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IEET > Security > SciTech > Rights > Life > Access > Enablement > Vision > Technoprogressivism > Fellows > Patrick Lin

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On Wrestling with a Pig: Getting Dirty in a Debate


Patrick Lin
By Patrick Lin
Ethical Technology

Posted: Sep 21, 2010

With some people, you just can’t win. Do you engage them in a debate, or do you hold your tongue and save yourself the frustration from beating your head against a brick wall? That is the dilemma I face now.

Yesterday morning, I read a polemic called “An Open Letter to Christian Leaders on Biotechnology and the Future of Man: Time Running Out to Influence Debate on Transhumanism” that prominently featured an ethics report on human enhancement technologies [PDF] that I co-authored. The letter’s call-to-arms touched upon more points than I wish to respond to here, but what’s odd is that it held up our report as both (1) evidence that we represent the growing number of government-backed researchers who are trying to push their transhumanist agendas on the public, but also (2) evidence that human enhancement technologies raise many issues that need to be discussed, as we say as much in the report. This is sometimes called “biting the hand that feeds you,” among more impolitic things.

To reply to the first point, none of the authors of our ethics report, to my knowledge, has ever professed (or confessed to) being a transhumanist. Not that there’s anything wrong with being one, but for a long time we had simply chosen not to commit ourselves to any specific agenda or align with any particular organization, hoping to take a middle path that avoids exactly the bias exhibited in the open letter above, which we find to be unproductive. In fact, the authors of our report fall across the range of political and religious ideologies-we just don’t let that get in the way in what we hope to be a nonpartisan discussion and analysis of the issues.

When I was invited last year to be an IEET fellow, I reminded Mike Treder and James Hughes that some or much of my work is skeptical about the technoprogressive enthusiasm for emerging technologies, and therefore I don’t consider myself to be a transhumanist. But they reaffirmed their gracious invitation and welcomed a potentially dissenting opinion, which they recognize as important to keep everyone honest. This is the same approach my research group has always taken: We like to work with experts with a range of opinions, in order to better ensure we understand as many sides of an argument as possible, from transhumanists to their faithful critics to whatever.

The open letter above calls our advisory board-for The Nanoethics Group and not the Human Enhancement Ethics Group, as erroneously reported, which has no advisory board at the moment-as “a wish list of transhumanist academics and institutions worldwide.” But it was never a criterion that our advisors had to be transhumanists; indeed, some we know to be anti-transhumanists. We had invited others uneasy of and even hostile to transhumanism to join our board, but they declined; so it’s not our fault that those most willing to engage the issues happen to be transhumanists. I even have to admit that I’m not certain which advisors are officially transhumanists and who aren’t-we simply don’t care, beyond arriving at a balanced composition of the advisory board (which needs more work, we admit). And certainly the core members of our various research groups have no such formal affiliation.

If the authors of the open letter had more carefully read our report, they would have seen that we actually give more weight to religious objections of human enhancement than the standard-issue transhumanist might do. Whether or not God or Allah or Whoever really exists, the plain fact is that billions of people worldwide believe in some deity or higher power, and as a big part of the global society, their opinions matter and need to be accounted for. We would say the same about any population with those numbers, no matter what they believed in. In our report, we acknowledge that the question of whether this and other emerging technologies count as “playing God” is important to a lot of people, but we don’t fully explore that question given space limitations and because it makes certain key assumptions (that God exists) that would be relevant only to a subset of readers (those who believe in God). Also those arguments we have seen that support a religious ban on these technologies seem weak at best, but that’s the topic of a different article.

Transhumanism, of course, does not imply atheism or even agnosticism: Many transhumanists are Catholics, Buddhists, and so on. And even non-transhumanist theists can reasonably hold differing opinions on the question of whether human enhancements count as “playing God.” In a nanoethics anthology we edited, we invited a paper from theologian Ted Peters, professor at the Pacific Lutheran Theological Seminary, for his opinion on exactly that issue, and his analysis shows (surprisingly to many) that there was not a moral problem.

But we’ve encountered the sort of pundits as the authors of the open letter before: extremists who see moral dangers either in everything or in nothing. And, in our experience, they are unlikely to be persuaded by any facts or logic that do not support their own views-which is, unfortunately, not an uncommon cognitive bias for theists and nontheists alike. The Luddite or anti-technology bent of the open letter covers issues that might make Ted Kaczynski and his “Unabomber’s Manifesto” proud, and those issues deserve a response that I cannot provide here. But it seems forgivable if we assume that no one can really or easily change the minds of such dedicated individuals who are heavily vested in their own beliefs.

For instance, imagine if it were possible to create a device that gave any person a direct communication link with God, such that it’s crystal-clear what God’s will is. You can bet that some theists would continue to object to such technology, and the (formulaic) objection might go something like this: Mere mortals don’t have the wisdom to receive God’s word directly and need to go through a middle-man, and since God didn’t create (most) humans with a direct channel to the Almighty, it must not be God’s will for that to happen; therefore, such a technological device would be a moral abomination and hubris. If the Wright brothers were alive and working today, some zealots might levy similar objections about airplanes and rockets, that they prematurely bring us closer to the heavens, and this is not God’s will. A fatwa might be called on Robert Goddard’s head for daring to invent rockets that take us to unnatural, forbidden places such as the moon.

Our dilemma is that, as educators and free thinkers, part of our belief system is that it is important to talk through controversial issues, such as synthetic biology, cloning, robotics, and so on. Had they been discussed in their time, even airplane and rocket travel raise certain ethical and social issues, such as environmental impact and potential dual-use for terrorist and military purposes. But is there a point in a debate at which you should cut your losses, where no productive conversation is possible or likely?

This brings me to the second point, which is that our ethics report was also and ironically cited in support of the open letter, despite our apparent pedigree and an implication that the government shouldn’t be funding such things. The authors of the letter selectively recite passages and topics in our report which suggest that human enhancement may bring disruption or even disaster. This is true: We do take a cautionary stance in our discussion, far from what you would think a card-carrying transhumanist would do. And we’re happy that the authors of the letter are thinking about the issues we raise, since that was exactly our goal: to spark discussion. But while we’re flattered to be included in the group of “great planners and conditioners” that have so much influence on society, we object to anyone co-opting our discussion-not to mention distributing our copyrighted material on their site without our permission, as opposed to merely pointing a link to our posted report-for their own ends, while at the same time maligning our work.

It’s disingenuous for the authors of the open letter to point to “government-funded” reports and other projects that take “taxpayer’s money” as an implication that both government resources and dollars from the hard-working families of America are being misspent on some nefarious plot to overthrow Judeo-Christian values. Are all state-sponsored projects supposed to be endorsed by every citizen or group? If that’s the case, then roads would never be built, since there will be some crank who objects to urbanization of the area. Public universities would be unable to teach courses in religious studies, since surely there are atheists who object to that program. The Office of the Presidency could never exist, if unanimous consensus among citizens were needed. 

That the letter’s authors misrepresented my group and resorted to such rhetoric doesn’t inspire confidence that they care about facts and reason, nor does previous experience with the same sort of folks. And so, we’re at a loss on how we ought to respond to their charges, if at all. Can a holy war on science be resolved by debate? Must all these discussions start with a proof or disproof of God’s existence? Are there not stronger, nonreligious objections that can be made?

Any advice would be appreciated, but George Bernard Shaw immediately comes to mind here: “Never get into a wrestling match with a pig. You both get dirty, and only the pig likes it.”


Dr. Patrick Lin is an IEET fellow, as well as an associate philosophy professor at California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo, and director of its Ethics + Emerging Sciences Group. He was previously an ethics fellow at the US Naval Academy and a post-doctoral associate at Dartmouth College.
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COMMENTS


Patrick, if you have not yet read this book, I strongly recommend you do so asap

http://www.scribd.com/doc/2532766/God-Wants-You-Dead

You will not EVER be able to find a “common ground” or “compromise” between “Christian Ideology” and transhumanism.

You need to understand that regardless of what they CLAIM to teach, Christian dogma universally requires two things.

