Mormon Transhumanist Association Opinions http://feed.informer.com/digests/SAJOSPZSNZ/feeder Mormon Transhumanist Association Opinions Respective post owners and feed distributors Wed, 24 Jun 2015 17:11:27 -0600 Feed Informer http://feed.informer.com/ Extropians 1997: Max More and Nick Bostrom on transhumanism and religion https://turingchurch.net/extropians-1997-max-more-and-nick-bostrom-on-transhumanism-and-religion-61eb9285170b?source=rss----532cbd3a501a---4 Mormon Transhumanist Association External Opinions urn:uuid:03457d57-3301-295a-3c5a-bbbfc5f827a2 Fri, 23 Jun 2017 02:55:26 -0600 <figure><img alt="" src="https://cdn-images-1.medium.com/max/1024/1*EAi3xPpqByL0grsL9856BA.jpeg" /></figure><p>Browsing old Extropians mailing list posts I found <a href="http://extropians.weidai.com/extropians.4Q97/1045.html">a 1997 discussion between Max More and Nick Bostrom</a>, no less, including “Christian Transhumanism, Islamic Transhumanism, and (not too far from their current beliefs) Mormon Transhumanism.”</p><p>Twenty years later in 2017, the Mormon Transhumanist Association (MTA) has been in existence for more than a decade, the Christian Transhumanist Association (CTA) for a couple of years, and there are preliminary but encouraging <a href="http://voiceofislam.co.uk/podcasts/drive-time-podcast-13-06-2017/">indications</a> that Islamic voices could consider transhumanism.</p><p>The 1997 discussion was spot on: the MTA was formed first because transhumanism is not too far from Mormon beliefs. It’s interesting to note that Max, though critical of organized religion, was more open to religious transhumanism than Nick. Max mentioned the simulation hypothesis as a scientific concept, with a solid transhumanist pedigree, which can lead to conclusions that are essentially equivalent to religion.</p><blockquote>“[It] <em>could be</em> that our universe was designed by a being in some kind of ‘higher’ reality. Moravec suggests that our universe could be a simulation in the higher-dimensional computer of a superbeing.”</blockquote><p>In his own later writings on the simulation hypothesis, Nick <a href="https://turingchurch.net/from-elon-musk-to-joseph-smith-a-material-simulation-hypothesis-aa4758950577">elaborated on the parallels with religion</a>. In 2006, as Chair of the World Transhumanist Association (WTA, now Humanity+), Nick didn’t object to the MTA’s request to affiliate with the WTA. This contradicts <a href="http://extropians.weidai.com/extropians.4Q97/1002.html">Nick’s 1997 statement</a> “I don’t think that christians, muslims or mormons could be transhumanists. I think we should rule that out in our definition of the term ‘transhumanism” and shows that Nick (like most people) became more reasonable with the years.</p><p>Max continued to be (perhaps grudgingly) open to religious transhumanism and transhumanist religions. He <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IWILNddsatA&amp;list=PLbIPMPVrfXYBaetScAKPXJyqhibMSt4hu">gave a talk</a> at the <a href="https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLED8C09028C2CE378">Transhumanism and Spirituality Conference</a>, organized by the MTA in 2010, and included an edited version of my essay “Transcendent Engineering” in “<a href="http://eu.wiley.com/WileyCDA/WileyTitle/productCd-1118334299.html"><em>The Transhumanist Reader</em></a>” (2013). For those who don’t have the book, <a href="http://www.terasemjournals.com/PCJournal/PC0602/prisco.html">a previous version of my essay</a> was published in 2011 in <em>The Journal of Personal Cyberconsciousness</em> (Terasem).</p><p>My own ideas haven’t changed much. I think the notion of “supernatural” is meaningless if we define nature as all that exists. But Moravec’s Simulators, though natural from their point of view, would be supernatural from our point of view. Also, I am open to the concept of God-like superintelligence encoded and operating in the very fabric of space-time.</p><p>In the 1997 discussion <a href="http://extropians.weidai.com/extropians.4Q97/0965.html">Nick mentioned</a> a forthcoming meeting with David Pearce “to make plans for a transhumanist association in Britain” (Nick and Dave then co-founded the WTA, now Humanity+), and Max gave a good description of political positions similar to mine: “[A] person, who can strongly favor spontaneous order and self-ownership but who allows some role for government beyond that of the strict libertarian view, can be an Extropian.”</p><p>Today, I am more libertarian than I was in the nineties, and I miss the wild libertarian flavor of the early Extropians list. I am not entirely persuaded that a pure libertarian society would work, but I think strict libertarianism is the most useful political position to assume in today’s politically correct unculture of nanny states and thought cops.</p><h4>The awesome Extropians mailing list</h4><p>Like many others, I joined the Extropians mailing list in the nineties after reading a <em>Wired</em> article titled “<a href="http://archive.wired.com/wired/archive/2.10/extropians.html">Meet the Extropians</a>.” An article with the same title had been <a href="http://www.cryonet.org/cgi-bin/dsp.cgi?msg=2354">published in <em>GQ</em>, June 1993</a>. The list has been my main source of intellectual fun for years, I met many good friends there, and I am proud to be one of the Extropy alumni. It’s worth noting that many ideas that today are all over the mainstream press were first discussed on the list.</p><p>From my 2014 essay on “<a href="https://www.cryptocoinsnews.com/extropian-roots-bitcoin/">The Extropian Roots of Bitcoin</a>”:</p><blockquote>I started <a href="http://lists.extropy.org/pipermail/extropy-chat/2014-September/082750.html">a discussion on the Extropy list</a> to gather thoughts and recollections to use in this article.</blockquote><blockquote><em>“I don’t remember much of the discussions, but they were often pretty extensive,”</em> says <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anders_Sandberg">Anders Sandberg</a> of the <a href="http://www.fhi.ox.ac.uk/">Future of Humanity Institute</a> at Oxford University, and continues:</blockquote><blockquote><em>“Both anarchocapitalist ideas and how to implement PPL using smart contracts (old issues of [the Extropy print magazine] might have a few illuminating articles), technical discussions about protocols and of course hardware worries about rod logic computers cracking codes. I think the key insight was that crypto could act as a primitive for building awesome things.”</em></blockquote><blockquote>“<em>The Extropy archives will indeed be a goldmine for future historians,</em>” says Mike La Torra, a Director of the <a href="http://www.ieet.org/">Institute for Ethics and Emerging Technologies</a>.</blockquote><blockquote>Hal Finney had <a href="http://lists.extropy.org/pipermail/extropy-chat/2006-May/026658.html">similar thoughts</a> in 2006:</blockquote><blockquote><em>“It’s possible that someday this material will be seen as representing the birth of ideas which turn out to be key to the further development of humanity.”</em></blockquote><blockquote>Hal also <a href="http://lists.extropy.org/pipermail/extropy-chat/2006-May/026658.html">said</a>:</blockquote><blockquote><em>“[T]he original extropians mailing list had a policy of quasi-secrecy with regard to list archives. As a result, much of that free-wheeling discussion has been lost, an information exchange which many of us remember as among the most dynamic and engaging we have ever encountered. It may never be possible to reconstruct and restore those lost archives, but eventually the list policy changed, and we should make sure that what remains is not lost.”</em></blockquote><blockquote>I think a lot of ideas that will have a huge impact of the world originated on the Extropy list, or at least found an early greenhouse there. Bitcoin, which seems well on its way to having a huge impact, is but one of the first, and I am persuaded that other Extropian ideas will have a huge impact when their time comes.</blockquote><p>The Extropians list is now called Exi-Chat. <a href="http://lists.extropy.org/pipermail/extropy-chat/">The official list archive at extropy.org</a> starts in October 2003. Like Hal said, the early Extropians mailing list was not archived, and some early content is lost or scattered in personal archives. I found the 1997 discussion in <a href="http://extropians.weidai.com/">the archive maintained by Wei Dai</a> (July 1996 to February 2002). There is also <a href="https://github.com/Extropians/extropians">a Github archive</a> covering July 1996 to September 2003.