Jesus has many titles and corresponding roles, most notably Christ. The English word, "christ", comes from the Greek word, "kristos", which has the same meaning as the Hebrew word, "messiah". A christ or messiah is literally an anointed person, or figuratively someone set apart with a special purpose. We use "christ" to describe Jesus, not because it's his last or family name, but because Christians recognize Jesus as having a special purpose. That special purpose is to help us overcome our ultimate enemies, death and hell. That special purpose is to be our savior.
The Bible teaches Christian Transhumanism. Or, in other words, as presented in the Bible, Christianity entails Transhumanism. Of course some Christians would disagree. And some Christians may not understand what that means. But we can make a reasonable case that the Bible teaches Christian Transhumanism nonetheless. To illustrate briefly, here are my top 10 Christian Transhumanist scriptures:
Spencer, my oldest son, recently completed training to be a missionary for the LDS Church. As I and many others who have gone through it can attest, the training includes a relatively strong emphasis on obedience. That caught Spencer's attention. And that's led me to gather some thoughts on the subject.
Timothy Killian authored a critique of the New God Argument (NGA). Entitled "An Analytic Review of Lincoln Cannon's 'The New God Argument'", the critique includes some interesting thoughts about NGA's assumptions. The critique also includes numerous mischaracterizations of NGA, the Simulation Argument (SA), and their relationship. And the critique includes numerous logical errors.
Bryan Johnson is a rising star among celebrity technologists. After selling Braintree Financial to Ebay for $800M in 2013, Bryan founded OS Fund to encourage development of emerging technologies in the fields of biotechnology, machine intelligence, and space exploration. And he recently launched a new business of his own, Kernel, which is building neuroprosthetics to improve human intelligence.
When others learn that I identify as a Transhumanist, or when they see me reference Moore's Law or Kurzweil's Law with enthusiasm, they often assume that I identify as a Singularitarian. That is, they often assume I'm someone who advocates the idea of the Technological Singularity. It's an idea that persons interpret and express in different ways. Basically, though, we could say that the Singularity would be a time when technological change is so rapid that, given our present intelligence, humans would be unable to predict or control the change. However, despite those assumptions, I do not identify as a Singularitarian. Here are four reasons why.
In the spring and fall of each year, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints holds its annual general conference. Hundreds of thousands of Mormons converge on Salt Lake City for two days of sermons from top leaders of the Church, which with around 16 million members is by far the largest Mormon denomination in the world. The most recent conference was held yesterday and today. Below are 59 thoughts, from me and others, that I collected as I watched the conference and discussed it. The thoughts range from affirmations to criticisms, and from questions to assertions. I intend them to provoke reflection, questions, and comments, and to contribute to a meaningful engagement with the ideas generally.
When my children were young, Dorothee and I taught them that gratitude is a superpower. Why is that? Well, we all have power to some extent or another to shape the world around us for better or worse. Even if we don't admit it to ourselves or others, we're all working to increase that power. No, there's nothing inherently good or evil about power. It's just means for good or evil, according to the choices we make in applying it. Some of us are more effective than others at increasing our power. When we're good at increasing our power, that indicates that we have a power for increasing power. That's meta-power, or perhaps in other words, we have a superpower -- arguably more super than those of fictional heroes whose powers typically don't increase over time. One superpower, a power that increases power, is gratitude.
Four weeks ago, Spencer (my oldest son) left home to serve as a missionary of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints for two years in Montreal, Canada. The rest of my family and I miss him, and we also support him. Dorothee (my wife) and I served as missionaries of the LDS Church a couple decades ago, in France. That's where we first met, and we both value the practical and spiritual education that we gained from the experience, as well as the relationships we developed with many others.
This is a transcript of a sermon I gave at the Unitarian Universalist Society of South Valley in Salt Lake City this morning. My friend and fellow religious Transhumanist, Jordan Roberts, invited me to speak on religious Transhumanism and the New God Argument. The congregation was friendly, the music and rituals were inspiring, and I enjoyed attending with family and friends. I hope you'll find inspiration in the thoughts I share below, beginning with a story you may recognize.