First, that you remain a slave at all times to “God”, who’s commands will be expressed via the “approved messengers” of the Church Hierarchy. Defiance of this tenet, i.e. “disobedience to God’s Will” will result in various punishments, culminating with “Hell”, while following this tenet will lead to “rewards” most of which are deferred until the “slave” reaches heaven.

That’s the catch that leads to the second necessity. YOU HAVE TO DIE. If you don’t die, then the first tenet falls apart. You can’t be punished with Hell if you don’t die, and you can’t be rewarded with Heaven if you don’t die.

These two tenets are the core of western religious dogma, regardless of “popular” teachings. Every protestant faction, and both “Catholic” factions is centered around them, and so is Islam. It’s not talked about in these terms of course, but it is still the most basic tenet. “Be Obedient to God, go to Heaven. Fail to be Obedient, go to Hell”

Transhumanism is the biggest threat to this religious ideology that there can possibly be. As more and more people become aware of transformative technologies, and become aware of the possibilities of vastly extended lifespans, vastly more capable “enhancement” technologies, and the various other possibilities of “The Singularity”, more and more religious groups are going to take up the fight against “godless technology” in an effort to prevent these advances.

Expect more stuff like this. Expect your words to be twisted and distorted into whatever “horror story” religious leaders can concoct to inflame “the faithful”

You will never win if you enter their debate. All you will do is succeed in giving them more “fuel” for their “fires”.

I’ve been there, done that far too many times. I can quote the bible well enough to use it to disprove their own vehement religious zealotry, and it still makes no difference. They are not interested in facts, not even the facts of their own holy book. All they care about is what they are told by their religious leaders, all of whom are “speaking for God”

And yes, I am quite well aware that I am likely pissing a lot of “Christians” off by stating this.  But if they can prove that “god” does not demand slave like obedience, and that “heaven” can be reached by any means but dying, I will happily apologize.





You mention the importance of engaging the billions of people who have a belief in a god.
It might be interesting to take some of the statements in the report by Ted Peters, a theologian who says that transhumanism is not at odds with Christian theology, and run them by some of the more reasonable practicing religious groups (there are some) as a means of expanding the discussion. The August issue of H+ has an interview with a representative of a religious group that also declares itself to be transhumanist.

In any case, it is arguable that many of us are already transhuman. My 87 year-old father, for instance, has metal bolts holding his hip together, a fully artificial knee and a brain implant wired to a controller in his chest to keep him moving.

On the other hand, as for engaging or talking about Horn himself, this guy is a man on a mission with an apparent substantial readership (Alexa says the place he posts his stuff is ranked 189,000 on the web - not insubstantial. In the US, they’re double the readership of IEET, although with half the readership worldwide.) He clearly intends to target his critics and sniping past each other will probably only bring him more of the kind of readership he appears to be looking for.

My 6 bits.





Here’s the headling of a counter-reply from the open letter’s author on his site

Tom Horn Is An Extremist PIG Who Would Make The Unabomber Proud Says Co-Author Of Taxpayer Funded NSF ‘Ethics Of Human Enhancement’ Report After Tom Encourages Christians To Become Aware Of Agenda

Wow.  The lack of critical reading and thinking skills is astounding.  Or to give him some credit, he may know better but needs to drum up sales of the book he’s pushing.

First, I would never call someone a “pig”—that’s just rude (unless you’re talking to Babe or Wilbur, who really are pigs).  All I did was present an apt quote by a writer.  Sometimes, a metaphor is a metaphor.  Had I chosen “Don’t get into a pissing match with a skunk”, does this imply that the letter’s author is a skunk?  If I said he’s “the bee’s knees”, does that mean I’m making a literal comparison of him to a bee’s body part?  (Do they even have knees?)

And no where was there an implication that we don’t want anyone to be aware of whatever “agenda” is out there.  I say explicitly that our goal is to spark discussion.  And I say that society cannot ignore the opinions of any major group, such as those expressed by Christians, Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists, etc.  Right or wrong, religion is a fact of society and needs to be involved in these sorts of discussions.

But a productive discussion can occur only between intellectually honest individuals who don’t resort to cheap, imflammatory, and unjustified rhetoric.





Thomas Horn’s previous work includes books on spiritual warfare (Exorcism in 12 easy steps at home!) and the link between UFOs, biblical prophecy, and Nephilim Stargates, so I would hazard that evidence and consistency are not terribly high on his list of values.  He won’t be convinced by any argument, but that doesn’t mean that he can be ignored.

Thomas Horn’s goal is to cast transhumanism as the Great Enemy for Christianity in the 21st century.  You saw it with heavy metal and Dungeons & Dragons in the 1980s, evolution in the 90s, and with gays today.  Evangelicals make expensive enemies.  A valuable PR goal would be to convince Christians that transhumanism is not opposed to their core values, and while it is unlikely that they could be enlisted in any transhumanist project, they should at least be neutral.





Michael and Patrick

I am the webmaster at RaidersNewsNetwork.com and it is obvious you know nothing whatsoever about Tom. In fact, you illustrate the worse of what he constantly complains about ill-informed individuals making judgmenets about people without whom you are famililiar. Why don’t you, like James Hughes did, contact him and do some shows with him on radio discussing these issue. Why hide over here at IEET writing your diatribe to your few readers? RNN has a much larger audience than you do here. Why not get in the oprn, like Tom is, and discuss this so that the majority of Americans (80% of whom are religious) can hear you discuss your position. Contact James Hughes and ask him if Tom is a gentleman. He will admit he is nothing like you are. He is fair and will let you say whatever the heck it is you are trying to describe. Donna





Typical God hating Satanist. I would almost bet these transhumanists hid in dark places molesting little boys. Maybe that is the agenda. To create something that will fulfill the perverted sexual appetite that these “pigs” have!!!

Mr. Lin….... Jesus is coming soon!!!





Mr. Lin

I am christian and very familiar with Tom Horn’s train of thought. I am not familiar with you but do appreciate your consideration of others and their beliefs. I think that since trans-humanism will effect all of us in the future and much wisdom and cooperation is needed.

I will say however that I am opposed to trans humanism personally.

Some of your readers comments have a very uninformed view of theology. It is sad that many Christians can rightly be characterized as your reader suggests. However, this is an aberration in the faith.

Such points of view are quite myopic in my opinion. I am refreshed that your efforts are spent to avoid such myopia.

Sometimes at distance what appears to be a pig is something quite different if we will only draw closer and look with and open mind and love in our hearts!

Cheers!





@ Jon

You appear to be confusing transhumanism with catholicism. It never ceases to amaze how those who profess to be christian have little or even no understanding of the faith or what it actually means to be a christian.

@ Patrick

Your analogy is apt, yet when you wrestle with a pig and get dirty it’s because the pig does not want to wrestle or be caught, as compared to the sensationalist who thrives in mud and in drawing attention to themselves, (how else can they earn a living blogging?) As suggested, maybe the best place to counter is over at Tom’s then perhaps his more critical readers may draw their own conclusions as to your position?





Patrick, though I see your response as level headed and reasonable, I also understand how this could be an emotional issue, as the future of the human race appears to be at stake! Personal attacks are almost inevitably the result of fear on the part of the attacker (be they for or against your cause). 

I think it is important to understand that Tom sees a great potential danger to all of mankind and is trying to elevate the discussion into the pubic awareness.  There is a real danger. Super-intellingent machines are inevitable. They cannot be trusted to have (and maintain) morals that we assign to them. We have a real ethical dilemma that needs raising.

There is a good chance that other elements of our society will devolve into chaos long before this is an issue… we are living in a planet that is rapidly becoming a totalitarian police state.

God, in the end, is the only solution. We are doomed to destroy ourselves without him.  Get to know Christ.  Then it will become clear… he is the only answer.