</p><p>So there is complete coverage since July 1996 (more than 20 years). Some pre-1996 posts <a href="http://diyhpl.us/~bryan/irc/extropians/">are archived here</a>. (How about adding them to the Gitbub archive?)</p><p>I am collecting all PDFs of the late lamented Extropy print magazine of the eighties and nineties that I can find in <a href="https://github.com/Extropians/Extropy">this Github repository</a>, please add missing (or better) PDFs (or any other format). It would be great to have a complete set.</p><p><a href="https://static.pexels.com/photos/27117/pexels-photo-27117.jpg"><em>Background image</em></a><em> from Pexels.</em></p><img src="https://medium.com/_/stat?event=post.clientViewed&referrerSource=full_rss&postId=61eb9285170b" width="1" height="1"><hr><p><a href="https://turingchurch.net/extropians-1997-max-more-and-nick-bostrom-on-transhumanism-and-religion-61eb9285170b">Extropians 1997: Max More and Nick Bostrom on transhumanism and religion</a> was originally published in <a href="https://turingchurch.net">Turing Church</a> on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.</p> Why there should be Mormon moral outrage over the GOP legislation that would replace the Affordable Care Act http://www.transfigurist.org/2017/06/why-there-should-be-mormon-moral.html The Transfigurist urn:uuid:0c852b69-52f0-0134-5a1d-e0ac366d48f3 Thu, 22 Jun 2017 07:55:00 -0600 <div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="https://4.bp.blogspot.com/-xRf9FS2Nj8k/WUo_DgwXwMI/AAAAAAAAA_I/hqymCQUqo9wyKj3mS7U412x3EuGF6xzegCLcBGAs/s1600/ACA%2Blogo.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img border="0" data-original-height="304" data-original-width="300" src="https://4.bp.blogspot.com/-xRf9FS2Nj8k/WUo_DgwXwMI/AAAAAAAAA_I/hqymCQUqo9wyKj3mS7U412x3EuGF6xzegCLcBGAs/s1600/ACA%2Blogo.jpg"></a></div><br>A bill Republicans called a replacement of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act passed the House on May 4 (though even <a href="http://www.cnn.com/2017/05/04/politics/ahca-act-vote-breakdown/index.html">20 GOP legislators in the chamber voted against it</a>) and it is now in the Senate chambers.<br><br>Many have called it a measure for tax cuts for <a href="https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/wonk/wp/2017/03/07/republicans-obamacare-replacement-contains-huge-tax-cuts-for-insurance-companies-but-it-comes-at-a-cost/?utm_term=.625afb2bf959">insurance companies</a>, <a href="http://www.latimes.com/business/hiltzik/la-fi-hiltzik-obamacare-repeal-20170504-story.html">“poorly disguised” tax breaks</a> for the <a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2017/03/15/us/politics/obamacare-repeal-tax-cuts.html?_r=0">wealthy</a> – “<a href="https://goodmenproject.com/featured-content/meet-thomas-taylor-jhld/">the Holy Grail of all this</a>”; and more. Even the president who shares the party of the lawmakers who passed the bill, who has a reputation for being aggressive, bullish and unkind, called the legislation “<a href="http://www.cnn.com/2017/06/13/politics/trump-senators-health-care-white-house-meeting/index.html">mean</a>” and <a href="http://www.politico.com/story/2017/06/13/trump-urge-gop-senate-repeal-obamacare-239504">too harsh</a>. Low-income folks stand the greatest loss.<br><br>The bottom line is that the Affordable Care Act expanded health coverage for <a href="https://www.bloomberg.com/view/articles/2016-09-14/how-many-are-insured-because-of-obamacare-great-question">12.8 to 22 million folks (there are reasons for the variance</a>) and <a href="https://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2017/05/the-gop-health-care-bill-would-leave-23-million-more-uninsured-cbo-finds/527955/">23 million stand to lose theirs if the ACA is replaced with the other bill, according to the Congressional Budget Office</a>.<br><br><a href="http://www.transfigurist.org/2017/06/why-there-should-be-mormon-moral.html#more">Read more »</a><img src="http://feeds.feedburner.com/~r/Transfigurist/~4/HsFW9Awv3UU" height="1" width="1" alt=""/> Moana and Reading Scripture http://micahredding.com/blog/moana-and-reading-scripture Mormon Transhumanist Association External Opinions urn:uuid:586130c1-d4c5-c8cc-9eb7-292435e53b3b Wed, 21 Jun 2017 18:24:17 -0600 I love the movie Moana. And, particularly, I love this song—both because it’s a great song, and because it perfectly encapsulates a deep truth about reading Scripture, or any kind of story. Listen to it: On the surface, the meaning of the song... <p><img src="http://res.cloudinary.com/micahredding/image/upload/c_limit,w_600/v1498091152/usw80m1unk7gzabmoxgo.jpg" alt="Moana and Reading Scripture"> </p> <p>I love the movie Moana. And, particularly, I love <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NVzDrqOmYiY" target="_blank">this song</a>—both because it’s a great song, and because it perfectly encapsulates a deep truth about reading Scripture, or any kind of story.</p> <p>Listen to it:</p> <iframe width="560" height="315" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/NVzDrqOmYiY?rel=0" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe> <p>On the surface, the meaning of the song is clear: “Happiness is where you are”—and as a result, you must be sure that “no one leaves”, because the small village you were born in is all anyone could ever need or want.</p> <p>But if you’ve seen Moana, you know that this is exactly the opposite of the moral of the story. </p> <p>So why is this song here?! </p> <p>The song is here because the point of the story is that Moana needs to make her own choices, and in order to do so, she needs to hear all sides, as fully and completely as possible. So right in the middle of this movie about voyaging and discovery is a song where the other side gets to make its case.</p> <p>To be sure, there is truth here as well. There <em>is</em> something true about finding happiness right where you are. And ultimately, Moana will be able to take that truth, and integrate it into the larger truth that she was destined to be a voyager.</p> <p>So the stay-at-home point of view makes its case—boldly and loudly and boisterously.</p> <p>And then, right in the middle of it, there’s a still, small voice:</p> <blockquote> <p>You are your father&#39;s daughter<br> Stubbornness and pride<br> Mind what he says but remember<br> You may hear a voice inside<br> And if the voice starts to whisper<br> To follow the farthest star<br> Moana, that voice inside is<br> Who you are</p> </blockquote> <p>Moana’s grandmother represents the still deeper truths that gave rise to her community, but are no longer remembered or openly practiced there. In her playfulness and prophetic “craziness”, she is free to honor her people’s tradition, while reminding them of where that tradition came from, and what it is really about. </p> <p>Her message to Moana is to look below the surface of the story, the surface of the community, the surface of the song, and listen for the spirit of truth itself.</p> <p>That spirit, that truth, is the source of the island that everyone else is so concerned about sticking with. Below the surface meaning, the song itself testifies to the profound nature of the island community. And ultimately, Moana will realize that to be true to the island, she will have to seem to leave it—reconnecting with her voyaging roots in order to reawaken its spirit and life.</p> <p>So Moana’s grandmother makes her point, and then steps aside while the alternative case continues. Like <a href="https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Joshua+5%3A13-15&amp;version=NIV" target="_blank">Joshua’s encounter with a stranger</a> or the biblical interlude with Melchizedek, she plants a seed that will later grow into a full-blown realization, and provoke a dramatic and courageous transformation. </p> <p>This is how scripture works, because it’s how stories work. And it’s how stories work, because it’s how human life works.</p> In a Dream http://blaireostler.blogspot.com/2017/06/in-dream.html Mormon Transhumanist Association External Opinions urn:uuid:bbf8047f-fe36-d166-ec81-38013553b72e Tue, 20 Jun 2017 07:03:00 -0600 <div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"></div><div class="MsoNormal" style="margin-bottom: 0.0001pt; text-align: justify;"><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="https://1.bp.blogspot.com/-XEeiUV9NYzM/WUicD58_AgI/AAAAAAAAMbI/CBVLdK43j8EEu7Fj24g85VqUBu-bnVw6gCLcBGAs/s1600/2.