h+ Magazine

Transhumanism and the End of Religion

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  • #18880
    Peter
    Member

    Mankind is still embryonic … [humans are] the bud from which something more complicated and more centered than [humans themselves] should emerge. ~ Teilhard de Chardin

    [See the full post at: Transhumanism and the End of Religion]

    #18884
    Tim
    Participant

    Sorry guys, this is too touchy-feely to let pass.

    First, Religion and Transhumanism are entirely compatible, its just that there are too many atheists out there who want to make the substitution rather than take the time to actually think about it. The generalizations here about religion are biased and propagandistic, much the same style as some of my political customers use, it makes me wonder what he is rebelling against. Transhumanism should be much more a science than that. Dismissing religion as “archaic superstitions” is just philosophically ignorant.

    Besides this, religion has been probably the most civilizing and scientifically advancing force in humanity’s history. It is subject to evolutionary forces that (in many cases) have radically improved it over time. One could easily make the case that religion is the origin of both capitalism and democracy. Have a second look at the Ten Commandments! Without religion, we would likely still be chipping out rock bowl’s for our morning oatmeal.

    Second, what for heaven’s sake can he possibly mean by a “a better and more meaningful cosmos”???? It’s vague and unsupported concepts like this that have made much of the philosophy in the past 50 years absolutely useless. (Some of you may recall that “foundational” philosophers before that considered philosophy to be a science to be applied to practical matters).

    Want to know what life is about? Study evolutionary psychology, you will eventually come to the conclusion that the meaning of life is continued life (nutshell, finished, but not trivial in the least), and that the “cosmos” is really secondary in importance. The major religions understand that, by the way… You won’t find any more meaning out there other than some interesting science, perhaps something that might apply to the real meaning, which is, of course, human life.

    Transhumanism is also about life and continued life, and I enjoy it because of the science, and because it has a predictive nature that, as an engineer and futurist, I am very interested in. Its fine to be poetic, but let’s not insult things we don’t understand.

    Sorry to be harsh, hope wasn’t too disrespectful – my two cents.

    tk

    #18885
    Kenneth Anderson
    Participant

    Here is a way to evolve yet keep and transform old religion.

    Traditional religion has declared a goal to life that is not much related to material life or evolution but related mainly to the involutionary opposite: a nonmaterial God Within. Few science-oriented people have had the courage to claim some sort of internal direction to life, or even a development toward complexity in evolution. Francis Heylighen and Ken Wilber are two modern thinkers who have shown courage in discussing a direction in evolution. Philosopher Wilber said, evolution is “the opposite of chance or randomness in the universe. It’s evidence of a force that is pursuing against randomness in the universe… Neo-Darwinian evolutionary theory holds that all of these transformations upward were just the result of chance and randomness. But there is no way in hell that the universe went from atoms to Shakespeare out of random stabs. This is an extraordinary driven process.” (Conversation in Enlightenment, Issue 47, 2011 -p-48 ) The astrophysicist Erich Jantsch referred to evolution as “self-organizing through transcendence,” which is a good way to think about it. Francis Heylighen wrote, “ it is assumed that evolution is largely unpredictable and contingent on a host of uncontrollable factors, which may steer its course in any of an infinite number of directions. However, it is noted that directions in which complexity increases are generally preferred…” “The Growth of Structural and Functional Complexity during Evolution.”

    Even recent thinkers in evolutionary religion still retain the non-material inward goal of the God or Father Within as the supreme goal of the “evolution” of consciousness, which is really an involutionary non-material convergence and is not divergently evolutionary. Science and evolutionary religion have still not come close to admitting that the goal of life and evolution is to evolve in the material and supermaterial world to Godhood. The inward activation of life is like a Super-Id of the instincts, defined here as the Spirit-Will-To-Godhood. The fear of claiming a vital direction to life or evolution has paralyzed the science-oriented from finding real meaning in the world, and traditional religion is trapped in the Great Spiritual Blockade of real material evolution. It is simply not enough to declare inward human enlightenment, or how something scientifically works, we need to know why, and where real life is going. To my mind, science discovers how things work, philosophy discovers the truth, and religion includes the art of living along with the discovery of how things work and finding the truth. We will not be satisfied with less.

    http://civilizingthebeast.blogspot.com/

    #19018
    Brad Arnold
    Participant

    I am sincerely wishing that organized religion doesn’t form a schism with Transhumanism. There is a real potential for technological progress to be stifled by a theological conflict with religious organizations.

