21 August 2007 (updated 10 April 2012)
Jared, a guest blogger at By Common Consent, wonders what “Faithful Science” would look like and how it would be useful. Of course, here at the Mormon Transhumanist Association, we have some opinions about that.
To begin with, all science is faithful to the extent it is actually adhering to the scientific method. The method is based in premises and rules that are matters of faith, such as the premises of uniformity and causality and the rules of hypothesis. Science is an epistemic process that has demonstrated greater success in reproducibility than any other, but, like all epistemic processes, begins and ends with limited persons.
Beyond that, there are numerous hypotheses on the cutting edge of science that resonate with a Mormon world view. The March cover article of Sunstone magazine identifies several parallels between Mormonism and Transhumanism. It compares Joseph Smith’s description of the Fullness of Times to our present observations of exponential technological advance. It compares prophecies related to the Millennium to expectations associated with the Technological Singularity. And it explores similarities between Joseph Smith’s teachings on worlds without end and Oxford philosopher Nick Bostrom’s Simulation Argument.
I believe, reflecting the Mormon Transhumanist Affirmation, that scientific knowledge and technological power are among the means ordained of God to enable human exaltation, including realization of diverse prophetic visions of transfiguration, immortality, resurrection, renewal of this world, and the discovery and creation of worlds without end. Faithful science should be directed toward the testing of hypotheses that may help us enable such a future – as well as toward hypotheses that may help us mitigate any risks along the way.
Jared, at the end of his blog post, suggests that faithful science might undermine what makes science special, as priests and politicians get in the way. However, the fact of the matter is that priests, politicians and even scientists are already in the way, and always will be. Such is the nature of human involvement in the scientific project. But we can still attain objectivity! The objectivity will not be the sort that is the opposite of subjectivity, but rather the sort that is derived from an ever-broadening set of subjects reproducing each other’s experience. It is not inappropriate to bring our values to science. Indeed, it is essential that we do so, particularly as we now approach the greatest risks and opportunities humanity has ever navigated. We cannot do otherwise than hypothesize and test according to our values. May God bless us with the wisdom and inspiration not to oppress or eradicate our civilization. May God also bless us with the wisdom and inspiration not to hinder the work of human exaltation. These really are matters of faith – unavoidably so.