“[Nikolai Fedorov]’s idea that space travel might be part of a larger transhuman evolution is a familiar one today, from both science fiction and science speculation,” notes an essay titled “Resurrecting Nikolai Fedorov,” by Nader Elhefnawy. “This means not only achieving immortality, but restoring all the people who have ever walked the Earth to life so that they may share the gift as well, making the heaven of the afterlife a physical reality.”
In his film “Knocking on Heaven’s Door,” filmmaker George Carey shows how Fedorov’s ideas inspired Russian scientists and provided a powerful mystique for the Russian space program. Fedorov himself had an enigmatic personality. In his book “The Russian Cosmists: The Esoteric Futurism of Nikolai Fedorov and His Followers,” George Young describes Fedorov, with his his “active, forceful, masculine Christianity,” as “a man with a twenty-first century mind and a medieval heart.” In fact Fedorov combined a patriarchal form of Russian Christianity with a radically futurist scientific vision and (almost) Marxist emphasis on practical engineering over theoretical science.
Fedorov’s writings, published after his death as “Philosophy of the Common Task” (in Russian), haven’t been entirely translated, but many appear in “What Was Man Created For?,” translated and edited by Elizabeth Koutaissoff and Marilyn Minto.
“The human race, all the sons of man, through the regulation of the celestial worlds, will themselves become heavenly forces governing the worlds of the Universe,” said Fedorov. He thought that future science would be able to resurrect the dead from the past:
“The gathering of the scattered dust and its reconstitution into bodies, using radiation or outlines left by the waves caused by the vibration of molecules.”
Other translated excerpts are in “The Religion of Resusciative Resurrection. “The Philosophy of the Common Task” of N. F. Fedorov,” by Cosmist philosopher Nikolai Berdyaev. I pasted below some key passages about technological resurrection and how it relates to the Cosmist vision of space colonization.
“We propose the possibility and the necessity to attain through ultimately all people the learning of and the directing of all the molecules and atoms of the external world, so as to gather the dispersed, to reunite the dissociated, i.e. to reconstitute the bodies of the fathers such as they had been before their end.”
“Insufficient for resuscitation is the sole discipline of the molecular ordering of particles; but, since they are dispersed within the expanse of the solar system, within perhaps other worlds, it is yet necessary to gather them; consequently, the question concerning resuscitation is tellurgic-cosmic.”
Fedorov’s words seem naive to us today. Some scientists dare imagining technological resurrection, but they use different scientific concepts and language, which didn’t exist at Fedorov’s time.
Frank Tipler expects that the human race, including artificial intelligences and human mind uploads, will eventually move out into space and ultimately take over the universe. Then, intelligent life will be able to steer the entire universe into a series of patterns that allow intelligent life to continue to exist. “As we approach the final singularity, the laws of physics also dictate that our knowledge and computing capacity is expanding without limits,” says Tipler. “Eventually it will become possible to emulate, to make a perfect copy of, every previous state of the entire universe.”
We will be brought back into the future, brought back into existence as computer emulations in the far future.
Tipler’s vision of resurrection at the end of time by agencies with total knowledge and control of the universe has nice parallels with traditional religions, but perhaps we won’t have to wait that long. In “The Light of Other Days,” a science fiction novel written in 2000 by Stephen Baxter based on a synopsis by Arthur C. Clarke, neat-future scientists discover that the fabric of space-time is full of micro wormholes, and develop technology to establish wormhole data links to anywhere and anytime. By combining past viewing and neural sensing technologies, the scientists will find ways to copy the dead from the past and upload them to the present, achieving Fedorov‘s vision.
Time scanning technologies similar to those described by Clarke and Baxter are often called “Quantum Archaeology” (QA), which reflects the assumption that time-magic tech would use weird quantum effects. Quantum reality could be weird enough to permit connecting every space-time pixel to every other space-time pixels by information conduits that, perhaps, future engineers will be able to exploit to bring the dead back. Current speculations are centered on the mysterious instant correlations of quantum entanglement and proposals for extending the current quantum physics framework in ways that could permit instant data channels between different places, different times, and different universes.
These contemporary technological resurrection ideas dressed in warped space-time and weird quantum fields seem very different from Ferdorov’s “naive” ideas of technological resurrection by finding and reassembling the molecular dust left behind by the deceased. But Fedorov formulated his ideas using the science and language of his time – just like contemporary scientists formulate modern ideas using the science and language of our times. I guess contemporary ideas will seem naive to future scientists, just like Fedorov’s ideas seem naive to us.
Perhaps – and why not? – the universe spontaneously provides immortality and resurrection, embedded in the fabric of reality. Perhaps we and all persons (and animals, and ETs) who ever lived are stored in “Akashic records” in some still hidden dimension of reality. If Akashic records exist, I am sure future science will find them and learn how to read them. Perhaps our reality is a “simulation” computed in a higher-level reality by extra-dimensional scientists, and someday we will find ways to break free. Time, as always, will tell.
I don’t know future science, but I think Shakespeare’s “There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy” could remain true forever. Our scientific understanding of the universe could grow without bonds, but always find new fractal depths of unexplained phenomena, in a big infinite fractal onion universe to be explored by future scientists.
Back to Fedorov, it’s worth noting that he argued against mysticism and based his universal resurrection ideas on science and technology alone.
“Mysticism, if also it should allow of an uniting for resurrection, would have this uniting to be wrought mystically, i.e. by means incomprehensible, not subject to investigation… And the resurrection itself in this case is accomplished not through the knowledge of nature and the directing of its blind power, not by the way of experience, by experiential knowledge, knowledge of the mundane, but by the way of mystery, of the obscure, which perhaps can assume the guise of magic… Mysticism is the attribute of yet immature peoples, weak in the knowledge of nature, or else of peoples having worn themselves out, despairing of reaching the path of the knowledge of nature by the deciding of the question ‘of life and death’, i.e. mysticism does not grant actual means for the deciding of the question about returning the dead to life.”
I agree with Fedorov, but with one important qualification – often today’s mysticism becomes tomorrow’s technology. To our ancestors, lightning was a mysterious phenomenon that they could only discuss in mystical instead of scientific terms, but today we understand lightning scientifically end know how to exploit electromagnetism for practical engineering. I think, and I am sure Fedorov wouldn’t disagree, that many unexplained phenomena that are mostly discussed in mystical terms today – perhaps including telepathy, remote viewing, akashic records, and reincarnation – will be brought into the domain of science and engineering.