Spiritual and ethical evolution, in the end, is the only solution. We are doomed to destroy ourselves without this. Get to know your Self. Then it will become clear… YOU are the only answer. (to salvation)

To clarify, we humans are responsible for ourselves and to each other and our planet. Human evolution together with our technology is a natural and inevitable progression both past, present and future, and does not oppose the will of God? Machine intelligence and AGI will not be immoral, yet based on human ethics, and ethics is precisely what this website is concerned with, (it forms a part of the name). Look to the answers and solutions concerned with Self understanding, then you will truly understand the mind of God.





The ultimate irony is when h+ really gets going, Christians will line up at government offices, asking for handouts to help their elderly relatives live decades longer.





Mr. ICE…. we all die. Duh. So, as a “Christian” (i.e- follower of Christ…not Catholic, Buddist, Allahist, whatever “ist” you want to come up with), my belief is that we have an eternal spirit. Can you explain “eternal” to me…no, I didn’t think so. Why? Because it is something noone alive has ever experienced. I would love for you to use the Bible to “disprove their own vehement religious zealotry”—if that refers to my faith. My faith ensures me that by simply following “the path”—I can explain this to you so that it becomes clear that it is not “slave-like” obedience, (so typical)—that the wonders of eternity with God, not apart from God are available to me, or to anyone. Even if we could extend lifespans to 1000 years and improve physical capabilities to superman qualities, this would still pale in comparison to ETERNITY. People just don’t have a good eternal perspective and what they are gambling with. I leave this discussion with one serious question for ALL…. which belief system do you want to go through life (however long that is) with, then die to find out you were wrong the whole time? I have nothing to lose by living by faith… and I can assure you I am not a slave. Good luck with your choices!





Ah I read where the Dali Lama spoke of a time when beings would incarnate into half human half machine.  People laughed.  Is this time not already upon us?  There are two schools of Buddhism, one degenerate and one true.  One school is not pointing fingers at the other. At this time there is not a place were degeneracy has not permeated.  I see Christian Churches here sporting pentagrams on the outside Chapel below the cross.  I have met true Christian Catholics as well.  But then again with this bit of free will everyone makes their own mistakes.  One way or the other I would say virtue is more beneficial than weird techno fusion…





My opinion is that religious people who are “transhumanist” are only able to do so because their faith accommodates it; perhaps there’s something in their scripture that forecasts a quasi-transhumanist future.  There are Mormon transhumanists and Christian Transhumanists who see humanity evolving towards H+ as part of “God’s Plan” - and there’s the Dalai Lama, mentioned above, who sees future incarnations of half-human, half-machine…  Unfortunately, both their belief in H+, or their disbelief in H+, is essentially irrational, based on faith, not reason.  I see that as the primary barrier between transhumanism and religion, that the former is based on rationalism and the scientific method, and the latter is based on a composite of superstitious, irrational, and totally useless notions. So I believe that transhumanists should accept “religious” people as fellow members, BUT only if these religious people are signing on for rational reasons, and I fear that very few are.





Hank - reading between the lines here - you’re not proposing that transhumanist upgrades somehow be made unavailable to religious people, right?





Following on my previous comment - just as it doesn’t require much faith to not walk into a tree that’s in your path, it also doesn’t require much faith to have a hospital procedure or be affected by gravity. So a “belief” in H+ is just as odd a notion as any other belief. Belief simply isn’t necessary. H+ is still human, and not “accepting” religious people as fellow members of the human or augmented human race is a bit irrational, it seems to me.
Thinking that you get to decide whether you will discuss things with them is similarly irrational. They are a substantial part of the population and of governing bodies and there’s not any way around it, at least at this point in time. They affect the debate. They could possibly overwhelm the debate. If you don’t engage, you will almost certainly get cut out of, or at least marginalized in policy and decision-making.
The decision, it seems to me, is not if but how to engage these folks who, it turns out, have some influence over your life.
Thinking that you have no common ground with any of them is a surefire way of sabotaging progress toward your own goals and desires.
The cat is out of the bag. Time to engage.





Steve - believing in science, or any hypothesis that can be proven via a logical method, is very different than believing in a religious idea that is based in scripture or faith.  I have found it absolutely impossible to intelligently discuss ideas with religious people, because they won’t approach facts rationally, they’ll start talking about “Paul said this in Cornithians… blah blah blah” Also, I am not concerned about accommodating religious people - I believe their numbers are quickly dwindling.  It may be another generation, or only 5-10 years, but I am hopeful that irrational religiosity in the USA is phasing out.  It has already largely vanished from the majority of Europe.  As an atheist, I prefer to throw up my hands and walk away from debates with religious people because I don’t want to get mired in their nonsense.  You can disagree with me if you want, but I am not going to meet you halfway on this.  If you, Steve, have any beliefs based on religious “faith” - I urge you to abandon them, and to tell other “faith-based” people to do the same.  By the way, I conducted the interview that you referred in the August H+ - I gave that Mormon Transhumanist space to express himself, but my personal opinion is that Mormonism (like most other religions) is just totally crazy.





@ Radman

Eternal means “Existing forever” in that you believe you have a “Soul” which is unseeable, undetectable, undefinable, unknowable, and thus, by most definitions of scientific evidence, completely imaginary.

Your “path” is “following God’s will” to the nth degree. Basically you’ve abandoned all personal freedom of will to follow commands given to you by an external source.

The problem is that your “external source” doesn’t talk to you. Instead, you are TOLD what he wants by higher ups in the organized religion you belong to. And you are expected to do EVERYTHING they tell you “God wants done”

Every part of your “beliefs” is about “Servitude to God” by following the “will of god” as defined by your sect.

And to “comfort” you in this lifelong, birth to grave slavery, you are told that “faith” is vital, that you must believe at all times that a deity that is willing to consign you to “hell” for any number of infractions, is “only doing it out of love” and that “you must stay true to your service to god” or else you’ll burn instead of becoming one of the “supermegaultra elites” in heaven with your own “spiritual mansion”, complete with your “spiritual Lamborghini” in the driveway.

So sorry, I used to be on the fast track to being a Southern Baptist Preacher. I know the religion inside and out, and I’ve read my bible cover to cover. Have you? Nothing I have said is in error. It’s plain simple fact, but it’s fact that people like you don’t want to see.

I also should warn you that I fully expect to be here 1000 years from now, and a million, and a billion, and ad infinitum. Why? because I have “faith” in something that has a LOT MORE EVIDENCE TO BACK IT UP than you do.  It’s called science, and reality, not 6000 year old primitive belief system that has never, once, in all those 6000 years, come up with one single piece of evidence for either a soul or a “Deity”

And you are quite wrong about “faith in god” costing “nothing”. It costs me self will, self responsibility, and self reliance, all so that I can be one of “God’s Sheep”

BTW, I was “saved” “baptized” and all that idiotic “symbolic” ritual BS. By the “beliefs” I was raised under, I am now free to kill, rape, steal, and torture anyone and everyone I meet, and all I have to do is in my final seconds of life ask god to forgive me, and I’m a sure fire entrant to that “afterlife” you cherish so much.

And if that is not completely irrational, what is?





Now, for a comparison of Transhumanism to Christianity? This is a repost of part of a response I made on H+ recently:

A lady lives along a flooded river. She takes her chair up to the roof as the rains continue to fall and the river keeps rising.

A man in a jeep comes by and offers her a ride to safety. “God will save me” she replies. “I’m waiting for him.”

Two hours later, the water is up to her windows. A couple in a boat see her and offer her a ride to safety. “I’m waiting for god” she answers.

Four hours later, the water is up to her roof, the house is creaking, and a coast guard helicopter drops a basket to her. She waves them away. “I’m waiting for god!” she yells up to them until they finally shrug and flay away.

After her house collapses, she drowns, and gets to heaven, she looks at God and asks “I was waiting for you, why did you never come?”

God looks at her and says “I sent a jeep, a boat, and a helicopter, why didn’t you get on?”

Replace god with “Singularity” “Friendly AI” “Benevolent superhumans” etc, it makes no difference.

At the quantum level, everything happens. For every interaction, every choice is taken. A “supreme being” aware of everything everywhere (the definition of omniscient) would thus be aware that every event occurs, every action is taken, every path trodden in one or another infinite parallel quantum states.

