cosmic_jesus_group_picture

Religion for the Cosmic Frontier, my talk at MTA 2014

In the picture I am with many good friends at the yearly meeting of religious and spiritual transhumanists, the 2014 Conference of the Mormon Transhumanist Association. See the video and slides of my talk below.

“Theism From Deism” – a bridge between the impersonal, scientific Cosmic View and a personal God who cares and grants resurrection – is present but never made too explicit in both transhumanism and new religious trends. I am persuaded that we will go to the stars and find Gods, build Gods, become Gods, and resurrect the dead from the past with advanced science, space-time engineering and “time magic.” I see God emerging from the community of advanced forms of life and civilizations in the universe, and able to influence space-time events anywhere, anytime, perhaps even here and now. I also expect God to elevate love and compassion to the status of fundamental forces, key drivers for the evolution of the universe. I think we should actively promote our heroic cosmic faith, in a simple, appealing viral package.

See also the writeup “Cosmology is not geography” with the second part of my talk, that I didn’t have time to cover deeply enough at the conference.

See all other MTA 2014 videos.

19 thoughts on “Religion for the Cosmic Frontier, my talk at MTA 2014”

  1. Having studied some comparative religion, transpersonal psychology and the psychology of creativity in University and Grad School, this talk got some interesting ideas brewing. Good introduction, thank you. I will explore the books you recommended.

    Have you read Star Maker by Olaf Stapledon and eon by Greg Bear?
    This fit nicely.

    Cheers,
    Stephen

    1. Thanks Stephen. Yes, I read and love Star Maker and Eon. Greg Bear said that “Stapledon is unique.”

      With your studies of comparative religion and transpersonal psychology, how do you suggest to build and launch the new religion outlined in my talk?

      We will also need a credible guru, I look like a middle aged, overweight normal guy, definitely not the right look ;-) Any volunteer?

      1. Giulio,

        After watching your talk I have begun giving this some thought.
        I’ve just begun following the threads of others works you referred to in your talk and this is going to take some time, though I have had a few inklings.

        After reading your article on Zoltan’s Quantum Zen I spent a couple of months creating a new transpersonal religion as part of my second novel. I called it Holotropic Evolutionary Movement and it takes place in the Temple of the Seventh Kingdom. The Seventh a Kingdom refers to Kevin Kelly’s description of the Technium. The religious practice is a synthesis of Grof’s Holotropic Psychology and 5 Rhythms Dance that follows the evolutionary cosmic story as told by Brian Swimme and Thomas Berry in the Universe Story. Participants embody the different stages and archetypal principals of cosmic evolution from the primordial Flaring Forth through stellar, cellular and animal evolution on to human and technological emergence.

        In retrospect I think it was successful and I’ve experimented with this practice a little bit on my own. It was really an opportunity to converge some things I’ve been brewing off and on for years. You are welcome to read that chapter if you like. With that said I’ve had the growing suspicion that while this could actually work under the guidance of a good leader, it might not gain the status of a widespread major religion in its current vision.

        Now, this talk you gave above and one of the articles you referred to got my imagination cooking again. How to create a Cosmic Religion? A religion that will drive us to transcend our planet bound and nationalistic identities. How to create a smart Gaian and Cosmic transcendental tradition that helps us move beyond the limitations of natural selection and the old time religions. Whew! That’s a tall order.

        My thoughts on this are primitive at the moment.
        1. Transcension will likely have a significant role.
        2. Instead of a Torah held within an ark, a congregation needs to see a symbol of manifestation of mystery.
        3. A sermon beginning with a quote from the first Buddha saying: With your thoughts you make the world… Sermon, Call & Response seems important to include.
        4. Is it better to create a symbolic transcendent goal to move toward or one to avoid? Maybe both. Though I loathe polarization the tension creates energy for catalyzing movement. (The success of Zoltan’s book show that.)
        5. What is it about Christianity and Buddhism that has allowed them to transport and transplant so well across nations?

        What do you think?

        Shanti Shalom,
        Stephen

  2. Giulio,

    Here is the link for my first book Augmented Dreams.

    http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00CY2D298

    ————————————
    Further thoughts on Cosmic Religion:

    The Eternal Return is problematic since it’s goal is a primordial unity.
    The heirophany and the numinous are essential though, are they not?
    Many Earth based religions are seasonal and cyclical. Buddhism is different and may be more useful in that sense.
    A cosmic religion will need to have a more holarchic and transformational, shape shifting friendly emphasis.
    Transformation toward what end?

