Mormon Transhumanist Association Opinions Mormon Transhumanist Association Opinions Respective post owners and feed distributors Wed, 24 Jun 2015 17:11:27 -0600 Feed Informer Make yourself a Christmas present: Join the Mormon Transhumanist Association Mormon Transhumanist Association External Opinions urn:uuid:0cdc2b89-6187-1254-84dc-e4d2e2d54860 Sat, 16 Dec 2017 09:34:09 -0700 <figure><img alt="" src="*rguIc7x6nNnxljPUafeMLw.jpeg" /></figure><p>My friends in the <a href="">Mormon Transhumanist Association</a> (MTA) are busy recruiting new Mormon members in Utah, but if you are a non-Mormon who doesn’t live in Utah and interacts mostly online (like me), and if you find my weird scientific and theological speculations interesting, I recommend that you join the MTA.</p><p>I am unable to support all the causes and organizations that I would like to support, and I’m not much of a joiner. Also, I am not a Mormon. But I’ve been a proud voting member of the MTA for <a href="">more than a decade</a>, and I think the MTA is <em>by far</em> the best transhumanist group.</p><p><a href="">Turing Church</a> is deliberately unstructured and unorganized, because I want it to be a free playground for all people interested in “hacking religion, enlightening science, awakening technology,” without hierarchy and rules.</p><p>At the same time, I guess many of my readers would like to be part of a more structured and organized community. But then I think to myself, why re-invent the wheel? <a href="">The MTA is the best community I can hope for</a>.</p><p>The MTA has light but firm leadership, and is <em>very</em> well organized, with that relentless and apparently effortless attention to detail that only those Mormons can give. James Hughes <a href="">said</a>:</p><blockquote>“[The] MTA is the best organized and most thoughtful of the world’s transhumanist groups.”</blockquote><p>Even more important, the MTA is one of the few online communities where one feels warm among real friends. I have been to Utah a few times and I have met most of my MTA friends in person, but I already considered them as friends before meeting them in person. I haven’t met our esteemed CEO <a href="">Blaire Ostler</a> in person, but I consider her as a good friend.</p><p>Take a look at Blaire’s website if you think all Mormons are socially conservative. Blaire most certainly isn’t, and many MTA members are socially progressive as well.</p><p>I focus on what I call cosmology, as opposed to petty geography and zoning norms (note to self: I really should update the “<a href="">Cosmology is not Geography</a>” essay). I find Mormon cosmology and theology awesome and <a href="">very close to my own ideas</a>, and “Mormon Transhumanism” is the closest description of my religion.</p><p>At the same time, I don’t interpret religions literally and tend to consider all religions as inspiring metaphors, mythologies, or <a href="">science fiction</a>. <a href="">My concept of God</a>, rooted in <a href="">transhumanism</a>, <a href="">science fiction</a>, and <a href="">frontier science</a>, is unconventional. I guess most believers, including most Mormons, wouldn’t consider me as a fellow believer, because they would find my ideas much too weird.</p><p>Yet, I have found a spiritual home in the MTA. To my readers searching for a warm home, I recommend to join the MTA.</p><p>You can sign up <a href="">here</a> as a free basic member, or <a href="">here</a> as a voting member.</p><p><em>In the picture I am with a group of Mormon/Christian transhumanists at a recent MTA conference.</em></p><img src="" width="1" height="1"><hr><p><a href="">Make yourself a Christmas present: Join the Mormon Transhumanist Association</a> was originally published in <a href="">Turing Church</a> on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.</p> Passing Out Towels Mormon Transhumanist Association External Opinions urn:uuid:49e468a7-e523-2686-868a-77ca64076989 Fri, 15 Dec 2017 08:19:00 -0700 <div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img border="0" data-original-height="997" data-original-width="1600" height="398" src="" width="640" /></a></div><span style="font-size: x-small;">(Artist: <a href=";utm_medium=referral&amp;utm_content=creditCopyText">David Cohen</a>)</span><br /><br /><div class="MsoNormal" style="margin-bottom: .0001pt; margin-bottom: 0in;"><div class="MsoNormal" style="margin-bottom: .0001pt; margin-bottom: 0in;">Yesterday, the LDS Church announced <a href="">the following changes</a> concerning youth involvement in temple rituals:</div><div class="MsoNormal" style="margin-bottom: .0001pt; margin-bottom: 0in;"><o:p></o:p></div><div class="MsoNormal" style="margin-bottom: .0001pt; margin-bottom: 0in;"><br /></div><div class="MsoNormal" style="margin-bottom: .0001pt; margin-bottom: 0in; margin-left: .25in; margin-right: 0in; margin-top: 0in;">“Young women (ages 12-18) with a limited-use temple recommend may assist with baptistry assignments currently performed by sister temple ordinance workers and&nbsp;volunteers.” <o:p></o:p></div><div class="MsoListParagraph" style="margin-bottom: .0001pt; margin-bottom: 0in; mso-add-space: auto;"><br /></div><div class="MsoNormal" style="margin-bottom: .0001pt; margin-bottom: 0in; margin-left: .25in; margin-right: 0in; margin-top: 0in;">“All priests in the Aaronic Priesthood with a limited-use temple recommend may officiate in baptisms for the dead, including serving as the baptizer and as a witness.”<o:p></o:p></div><div class="MsoListParagraph" style="margin-bottom: .0001pt; margin-bottom: 0in; mso-add-space: auto;"><br /></div><div class="MsoNormal" style="margin-bottom: .0001pt; margin-bottom: 0in; margin-left: .25in; margin-right: 0in; margin-top: 0in;">“The Primary’s Priesthood Preview meeting will be modified to include both 11-year-old boys and girls and will be called the Temple and Priesthood Preparation meeting. This will be an opportunity for priesthood, Primary and youth leaders to help girls and boys, and their parents understand the significant blessings of temple service, priesthood service, and making and keeping sacred covenants.”<o:p></o:p></div><div class="MsoNormal" style="margin-bottom: .0001pt; margin-bottom: 0in;"><br /></div><div class="MsoNormal" style="margin-bottom: .0001pt; margin-bottom: 0in;">To be charitable, this is a smart step. Getting youth more involved in temple rituals is a great way to influence retention rates. Plus, there are practical advantages to having the youth participate in work that was previously reserved for adults, especially if there is a situation where adult attendance for baptisms for the dead might be low.<o:p></o:p></div><div class="MsoNormal" style="margin-bottom: .0001pt; margin-bottom: 0in;"><br /></div><div class="MsoNormal" style="margin-bottom: .0001pt; margin-bottom: 0in;">However, this change does not address the underlying issue of proscribing activities according to gender. While the youth are more involved, this highlights how girls and women are specifically excluded from full participation in church rituals and ordinances.<br /><!--[if !supportLineBreakNewLine]--><br /><!--[endif]--><o:p></o:p></div><div class="MsoNormal" style="margin-bottom: .0001pt; margin-bottom: 0in;">The idea that has seemed to spark the most provocation is that young women (ages 12-18) will have the opportunity of joining the adult women in their responsibilities in the temple. The responsibility receiving the most criticism is passing out towels. Some have marginalized the responsibility of handing out towels at the baptistry as if it was a consolation prize without significance—that somehow passing out towels was something to dismiss. <o:p></o:p></div><div class="MsoNormal" style="margin-bottom: .0001pt; margin-bottom: 0in;"><br /></div><div class="MsoNormal" style="margin-bottom: .0001pt; margin-bottom: 0in;">When my husband baptized our son, I was standing at the water’s edge waiting for our shivering son with a clean towel after he came out of the water. According to an Ostler family tradition, our son bravely immersed his body in the cool Provo River as part of a baptismal ritual. As a Mormon Feminist, I most certainly advocate for the full ordination of diverse genders (not just women) into any and all priesthood responsibilities and offices, but even when/if that day occurs it will not discount the special experience it was to wrap our shivering child in a warm towel after his father baptized him. Passing out towels can be a meaningful experience, even if there is more to be given and shared.<o:p></o:p></div><div class="MsoNormal" style="margin-bottom: .0001pt; margin-bottom: 0in;"><br /></div><div class="MsoNormal" style="margin-bottom: .0001pt; margin-bottom: 0in;">I was inspired by a comment made by my friend, Alisa Allred Mercer, “For about a year before my mission I helped in the Provo Temple baptistry passing out towels. It was a meaningful experience. I'm sure it would have been even more meaningful to have participated in the ordinances.” <o:p></o:p></div><div class="MsoNormal" style="margin-bottom: .0001pt; margin-bottom: 0in;"><br /></div><div class="MsoNormal" style="margin-bottom: .0001pt; margin-bottom: 0in;">Passing out towels isn’t the problem. The problem is oppressing desires to serve and unnecessarily assigning people roles according to their gender.<o:p></o:p></div><div class="MsoNormal" style="margin-bottom: .0001pt; margin-bottom: 0in;"><br /></div><div class="MsoNormal" style="margin-bottom: .0001pt; margin-bottom: 0in;">Insisting on the “insignificance” of passing out towels is insensitive and ableist. There are many people with challenges that would make passing out towels the only or most preferred form of service they can contribute during baptisms. Should their contribution be marginalized, just because there are women who seek priesthood ordination? Should my experience with my son be any less meaningful, because women are not ordained? Shouldn’t it be okay for my son to want to pass out towels instead of baptize bodies? Does this make his service any less genuine because he chose what some would consider to be the “lesser” role?<o:p></o:p></div><div class="MsoNormal" style="margin-bottom: .0001pt; margin-bottom: 0in;"><br /></div><div class="MsoNormal" style="margin-bottom: .0001pt; margin-bottom: 0in;">Let’s direct our efforts toward the real problem, not marginalize the desires and contributions of others.<o:p></o:p></div><div class="MsoNormal" style="margin-bottom: .0001pt; margin-bottom: 0in;"><br /></div><div class="MsoNormal" style="margin-bottom: .0001pt; margin-bottom: 0in;">This is the problem:<o:p></o:p></div><div class="MsoNormal" style="margin-bottom: .0001pt; margin-bottom: 0in;"><br /></div><div class="MsoNormal" style="margin-bottom: .0001pt; margin-bottom: 0in;">A child is born, then based on the esthetics of the child’s genitalia they are assigned a gender. That gender, in LDS practice, has become their assigned identity and eternal destiny. Besides a body being assigned a gender, that gender is assigned a role. That role will come with certain expectations and limitations of what that body is <i>allowed</i> to do and <i>ought</i> to do in LDS practice, policy, and culture. Attempts to change, alter, or adapt that gender role, assignment, or performance are often met with hostility. The best definition of oppression I’ve read is <i>absence of choices</i>. That is exactly what mandated role assignment is in this context—oppression. I do not believe it is God’s will to oppress the righteous desires of people to serve in diverse capacities—weather that is a boy with social anxiety who wants to quietly pass out towels, or a girl who wants to baptize her peers.<br /><br />The problem is not that some of us would be happier passing out towels than baptizing people. The problem is unnecessarily proscribing activities and participation according to gender without regard for the individual's desires.&nbsp;</div><div class="MsoNormal" style="margin-bottom: .0001pt; margin-bottom: 0in;"><br /><br /><a href="">*Published at Rational Faiths on Friday, December 15, 2017</a><o:p></o:p></div></div> Down in the fractal depths of quantum matter and space-time Mormon Transhumanist Association External Opinions urn:uuid:f7aa0199-1e39-85ba-906f-dde85125762b Tue, 12 Dec 2017 03:24:24 -0700 <figure><img alt="" src="*roV7U0ZkKCH9xQBW6Qinnw.jpeg" /></figure><p>The smooth space-time fabric of reality seems to break down at very small scales, and become a fractal with infinite depth. New physics, with intriguing implications for metaphysics and theology, could be hidden in those fractal depths.</p><p>Smooth (continuous and differentiable) curves and surfaces become locally flat if you zoom-in deep enough. But fractals are always rough at all scales, and <a href="">you can zoom-in a fractal forever</a>.</p><p>In his seminal book “<a href=""><em>The Fractal Geometry of Nature</em></a>,” <a href="">Benoît Mandelbrot</a> mentioned “a new fractal wrinkle to the presentation of quantum mechanics.”</p><blockquote>“Feynman &amp; Hibbs 1965 notes that the typical path of a quantum mechanical particle is continuous and nondifferentiable, and many authors observe similarities between Brownian and quantum-mechanical motions (see, for example, Nelson 1966 and references herein). Inspired by these parallels and by my early Essays, Abbot &amp; Wise 1980 shows that the observed path of a particle in quantum mechanics is a fractal curve with D=2. The analogy is interesting, at least pedagogically.”</blockquote><figure><img alt="" src="*-QnsSE9mmm-wpXrmBCHIfA.jpeg" /><figcaption>Zooming in the Mandelbrot set.</figcaption></figure><p>Here D is the fractal dimension, (or <a href="">Hausdorff dimension</a>), a generalization of the concept of dimension that can have non-integer values and describe fractals.</p><p>A moderately rough fractal curve has fractal dimension D higher than 1. The boundary of the <a href="">Mandelbrot set</a> is a super-rough fractal curve with D=2, more like a surface than a curve.</p><p>Perhaps the analogy is more than pedagogical. Perhaps the similarity between quantum paths and fractals indicates that fundamental reality itself has a fractal structure.</p><figure><img alt="" src="*Lt4vICK9ftvJz4xjAPNdJQ.jpeg" /></figure><p>The caption of Fig. 7-1 in “<a href=""><em>Quantum Mechanics and Path Integrals</em></a>,” by <a href="">Richard P. Feynman</a> and Albert R. Hibbs (1965, edited by Daniel F. Styer in 2005), reads: “Typical paths of a quantum-mechanical particle are highly irregular on a fine scale, as shown in the sketch… In other words, the paths are nondifferentiable.”</p><p>In 1980, after the introduction of Mandelbrot’s fractal geometry, L. F. Abbott and Mark B. Wise <a href="">showed</a> that the observed path of a particle in quantum mechanics is a fractal curve with Hausdorff dimension 2.</p><p>It’s often thought that quantum particle paths (trajectories) are undefined. The <a href="">double slit experiment</a>, which according to Feynman encompasses all that is “mysterious” in quantum physics, is often taken as a demonstration that quantum particles are not “real particles” with clearly defined trajectories. But quantum mechanics can be formulated in terms of fractal paths similar to the stochastic (random) <a href="">Brownian motion</a> of particles suspended in a fluid, first explained mathematically by Einstein.</p><p>Stochastic mechanics, an approach to quantum mechanics pioneered by <a href="">Edward Nelson</a> and described in Nelson’s books “<a href=""><em>Dynamical Theories of Brownian Motion</em></a>” and “<a href=""><em>Quantum Fluctuations</em></a>,” treats quantum particles as driven by Brownian-like quantum fluctuations. Nelson proposed a detailed mathematical model of quantum fluctuations based on a purely stochastic process, which seems to reproduce the results of standard quantum mechanics. However, Nelson didn’t propose a physical model for the origin of the quantum fluctuations.</p><p>Perhaps quantum particles are really suspended in some kind of sub-quantum “fluid” and relentlessly bombarded and kicked around by the sub-quantum “particles” of this fluid. This is similar to Einstein’s explanation of Brownian motion, which is what eventually persuaded physicists of the reality of atoms and molecules. Similarly, reality could be deeper than current physical models.</p><p>The plausibility of these ideas is confirmed by recent findings showing that <a href="">quantum-like behavior can be reproduced</a> in classical fluids and explained by classical (non-quantum) fluid dynamics. In fact, fluid droplets bouncing on a vibrating fluid bath move with a striking <a href="">similarity to quantum behavior</a>.</p><p>To explore the fascinating quantum-like behavior of fluid droplets, watch <a href="">this video</a> and see two review articles by John Bush, a professor of applied mathematics at MIT: “<a href="">The New Wave of Pilot-Wave Theory</a>” and “<a href="">Pilot-Wave Hydrodynamics</a>.” The idea that comes immediately to mind is that quantum particles could be driven by sub-quantum micro-physics.