Robert Geraci in Second Life

VIDEO – Robert Geraci’s ‘Virtually Sacred’ talk in Second Life, June 29

Robert Geraci presented and discussed his new book published by Oxford University Press: “Virtually Sacred – Myth and Meaning in World of Warcraft and Second Life” in Second Life, on Sunday June 29, in Soleri City. Watch the full video below.

Thanks to Ivy Sunkiller for recording, processing and posting the video. Watch Robert (Soren Ferlinghetti in SL)’s presentation followed by two hours of discussion with very interesting insights on virtual worlds, the new religion of “Apocalyptic AI,” and related community building and leadership issues.

My main questions to Robert:

The emerging religious movement that you call “Apocalyptic AI” in your previous book (I prefer to call it something like “neoCosmism,” or “Cosmic Engineering,” or “Turing Church,” but we mean basically the same thing) is still very small despite our efforts. It is also geographically scattered and much below local critical mass, so a virtual church is still the best option at the moment (and there are indications that next generation VR platforms, with support for haptics and full-immersion display devices like the Oculus Rift, will soon take virtual reality above critical mass). But as you note in Virtually Sacred, previous initiatives in this direction have failed. As a researcher of new religious trends and virtual worlds, specialized in the intersection, what do you think we did wrong? How do you think we could do better? How to cope with disagreement and conflict, and how to combine the need for leadership with our essentially anti-hierarchical, anti-authoritarian spirit?

Robert answers are (I think) that we do have a critical mass (at least globally in VR), but launching a new religion takes time and effort, and conflict is inevitable. For example, early Christians had many different versions and interpretations of the Gospels, of which only a few survived (history is always written by the winners), and were divided into many sects in strong disagreement and often conflict with each other. Robert proposes a let-1000s-flowers-bloom approach and says “if you don’t want to follow leaders, then you must all be leaders.” I think his advice is that we should just go out and spread the word without worrying too much about consistency and hierarchies.

