10 Parallels of Mormon Thought to Engineering Vision
8 April 2008 (updated 5 January 2021)
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Next week, I’ll have the opportunity to meet with several Mormon scholars to discuss parallels between Mormon thought and engineering vision. The meeting has been organized by Scott Howe, of the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory, on behalf of Richard Bushman, who is the Claremont Colleges Howard W Hunter Chair of Mormon Studies. Hopefully the discussion will lead to a workshop or conference on this subject sometime in the future at Claremont.
In preparation for my contribution to the discussion, I’ve put together a list of ten parallels between Mormon thought and engineering vision. Please let me know what you think about them – and what you think I’ve missed!
1) Material spirit parallels substrate independence, which is an assumption on which the feasibility of mind uploading and computed worlds depends.
2) God organizing worlds after emerging within chaos parallels technological evolution superseding biological evolution.
3) Scriptural accounts of inspiration and salvation enabled through tools and work parallels engineering paradigm.
4) The dispensation of the fullness of times parallels exponentially accelerating scientific and technological advance.
5) Scriptural examples of evaded negative prophecies and conditional positive prophecies parallel possibilities of probabilistic social engineering enabled by information technology.
6) Apocalyptic, messianic and millenarian expectations parallel opportunities and risks attributed to artificial general intelligence and the technological singularity.
7) Millenarian prophecies of prolonged life spans and worldwide prosperity parallel predictions of engineered radical life extension and superabundance associated with molecular assemblers.
8) Vision of eternal spiritual and physical progression through ordinances of transfiguration and resurrection to innumerable and differing glories parallels anticipation of diverse technological enhancements to mental and physical capabilities and forms.
9) A plurality of gods in worlds without end parallels the computed worlds hypothesis from the simulation argument.
10) Recursive theosis parallels self-replicating mechanisms for cosmic evolution of universes within a multiverse.
If you like these thoughts, you might also like “Mormon Scholars Hold Conference Call on Engineering Parallels with Mormonism.”