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IEET > Life > Contributors > Lincoln Cannon

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The Altruist God of an Egoist Atheist - (An Interesting perspective for IEETers)

Lincoln Cannon
Lincoln Cannon
Ethical Technology

Posted: Nov 16, 2012

Think of an egoist atheist. What comes to mind? Here’s what doesn’t come to mind: trust in an altruistic god-like extraterrestrial. That, however, is only because you don’t know this egoist atheist: Forbidden Truth (“FT”).

Now, some will think that I'm intending "egoist" as an external judgment or insult, but that's not the case. FT actually identifies both as atheist and egoist. FT also happens to identify as immortalist; in other words, FT values and trusts in the possibility of immortality achieved through technology. However, FT also trusts that "the only real possibility of humanity achieving technological immortality is via extraterrestrial intervention", thereby implying trust in the possibility of god-like power and altruistic behavior among extraterrestrials. When asked about these implications, FT affirms "life very likely exists outside of earth", although it "has nothing to do [with] religion".

Why does this interest me? It's not just that this particular case is entertaining in its obvious irony, but also that the extremity of this case clearly illustrates a prevalent irony that is not always so obvious because it's generally more subtle: some atheists trust in that which at least functions as God and perhaps is "God" for some theists. This trust is expressed by nearly all atheist Transhumanists, whose ideology connotes trust in posthumanity: our god-like future. Many of these atheists (including some as celebrated as Ray Kurzweil, and some of my close friends) suggest that God just doesn't exist yet. However, they're overlooking the function of God as well as the practical implications of their trust in posthumanity.

Below I present my conversation with FT, edited for syntactical clarity. As you read it and recognize the ironies, consider how these ironies present themselves in more subtle ways in the thoughts of other atheists with whom you might interact, and perhaps in your own thoughts.

FT: The afterlife myth is the most directly poisonous aspect of the god myth, because it makes death not just tolerable, but attractive.

Lincoln: Mormon scripture calls death an "awful monster" and situates heaven on Earth in material bodies.

FT: Belief in god is harmful on many different levels, even if it were to inspire technological immortality. The questions are, what demands does this god myth make, and will this religion honor eternal life via technology?

Lincoln: Right. The question should not be whether one believes, but how one believes. What does the belief provoke? I agree that some kinds of belief in God can be harmful.

FT: Religions that promise afterlife upon death devalue life, and destroy inspiration to seek technological immortality. Belief in god is intrinsically harmful because all religious doctrine is shaped by men with malicious objectives.

Lincoln: Some conceptions of afterlife promote escapism and nihilism, but some religions posit material resurrection. I agree some religion reflects malicious intent, but experience teaches me some religion is inspired of good.

FT: The myth of material resurrection after you die is overtly harmful. Death itself must be proactively avoided. Religion cripples human progress, it is a weapon of fear used by political and social leaders to oppress humanity.

Lincoln: The idea of material resurrection is not always harmful when accompanied by that of material transfiguration. Material transfiguration alone can be harmful to persons who don't want to live without lost relations. I agree religion is sometimes used to oppress, and it's sometimes used to liberate. Religion is a form of power, not good or evil in itself, but rather to be used for good or evil.

FT: Weakness and dependency of the human mind is partly genetic, but partly inspired by external destruction of ego. People who need religion to liberate themselves are simply trading in one prison for a different prison. Religion is a weapon, and this weapon is under the control of malicious leaders who use it to oppress. For technological immortality to become a reality, individuals must see themselves as gods, not external phantoms.

Lincoln: I agree that the base of religion should be trust in and change toward creative compassionate posthumanity. Both egotism and nihilism are detrimental to flourishing. Salvation is not merely an individual matter, but rather is both individual and communal. Like all power, religion can be both a weapon of destruction and a tool of creation.

FT: No, the ego is vital to the thriving of the individual. Only a powerful ego can manifest genuine Self-love. Personal salvation must be pursued within ego and Self-love, your immortality is unacceptable if I am denied it. But every mainstream religion imposes an external god figure of authority, making Self-godhood untenable.