    Cosmic Evolution goals:
    Prevent universe from endless expansion and entropic heat death. (Old school cosmology)
    Transformation of cosmos into an intelligent controlled system. (Yuck)
    *Perpetuate universal novelty engine. (My preference)
    Prevent falling into black holes vs transcension

    More later.

    Cheers,
    Stephen

  3. Thanks Stephen. I see that Augmented Dreams has been revised, is the version at Amazon current?

    re “Is it better to create a symbolic transcendent goal to move toward or one to avoid?”

    I am more motivated by hope, but I know that others are more motivated by fear, so perhaps both. However, I see our Cosmic Religion (to be developed) as a galaxy of ideas in constant cooperation/competition (instead of a single monolithic belief system), so there is room for many approaches and angles.

    re “How to create a Cosmic Religion? A religion that will drive us to transcend our planet bound and nationalistic identities. How to create a smart Gaian and Cosmic transcendental tradition that helps us move beyond the limitations of natural selection and the old time religions.”

    That is the goal indeed!

  4. Yes, the version of Augmented Dreams on Amazon is current.

    The order of Cosmic Engineers sounded fascinating.
    Do you any interest in re-launching that in a smaller, leaner and more agile incarnation?

    I’m really enjoying the challenge of framing a new vision of Cosmic Religion.

    S

  5. Hi Stephen, I will buy and read Augmented Dreams.

    The Order of Cosmic Engineers (see here) was a fascinating initiative indeed. What eventually blocked the initiative was our inability to reach a real consensus view of the core concepts, a common vision strongly held by all the founders. The main lesson that I learned is that fast design-by-committee doesn’t work for new religions. The virtual life of the OCE and similar initiatives are documented in Robert Geraci’s new book (see same link).

    I think a new incarnation, even if leaner and more agile, would run into the same roadblock.

    I would be more interested in starting a network of individuals and groups with a shared high level vision, loosely defined and with room for different interpretations and extensions. The most compact formulation of my high level vision is:

    I am persuaded that we will go to the stars and find Gods, build Gods, become Gods, and resurrect the dead from the past with advanced science, space-time engineering and “time magic.”
    I see God emerging from the community of advanced forms of life and civilizations in the universe, and able to influence space-time events anywhere, anytime, perhaps even here and now.
    I also expect God to elevate love and compassion to the status of fundamental forces, key drivers for the evolution of the universe.

    Do you share this vision?

    Other important features of the network:
    – Central authority: none
    – Lifestyle prescriptions: none
    – Ethical prescriptions: just one, “Don’t harm other sentient beings”
    – Official rituals: none (it’s up to participants to develop their own rituals, alone or in groups).

    Would you be interested in participating in this network?

  6. How about a League of Cosmic Architects or League of Cosmic Engineers?
    Leagues have teams and are decentralized like sports teams and there is fun to one had in the play of competition.

    How is this for a minor reformulation of the high level vision?

    I am persuaded that we will go to the stars and find godlike beings, build godlike intelligences and become godlike in our capacities. We hope to gain the ability to resurrect the dead from the past with advanced science, space-time engineering and “time magic.”
    I see a new kind of God emerging from the community of advanced forms of life and civilizations in the universe, possibly able to influence space-time events anywhere, anytime, perhaps even here and now for the benefit of all sentient beings.
    I also expect this new kind of God will not seek to subjugate other sentient beings, but to elevate love and compassion to the status of fundamental forces, key drivers for the evolution of the universe.

    Other key features:
    Agreed.

    I would certainly be interested in participating in this kind of network.

    Stephen

  7. Hi Stephen,

    I bought your book and started reading it. Great work! There are a few typos and missing/extra words here and there (evidently the result of editing) but the novel is readable, entertaining and thought-provoking. I guess the flaws are the price to pay for self-publishing. Writing is fun, but proofreading is boring and error prone, so it should really be done by people who are paid for it (which is part of the services of publishers).

    However, flaws are not that important. What is important is the good story in a future world with artificial intelligences and neural implants used to access virtual worlds.

