Last week I sent my article “A minimalist, open, extensible Cosmic Religion” to several mailing lists: turingchurch, cosmic-engineers, transfigurism, christian-transhumanism (Google Groups) and universalimmortalism (Yahoo Groups). This is a summary of the very interesting discussion on the mailing lists and this website.
Some participants are enthusiastic about my proposal, and most participants consider it as something worth trying. Other participants are strongly opposed to identifying as a “Religion” and using the term “God(s).”
I found one observation very interesting, a real eye-opener:
“A few years ago there was a transhumanist organization in my area… Many of the attendees were cryonicists but I remember one person there was not. I asked him once why he wasn’t signed up and he said that going for cryonics was ‘too much like belief in God’ and he was an atheist, an ATHEIST.”
This confirms my impression that some (I guess many) transhumanists have a mental fuse that breaks when things begin to sound like the religion that they try (often ineffectually) to leave behind. They seem mainly motivated by fear – fear of falling back into religion. Even cryonics, which has always part of ‘mainstream transhumanism’ discourse, can be sufficient to break the danger-religion-alert mental fuse. Of course our Cosmist ideas, and in particular the suggestion that remote/future agencies may resurrect the dead by means of “future-magic” science and technology, break the fuse immediately.
Even some transhumanists who consider our Cosmist ideas interesting and plausible feel the need to hide behind caveats like “Of course, this has nothing to do with Religion” and similar. I understand their fear of the R word, and I used to hide behind similar caveats until a couple of years ago. Now I consider this attitude elitist, and intellectually dishonest (my first entirely honest talk was my MTA 2012 presentation).
If you don’t take your own convictions seriously, who will? Why do you feel the need to apologize for your ideas, to others and to yourself? It is like starting a business saying (and thinking) “sorry, excuse me, don’t worry, I don’t want to make money.” I think it’s evident that the business will fail if it’s started with this timid and defeatist attitude.
Science and our transhumanist convictions, taken to their logical conclusion, say that intelligent life can evolve to X-like status, where X means extremely advanced and able to perform “magic” (Clarke’s Third Law). The universe is probably full of Xs, and we can become Xs ourselves. Xs can take control of the dynamics of space-time, create new universes, and resurrect the dead.
In the simple language that we use everyday (and we should use whenever possible to keep things clear and immediate) X is called “God” and this is called “Religion.” I think we must show respect to our audience, and to ourselves, and call things clearly by their name.
Plans: I will ramp up the turingchurch.com website and launch turingchurch.org, a virtual, independent, non-denominational, non-judgmental, online-only church open to people of all faiths. The first activity will be a third Turing Church Online Workshop in December (date TBD, will post a call for papers), then frequent talks, online meetings and online services.