SL Chatlog

[2014/06/29 09:06] Robert Geraci (soren.ferlinghetti): give me 30 sec. going to get a drink before we start
[2014/06/29 09:06] hynesyte Harbour: can hear best there
[2014/06/29 09:20] Eschatoon Magic: shouts: those elsewhere on the sim please use the teleport link here
[2014/06/29 09:28] Extropia DaSilva: / OMG transhuman orcs!
[2014/06/29 09:29] Eschatoon Magic: I got to level 24 then stopped
[2014/06/29 09:31] Metafire Horsley: is online.
[2014/06/29 09:32] Ash Weststar (ash.qin): is online.
[2014/06/29 09:35] Extropia DaSilva: /helllo!
[2014/06/29 09:37] Deadliner Commons: What is your definition of transhumanism?
[2014/06/29 09:38] Metafire Horsley: is online.
[2014/06/29 09:38] Extropia DaSilva: /Do you think that the superiority of virtual life over real life will result in a demand for improvements to ‘real life’? For example, will a gaming generation demand jobs that do not just pay but are fun to do?
[2014/06/29 09:41] Khannea Suntzu: Social, community centered religions. In that case Eve Online would not be a religion as it might be argued to foment antisocial and hypercompetetive community values. Is Shamanism a religion? Many shamans exist outside the community and are regarded in terms of contempt. The religions we know tend to be unifying contructs (and as I might add, in a close engagement with feudal values. Does religion do “noblesse oblige”or does it merely facilitate that. Shamanism might then be regarded to exist outside the community as inside. As one forways deeper in the social religious and the antisocial religious (some might abuse the term witchcraft) shamanism clearly moves on the borderland of these two. I’d mention the dualism between Jedi and Sith, where Jedi clearly are an extension of the community, as are Sith are something completely different. Would a sith religion be a religion? Is “Satanism” a relion?
That brings me to the conclusion that religions (and other form of privatized magic – I’d regard religion
[2014/06/29 09:41] Khannea Suntzu: as socialized magic) are by defeinition arbitrary and contingent. Question to you – would aliens come up with completely different (a) religious myths, and (b) magical ideals and in effect would their eventual (suibsidiary) singuilarities generate particular technologies that would be reflection of the alien magical “will to power” ?
[2014/06/29 09:42] Extropia DaSilva: / I do think virtual worlds are as real as physical ones, but the name ‘real life’ has stuck, just as we still call atoms ‘atoms’ even though they are most definitely divisible:)
[2014/06/29 09:42] William Sims Bainbridge (interviewer.wilber): It seems that successful religions of the past were well-organized, often hierarchical, with formal influence on societal institutions. How do Transhumanism and virtual world groups fit into that pattern of social structure?
[2014/06/29 09:42] Khannea Suntzu: Yah William, is Transhumanism witchcraft
[2014/06/29 09:47] Extropia DaSilva: /If we go by your ‘negotiation’ definition, is one studying biology AND religion when one studies evolution?
[2014/06/29 09:47] Khannea Suntzu: yes
[2014/06/29 09:48] Violet (ataraxia.azemus): (Fantastic presentation, but I need to step out… Thank you, Robert; be well, everyone :) )
[2014/06/29 09:48] Extropia DaSilva: /bye!
[2014/06/29 09:50] Ivy Sunkiller: Biological evolution doesn’t evolve in any particular direction to begin with…
[2014/06/29 09:50] Khannea Suntzu: That makes alien Singularities very very weird
[2014/06/29 09:51] Rhiannon of the Birds (rhiannon.dragoone): is online.
[2014/06/29 09:52] ღVɪҳɪღ (vixi.lupindo): is online.
[2014/06/29 09:52] Extropia DaSilva: /all the evidence we have suggests there is convergence in evolution; it is not a random walk but tends to return to the same or similar solutions to any given problem.
[2014/06/29 09:53] Stephenovinci: There is a difference between a direct experience of the sacred and a religion. A direct experience of the sacred sometimes inspires us to create new narratives. At the current level of interface how can we effectively create new narratives in virtual worlds?
[2014/06/29 10:01] Deadliner Commons:
[2014/06/29 10:02] Extropia DaSilva: / there is a new kickstarter project that enables full motion mapping of your body, including hands and fingers. This could enable very natural forms of interfacing and communication that could push adoption of SL 2.
[2014/06/29 10:06] Khannea Suntzu: :)
[2014/06/29 10:06] Shirayuki Michelle (nataliesafira): is online.
[2014/06/29 10:07] Extropia DaSilva: which religions most lend themselves to myth and meaning that can be found in videogames, and which if any are incompatible?