Which makes any action on it’s part towards any particular speck of dust in the infinite multiverse a wasted effort.

“Waiting for god” means you’ve abandoned personal responsibility. You’ve decided to do nothing, instead of doing ANYTHING. You’ve decided “It’s someone else’s problem” and “someone else will solve it.” and that you will simply accept what someone else decides to do, because you can’t be bothered.

Transhumanism is about DOING SOMETHING TO MAKE THE HUMAN RACE BETTER.

But too many people trying to equate transhumanism with religion ignore the central tenets of most western religions.

Contrary to popular belief, and despite Jesus himself commanding that we love one another, forgive one another, and above all DO NOT JUDGE, the core of western dogma is not about peace and love at all, but about unquestioning obedience to an external force (God) as represented by his hierarchy (the Church command structure) to whom you must be eternally subservient lest you be punished with “HELL!” and unquestioning acceptance of death, because if you DON’T DIE you can never get those rewards your masters have been promising you for your unquestioning servitude, (your mansions in heaven, etc.)

Can you name any other “government” in which “I’ll reward you after you’re dead” would act as an incentive for obedience?

By it’s very nature Transhumanism is the utter antithesis of the Western Religious ideology, because it is about making a difference HERE and NOW, not in “heaven” after you’re “dead”. We’re about making paradise on earth, giving humans the powers we have fantasized as reserved for “The Gods” and ending the injustices man inflicts on man. We’re about ACTING, not WAITING.

Are there similarities? That depends very much on whether you’ve actually read the bible and know what Christ actually says, as opposed to 90% of the “Christians” who’s knowledge of the bible consists of what little the pastor of their church has told them.

Love one another? Check, most transhumanists seek world wide peace and an end to bigotry of any sort.

Forgive one another? Check, most transhumanists believe in liberty to the point it hurts. Only actions that present a clear, direct, danger to non consenting individuals should be prevented. You want to risk your own life, feel free. Risk someone else’s and you’re going to have to be stopped. That extends to collective entities as well. Risk your own resources, have fun. Risk the entire collectives resources for personal benefits, and you should be expected to make reparations to anyone you harmed. And once you’ve paid your dues, it’s done.

ABOVE ALL DO NOT JUDGE! Check, transhumanists typically seek universal acceptance of all human behaviors, except those which cause harm to non-consenting individuals. You want to dress in latex and like whips and chains? So long as you are only indulging those with others who like the same things, more fun too you. Want to have wings and a tail? Have fun. Feel like turning yourself into a head in a jar ala Futurama, it’s gonna be awhile yet, but if it floats your boat, good for you. We accept the entire range of human desire, quirks, fantasies, and pie in the sky dreams, and we’ll do our best to ensure that EVERY SINGLE ONE CAN BE GRANTED, without judgment. Only those things which cause harm to other humans without their consent will be disallowed.

So yes, there is a case to be made that transhumanists follow the teachings of Christ. Probably even that we follow them far better than most Christians themselves do.

But we do so because WE HAVE CHOSEN TO. Not because we feel an external “deity” want’s us too.

It’s called Enlightened Self Interest. I help you achieve your dreams, you’ve got no reason to oppose me achieving mine.

And yeah, that’s in bible too. “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”

And it’s a good policy to follow whether there is actually a “Supreme Being” or not.





Hank,
To put your mind at ease, I am not religious. I didn’t realize you’d conducted that H+ interview - good one.

My point is this - transhumanism is happening now - not in some possible future where religious people will go away. They are here and in the face of public discourse and policy. They don’t go away because you disengage, even though they may eventually evolve out of religious belief naturally. But that’s likely to take a couple of generations.

I do not mean by my statement about not having to believe in measurable reality & events to be affected by them to suggest that a belief in the scientific method is in any way akin to a belief in the supernatural. On the contrary, what I meant to imply by that is that belief or disbelief in empirical evidence on the part of religious people makes no difference to the real world, by and large.

I don’t believe one needs to engage demagogues, as they usually represent a tiny but loud minority. However, I am suggesting that disengaging from the large population of moderate believers (if I may use the term to distinguish from the loud demagogue types) who may not be particularly religious is self-defeating and is also, as I read it, not what Pat & co. intends





Those of you who think you will live forever as a result of transhumanism are sadly deluded.  Even if the technology became available in your lifetime, what makes you think you would be eligible? Imagine if anyone could just get some operation and live forever? Without the normal life and death cycle, the world population would grow exponentially until our planet could not support it.  Then what? Therefore, those in power will make it very difficult to ‘qualify’. The resentment at not being able to have life extension when the technology is available will be likened to being on death row. Riots will ensue. It will not be pretty.

The evidence from the above discussions is clear… those deluded into thinking transhumanism will be their salvation are vitriolic and condescending to people of faith.

People who have faith recognize what physics is now discovering… that there are multiple unseen dimensions and parallel universes that are not limited to the 5 senses.  That unseen world is visible to those with (spiritual) eyes to see. It is about himility to one who is wise above all wisdom who lives in a realm that you refuse to seek or acknowledge.

Those that exhalt themsleves will be humbled, and those that humble themselves will be exhalted.





Some interesting comments here but most are crap but interesting crap.  Most errors are regarding Christians.  First, don’t confuse Christians with people of religion i.e. Mormons, Catholics, Eastern Mystics ET. Al.  Christians are simply individuals who have cut all the crap and have a one-on-one relationship with Jesus Christ, the only begotten Son of the Father through the power of the Holy Spirit.  As all humans today, they are born physically and later become “born from above” (Gennoa anothen) and see all things through spiritual eyes (John 3:3).  They have but one truth the Holy Bible and view all other information suspect.  Their mission: bring others to salvation through Christ through personal witness.  They are not to use force to bring others to Christ and if rejected, they are simply to shake the dust off their feet and press on. 

Those who express concern regarding Tom Horn appear intelligent in many ways however; they show total ignorance concerning an understanding of Spiritual matters which is understandable.  They do, on the other hand, show a real knowledge of Humanism and Humanism Doctrine as found in the Humanist Manifesto: (http://www.americanhumanist.org/Who_We_Are/About_Humanism/Humanist_Manifesto_III)

There are only two types of people on the earth today; People saved by Grace and people who are lost and the appearance portrayed by many above are those of the latter.  I suggest, for those who have not really read the Bible, take some time and actually read the Book.  It will open your eyes and your minds to the real Truth.

The truth is that we are entering a period of real darkness and there is but one true source of light and you won’t find it stumbling in the dark…





hi Jedo, Hi B.B. - both of you are perfect examples of irrational religious nuts who I regard as a total waste of time to talk to.  Period.  Goodbye.
Steve - “moderate” believers, like I said earlier, are worth discussing issues with as long as they remain semi-logical in their thinking.





Hank is a great example of my two earlier points.

1. Personal attacks are almost inevitably the result of fear on the part of the attacker.

2. The evidence from the above discussions is clear… those deluded into thinking transhumanism will be their salvation are vitriolic and condescending to people of faith.

To believe in the invisible is not irrational. Black holes are invisible, but they are readily accepted because their impact can be seen. Air is invisible, but you believe in that. Magnetic forces, gravity, etc. The complexity and order of the universe is a clear indication that there is a infiniitely intelligent creator. He has made himself know. Christians know who he is.  Atheists are commonly hateful because, if the Christians were right, they are in deep sh_t, so they react in fear and hatred.  Their loss.





@Jedo

We’re condescending? You are sitting there gloating about how we’re all going to burn in hell for failing to agree with your beliefs, and we’re CONDESCENDING?

So let’s run this down real fast. God, who LOVES everyone, will throw us into a “burning lake of fire” (one of the most pain filled methods to die) for all ETERNITY if we A) refuse to believe that a man born 2000 years ago was his son. and B) refuse to reject science and rationality (ie. refuse to use the intelligence that supposedly he gave us) in favor of the teachings written down that we can scientifically prove are in error.