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img border="0" data-original-height="492" data-original-width="800" height="392" src="https://1.bp.blogspot.com/-XEeiUV9NYzM/WUicD58_AgI/AAAAAAAAMbI/CBVLdK43j8EEu7Fj24g85VqUBu-bnVw6gCLcBGAs/s640/2.jpg" width="640" /></a></div><span style="font-family: &quot;times&quot; , &quot;times new roman&quot; , serif; font-size: x-small;">(Photography Art by Seb Janiak)</span></div><div class="MsoNormal" style="margin-bottom: 0.0001pt; text-align: justify;"><span style="font-family: &quot;times&quot; , &quot;times new roman&quot; , serif;"><br /></span></div><div class="MsoNormal" style="margin-bottom: 0.0001pt; text-align: justify;"><span style="font-family: &quot;times&quot; , &quot;times new roman&quot; , serif;">My closest friends know I dream. I dream a lot.&nbsp;</span></div><div class="MsoNormal" style="margin-bottom: 0.0001pt; text-align: justify;"><br /></div><div class="MsoNormal" style="margin-bottom: 0.0001pt; text-align: justify;"><span style="font-family: &quot;times&quot; , &quot;times new roman&quot; , serif;">I have dreams about fantasy worlds that don't exist, and dreams that are so closely aligned with memories that I question if they really happened. I have beautiful dreams, gruesome dreams, violent dreams, adventurous dreams, vivid dreams, abstract dreams, sexual dreams, and humorous dreams. I dream about loved ones from my past, and loved ones in the present. I dream about the future. I dream about time travel. I dream almost every night. Sometimes I write them in my journal.</span></div><div class="MsoNormal" style="margin-bottom: 0.0001pt; text-align: justify;"><br /></div><div class="MsoNormal" style="margin-bottom: 0.0001pt; text-align: justify;"><span style="font-family: &quot;times&quot; , &quot;times new roman&quot; , serif;">Some mornings Drew will ask me, "What were you dreaming about last night? You were smiling in your sleep again."&nbsp;Other times I’ll wake up startled and sweating and he will ask, "Did you have another nightmare?"&nbsp;Sleeping in the same bed as me must be utterly exhausting. I don't know how he does it. I supposed he's gotten used to it over the years. </span></div><div class="MsoNormal" style="margin-bottom: 0.0001pt; text-align: justify;"><br /></div><div class="MsoNormal" style="margin-bottom: 0.0001pt; text-align: justify;"><span style="font-family: &quot;times&quot; , &quot;times new roman&quot; , serif;">I had a dream I would like to share.</span></div><div class="MsoNormal" style="margin-bottom: 0.0001pt; text-align: justify;"><br /></div><div class="MsoNormal" style="margin-bottom: 0.0001pt; text-align: justify;"><span style="font-family: &quot;times&quot; , &quot;times new roman&quot; , serif;">Women were ordained to the priesthood. It finally happened. Just prior to the public announcement, I was granted a private audience with the Q15, because in my dream why wouldn't I be granted a private audience with the men who run the Church?&nbsp;</span></div><div class="MsoNormal" style="margin-bottom: 0.0001pt; text-align: justify;"><br /></div><div class="MsoNormal" style="margin-bottom: 0.0001pt; text-align: justify;"><span style="font-family: &quot;times&quot; , &quot;times new roman&quot; , serif;">I walked into a spacious room where elderly white men sat in opulent, red velvet chairs&nbsp;behind an oversized dark, mahogany desk.&nbsp;I stood in the center of the room with a considerable distance separating me from them. I felt no need to step any closer, nor a desire to sit down. I was wearing my usual Sunday attire, while they were dressed in their usual dark suits. Some seemed happy, some seemed relieved, some seemed annoyed, and some seemed indifferent. </span></div><div class="MsoNormal" style="margin-bottom: 0.0001pt; text-align: justify;"><br /></div><div class="MsoNormal" style="margin-bottom: 0.0001pt; text-align: justify;"><span style="font-family: &quot;times&quot; , &quot;times new roman&quot; , serif;">One of them said to me impatiently, "Well Blaire, are you happy now?"</span></div><div class="MsoNormal" style="margin-bottom: 0.0001pt; text-align: justify;"><br /></div><div class="MsoNormal" style="margin-bottom: 0.0001pt; text-align: justify;"><span style="font-family: &quot;times&quot; , &quot;times new roman&quot; , serif;">I looked at him, a little confused of how to respond or how I even ended up in this room with them. I said, "Happy? Why would I be happy?"</span></div><div class="MsoNormal" style="margin-bottom: 0.0001pt; text-align: justify;"><br /></div><div class="MsoNormal" style="margin-bottom: 0.0001pt; text-align: justify;"><span style="font-family: &quot;times&quot; , &quot;times new roman&quot; , serif;">Another one with a much kinder tone continued, "You're finally getting what you want, female ordination. Aren't you satisfied?"</span></div><div class="MsoNormal" style="margin-bottom: 0.0001pt; text-align: justify;"><br /></div><div class="MsoNormal" style="margin-bottom: 0.0001pt; text-align: justify;"><span style="font-family: &quot;times&quot; , &quot;times new roman&quot; , serif;">I paused, gaining my composure before calmly answering, "No. I'm not satisfied."</span></div><div class="MsoNormal" style="margin-bottom: 0.0001pt; text-align: justify;"><br /></div><div class="MsoNormal" style="margin-bottom: 0.0001pt; text-align: justify;"><span style="font-family: &quot;times&quot; , &quot;times new roman&quot; , serif;">Another looked confused and questioned, "Is this not what you wanted? You fought for it like you did."</span></div><div class="MsoNormal" style="margin-bottom: 0.0001pt; text-align: justify;"><br /></div><div class="MsoNormal" style="margin-bottom: 0.0001pt; text-align: justify;"><span style="font-family: &quot;times&quot; , &quot;times new roman&quot; , serif;">I responded, "No.&nbsp;I care very little about my personal ordination. I suppose I'm happy for others that desire ordination, but my personal desires are almost irrelevant in this context."</span></div><div class="MsoNormal" style="margin-bottom: 0.0001pt; text-align: justify;"><br /></div><div class="MsoNormal" style="margin-bottom: 0.0001pt; text-align: justify;"><span style="font-family: &quot;times&quot; , &quot;times new roman&quot; , serif;">Another one with an attractive accent said, "Are you still upset about our <a href="http://blaireostler.blogspot.com/2015/11/open-arms.html" target="_blank">policies on homosexuality</a>? We are planning on changing those as well. That will take more time." </span></div><div class="MsoNormal" style="margin-bottom: 0.0001pt; text-align: justify;"><br /></div><div class="MsoNormal" style="margin-bottom: 0.0001pt; text-align: justify;"><span style="font-family: &quot;times&quot; , &quot;times new roman&quot; , serif;">I mildly chuckled and said, "I trust policy would change eventually. You've changed in the past, there's no doubt you're capable of doing it again. You change when the institution is threatened. I see how preserving the institution is of paramount importance. It's in atrophy.”</span></div><div class="MsoNormal" style="margin-bottom: 0.0001pt; text-align: justify;"><br /></div><div class="MsoNormal" style="margin-bottom: 0.0001pt; text-align: justify;"><span style="font-family: &quot;times&quot; , &quot;times new roman&quot; , serif;">The one sitting at the center of the desk, the leader, firmly questioned, "Blaire, what do you want?"</span></div><div class="MsoNormal" style="margin-bottom: 0.0001pt; text-align: justify;"><br /></div><div class="MsoNormal" style="margin-bottom: 0.0001pt; text-align: justify;"><span style="font-family: &quot;times&quot; , &quot;times new roman&quot; , serif;">I furrowed my brows while thoughtfully considering his question. I glanced to my left, out the elongated windows to see light breaking through dark clouds. The windows were the only source of light. Everything else seemed dim.</span></div><div class="MsoNormal" style="margin-bottom: 0.0001pt; text-align: justify;"><br /></div><div class="MsoNormal" style="margin-bottom: 0.0001pt; text-align: justify;"><span style="font-family: &quot;times&quot; , &quot;times new roman&quot; , serif;">I smiled and turned my gaze back to the men before replying, "I don't know exactly what I want, but it's not here. To be sure, I want to be Mormon. I'll always be Mormon—it’s quite literally in my blood. I imagine I'll wear the label Mormon ‘til the day I die, hopefully longer.