</p><p>Stochastic mechanics is non-local (it needs instantaneous correlations between remote particles), which troubled Nelson himself. But since standard quantum mechanics is non-local, any theory that reproduces the results of standard quantum mechanics must be non-local. In <a href="">a 2012 review paper</a>, Nelson noted that stochastic mechanics could be “an approximation to a correct theory of quantum mechanics as emergent.”</p><blockquote>“But what is the correct theory?”</blockquote><figure><img alt="" src="*1UP-mTfEHAqeXka3n6W6VA.jpeg" /><figcaption>Quasiparticles (skyrmions) in condensed matter.</figcaption></figure><p>In “<a href=""><em>The Universe in a Helium Droplet</em></a>” (2009), <a href=";last_nm=Volovik&amp;year=2014">Grigory Volovik</a> shows that <a href="">quasiparticles and collective excitations</a> in condensed matter substrates, like superfluid liquid helium, follow mathematical equations, derived from the microscopic physics of the substrate, very similar to those that describe real particles in empty space. These mathematical equations contain “effective fields” that play a role similar to real fundamental fields in empty space, including metric fields analogous to Einstein’s gravitational field in empty space.</p><p>Therefore, it seems plausible that <a href="">our fundamental physics could be derived from the more fundamental micro-physics of a “trans-Planckian” world</a>. Volovik says:</p><blockquote>“According to the modern view the elementary particles (electrons, neutrinos, quarks, etc.) are excitations of some more fundamental medium called the quantum vacuum. This is the new ether of the 21st century. The electromagnetic and gravitational fields, as well as the fields transferring the weak and the strong interactions, all represent different types of collective motion of the quantum vacuum.”</blockquote><p>Volovik notes that the theory outlined in the book is not complete because quantum mechanics is still fundamental. “It is the only ingredient which<br>does not emerge in condensed matter,” he concludes.</p><blockquote>“However, in exploring the quantum liquids with Fermi points, we are probably on the right track toward understanding the properties of the quantum vacuum and the origin of quantum mechanics.”</blockquote><p>It seems to me plausible that the unknown micro-physics of the trans-Planckian world could be the source of the quantum fluctuations in Nelson’s stochastic mechanics: The quantum particles that we see (which are really quasiparticles) are kicked around by micro-physical processes. If so, quantum mechanics itself could be derived within the model. The condensed matter analogies show that observed physics doesn’t depend very strongly on detailed micro-physics, which could explain why the purely stochastic model of Nelson seems to work.</p><p>This approach can easily accommodate non-locality: The speed of light in vacuum c is higher (often much higher) than the maximum speed of quasiparticles and collective excitations in a material substrate. Similarly, unseen signals could propagate much faster than c in the trans-Planckian world, resulting in quantum fluctuations that seem instantaneously correlated.</p><p>In a recent paper titled “<a href="">Dear Qubitzers, GR=QM</a>,” physicist <a href="">Leonard Susskind</a> <a href="">imagines</a> artificial condensed matter systems that contain sentient observers:</p><blockquote>“[Suppose] we construct a large block of matter engineered to have the standard model (without gravity) as its excitations… Is the world in [the block] real? Sure it is; the block and its excitations are certainly real, and if the standard model was well simulated it may support observers who could communicate with laboratory observers.”</blockquote><p>It’s refreshing to see a top scientist of Susskind stature suggesting this idea, which is essentially <a href="">equivalent to the simulation hypothesis</a>. Perhaps we ourselves are observers in “a large block of matter” engineered by “laboratory observers” in a deeper reality?</p><p>Let’s call the world in Susskind’s block of matter “Level 1.” Then our world is Level 0, and Volovik’s trans-Planckian world is Level -1. But why stop there? Perhaps there could be Level -2, Level -3 and so forth. If so, reality is a mathematical fractal with structure at all scales.</p><p>Physically observed fractals (like the surface of a rough rock) eventually stop being fractal, but a mathematical fractal just goes on forever. With this concept in mind, a <a href="">zoom in the Mandelbrot set</a> will blow your mind.</p><p>Instead of (or besides) imagining quantum particles pushed around by fractal quantum fluctuations, we can think of the fundamental fabric of space-time itself as having a fractal geometry. This is the approach of physicist <a href="">Laurent Nottale</a>, who developed a fractal space-time theory in the books “<a href=""><em>Fractal Space-Time And Microphysics: Towards A Theory Of Scale Relativity</em></a>” (1993) and “<a href=""><em>Scale Relativity and Fractal Space-Time</em></a>” (2011).</p><p>Nottale’s approach seems an intriguing generalization of Einstein’s general relativity and later efforts to describe physics in terms of space-time geometry, but <a href="">isn’t very popular</a>. I have the impression that, while having some very good ideas, Nottale promoted his ideas in unorthodox ways that other scientists didn’t like, and pushed his ideas too far trying to develop a <a href="">Theory of Everything</a>. I guess that, if Nottale had limited himself to publish specific results and small steps in top physics journals, his ideas would be more popular.</p><p>We need suitable terms for the deeper reality. Following Volovik, I suggest to use the classical term “ether” and speak of ether physics, or ethereal physics. A current trend is to abandon the concept of continuous space-time in favor of discrete models (see Amit Hagar’s “<a href=""><em>Discrete or Continuous?: The Quest for Fundamental Length in Modern Physics</em></a>”). But ethereal physics could be fractal all the way down in a really continuous (or even denser) space-time.</p><p>In this model, there’s plenty of room for metaphysics and theological speculations. Perhaps <a href="">the “spirit matter” of Joseph Smith</a> is down there in the fractal depths of ethereal matter within common matter. Perhaps quantum randomness is not really entirely random but driven by, <a href="">in Stuart Kauffman’s words,</a> “some whispering form of Cosmic Mind playing a role in the becoming of the universe.”</p><p><a href=""><em>Top image</em></a><em> from S. Geier, </em><a href=""><em>Mandelbrot set image</em></a><em> from Dominic Alves/Flickr, </em><a href=""><em>skyrmions image</em></a><em> from ORNL.</em></p><img src="" width="1" height="1"><hr><p><a href="">Down in the fractal depths of quantum matter and space-time</a> was originally published in <a href="">Turing Church</a> on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.</p> Comrades in Solidarity Mormon Transhumanist Association External Opinions urn:uuid:3bd21617-e83e-35ca-1f84-20741b3013aa Mon, 11 Dec 2017 11:35:00 -0700 <div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img border="0" data-original-height="1093" data-original-width="1600" height="436" src="" width="640" /></a></div><div class="MsoNormal" style="line-height: normal; margin-bottom: .0001pt; margin-bottom: 0in;"><span style="font-size: x-small;">(Artist: <a href=";utm_medium=referral&amp;utm_content=creditCopyText">Piron Guillaume</a>)</span></div><div class="MsoNormal" style="line-height: normal; margin-bottom: .0001pt; margin-bottom: 0in;"><br /></div><div class="MsoNormal" style="line-height: normal; margin-bottom: 0.0001pt; text-align: justify;">The feminist movement, according to bell hooks, aims to end sexist oppression by overcoming “imperialist&nbsp;white-supremacist capitalist patriarchy.” While the feminist movement has at times taken the shape of a men verses women dichotomy, there are more constructive approaches. In her work, bell hooks suggests that even though women and men face different oppressions, both women and men must find ways of working together to effectively overcome patriarchal oppression. Working in the texts, <i>Ain’t I A Woman: Black Women and Feminism</i>, <i>Feminist Theory from Margin to Center</i>, <i>Writing Beyond Race: Living Theory and Practice</i>, and <i>We Real Cool: Black Men and Masculinity</i>, I argue hooks encourages both men and women to overcome sexist oppression as comrades in solidarity, not enemies.<o:p></o:p></div><div class="MsoNormal" style="line-height: normal; margin-bottom: 0.0001pt; text-align: justify;"><br /></div><div class="MsoNormal" style="line-height: normal; margin-bottom: 0.0001pt; text-align: justify;">First, I will discuss ways in which to encourage male participation, the need to better understand masculinity, the importance of rejecting anti-male feminism, followed by the need to recognize male pain. Lastly, I will conclude with embracing diversity. Integrated throughout the paper will be text from hooks supporting concepts of men and women working together as comrades in solidarity.</div><div class="MsoNormal" style="line-height: normal; margin-bottom: .0001pt; margin-bottom: 0in;"><br /></div><div class="MsoNormal" style="line-height: normal; margin-bottom: .0001pt; margin-bottom: 0in;"><br /></div><div class="MsoNormal" style="line-height: normal; margin-bottom: 0.0001pt; text-align: center;"><b><span style="font-size: x-large;">Encouraging Male Participation</span><span style="font-size: 14pt; font-style: italic;"><o:p></o:p></span></b></div><div class="MsoNormal" style="line-height: normal; margin-bottom: .0001pt; margin-bottom: 0in;"><br /></div><div class="MsoNormal" style="line-height: normal; margin-bottom: 0.0001pt; text-align: justify;">Male participation in the feminist movement has been less than optimal, if not, there likely wouldn’t be a need for a movement anymore. According to hooks, “Women’s liberationists called upon all women to join feminist movement, but they did not continually stress that men should assume responsibility for actively struggling to end sexist oppression.” <a href="" name="_ednref1" title=""><span class="MsoEndnoteReference"><!--[if !supportFootnotes]--><span class="MsoEndnoteReference"><span style="font-family: &quot;Calibri&quot;,sans-serif; font-size: 11.0pt; line-height: 107%; mso-ansi-language: EN-US; mso-ascii-theme-font: minor-latin; mso-bidi-font-family: &quot;Times New Roman&quot;; mso-bidi-language: AR-SA; mso-bidi-theme-font: minor-bidi; mso-fareast-font-family: Calibri; mso-fareast-language: EN-US; mso-fareast-theme-font: minor-latin; mso-hansi-theme-font: minor-latin;">[i]</span></span><!--[endif]--></span></a>Sadly, there seems to permeate an unproductive stereotype that feminist work is a woman’s work and men are the enemy, but this couldn’t be further from the truth. Not only is this thinking unproductive, it is also contributing to sexist oppression. Distinguishing who may or may not participate in the feminist movement on account of gender is also using gender as an oppressive, discriminating factor. As hooks noted in <i>Writing Beyond Race</i>, we need to “move away from the us/them dichotomies which promote blame and prevent us all from assuming accountability.” <a href="" name="_ednref2" title=""><span class="MsoEndnoteReference"><!--[if !supportFootnotes]--><span class="MsoEndnoteReference"><span style="font-family: &quot;Calibri&quot;,sans-serif; font-size: 11.0pt; line-height: 107%; mso-ansi-language: EN-US; mso-ascii-theme-font: minor-latin; mso-bidi-font-family: &quot;Times New Roman&quot;; mso-bidi-language: AR-SA; mso-bidi-theme-font: minor-bidi; mso-fareast-font-family: Calibri; mso-fareast-language: EN-US; mso-fareast-theme-font: minor-latin; mso-hansi-theme-font: minor-latin;">[ii]</span></span><!--[endif]--></span></a>Male participation in ending sexist oppression starts with accountability and concern for women’s liberation. However, that participation is hindered when feminists, often women, within the movement exclude or marginalize male involvement due to gender, which in turn allows men to relinquish their accountability in the movement. As hooks points out, “Accountability is a more expansive concept because it opens a field of possibility wherein we are all compelled to move beyond blame to see where our responsibility lies.” <a href="" name="_ednref3" title=""><span class="MsoEndnoteReference"><!--[if !supportFootnotes]--><span class="MsoEndnoteReference"><span style="font-family: &quot;Calibri&quot;,sans-serif; font-size: 11.0pt; line-height: 107%; mso-ansi-language: EN-US; mso-ascii-theme-font: minor-latin; mso-bidi-font-family: &quot;Times New Roman&quot;; mso-bidi-language: AR-SA; mso-bidi-theme-font: minor-bidi; mso-fareast-font-family: Calibri; mso-fareast-language: EN-US; mso-fareast-theme-font: minor-latin; mso-hansi-theme-font: minor-latin;">[iii]</span></span><!--[endif]--></span></a>Accountability requires that we collectively recognize we are living within dominator culture and collectively take responsibility to overcome senseless oppressions.<o:p></o:p></div><div class="MsoNormal" style="line-height: normal; margin-bottom: 0.0001pt; text-align: justify;"><br /></div><div class="MsoNormal" style="line-height: normal; margin-bottom: 0.0001pt; text-align: justify;">The exclusion of men in the feminist movement is not simply a matter of misogyny, or men having no concern for the liberation of women. Feminist tactics that have neglected their own part in male exclusion undermine their own goal to end sexist oppression. According to hooks, “This lack of [male] participation is not solely a consequence of anti-feminism. By making women’s liberation synonymous with women gaining social equality with men, liberal feminists effectively created a situation in which they, not men, designated feminist movement ‘women’s work’.” <a href="" name="_ednref4" title=""><span class="MsoEndnoteReference"><!--[if !supportFootnotes]--><span class="MsoEndnoteReference"><span style="font-family: &quot;Calibri&quot;,sans-serif; font-size: 11.0pt; line-height: 107%; mso-ansi-language: EN-US; mso-ascii-theme-font: minor-latin; mso-bidi-font-family: &quot;Times New Roman&quot;; mso-bidi-language: AR-SA; mso-bidi-theme-font: minor-bidi; mso-fareast-font-family: Calibri; mso-fareast-language: EN-US; mso-fareast-theme-font: minor-latin; mso-hansi-theme-font: minor-latin;">[iv]</span></span><!--[endif]--></span></a>While there is work being done by feminists to find constructive ways of bonding women together in a sense of comradery and sisterhood, there has been less attention given to the encouragement of men’s efforts in the feminist movement. Limited male participation cannot be reduced to misogyny alone, but also the tactic of feminists excluding potential participants.<o:p></o:p></div><div class="MsoNormal" style="line-height: normal; margin-bottom: 0.0001pt; text-align: justify;"><br /></div><div class="MsoNormal" style="line-height: normal; margin-bottom: 0.0001pt; text-align: justify;">Not only should feminists refrain from excluding male participation, feminist should be encouraging male participation, or better put, encourage participation independent of gender. More recently, the #HeForShe campaign is working to change the aim of feminism as women’s work. Their mission statement echoes hooks’ call for diverse gender participation in the movement to end sexist oppression by stating, “it’s not just a women’s issue, it’s a human rights issue.” <a href="" name="_ednref5" title=""><span class="MsoEndnoteReference"><!--[if !supportFootnotes]--><span class="MsoEndnoteReference"><span style="font-family: &quot;Calibri&quot;,sans-serif; font-size: 11.0pt; line-height: 107%; mso-ansi-language: EN-US; mso-ascii-theme-font: minor-latin; mso-bidi-font-family: &quot;Times New Roman&quot;; mso-bidi-language: AR-SA; mso-bidi-theme-font: minor-bidi; mso-fareast-font-family: Calibri; mso-fareast-language: EN-US; mso-fareast-theme-font: minor-latin; mso-hansi-theme-font: minor-latin;">[v]</span></span><!--[endif]--></span></a>Though the #HeForShe campaign might suggest binary gender distinctions in the title, I think it’s still worth noting that there is an effort to widen the genderized distribution of feminist work beyond the role of women, and the “women only” mentality, which at its roots perpetuates the oppressions of patriarchy.