So explain to me again how “Love me or BURN” is an incentive? Or how that is supposed to show LOVE again?

I suppose next time my children misbehave I need to pour gasoline on them and set them on fire right? After all, I love them so much I just want to make sure that they suffer the most excruciating horrible pain that there is to teach em a lesson.

I’ve never yet met an Atheist who’s advocated burning people to death.

But yes, I do agree that everyone should read the Bible, completely from cover to cover, and do so like they are reading a novel, without the “Everything in here is just and holy and right” filter that you’ve obviously used.

Why? Because I have read it cover to cover. It’s the biggest reason I abandoned faith.





Vakyrie,

I don’t know if you have a son, but let’s say you did.  You see some stranger about to die, and your son jumps in and saves his life, but in the process loses his own. How would you feel about the man if he then turned around and insulted you and your son and walked away?  That is what you have done.  Is God’s response just?  I respect him enough to know that it is…  we pea brains may not think so, but that doesn’t matter.

The love part is that, even though you have spit in God’s face and insulted his son, He is pleading with you to see the error of your ways, and if you repent, he will give you the gift of eternal life.

I have read the Bible cover to cover as well, and it only strengthened my faith because I read it with an open heart and with faith. I understand that the ‘foolishness’ of God is wiser than the wisdom of men. So if I don’t understand something, that is my shortcoming.  At some point in the future it will all be made clear.

God’s love means he is always reaching out to you, knocking on your door, hoping that you will repent and let Him in.  You live with the cosequences of your choice.





@Jedo

Since it’s so obvious that nothing I have to say will penetrate that wall of irrationality you’ve erected, let me end my participation in this thread with this final observation

By your own beliefs, God is Omniscient, Omnipotent, and Omnipresent.

That means is that NOTHING happens that is not by his will. What God Wants God Gets.

Therefore, anything that humanity accomplishes is done so because God allowed it to be done, and gave man the tools to accomplish it.

If God truly wished for Mans worship, every human in the world would worship him.

If God did not wish for mankind to develop science, it could not be developed.

What God Wants God Gets.

Period.

That includes my disbelief. If God didn’t want it, I couldn’t have it.

Unless of course, you believe that your God is powerless to prevent it.

So which is it? Does your Omnipotent God get what he wants? Or is he a powerless deity who needs threats of violence to force his followers to obey?

A truly benevolent deity has no need to use threats or violence to coerce his “followers”.

So why does yours?





OK I was not intending to say anymore in this thread, yet now I feel I need to say at least this. The topic of this article is regarding the difficulties in discussion between immovable parties and their belief systems. This is the whole point of Patrick’s article, it’s well stated, and sadly these comments, (and assumedly those missing), have proved his point for the most part. So where does this get us folks? Yes indeed, absolutely nowhere! No ground or notion nor idea or thought has been shifted, no understanding has been achieved, no progress has been made, and no opinion has been breached. This situation is doomed to continue.

Now this is the real dilemma. If there is no consensus to communicate and achieve understanding, then the divides between Atheism and Theism will lead us into great conflicts as our technological future unfolds. This is a real existential risk! It is not enough to merely “wait” for people to discard their belief systems and faith, and even the atheist must realise, from their own position of belief, just how important belief and faith, (in everything, including technological futures and science), are to humans. This is the sociological argument, which is too complex to explore here, yet this is where the debate must focus to accommodate communication and progression and hopefully lead to the acceptance of human technological advancement by religious systems, as well as the acceptance of religious belief systems by secular societies.

So how can we further this consensus and need of communication and understanding to achieve the acceptance of each other, and to avoid the possibilities of religious revolution and the division of the majority of humanity? It is the point of argument that both sides of the Atheist/Theist camps totally miss in all debates. And it is simply this.. “Unity and connectedness”.

We must each of us explore and question not merely “what we are” but “who we are”, and how we are all connected to each other, to all other living things and life forms, to our ecosystem, and ultimately to realise how we are all an intrinsic part of the whole Cosmos and Universe. For me, this is the miracle of evolution, the purpose of life evolving was no accident, it is reason enough for me to contemplate that it has happened through the grace and potential for it to occur.

If there is no God, then so be it, the miracle is still that the Universe has evolved through us, (and other life forms), to contemplate it’s own existence. If God does exist, then the goal must surely be for us to evolve through our intellect and with our technology as well as our spirituality towards the understanding of God and creation. God does not exclude, nor does God make Judgment – these are purely in the minds of men.

I was raised as a protestant Christian, and this doctrine permitted me to explore my own questions and feelings regarding faith and God, and the ability to contemplate direct communion with God without clergy. The reformation of the Christian Church was key and essential in the exploration of freedom of speech and ideas, the exploration of ethical values and love and free will, and the understanding of humanity and our personal responsibility for ourselves, and to each other.

Yet by the time I had even reached the age of eleven, I found that my questions concerning this Omniscient, Omnipotent God could not be reconciled in a world of suffering and despair. I had become a deist, and without even privy to what this was, or even that there was a history and theosophical position for it. Now I am agnostic, I keep an open mind regarding God and the answers that science provides us each day. The argument as to whether God exists or not is irrelevant and science may never be in any position to disprove or prove the existence of God – so why argue about it?

So let us all move on to more important matters. The main problems concerned with established religious belief systems is their use of antiquated doctrines, their irrational rule sets, and their immovable position regarding the beliefs of others. Do you condone the stoning of a woman after prayers on Sunday? No you do not, yet there are Abrahamic religions here and now in our so-called “civilised” world that do. It is these irrational rules and the beliefs for these rules that need to be abolished, and it is up to each of us to realise that human morals and ethics, empathy and compassion, altruism and understanding, are not reliant upon religious doctrines.

These values and attributes are a part of what it is to be human, (along with all of the negative values and attributes – which have but one root cause – Selfishness!) It is time to realise that you do not need God to tell you how to behave, or continually instruct you in morality and ethical values. You have all the gifts you need to pursue self-understanding and the potential of what humans can really achieve and really be? If you see only negative aspirations, dystopia and the downfall of civilisation then you are not trying hard enough, and not valuing your own position to express your own morality and ethical values.

There is room enough for technological evolution and spiritual belief systems, there is room enough for us all to achieve consensus. In fact it is argued that the new age may indeed establish a new age of spirituality. Yet this will be one that embraces the “connectedness” and unity of all life and the Universe and the Cosmos as a whole, and will value the opinions of others and their rights to pursue them with their beliefs, and built upon the foundations of a secular society.

Apologies for the length of this and thanks for reading.





I understand the moderator’s request and appreciate that the theist vs. atheist discussion, while important, is not the pupose of this forum.  In that context I will add one additional thought.

The issue of free will, the ability to make choices rather than be forced into one choice or another by a power that you have no ability to resist is tyranny.  At the heart of H+ is the integration of man and machine. The machine part will have it’s inherent intellegence. The ever present danger is that the machine will overpower the man’s freedom of will.  This is essentually an objective of DARPA and I am sure of the KGB as well. Once a man’s free will have been overruled, he can no longer be held accountable for his behavior, so whatever acts of violence he brings upon the world around him can be permitted without punishment… a variation of the insanity defense.

This is one of the great moral dilemas of the H+ movement.  We currently all (except the insane) have control over our choices, and live with the consequences of them, whatever they may be.  That is a sacred right given to all of mankind.  H+ may be one of the greatest threats to free will in our future.  This is worth consideration. 

You may be benevolent, but who is to say that all who implement this technology will be so.  I can tell you now, they won’t.

How can we respond? Other than protecting that right at all costs, I have no other answer.





“which belief system do you want to go through life (however long that is) with, then die to find out you were wrong the whole time? I have nothing to lose by living by faith… and I can assure you I am not a slave. Good luck with your choices.”.
Your’s is a good challenge; though faith is construct, faith is a necessary default because 99 percent of the unenlightened aren’t given info by their superiors to make decent choices—corruption is trickle-down. To be truly faithful, we wouldn’t need soup kitchens ladling slop to those who are already the dregs to begin with, and tax-deductible giveaways of refuse. Held to their own standards, religionists would lack a genuine faith to prescribe to those at the bottom.