Lincoln: I agree that an altruistic ego, with altruism including others and self, is essential to flourishing. Some religions, such as Mormonism, teach we should become equal with God. Greater than love of the self is love of the posthumanity in the self, and we're inter-dependent in that.

FT: That's not enough. I must be Superior to god. I must be empowered to become god to Myself. Without Me there is no universe, the universe only exists as long as I exist, this is healthy, Truth-rooted ego.

Lincoln: How can a community of Gods survive? Can there be only one? How can two Gods that would be above all others survive each other? Love extends beyond itself, attributing meaning and relinquishing power beyond itself.

FT: Treat yourself as a god and you treat Me as a god. Treat yourself as a slave and you have mainstream religion. If every individual embraced himself as a god, the external figurehead would be rendered non-existent.

Lincoln: To the contrary, only by esteeming each other as Gods will we survive - egotism will destroy us. I agree that we should raise each other together in Godhood.

FT: Nobody is esteeming others as gods, except for the charlatans like Osteen and Robertson who demand it under threat. Being considered a god by others is absolutely worthless unless you fully recognize yourself as a god.

Lincoln: I agree. Both egotism and nihilism are destructive.

FT: That's not what I'm saying, so you are not really agreeing with Me. But that's okay.

Lincoln: It's nihilistic not to love yourself, and you cannot love others or be altruistic if you are nihilistic.

FT: Without fully embracing a powerful ego and a sense of personal narcissism, Self-love is only a shadow illusion. A key point however, is how much determination and urgency is put into the effort. If you believe in an afterlife upon death, determination to achieve technological immortality will be diminished.

Lincoln: For many, determination is diminished by the thought that dead loved ones have no chance of resurrection.

FT: The Truth is, unless they are cryogenically preserved they have no chance. Truth must be accepted to move forward. For this very reason, powerful ego, personal narcissism, and unconditional Self-value and Self-love must be cultivated.

Lincoln: The truth is that we don't know enough to reduce resurrection possibilities to cryonics. Sounds like you're alluding to Nietzsche, but he appeals to virtue of friendship and love beyond self.

FT: I appreciate Nietzsche, but I am stating obvious Truth, a powerful ego dissipates the role of others in your life. If your brain cells rot away there is no hope of reanimation, but if they are cryogenically preserved, there is.

Lincoln: Obviously egotism reduces others' role in your life, but that can hurt as much as help you. Why doesn't trust in cryonics weaken work toward immortality? Why not trust in quantum archeology?

FT: Dependency is extremely harmful on many levels, all personal empowerment paths must eliminate it. First, I do not think cryonics will allow for successful reanimation, so it is inaccurate to say I "trust" in it. Cryonics offers a remote possibility for personal immortality, while burial or cremation offers NO possibility. I DO agree that in a very real way, embracing cryonics as a path to immortality DOES weaken the most important work. All technological and scientific resources must be devoted towards preventing death, not preservation of dead. Because despite a grounding within science, quantum archeology involves giant leaps of faith. Logic dictates it is far more difficult to recreate something out of nothing, than preserve what already exists. Humans are always approaching problems from an upside-down perspective. Quantum archeology is an example of this. You already HAVE life, it is illogical not to devote every resource towards eternal preservation via technology. Stop putting cart before horse, after you achieve technological immortality, then you work on quantum archeology.

Lincoln: I agree with the priority you suggest, but disagree with demotivating persons by unnecessarily removing hope. This suggests you place no value in lost relations, and that simply isn't true of most persons. It's not illogical to devote resources to that which I value, which is inclusive of and more than my values. Rejecting hope in resurrection, you unnecessarily diminish value of life for those who value lost relations. As I don't have sufficient evidence to prove, you don't have sufficient to disprove quantum archeology. Quantum archeology wouldn't recreate from nothing, but rather would reorganize from persisting effects. Indeed, as quantum archeology requires faith, so does your trust in the possibility of immortality. In the strictest sense, independence doesn't exist; we must be inter-dependent, and not merely dependent.