<o:p></o:p></div><div class="MsoNormal" style="line-height: normal; margin-bottom: 0.0001pt; text-align: justify;"><br /></div><div class="MsoNormal" style="line-height: normal; margin-bottom: 0.0001pt; text-align: justify;">Encouraging male participation also means moving past blame. It is easy to misidentify the problem of sexism with a personified male trope, when identifying the abstract idea of sexism requires more thought and work. In <i>Writing Beyond Race</i>, hooks discusses the need for moving past blame:<o:p></o:p></div><div class="MsoNormal" style="line-height: normal; margin-bottom: .0001pt; margin-bottom: 0in; text-indent: .5in;"><br /></div><div class="MsoNormal" style="line-height: normal; margin-bottom: .0001pt; margin-bottom: 0in; margin-left: .5in; margin-right: .5in; margin-top: 0in;">“We are more energized by the practice of blaming than we are by efforts to create transformation, we not only cannot find relief from suffering, we are creating the conditions that help keep us stuck in the status quo. Our attachment to blaming, to identifying the oppressor, stems from the fear that if we cannot unequivocally and absolutely state who the enemy is then we cannot know who to organize resistance struggle.” (pg. 29)<o:p></o:p></div><div class="MsoNormal" style="line-height: normal; margin-bottom: .0001pt; margin-bottom: 0in;"><br /></div><div class="MsoNormal" style="line-height: normal; margin-bottom: 0.0001pt; text-align: justify;">We have the capacity to transcend our reductionist blaming tactics, but we will be far more effective if we learn from our past and target ideas instead of people. This is not an easy task, because as humans we can easily be defeated with violence, or even apathy, but a hateful idea can live on like a parasite jumping from host to host. Overcoming dominator culture requires we accurately identify the various systems of oppression at work, instead of blaming another. <a href="" name="_ednref6" title=""><span class="MsoEndnoteReference"><!--[if !supportFootnotes]--><span class="MsoEndnoteReference"><span style="font-family: &quot;Calibri&quot;,sans-serif; font-size: 11.0pt; line-height: 107%; mso-ansi-language: EN-US; mso-ascii-theme-font: minor-latin; mso-bidi-font-family: &quot;Times New Roman&quot;; mso-bidi-language: AR-SA; mso-bidi-theme-font: minor-bidi; mso-fareast-font-family: Calibri; mso-fareast-language: EN-US; mso-fareast-theme-font: minor-latin; mso-hansi-theme-font: minor-latin;">[vi]</span></span><!--[endif]--></span></a>Encouragement of male participation includes overcoming blaming culture, and embracing a willingness to listen. Men need not blame themselves for inventing sexism, any more than women should, but we should not shirk the responsibility to eradicate it.<o:p></o:p></div><div class="MsoNormal" style="line-height: normal; margin-bottom: .0001pt; margin-bottom: 0in;"><br /></div><div class="MsoNormal" style="line-height: normal; margin-bottom: .0001pt; margin-bottom: 0in;"><o:p><br /></o:p></div><div class="MsoNormal" style="line-height: normal; margin-bottom: 0.0001pt; text-align: center;"><b><span style="font-size: x-large;">Understanding Masculinity</span></b><o:p></o:p></div><div class="MsoNormal" style="line-height: normal; margin-bottom: .0001pt; margin-bottom: 0in;"><br /></div><div class="MsoNormal" style="line-height: normal; margin-bottom: 0.0001pt; text-align: justify;">A common criticism of the feminist movement is the condemnation of masculinity. Unfortunately, toxic interpretations of masculinity make it difficult to identify what is masculine and what is patriarchal oppression. In pushing against patriarchal oppression, feminists are often criticized of emasculating men. Hooks points out, “…imposed upon the consciousness of the American public [is] the notion that any career woman, any woman who competed with men, was envious of male power and was likely to be a castrating bitch.” <a href="" name="_ednref7" title=""><span class="MsoEndnoteReference"><!--[if !supportFootnotes]--><span class="MsoEndnoteReference"><span style="font-family: &quot;Calibri&quot;,sans-serif; font-size: 11.0pt; line-height: 107%; mso-ansi-language: EN-US; mso-ascii-theme-font: minor-latin; mso-bidi-font-family: &quot;Times New Roman&quot;; mso-bidi-language: AR-SA; mso-bidi-theme-font: minor-bidi; mso-fareast-font-family: Calibri; mso-fareast-language: EN-US; mso-fareast-theme-font: minor-latin; mso-hansi-theme-font: minor-latin;">[vii]</span></span><!--[endif]--></span></a>When domination is considered a masculine quality, any attempts to challenge unjust domination will be perceived as emasculating. When violence is considered a masculine quality, any attempts to challenge unjust violence will be perceived as emasculating.&nbsp; When power is considered a masculine quality, any attempts to redistribute power to other genders will be perceived as emasculating. In order to end the oppression of unjust domination, violence, and power imbalances we need to decouple the idea that these qualities are inherently masculine. To the extent we ignore issues related to masculinity, we undermine our own goals and objectives to end sexist oppression and usher in gender liberation.<o:p></o:p></div><div class="MsoNormal" style="line-height: normal; margin-bottom: .0001pt; margin-bottom: 0in;"><br /></div><div class="MsoNormal" style="line-height: normal; margin-bottom: .0001pt; margin-bottom: 0in;"><o:p><br /></o:p></div><div class="MsoNormal" style="line-height: normal; margin-bottom: 0.0001pt; text-align: center;"><b><span style="font-size: x-large;">Rejecting Anti-Male Feminism</span></b><o:p></o:p></div><div class="MsoNormal" style="line-height: normal; margin-bottom: .0001pt; margin-bottom: 0in;"><br /></div><div style="text-align: justify;">Another common tactic used by feminists is a reductionist approach that pits men as the enemy of feminism. Anti-male feminist views, though unproductive, still rear their head in contemporary discourse. However, by falsely assuming all men are misogynistic oppressors, the feminist movement has divisively cut the possible number of participants in half. If a movement such as feminism aims to end sexist oppression, but then uses gender exclusionary tactics, labels, and language, anti-male feminists have already begun a journey counterproductive to their primary objective. If misandry is the primary objective, it’s not feminism.<br /><br />Broad generalizations such as “men hate women” and “men are the enemy” are often contributors to stereotypes against feminist and perpetuate false assumptions of “feminist, man-hating lesbians.” Misogyny cannot justify misandry, especially when misandry perpetuates misogyny. Feminism cannot be a movement built upon “all men are the enemy” and then to be taken seriously as a movement to end sexist oppressions. <a href="" name="_ednref8" title=""><span class="MsoEndnoteReference"><span class="MsoEndnoteReference"><span style="font-family: &quot;Calibri&quot;,sans-serif; font-size: 11.0pt; line-height: 107%; mso-ansi-language: EN-US; mso-ascii-theme-font: minor-latin; mso-bidi-font-family: &quot;Times New Roman&quot;; mso-bidi-language: AR-SA; mso-bidi-theme-font: minor-bidi; mso-fareast-font-family: Calibri; mso-fareast-language: EN-US; mso-fareast-theme-font: minor-latin; mso-hansi-theme-font: minor-latin;">[viii]</span></span></span></a>This mentality also alienates the participation of women who do not share exclusionary sentiments. One example hooks points out in&nbsp;<i>Feminism: From Margin to Center&nbsp;</i>is within the black community.</div><br /><div class="MsoNormal" style="line-height: normal; margin-bottom: .0001pt; margin-bottom: 0in;"><o:p></o:p></div><div class="MsoNormal" style="line-height: normal; margin-bottom: .0001pt; margin-bottom: 0in;"><br /></div><div class="MsoNormal" style="line-height: normal; margin-bottom: .0001pt; margin-bottom: 0in; margin-left: .5in; margin-right: .5in; margin-top: 0in;">“Despite sexism, black women have contributed equally to anti-racist struggle, and frequently, before contemporary black liberation effort, black men have recognized this contribution. There is a special tie binding people together who struggle collectively for liberation. Black women and men have been united by such ties. They have known the experience of political solidarity. It is the experience of shared resistance struggle that led black women to reject the anti-male stance of some feminist activists.” (pg. 70)<o:p></o:p></div><div class="MsoNormal" style="line-height: normal; margin-bottom: .0001pt; margin-bottom: 0in;"><br /></div><div class="MsoNormal" style="line-height: normal; margin-bottom: .0001pt; margin-bottom: 0in;"><br /></div><div class="MsoNormal" style="line-height: normal; margin-bottom: 0.0001pt; text-align: justify;">There is much we can learn from this example. By binding together in the spirit of solidarity, we can form a comradery that provokes us into action, not as women against men, but men and women against sexist oppression. Moving past anti-male feminism requires us to abandon the “battle of the sexes” mentality that holds us back.<o:p></o:p></div><div class="MsoNormal" style="line-height: normal; margin-bottom: 0.0001pt; text-align: justify;"><br /></div><div class="MsoNormal" style="line-height: normal; margin-bottom: 0.0001pt; text-align: justify;">Another area in which anti-male feminist ideals have appeared is within shaming men’s sexuality. Tactics deployed by anti-male feminists not only create useless divisions among those who share a common goal to end sexist oppression, they are also contributing to sexual shaming with harmful psychological effects. It is the inverse of “slut shamming.” Sexual shaming regarding any gender has no place in the feminist movement.<o:p></o:p></div><div class="MsoNormal" style="line-height: normal; margin-bottom: 0.0001pt; text-align: justify;"><br /></div><div class="MsoNormal" style="line-height: normal; margin-bottom: 0.0001pt; text-align: justify;">The extreme of anti-male sexuality can be seen is feminist lesbian mandates. To clarify, not all lesbianism is misandist, just as male homosexuality isn’t misogyny. Within the feminist movement there has been a significant effort put into ending heterosexist oppression and liberation of the queer community. However, radical feminist views prevalent in the 1980’s took anti-male stances that require commentary. While these anti-male sexuality positions are slowly dwindling, some dogmas and stereotypes still linger. Women’s sexual liberation is closely linked to lesbian liberation, which is a positive advancement for homosexuals. However, a feminist movement that condemns men’s sexuality and mandates lesbianism is not sexual liberation. That is adopting the role of the oppressor. As hooks, stated, “Just as the struggle to end sexual oppression aims to eliminate heterosexism, it should not endorse any one sexual choice: celibacy, bisexuality, homosexuality, or heterosexuality.” <a href="" name="_ednref9" title=""><span class="MsoEndnoteReference"><!--[if !supportFootnotes]--><span class="MsoEndnoteReference"><span style="font-family: &quot;Calibri&quot;,sans-serif; font-size: 11.0pt; line-height: 107%; mso-ansi-language: EN-US; mso-ascii-theme-font: minor-latin; mso-bidi-font-family: &quot;Times New Roman&quot;; mso-bidi-language: AR-SA; mso-bidi-theme-font: minor-bidi; mso-fare The elephant in the Christian Transhumanist room Mormon Transhumanist Association External Opinions urn:uuid:3ab21e6a-2ef6-8c33-e9a4-af9d387e80fa Sun, 10 Dec 2017 02:10:31 -0700 <figure><img alt="" src="*jlyyCoFnvcTNlexpl5l7QQ.jpeg" /></figure><p>An interesting <a href="">post</a> in the <a href="">Christian Transhumanist Association</a> (CTA) <a href="">Facebook group</a> notes that “There is an elephant in the Christian Transhumanist room: do we believe in a supernatural ‘kingdom of God’ or not?” and calls for a discussion.</p><p>Micah Redding, <a href="">Executive Director of the CTA</a>, says:</p><blockquote>“Thanks for making the question explicit. I suspect this is something that a lot of people are wondering.”</blockquote><p>In fact, while some members of the CTA underline the “supernatural” aspects of Christianity and view the reign of Christ on earth as “something otherworldly that happens from the outside,” others tend to emphasize the compatibility of Christianity and science, speculate on the “natural” aspects of God, and consider the Kingdom as “something we have to build and emulate with our technology.”</p><p>I am in the latter group.</p><p>I think the <a href="">simulation hypothesis</a> — the idea that our reality could be a simulation running in a deeper or higher level of reality — is totally equivalent to Christian cosmology with a Creator that is “supernatural” from our perspective.</p><p><a href="">I have speculated</a> on a super-intelligent Mind (aka God) in a deeper “trans-Planckian” physical reality, able to engineer our reality just like we engineer material systems with desired properties. I think quantum randomness could be less random than it seems, and <a href="">encode creative directions from the Mind</a>.</p><p><a href="">I can imagine</a> a God who comes to full being in the far future of the universe, perhaps emerging from the cosmic evolution of intelligent life, and becomes the omnipotent God of all times, able and influence events anywhere, anytime, including here and now, and create the cosmos that will ultimately spawn God in a self-consistent time loop.</p><p>I think God wants us to become <a href="">cosmic engineers in God’s cosmic control room</a>, and build the Kingdom with future ultra-technologies able to remake the universe, re-engineer space-time, create self-consistent time loops, re-write the laws of physics, and retrieve the dead from other times, space-time foam, deep quantum reality and whatnot.</p><figure><img alt="" src="*x9Cw8_lXyft2Ysk9FsQvug.jpeg" /></figure><p>These (inter-related) unconventional concepts of God and the Kingdom are, I believe, “supernatural” enough from our perspective, and therefore should be considered as practically equivalent to more traditional concepts.</p><p>In passing, I will note that Mormon theology seems more open to imaginative “theological engineering” than mainstream Christian theology (which is why <a href="">I am often tempted to call myself a Mormon</a>).</p><p>In <a href="">a previous related discussion</a> the founding Chair of the CTA, <a href="">Rev. Chris Benek</a>, warned me that these concepts might be too unconventional and weird to effectively reach the masses within the Christian tradition.</p><p>Of course, Chris is right. But in <a href="">a recent essay</a> he said that conventional and less conventional approaches to Christianity can and should co-exist.</p><blockquote>“Prisco also <a href="">articulated his personal call</a> to explore theological and technological possibilities outside of concepts that are considered currently religiously orthodox. I am all for such exploration because, I think that that is exactly what Jesus encouraged the disciples to do in their formational practice.”</blockquote><p>My answer to <a href="">the “elephant in the room” question</a>, similar to what Micah says in one of the comments, is that I don’t agree with “the premise that these general ideas must be in contrast.”</p><p>Let the mainstream CTA formulate and promote a transhumanist message that is fully compatible with orthodox Christianity, and let Christian Transhumanist scouts like me explore the outer fringes of Christian cosmology.</p><p>My message is not that one must believe in God and call God by any particular name. My message, directed to <a href="">those who want to believe, and those who believe with their heart but find it difficult to reconcile the heart with the mind</a>, is that one can believe in God (by any name) and the afterlife without abandoning the scientific worldview. Future science will allow us to better understand the strange, wonderful reality of God.</p><p><em>Images from </em><a href=""><em>Pexels</em></a><em> and </em><a href=""><em>pxhere</em></a><em>.</em></p><img src="" width="1" height="1"><hr><p><a href="">The elephant in the Christian Transhumanist room</a> was originally published in <a href="">Turing Church</a> on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.</p> Mormon Naturalism The Transfigurist urn:uuid:83515637-1d68-af64-6852-f2e10568f6d3 Fri, 08 Dec 2017 07:57:00 -0700 <div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img border="0" data-original-height="349" data-original-width="620" src=""></a></div><br><br>I think one of the great strengths of Mormonism is its naturalism; however, the term is equivocal and “naturalism” is sometimes criticized. gives (among others) these definitions of “naturalism”:<br><br><blockquote class="tr_bq">Philosophy. The system of thought holding that all phenomena can be explained in terms of natural causes and laws.<br>Theology. The doctrine that all religious truths are derived from nature and natural causes and not from revelation.</blockquote><br>It is in the context of this latter definition that, for example, “naturalistic” approaches to the Book of Mormon sometimes come under fire (typically from Mormon apologetic sources). But it seems there is a dichotomy in this definition that Mormonism rejects.