An adendum to my final thought:

I understand the fact that any person that appreciates his life does not want to die.  As evidence, when I went to college, I originally wanted to become a biomechanical engineer. My reasoning was that, in doing so, by the time I was old, we would have developed machanical bodies that I could have my brain transplanted into that would allow me potentially indefinite life extension.  I figured that by being on the inside of the development, the probability of my being a candidate for this technology would be elevated (I reasoned that it would be very expensive and hard to qualify). It turns out my timing wasn’t far off.

All that changed when I became a Christian.  I already had the free gift of eternal life, so I did not need to spend my life struggling to achieve it.  I still became an engineer, but my horizons were wide open. I have enjoyed a rewarding career and have my name listed on over several dozen patents and patents pending (and don’t try searching ‘Jedo’ ... it’s my avatar). 

Though I continue to enjoy my life, I now see many dark clouds accumulating on the horizon. The financial systems are one shock away from collapse. The governments of the world are becoming more and more oppressive and intrusive and deaf to the will of the people. Technology will not save us.  Technology is generally not inherently good or bad, it is the people that will use it for good or bad. We can individually be a force for good in the world, and do our best to influence others to do likewise.  We can try to warn people about the ability of certain technologies to become a destructive force.  Can we stop them? I am not optimistic.

That said, the darkest night is before the dawn. It is my belief (and the belief of all true Christians) that the good guys win in the end. Like the phoenix from the ashes, we will rise. I have hope, faith, and love, and these can carry me through the darkest of times.  They can carry you too.





@ Jedo..

Quote – “The issue of free will, the ability to make choices rather than be forced into one choice or another by a power that you have no ability to resist is tyranny. At the heart of H+ is the integration of man and machine.”

Quote – ” You may be benevolent, but who is to say that all who implement this technology will be so. I can tell you now, they won’t.”

You are correct, we should strive to be free and to express our freedom of will, (within reason), to pursue our choices, our personal responsibility, and our beliefs. So notice also that this tyranny applies in all forms including religious bullying and persecution and the heavy hand of fundamentalist theocracy. Imagine a fundamentalist theocracy or organisation in possession of DARPA battlebots? Or moreover using nuclear or bio-weapons to promote conflict using their own fears of fading demise and loss of political control?

Your points are valid, yet H+ embraces the notions of not merely human/machine hybrids, this is just one point of possibility, yet may not be inevitable. I do not favour a vision of myself as a Cyborg, and yet embrace the idea of transmigrating human consciousness into a different substrate to overcome only 80+ years of life. It will most not likely happen for centuries to come, but it is a personal dream.

H+ (transhumanism) is already a part of every day modern life, from prosthetics to stem cell research, to overcoming all types of disabilities and diseases with drugs and medicines. Hopefully new technological breakthroughs including machine technology, robotics and nanotechnology will help to solve our humanitarian and social problems and not to add to them? This is the goal, to guide the inevitable advancement of technologies in terms of existing and evolving human ethics.

There is much to be concerned with, much to discuss and debate, yet nothing to fear! Fear is the antagonist and those who promote fear are the agents of antagonism, whom only fear for themselves, their status and their position – this includes the venerated clergy unfortunately. There are also those who see profit in the adventure of promoting division. And there are those who have valid concerns and should not be misguided by the antagonists.

Welcome to the ethical debate, let us together openly discuss the issues and ensure that totalitarian and fundamentalist organisations, governments, greedy corporations and DARPA do not have the upper hand in the future progress of humanity?





... yet if Christians would say ‘in the interests of a hierarchical world, our positions necessitate that our consciences supersede the consciences of the lesser’, it would be acceptable; not appreciated, but acceptable.
However of course they can’t reveal their motivations—when you play cards you naturally don’t tip them so that someone might see the hand you are holding.





*sigh* I really hate it when someone has to say something that needs to be responded to after I decide I’m done with a thread.

But Jedo, you somehow managed to state PRECISELY why I refuse to “believe in God”

Free Will.

That’s at the heart of the matter. Does man have free will, or is he just “going through the motions?”

As CygnusX put it, I do believe in “a supreme being”, the problem is that I do not believe in YOUR “supreme being”

I view both humanity and the universe at large dualisticly. I see us all as individuals, and I value every human for their individuality. Even you Jedo, hard as you may find that to believe.

At the first level of the duality, we are autonomous free willed beings. We each of us have value, and while the unique combination of things that make up the value for each person is different, I see each person as having equivalent (not equal) value. There are positive aspects and negative aspects, but both creative/positive and destructive/negative have their functions when the second level of the duality is examined.

That second level is as a Metaorganism. This is HUMANITY as opposed to simple human. It’s the collective of all humans and their sum total interactions. We may act one way as individuals, but in collectives, as various “metaorganisms” we act differently.

Recognizing that we have both individual “value” and collective “value” is a “core belief” of my “faith”. Being able to see that both positive and negative values have their roles in the metaorganism is another.

But the third “core belief” is recognizing that the “collective” goes all the way up, and all the way down.  Individual atoms behave one way, groups of atoms behave another. Individual cells behave one way, groups of cells another. Individual people behave one way, groups of people another. Individual stars behave in certain ways, galaxies another. No matter how far up or how far down you go, there is individual and group structure.

Move far enough out in your perspective, and you understand that it doesn’t matter which way you go, at the end you find the exact same thing. UNITY.  At the fine scale, everything is a pattern of energy. At the macroscale, everything is STILL a pattern of energy. At all levels those patterns are fractal. A computer generated model of the known universe and the human brain share many similar structures.

The point is that the “supreme being” I “believe in” isn’t a pedantic father figure who uses violence to coerce behavior. It’s the Ultimate “Metaorganism”. A “being” as far beyond a human as a human is above a single vibration of the superstring.

And I am a part of that “Unity”, and so are you.

The difference is that you place limits on your god, and yourself. You claim to value free will, yet you refuse to recognize that you have already abandoned yours. You have already abrogated personal responsibility by relinquishing “personal choice” with a set of rules and regulations “handed down to you” and enforced through various means of coercion including the ultimate one of “Hell”. Like that “brainwashed solider” you are so worried about, you’re “merely doing God’s Will” and so cannot be held responsible.

And that excuse is exactly why Islamic terrorists blow themselves up on buses and crash planes into buildings. They are doing “God’s Will” and thus are not to blame. It’s why Christian Terrorists can bomb abortion clinics and send out letters laced with Anthrax. They are merely doing “God’s Will” and cannot be held accountable.

They ceased to be individuals, and allowed themselves to merely become an expendable part of the Metaorganism. They abandoned ‘FREE WILL’

I have a solid, logical, scientifically backed reason for nearly every action I take. I have a chain of logic and can defend every choice through reason and consideration. I exercise free will in every choice I make, and in every goal I strive for. I may agree with many transhumanist goals and even seek to reach them myself, but I do so because they align with MY desires, and I am just as willing to oppose any “goal” that does not align with my desires.

But you? You have a book that you think tells you “what must be done”, you have a “church” that defines for you what that book “really says”, a pastor who “interprets” “God’s Will” for you. Your every post in this forum, and those of all the other “Christian defenders” is dictated by your belief that “This is what God Wants,” as opposed to “This is what *I* want”

Which says to me, “I have abandoned free will” and makes your last post utter hypocrisy. You don’t really care about free will. You only care about enforcing “God’s Will” and if YOU had access to the very technology you are worried about being used “against” you, you would happily use it to inflict the “Will of God” on everyone.

Which puts you right up there along side DARPA and the KGB as an “existential threat”

 

And Cygnus, There can be no common ground between “Transhumanism” and “Western Religious Ideology” because the “WRI” metaorganism is a diametric opposite to the “Transhuman” metaorganism. While they share many “common ground” elements along their fringes, the “Core Values” are fundamentally incompatible.  I strongly recommend you read the book I linked in the very first post to this thread.

