Event: Religion and Transhumanism – Conference May 10 2014 — Oakland CA USA

Transhumanism and Religion Logo

Are Transhumanism and Religion opposed to each other? If so, why are many of their goals the same?  The 4th conference by TRANSHUMAN VISIONS examines the often contentious relationship between religion and transhumanism via 12 speakers representing a wide-range of different viewpoints: Buddhist, Islam, Mormon, Catholic, Atheist, Jewish, Wicca, Lutheran, Seventh Day Adventist, Terasem, Urantia, and mystical traditions.

The conference is Lead Sponsored by the Institute for Ethics and Emerging Technology. Secondary sponsor is the Mormon Transhumanist Association. The event is produced by Hank Pellissier of the Brighter Brains Institute.
The Speakers are:
Mike LaTorra, Ted Peters, Amin Tejpar, Pei Koay, Brian Green, Lincoln CannonShannon Avana,  Zoltan IstvanCarol QueenByron BelitsosRobert Walden KurtzJason XuHank Pellissier
The event will be held in Piedmont Veteran’s Hall, 401 Highland Avenue, Piedmont, California.
Tickets are available via EventBrite HERE.
Kokum Fine Cuisine will cater the event, serving authentic North Indian home-style dishes – gluten-free and halal. Coffee, Chai Tea, and Mango Lassis will also be available.
What is the nature of ultimate reality?
Is transhumanism intrinsically atheist, intrinsically pantheist, intrinsically deist, or intrinsically metaphysical in any particular way?
How broad and inclusive is transhumanism?
Are religion and transhumanism compatible, or antagonistic?
What are the real points of disagreement between religion and transhumanism?
How will religions change in the face of new science and technology?
Mike LaTorra (Rev. Michael “Gozen” La Torra-sensi) writes and teaches in Las Cruces, New Mexico, where he’s a professor in the English Department at New Mexico State University. He is the author of A Warrior Blends with Life: A Modern Tao. He serves as President and Abbot of the Daibutsuji Zen Temple (Zen Center of Las Cruces) and a formal devotee of Avatar Adi Da Samraj. Additionally, he is on the Board of Directors of the Institute for Ethics and Emerging Technology and Humanity+. Mike’s appearance at the conference is sponsored by the Institute for Ethics and Emerging Technology.
Ted Peters is a futurist and scholar who focuses on the interaction between theology and science. Rather than warfare, he pursues a peaceful cooperation between these two great enterprises of the human mind. He co-edits the journal, Theology and Science, for the Center for Theology and the Natural Sciences (CTNS) at the Graduate Theological Union (GTU) in Berkeley. He has published numerous articles and books on the evolution controversy, the genetic determinism controversy, the stem cell controversy, and the UFO controversy. See his website: Ted’s Timely Take, tedstimelytake.com.
His topic will be: The Future of Transhumanism as a New Religious Movement
Despite the rejection of traditional religious views of immortality on the part of Trasnhumanists, the H+ agenda looks more and more like that of the rejected religion. Could H+ itself be a form of secular spirituality? In this presentation Ted Peters will provide an introduction to the key components within the Transhumanist vision and show that there is greater compatibility with classic Christian commitments than is usually assumed. The Promethean zeal for a techno-utopia will lead to an ethical proposal: if we fall short of achieving an immortal utopia, might the H+ agenda still contribute to human flowering by providing advanced biotech therapies and even enhancement techniques?
Amin Tejpar is interested in transhumanism and its religious implications from a Muslim perspective. He is currently a doctoral student at Graduate Theological Union, who explores the intersections of science and religion from cultural and historical perspectives. As a science and technology education consultant and advocate for the popularization and public understanding of science, he has a passion for promoting cross-cultural dialogue through the history of ideas. He is a frequent speaker on the global history of science and philosophy at campuses, schools, conferences, and public forums. Amin has worked with Zayed University, Cornell University, and Université de Montréal. He was a consultant on National Geographic’s publication Lost History: The Enduring Legacy of Muslim Scientists, Thinkers, and Artists (2007). With GAPC (Ottawa), Amin worked on a team to help develop a TV-series that would investigate the production of science in Muslim societies from the 9th to 16th centuries. He is also currently developing youth development and teacher education programs that promote global perspectives, pluralism, and civil society in international communities and classrooms. Amin is a graduate of Columbia University’s Teachers College (MA, Science Education) and University of Toronto (BSc, Molecular Genetics and Biology), with graduate research at the Institute for the History and Philosophy of Science and Technology.
Pei Koay (PhD) i a researcher and communicator in the field of Science, Technology, and Medicine Studies (STMS). In her words: This discipline and the projects I work on assess the impact of sciences, medicine, and technologies (like new genetic medical sciences) on social organizations and social relations. At the same time, those in this field look at the social processes internal and external to science that influence how novel science and technologies are developed and deployed. My goals are to create more awareness of the huge impact that science and technology play in modern Western society; to aid people, ranging from policy makers to practitioners to stakeholders to citizens to develop a ‘sociological imagination’ for linking personal issues to the scientific and technological forces that they are embedded in; and to facilitate cross-disciplinary, -professional, and -group dialogue on contemporary public policy issues that concern science, technology, and citizens.