[2014/06/29 10:10] Khannea Suntzu: People in power purposefully engineered religions in the past. More power are empowered in this age, so more people take it upon themselves to engineering meaningful religious ideologies and communities. :P
[2014/06/29 10:11] Deadliner Commons:
[2014/06/29 10:12] Bela da Elf-Bunneh (belatrix.blackadder): is online.
[2014/06/29 10:13] Deadliner Commons: people accept medical technology as it comes along
[2014/06/29 10:14] Eschatoon Magic: really a great book indeed
[2014/06/29 10:14] SamanthaTT Ling: is online.
[2014/06/29 10:15] Deadliner Commons: Attitude toward possibility of overcoming death might be defining distinction between larger group and much smaller group when it comes to transhumanism.
[2014/06/29 10:17] Deadliner Commons: Maybe the defining split is between transhumanists and the much smaller subset of immortalists.
[2014/06/29 10:18] Deadliner Commons: I agree that there needs to be some way of washing away our sins in any religion.
[2014/06/29 10:22] TR Amat: is online.
[2014/06/29 10:26] Athena Maeterlinck: This assumes that religion requires the concept of sin to begin with
[2014/06/29 10:26] Deadliner Commons: Maybe a repentance ritual
[2014/06/29 10:28] Athena Maeterlinck: Perhaps but do you feel it is always necessary to involve religion in absolving you of whatever you feel you did wrong? Resolution of sin generally works because the religion has clearly defined a set of sins to begin with.
[2014/06/29 10:29] Extropia DaSilva: / not always necessary no.
[2014/06/29 10:29] Deadliner Commons: I think sin has evolutionary origin
[2014/06/29 10:29] Deadliner Commons:
[2014/06/29 10:29] Extropia DaSilva: /Would you say an animal that is not social would have a concept of sin?
[2014/06/29 10:30] Deadliner Commons: ah
[2014/06/29 10:30] Deadliner Commons: Never thought of that. I would agree that non-social animals are without sin.
[2014/06/29 10:31] Extropia DaSilva: so the origin of sin lies somehow in the evolution of social groups.
[2014/06/29 10:31] Athena Maeterlinck: There are anti-social and damaging acts that may be conceived of as natively wrong because they hurt survival of the individual and species. But sin is a rather special concept born from a concept of a lasting and following error into metaphysical realms.
[2014/06/29 10:33] TR Amat: Is sin associated with ideas of ‘fairness’, in any way, which we seem to share with the higher primates?
[2014/06/29 10:34] hynesyte Harbour: the sacred mushroom and the cross by John M Allegro comes to mind …
[2014/06/29 10:35] Deadliner Commons: “the bonobo and the atheist” available on
[2014/06/29 10:37] TR Amat: Can you have “pragmatic transhumanists”, as well? :)
[2014/06/29 10:37] Eschatoon Magic: Bill what do you think of all that?
[2014/06/29 10:37] Khannea Suntzu: Philippe van Nedervelde has his doubts about contriving “religion”.
[2014/06/29 10:40] William Sims Bainbridge (interviewer.wilber): More fundamental are two related issues: (1) How should we organize to accomplish what? (2) How can we advance the progress of human-centered science and technology, despite the fact they are stalling in most areas? The “Singularity” will not happen automatically.
[2014/06/29 10:40] Deadliner Commons: Defining transhumanism as a religion could be seen as exclusionary with other religions. Some might fear that defining it as a religion would drive away Christians and members of other religions.
[2014/06/29 10:41] Eschatoon Magic: In 1) HOW depends on WHAT (I guess)
[2014/06/29 10:42] William Sims Bainbridge (interviewer.wilber): Scientology has a weak affinity with Buddhism, but none with Christianity
[2014/06/29 10:42] Eschatoon Magic: I am a Real Madrid fan and I am a transhumanist
[2014/06/29 10:42] TR Amat: I thought part of being (trans?) human was the ability to hold multiple inconsistent belief systems at once?
[2014/06/29 10:42] Eschatoon Magic: @Deadliner – or draw them in
[2014/06/29 10:43] Khannea Suntzu: Hoperfully not one single Fatwa away from that.
[2014/06/29 10:43] Deadliner Commons: opposing forces: immortalism achieved via medical tech versus supernatural salvation
[2014/06/29 10:43] Jo Butt (jo.soosung): is online.
[2014/06/29 10:44] Athena Maeterlinck: Who is to say that a telomerase injection isn’t supernatural?
[2014/06/29 10:44] Eschatoon Magic: how about immortalism and resurrection achieved via quantum magic and weird science
[2014/06/29 10:44] Khannea Suntzu: Deadliner: “Heavens calling Earth – you guys are coming in too fast to process. Please implement life extension so we can catch up with the waiting lists”.
[2014/06/29 10:44] Extropia DaSilva: I will say it. It is not.
[2014/06/29 10:44] hynesyte Harbour: in Ramez Naan’s book Crux – he has a setting in a monastary where with enhanced Humans+ learn meditation instantly …
