After thinking about Ray Kurzweil’s ideas, and reading Permutation City Greg Egan I’m coming to the conclusion that – from a theological standpoint – what is key to who we are as people is indeed the pattern rather than the material.
The pattern has nothing to do with the soul (if such a thing exists, which I doubt, and as such is essentially irrelevent) as the pattern it is not necessarily immortal. It needs a substrate in which to exist, and most substrates are finite (with the exception of the pocket universe Egan explores in PS).
The idea of a “gradual submersion” into a cybernetic substrate is one I’m very comfortable with (the idea of an abrupt “ending” of one pattern and the beginning of another on a different substrate, though consistent with my belief in the importance of the pattern, goes against my instincts. These are flawed, of course, but are nevertheless part of who I am).