&nbsp;Mormon theology is my theology, but your institution is not my institution. </span></div><div class="MsoNormal" style="margin-bottom: 0.0001pt; text-align: justify;"><br /></div><div class="MsoNormal" style="margin-bottom: 0.0001pt; text-align: justify;"><span style="font-family: &quot;times&quot; , &quot;times new roman&quot; , serif;"><a href="https://www.blogger.com/null" name="_GoBack"></a>Everyone seems to be an expert on why Millennials are leaving religion. Yes, your policies and positions are <a href="http://blaireostler.blogspot.com/2016/09/priesthood-power.html" target="_blank">outdated</a> and <a href="http://blaireostler.blogspot.com/2016/06/love-us.html" target="_blank">unnecessarily exclusionary</a>. Yes, it's disappointing it has taken you this long to <a href="http://blaireostler.blogspot.com/2015/10/the-priesthood-is-spiritual-technology.html" target="_blank">ordain women to the priesthood</a>. Yes, we are tired of gerontocracies. Yes, we are done being preached at from authoritarians who don’t encourage our <a href="http://blaireostler.blogspot.com/2016/05/diversity-of-god.html" target="_blank">autonomy, authenticity, and flourishing</a>. Yes, we’re unimpressed with patronizing rhetoric. Yes, we are annoyed by literalistic interpretations of scripture that hinder the genuine pursuit of Truth. Whether or not a narrative is literal isn't where its power lies. The power lies in human potential, but you’re still in Plato’s Cave marveling at shadows on the walls unable or unwilling to remove the shackles of escapism and bask in the exposure of wonderment, curiosity, and humility. You can’t know God when you cling to the shadows that make you feel safe. God is a risk, not a security blanket.</span></div><div class="MsoNormal" style="margin-bottom: 0.0001pt; text-align: justify;"><br /></div><div class="MsoNormal" style="margin-bottom: 0.0001pt; text-align: justify;"><span style="font-family: &quot;times&quot; , &quot;times new roman&quot; , serif;">I can't speak for other Millennials, but for me, I didn’t need the Church to be 'true' from a literal perspective. Honest, yes, but not true. We are shaping the reality of our existence through stories, narratives, ideas, art, theologies, and even dreams that inspire a belief in Godly potential. Religions are the communities that mobilize us to accomplish great acts, and God has always been the projection of human desire. The problem is you don't believe in my potential. You may say it, but you don’t encourage it. I sometimes wonder if you even believe in God. It’s clear you believe in maintaining the status quo, but God is not the status quo. What if Joseph Smith never reached out beyond the status quo? What if he had been content with the existing religions of his time? What if he let external authoritarians override personal revelation? God can only meaningfully reveal what we would meaningfully accept. You cannot put limits on God without limiting humanity, and ironically perpetuating asinine limitations on God is the sort of hubris the scriptures warned us of.</span></div><div class="MsoNormal" style="margin-bottom: 0.0001pt; text-align: justify;"><br /></div><div class="MsoNormal" style="margin-bottom: 0.0001pt; text-align: justify;"><span style="font-family: &quot;times&quot; , &quot;times new roman&quot; , serif;">Many Millennials have lost interest in your institutions. We're moving on. If it’s any consolation it’s not entirely your fault. There is a global shift occurring bigger than you, me, the Book of Mormon, the Bible,&nbsp;Mormonism, Christianity, or any other religion. I'm not interested in tearing you or any other religion down—that will happen naturally if traditionally recognized religion fails to pass the gauntlet of natural selection. Even Mormonism, my beautiful home, isn’t immune.&nbsp;</span></div><div class="MsoNormal" style="margin-bottom: 0.0001pt; text-align: justify;"><br /></div><div class="MsoNormal" style="margin-bottom: 0.0001pt; text-align: justify;"><span style="font-family: &quot;times&quot; , &quot;times new roman&quot; , serif;">The failure to adapt will lead to extinction, and you're not adapting fast enough in our techno-progressive world. We’re the generation that grew up with cell phones and the internet. We fact-check you as you speak. We are part of an ever-expanding network of decentralized information and authority. You cannot control Truth. Radical technology has led to radical transparency, and it’s creating unprecedented accountability. I pray these turn of events will lead to radical compassion. However, I am only one small cell in the body of compassion, the body of Christ. I need grace, as do you.</span></div><div class="MsoNormal" style="margin-bottom: 0.0001pt; text-align: justify;"><br /></div><div class="MsoNormal" style="margin-bottom: 0.0001pt; text-align: justify;"><span style="font-family: &quot;times&quot; , &quot;times new roman&quot; , serif;">I'm interested in the construction of something better. I’m interested in the transformation of the mind. Transforming policy is helpful, but insufficient. Gods evolve. Gods change. Even more importantly, our perceptions of God change. The death of a God will lead to the birth of a new God, a new myth, a new theology, predicated by our past. We’re storytellers and I pray the Gods made in our image might eventually lead us to Truth. <a href="http://blaireostler.blogspot.com/2014/12/windy-days.html" target="_blank">I don’t know when or if that day will come, but I choose faith.</a> Even if I am wrong and this is all a futile protest against meaninglessness, I will have died trying—facing the uncertainty of the unknown, head on without the allusion of a safety net that you so desperately cling to.</span></div><div class="MsoNormal" style="margin-bottom: 0.0001pt; text-align: justify;"><br /></div><div class="MsoNormal" style="margin-bottom: 0.0001pt; text-align: justify;"><span style="font-family: &quot;times&quot; , &quot;times new roman&quot; , serif;">You would think I would be more upset at this moment, like a girl saying goodbye to a lover, but I'm not. I'm grateful. The institution has fulfilled the measure of its creation. &nbsp;Something better is coming—a shift in cognition. This is grander than any of us. I don’t know what it is or what it will look like, but I want to be a part of it. Is this desire of my own volition, or am I a slave to my biological programming? I don’t know. I only know the reality of desire.</span></div><div class="MsoNormal" style="margin-bottom: 0.0001pt; text-align: justify;"><span style="font-family: &quot;times&quot; , &quot;times new roman&quot; , serif;"><br /></span></div><div class="MsoNormal" style="margin-bottom: 0.0001pt; text-align: justify;"><span style="font-family: &quot;times&quot; , &quot;times new roman&quot; , serif;">I imagine others will feel differently, and will continue to find value in your pews, but you’ll have to forgive me—I have found your pews wanting. <br /><br />Thank you for your time. I’ll see myself out now.”</span></div><div class="MsoNormal" style="margin-bottom: 0.0001pt; text-align: justify;"><span style="font-family: &quot;times&quot; , &quot;times new roman&quot; , serif;"><br /></span></div><div class="MsoNormal" style="margin-bottom: 0.0001pt; text-align: justify;"><span style="font-family: &quot;times&quot; , &quot;times new roman&quot; , serif;"><br /></span></div><div class="MsoNormal" style="margin-bottom: 0.0001pt; text-align: justify;"><span style="font-family: &quot;times&quot; , &quot;times new roman&quot; , serif;"><a href="http://rationalfaiths.com/in-a-dream/" target="_blank">*Published at Rational Faiths on Tuesday, June 20, 2017</a></span></div> Let There Be Light http://blaireostler.blogspot.com/2017/06/let-there-be-light.html Mormon Transhumanist Association External Opinions urn:uuid:4bd7b43e-3684-77cf-32ec-0828dc0563f2 Mon, 19 Jun 2017 07:23:00 -0600 <div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="https://2.bp.blogspot.com/-iqg5xi3TwhI/WUXRFxI444I/AAAAAAAAMao/FlH4pVhe1UEZaHl47EM7aOhROBmYydBBwCLcBGAs/s1600/Let%2BThere%2BBe%2BLight.