FT: No, this diminishment is necessary in order to inspire the urgency of mind that technological immortality requires. Independence of mind, of philosophical spirit, ego that demands personal immortality at every cost, is positive. I absolutely place no value on lost relations, to allow this weakness to subvert immortality is unjustifiable. If you do not value yourself enough to desire immortality regardless of your companion creatures, you fail the ego test. It is completely illogical to devote resources to "raising the dead" instead of preserving the living. Science and technology have already proven that various lower level forms of immortality are achievable. Your path to immortality is far less workable than mine, it has elements of mysticism and faith.

Lincoln: You're deceiving yourself if you think your path to immortality is devoid of faith. Superlative immortality is meaningless, and other forms of immortality require dynamic contextual maintenance. Depending on what you mean by "mysticism", you may be weakening the strength of your ideas by rejecting it. You promote the opposite of urgency when you remove hope in that which persons actually value. That's an important difference between you and others: most of us value relations beyond. For most of us, immortality without relations has less value than relations without immortality. I value friends and fellow creators, raising each other together, and not those that raise only themselves. Ego is enduringly creative only to the extent it is altruistic, considering both itself and others. I agree raising the dead without preserving the living would be impractical, as would be preserving the living without raising the dead. We need both.

FT: You don't need both. You have convinced yourself you need both because you are emotionally dependent upon others. To be willing to sacrifice personal immortality because you can't bring specific creature along, is just dumb. That is completely illogical and a profound betrayal of Self. This attitude cripples intellectual progress. If given the chance to enjoy technological immortality but without currently known "friends", you would reject it? To sacrifice yourself because somebody else is going to be sacrificed is the absence of ego, a great tragedy. My path is devoid of faith. Faith grants legitimacy to mystical and religious theories, which are invalid.

Lincoln: Your criticism of faith here is circular, and you have faith nonetheless. In practice, intellectual progress depends on whatever actually motivates that progress. Sacrifice is dumb only relative to your values. Be aware of your values and how they differ from others'. I agree we should avoid nihilism, but egotism is not the only or best alternative. I would accept immortality, and work to extend it to others. Are you emotionally dependent on yourself? Is something inherently wrong with emotional inter-dependence?

FT: Yes, there is something inherently wrong in not being able to meet your own emotional needs. I control and dictate My own emotions to Myself. As such My emotions are only dependent upon My intellect. Progress depends upon ego, you must want something such as technological immortality with personal passion. At least you have a logical priority on this point.

Lincoln: If you believe emotions are independent of the context in which you find yourself, you're deceiving yourself. I agree that progress depends on desire, but it doesn't depend on my desires alone. Take away relational possibilities, and you'd have many fewer persons working toward immortality with you. What is inherently wrong about needing relations? Apart from relations, does "wrong" mean anything?

FT: It is a form of personal weakness, it makes you vulnerable to manipulation, control, victimization by others. I know that emotions are false flags, invoked by many external factors that I can and do intellectually control. Humans are genetically weak on many different levels, emotional dependency and enmeshment is prime example.

Lincoln: Relations are not merely risks. They are also opportunities. While mere dependency is a weakness, inter-dependency is the basis of our technological civilization. If you think you can and do control those external factors fully then you're deceiving yourself.

FT: Opportunities to be manipulated, controlled, victimized by the needs of others. No thanks. Emotional dependency AND inter-dependency is the most harmful form. I control them to a great degree, more so than almost any other human, as I have devoted My life to this goal.

Lincoln: Forgive my skepticism that you're such an outlier, although I suspect you're more aware than average. Many of the greatest joys in my life have been relational, with family and friends. I'm not using "inter-dependence" to mean co-dependence.

FT: I understand the distinction, inter-dependence is not as toxic as co-dependence, but still harmful, especially emotionally. That's good for you, but consider, maybe these "greatest joys" would pale in comparison to Self-generated joys? It is My ego that allows Me to realize just how unique and special I am.