    And, contrary to some in the Transhumanist community, it doesn’t have to be. I personally would define Transhumanism somewhat differently than the above more comprehensive definition. I think that Transhumanism ought to be defined in a more general way as simply looking to improve humanity through technology.

    I know Humanism makes Christian leaders angry because they view it as elevating man above God, but I was hoping (to avoid any technological stifling attempts) that Transhumanism could avoid a similar fate in terms of ideological warfare.

    #19019
    Brad Arnold
    Participant

    Also, I predict a main attack on H+ will be that it will cause the extinction of homo sapiens. Even if some in the Transhumanist community would be fine with that, I strongly suggest that it be made extremely clear that Transhumanism does not necessitate such a catastrophe. There is plenty of room in this universe for all manner of beings, both human and human plus, as well as those that are religious and those that aren’t.

    #19029
    Peter
    Member

    Homo sapiens is a descriptive category that already doesn’t apply to many of us.

    For example most h+ readers have enhanced immune systems boosted by vaccines and we employ cognitive enhancement via digital technology of various types. Millions of people have electronic implants known as pacemakers that are required to keep them alive. They are real world cyborgs as are the many individuals with cochlear implants and more recently a small number of people with working bionic arms and legs. See https://hplusmagazine.com/2013/05/07/we-are-transhuman/

    Transhumanism is not something that is just about the hypothetical far future but also informs technologies and techniques being developed right now.

    The surviving true “homo sapiens” then are living in isolated tribal societies that have not yet been brought into the modern world and they live without the transhuman enhancements like vaccines and digital media. Increasing however you will see these societies also have manufactured tools and clothing as well as medicines, access to media, and other items of the modern world.

    It seems then that the true homo sapiens are already almost extinct.

    #19038
    Kenneth Anderson
    Participant

    “It seems then that the true homo sapiens are already almost extinct.” ???

    I know this was said partly to shock, but that you, and others, can say this without being appalled by it is astounding.

    Intelligent machines, yes, but as an aid in human evolution, not a replacement for human evolution. Is that too politically incorrect?

    #19057
    Peter
    Member

    Did you read my whole post or just the last sentence? The definition of “human” changes and has changed over time. There isn’t anything shocking about pointing that out and my intention wasn’t to shock you but get you think about what it really means to be “human”. What qualities make someone “human” exactly?

    #19064
    Kenneth Anderson
    Participant

    “What qualities make someone “human” exactly?” Check out the definitions of human nature of sociobiology. E.O. Wilson’s work is a good place to begin…

    #19089
    Peter
    Member

    Well, the characteristics people assign to be “human nature” varies over time and from culture to culture. Wilson presents one viewpoint.

    If you define “human” to be “natural”, “unaltered” or “unenhanced’ then most everyone living in a modern western society is already trans or post human. Many people are born already via an “unnatural” birth process; this is known as cesarean section.

    We’re enhanced biologically through the application of medical science that gives us technology like vaccines and various important medications for physical and mental illnesses. We’re enhanced electronically through communications and media technology. These technologies give us near instant access to a global database of knowledge and information.

    Millions of humans are real world cyborgs, requiring electronic devices and technology to keep them alive. Many others are disabled and require technology to allow them to see, hear, walk and perform other tasks that “normal” unaided humans take for granted. They’re already transhumans.

    But it depends what you mean by “human” and we should proceed with some caution knowing that the definition has important social and legal implications and has not always been as inclusive as it is today in THe West.

    Video Friday: To Be Human Is To Be Transhuman (updated)

    #19097
    Kenneth Anderson
    Participant

    There is probably something in basic biological human nature, a love of life, that will eventually object to losing biological human nature. Let’s hope transhumanism is not an attempt to sidestep real biological evolution while promoting the genes of transhumanists. Evolving intelligent machines, yes, but not as a replacement for evolving healthy intelligent life. Looks like an inevitable competition here.

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