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img border="0" data-original-height="950" data-original-width="1163" height="522" src="https://2.bp.blogspot.com/-iqg5xi3TwhI/WUXRFxI444I/AAAAAAAAMao/FlH4pVhe1UEZaHl47EM7aOhROBmYydBBwCLcBGAs/s640/Let%2BThere%2BBe%2BLight.jpg" width="640" /></a></div><div class="MsoNormal" style="margin-bottom: 0.0001pt; text-align: justify;"><span style="font-family: &quot;times&quot; , &quot;times new roman&quot; , serif;"><span style="font-size: x-small;">(Let There Be Light, by Blaire Ostler)</span><br /><br />For my final term project for Philosophy of Singularity I created an original piece of art, <i>Let There Be Light</i>. My position as CEO at the Mormon Transhuman Association directs my attention to the intersections of religion and Transhumanism, and while the class briefly touched on religious Transhumanism, I wanted to continue that thought here. </span></div><div class="MsoNormal" style="margin-bottom: 0.0001pt; text-align: justify;"><br /></div><div class="MsoNormal" style="margin-bottom: 0.0001pt; text-align: justify;"><span style="font-family: &quot;times&quot; , &quot;times new roman&quot; , serif;">While the two, religion and Transhumanism, may seem like an odd pairing, they are not only compatible, but complimentary. Transhumansim itself functions as a theology of sorts, with both dystopian (hell) and utopian (heaven) narratives. In fact, it is arguable that the nature of Transhumanism and the optimization for human flourishing is a more robust and thoughtful theology, predicated on traditionally recognized religion. What is post humanity, if not another projection of God? What is a Singularitarian’s dystopia, if not hell? What it is a utopian earth, if not Heaven? We tell ourselves and each other stories, and those narratives function as trajectories, ones we should embrace and work towards, or ones we should resist and mitigate.</span></div><div class="MsoNormal" style="margin-bottom: 0.0001pt; text-align: justify;"><br /></div><div class="MsoNormal" style="margin-bottom: 0.0001pt; text-align: justify;"><span style="font-family: &quot;times&quot; , &quot;times new roman&quot; , serif;">Transhumanism is the intellectual and philosophical movement that works towards the radical improvement of humanity. The trajectory is “post humanity”—beings so far evolved from our current state they would seem like Gods in comparison. This trajectory includes the robust expansion of our intellectual capacities.</span></div><div class="MsoNormal" style="margin-bottom: 0.0001pt; text-align: justify;"><br /></div><div class="MsoNormal" style="margin-bottom: 0.0001pt; text-align: justify;"><span style="font-family: &quot;times&quot; , &quot;times new roman&quot; , serif;">The word “light” is used in the scriptures to convey more than one meaning. In the scriptures light can mean the actually light of the sun, a symbol of life, and a representation of increased intellect.</span></div><div class="MsoNormal" style="margin-bottom: 0.0001pt; text-align: justify;"><br /></div><div class="MsoNormal" style="margin-bottom: 0.0001pt; text-align: justify;"><span style="font-family: &quot;times&quot; , &quot;times new roman&quot; , serif;">“And God said, Let there be <b>light</b>: and there was <b>light</b>.” (Genesis 1:3)</span></div><div class="MsoNormal" style="margin-bottom: 0.0001pt; text-align: justify;"><br /></div><div class="MsoNormal" style="margin-bottom: 0.0001pt; text-align: justify;"><span style="font-family: &quot;times&quot; , &quot;times new roman&quot; , serif;">“Then spake Jesus again unto them, saying, I am the <b>light</b>of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the <b>light</b> of life.” (John 8:12)</span></div><div class="MsoNormal" style="margin-bottom: 0.0001pt; text-align: justify;"><br /></div><div class="MsoNormal" style="margin-bottom: 0.0001pt; text-align: justify;"><span style="font-family: &quot;times&quot; , &quot;times new roman&quot; , serif;">“But whoever lives by the truth comes into the <b>light</b>.” (John 3:18–21)</span></div><div class="MsoNormal" style="margin-bottom: 0.0001pt; text-align: justify;"><br /></div><div class="MsoNormal" style="margin-bottom: 0.0001pt; text-align: justify;"><span style="font-family: &quot;times&quot; , &quot;times new roman&quot; , serif;">“That which is of God is <b>light</b>; and he that receiveth <b>light</b>, and continueth in God, receiveth more <b>light</b>; and that <b>light</b> groweth brighter and brighter until the perfect day.” (D&amp;C 50:24)</span></div><div class="MsoNormal" style="margin-bottom: 0.0001pt; text-align: justify;"><br /></div><div class="MsoNormal" style="margin-bottom: 0.0001pt; text-align: justify;"><span style="font-family: &quot;times&quot; , &quot;times new roman&quot; , serif;">“The <b>light</b> which is in all things, which giveth life to all things, which is the law by which all things are governed, even the power of God” (D&amp;C 88:13)</span></div><div class="MsoNormal" style="margin-bottom: 0.0001pt; text-align: justify;"><br /></div><div class="MsoNormal" style="margin-bottom: 0.0001pt; text-align: justify;"><span style="font-family: &quot;times&quot; , &quot;times new roman&quot; , serif;">“Whatsoever is truth is <b>light</b>” (D&amp;C 84:45)</span></div><div class="MsoNormal" style="margin-bottom: 0.0001pt; text-align: justify;"><br /></div><div class="MsoNormal" style="margin-bottom: 0.0001pt; text-align: justify;"><span style="font-family: &quot;times&quot; , &quot;times new roman&quot; , serif;">“Let your <b>light </b>so shine” (Matthew 5:16)</span></div><div class="MsoNormal" style="margin-bottom: 0.0001pt; text-align: justify;"><br /></div><div class="MsoNormal" style="margin-bottom: 0.0001pt; text-align: justify;"><span style="font-family: &quot;times&quot; , &quot;times new roman&quot; , serif;">“I, the Lord, […] will be a <b>light</b> unto them forever”&nbsp;(2 Nephi 10:14)</span></div><div class="MsoNormal" style="margin-bottom: 0.0001pt; text-align: justify;"><br /></div><div class="MsoNormal" style="margin-bottom: 0.0001pt; text-align: justify;"><span style="font-family: &quot;times&quot; , &quot;times new roman&quot; , serif;">“I will impart unto you of my Spirit, which shall en<b>light</b>en your mind, which shall fill your soul with joy” (D&amp;C 11:13)</span></div><div class="MsoNormal" style="margin-bottom: 0.0001pt; text-align: justify;"><br /></div><div class="MsoNormal" style="margin-bottom: 0.0001pt; text-align: justify;"><span style="font-family: &quot;times&quot; , &quot;times new roman&quot; , serif;">But what does “light” have to do with Transhumanism? Well, more than you might think.</span></div><div class="MsoNormal" style="margin-bottom: 0.0001pt; text-align: justify;"><br /></div><div class="MsoNormal" style="margin-bottom: 0.0001pt; text-align: justify;"><span style="font-family: &quot;times&quot; , &quot;times new roman&quot; , serif;">I recently read an interesting <a href="https://aeon.co/essays/why-is-the-language-of-transhumanists-and-religion-so-similar">article</a>that thoughtfully articulated the interesting relationship between AI developers, many of who consider themselves aggressively secular, yet their language and pursuits are dripping with religious language, projections, and basic human desires. Most avid believers in AI tend to recoil at the idea of incorporating religion into their creations without recognizing they already have. </span></div><div class="MsoNormal" style="margin-bottom: 0.0001pt; text-align: justify;"><br /></div><div class="MsoNormal" style="margin-bottom: 0.0001pt; text-align: justify;"><span style="font-family: &quot;times&quot; , &quot;times new roman&quot; , serif;">The point of illuminating the compatibility between religion and Transhumanism isn’t just some desperate attempt to hold tight to a cherished tradition and theology, or a misguided attempt to alleviate cognitive dissonance, it's about recognizing the potential of humanity as a story. Not only are we storytellers, but we're also story creators. Transhuman is one more, or the next, story on the way to more light. Are our stories any more or less powerful because we have a more nuanced perspective? Perhaps it is through understanding our narratives more thoughtfully that we will come to appreciate and utilize them in a much more profound way, thus giving more power to our narratives, ideas, theologies, and beliefs.</span></div><div class="MsoNormal" style="margin-bottom: 0.0001pt; text-align: justify;"><i><span style="font-family: &quot;times&quot; , &quot;times new roman&quot; , serif;"><br /></span></i></div><div class="MsoNormal" style="margin-bottom: 0.0001pt; text-align: justify;"><span style="font-family: &quot;times&quot; , &quot;times new roman&quot; , serif;"><i>Let There Be Light</i> is a representation of all forms of light: secular, religious, intellectual, poetic, philosophical, and aesthetic. The narrative of how light is found, understood, used, and projected is open to innumerable interpretations, but light, in this sense, is at the core or our existence. It is <b>light</b>that gives us life. It is <b>light</b> that enables knowledge. It’s is <b>light </b>that we seek. In all things, l</span><span style="font-family: &quot;times&quot; , &quot;times new roman&quot; , serif;">et there be light.