[2014/06/29 10:44] Eschatoon Magic: with the help of annobots in the brain
[2014/06/29 10:47] Khannea Suntzu: The pandora of this community –
[2014/06/29 10:48] Stephen Kagan (stephenovinci): Hmm. I’ll check it out. I’ve been finishing crafting a second mystical-semi psychedlic tradition called Communion of the Mind for my second book. That would be helpful.
[2014/06/29 10:49] TR Amat: Prophets rarely make profits? :)
[2014/06/29 10:49] Eschatoon Magic: but they do
[2014/06/29 10:50] Deadliner Commons: charismatic prophets make profits
[2014/06/29 10:50] William Sims Bainbridge (interviewer.wilber): I recently attended a meeting in Lord of the Rings Online where there were 487 avatars – but it was a popular music concert – Weatherstock VI.
[2014/06/29 10:50] TR Amat: How do you distinguish a prophet from a ‘cult leader’? Wait for history’s verdict?
[2014/06/29 10:50] William Sims Bainbridge (interviewer.wilber): More fundamental are two related issues: (1) How should we organize to accomplish what? (2) How can we advance the progress of human-centered science and technology, despite the fact they are stalling in most areas? The “Singularity” will not happen automatically.
[2014/06/29 10:51] Vaalith Jinn: is online.
[2014/06/29 10:51] Eschatoon Magic: !!!
[2014/06/29 10:52] Khannea Suntzu: Where’s the holy goat when we need one.
[2014/06/29 10:52] TR Amat: There’s been a lot of study of “effective organisations”, but, those tend to be descriptive, not perscriptive…
[2014/06/29 10:53] Deadliner Commons: Most folks stuck somewhere else in Maslow’s hierarchy
[2014/06/29 10:54] TR Amat: Leadership isn’t not something I’d necessary call attractive – effective cooperative efforts I be more in favour of…
[2014/06/29 10:55] Deadliner Commons: ha!
[2014/06/29 10:55] TR Amat: I’ve seen a lot of factionalisation happen to a lot of organisations…
[2014/06/29 10:55] Extropia DaSilva: / oh hello TR!
[2014/06/29 10:58] Khannea Suntzu: Talk about “religion”. I live in the center of the Hague. Mass riots just broke out here.
[2014/06/29 10:59] Extropia DaSilva: /rioting over what? the 1%?
[2014/06/29 10:59] Eschatoon Magic: or football ;-) ?
[2014/06/29 11:01] William Sims Bainbridge (interviewer.wilber): You might be interested in the new issue of Reframing the Debate on
Human Enhancement
[2014/06/29 11:01] Khannea Suntzu: Boko Haram
[2014/06/29 11:01] Eschatoon Magic: very interesting Bill!
[2014/06/29 11:04] Seren (serendipity.seraph): is online.
[2014/06/29 11:04] Khannea Suntzu: Lets not forward the video of this event to Alex Jones.
[2014/06/29 11:04] Katrine Fray: is online.
[2014/06/29 11:05] TR Amat: There’s been a lot of reported “Anti Christs” over the years – are you allowed to have more than one? :)
[2014/06/29 11:06] Ivy Sunkiller: I had 500gb on my drive cleared for this, my PC hasn’t exploded yet so I think we are good :D
[2014/06/29 11:06] Patricia a.k.a. Lexi (perplexity.peccable): You are recording it? I missed the beginning.
[2014/06/29 11:07] Extropia DaSilva: Bye everyone! Jamie and I are heading home. Nice to see some of my old friends here.
[2014/06/29 11:08] Khannea Suntzu: :)
[2014/06/29 11:08] hynesyte Harbour: One last thing “Thank You All Very Much ”
[2014/06/29 11:08] TR Amat: Would you approve of a transhumanist ‘Bible’?
[2014/06/29 11:08] Patricia a.k.a. Lexi (perplexity.peccable): Are the slides available somewhere?
[2014/06/29 11:08] TR Amat: Yes
[2014/06/29 11:09] hynesyte Harbour: tranhuminist wager…
[2014/06/29 11:09] Eschatoon Magic: There is The Transhumanist Raeder
[2014/06/29 11:09] TR Amat: People can engage well with stories…
[2014/06/29 11:09] Metafire Horsley: What would a “transhumanist Bible” actually mean? A set of writings that are relatively mutually inconsistent? ;)
[2014/06/29 11:10] TR Amat: If it’s about the future, wouldn’t it all be fabricated?
[2014/06/29 11:10] Eschatoon Magic: Ivy will you post the video to Youtube?
[2014/06/29 11:11] Ivy Sunkiller: yup
[2014/06/29 11:11] Khannea Suntzu: Blessings be to Stross, for he compiled the Sacred Lists of Yore
[2014/06/29 11:11] Patricia a.k.a. Lexi (perplexity.peccable): Thank you :), Ivy
[2014/06/29 11:12] Khannea Suntzu: The gospels of Max
[2014/06/29 11:12] TR Amat: Warnings about futures you don’t want (Grimms Fairy Tales?) are worth considering.
[2014/06/29 11:12] Khannea Suntzu: The gospels of Ray the Older
[2014/06/29 11:13] Metafire Horsley: A transhumanist Bible might be more appropriately be structured as a kind of Wiki, rather than a simple book.
[2014/06/29 11:14] TR Amat: I might claim we’ve (so far) avoided some very nasty futures due to them being depicted in fiction…
[2014/06/29 11:14] Patricia a.k.a. Lexi (perplexity.peccable): Agreed, TR
[2014/06/29 11:16] Khannea Suntzu: :P
[2014/06/29 11:16] Ivy Sunkiller: camera off