What can be done is to find individuals who are not as “deeply embedded” in the WRI metaorganism as many of the respondents to this thread and give them the truth, as opposed to the propaganda being handed to them by such “interpreters of God’s Will” as Mr Horn, and those who’ve so vehemently “defended the faith” here.

To quote that same book. “The Truth shall set you free.”





I still have the freedom to choose.  If I choose to do what I believe is right, that is my choice.  I would not take that away from anyone. I am not forcing anyone else to choose, so I am not an existential threat, thank you. You don’t lose free will by having a commitment to a belief system.. Everyone has a belief system… you included. To be able to follow that is not a loss of free will. sorry.





The difference Jedo is that mine arises internally, your’s is imposed externally.

That’s a very LARGE difference.

Not one single person in the world is required to believe as I do, as opposed to your’s which requires everyone in the world to believe as you do… OR BURN.





@ Valkyrie..

I disagree with your last point – Atheism and Theism may be diametrically opposed but not necessarily transhumanism or H+, as you can still be spiritual or even religious and still be a proponent of technoprogression and transhumanism. As I have said many times before, there is little to differentiate the latter, and only a fool would turn down modern medicines that cure themselves or their loved ones in favour of deeming them the sweets of Satan. Even a Christian or Muslim or Jew cannot deny the real benefits of using modern toothpaste as compared to brushing with a twig, so we are all hypocrites none the less.

If there is no communication and consensus to accept each other, then humanity is doomed to fall into conflict as zealous world religions oppose their ultimate demise by sticking with their antiquated doctrines. And I for one, believe that there are enough religious progressives and clergy out there wise enough to realise that something has to change when scientific truths provide real technological benefits.

Christianity has been required to recognise science in the past, and it will do so in the future. What we have presently is once again the problems associated with pace of change. The Pope has not got time to sit and ponder the next few decades thinking about technology, robotics, and bioethics and how to accommodate these into the Christian religion. I think this is what actually worries Abrahamic faiths and their zealous followers the most, that they cannot contend with fast paced change and how to reconcile these changes with their immovable indoctrinated texts.

So it is for all of us to use our own initiatives to think for ourselves, and use our gift(?) of free will to make the ethical choices that count using critical thinking – are battlebots bad? Yes of course, (although we are already using drones and automated military tech). Is warfare bad? Yes, (this question may not be so easy to answer for religious fundamentalists or politicians?) It’s not about throwing the bible out or total rejection, it’s about realising that it is a book written centuries ago and that it needs to be taken as such, and that views of it’s content need to be modified.

Once again, God/the Universe does not exclude, and nor should we.. young or old, white or black, Atheist or Theist. As soon as you exclude any individuals then you have already deemed them not worthy of entering your esoteric club, by creating a rule of thumb, which then becomes indoctrinated etc etc. Remember all that discussion previously regarding the negative use of exceptionalism? This also applies to excluding individuals, groups, religious beliefs and ethnicity, and opposes the idea of unity and connectedness.

I wish there were more contributions and opinions in this important discussion, the focus of many is pointing to this site, and although most of the issues speak for themselves, there is still much to contribute before someone decides to write some negative blog somewhere or another on the evils of technoprogression and H+. Opportunity for positive dialogue presents itself?





Cygnus, you are missing my point entirely.

Do individuals accept the benefits of technology? Of course they do. On the individual level each person makes decisions that benefit themselves.

But on the Metaorganism level, the level of the ENTIRE RELIGION ITSELF, it’s a polar opposite. The RELIGION thrives on the denial of self to “serve god” and does not desire advances in technology, in knowledge, or in individuality. It is dependent on conformity, obedience, and rigorous adherence to the “Dogma” that delineates “Acceptable behavior” in every aspect of the individuals life. From what sexual activities are “approved” to what thoughts are “acceptable” the Religion has a rule for everything, a story for everything, and a demand that all of it be accepted WITHOUT QUESTION because “GOD SAID SO”

Do individuals follow these rules 100% at all times? No. Is every rule and command given by the religion negative or harmful? Of course not, but at the lowest, most basic level, the “religion metaorganism” seeks to eliminate any expression of individual free will in favor of the predetermined “rules” that are “given by God” and any deviance is “A Sin” or “Heresy” and thus “punishable by God”. This forms a “feedback loop” which is inherently opposed to any form of change or advance. There is even a built in “persecution complex” which makes rational discussion impossible because any acceptance of alternative points of view is considered “abandoning the faith”.

The fact that change and advance occurs anyway is because individuals do not always follow the dictates as “laid out”. This is something entirely separate.

Transhumanism will have NO COMMON GROUND with the Metaorganisms of “Christianity” “Islam” or “Judaism” because these Metaorganisms are completely HOSTILE to change of any sort. By their “reasoning” everything is “perfect” as is, and “change” is “the tool of the enemy”. Thus every scientific advance is “Godless” at best and “The Devils Work” at worst, and human “enhancement” is blasphemy of the highest order, since “you can’t improve on God’s work”.

Thus, in order to “engage” the “faithful”, debate with the “fundamentalists” or “conservative” elements in the religion is doomed to failure. You will encounter exactly what has been observed here, Blind Faith Rejection which is merely strengthened by any attempts to engage critical reasoning skills.

To successfully engage the religious community in support of Transhumanist ideals, you are going to need to avoid direct conflict with these “zealots” and instead concentrate on those elements which are willing to actually converse. Those elements are by far the majority of religious “followers”, but to get to them, you have to refuse to engage the much louder, much more visible, much more hostile “zealots”, and thus, avoid feeding fuel into their “propaganda machine”.

Direct conflict does nothing but encourage “shoring up the trenches” and “digging in” to “defend the faith against heretics” It serves only to provide a “rallying” point to draw the support of those who might otherwise support transhumanistic ideals into supporting the religious resistance to change.

Historically, all “change” that has occurred in religious ideology for the last 2000 years has occurred after the fight to prevent change has been long lost.

There is nothing in transhuman ideals which is truly opposed to the “Moral Values” of western religion, but this “unspoken dogma” that seeks to utterly control behavior, and prevent any change is going to be the biggest challenge facing anyone seeking to reconcile the two.

This has nothing to do with making an exception AGAINST religious ideology. It is a plain and simple statement of reality. Failure to recognize how the dogma affects any attempts at discourse will insure failure of that discourse.

 





Heh.  Pew just confirmed what I’ve been saying for years. That most “Christians” don’t even know what their religion actually teaches.

http://religions.pewforum.org/reports





oops wrong link copied.

here’s the right one

http://pewresearch.org/pubs/1745/religious-knowledge-in-america-survey-atheists-agnostics-score-highest





Two things:

1) By the arguments of theologians (agreed upon over thousands of years of debate by the religious), God must possess the Attributes of Deity.
Three of these Attributes contain the prefix “omni” (they are: Omniscience, Omnipotence, and Omnipresence).
Omni means ‘all’, as in ‘all-inclusive’.
Let’s concern ourselves with ‘Omnipresence’ for a second.
‘Presence’ implies locality, or location (having existence in ‘spacetime’ I suppose is a good way to put it).
Omni-present means “all-present”, or present everywhere.
Everything that exists has ‘presence’ or locality.
If God is Omnipresent, then all things are God.
Conclusion: You cannot point to something that exists (anything at all) and say of it: “This is not God”.
God does not condemn itself.
God does not sentence itself to eternal damnation.
God is good, therefore everything is good.
God is not capable of evil, and since everything is possessed of God, nothing is capable of evil.

All of this, of course, using theologians own definition of God’s attributes.

So, as you can clearly see, God cannot be separated from the sum total of everything that exists. God cannot be separate.

However, all religions, and especially monotheistic religions, can ONLY operate by convincing people that God is separate from reality. This is what kicks in the guilt complex. This is what convinces people they are “lesser” than God, and in need of salvation.

Therefore, Religion cannot be right, not even in principle, by THEIR OWN RULES AND DEFINITIONS.

