Saturday evening, I read about Catholic mass and communion. Sunday morning, I participated in sacrament at The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Monday afternoon on Christmas eve, I'm reading the fifth chapter of the first epistle of John. In context of the holiday season, these experiences and words have drawn my attention to the birth of Jesus and the rebirth of Christ in each of us. They have drawn my attention to the core message of Christianity and Mormonism, which is human transformation into God -- theosis.
During the Sunday 7 October 2018 general conference of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (the Church), President Russell M. Nelson encouraged members and friends of the Church to stop using nicknames like "Mormon" to refer to the Church or its members. To emphasize that point, he stated that, "To remove the Lord’s name from the Lord’s Church is a major victory for Satan." I'm concerned that many will interpret this statement poorly, with negative practical ramifications.
If Christianity is the religion of pity then Nietzsche was right about it. But too many persons, including both Nietzsche and Christians, interpret the relation between Christian religion and Nietzschean philosophy too uncharitably. A case in point, recently, is an interpretation suggested by Dan Peterson, a fellow Mormon.
It's that time again, when members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints gather for our worldwide general conference. I've compiled a list of some of my thoughts while listening to the conference. As usual, my list includes affirmations, criticisms, elaborations, and questions. My intent is to engage and encourage engagement with the messages from the conference. And I welcome any feedback or questions you might have. Enjoy.
Fundamentalist Christians would like to tell you what I believe, and how that contrasts with what they believe. So today's their big day! Front and center, here on my own blog, I give you "my" beliefs in their own words. That's right: "MY" beliefs in THEIR own words, as well as the "TRUTH," all capitalized of course. So far as I can tell, it's what they've always wanted most from me. So I've decided to give it to them.
One of my friends (I'll call him "Joseph") is going through a difficult situation, which has motivated me to think about my funeral. Joseph is a Mormon Transhumanist. His father (I'll call him "Alvin"), also a Mormon, recently died. That's already difficult, but there's more, which Joseph has given me permission to write about.
From a resurrected version of the Smith family log home, my family and I continue along a dirt path into the grove — a forest. It’s high summer. It’s humid. But thick green foliage absorbs the heat and scatters the light. We’re cool and other-worldly.
Tech entrepreneur Bryan Johnson has written a brief plan for the future of humanity. He's concerned about global catastrophic risks associated with technology. And he intends his plan to start a conversation, prefacing it with the disclaimer that he, like everyone else, has biases and shortcomings. So he's interested in hearing and understanding other perspectives on his plan. To that end, here are my own biased thoughts.
Wesley Smith at the National Review is writing about Transhumanism again. And again, he's misrepresenting Transhumanism and its relationship with religion. These misrepresentations are not the only problems with his latest article. For example, he's also engaging in poor reasoning about the potential of brain emulation and the nature of consciousness. But I'm going to ignore the technical topics (where Wesley is easily excused) and focus on the ideological topics, where Wesley should know better.
Transhumanists, at least the more far-sighted among us, imagine the possibility that humanity will evolve into superintelligent capacities, indefinitely long lives, ethical and esthetic sensibilities that we cannot presently imagine, and perhaps even minds whose thoughts constitute nothing less than the creation of new worlds. But perhaps we don't often enough or deeply enough consider pluralities of superhumanity. Perhaps the awe or bewilderment or exuberance of imagining one such being blinds or distracts us from considering communities of such beings.
Writing for the major US Catholic journal, Commonweal Magazine, Mary McDonough contends that "life-extension funders should rethink their research." Her main reason is that she believes the funds used for life extension research would be better spent on efforts to solve problems such as poverty, starvation, human-rights violations, and terrorism. But I think she should rethink her criticism. And I'll explain why.
The April 2018 General Conference of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church) just wrapped up yesterday. The LDS Church is the largest Mormon denomination, consisting of nearly 16 million members. I'm one of them. During the semi-annual conferences, I often share some of my thoughts via Twitter and then share a lightly edited list of those thoughts here on my blog. As usual, the thoughts contain affirmations, questions, criticisms, and elaborations, aiming to cultivate more thoughtful engagement with the conference. I invite your constructive feedback, whether you agree or disagree, and whether you're LDS, or Mormon, or otherwise.
Evidently, a former LDS Church mission president, responsible for the missionary training center, has admitted to committing sexual assault. Mormon Leaks released an interview between the former leader and a woman who says she was one of multiple women he admitted to assaulting. And the Church has released a statement acknowledging the seriousness of the charge and communicating its intention to proceed in a manner consistent with its "long-standing policy of no tolerance for abuse."
Infamously, cryonics is in the news again. The Brain Preservation Foundation announced that a research group has successfully preserved a pig brain at a research-grade level of detail. A startup, Nectome, announced that it's aiming to sell brain-destructive connectome preservation. And of course, all-too-predictably, such news is provoking frothy-mouthed bio-conservatives to vilify such endeavors and the Transhumanist ideology as a whole, as a sort of incoherent egotistical deathism.
"Why is resurrection necessary in the plan of salvation?" A friend asked me this question at church. In the Mormon tradition, we talk about God having a plan of salvation. And we understand resurrection to be a necessary part of that plan. But why? Why couldn't or wouldn't God create that which has no need for resurrection? Why didn't God simply create immortals?