</span></div> Philosophy of Singularity: Week 5 http://blaireostler.blogspot.com/2017/06/philosophy-of-singularity-week-5.html Mormon Transhumanist Association External Opinions urn:uuid:60b56a3d-1d60-c258-e74a-d13236e57a31 Sat, 17 Jun 2017 21:42:00 -0600 <div class="MsoNormal" style="line-height: normal; margin-bottom: .0001pt; margin-bottom: 0in;"><div style="text-align: justify;"><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="https://1.bp.blogspot.com/-Y30OE5S320U/WUC_NFI6umI/AAAAAAAAMZs/mlqwzsEjcRc4FKpTRFzDl-gFHYVFe_2LQCLcBGAs/s1600/1.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img border="0" data-original-height="1067" data-original-width="1600" height="426" src="https://1.bp.blogspot.com/-Y30OE5S320U/WUC_NFI6umI/AAAAAAAAMZs/mlqwzsEjcRc4FKpTRFzDl-gFHYVFe_2LQCLcBGAs/s640/1.jpg" width="640" /></a></div><span style="font-family: &quot;times&quot; , &quot;times new roman&quot; , serif;"><br /></span><span style="font-family: &quot;times&quot; , &quot;times new roman&quot; , serif;">For the next six weeks I will be taking a special topics course, Philosophy of Singularity. This is the fifth post in a series of five where I will share my notes, definitions, summaries, and commentary from class lectures and discussions. These posts are living documents that I may edit, adapt, and develop as I gain more insights and information throughout the semester.<o:p></o:p></span></div></div><div class="MsoNormal" style="line-height: normal; margin-bottom: .0001pt; margin-bottom: 0in;"><div style="text-align: justify;"><br /><br /></div></div><h2 style="line-height: normal; margin-bottom: .0001pt; margin-bottom: 0in; text-align: center;"><b><span style="font-family: &quot;times&quot; , &quot;times new roman&quot; , serif;">Class Summary and Personal Commentary</span></b></h2><div align="center" class="MsoNormal" style="line-height: normal; margin-bottom: .0001pt; margin-bottom: 0in; text-align: center;"><span style="font-family: &quot;times&quot; , &quot;times new roman&quot; , serif;">Required Reading<o:p></o:p></span></div><div align="center" class="MsoNormal" style="line-height: normal; margin-bottom: .0001pt; margin-bottom: 0in; text-align: center;"><span style="font-family: &quot;times&quot; , &quot;times new roman&quot; , serif;"><a href="http://channel.nationalgeographic.com/year-million/">Year Million</a>, by National Geographic<o:p></o:p></span></div><div align="center" class="MsoNormal" style="line-height: normal; margin-bottom: .0001pt; margin-bottom: 0in; text-align: center;"><span style="font-family: &quot;times&quot; , &quot;times new roman&quot; , serif;"><a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Singularity_Is_Near">Singularity Is Near</a>, by Ray Zurzweil<o:p></o:p></span></div><div align="center" class="MsoNormal" style="line-height: normal; margin-bottom: .0001pt; margin-bottom: 0in; text-align: center;"><span style="font-family: &quot;times&quot; , &quot;times new roman&quot; , serif;"><a href="http://www.humanconnectome.org/">The Human Connectome Project</a>, by humanconnectome.org<o:p></o:p></span></div><div class="MsoNormal" style="line-height: normal; margin-bottom: .0001pt; margin-bottom: 0in;"><br /></div><div class="MsoNormal" style="margin-bottom: .0001pt; margin-bottom: 0in;"><div style="text-align: justify;"><span style="font-family: &quot;times&quot; , &quot;times new roman&quot; , serif;">After watching&nbsp;<i>Year Million</i>, featured on National Geographic, a series of questions continually arose. How will humanity know when we’ve achieved posthuman status? What are the qualities of a posthuman? How would a posthuman know they are posthuman?<o:p></o:p></span></div></div><div class="MsoNormal" style="margin-bottom: .0001pt; margin-bottom: 0in;"><div style="text-align: justify;"><br /></div></div><div class="MsoNormal" style="margin-bottom: .0001pt; margin-bottom: 0in;"><div style="text-align: justify;"><span style="font-family: &quot;times&quot; , &quot;times new roman&quot; , serif;">A posthuman is an existence, or entity, beyond the state of being human. A being so far evolved from our current state that they would warrant a new classification. Posthumans would seem like Gods in comparison to humans, but what does that look like? <o:p></o:p></span></div></div><div class="MsoNormal" style="margin-bottom: .0001pt; margin-bottom: 0in;"><div style="text-align: justify;"><br /></div></div><div class="MsoNormal" style="margin-bottom: .0001pt; margin-bottom: 0in;"><div style="text-align: justify;"><span style="font-family: &quot;times&quot; , &quot;times new roman&quot; , serif;">One of the things that make us human is the ability to tell stories, dream, imagine the future, fantasize, ponder the infinite, and philosophize, but all of what we do is predicated on a single undeniable fact: death. The death drive makes us human, and in some ways weak. We limit ourselves necessarily, because we don’t have enough time. It’s fundamental to our nature and existence. If we were able to achieve immortality, and by that I mean end the aging and sickening of our bodies, we’re talking about a soul-rattling reevaluation of what it means to be human. Sure you could die in a tragic accident or at the hand of violence, but the potential of immortality would be a tangible reality. This would seem like one of the defining characteristics of a posthuman society. But how would that be achieved?<o:p></o:p></span></div></div><div class="MsoNormal" style="margin-bottom: .0001pt; margin-bottom: 0in;"><div style="text-align: justify;"><br /></div></div><div class="MsoNormal" style="margin-bottom: .0001pt; margin-bottom: 0in;"><div style="text-align: justify;"><span style="font-family: &quot;times&quot; , &quot;times new roman&quot; , serif;">There are several potential technologies being developed that could aid this trajectory. Such as <b>nanotechnology</b>, <b>genetic engineering</b>, <b>personalized medicine</b>, <b>mind uploading</b>, and <b>cryonics</b>. However, no matter how or if these technologies prove to be the means human achieve immortality, I can say with confidence that to defy death is an attribute of a posthuman civilization. Think about it, anything you’ve ever wanted to do, learn, or practice, would be within your grasp. Without death we would develop new skills, new ways of interacting, and new relationships. It would be the beginning of unlimited relationships, unprecedented intellectual enhancements, and immortal connections.<o:p></o:p></span></div></div><div class="MsoNormal" style="margin-bottom: .0001pt; margin-bottom: 0in;"><div style="text-align: justify;"><br /></div></div><div class="MsoNormal" style="margin-bottom: .0001pt; margin-bottom: 0in;"><div style="text-align: justify;"><span style="font-family: &quot;times&quot; , &quot;times new roman&quot; , serif;">Critics contend without death we may not have purpose. There may be a point where prolonging life may not be worth prolonging. The concern is life will become stagnant and we may desire to die of sheer boredom. There is no doubt death gives a sense of urgency. However, we have doubled life expectancy over the last 100 years or so. Is life any more stagnant now as it was then? No. Have people stopped trying to prolonging their existence? No. Does humanity have less self-declared purpose now than before? No. We can conclude by the continuation of our species alone that humanity, despite having longer life-spans, is still interested in living. If we double the human life expectancy again, are we going to stop desiring to exist? I'm less inclined to think so. I'm betting people will still want to exist. Would this be different in 100, 200, or 300 years? It's hard to say.</span></div><div style="text-align: justify;"><span style="font-family: &quot;times&quot; , &quot;times new roman&quot; , serif;"><br /></span></div></div><div class="MsoNormal" style="margin-bottom: .0001pt; margin-bottom: 0in;"><div style="text-align: justify;"><span style="font-family: &quot;times&quot; , &quot;times new roman&quot; , serif;">I can’t speak for others. I can only speak for myself. I don’t know how much time is enough time to exist, and I can’t identify exactly what motivates me to keep living, growing, loving, and developing, but I do know that is my desire. I would like the option to determine when I am done living and not have it decided for me. Perhaps there will be a time when I’ve had enough of living and life is no longer worth prolonging, but today is not that day.