In response to the recent atheist and Mormon panel discussion, Holly Welker asks, "Is Shunning a Part of Mormonism?" The question has sparked some controversy, most recently among some of my friends. While I sympathize with Holly's concern, I disagree with her conclusion that we must understand the Mormon God in terms of shunning. Rather, as I'll describe later in the post, I think we can and should understand the Mormon God in terms of virtues, diversities, and capacities that are quite the opposite of shunning, even incompatible with shunning, while also incompatible with conceptually impoverishing or irrational notions of universal inclusivity.
Last week, I encouraged the Mormon Transhumanist Association (MTA) to sponsor recording of a panel discussion between Mormons and atheists, sponsored by the American Atheists (AA) and held at the Salt Lake City Public Library as part of its annual convention. The MTA leadership team agreed, and the recording is now available on the association's YouTube channel (along with a lot of other thought provoking content). Since that time, I've received many requests regarding my thoughts on the American Atheists, so I thought I would review their stated aims and principles here on my blog.
I recently read and enjoyed "The God Who Weeps", co-authored by Fiona and Terryl Givens, wife and husband, and Mormon scholars. I've had the pleasure of interacting with Terryl on a few occasions, most notably when he was a keynote, speaking on "No Small and Cramped Eternities" and "Fear and Trembling at the Tower of Babel", at two conferences co-sponsored by the Mormon Transhumanist Association. He's a beautiful thinker, a gifted writer, and an inspiring speaker. Many of his ideas and the ways in which he presents them resonate deeply with me. Unsurprisingly, I found much to agree with in "The God Who Weeps", and yet I also found some things to question -- undoubtedly the Givens would have it no other way. Here are 68 meditations, mostly in the form of questions, that I noted while reading. They are formulated as if speaking with the Givens directly, and they are divided into groups corresponding to chapters in the book. Your feedback is welcome.
At the 2014 Conference of the Mormon Transhumanist Association, I started a conversation about what it means to be a Mormon Transhumanist. As the movement has grown, we've experienced some tension between persons who, brought together by the association, might not otherwise interact constructively at all. For example, some Mormon Transhumanists are atheist progressives, and some are theist conservatives, and there aren't many organizations that would bring such persons together with common purpose. The Mormon Transhumanist Association does, and remarkably it does while maintaining a very low rate of attrition despite the tensions such a combination inevitably produces.