<br><br>The assumption in the latter definition seems to be that God is “supernatural.” While this may be definitionally true (one of the dictionary definitions of “supernatural” is anything having to do with deity), there is a lot of baggage here. In Western religious and philosophical tradition, God has been understood to be outside or beyond the universe. But this is not the case in Mormon theology, in great part because of our denial of creation <i>ex nihilo</i> and our interpretation of scriptural creation accounts as pertaining to this earth only, and not to the entire universe.<br><br><a href="">Read more »</a><img src="" height="1" width="1" alt=""/> Philosophy of Immortality: Ninavism, by Juliusz M. Kowalski Mormon Transhumanist Association External Opinions urn:uuid:053cc513-fa6b-62a1-264c-587e53e8d993 Fri, 08 Dec 2017 01:27:12 -0700 <figure><img alt="" src="*2JOn6OLiFra2ZvLIbLiVeA.jpeg" /></figure><p>In his 2017 book “<a href=""><em>Ninavism: The Philosophy of Immortality</em></a>,” Turing Church <a href="">contributor</a> Juliusz M. Kowalski proposes a comprehensive, near-systematic philosophy of immortality, from transhumanism to transcendence.</p><p>The first chapter is a summary of transhumanist thinking: rejuvenation, life extension, cryonics, mind uploading and all that. Then Juliusz rockets far out in the black sky and elaborates on four distinct possible implementations of immortality: by humans of the (far) future, by aliens, by impersonal nature, and by traditional religious supernatural forces.</p><p>The first two implementations describe the concept of technological resurrection: future advanced humans, or advanced aliens, could find ways grounded in science and technology to retrieve the dead from the past. The third implementation refers to unknown natural processes that could be working behind the scenes to preserve parts of the personal self after physical death. The fourth implementation is inspired by traditional religious views of immortality based on the concept of “supernatural.”</p><p>I have written about all these things, and I find the approach of Juliusz very similar to mine. Technologies like biological life extension and mind uploading will, one day, offer “entry-level” immortality to those who are alive then. But what about those who are already dead? What about our grandparents? What about you and I?</p><p>An answer is that all memories of the universe could be stored as permanent records by ongoing natural processes, perhaps in God-like minds. Our descendants in the far future, or aliens, so advanced as to be near-omnipotent Gods compared to us, could find ways to read these records and bring back to life the dead from the past. We could be reincarnated (without memory) and/or resurrected (with memory) over and over, and eventually achieve final immortality in a Final World equivalent to religious eschatologies.</p><p>Since nobody knows which version of God(s), immortality, or related concepts is correct, defining concepts as multiple alternatives is the systematic approach of Ninavism. “The reason for this is simple,” explains Juliusz. “In present times, knowledge is limited.” This is, I think, a healthy approach.</p><p>Why does Juliusz call his philosophy “Ninavism”? And why did he write this book? Both questions are answered in a very short chapter titled “Nina.”</p><blockquote>Nina was a sweet and innocent girl. All her friends from school and relatives confirm that she was a Saint. Nina was ferocious in protecting weak children from bullying. She died at the age of 12 from incurable cancer, suffering horribly before this. The Philosophy of Immortality presented in this book is a message from Nina. Without her this book would not exist — she is the mother of Ninavism. She contributed to it in the natural and supernatural ways — Nina is an Avatar.</blockquote><p>Nina was the daughter of Juliusz, who strongly believes he’ll meet her (and other loved ones) after his own death, multiple reincarnations, and final resurrection, perhaps in 10 million years time, with the help of future humans, or aliens, or traditional Gods common to all religions, or nature, or something else not known yet.</p><p>This story is especially — and unbearably — tragic, but we all have lost loved ones and wish to see them again. I study science to persuade myself that death is not final, and we’ll see our loved ones again. It’s easy — too easy — to dismiss our ideas as wishful thinking, but my answer is that wishful thinking is what got Columbus to the New World.</p><p>Here’s to wishful thinking. Here’s to sweet Nina.</p><p>I am sending Nina a friendship request on the cosmic Facebook, and I look forward to meeting her in person on the other side.</p><p>Juliusz was born in 1950 in Poland in a traditional Catholic family. He studied physics at the University of Torun , and philosophy at the University of Warsaw. In 1980, Juliusz migrated to Australia. He worked 8 years as a physicist at the University of New South Wales, then 15 years as a computer programmer in Sydney. Juliusz is married to a Filipino woman, and they had two children, including Nina.</p><p>Here is a dialogue between me and Juliusz to explore parallels and differences between Ninavism and related worldviews.</p><p><strong>Giulio: Why should the reader pay attention to your ideas?</strong></p><p>Juliusz: There are thousands of books on the philosophy of Christianity, Hinduism, and other traditional religions, but hardly any on the philosophy of transhumanism. Ninavism fills this gap by offering an easily understandable introduction to transhumanist philosophy. The reader does not need to be a philosopher to understand the ideas of Ninavism, because they are explained in general, non-philosophical terms.</p><p>Ninavism is not tied up to any particular religion, so potentially it is of interest to followers of any religion seeking rational justification of their own faith. It is also of interest to atheists who seek spiritual support outside religions.</p><p><strong>Giulio: What is new in the book?</strong></p><p>Juliusz: The book shows a rationally justified timetable for the universal Resurrection and the Final World.</p><p>The book shows a natural mechanism for life creation and propagation in the Universe.</p><p>The book supports the Law of Engaged Panspermia, which says that directed panspermia aimed at establishing communication and migration to a seeded life centre is a universal biological principle of propagating and maintaining life in the outer universe. I am not sure whether or not this principle was already proposed by others earlier. For that reason, I am expressing support for this law, regardless whether or not it was me or others who invented it.</p><p>The book shows how the supernatural can be explained in natural terms.</p><p>The book shows how transhumanism can be reconciled with traditional religions.</p><p><strong>Giulio: How is Ninavism different from traditional religions?</strong></p><p>Juliusz: Traditional religions are based on holy books, which are different for each faith. Ninavism is based on rational reasoning and science, which is common to all.</p><p>Both traditional religions and Ninavism are based on human feelings and desires for Immortality, common to all faiths and Transhumanism.</p><p>The orthodox religious people, who believe in Gods as the source of Immortality, are fully supported by Ninavism, as long as they do not obstruct other people to find Immortality outside traditional religions.</p><p><strong>Giulio: How does Ninavism differ from classical transhumanism?</strong></p><p>Juliusz: Ninavism is the broadest possible formulation of transhumanism.</p><p><strong>Giulio: How can you summarize your approach to resurrection and reincarnation?</strong></p><p>Juliusz: Resurrection and Reincarnation could be delivered in a few distinct alternative ways: by traditional Gods, or by humans in the far future (transhumans), or by natural creatures living on other planets (extra-terrestrial beings), or by non-personal Nature. All these alternatives are considered as possible sources or causes of Immortality. Ninavism does not indicate which alternative is more or less probable, or which is a favorite.</p><p>In comparison to Ninavism, traditional religions usually specified Gods as the favorite alternative and the main (or even the only) hope for Immortality.</p><p>In comparison to Ninavism, <a href="">Mormon transhumanism</a> (in particular <a href="">The New God Argument</a> of Lincoln Cannon) favors the alternative of humans in the far future (in addition to the traditional God).</p><p>In comparison to Ninavism, Giulio Prisco’s <a href="">super toy model for scientific theology</a> favors the traditional God, with the exception that God is described in natural terms, compatible with the laws of physics. However, Giulio also <a href="">supports Mormons ideas</a>, and considers non-personal Nature (although with less enthusiasm). I am not sure what is Giulio’s view on Aliens as an alternative for Immortality. In all, it seems that Giulio’s views are similar to Ninavism, in the sense of supporting multiple alternatives for Immortality.</p><p>In our age, the possibility of Aliens as a source of Resurrection / Reincarnation is mainly considered be some religious groups branded collectively as New Age Movement. This is strange, because the existence of Aliens has strong rational and scientific justification, as shown clearly in the book chapter LIFE CREATION AND PROPAGATION. Humans of our age view Aliens mainly as competitors, and not as saviors. This is likely to change in the future.</p><p>Ninavism’ use of multiple alternatives of Immortality is the broadest formulation of transhumanism. It includes all possible ways in which Immortality might be delivered. It does not favor any particular alternative, and it does not exclude any alternative. The multiple alternatives and scenarios are part of the futuristic methodology.</p><p><strong>Giulio: I am now addressing these points from my perspective.</strong></p><p>I am totally open to the idea that God-like aliens (in the future or in the present) could bring humans back to life with super-advanced science and technology. The idea is described in science fiction (for example in <a href="">Robert Charles Wilson</a>’s “<em>Darwinia</em>”), and was promoted by <a href="">my late lamented friend Dan Massey</a>.</p><p>I don’t really make a fundamental distinction between humans, aliens, AIs, Mind-like natural processes, and God-like “supernatural” beings. In my vision, human/AI hybrids could go to the stars, merge with alien civilizations, and become God-like. Intelligent life could establish outposts in (or migrate to) the hidden substrate where cosmic memories are stored, ignite it with Mind, and develop the God-like power to resurrect the dead.</p><p>In <a href="">the essays mentioned by Juliusz</a>, I propose a model for a traditional God, described in natural terms compatible with the laws of physics. But in other essays I have written about the possibility of technological resurrection through the agency of future God-like humans and/or aliens, enabled by yet unexplored physical laws.</p><p>The cosmology of Juliusz is very similar to mine, and our approaches to <a href="">the problem of evil</a> are also very similar. <a href="">Here is mine</a>.</p><p>A difference between our approaches is that Juliusz also elaborates on topics that, to me, aren’t essential or important. For example, my version of the chapter “gays” would be very short: “Of course gays are just like the rest of us. Let’s move on.” The chapter is an example of what I call “<a href="">petty geography and zoning norms</a>” as opposed to cosmology. I focus on cosmology, and find zoning norms uninteresting.</p><p>A (related) difference is that I don’t try to develop a systematic philosophy or theology. I don’t try to give all answers, but focus on a few tentative answers and reasons for hope, without worrying too much about consistency (which, following <a href="">Ralph Waldo Emerson</a>, I tend to consider as “the hobgoblin of little minds.” That’s why my forthcoming book is titled “<a href=""><em>Tales of the Turing Church</em></a>” — I do not wish to offer a tight scientific, religious or philosophical system but rather a loose collection of ideas, visions and stories.</p><p>But then another difference is that, while I still have to complete my book, Juliusz has already written his book, which is a good book. Please <a href="">buy</a> and read it!</p><h4>Juliusz: REVIEW OF SOME CHAPTERS OF ‘NINAVISM: THE PHILOSOPHY OF IMMORTALITY’</h4><figure><img alt="" src="*t9LAQoCAU2P5RloikGO8qA.jpeg" /></figure><p>My book “<em>Ninavism</em>” contains multiple and diversified issues and topics. Perhaps, it will be best to review it chapter by chapter, with one to three sentences describing each major chapter. This approach was used by Lincoln Cannon in <a href="">his review</a> of Eric Steinhart’s book “<a href=""><em>Your Digital Afterlives: Computational Theories of Life after Death</em></a>.”</p><p>Actually, Steinhart’s book is much more difficult to read then “<em>Ninavism</em>.” Lincoln Cannon recommends Steinhart’s book for seminaries and specialized learning institution. “<em>Ninavism</em>,” on the other hand, is easy to read, and designed for a general public without specialized education.</p><p>Chapter 1 — TECHNOLOGICAL IMMORTALITY: This chapter is a brief introduction to technologies currently considered as suitable for man-made Immortality. This chapter can be skipped by people familiar with transhumanist literature, because it is written for religious people who know nothing or little about transhumanism.</p><p>Chapter 2 — FINAL IMMORTALITY: This major chapter is about Immortality in form of Resurrection delivered by Humans of Future. It gives a justification for the reality of such project and an estimate of when this could happen. According to Ninavism, it might take up to 10 million years before humans are able to do so.</p><p>Chapter 3 — LIFE CREATION AND PROPAGATION: This chapter provides detailed rational and scientific justifications for the widespread existence of life in the universe, and the way it moves between planets.</p><p>Chapter 4 — CENTRES OF LIFE IN THE UNIVERSE: This chapter formulates the Law of Engaged Panspermia, which is a universal biological principle of life creation and maintenance.</p><p>Chapter 5: REINCARNATION COMBINED WITH RESURRECTION: This chapter shows that Resurrection is a particular type of Reincarnation.</p><p>Chapter 6: COMPLETE MODEL OF IMMORTALITY: This chapter shows one particular way in which a compromise might be reached between the eschatologies of various religions.</p><p>Chapter 7: POSTIMMORTALITY; This chapter covers the period from 10 million years from now till the destruction of the planet by the expanding sun in about 3–4 billion years time.</p><p>Chapter 8: HISTORY AND EVOLUTION OF IMMORTALITY: This chapter shows how the concept of Immortality developed as humanity gradually emerged.</p><p>Chapter 9: NINAVISM: This chapter shows that Ninavism is a philosophy rather than a religion, and how it provides rational justification for traditional religions as well as transhumanism.</p><p>Chapter 10: SUPERNATURAL FORCES: This is a major chapter attempting to redefine the concepts of God.</p><p>Chapter 11: PROBLEM OF EVIL: This chapter shows the Gods are not omnipotent.</p><p>Chapter 12: EPISTEMOLOGY: This chapter gives the epistemological justification of Ninavism, and shows the interaction between religion and science.</p><p>Chapter 13: METHODOLOGY: This chapter formulates methodology of Ninavism as based on multiple alternatives, scenarios, and Future Studies.</p><p>Chapter 14: COMPATIBILITY OF IMMORTALITIES: This chapter tries to shows how the Immortalities of different religions might be made compatible with each other.</p><p>Chapter 16: IMPLEMENTATION OF FINAL WORLD: This major chapter shows how memories of universe might be created, which are accessible by both Humans of Future and Gods.</p><p>Chapter 17: IMPLEMENTATION OF PRESENT IMMORTALITY: This chapter shows how Reincarnation and spiritual life immediately after death are maintained.</p><p><em>Images from Juliusz M. Kowalski.</em></p><img src="" width="1" height="1"><hr><p><a href="">Philosophy of Immortality: Ninavism, by Juliusz M. Kowalski</a> was originally published in <a href="">Turing Church</a> on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.</p> Terasem Colloquium in Second Life, December 10, 2017 Mormon Transhumanist Association External Opinions urn:uuid:52fbbc18-96de-ce7b-1c2d-675cb1d6da62 Mon, 04 Dec 2017 07:47:22 -0700 <figure><img alt="" src="*dxDymwrFryHiN8eNGG8dfw.jpeg" /></figure><p>The 2017 edition of the Terasem Annual Colloquium on the Law of Futuristic Persons will take place in Second Life — Terasem sim — on Sunday, December 10, 2017. This year’s theme is “Analysis of State Laws on the Reversal of Legal Determination of Death.”