Brian Green, Ph.D., is Assistant Director of Campus Ethics Programs at the Markkula Center for Applied Ethics and faculty in the School of Engineering at Santa Clara University. His doctorate and MA degrees are in Ethics and Social Theory from the Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley, and his undergraduate degree is in Genetics from the University of California, Davis. After spending two years as a teacher in the Marshall Islands, a nations still suffering the effects of nuclear weapons testing and facing the future threat of climate change, he transitioned his interests from science and biotechnology towards questions concerning the ethical applications of technology. He has a strong interest in the dialogue between science, theology, technology, and ethics, and the questions that they pose for each other. Transhumanism, as the ultimate application of technology towards human nature, provides excellent test cases for investigating these questions. He has written and talked on genetic anthropology, the cognitive science of the virtues, astrobiology and ethics, cultural evolution and Catholic tradition, medical ethics, Catholic moral theology, Catholic natural law ethics, transhumanism, and many other topics. He blogs at TheMoralMindfield and many of his writings are available at his Academia.edu profile.
Lincoln Cannon is a technologist and philosopher. He has over seventeen years of professional experience in information technology, including leadership roles in software engineering at Ancestry.com, where he mentored management and reorganized teams for major strategic shifts, and Symantec, where he reduced costs by millions of dollars through process automation and globalized teamwork; and in marketing technology at Merit Medical, where CIO Magazine and others featured him for innovation.Lincoln is a leading advocate of technological evolution and postsecular religion, and is a cofounder and president of the Mormon Transhumanist Association, which has become the largest religious Transhumanist organization in the world. He holds degrees in business administration and philosophy from Brigham Young University. He is married with Dorothée Vankrieckenge, a French national, and they have three bilingual children. In his spare time, he enjoys touring, backpacking, watching science fiction movies, playing strategy games, reading and writing philosophy, cheering for his children at sporting events, and discussing just about anything controversial over good food with family and friends. Lincoln’s appearance at the conference is sponsored by the Brighter Brains Institute.
Shannon Avana will talk about “transitioning from atheism to belief in god. I was a hardcore atheist for most of my life, so I understand where most of the transhumanist community is coming from… my current beliefs are from several mystic traditions.”
Shannon Avana is a personal coach and lecturer, living in Berkeley, CA and who works with clients on multiple continents. She specializes in teaching how to increase work productivity via overcoming anxiety and depression. She understands that results are what most matter when it comes to psychological interventions, and that taking data is crucial. Her studies and personal counseling practice have taught her that there many opportunities for overcoming anxiety and depression in unexpected and powerful ways. Her results speak for themselves. See the impressive results she is getting with her clients here.
To learn more about Shannon visit http://anxietygoaway.com .
Zoltan Istvan is a best-selling visionary author. An Hungarian-American, he began a solo, multi-year sailing journey around the world at the age of 21. His main cargo was 500 handpicked books, mostly classics. He’s explored over 100 countries—many as a journalist for the National Geographic Channel—writing, filming, and appearing in dozens of television stories, articles, and webcasts. His work has also been featured by The New York Times Syndicate, Outside, San Francisco Chronicle, BBC Radio, NBC, ABC, CBS, FOX, Animal Planet, and the Travel Channel. In addition to his award-winning coverage of the war in Kashmir, he gained worldwide attention for pioneering and popularizing the extreme sport of volcano boarding. Zoltan later became a director for the international conservation group WildAid, leading armed patrol units to stop the billion-dollar illegal wildlife trade in Southeast Asia. Back in America, he started various successful businesses, from real estate development to filmmaking to viticulture, joining them under ZI Ventures. He is a philosophy and religious studies graduate of Columbia University and resides in San Francisco with his daughter and physician wife. Zoltan recently published The Transhumanist Wager, a fictional thriller describing apatheist Jethro Knights and his unwavering quest for immortality via science and technology. The novel was recently a #1 bestseller in both Philosophy and Sci-Fi Visionary & Metaphysical on Amazon. Zoltan also blogs for Psychology Today and The Huffington Post.