    Re “How is this for a minor reformulation of the high level vision?” – well, this is a short elevator pitch. In the elevator pitch I don’t like “a new kind of God” (what/where is the old kind?) and “God will not seek to subjugate other sentient beings” (if I say that I don’t beat my wife, they will probably assume that I do).

    I will send your idea for a Cosmic Engineers Network (or something like that) to the dormant cosmic-engineers mailing list (subscribe here: https://groups.google.com/forum/#!forum/cosmic-engineers ) and start a discussion at the forthcoming talk of Robert Geraci in Second Life:
    http://skefia.com/2014/06/13/virtually-sacred-by-robert-geraci-religion-in-world-of-warcraft-and-second-life/

  8. hi ,

    what do you think about these movements ?

    – the panspermia theory
    http://www.panspermia-society.com/

    – the solseed movement
    http://solseed.org/

    To create “new religion” , I think we must carefully learn from those who succeed (and make an analyse from an anthropologic view).

    Did those religions begin by teaching radically new theology or did they try to developp existing religions, do they refer to older traditions ? For ourselves , do we have to refer to Alchimy ?

    Is it good to set up principles, dogmas, or just “declaration of beliefs”.

    Do we have to focus on very few important points, or do we have to propose a very complete vision of our beliefs ?

    What do we want ? A religion (perhaps it sounds too much ” institutional” ,especially for the “spiritual but not religious” people), a faith (more about personal belief), a movement (quite “neutral”), a tradition ( it looks more “cultural”).

    could it be a “confederation” of movements united by a same vision and references but with distinct religious background (like the “New Thought Movement”)

    so many questions, but it is necessary to think about it carefully if we want to build something serious

  9. Hi Mael,

    I think most successful religions didn’t start with proposing radically new visions, but with repackaging existing visions in a more appealing format. Note that our ideas are not new, so they are “existing visions.”

    re “Do we have to focus on very few important points, or do we have to propose a very complete vision of our beliefs?”

    I have a strong preference for focusing on very few important points (see comments above) and leaving “the rest” open to personal interpretation and extensions.

    I think a confederation of autonomous, independent persons and movements, united by an open high level vision, is the way to go. I am writing a call for interest to create one as outlined in the talk and the comments above.

  10. After a lot of time digesting the idea of a cosmic and a transhuman religion that assists humanity with moving forward in evolution, I have created the foundational visions for two new religions. The idea was to build them low on dogma and high on inspiration.

    They are written a chapters for my second novel to explore the characters’ direct experience of each of these traditions. One is more of a Wisdom tradition for enhanced minds, the other is an ecstatic tradition. Would you be interested in reading these? And if so, how can I submit them to you?

  11. Hi Stephen, of course I would be interested in reading your thoughts (email giulio at gmail).

    In a couple of days I will post here my current thoughts about “a cosmic and a transhuman religion low on dogma and high on inspiration. “

  12. > You are the computational actviity of your brain, which is a physical> object that works according to scientific laws. . .Whether or not “work[ing] according to scientificlaws” is equivalent to “computational actviity”, even in theory,is a matter still very much being worked out by specialists.For non-specialists (especially those who read too much SF ;-> ),the overreliance on what is after all merely a modern figure of speechthreatens, at best, to overstretch the metaphor to the point where itbites back by misleading; or, at worst, to harden into an articleof faith.In practice: well, hey, I have nothing against the Blue Brain project –if running that computational simulation (now see, what that computerprogram is doing **is** “computational”, because IBM BlueGene/Ls **are** digital computers) can shed any light on the workingsof a real brain, I have no beef with the way that knowledgewas extracted from the world.However, believing fiercely that Blue Brain **must** lead — in prettyshort order! — straight to _Permutation City_ is **not**, as GiuloPrisco seems to think, the antithesis of “stupid or blind”.> It doesn’t matter that you don’t want to think about this. It’s still true.Quite.

  13. @Ashton – “You are the computational activity of your brain, which is a physical object that works according to scientific laws,” is the assumption that I make.

    It’s an assumption, rather than a hard fact, but I think it’s the only assumption compatible with science.

    If this assumption is wrong, then what mystical/magical factor is at work? Because it seems to me that you can’t deny the computational nature of the mind without falling into mysticism.

    However, let’s agree to disagree and let science decide.

    I hope the CAPTCHAs (just installed to fight spam) won’t prevent you from replying, please let me know if posting comments is still easy.

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