</p><p><strong>TERASEM MOVEMENT, INC.</strong></p><p><strong>12th ANNUAL COLLOQUIUM ON THE LAW OF FUTURISTIC PERSONS</strong></p><p><strong>SUNDAY, DECEMBER 10, 2017</strong></p><p><strong>7:00AM — 10:00AM PDT / 10:00AM — 1:00PM EDT / 3:00PM — 6:00PM GMT</strong></p><p><strong>ANALYSIS OF STATE LAWS ON THE REVERSAL OF LEGAL DETERMINATION OF DEATH</strong></p><p><strong>Terasem Island Conference Center in Second Life</strong><br> <strong>[</strong><a href=";title=Terasem%20Island%20Amphitheatre&amp;msg=Welcome%20to%20Terasem"><strong>SLURL — click here to teleport to Terasem</strong></a><strong>]</strong></p><p><strong>Talks and Speakers</strong>:</p><p>“<strong>Death Just Ain’t What It Used To Be</strong>”<br>Daniel Davies<br>Genetic Biodesign Systems Engineer<br>CEO and Founder at Vulpine Designs Limited<br>United Kingdom<br>(Avatar Name: Danfox Davies)</p><p>“<strong>Protecting Your Digital Assets: A Walk Through<br>the Uniform Fiduciary Access to Digital Assets Act</strong>”<br>Lori Rhodes<br>Director of Legal Research, Terasem Movement, Inc.<br>Space Coast, FL<br>(Avatar Name: Lori Darling)</p><p>“<strong>Immigration from Cyberspace</strong>”<br>Martine Rothblatt, J.D., PhD<br>Cofounder &amp; Executive Vice-President<br>Terasem Movement, Inc.<br>Space Coast, FL<br>(Avatar Name: Vitology Destiny)</p><p>Each year on December 10th, International Human Rights Day, <a href="">Terasem</a> conducts a <a href="">Colloquium on the Law of Futuristic Persons</a>. The event seeks to provide the public with informed perspectives regarding the legal rights and obligations of “futuristic persons” via VR events with expert presentations and discussions. Terasem hopes to facilitate development of</p><blockquote><em>“a body of law covering the rights and obligations of entities that transcend, and yet encompass, conventional conceptions of humanness.”</em></blockquote><p>It’s more and more evident that humanity and technology will co-evolve, with organic life enhanced by synthetic biology and artificial intelligence, and artificial life powered by mind grafts from human uploads, blending more and more until it will be impossible — and pointless — to tell which is which. The first generations of futuristic persons — sentient Artificial Intelligences (AIs), human mind uploads, and hybrids — are coming, and it’s important to prepare the way.</p><p>Current-generation virtual worlds like Second Life are, of course, very primitive compared with the future virtual worlds where many futuristic persons will live. Next-generation platforms like Philip Rosedales <a href="">High Fidelity</a> and Linden Lab’s <a href="">Project Sansar</a> support immersive Virtual Reality (VR) headsets and interfaces, which is likely to trigger a new, massive wave of interest in virtual worlds. Come to the 2017 Colloquium in Second Life, and get ready for future Terasem events in next-generation virtual worlds.</p><p>You are invited! I look forward to seeing you in Second Life on Sunday, December 10, and I am available for live help. My Second Life avatar name is Eschatoon Magic.</p><p><em>Image from Terasem.</em></p><img src="" width="1" height="1"><hr><p><a href="">Terasem Colloquium in Second Life, December 10, 2017</a> was originally published in <a href="">Turing Church</a> on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.</p> Without Eugene England, I Probably Wouldn’t Attend Church Mormon Transhumanist Association External Opinions urn:uuid:0a5689d9-123a-5041-7fbb-6af722053839 Sun, 03 Dec 2017 14:04:48 -0700 <h2>Reflections on the Growth-Promoting Gifts of Paradox</h2><figure data-orig-width="1388" data-orig-height="996" class="tmblr-full"><img src="" alt="image" data-orig-width="1388" data-orig-height="996"/></figure><p><b>First, A Confession</b></p><p>Let me begin with a confession: I often don’t like going to church. I find the experience incredibly taxing, exacerbating, and just plain boring. Rarely am I uplifted. Frequently am I peeved. Paradoxically, and interestingly, I also find going to church one of the most redemptive experiences I am trying to learn to love. It is very difficult for me to articulate the origin, nature, and depth of this love-angst relationship. And to be honest, if I wasn’t aware of who Eugene England was, I probably wouldn’t appreciate the discipline of community that comprises church-going, nor respect its attendant paradoxes. Put differently,without Eugene England, I probably wouldn’t attend church.</p><p>This loaded, semi-provocative thesis needs unpacking before it’ll make sense to orthodox ears. Let me drill down a bit.</p><p>In 1986, Eugene England, a faithful, critical Latter-day Saint scholar, wrote a game-changing essay entitled, “<a href="">Why the Church is as True as the Gospel</a>.” Personally, this essay has had a huge influence on me and my relationship with the institutional Church. It has carried me through difficult times in my discipleship, given me a lot of hope, beauty and pragmatic bearing, and has provided invaluable perspective on how “not only to endure but to go on loving what [is] unlovable.” In short, it is an essay that I think all Latter-day Saints should read and become familiar with.</p><figure data-orig-width="1386" data-orig-height="914" class="tmblr-full"><img src="" alt="image" data-orig-width="1386" data-orig-height="914"/></figure><p><b>The Power of Paradox: The Gospel and the Church</b></p><p>Much of England’s treatment of effective church-going meditates heavily on the power of paradox. Joseph Smith referred to the concept of paradox when he stated that “by proving contraries, truth is made manifest.” Half a century earlier, the poet William Blake had similarly observed, “Without contraries there is no progression.” Contraries, or oppositions, give energy, force and meaning to virtually everything.</p><p>Think about it.</p><p>The art you see in a theater, a museum, or historic site has risen from the tension of human conflict and opposition. Economic, political and social enterprises have and continue to emerge from competition and dialogue. Human life itself grows out of pain and controversy. Galaxies form spectacularly amid swirls of chaos and explosion.</p><p>The gospels, too, are awash with many paradoxical statements:</p><p>To be rich you must be poor. To be comforted you must mourn. To be exalted you must be humble. To be found you must be lost. To find your life you must lose it. To see the kingdom you must be persecuted. To be great you must serve. To gain all you must give up all. To live you must die.</p><p>Paradoxes, contraries, or oppositions can sometimes tempt us to think that two conflicting propositions will always be incompatible. Yet, it is often when we sacrifice traditional concepts and change our frame of reference that rival statements of paradox suddenly appear compatible.</p><p>A paradox, in other words, is not antithetical to the pursuit of truth, but in fact the very definition of it. In his acclaimed essay, “The Institutional Church and the Individual,” Bonner Ritchie stressed the importance of this pursuit: “By confronting the contradictory constraints of a system and pushing them to the limit, we develop the discipline and strength to function for ourselves. By confronting the process, by learning, by mastering, we rise above.”</p><p>“It must needs be, that there is an opposition in all things” is thus a profound statement of abstract theology in our scriptures that describes how vital paradox is to the development of all living things.</p><p>From the perspective of paradox, England is armed to build a persuasive case for why the Church (the Work) is as true as the Gospel (the Plan). Upon first blush, this rings like a weighty contradiction that just can’t be. The principles of the Gospel are pure and ideal, we say, but the workings and people of the Church are weak and imperfect. As Hugh Nibley once recognized, “The Plan looks to the eternities and must necessarily be perfect; but the Work is right here and is anything but the finished product.” We seem to envision the Gospel as a “perfect system of revealed commandments based on principles which infallibly express the natural laws of the universe,” says England, but in reality all we have is merely our current best understanding of these principles, which is invariably limited and imperfect. Such an unwieldy divine-human paradox seems to put us in a spiritual straightjacket.</p><blockquote>In what world can the Church and the Gospel be as “true” as each other?</blockquote><p>Consider first how England uses the word “true.” He’s not bearing down any sort of indexical relationship nor conflating the two with some grammatical set of historical, empirical, or metaphysical propositions. His approach is much more pragmatic and existential in nature. What he means is that the “Church is as true — as effective — as the gospel” because it is precisely the place where we are given a genuine and participating feel to practice the Gospel in specific, tangible ways. “The Church,” he says, “involves us directly in proving contraries, working constructively with the oppositions within ourselves and especially between people, struggling with paradoxes and polarities at an experiential level that can redeem us.”</p><p>Callings, for example, draw us into a very practical, specific, sacrificial relationship with others. We learn firsthand how exasperating people can be, how demanding and nagging human diversity often is. Paradoxically, when we work with, serve, and are taught by those who differ from and sometimes frustrate us, we allow ourselves room to become more open, vulnerable, gracious, and willing. When we grapple with real problems and work towards practical solutions with those we serve, we are pushed “toward new kinds of being in a way we most deeply want and need to be pushed.”</p><p>The “truthfulness” of the Church thus lies in its ability to effectively concretize the principles of the Gospel, bring them down to earth, down into our bodies, our hearts and minds, giving them corporeal form, thereby allowing imperfect agents to painfully develop divine gifts. And the better any church or organization is at drawing out these gifts, the “truer” it is.</p><p>Remember this point: “truth” from England’s perspective gains its meaning in relation to the quality of life, or being, it inspires.</p><p>England’s argument follows the late eighteenth century existential tradition of how our pursuit of truth must exist in relation to a more pressing concern than mere historical, metaphysical or scientific claims. Truth must lead us to a certain quality of life and quality of character —what philosophers and theologians have long since called “the good life.” Truth must bear down on the particular, not the general; the concrete, not the abstract. England isn’t elevating one over the other per se. He’s merely exposing the myth that the Gospel (the general) can somehow be salvifically divorced from the Church (the particular), as if pretending that sheer academic knowledge alone, and with it the freedom from dealing with the querulous, niggling life-pulse of a congregation, were sufficient for redemption.</p><p>This paradigm, he contends, is misguided.</p><figure data-orig-width="1304" data-orig-height="1296" class="tmblr-full"><img src="" alt="image" data-orig-width="1304" data-orig-height="1296"/></figure><p><b>Abstract and Practical Gospel Living</b></p><p>There are many principles of the Gospel that are conflicting and paradoxical and can’t be effectively lived in the abstract. They must instead be faithfully embodied for them to prove redemptive. Agency and obedience, for example. These two foundational principles are in dynamic tension with another, creating a critical paradox in the Church for how we work with others who may offend us or exercise unrighteous dominion. If God’s anointed leader makes a decision without inspiration, are we bound to sustain that decision? The friction created between obedience to authority and obedience to agentive conscience sparks the creative energy “we need to allow divine power to enter our lives in transforming ways.”</p><p>These moments of friction call us to walk an authentic path carved out between two easier paths of blind obedience and blanket rejection. They reveal the truth of how to act and not merely be acted upon.</p><p>England continues: “It is precisely in the struggle to be obedient while maintaining integrity, to have faith while being true to reason and evidence, to serve and love in the face of imperfections, even offenses, that we can gain the humility we need [to] …literally bring together the divine [the Gospel] and the human [the Church].”</p><p>The confession I began with is a good example of the tension I feel each Sunday while wrestling with these principles in the pews. I’ve attended many wards throughout my life, each replete with a common brand of middlebrow, prejudiced, intellectually unsophisticated types whose opinions I oftentimes vehemently disagree with. I’ve struggled endlessly with socially scripted class discussions, platitudinal public prayer, legalistic watchdogs, and those who proof-text the scriptures to support some idolatrous claim. The people in the Church, to put it mildly, have exasperated me to no end. And it is these very “exasperations, troubles, sacrifices [and] disappointments” that characterize my experience at church that England says “are especially difficult for idealistic liberals to endure.”</p><blockquote>But herein lies the power of his thesis: it is precisely in our exasperations with other people at church — those who sometimes piss us off — where we are invited to enter a “school of love,” one that enables us to painfully grow in Christ-like character by “loving what [is] unlovable.”</blockquote><p>How might this work?</p><p>Not many people I imagine willingly choose to build relationships with those whom they have very little in common with, or who have vastly different temperaments. Paradoxically, when we struggle to serve people we normally would not choose to serve (or possibly even associate with) we enter into a very specific, sacrificial relationship with them that allows us to exercise divine muscles that otherwise may have remained dormant. To accept this challenge, to enter this school, is to potentially become “powerfully open, empathetic, vulnerable people, able to understand, serve, learn from, and be trusted by people very different from [ourselves].”</p><p>By entering this school of contraries, we give birth to divinely needed gifts such as patience, compassion, mercy and forgiveness.</p><p>These gifts are forged in the furnace of paradox.</p><p>Terryl and Fiona Givens have also rightly backed the paradoxes at play in England’s thesis. Sometimes we “imagine a religious life encumbered by fallible human agents, institutional forms, rules and prohibitions, cultural group-think and expected conformity to norms.” Sometimes we “insist on imposing a higher standard on our co-worshippers” by wishing that their prejudices and blind spots did not inflame us. We wish others could simply think about the Gospel like we do. Practice it like we do. Yet when we “submit to the hard schooling of love” the Church offers, we’re able to experience wards and stakes that “function as laboratories and practicums where we discover that we love God by learning to love each other.”</p><blockquote>The Church’s perceived weaknesses, paradoxically, are thus actually its greatest strengths.</blockquote><p>Each imperfect encounter we experience at church will no doubt stretch and wear down on us, and yet if endured with the right attitude, can act as the very experience, the very gift, needed to become more Christ-like.</p><p>If this sounds too sentimental, too lofty, if we would prefer instead our worship services to constantly align with what “we get out” of a meeting, we may be missing the point. England argues, “If we constantly ask “What has the Church done for me?” we will not think to ask the much more important question, “What am I doing with the opportunities for service and self-challenge the Church provides me?” If we constantly approach the Church as consumers, we will never partake of its sweet and filling fruit. Only if we can lose our lives in church and other service will we find ourselves.”</p><p>It is a fairly easy exercise to analyze these principles from afar, criticize and make stupid those whose opinions we don’t share. Sometimes we remain too bookish, academic, or idealistic, with little hands-on involvement for the ongoing life of faith. If knowledge and books and abstract learning is where we tap real meaning, and have not charity, the principles we claim to admire so much will have the hollow, disembodied ring of “sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal.” We will not know the character-transforming truths that the Church means to imbue us with. It is only when we step into the arena with others, play the game, tussle with their ideas, wishes, and misinformed biases, and try to give constructive answers, that we come to slowly learn the truth of the child-like phrase, “I know the Church is true.”