<o:p></o:p></span></div></div><div class="MsoNormal" style="margin-bottom: .0001pt; margin-bottom: 0in;"><div style="text-align: justify;"><br /></div></div><div class="MsoNormal" style="margin-bottom: .0001pt; margin-bottom: 0in;"><br /></div><h2 style="line-height: normal; margin-bottom: .0001pt; margin-bottom: 0in; text-align: center;"><b><span style="font-family: &quot;times&quot; , &quot;times new roman&quot; , serif;">Key Technologies Defined</span></b></h2><div align="center" class="MsoNormal" style="line-height: normal; margin-bottom: .0001pt; margin-bottom: 0in; text-align: center;"><span style="font-family: &quot;times&quot; , &quot;times new roman&quot; , serif;"><o:p></o:p></span></div><div class="MsoNormal" style="margin-bottom: .0001pt; margin-bottom: 0in;"><br /></div><div class="MsoNormal" style="margin-bottom: .0001pt; margin-bottom: 0in;"><div style="text-align: justify;"><span style="font-family: &quot;times&quot; , &quot;times new roman&quot; , serif;"><b>Nanotechnologies</b>:<b> </b>are technologies with dimensions of 100 nanometers or less, on the atomic, molecular, and supramolecular scale. According to Ray Kurzweil, “Nanotechnology promises the tools to rebuild the physical world—our bodies and brains included—molecular fragment by molecular fragment, potentially atom by atom.” (<a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Singularity_Is_Near">Singularity is Near, 226</a>)<o:p></o:p></span></div></div><div class="MsoNormal" style="margin-bottom: .0001pt; margin-bottom: 0in;"><div style="text-align: justify;"><br /></div></div><div class="MsoNormal" style="margin-bottom: .0001pt; margin-bottom: 0in;"><div style="text-align: justify;"><span style="font-family: &quot;times&quot; , &quot;times new roman&quot; , serif;"><b>Genetic Engineering</b>: is the use of technology to change the genetic makeup of cells and organisms. “An organism that is generated through genetic engineering is considered to be genetically modified (GM) and the resulting entity is a genetically modified organism (GMO).” (<a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Genetic_engineering">Wikipedia</a>)<span class="apple-converted-space"><span style="background: white; color: #222222; font-size: 10.5pt; line-height: 115%;"> </span></span>Basically, genetic engineering is the altering of genetic code to make us live longer, healthier, more robust lives. However, there is a risk of losing nuerodiversity in the effort to alter genetics and other cognitive functions. Such risks should be mitigated to not lose what makes us diverse individuals. <o:p></o:p></span></div></div><div class="MsoNormal" style="margin-bottom: .0001pt; margin-bottom: 0in;"><div style="text-align: justify;"><br /></div></div><div class="MsoNormal" style="margin-bottom: .0001pt; margin-bottom: 0in;"><div style="text-align: justify;"><span style="font-family: &quot;times&quot; , &quot;times new roman&quot; , serif;">Genetic engineering will likely be the future of procreation. Most parents want the very best for their offspring. This is why parents take prenatal vitamins, vaccinate their children, lather their skin with sunscreen, send them to school for cognitive enhancements, and brush their teeth. Genetic engineering may simply be the next step in providing our children with the best chances of survival.<o:p></o:p></span></div></div><div class="MsoNormal" style="margin-bottom: .0001pt; margin-bottom: 0in;"><div style="text-align: justify;"><br /></div></div><div class="MsoNormal" style="margin-bottom: .0001pt; margin-bottom: 0in;"><div style="text-align: justify;"><span style="font-family: &quot;times&quot; , &quot;times new roman&quot; , serif;"><b>Personalized Medicine</b>: is “a medical&nbsp;procedure that separates patients into different groups—with&nbsp;medical&nbsp;decisions, practices, interventions and/or products being tailored to the individual patient based on their predicted response or risk of disease.” (<a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Personalized_medicine">Wikipedia</a>) With personalized medicine could come the potential to indefinitely repair and replace the effects of aging and illness, like a tune-up, but meant specifically for your biology and anatomy.<o:p></o:p></span></div></div><div class="MsoNormal" style="margin-bottom: .0001pt; margin-bottom: 0in;"><div style="text-align: justify;"><br /></div></div><div class="MsoNormal" style="margin-bottom: .0001pt; margin-bottom: 0in;"><div style="text-align: justify;"><span style="font-family: &quot;times&quot; , &quot;times new roman&quot; , serif;"><b>Mind Uploading</b>: is the hypothetical process of transferring or copying a mental state, or “the self” into a non-brain computer substrate. A computer could then run a simulation which models all other functions that respond in the same ways a brain would to produce consciousness. The simulated mind would live in a virtual word. (<a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mind_uploading">Wikipedia</a>)<o:p></o:p></span></div></div><div class="MsoNormal" style="margin-bottom: .0001pt; margin-bottom: 0in;"><div style="text-align: justify;"><br /></div></div><div class="MsoNormal" style="margin-bottom: .0001pt; margin-bottom: 0in;"><div style="text-align: justify;"><span style="font-family: &quot;times&quot; , &quot;times new roman&quot; , serif;">Some contend that this could be a state of immorality and a human could live forever as a non-biological machine. Some hypothesize that we already live within a sophisticated computer simulation and function on our biological substrates. Many Futurists and Transhumanists see mind uploading as an import part of radical life extension. Such people have already begun the endeavor of mapping the human brain. The Human Connectome Project is uncovering the neural pathways of the human brain to better understand brain function and behavior. (<a href="http://www.humanconnectome.org/">Human Connectome Project</a>)<o:p></o:p></span></div></div><div class="MsoNormal" style="margin-bottom: .0001pt; margin-bottom: 0in;"><div style="text-align: justify;"><br /></div></div><div class="MsoNormal" style="margin-bottom: .0001pt; margin-bottom: 0in;"><div style="text-align: justify;"><span style="font-family: &quot;times&quot; , &quot;times new roman&quot; , serif;"><b>Cryonics</b>: is “the low-temperature preservation of people who cannot be sustained by contemporary medicine, with the hope that resuscitation and restoration to full health may be possible in the far future.” (<a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cryonics">Wikipedia</a>)<o:p></o:p></span></div></div><div class="MsoNormal" style="margin-bottom: .0001pt; margin-bottom: 0in;"><div style="text-align: justify;"><span style="font-family: &quot;times&quot; , &quot;times new roman&quot; , serif;"><br /></span></div><div style="text-align: justify;"><span style="font-family: &quot;times&quot; , &quot;times new roman&quot; , serif;">The issue is it's expensive and we don’t know if it works. There would also be risks to be addressed when a person “wakes up” in an environment that is radically different than when they were preserved. Such acclimation processes would need to be developed if the technology proves to be viable. Many who chose to be cryonically preserved do so as a last resort to defy death. For example, a young girl dying of cancer recently commented, “I’m only 14 years old and I don’t want to die, but I know I am going to. I think being cryo‐preserved gives me a chance to be cured and woken up, even in hundreds of years’ time.” (</span><a href="http://www.cnn.com/2016/11/18/health/uk-teenager-cryonics-body-preservation/index.html" style="font-family: times, &quot;times new roman&quot;, serif;">CNN</a><span style="font-family: &quot;times&quot; , &quot;times new roman&quot; , serif;">) Who can blame her for wanting one more shot of life? Sure, it may be a pipe dream, but it’s like playing the lottery, if she wins the benefits could be huge.