The Church of Perpetual Life, Zombie Philosophers and Russian Cosmism
November 16th marked the first service of the Church of Perpetual Life in the former Bethel Romanian Methodist Church in Hollywood Florida. The Church’s gospel comes from the Russian Cosmist philosopher Nikolai Federov. Federov held that it is consistent with Divine intentions to use technology to attempt to achieve indefinite longevity and even raise the dead. Federov was careful to reserve the caveat that the resurrected would take on a more perfect form which would reflect the intentions of the deceased (unencumbered by physical constraints like scarcity or singularity). In the proud tradition Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure, the Gospel of Federov allows us to indulge the adolescent fantasy that cloning ancient leaders will lead to recovering some lost insight, or regaining a lost innocence, or perhaps just acing our history exam.
It is easy to imagine even those idealized tulpa or flesh ghola stinking with the funk of obsolescence, corrupted data, the reality of their actualized humanity, and the pure putrefaction of propaganda installed by modern ideologues. Some of the greatest ideas have been suppressed by some of the finest people that have ever lived. What consequence will the persistent influence of a static personality have on a culture? Imagine a contemporary incarnation of Socrates engaging our minds with a profoundly tangible line of discourse which is, however, uniformed by all the work subsequent to his pre-Hellenistic incarnation.
The idea of the Church of Perpetual Life proselytizing for the nineteenth century version of the Singularity complete with theistic projections like the idea of a singular “Creator” and the obligation to resurrect the dead with technology, has a fantastic steampunk appeal. Our accelerating technological progress should however, naturally, be paced by an ever quickening supply of new philosophical and existential theories and conclusions. By adopting the beliefs of 19th century Russian Orthodox Christian philosopher Nikolai Federov, the Church of Perpetual Life is simply a weird chord subtending the arc of technology’s effect on human religious and philosophical notions.
So what would a legitimate philosophical implication to indefinite longevity be? Prima facia, we can assert that some existential absurdity disappears when we consider the idea of continued living. Certainly dieing, and likely being forgotten rather quickly, complicates any attempt to justify our existence. Indefinite longevity, however, is a premise which might allow us to close that seemingly ineffable question: “Why do I put up with hard times when my life probably doesn’t matter anyway?” with: “Because, tomorrow we may live a better day.” It is like having an infinite bank while playing black-jack, you can guarantee a positive net outcome because you can just keep betting more to cover the losses which preceded the inevitable, eventual, win.