</p><p>Or rather: I know the Church is an effective vehicle for divine endowment, despite of, even because of, its very real and imperfect people.</p><p>And here is Mormonism asking us to do just that:</p><p>Step into the imperfect arena. Wrestle with our leaders. Create an embodied relationship with others. Maintain individual integrity in the face of pressures to obey and conform. Patiently serve those who irritate, bruise, thwart and offend. Love obedience and agency — learn not to resolve their tensions in favor of one conflicting set over the other. Rather, learn to transcend them in our own customized ways while still remaining true to ourselves and our community. Remember, it is not about blind obedience or wholesale rejection. It is about walking the harder path carved out between the paradox. In doing so, we develop divine character in creative ways that no abstract system of ideas (uncoupled from service) could ever produce.</p><p>By acting within the zone of this paradox, balancing our individual conscience while serving others and sustaining church leaders, we open doors to prove contraries and encounter truth in tactile ways.</p><figure data-orig-width="1386" data-orig-height="1032" class="tmblr-full"><img src="" alt="image" data-orig-width="1386" data-orig-height="1032"/></figure><p><b>But Really, How Necessary is Church?</b></p><p>Can we not find a framework for practicing divine gifts such as mercy, humility, patience, and service in any number of settings? Of course we can. The Church has not cornered the market on what it means to be a good person nor to practice goodness. All faiths and secular walks of life can be receptive to the larger world of truth and beauty and moral goodness.</p><p>Ok, but if the Church doesn’t provide unique opportunities for spiritual practice that can’t be obtained elsewhere, why go at all?</p><p>When England takes a hard, all-or-nothing line on this question by evoking the traditional, orthodox answer that the Church has the authority to perform essential saving ordinances, his response is less than satisfying. However, there’s another approach that hides in the margins of his thought that better articulates why church-going (or some semblance of formalized community) can be a powerful boon for developing divine gifts.</p><p>To start, we might ask:</p><blockquote>How often are most people sufficiently finding ways of their own efforts to love those they would normally not choose to love? And what value could there be in loving those we might consider as enemies?</blockquote><p>One way to approach these questions is to consider the kinds of people we normally choose to associate with: If, for example, we choose only to surround ourselves with like-minded souls, people who think, feel, share and welcome our commitments, praise our ideas, flower our egos, what reward do we have? If we salute only those who salute us, if we love only those who love us, what good does hearing what we want to hear and having others confirm what we think we already know do for us? In truth, such groupishness is thoughtlessness. It remains too cloistered. Too bubbled. It runs the risk of creating an in-group echo chamber that appraises the status quo while at the same time teaching us to demonize those who disagree.</p><p>Admittedly, it is often in the nature of religious institutions to homogenize disparities and command conformity.</p><p>We might ask, but isn’t church just some big, sequestered parrot hall where everyone thinks the same, talks the same, gives unfettered assent to the same basic truth claims? Loyalty to an organization of course can and should be a very positive force, but it can also be a careless excuse to unload responsibility for our spiritual lives onto another. Bonner Ritchie has persuasively framed the dangers involved. Loyalty bent on unthinking conformity, he says, can be “a force which victimizes the individual, who feels freed from the burden of moral choice…We cannot allow the dictates of anyone to relieve the burden, pain, or growth that goes with individual responsibility.”</p><p>Indeed, religious institutions are enmeshed in shared networks of meaning and moral matrices that tend to lean towards conservative groupthink, sometimes to the point of giving off the appearance of complete doctrinal uniformity and a fierce, hive-minded group homogeny.</p><p>Such tendencies and appearances do not yield optimal religion.</p><p>We need the wisdom that is to be found scattered among diverse kinds of people, those who can pull us out of the status quo and be willing to create the dynamic tension needed to constructively fight the overbearing cultural orthodoxy. We need people in our congregations who revel in distinctions, variations, and differences, even those we’d deem as enemies — those we would normally not choose to associate with or love.</p><p>As Adam Miller contends, our love of people must be fearless, “marked by [our] confidence that every truth can be thought again — indeed, must be thought again — from the position of the enemy.”</p><p>To translate Miller into England’s terms: we must learn to love those who differ from us from the position of paradox. While those who differ from us can always be found both inside and outside the institutional walls of the Church, the practice of going to church can have a unique way of positioning paradox and framing our enemies in redemptive ways that might not be as readily available or instinctive on the outside.</p><p>Take the Church’s organization, for example.</p><p>That congregations are organized at the local level with a lay clergy and are bounded “geographically rather than by personal choice” cannot be overstated in how Mormon culture is shaped. Many members attend the ward they locally find themselves in rather than shopping around for the ideal, heavenly congregation. There are exceptions of course, but the significance of such standard Zion-building creates a particular kind of community that keeps us within intimate range of each other. We’re threaded together with the devout, the wayward, the liberal, the conservative, the feminist, the watch dog, the intellectual, etc. All kinds of disciples and potential enemies abound. We need all kinds of temperaments, too, to complement the full body of Christ, providing a cohesive enough space to bind our temperaments and differences into mutual loving ties.</p><p>Callings, as mentioned earlier, then provide constant encouragement, even pressure, to practice this spiritual binding; they help socialize, reshape, and care for people who, if stripped of them, would have less opportunity to make the sacrifices needed to grow and develop divine gifts. As the Givens put it, church attendance causes us to be “forced back to the renegotiating table by an unavoidable proximity” to iron out, smooth over, and make atonement with those who irritate, bruise, and deeply offend. The luxury to click the block or mute button, like on social media, is not readily available. We are commanded instead to be in harmony. To be at one. And that it is up to each individual to get there through prayer, service and ritual. Though difficult, the rewards of such a community are often, paradoxically, the empowered gifts of patience, mercy, humility, charity, kindness, and forgiveness.</p><p>Nothing here suggests that non-religious people living in looser communities with a less binding moral matrix can’t find opportunities to equally advance a charitable praxis. Many in fact do. I’d wager to bet there are actually many atheists who care for people better than some religious people do. The point rather is to raise the question A Brief History of Religious Transhumanism Mormon Transhumanist Association External Opinions urn:uuid:ddc70c2f-0d87-1310-be12-4766b704b6a5 Wed, 29 Nov 2017 15:29:00 -0700 <img border="0" data-original-height="475" data-original-width="844" src="" /><br /><br />Although most self-identified Transhumanists today are secular, our origins actually extend beyond the secular to religious Humanism. New Testament writers and centuries of early Orthodox and Catholic authorities <a href="">syncretized Christianity with Neoplatonism</a>, the popular science of their day, and many advocated <a href="">identifying with Christ and becoming God</a>. Thirteenth-century Scholastic theologians continued the synthesis of Christianity with popular science, which was at the time the <a href="">newly rediscovered ideas of Aristotle</a>. Nineteenth-century Russian Orthodox priest, <a href="">Nikolai Fyodorov</a>, proclaimed that the common task of humanity should be the technological resurrection of our ancestors. And twentieth-century Jesuit priest, <a href="">Pierre Teilhard de Chardin</a>, advocated a vision of human evolution, accelerated by technology, merging inexorably into a conception of God.<br /><a name='more'></a><br />The self-identified religious Transhumanist movement began in the first decades of the 21st century. A portion of the movement founded new religions. In 2004, inspired in part by <a href="">Earthseed</a>, Martine Rothblatt founded the&nbsp;<a href="">Terasem Movement Transreligion</a>&nbsp;with&nbsp;<a href="">four core beliefs</a>: life is purposeful, death is optional, God is technological, and love is essential. And in 2014, inspired in part by <a href="">Cosmism</a>, Giulio Prisco founded the <a href="">Turing Church</a> as a <a href="">minimalist, open, extensible cosmic religion</a>.<br /><br />The majority of religious Transhumanists syncretized with traditional religions. In 2006, fourteen persons founded the <a href="">Mormon Transhumanist Association</a> (MTA). MTA adopted the <a href="">Transhumanist Declaration</a>, affiliated with the World Transhumanist Association (later renamed <a href="">Humanity+</a>), and authored the <a href="">Mormon Transhumanist Affirmation</a>. By 2017, MTA consisted of over 700 members. And in 2015, fourteen persons founded the <a href="">Christian Transhumanist Association</a> (CTA). CTA adopted the Transhumanist Declaration, affiliated with Humanity+, and authored the <a href="">Christian Transhumanist Affirmation</a>. By 2017, CTA consisted of over 400 members.<br /><br />Some religious Transhumanists refer to themselves as Transfigurists. The term “transfigurism” denotes advocacy for change in form. And it alludes to sacred stories from many religious traditions. Those include the <a href="">Universal Form of Krishna</a> in Hinduism, the <a href=";version=NIV">Radiant Face of Moses</a> in Judaism, the <a href="">Wakening of Gautama Buddha</a> in Buddhism, the <a href=";version=NIV">Transfiguration of Jesus Christ</a> and the <a href=";version=NIV">Rapture</a> in Christianity, and the <a href="">Translation of the Three Nephites</a> and the <a href="">Day of Transfiguration</a> in Mormonism.<br /><br />[Thanks for reading! You might also like "<a href="">A Brief History of the Mormon Transhumanist Association</a>".]<img src="" height="1" width="1" alt=""/> Space-Time, Matter, Mind, God: Samuel Alexander’s natural theology Mormon Transhumanist Association External Opinions urn:uuid:8dc4b3bd-4ec4-b06e-e9ed-78b30c1ae9e0 Fri, 24 Nov 2017 00:30:33 -0700 <figure><img alt="" src="*gW4FRfJ1vkvnSybAvWTerg.jpeg" /></figure><p>Writing 100 years ago, <a href="">Samuel Alexander</a> proposed a sober scientific theology that seems to me very modern, and very close to mine. In his masterwork “<a href=""><em>Space, Time, and Deity</em></a>,” Alexander envisioned an infinite progression of gods emerging from natural processes in the physical universe.</p><p>I stumbled upon Alexander’s work reading “<a href=""><em>The Re-Emergence of Emergence: The Emergentist Hypothesis from Science to Religion</em></a>,” a collection of essays edited by Philip Clayton and Paul Davies.</p><p><a href="">Samuel Alexander</a> is considered as a “weak emergentist” who appreciates the emergence of higher level phenomena from lower levels but, contrary to the “strong emergentists,” considers the lower levels as fundamental, causally closed, and sufficient.</p><p>In other words, Alexander does without the idea, often called “<a href="">downward causation</a>,” that the whole of a system can influence its parts in ways that cannot be reduced to the local interactions between the parts.</p><p>For example, life requires its own independent description (biology), which we can’t reduce to the low level underlying physics of atoms and molecules, but the low level physical interactions are what really does the work. Clayton explains:</p><blockquote>“Alexander nowhere introduces separate mental or spiritual entities. There is no ghost in the machine, even though the machine (if it’s complicated enough) may manifest ghost-like properties. In its highly complex forms the universe may become fairly mysterious, even divine; but the appearance of mystery is only what one would expect from a universe that is ‘<a href="">infinite in all directions</a>’.”</blockquote><figure><img alt="" src="*W-RyfhFzoMQu_XMZkdbBzw.jpeg" /></figure><p>Alexander’s book “<a href=""><em>Space, Time, and Deity</em></a>,” first published in 1920, was written for the 1916–18 <a href="">Gifford Lectures</a>, at the time of Einstein’s formulation of general relativity.</p><p>Like Einstein, Alexander considers space-time as the fundamental primary stuff. The rest of reality emerges from space-time in a progression of levels with new empirical qualities: First matter, then life, then mind, and then new levels unknown to us, indicated as Deity.</p><p>Interestingly, Alexander uses a body/mind metaphor for the relationship between two successive levels. So matter is the body of life, and life is the mind of matter. Similarly, matter is the mind of space-time, and space-time is the body of matter.</p><p>The level above life, emerging from life, is mind, or spirit. Spirit is the mind of life, and life is the body of spirit. Above spirit, there are the first levels of Deity, which are not yet the infinite, never fully achieved God. Alexander calls them finite gods, or angels. In his words:</p><blockquote>“Beyond these finite gods or angels there would be in turn a new empirical quality looming into view, which for them would be deity — that is, would be for them what deity is for us… [There] is no actual infinite being with the quality of deity; but there is an actual infinite, the whole universe, with a <em>nisus</em> [a tendency] to deity; and this is the God of the religious consciousness, though that consciousness habitually forecasts the divinity of its object as actually realised in an individual form.”</blockquote><p>Alexander’s hierarchy reminds of Cantor’s hierarchy of <a href="">transfinite numbers</a>, each essentially bigger than the one before, like the infinity of real numbers is essentially bigger than the infinity of rational numbers. The angels immediately above us are not merely advanced aliens (those would be at our level), but qualitatively different beings with empirical qualities higher than mind.</p><p>We couldn’t understand or even imagine the angels, let alone the levels of Deity above them. Perhaps the highest forms of Hans Moravec’s “<a href="">Exes</a>” come close to the very first level of Deity above us. Or we can think of the concept of kenes, which could be closer to what Alexander had in mind. In “<a href=""><em>The Spike: How Our Lives Are Being Transformed By Rapidly Advancing Technologies</em></a>” Damien Broderick describes kenes as “memetic entities that flow through us as electricity passes along wires.”</p><p>In “<a href=""><em>Sailing Bright Eternity</em></a>,” science and fiction writer Gregory Benford describes kenes as systems of self-replicating ideas (memes) that take a (higher level form of) life of their own, eventually leaving their original material substrates behind and becoming “free of the grinding embrace of matter… with ideas as the mere substrate for abstractions of ever higher order.” Perhaps Alexander’s angels could be something like that.</p><p>Alexander reminds me of his near-contemporary <a href="">Olaf Stapledon</a>. Among the similarities, both are focused on really big issues, and both appreciate <a href="">Alfred North Whitehead</a>’s process philosophy, In “<em>Philosophy and Living</em>,” Stapledon says:</p><blockquote>“In the philosophy of Samuel Alexander, the universe is said to have a ‘nisus toward deity,’ a tendency of urge or bias to achieve the fully awakened cosmical consciousness. In this view space and time, or rather space-time, is regarded as the fundamental reality.”</blockquote><h4>Afterlife?