Lincoln: You are unique and special. You are not unique or special in being unique and special. Many of the greatest joys in my life have been personal, but they're not mutually exclusive with relational. Why don't professional therapists agree that selfish egotism is the best alternative to selfless nihilism?

FT: All psychologists and psychiatrists serve society and government, their goal is not enlightenment or Truth. I am more unique and special to Myself than the typical human, because I fully recognize, embrace My specialness. The enmeshment of relationships that develops over time is based upon inability to fulfill personal needs.

Lincoln: You're unique and special, but you're neither unique nor special in your egotism. Fulfillment of some desires, such as creator love, is possible only through cultivation and not force. Why is it not possible that you're mistaken in your assessment of the value of selfish egotism?

FT: Because I see what self-sacrifice has done to the world, the horrors humanity wreaks upon itself and the universe. What makes Me so unique & special is My determination to uncover and embrace and manifest all Truth within Self. The Superior chooses his desires, controls what he desires just as he controls his emotions.

Lincoln: If that's superiority, it will be short lived. Long lived power depends on cultivation of creators. Most of us don't want to be your prosthetics, so you'll encounter some problems with your aspiration. Some sacrifices are selfless nihilism, and others are empowering investments.

FT: If you find strength in dependency, stick with it. Humans almost never choose Truth over comfort, unlike Me. I sacrifice that which I choose to consciously not desire, need, or want, using the power of My intellectual mind. I have succeeded in manifesting Truth within Myself, on every level, intellect, emotion, and practical life path choice.

Lincoln: You have not manifest all truth exclusively in yourself unless you are all that exists. Shall we test how well that works out for you in a vacuum? Are you dependent on the innumerable persons that are making this Twitter conversation possible?

FT: No, because I have no dependency on this twitter conversation itself. I choose to engage in it. If I awoke tomorrow to find Myself the only human alive on earth, I would be delighted. I have uncovered and embraced all primary Forbidden Truths of life.

Lincoln: Do you choose to engage in the biosphere? Would you be delighted to kill the other humans on Earth? Would you delight in losing possibilities of technological civilization with its innumerable dependencies?

FT: If I had the choice, I would keep air, trees, water, and animals on earth, but not humans, except for Me, of course. I have no specific need or desire for most technologies, and recognize humans use technology for genocidal harm. Humanity as a species does not deserve the gift of life. Specific humans such as Myself do.

Lincoln: So you're dependent on the biosphere? You are dependent on some technologies? Which humans don't deserve life?

FT: Humans who reject Truth, humans who participate in the social structure that destroys and devalues life. At the moment, I require oxygen, food, and water to maintain My existence. Hopefully not in the future.

Lincoln: When you are not dependent on oxygen, food and water, will you be dependent on matter and energy? Are you saying that humans that disagree with your assessment of truth should be killed?

FT: Humans as a whole are unworthy of life, and prove this every day in thousands of different ways, including death embrace. Right now I am not dependent on any technology. If technological immortality became reality, I might be. If I need specific things in order to maintain personal immortality, I accept My dependency on these things.

Lincoln: Are you saying humans as a whole should be killed? Do you feed and protect yourself using tools you made yourself without other tools? So you recognize the value of inter-dependency?

FT: Not as factual reality, no. Humanity refuses to embrace technological immortality and this will not change. I use other human beings, their inventions and even their actions, to aid My experience of life, as a choice. I support the extinction of humanity based upon both genetic and behavioral choice of species failure.

Lincoln: Is it possible that other humans would help you more if you "used" them less and cared for them more? Can you survive without dependency long enough to become dependent on immortality technology?

FT: Probably not, but only because humanity chooses not to create technological immortality as reality. I don't need any help from humans, beyond the gift of technological immortality, which they refuse to provide.

Lincoln: In other words, you don't need help for almost anything except almost everything. So you are dependent on humanity for anything except short term survival?

FT: If immortality is to become reality, it will only be via extraterrestrial help. Humans are too damaged to allow it. All survival is short term, as long as genuine immortality does not viably exist.