Carol Queen is an author, editor, sociologist, and sexologist active in the sex-positive feminism movement. Queen has written on human sexuality in books such as “Real Live Nude Girl: Chronicles of Sex-Positive Culture.” She has written a sex tutorial, “Exhibitionism for the Shy: Show Off, Dress Up and Talk Hot” as well as erotica, such as the novel “The Leather Daddy and the Femme.” Queen has produced adult movies, events, workshops and lectures. Queen was featured as an instructor and star in both installments of the “Bend Over Boyfriend” series about female-to-male anal sex. She has also served as editor for compilations and anthologies. Her presentation will be on Wicca. She has been profiled in newWitch magazine, and is anthologized in Modern Pagans. Her appearance at the conference is sponsored by the Brighter Brains Institute.
Byron Belitsos – is an author, editor, journalist, and publisher. He’s the founder and CEO of Origin Press, an award-winning book publishing company based in San Rafael. He earned a B.A. in intellectual history from the University of Chicago, plus graduate work in history, literature, poetry, philosophy, and religious studies at Naropa Institute, University of California, and California Institute of Integral Studies. Byron has studied the The Urantia Book for 37 years; he has written and spoken widely on its teachings, and he’s co-authored and published three books on the topic: The Center Within: Lessons from the Heart of the Urantia Revelation (1998); The Secret Revelation: Unveiling the Mystery of the Book of Revelation; and The Adventure of Being Human: Lessons on Soulful Living from the Heart of the Urantia Revelation (2012). He also co-authored A Return To Healing (2009) (Nautilus Gold Prize winner) and One World Democracy (2005). Belitsos was an inaugural member of Ken Wilber’s Integral Institute.Is The Urantia Book an literary hoax? Or a “New Age Bible”? Or revelation from extra-terrestials? The futuristic 2,000-page text has been an enigmatic underground legend since its publication in 1955 – influencing intellectuals and artists such as Jimi Hendrix and Carlos Santana— while selling over a million copies worldwide. Its topics include cosmology, the afterlife, science, evolution, planetary history, spirituality, and the life and teachings of Jesus.
Robert Walden Kurtz wants to bridge H+, humanism, and religion. Why? Since funding and policy depend on it, our lengthenable lives are at stake. A Seventh-day Adventist pastor, he is currently Adjunct Professor of Philosophy, Assistant Dean of Men, and I.T. Steering Committee Chair at Pacific Union College, where he has also taught ethics, theology and mathematics and served as Director of Development. He earned his M.Div. at Andrews University and peace officer certification from Phoenix Law Enforcement Training Center and Contra Costa County Sheriff’s Academy. He served in law enforcement for fifteen years in five agencies, most recently as a Contra Costa deputy, was a member of the Arizona Department of Education Curriculum Design Team, and taught mathematics at Vallejo High School. Wellness and life extension leaders since 1863, Adventists are known for longer lifespans and wild, futuristic medical research. Trained in Adventist health education at Weimar Institute, Kurtz was Wellness Program Coordinator at Andrews University and has conducted smoking cessation, fitness, and nutrition programs for thirty years. He is also an emergency medical technician, firefighter, chaplain, dog trainer, poet, tenor, and student of Danzan Ryu Kodenkan Jujitsu. His scholastic interests include ontology, philosophy of mind, consciousness, spirituality, and integrative health. His goal: Live well forever—by whatever means
Jason Xu Jason Xu is community organizer for Terasem Silicon Valley, a spiritual community celebrating humanity’s path toward joyful immortality via future digital emulations of all consciousness. He has spent the past two years exploring all eight major world religions and being a passionate advocate for Transhumanism. As a Terasem center coordinator in Florida, he managed Terasem gatherings and performed Terasem rituals. As a spiritual transhumanist, he advocates devotion to technoutopianism as the fulfillment and syncretization of all faiths.
Hank Pellissier was the Institute for Ethics and Emerging Technology’s managing director in 2012, and he’s an IEET Affiliate Scholar. He is presently the director of Brighter Brains Institute and the TRANSHUMAN VISIONS conference series. He has a Master’s degree in Humanities/Religious Studies, with a thesis on “Jodo-Shinshu Buddhism in the Insect Haiku of Kobayashi Issa.” He produced San Francisco’s first Buddhist Performance Festival, the SF Bay Area’s first Muslim Performance Festival, and the world’s first Atheist Film Festival. He was raised Catholic; he lived for a year in a Quaker community in Costa Rica; and he currently intends to be a member of Kehilla Community Synagogue in Piedmont.

6 Responses

  1. Nicholas says:

    I honestly dont get why there is this division. Yes there are some specific sects that are more for or against transhumanism but religion as a blanket term has nothing to do with transhumanism. Transhumanism is primarily about using technology to advance humans beyond their natural limitations. Religion is about one’s belief on the existence of forces beyond our perception and understanding of the universe.

    Especially on a personal level. Most people that believe in a divinity and an after life also believe in evolution, big bang, ect.

    • Mohit says:

      Most religions believe in progression through their worship, or what they believe in, and they see trans-humanism as an opposition that promotes progression through human abilities and technological means. To them, this goes against what they believe, thus the division.

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