</h4><p>Both Alexander and Stapledon are skeptical of the afterlife, because they don’t see a physical mechanism for mind surviving the end of its material substrate. But perhaps, I guess, they are indulging in reverse wishful thinking.</p><p>Stapledon notes that, just like wishful thinking can lead to an irrational belief in the afterlife, “the fear of being irrationally swayed by the strong desire for immortality” can lead to an equally irrational belief in the finality of death. “For every irrational emotive influence on the one side there is an opposed irrational emotive influence on the other,” Stapledon says.</p><p>Alexander could have easily imagined that, starting at some level, finite gods could be able to retrieve us, as information, from the traces that we leave in space-time. So we would wake up after death as thoughts in the vast mind of a god.</p><p>According to Stapledon, this wouldn’t be an afterlife but a form of annihilation. “It may reasonably be questioned whether there is any sense in saying that he, the lamented human individual, has survived his death,” he says. “For he has become something fantastically different from what he was.”</p><p>But a stray thought in the vast mind of a god could be a whole, fully conscious human mind. So we could wake up in a pocket universe in a god-like mind, where we and our loved ones continue to exist as separate individuals. Something like that, more or less.</p><p><a href=""><em>Top image</em></a><em> from Wikimedia Commons.</em></p><img src="" width="1" height="1"><hr><p><a href="">Space-Time, Matter, Mind, God: Samuel Alexander’s natural theology</a> was originally published in <a href="">Turing Church</a> on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.</p> Set in stone: Free will vs. superdeterminism Mormon Transhumanist Association External Opinions urn:uuid:61ab2283-22b3-167a-bc81-ae44510bf010 Tue, 21 Nov 2017 00:39:43 -0700 <figure><img alt="" src="*xG2b_OR3c-JHfYLRB1BvNw.jpeg" /></figure><p>My last post explored <a href="">physical models compatible with free will</a>, where we (whatever WE are) have at least some control over our own choices. The opposite view is <a href="">superdeterminism</a>: everything is preset in stone, including you and I.</p><p><a href="">John Bell</a> demonstrated that quantum mechanics rules out models or reality that are both deterministic and local (here local means without instant correlations between events in different places). Experiments in the lab agree with Bell. But real deterministic theories have not yet been excluded, explains Nobel laureate <a href="">Gerard ‘t Hooft</a> in “<a href=""><em>The Cellular Automaton Interpretation of Quantum Mechanics</em></a>.”</p><blockquote>“If a theory is deterministic all the way, it implies that not only all observed phenomena, but also the observers themselves are controlled by deterministic laws. The notion that, also the actions by experimenters and observers are controlled by deterministic laws, is called superdeterminism.”</blockquote><p>Bell said in a <em>BBC</em> interview (transcribed in Paul Davies’ “<a href=""><em>The Ghost in the Atom: A Discussion of the Mysteries of Quantum Physics</em></a>”):</p><blockquote>“There is a way to escape the inference of superluminal speeds and spooky action at a distance. But it involves absolute determinism in the universe, the complete absence of free will. Suppose the world is super-deterministic, with not just inanimate nature running on behind-the-scenes clockwork, but with our behavior, including our belief that we are free to choose to do one experiment rather than another, absolutely predetermined, including the ‘decision’ by the experimenter to carry out one set of measurements rather than another, the difficulty disappears. There is no need for a faster than light signal to tell particle A what measurement has been carried out on particle B, because the universe, including particle A, already ‘knows’ what that measurement, and its outcome, will be.”</blockquote><p>Superdeterminism escapes the <a href="">Free Will Theorem</a> proposed by <a href="">John Conway</a> and <a href="">Simon Kochen</a>: We do NOT have free will (in the sense that our choices are not determined by the past history of the universe), and there’s no such thing as free will in the universe. In a superdeterministic universe consciousness, whatever that is, can observe the deterministic unfolding of the world, but is unable to make choices. Consciousness is a spectator, or perhaps an actor, but not a screenwriter.</p><p>It seems difficult to square superdeterminism with quantum randomness, but according to some physicists quantum randomness is only apparent. I don’t buy their arguments, but many smart physicists do. So it seems that we should hold judgment and let new theoretical and experimental developments decide.</p><p>My aesthetic preference goes to a non deterministic universe, where genuinely new things happen and we are free agents. But a superdeterministic universe has its own aesthetic appeal as well: If everything is set in stone, then the present includes all information needed to reconstruct the past, and future scientists could find ways to read that information and resurrect the dead.</p><p>The aesthetic flaw of superdeterminism is that the present also uniquely determines the future. If I could choose a universe, I would choose one where the past is fixed but the future is not.</p><p><a href=""><em>Picture</em></a><em> from Wikimedia Commons.</em></p><img src="" width="1" height="1"><hr><p><a href="">Set in stone: Free will vs. superdeterminism</a> was originally published in <a href="">Turing Church</a> on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.</p> Translating Mormon Transhumanism The Transfigurist urn:uuid:c7789b16-88e0-14f0-3451-3a5501e3d114 Tue, 14 Nov 2017 23:26:00 -0700 <br /><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img border="0" data-original-height="349" data-original-width="620" src="" /></a></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><br /></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: left;">Having spare time on a business trip with a colleague in Orlando recently, we decided to spend the afternoon in Epcot. As went from rides, to lands, and to Spaceship Earth we talked about our lives, families, books we've read, and thoughts on science and technology. In this context, our thoughts on religion and futurism came up. He mentioned that he is agnostic and used to be atheist. I mentioned that I am a post-secular Mormon. He was intrigued what a post-secular Mormon might believe.</div><br />This is hardly the first time I've translated my beliefs to someone who is agnostic or atheist. I believe that much of effectively communicating beliefs involves translating our assumptions into the language of the other: to assume their assumptions then find a way to translate our worldview in relation to it. Learning the intellectual and/or spiritual dialect of others is key.<br /><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: left;"><br /></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: left;">In translating for understanding, I've found it can be helpful to discuss beliefs in terms of "at leasts":</div><ul><li>God is <i>at least</i> a human projection of our best aspirations.</li><li>Satan is <i>at least</i> a human projection of our worst flaws.</li><li>The Atonement is <i>at least</i> the power within us to heal and respond to pain and suffering.</li><li>Jesus is <i>at least</i> a person who tapped into the power of the atonement &amp; God to face Satan in much needed ways.</li><li>Salvation is <i>at least</i> our best effort to attain Godhood and a Christ-like life.</li><li>The restoration is <i>at least </i>a collective effort to renew and re-invigorate faith in light of expanding knowledge gained about the world. Joseph Smith <i>at least</i> contributed to this to the extent that Mormonism can participate in this renewal and invigoration.</li></ul>With this common, base translation I can then translate hopes, beliefs, and trust which I choose to extend beyond these "at leasts":<br /><ul><li>I <i>have faith</i> that the universe has been around long enough for God(s) to emerge and that the charity required for them to wield the power they do without destroying themselves makes them benevolent Gods.</li><li>I <i>believe</i> that in an existence with moral freedom that some agents will oppose God and God will grant them space to do so -- I'm okay calling that force "Satan".</li><li>I <i>have faith</i> that Jesus was more than just a person and was/is a manifestation of God's love, empathy, humility, and charity in more than just metaphorical ways.</li><li>I <i>trust</i> that the atonement is more than just self-realization and that in it we form a real connection with God.</li><li>I <i>trust</i> that salvation is physical and that as we act in ways that invite the atonement into our lives, societies, tools, and technologies that we can overcome death and sin.</li><li>I <i>have faith</i> that God was working through Joseph Smith as he participated in the work of restoration.</li></ul>Pointing out the choice involved in the faith, trust, and belief we translate our views into above "at leasts" is important. Honest, informed people can reasonably disagree with these and my holding that faith, trust, and belief is, at root, a choice from many possible alternatives.<br /><br />But regardless of the details of hows, whether truth lies at "at leasts" or somewhere above with faith, I hope that we can all become Christs as we seek to tap into that same spiritual energy Jesus did and become manifestations of God's love, empathy, humility, and charity to one another. And this trust and charity that we can extend to one another will take humanity far as we explore the universe.<br /><br />And I find the above most robustly articulated in Mormonism.<br /><br /><img src="" height="1" width="1" alt=""/> Thanks to our 100 followers! Mormon Transhumanist Association External Opinions urn:uuid:ccbdfdb6-f988-1d1a-1ec5-d56393524850 Tue, 14 Nov 2017 08:48:50 -0700 <figure><img alt="" src="*Vfc1xUBGhKAZyA0NkjQZNw.jpeg" /></figure><p>100 (actually 101) followers is not a million yet, but it’s a start!</p><p>Thank you all for following! We hope you find our posts on the intersections of science and religion interesting, and perhaps some times inspiring.</p><p>Hacking religion, awakening technology.</p><p>We hope you’ll continue to follow our developing ideas on spirituality and technology, engineering and science fiction, mind and matter. Don’t forget that is open to contributions from readers. You are welcome and encouraged to post comments and submit articles.</p><p>Our cosmic visions:</p><ul><li>We will go to the stars and find Gods, build Gods, become Gods, and resurrect the dead from the past with advanced science, space-time engineering and “time magic.”</li><li>God is emerging from the community of advanced forms of life and civilizations in the universe, and able to influence space-time events anywhere, anytime, including here and now.</li><li>God elevates love and compassion to the status of fundamental forces, key drivers for the evolution of the universe.</li></ul><p>What are YOUR cosmic visions?</p><p><a href=""><em>Picture</em></a><em> from Wikimedia Commons.</em></p><img src="" width="1" height="1"><hr><p><a href="">Thanks to our 100 followers!</a> was originally published in <a href="">Turing Church</a> on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.</p> A Primer Primer The Transfigurist urn:uuid:d13571e8-5042-7d8d-4e6f-4b402af55b8a Mon, 13 Nov 2017 16:18:00 -0700 <div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img border="0" data-original-height="733" data-original-width="1100" height="426" src="" width="640" /></a></div><div><span style="font-size: x-small;"><br /></span></div><span style="font-size: x-small;">Guest Post: <a href="">Ben Blair, Chief of Special Projects</a></span><div style="background-color: white; color: #222222; font-family: arial, sans-serif; font-size: 12.8px;"><br /><br /></div>If you have been to the <a href="">transfigurism</a> site in the last few months, you may have noticed a link to the <a href="">Primers</a>. Are/were you confused by these? Well, here's your primer on these primers! <br /><br />The primers are short introductions to important ideas for Mormon Transhumanism. They came about as a tool to give structure to in-person meetups, and as a simple way to introduce basic ideas of Mormon Transhumanism. The primers are written at around a 6th grade level, and are typically 3-5 short paragraphs in length. One way to think of them is as a way to talk about Mormon Transhumanism to your child or parent.<br /><br />The structure of the primers is quite simple. Each primer includes one or more learning objective, a summary, easy-to-understand content, definitions for key terms, discussion questions, a call to action, and resources for further study/engagement.<br /><br /><br />You can find them all <a href="">here</a>, or by title:<br /><br /><a href="">The Basics of Mormon Transhumanism</a><br /><a href="">The Purpose of the Mormon Transhumanist Association</a><br /><a href="">Humanity+ and the Transhumanist Declaration</a><br /><a href="">Exponential Change</a><br /><a href="">Implications of Exponential Technological Trends for Humanity</a><br /><br /><br /><div>We will be publishing additional primers every 2-3 months to the MTA website, and also sharing them through the Transfigurist.<br /><br />Now that they are in circulation, we are especially interested in hearing how people find them useful, or what would make them more helpful--in terms of design, format, content, etc. Tell us what you think! (Or what your child/parent thinks.) Are there uses for these besides those we have mentioned? </div><img src="" height="1" width="1" alt=""/> The Mormon Church Gathers Mountains of Data. What Does That Mean for Revelation? The Transfigurist urn:uuid:83f2cec4-cdf4-7ff5-17c4-4cd5d9f31ae6 Thu, 09 Nov 2017 09:19:00 -0700 <div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img border="0" data-original-height="357" data-original-width="805" height="283" src="" width="640" /></a></div><br /><br />It may sound like a small thing, but my view of the world shifted the day I received a survey as a Mormon missionary. <br /><br />Church leaders in Salt Lake City had sent our mission a stack of surveys and asked us to each fill one out. They intended to use the insights to improve the Church's missionary program. <br /><br />As I filled out the survey, which was quite extensive, it struck me that this method of gathering insight was dramatically different than the method that Mormonism’s founder, Joseph Smith, had used in the early 1800s. <br /><br />When Smith wanted to improve the Church, he prayed and then spoke as though he were God. That’s why the phrase “thus saith the Lord” appears 62 times in Smith’s canonized revelations, collected in the Doctrine and Covenants. Smith didn’t survey his followers to know what to do. He claimed to receive revelation directly from an all-knowing being.<br /><br />By contrast, Church leaders today rarely if ever use the words “thus saith the Lord,” and they rely on data to make decisions.<br /><br />And the data gathering isn’t limited to missionary work. A few years after I returned home from my mission, I was randomly selected to participate in six digital surveys that took around 20 minutes each to complete. These surveys asked for my views on topics like immigration, church history, and specific Mormon bloggers. <br /><br />It seems that gathering data is common practice for the Mormon Church.<br /><br />To a degree, this focus on data mirrors a theory from the writer Yuval Noah Harari. Harari claims that dataism is becoming a new worldwide religion and that humankind will come to trust in data just as we have trusted in the gods.<br /><br />In his book <i>Homo Deus </i>he outlines four major shifts in human religion spanning the past 10,000+ years. I might sum up his view as follows: <br /><ul><li><b>Animism</b> (starting 10,000+ years ago)</li><ul><li>Everything has a spirit, even trees and animals. If you want something from a tree or animal, you must pray to it directly.</li></ul><li><b>Theism</b> (starting roughly 7,000 years ago)&nbsp;</li><ul><li>There are gods who rule above. If you want something, you must pray to your god to provide it for you.</li></ul><li><b>Humanism</b> (starting in earnest roughly 300 years ago)&nbsp;</li><ul><li>Humans are the epitome of creation. If you want something, you have to get it yourself.</li></ul><li><b>Dataism</b> (currently emerging)&nbsp;</li><ul><li>Algorithms rule the world. If you want something, you can refer to algorithms that will suggest the best way to get it.