Lincoln: I agree, and we will not flourish beyond present notions of suffering and death without working together. So you're dependent on god-like extraterrestrials for immortality, and you criticize religion!?!

FT: You can work for thousands of years with millions of people, but if Truth is missing, nothing will be achieved. It is clear to any logical thinker that life very likely exists outside of earth, and has nothing to do with religion. Gotta go eat something and then tweet more Truth, but enjoyed the stimulating conversation.

Lincoln: Thanks for the conversation.

FT: Take it easy and good luck in your immortality quest.

That's the end of my conversation with FT. As you can plainly see, FT trusts that god-like extraterrestrials may be altruistic enough to grant immortality to humanity, despite our unworthiness for life. Like FT, other atheist Transhumanists trust at least that our environment will be conducive to a radically flourishing posthuman potential. FT also illustrates another characteristic of atheist Transhumanists generally, and that is their general willingness to engage in critical debate with relatively minimal resort to personal attacks. I've long enjoyed that, and found it particularly refreshing in contrast to debates with religious fundamentalists.

Lincoln Cannon is a philosopher and professional software engineer. In his spare time, he serves as president of the Mormon Transhumanist Association.
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“FT: Religions that promise afterlife upon death devalue life…”

There are exceptions to every rule: one great positive to houses of worship (organised religion, for short) is the succor they offer and give to the dying. What does a terminal patient have to lose by accepting a fiction of an afterlife? FT ought to visit houses of worship; mosques, churches, synagogues, etc., to see firsthand the benefits and liabilities of what they offer and provide. IMO we’d be better off having the benefits of succor for the dying without organised religion—eliminating the middleman so to speak—but religion has existed for so long it is embedded in our lives, for now. We take funerals, for instance, for granted, it is expected that the way funerals are conducted should remain the same albeit the real value is probably to the mortician and funeral parlor.


Derren Brown - Fear and Faith

Derren Brown, (mentalist), explains his hypothesis for Human psychological needs, origins and creation of religion. Then selects an atheist and uses empathy to give them a religious experience, (“God moment”), showing that all Human needs are fundamentally the same, and that brains are “pre-wired” for spirituality and faith.

Channel 4OD programmes are FREE to watch, simple subscription is required for older programmes.

Re: your discussion with FT - There are both ironies and many similarities in ideals above. The argument/disagreement seems to lie with the “personification” of Gods, (Ego), internalized and externalized, (Atheism rejects the latter)?

FT is correct to emphasize the importance of Ego, because this IS the core manifestation and illusion of “Self”, it is of great importance for existence. So where is God manifest? Who is God? Who then aspires?

Derren, of course there are many understandings of God. I trust in a God that is creative and compassionate posthumanity, both immanently expressed in our potential minds and bodies, and transcendently expressed in our actual world—we are thoughts of God, and we are a God in embryo.

Whilst egotism infers the preoccupation with an inflated sense of Self, the term does not equate merely with/to Selfish behaviours alone?

The Ego is the Self you presume to be and think that you are, (within the mind). There is no more to you than this, ultimately?

It is customary to talk of the ego and differentiate as if some attribute, an attached symbiosis that we may judge as arbiter from a distance. Yet this is really the ego reflecting upon it-Self?

In short, there is no genuine Self,  enduring ego or eternal Soul. The Soul you presume to be or have is merely another term for Self identity, supported by the ego?

This does not negate the importance of who you are, who or what you aspire to become? The ego is the executive that drives us for good or ill, and moreover has conscience to discriminate even against it-Self?

CygnusX1, I agree with almost everything you wrote, although I disagree with the idea that “there is no genuine Self, enduring ego or eternal Soul” unless “Self”, “ego” and “Soul” are defined narrowly. So far as I’m concerned, all three exist dynamically, and it’s only by recognizing and acknowledging them as dynamic that we see and speak of them as there are genuinely and eternally.

Why is atheism’s representative some Objectivist douche?

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