2) Let the Religious believe whatever they want, as long as they MAKE NO LAWS concerning their beliefs.

Separation of Church and State.

Maybe they should even be barred from participating in any public office, or even voting (separation of church and state after all, how can we allow the religious to vote?).......lol…...of course, I’d never go that far….but it does tickle me to think of it wink





To summarize the above into concise statements:

1) God cannot know what it is to be “not-God”, and if God possesses any of the “Omni” attributes, then everything knows it’s God (this is a set theory problem btw, and if the religious studied math, they’d have already figured this out).

2) How is it possible to maintain the separation of church and state if we allow religious people to hold office?
Obviously, if we took the separation of church and state seriously, and to the letter, then only atheists would be allowed to hold office, or pass laws. So which is more important, the Bible, or the Constitution?





iPan,
As to number 1: You just gotta believe in The Force.

As to number 2, the very First Amendment to the Constitution says, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.” That’s the whole thing.

This has nothing at all to do with whether a person is fit for office. I suspect you knew this but were playing with the idea.

It says that no matter what your belief system, you are free to exercise it. Prohibiting a person with a religious belief from holding office would surely be prohibiting the free exercise of religion and of speech (also covered herein).

Oddly enough, now that I read it again, it doesn’t mention anything about atheism or nonbelief. Hmmm, maybe atheism isn’t protected.
How d’ya like them apples? wink
Maybe BJ Thomas was right when he said
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EGqgW07lnuU !





@Steve

1) The Force? Not sure what you mean here, but mmmkay.

2) The point I’m getting at, is if “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion”, AND Congresssman are themselves religious, then how can they NOT make a law (implying ANY law that they make) that doesn’t respect an establishment of religion.
In other words, the religious can’t help but try to make laws (if they’re in a position to do so) that respect “their” religion. They literally can’t help themselves.
This is not permitted by the Constitution, so if we KNOW that a religious person cannot help but to try and enact laws that are favorable to their religion, what do you do?

This is of course all speculation, as no one is actually going to try and forbid the religious from government. I just found it kind of odd, that we hold the constitution in such high regard, and that one of it’s principles is the separation of church and state, which naturally follows that you can’t truly separate the church and state when religious people are in office. The LOGICAL solution is that religious people should not be allowed in office. Call it a “conflict of interest”.





Sry to post twice again, but to summarize more concisely:

How can a religious person NOT have a conflict of interest with the Constitution by nature?





“It says that no matter what your belief system, you are free to exercise it. Prohibiting a person with a religious belief from holding office would surely be prohibiting the free exercise of religion and of speech (also covered herein).”

Preventing a person from holding an office does not specifically prohibit them from exercising religion.

They can exercise till their blue in the face, so long as they didn’t do it while in office.

It’s like prohibiting felons from holding office. Or those who weren’t born here from being president.

Saying they can’t hold an office isn’t the same as saying they can’t practice their religion.

See the difference?

It comes down to conflict of interest. Of course, to get something like this to pass would be impossible, even if you could prove it. I’m just making a logical argument, not a practical one smile





As for “The Force,” I’m just goofing around there. Star Wars, you know?

As I see it, the only 3 things about religion that are addressed by the 1st Amendment are:
1: the state does not get to make a religion;
2: the state does not get to decide if a given religion gets made;
3: the state can’t tell you that you can’t worship or that you have to worship a particular religion.
In my reading, the term “respecting” means “with regard to” or “concerning” and has nothing to do with respect or disrespect. I am sure that this is also the consensus and official reading.

And again, I am surprised to see that it mentions nothing about disbelief, even though I and probably most of America think that this protects us from being nonbelievers. Weird.

As for whether or not keeping a person from holding office because of his (or her) beliefs would be keeping him from exercising religion, you may be technically correct but I don’t think you are practically correct. Imagine this. A person is in office, a year later, gets Jesus or something. Then your law would have him thrown out of office. If this is not keeping someone from exercising a religion, it is certain to at least have a chilling effect on the free exercise of religion and surely would be successfully challenged in court on Constitutional grounds.

As for the rest, saying that a person is somehow completely run by his or her religious beliefs does not reflect my observations of humans at all. For the most part, people who “belong” to a given religion don’t practice it much anyhow. And when you think of it, very few laws or tasks of interest to lawmakers have anything to do with religious belief, and when they do, they tend to coincide with lay moral and ethical codes, and civil realities shared by both secularists and the religious. Actually, now that I’ve said that, I would say that most lawmakers who have a religious belief act primarily as secularists in day to day practice.

I know many that would say that creates cognitive dissonance, but so what? Life is full of cognitive dissonance.

How religious is a road, a courthouse, a stop sign? How religious are farm subsidies, environmental cleanup, superfunds, etc? How religious are water supplies, sewers, public parks?

As for conflict of interest - don’t legislators try to get pork for their constituencies so that they get reelected? There’s a classic conflict of interest common to probably every elected official.





OK, my turn to apologize for making so many posts on the subject, but I hadn’t thought deeply enough about the subject. Probably every constitutional scholar has been here before me, but…
it occurs to me that the 1st Amendment is all about freedom of self-expression. It’s not really about religion - religion is just mentioned it as one of many widespread means of self-expression. Not worshipping is surely also a form of self-expression. So atheism’s covered too.

This allows us to come full circle back to Dr. Lin’s original, misapprehended writing. Because, whether it’s bioluminescent polka-dot skin, wings, extreme life extension, x-ray eyes, adamantium bones, gills, an extra mouth and tongue on one’s hand (think about it) or extra legs - what is transhumanism if not self-expression? While there may and should be discussion and debate about the ethics of certain kinds of human augmentation, it seems the fact of it would be protected right there in the first amendment - not to mention in the Declaration of Independence as a pursuit of happiness.
And if H+ wants to double up on protection, make it a religion! Then it will be protected by name and not just interpretation.
Yow! Talk about cognitive dissonance!





There’s a really simple way to mend boundaries with the religious anyway.

Inform them that we revere the same God they do, only we call it ‘Fractal’.
And our Saints, are Saint Mandelbrot, Saint Godel, Saint Cantor.





Very funny, Lin! However a simple look into the facts and you fall short on reasoning, and the snakey little way you distort, twist and omit the truth! You are just too easy to insult, but I digress. Perhaps the reason you have attacked Mr. Horn so religiously(which reminds me of the dark ages when the Catholic Church’s hierarchy attemps to shut down scientific inquiry from the likes of Gallileo)....... is because you know you would be soundly defeated in a public debate, which would likely be humiliating to you and your beliefs.





One thing about wrestling a pig is that even though you might get dirty, it’s usually a lot more fun than initially anticipated. Except for the pig of course who just wants to be left to it’s own devices and for the jerk chasing it around trying to grab it to go away, or maybe throw some food.





When the light of truth shines on the demons of transhumanism, they will cease to have power to create evil in the world.  Lin’s particular brand of idolatry is already bringing the judgment of the Almighty on the earth.  Soon the G-d of creation will purge all the wicked from the earth along with their transhuman spawn.  In the meantime lets not waste any more tax dollars promoting a new dark age of insanity.





The name calling of Mr. Tom Horn, shows what type of character the person has that called him that. and Oh, he must be upset because there is Truth in what Tom Horn says even if one is not a christian.  And if i want to talk to God i do not need some human man made link to do so. Do a little research in very old writings and not just the bible, unless you are afraid to admit or are into your self and how smart that you think you are, you will find that this is not the first time “humans” were changed or enhanced or made into something that cause problems. No i do not go to church but i do not try and say just because i do not like something or agree with it that it is not right. The ones who has a problem with Mr. Horn are the ones who do not want or have to explain or put in writing what May and Can happen when you cross human with animals or plants, and to be truthful this is what is happening? isn’t it? this is more than just healing/helping the human body. and anytime money is given by the government or corporations to research you are going to have deals and cover ups . and if you don’t believe that than you are an idiot and God forbid you should be doing any research in the gene field.





Hey Patrick, here’s Tom talking about you in this video.





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