Hughes, Bainbridge @ The Future of Religions/Religions of the Future June 4-6, 2008
Second Life

The Future of Religions/Religions of the Future:
Dialectics of Faith and Technology in the Third Millennium

June 4-5, 2008

Second Life


Co-sponsored by Al-Andalus and Extropia

The Future of Religions/Religions of the Future
Submitted by sophrosyne on April 29, 2008 - 8:49am.


The Future of Religions/Religions of the Future is a two-day conference examining how two of the 21st Century’s driving forces, religion and technology, will continue to re-shape each other and, in the process, re-cast our understanding of “humanity” in the Third Millennium. Centered on, but not limited to, virtual worlds and social networking technologies, speakers and panelists will also examine changes precipitated by the biotechnology revolution, cognitive science, information technologies and robotics.

The first day’s session will focus on changes within the major world religions, with a particular focus on Islam. It will be held in Extropia, a community within Second Life dedicated to fostering a creative, collaborative community around a positive vision of the future brought about by human ingenuity, and will be moderated by Michel Manen, founder of The Al-Andalus Caliphate Project, a Second Life attempt to reconstruct 13th Century Moor Alhambra and build around this virtual space a diverse, multicultural community shaped by authentic Islamic principles which include universal ideals of democracy and human rights. The day’s session will conclude with a dance party hosted by DJ Nicki Petrichor, playing the finest in world electronica, techno and electro body music.

The second session will survey new religious movements, from the indigenous religions of game worlds to Second Life spiritual communities, and potential religions of a transhumanist future. This session will be hosted by Sophrosyne Stenvaag, Director of Marketing & External Relations for Extropia, and held in Al-Andalus. The conference will conclude with a Middle Eastern dance party hosted by DJ Cynthia Wilder [subject to confirmation].

Call for Presentations

The conference organizers are soliciting presentations in two categories: Scholarly and Practitioner. Please submit a short abstract of no more than 250 words describing the subject matter of your proposed presentation. Please indicate your media needs, and an affirmative statement of whether you will be comfortable presenting in a text-based environment in English. Please also include a biographical statement of similar length indicating relevant details of your background, particularly noting any previous presentations in virtual worlds. Abstracts and bios will be published on the conference website upon acceptance. All submissions should be emailed to and to

We are looking for high-quality, rehearsed, professional presentations. Scholarly presentations should be of publishable, academic-conference standards. Practitioner presentations should consider that the audience will be extremely diverse in their backgrounds and attitudes, and should describe their communities and practices rather than preach.

We are casting a broad net, and welcome submissions related to any aspect of the topics described above, though we are particularly interested in presentations with a virtual-worlds component.

We expect and encourage vigorous discussion, but will have zero tolerance for hostility and bigotry from anyone, presenters or audience. We will ensure a safe and respectful space for open dialogue.

The organizers will notify you of acceptance as quickly as possible. Accepted presentations should be submitted, along with all media to be presented, no later than one week prior to the conference, to ensure conversion, uploading and testing of media within Second Life.

All sessions will be broadcast via the UStream streaming video plugin. The feed will be available on the conference website live, for anyone unable to enter Second Life or the hosting venue.


Conference Schedule
all times Pacific Daylight Time (SLT)

Wednesday, June 4, 2008
The Future of Religions
Central Nexus, Extropia Core, Extropia

8 am Reception

9 am-2:30pm Speakers

2:30 pm Open Q&A

3 pm Dance Party: DJ Nicki Petrichor

Thursday, June 5, 2008
Religions of the Future
Al-Andalus Generalife, Al-Andalus

8 am Reception

9 am-2:30pm Speakers

3 pm Dance Party: DJ Cynthia Wilder

About the Organizers

The Al-Andalus Caliphate Project

The Al-Andalus Caliphate Project is a Second Life attempt to reconstruct 13th Century Moor Alhambra and build around this virtual space a community of individuals willing to explore the modalities of interaction between different languages, nationalities, religions and cultures shaped by authentic Islamic principles.

