2013 conference of the Mormon Transhumanist Association

The 2013 conference of the Mormon Transhumanist Association will be held on 5 April 2013 from 9:00am to 5:45pm in Salt Lake City, Utah, in the level four conference room of the Salt Lake City Public Library. Speakers will address the themes of Mormonism, Transhumanism and Transfigurism, with particular attention to topics at the intersection of technology, spirituality, science and religion.

Previous conferences sponsored by the Mormon Transhumanist Association include the 2012 conference of the Mormon Transhumanist Association, the 2010 Transhumanism and Spirituality conference, and the 2009 Mormonism and Engineering conference. The conference is open to the public.

I will give a talk on “The Computational Problem of Evil” in the afternoon session. My talk will be based on a revised and expanded version of my essay “The physics of miracles and the problem of evil.” See also this Fast Forward Radio interview. I wish to thank my spiritually-oriented transhumanist friends, and especially Lincoln Cannon and James Carroll, for helping me to elaborate and clarify my thoughts, which is course is a work in progress.

We may be bots in a reality-wide simulation, and perhaps the player(s) from above can violate our simulated physics when they want. In a more popular formulation of the same concept, called Religion, the player(s), called God(s), created our reality and can perform miracles. The two formulations are equivalent for all practical purposes. Many religions assume that Gods are omnipotent and benevolent, but then we have the problem of evil: how can omnipotent and benevolent Gods permit evil and suffering?

If omnipotent and benevolent Gods permit evil and suffering, then they are either not omnipotent, or not benevolent, or neither, or perhaps they don’t exist at all. In fact, the problem of evil is one of the main reasons why former believers become atheists. I will argue that the problem of evil has a simple solution when examined with a rigorous approach based on the physics of computation. In the talk I will use animations featuring Joe Glider, an inhabitant of Conway’s Game of Life, to illustrate my argument.


  • Dustin

    Maybe God is the ‘Supremely Good Being’ but not the omnipotent creator of the universe? I think that’s what Sharlow argued in his little e-book, God: the next version.

    I think that would solve the problem of evil, however I think many of the theists I know would not like that version of God very much.

  • Giulio Prisco

    Thanks Dustin, I didn’t know Sharlow’s book “God: the next version.” It is a very nice little book indeed, and at a very first glance I agree with most of what Sharlow says.

    It is a step toward a solution of the problem of evil. Philosophers have said similar things already, but Sharlow’s formulation is more modern.

    However, saying simply that God’s power is limited does not fully solve the problem of evil, because you are left wondering why God doesn’t try to become more powerful and avoid evil. In my argument, the complete and guaranteed avoidance of suffering is a logical impossibility, independent of the degree of power that God has.