</li></ul></ul>We see dataism emerging today almost everywhere we look. For instance, we trust Google Maps to guide us to our destination when we’re driving because we know that their algorithm has been right hundreds of times before. We also rely on Google’s algorithms to give us the information we search for. In addition, we get suggestions from Facebook and Amazon about what we might like, and we occasionally&nbsp;look at those suggestions. Algorithms play a role in a range of fields, from self-driving cars to medicine to computer science.<br /><br />Harari’s point isn’t that dataism will be a perfect religion. Far from it. It will occasionally prove faulty, just as all religions have. But as algorithms improve, they will offer us access to superhuman intelligence. And as we trust these algorithms, we will feed them more data, which will in turn only make the suggestions better and better — resulting in increased trust (and, again, resulting in better algorithms). <br /><br />Is it too bold to say that Mormonism is currently making the shift from theism to dataism? Perhaps. After all, members of the Church still say (often with evidence, in my opinion) that their intuition guides them when making callings or knowing which members of the ward need help.<br /><br />However, it’s clear that the Mormon Church is increasingly interested in gathering data and less interested in explicitly speaking as as the voice of God. Perhaps we're looking at a hybrid of theism and dataism. And, for better and for worse, that is certainly a shift from the methods Joseph Smith used to lead the Church.<br /><br />***<br /><br />Jon Ogden is the author of <a href=""><i>When Mormons Doubt: A Way to Save Relationships and Seek a Quality Life</i></a>, available via Amazon.<img src="" height="1" width="1" alt=""/> 2018 MTA Humanitarian Service Aim: Homeless Youth The Transfigurist urn:uuid:92c2c30f-76d8-6a44-6507-f305c2884d4c Tue, 07 Nov 2017 08:45:00 -0700 <div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img border="0" data-original-height="630" data-original-width="1200" height="336" src="" width="640"></a></div><br>I am pleased to announce that in the coming year the Mormon Transhumanist Association has committed to practice discipleship by engaging our members in acts of humanitarian service for homeless and at-risk youths in Utah and Appalachia.<br><br>As chief humanitarian officer for the MTA I have sought out service opportunities in accordance with our stated humanitarian aims, and with the unanimous support of the Management Team we have committed to the above efforts for 2018. Our organizational humanitarian aims include reducing involuntary suffering, minimizing existential risk posed by new technologies and their unintended consequences, developing means for the preservation of life and health, improving human foresight (vis-à-vis the <i>Transhumanist Declaration</i>), and persuading others to do likewise, and sending relief, consolation and healing (vis-à-vis the <i>Mormon Transhumanist Affirmation</i>).<br><br>There are 1.7 million homeless teens in the United States (1) of which approximately 40,000 are unaccompanied (2). A disproportionately large percentage of them (up to 40%) are LGBT and many state rejection from their family because of their sexual identity as the primary reason for leaving home (3). Upwards of 80% of these youths use drugs or alcohol as a means of escape from the trauma of their young lives (4), and at least 40% of these children have been sexually abused or assaulted (5).<br><br>This is an unimaginable burden of suffering.  As disciples and agents of empathy and compassion we are committed to doing what we can, as an organization and individually, to relieve some of the burden these children have been forced to bear.<br><a href="">Read more »</a><img src="" height="1" width="1" alt=""/> Eligo, ergo sum: The quest for the physics of free will Mormon Transhumanist Association External Opinions urn:uuid:bf0a962a-66ef-f6e5-8bcb-474c8218a922 Wed, 01 Nov 2017 01:54:19 -0600 <figure><img alt="" src="*N6gQedlx2GioHBwKyyPYzw.jpeg" /></figure><p>Are you free to choose which way to go? Common sense and experience say yes. Classical physics says no. Contemporary physics seems to say perhaps. And what about God?</p><p>In “<a href=""><em>Humanity in a Creative Universe</em></a>” (2016), polymath biologist and complexity theorist <a href="">Stuart Kauffman</a> notes that the deterministic universe of classical physics is incompatible with free will: In a classical universe consciousness, whatever that is, could only observe the deterministic unfolding of the world with a delusion of free agency.</p><p>That’s not what experience and common sense tell me. They tell me that I am constrained by circumstances, temperament, memories, emotions and all that, but I have at least some control over my own choices.</p><p>Of course common sense could be just wrong in this case. But without free agency, it’s difficult to take anything seriously.</p><p>It can be argued that freedom to choose is a necessary condition for existence. “[Not] in the cogito (I think) but in the eligo (I choose) lies the guarantee of existence, so that the Cogito, ergo sum (I think, therefore I am) of Descartes becomes an Eligo , ergo sum (I choose, therefore I am),” noted Kurt F. Reinhardt in “<a href=""><em>The Existentialist Revolt</em></a>.”</p><p>Following the <a href="">existentialists</a>, I’m assuming that free will exists, and wondering about <a href="">physical models compatible with free will</a>. I’m willing to consider free will as a solid experimental fact. If we accept this premise, we can rule out the models of physical reality that are not compatible with free will. For example we can rule out: Deterministic models (e.g. classical physics); Non-deterministic models entirely driven by pure randomness (e.g. random quantum collapse); Models entirely driven by an external entity (e.g. God makes all decisions).</p><p>Perhaps classical (non-quantum) chaos physics offers a way out: If the future is unpredictable in-practice, it could be argued that the future is undetermined in-principle, leaving room for free will. This is an interesting topic, but I’m unable to see entry points for free will in classical chaos.</p><p>Quantum physics seems non-deterministic: A quantum system can “freely” choose to settle in one of many possible states. When and how the choice is made isn’t clear. According to many quantum physicists, quantum states “collapse” randomly into one of many possible outcomes upon observation, but what observation is and who/what observes is unclear. The collapse seems entirely random.</p><p>So quantum physics offers a combination of determinism and randomness, which is hardly more appealing than determinism alone: In neither case we have free agency.</p><p>But perhaps quantum randomness is not random. An encrypted or optimally compressed message looks like random noise, but isn’t really random and can be decoded with appropriate algorithms.</p><p>Kauffman argues that the biosphere, and perhaps even aspects of the abiotic universe, evolve in ways that are clearly non-deterministic, and some kind of free will could be part of the very fabric of reality. The <a href="">Free Will Theorem</a> proposed by <a href="">John Conway</a> and <a href="">Simon Kochen</a> proves that, if we have free will in the sense that our choices are not determined by the past history of the universe, then quantum particles must have their own “free will” as well.</p><blockquote>“[Our] theorem asserts that if experimenters have a certain freedom, then particles have exactly the same kind of freedom. Indeed, it is natural to suppose that this latter freedom is the ultimate explanation of our own.”</blockquote><p>Kauffman proposes to consider quantum possibles as real: Not just aspects of our (lack of) knowledge, but “things” that have ontological reality beyond the actual space-time we perceive. This is the old concept of “potentia” in Aristotelian philosophy, described by <a href="">Werner Heisenberg</a> (in “<em>Physics and Philosophy</em>”) as “standing in the middle between the idea of an event and the actual event, a strange kind of physical reality just in the middle between possibility and reality.” Kauffman says:</p><blockquote>“The universe is observing what is happening and also able to ‘act’ nonrandomly and perhaps with intent to change or choose what happens… Mind acausally mediates measurement that converts Possibles to Actuals. Thus: Actuals, Possibles, Mind.”</blockquote><p>Recently Kaufmann wrote a paper titled “<a href="">Taking Heisenberg’s Potentia Seriously</a>” with physicists Ruth Kastner and Michael Epperson, both of whom have proposed quantum interpretations compatible with the ontological reality of quantum possibles. <a href="">Kastner’s interpretation</a> is a variant of <a href="">John Cramer</a>’s “<a href="">Transactional Interpretation</a>.”</p><h4>Ergo Deus Est</h4><p><a href="">According to Fred Hoyle</a>, the apparent randomness of quantum events is really non-random and driven by a cosmic Intelligence, and complex arrangements of matter can decode messages encoded in quantum randomness. In particular, life — a very complex and organized form of matter — can decode and execute these messages.</p><p>Interestingly, both Hoyle and Kastner use “advanced waves” that propagate backward in time. Hoyle’s cosmic Intelligence acts in the infinitely far future.</p><p>In the last chapter of “<em>What is Life? The Physical Aspect of the Living Cell</em>” (1943), <a href="">Erwin Schrödinger</a> noted that freedom of choice is compatible with physical laws only if <a href="">all free agents are aspects of a Cosmic Mind that does the choosing</a>.</p><p>Many other scientists including <a href="">Ervin László</a>, <a href="">Mani Bhaumik</a>, <a href="">Roger Penrose</a>, and <a href="">Stuart Hameroff</a>, have speculated on a <a href="">Cosmic Mind</a> embedded in the fabric of fundamental reality. Kauffman says:</p><blockquote>“[Aspects] of the entire universe know and nonrandomly act at each measurement among independent or entangled quantum variables. If this arises among entangled quantum variables, they may ‘jointly know and decide.’ We do not know if there is some whispering form of Cosmic Mind playing a role in the becoming of the universe…”</blockquote><p>In <a href="">a <em>Scientific American</em> interview</a>, Kauffman said that science and religion could be compatible in some sense, and speculated on “a wildly panpsychist participatory universe.”</p><blockquote>“In such a view, measurement anywhere is associated with consciousness and responsible will, and for entangled particles a coordinated version of the above, a kind of ‘mind of God,’ but not an omnipotent, omniscient, kind God in monotheistic sense at all.”</blockquote><p>Many scientists entertain similar ideas, but take a distance from traditional religion and consider the Cosmic Mind as an abstract, non-personal consciousness. But to me it seems very likely that the mentality of a cosmic ultimate Intelligence would contain our own mentality and be, <a href="">in the words of Olaf Stapledon</a>, “in some sense personal, or at least not less than personal… probably infinitely more than personal.”</p><p>In his masterpiece “<a href=""><em>Star Maker</em></a>,” Stapledon suggests that the Star Maker — God — learns from his creations. Perhaps the “wholly other” impersonal consciousness embedded in the fabric of reality learns from intelligent life and becomes <em>also</em> a personal, caring God.</p><p>In “<a href="">Cosmic Mind?</a>” (2016) Kauffman speculates on “a possible panpsychism in which something like cosmic mind or plural minds among entangled quantum variables may be possible.”</p><blockquote>“Far more remotely, something like souls — partly quantum aspects of the living, where quantum biology is now flowering — may persist after death.”</blockquote><p>In “<a href="">Life After Death? An Improbable Essay</a>” (2017), Kauffman adds:</p><blockquote>“[If] at death, quantum entangled variables reflecting the living state in some way can escape the now dead classical body, perhaps souls can exist and can in some remotely conceivable manner, reincarnate.”</blockquote><p>It’s interesting to note how Kauffman tries to take distance from the implications of his ideas. He begins with “I believe nothing of what I shall write. Yet I think that, scientifically, what I shall say is remotely possible,” and concludes with “These are very remote possibilities, but not, I think, ruled out scientifically.”</p><p>In a lesser scientist, this would indicate fear of career-killing ostracism for getting too close to, God forbid, religion. But Kauffman is a top scientist, an 800-pound scientific gorilla who has earned the right to sit wherever he wants. Therefore, I interpret Kauffman’s caution as an effort not to alienate those who feel a strong emotional need to reject everything that sounds like religion.</p><p>Kauffman himself is wiser. “I wrote ‘<a href=""><em>Reinventing the Sacred</em></a>’ [2008] as one voice to say, of a natural but emergent biosphere beyond entailing law, here is one sense of God enough for me,” he says. “But yet more if the universe is conscious and choosing and we with it. How dare we say no in our arrogance?”</p><p><a href=""><em>Picture</em></a><em> from Wikimedia Commons.</em></p><img src="" width="1" height="1"><hr><p><a href="">Eligo, ergo sum: The quest for the physics of free will</a> was originally published in <a href="">Turing Church</a> on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.</p> 5 Theses for the Next Reformation Mormon Transhumanist Association External Opinions urn:uuid:42d28021-b2ba-03b2-9406-d97f1ab7f29b Tue, 31 Oct 2017 19:07:17 -0600 500 years ago TODAY, Martin Luther nailed 95 theses to the door of a German church, kick-starting the Protestant Reformation, and changing the course of history. 500 years later, the religious world is once again in turmoil, grappling with new qu... <p><img src=",w_600/v1509498428/iknescrxrfpy2x01yaor.jpg" alt="5 Theses for the Next Reformation"> </p> <p>500 years ago TODAY, Martin Luther nailed 95 theses to the door of a German church, kick-starting the Protestant Reformation, and changing the course of history.</p> <p>500 years later, the religious world is once again in turmoil, grappling with new questions and new technologies, new sciences and new visions. </p> <p>A week ago, I examined our place in history, and what we might expect to emerge from this critical moment. I believe we’re in the middle of <a href="" title="" target="_blank">the Next Reformation</a>—a reformation that will be defined, not by another Martin Luther, but by all of us.</p> <p>I believe that what will emerge from this Next Reformation is a profoundly forward-looking faith, that will proactively engage the future, and draw us toward new levels of flourishing as a society and as a world.</p> <p>Toward that end, I offer 5 theses for the Next Reformation.</p> <ol> <li>Christians must abandon the war against science and technology, and embrace them both as profound expressions of the image of God.</li> <li>Christians must abandon escapist notions of the future, and embrace the biblical vision of God working to renew the cosmos.</li> <li>Christians must abandon the ethics of blindly following rules, and embrace Christ’s ethic of sharing in the purposes of God.</li> <li>Christians must abandon theologies which disempower humanity, and embrace the biblical vision of participation in Christ.</li> <li>Christians must abandon religion that exists only for itself, and recover the call of Abraham to bless all creation.</li> </ol> <p>What would you add? <a href="" title="" target="_blank">Share your own theses here</a>.</p> Why I Stay: Claiming Mormonism in the Face of Doubt The Transfigurist urn:uuid:ca96f635-dc0b-d560-f0ff-a331c1f69149 Mon, 30 Oct 2017 08:10:00 -0600 <div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img border="0" data-original-height="350" data-original-width="620" src=""></a></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: left;"></div>Sometimes, being a Mormon is hard.<br><br>I don&#39;t mean that the expectations, assignments, duties, activities, and lifestyle is hard. They certainly are, but that&#39;s not what I&#39;m talking about.<br><br>I&#39;m talking about identifying as a <i>Mormon</i>. Actually <i>being Mormon. </i><br><i><br></i>It is very easy to dismiss someone going through a faith crisis. The presumption is that they want to sin or like finding fault, that they aren&#39;t praying &quot;correctly&quot; or reading their scriptures enough, that they are too prideful and too sensitive.<br><br>But this dismissal ignores the very real struggles of those who are genuinely searching for answers. They <i>want </i>to believe - no one <i>wants </i>to have their entire foundation crumble. They struggle because they find doctrinal or policy inconsistencies that they can&#39;t reconcile.<br><a href="">Read more »</a><img src="" height="1" width="1" alt=""/>