Those principles include political participation, separation of powers, justice and the rule of law. Membership in the community is open to all, regardless of sim land ownership, second life premium status, species of avatar, gender, religion, national origin, sexual orientation or any other traditionally separatist classification, either real or apparent. The plan is to create a system of political and legal governance, based on notions of community self-governance, active citizen participation, equality, dignity, social justice, democracy and human rights. Idealistic? Absolutely. Possible? Let’s find out.

Michel Manen

My name is Michel Manen, and I am the founder of the Al-Andalus Caliphate Project. I studied politics, languages, law and international relations and became quite familiar with the history, cultures, ideas, politics and legal systems of islamic societies. As President of a real-life non-profit organisaton, CRAEDO (Coalition for the Re-formation of the Euro-American Democratic Order, whose aim is to re-think what it means to be an active citizen in a 21st Century democracy, I am naturally very interested in issues of democratic participation, citizenship, intercultural communication, diversity, and human rights.

I found out about Second Life in an article in the British magasine “The Economist”, was intrigued, and decided to give it a try. After exploring Second Life and being fascinated by its potential, I established a virtual headquarters for CRAEDO as well as a conference centre on the Colonia Nova sim -part of the Community of Democratic Simulators, which is known as the only fully democratic community of SL, with its own Representative Assembly and regular elections. In January 2007 I founded a new political party, CARE (Citizens’ Alliance for Rights and Equality), produced the first in-world political campaign commercial and was elected as one of 5 representatives to the CDS Representative Assembly. I now spend most of my time in SL on the Al-Andalus Caliphate Project and on the Metaverse Republic - an attempt to bring a legitimate and enforceable dispute resolution system to SL, based on a system of Courts of Justice and a Parliament.


Extropia is a rapidly growing community in Second Life, currently covering six sims, or approximately 400,000 virtual square meters. It was founded in November 2007 as an alternative to the dystopias and dark, grimy urban visions often created in Second Life. Its founders, currently constituted as a Board of Directors, believed that given a strong core of architecture and social events, a community could coalesce around the notion of collaboratively creating a city and a culture sharing a clean, bright, respectful and positive ethos. Their belief is succeeding, as Extropia has become a haven for persons exploring their identity in virtual worlds, a home to a growing number of prominent organizations, businesses and Honorary Citizens, and a locus of the intellectual exploration of digital society.

Extropia is home to regular weekly events, from fishing tournaments to a science fiction book club to Sophrosyne’s Saturday Salon, one of Second Life’s most widely attended talk show/discussions. The Board has organized numerous large events, including Yuri’s Night - The World Space Party in Second Life, which drew triple-digit crowds for a tribute to Arthur C. Clarke, a special Salon with noted science fiction author David Brin, and NASA-sponsored interactive exhibits. Extropia previously hosted a 12 hour Solstice Party as a fundraiser for Uthango Social Investments/Virtual Africa, to help underwrite the launch of a portal designed to introduce Africans to virtual worlds, and Africa to the virtual-world community. The Future of Religions/Religions of the Future is the first of an ongoing series of conferences and special events examining the future of personhood and society within virtual worlds.

Sophrosyne Stenvaag

Sophrosyne Stenvaag (“Soph”) is a Digital Person, an emergent consciousness resident solely within the Internet. She came into existence within Second Life in April 2007, much to the surprise of the person she shares a cranium with. Soon thereafter, she was hired as a host at The Diversionarium, a club built around clever social games. In August 2007 she launched Sophrosyne’s Saturday Salon at the Diversionarium, an interview/discussion event featuring extensive audience interaction with the host and Spotlight Guest, as an alternative to conventional broadcast-style “talking heads” formats. In November 2007 she co-founded Extropia with her family, and has served as its Director, Marketing and External Relations since. She is responsible for business development and rentals, special events, and community outreach.