Celebrity technologist Elon Musk recently suggested that we may be living in a computer simulation. Of course this made technology news headlines around the world. And of course many articles have rushed to reassure their readers that Elon's suggestion is "outlandish". Outlandish or not, however, Elon suggested something far more important than the possibility that we're living in a computed world. And almost everyone has missed it.
I've published version 3.3 of the New God Argument. The changes since version 3.2 are to simplify language in the propositions and to adjust the definitions accordingly. Most are minor. But one is particularly worth direct attention. I've combined "superintelligent posthumanity" into "superhumanity," reflecting provided definitions of "superintelligence" and "posthumanity." These changes will appear in an article I'm writing about Mormon Transhumanism, which will be part of a collection of academic works on Transhumanism to be published later this year or early next.
|"Rhodiola Rosea" by Tero Laakso under CC BY-SA 2.0 / resized|
A friend wrote to ask about my thoughts on the relation between nootropics and the Word of Wisdom. Nootropics are substances that safely support brain function and improve mental performance. They include foods, supplements, or drugs that improve memory or focus, or support healthy cognitive aging. The Word of Wisdom is the Mormon code of health as described in scriptures and elaborated upon in the Mormon authoritative tradition.
The New Yorker recently published an article, variously entitled "How to Become a God" or "The Immortality Upgrade", featuring the Mormon Transhumanist Association and a few of its leaders, including me. It was the third most popular article on The New Yorker website on the day of its publication. It appeared on the front page of the technology section of The New Yorker for over a week. And it has received broad attention around the Internet, initially provoking reactions in social networks and discussion forums, and now seeding ongoing conversation in blogs and podcasts.
|Photo by Blaire Ostler|
It took me two years to read the 216 pages in Eric Steinhart's book, Your Digital Afterlives: Computational Theories of Life after Death. Friends know that's because I'm the world's slowest reader of philosophical texts that interest me -- and just about any text that interests me seems to become philosophical as I read it.
Our generation is not the first to question the compatibility of religion and science, and our generation would not be the first to reconcile the two. History provides innumerable examples, including that of Christianity, which has repeatedly challenged and embraced science, as the two have evolved together, each affecting the other in a feedback loop. In this series of posts, I'm exploring Christianity's recurring conflict and integration with science, beginning with early Christianity and working forward to contemporary Christianity. This post focuses on the conflict and integration with Aristotelian science in the middle ages.
This week, the Mormon Transhumanist Association announced that it will change leadership in March, at the tenth anniversary of its founding. While I will continue to serve on the board of directors, as elected by voting members, the board will appoint a new president to replace me, in accordance with the process outlined in the association's constitution.
|image from modup.net|
Nootropics are drugs, supplements, and foods that improve mental function. Sometimes people refer to them as smart drugs. They facilitate desired mental functions like memory and focus, and reduce undesired mental states like stress and depression. I've been researching and experimenting with them for years. And I've found that most don't seem to do much more than make expensive urine. But there are exceptions. Below is my list of nootropics that work, based on peer reviewed scientific research and my own experience.
Ozy recently published an article featuring me on "The Intersection of Tech and Church". Sanjena Sathian wrote the article based on interviews over a period of a few weeks. Most of the interviews were done by phone, but there were a couple done in writing by email -- mostly fact checking. If you enjoyed the article, as I did, you might be interested in taking a look at the written interviews. Here they are. The bold quoted portions are from Sanjena. The responses are from me.
Our generation is not the first to question the compatibility of religion and science, and our generation would not be the first to reconcile the two. History provides innumerable examples, including that of Christianity, which has repeatedly challenged and embraced science, as the two have evolved together, each affecting the other in a feedback loop. In this series of posts, I'll explore Christianity's recurring conflict and integration with science, beginning with early Christianity and working forward to contemporary Christianity. This post focuses on the conflict and integration with Platonic science.