As we move further into the 21st century, humanity has within reach the ability to alter the body human to such an extent as to give rise to a new posthuman species. What is less clear is whether our ethical, moral, and spiritual development can keep pace with our technological prowess.
In this presentation, IEET contributing writer Dorothy Deasy says our faith communities are in a unique position to speak up for the need to hold both God and science together in our lives, to check human hubris and offset individual motives in exchange for ethical standards that support social justice.
Given at the “Transhumanism and Spirituality” conference, October 1, 2010, in Salt Lake City, Utah.
I'm so pleased you mentioned the "Golden rule" and it's importance as a guide and universal benchmark for our spiritual and ethical evolution, and I believe it can support the ethical and moral debates concerning the diverse contemplation's of transhuman futures. If we hold onto nothing else in the future arguments of human social directives and technological evolution, then the golden rule must still serve as a foundation for guiding and supporting social values and help in building non-divisive societies. Everyone knows the Golden rule, yet we so are so oft to push it aside and make exceptions, and cloud the fundamental principal with our own political viewpoints and ideals?
"Western culture of dualism"
This has been discussed here before, but not at length. Competitiveness, selfishness, individualism, and egoism all stand in the face of unity and unification. Asian spiritual cultures are raised with a fundamental understanding of unity, whereas western capitalist politics strive to promote competitiveness expressed through individualism. Can we support both contemplation's in promoting egalitarianism in a technological future?
I still profess that "the goal is not to be Self-less, it is to be not Self-ish", meaning that individualism and individual expression can be supported on a foundation of universal moral values that define and underpin unity – Once more, as the Hindu tenet professes, "unity through diversity" suggests the embrace and understanding of diversity and acceptance of the subjectivity of diverse viewpoints through the underlying knowledge that all is ultimately connected and a part of the whole. The Hegelian proposal that "thesis + antithesis = synthesis, (the whole)" is a similar viewpoint, although I'm not sure how far Hegel's imperialism aligns itself with spiritual unity? However, it does appear to propose an objective and logical view towards unity, (something that the ancient vedist had also already uncovered). An understanding of unity and connectedness thus natural tends towards beneficence?
"God is relevant ..and remains the whole, the entirety, the unity of creation"
God is still relevant for most, and to deny or discard this as irrelevant would be foolish and divisive, this we know. The question concerning creation still remains, and will, and should not serve as cause to detract from the more important issues concerning unification. Individuals should be permitted to worship and practice their beliefs in any way they so wish, as long as this is non-harmful to others. I do think that the notion of God as entity, as well as the conceptual, will still remain throughout this century, despite the promises of the technological singularity. Again, all views should be accepted and respected as a guide to support unification.
The embrace of the concept of "connectedness" presents itself as defining a new, (or old), perspective and paradigm shift that can build the foundation for human spiritual and ethical evolution, and promote global social, moral and ethical universal values and alignment in the new technological age? This holistic view of unity seems over-simplistic and impossible to some, yet technology itself presents a means and an opportunity to pursue universal values through social awareness, communication of ideas and a shift in global human consciousness towards universal values through our universal wants and needs?
Thus as you say, there should be a "call to action and interaction", each of us capable in promoting a view towards unification and universal trans-human values?
<b> Science, Morality, and Sam Harris </b> - Russell Blackford
<b> Moral by definition? (Some slightly technical philosophy.) </b> - Russell Blackford
The greatest spiritual problem that I’ve noticed logically and phenomenological is that there is no definition. I’ve written about this extensively, and plan to make stronger ties in my next publication. While spirituality is acknowledged as non-physical entities interacting in our physical world/lives, when synthesizing its manifestations we often make illogical linkages like that of connectivity and empathy and even physical transactions.
Spirituality is not synonymous with empathy and cannot be “born-out by science” It’s lack of definition is it’s greatest strength as well as what cripples it as rational thought transforms a growingly secular society. The philosophies mentioned in the video/article by Dorothy are those of humanist egalitarianism, and although the ring wholesome and are desirable to those of use looking for connections of sorts (with humans and other physical beings, with and without sentience), they are far from achievable without a transhuman (or technological) solution to liberate human-kind from its cognitively astute, yet unavoidable, animal-istic reaction to scarcities of sorts. In my last book I write about this inability to achieve harmonies in an essay titled “competition is primitive”.
I’m of the group that thinks it clear that ancient theologies and ideologies won’t suffice in the existing world of realized exponential growth —> I don’t think it possible to use a humanistic ethic to critique transhuman (or human-plus) self-actualizations. Having stated that, this is not an effort to suppress the exploration of spirituality in it’s entirety, as it would be dangerous to suppress any engagement; further, spirituality needs to be defined by its users and “scientists” before philosophical exploration in order to provide a rather scientific methodology of tracking and creating information technologies (bodies of knowledge) from the on-going explorations. Considering the Physics here: If we’d like to use spirituality as our core rhetoric of human connection, then it cannot also be a representative of some non-physical manifestation—>visa versa.
Below is my full rebuttal:
Posted by dor on 05/02 at 04:34 PM
"Once more, as the Hindu tenet professes, "unity through diversity" suggests the embrace and understanding of diversity and acceptance of the subjectivity of diverse viewpoints through the underlying knowledge that all is ultimately connected and a part of the whole. "
Once again, CygnusX1, you are letting your wisdom show.
After this conference I spoke at another and it was quite clear to me you are, of course, right. It is both unrealistic and insensitive to expect that all faiths (even all Christian faiths) would modernize.
As you say"'the goal is not to be Self-less, it is to be not Self-ish', meaning that individualism and individual expression can be supported on a foundation of universal moral values that define and underpin unity". Very well put.
@James Felton Keith
Science has a good deal to say about empathy and I see empathy as an essential aspect of spirituality.
You are correct, though, that there is a lack of definition for spirituality. Andrew Newberg, in "Principles of Neurotheology" makes a similar point. "If neurotheology is to be considered a viable field going forward, it requires a set of clear principles that can be generally agreed upon and supported by both the theological and religious perspective and the scientific one as well."
I'll need to read your work in more detail to fully understand what you mean by " I don’t think it possible to use a humanistic ethic to critique transhuman (or human-plus) self-actualizations".
Posted by post-postfuturist on 05/04 at 11:00 AM
If there's something to, say (a random example), Kirilian photography, etc., then maybe, just 'maybe'. However if it's too airy-fairy and "things that go bump in the night", then perhaps not; it might be a case of a lower priority.. we each have only so many seconds, minutes, hours in the day to waste on chasing phantoms, we have to prioritize. However spirituality/religion unquestionably works for some-- for very many.
Every man to the devil his own way.
Posted by dor on 05/04 at 12:04 PM
"we each have only so many seconds, minutes, hours in the day to waste on chasing phantoms, we have to prioritize"
In this talk I tried to stress that spirituality is not about "chasing phantoms" but rather the decisions we make in our lives, how we choose to live, and how we see our connection to others.
"Every man to the devil his own way"
I'd not have put it that way -- : )
But the point is right on; spirituality is not imposed from the outside. It is tapping into our own innate connections and so different people have different experiences.