soul is out of its body. It is also possible to assign the extracted soul to a certain machine to replace the human body for cosmic navigation. The belief that the soul can never be copied is a response to the “human-centered” concept that has existed since ancient times.
His statement is basically consistent with my opinion, which is the “monism” that most people today recognize. Soul and matter are a whole, inseparable, and if they are separated, there will be no two. It is not easy for a person to have such a physical structure without having such a soul. This is not an original creation of Teacher Fang, but something that people have debated centuries ago. Descartes holds that the soul is a non-physical special thing, that is, “dualism”. A woman who admired him wrote a letter asking how such a soul controls body movement. He said that in a gland in the back of the brain, the soul can come into contact with matter and react to control people’s actions, but this is unbelievable. . Therefore, starting from Spinoza, the general view is monism and holism.
But there are also some misunderstandings in Teacher Fang’s words. The main reason is that he compares the soul to software, which seems to be able to be used, independent of hardware. In fact, software can’t exist independently in nothingness, it still has to be stored in a physical disk, but it can be stored in a memory that has nothing to do with hardware, such as robots. And the programmer is required to start him. These are not the same as the soul.
I don’t know what Teacher Fang is thinking. But he later clarified. Once people asked him: “You gave a lecture in the 1980s, the topic was “Soul Immortality”. Is it religious?” He said: Not at all. The term “soul” is not exclusively religious. Haven’t teachers been called, or have been called “soul engineers”? “Soul” can be an engineering object. “Immortality” is to explore (in principle) whether it is possible to decompose all the information in a person’s “soul”, and to copy and transmit the “soul”. This is a scientific question.
But I think this matter has the greatest relationship with religion. If the soul disappears when the body is not there, how to talk about the afterlife? If we don’t talk about after death, how can we talk about eternal life? How to talk about religion?
My solution is in the parallel world. The parallel world guarantees human eternal life, but not necessarily in this world. Because according to the parallel world theory, the moment a person leaves this world, there will be another bifurcated world, where he is not usually said “rescue ineffective and die,” but “heal and return home.” And every time we recover in this world, we actually die in another world. It is impossible for a person to die without a trace, because if that is the case, he has done so many bad things in his life, but God cannot find him. Isn’t he too lucky? Therefore, people must live forever in a certain world, waiting for God to judge.
In addition, there is more than one world where people can live forever. Generally speaking, there are at least two. People are relatively happy in one and relatively unhappy in the other. These two worlds will continue to evolve until everyone in one world is happy, and everyone in the other world is unhappy, because if one person is unhappy, the others cannot be completely happy. Conversely, if one person is happy, others who are unhappy will not make you happy alone. In the end, we will have two worlds, the one where everyone is happier is heaven, and the other where everyone is less happy is hell.
Not everyone has to go to hell. If a person does something bad, such as killing a person, another world will appear immediately, where he was not killed by you. That world immediately split into two worlds, one in which he let you go, and the other in which he didn’t let you go. The world he entangled with you angrily then evolved and branched, until hell appeared, that is, if you do bad things, your opponent will eventually lead you to hell.
If a person doesn’t want to go to hell, don’t do bad things, because no one will take you to hell. But at the same time, if you must take others to hell, you will also go to hell. So forgiving others is also doing good for yourself, otherwise you will die together and go to hell together.
Once you do something bad, you have to count on the other party’s generosity, but the other party is not necessarily generous, so you can’t control your own “parallel” destiny, that is, you have no freedom. So it’s better not to do bad things by yourself so that you don’t have to rely on others.
Therefore, you can’t just look at this one world when you do things, but also think of parallel worlds. You exist in multiple worlds.
I talked about parallel worlds earlier in another article. There I said: I know that in the distant future, when I am ninety, one hundred and twenty, or one hundred and eighty-nine, I may leave, but every time I leave, There will be another world. In a certain world, I am immortal. My friend, I also promise, because of my immortality, you, because of the entanglement with me, will never die. I separated you and yourself into different parallel universes and caused countless harms. This immortality can be counted as a kind of compensation. No matter what, in that world, we will never die. We have become immortals. Although I am very old, I am still mentally healthy. You and you, we are all healthy. I sing you the song “When You Are Old”.