</span></div></div><div class="MsoNormal" style="margin-bottom: .0001pt; margin-bottom: 0in;"><o:p></o:p></div> 10 Things I Love About Mormon Heaven http://lincoln.metacannon.net/2017/06/10-things-i-love-about-mormon-heaven.html Mormon Transhumanist Association External Opinions urn:uuid:0636783f-81e6-6ad9-9b01-595dfa189ab5 Sat, 17 Jun 2017 19:36:00 -0600 <img border="0" data-original-height="475" data-original-width="844" src="https://4.bp.blogspot.com/-v3V1N-BuMrM/WUXYD2RNUjI/AAAAAAAB_Rw/pjhJg4l5rScOOTQQT3Pu_ZDoDQ-KwJ5cgCLcBGAs/s1600/heaven.jpg" /><br /><br />I love how heaven is presented in the Mormon authoritative tradition. Well, at least I love my interpretation of how it's presented. I suppose we're all that way to some extent or another. There are some interpretations of heaven, Mormon and otherwise, that sadden, frighten, anger, bore, or entertain me. Maybe it would be interesting to write about them sometime. But for now, I'm going to tell you what I love about the Mormon version of heaven, as I understand it and as it inspires me.<br /><a name='more'></a><br /><b>1) Heaven is for almost everyone</b> <br /><br />That's right. Almost everyone goes to heaven, according to Mormonism. Now, some Mormons will be quick to interject that not everyone goes to the same heaven (more on that below). But still, almost everyone goes to heaven, of some kind or another. And the <a href="https://www.lds.org/scriptures/dc-testament/dc/88.27-33?lang=eng#p26">heavens we go to correspond to our desires</a>, as reflected in our works. The only persons who don't go to heaven are those who "deny the holy ghost," which (for reasons beyond the scope of this article) I interpret to mean those whose desires prove to be persistently incompatible with all possible heavens. This idea, a nearly universalist (but not necessarily universalist) conception of heaven, is in my estimation fundamental to any ethical conception of heaven.<br /><br /><b>2) Heaven is for non-humans too </b><br /><br />Kids tend to like this one in particular. I know I did when I lost pets during my childhood. In Mormonism, heaven isn't just for the future of humans. It's also for the future of non-humans. In a particularly cool (and strange) passage of scripture, Mormon founder Joseph Smith says&nbsp;<a href="https://www.lds.org/scriptures/dc-testament/dc/77.2-4?lang=eng#p1">heavenly animals are "full of knowledge"</a>&nbsp;-- sounds like what some Transhumanists call "uplifting." Do all non-human creatures go to heaven? Fish? Mosquitos? Bacteria? Hmm. Well, I like to think that could depend on the extent to which creatures have desires analogous to those of humans who desire immortality (related to perpetuation of identity) -- or perhaps on the extent to which others desire immortality for them.<br /><br /><b>3) Heaven is for the living</b><br /><br />In the New Testament, Jesus says that God is God of the living -- not the dead. It's striking to me how often "heaven" or "eternity' are used as euphemisms for death. I'm so often asked, "If technology enables us to avoid death, how will you get to heaven?" The implication is that death is somehow necessary for heaven. Wherever that idea comes from, it's not from the Bible, and it's not from unique Mormon scriptures. Both contain stories of persons that never die, some of whom are <a href="https://www.lds.org/scriptures/bofm/3-ne/28.7?lang=eng#p6">"more blessed" than those who want to die</a>, according to Jesus. In the New Testament, Paul the Apostle describes a future when many persons are transfigured from mortality to immortality without dying. And the Book of Mormon describes death as an "awful monster."<br /><br /><b>4) Heaven is embodied and material </b><br /><br />As implied by the idea that heaven is for the living, heaven is also for the embodied and the material. According to Mormon scripture everything is material. Even <a href="https://www.lds.org/scriptures/dc-testament/dc/131.7?lang=eng#p6">spirit is material</a>. And everything is embodied. Even God is embodied. There are of course many other Christians who entertain the notions that God has no body and that spirits are immaterial. That strikes me as good Platonism, perhaps, but inconsistent with the God we read about in the Bible, as represented by the resurrected Jesus who appears to his disciples with "flesh and bone."<br /><br /><b>5) Heaven is relational and social</b><br /><br />It shouldn't be surprising that a heavenly person, given embodiment and materiality, is also a relational and social person. Mormons are well known for teaching the idea that families are forever. But it's not just families. According to Mormon scripture, entire communities can persist. Describing communion with Christ in heaven, Joseph claimed, "<a href="https://www.lds.org/scriptures/dc-testament/dc/130.2?lang=eng#p1">that same sociality which exists among us here will exist among us there</a>." And Mormon scripture includes stories of whole cities going to heaven. Perhaps that's an echo of the New Testament, which prophecies that our world, although it began with a holy garden, will culminate in a holy city. This social conception of heaven makes much more sense to me than any individualistic conception. Without friends and family and new relations, how could it be heaven? As Joseph put it, echoing Paul, "their salvation is necessary and essential to our salvation."<br /><br /><b>6) Heaven is the future of the Earth</b><br /><br />So if heavenly persons are embodied, where do those bodies reside? Well, how about on Earth, glorified into a heaven? That's what the Mormon tradition holds. As the prophecies go, Earth will eventually develop into a millennial world, beyond present notions of poverty and death. And from there it will develop further into a heavenly Earth. And according to Joseph Smith, "<a href="https://www.lds.org/scriptures/dc-testament/dc/130.9?lang=eng#p8">Earth, in its sanctified and immortal state, will be made like unto crystal.</a>" This presents some environmental concerns, which perhaps I'll explore in writing at some point. But nothing remains unchanged forever, and I like to think Joseph was imagining something like a Kardeshev type I or II civilization, which would enable computation of innumerable lush ecologies within itself -- more on this below.<br /><br /><b>7) Heaven is innumerable and diverse worlds</b><br /><br />But Earth is not the limit of heaven, as conceptualized in the Mormon tradition. Our scriptures describe God creating "worlds without end." And they also describe <a href="https://www.lds.org/scriptures/dc-testament/dc/76?lang=eng">different classes of heavens: telestial, terrestrial, and celestial</a>. In the Mormon temple ceremony, the world in which we now live is classified as a telestial heaven. Mormon authorities have described the millennial Earth as a terrestrial heaven. And in the scriptures, the future Earth as is ultimately categorized as a celestial heaven. As mentioned above, Mormon scripture also describes diverse persons inhabiting different heavens according to their desires. And usually, Mormons consider worlds of the celestial type to be best, but there's a problem with that: our scriptures actually suggest otherwise.<br /><br /><b>8) Heaven is dynamic without finality </b><br /><br />Despite the commonly conceived hierarchy of three heavens, the Mormon authoritative tradition is actually more expansive. As mentioned above, Joseph Smith described the celestial Earth as being like crystal. He elaborated from there, describing the crystal-like Earth functioning as if it were some kind of supercomputer, "whereby all things pertaining to an inferior kingdom, or all kingdoms of a lower order, will be manifest to those who dwell on it." And he didn't stop there. He also claimed that each inhabitant of the celestial Earth would receive <a href="https://www.lds.org/scriptures/dc-testament/dc/130.10-11?lang=eng#p9">a white stone, "whereby things pertaining to a higher order of kingdoms will be made known</a>." That implies that celestial is not the highest type of heaven. And later Mormon authorities, such as Wilford Woodruff, would go on to claim that even God "is increasing and progressing in knowledge, power, and dominion, and will do so, worlds without end."<br /><br /><b>9) Heaven is potential for Godhood</b><br /><br />Wilford Woodruff also didn't stop there. His next sentence was, "It is just so with us." In other words, like God, we have potential to increase and progress in knowledge, power, and dominion, and will do so, worlds without end." Another Mormon authority, Lorenzo Snow, put it this way: "As man now is, God once was; as God now is, man may be." And Joseph Smith taught, "you have got to learn how to be gods yourselves ... the same as all gods have done before." Heaven, in Mormonism, is not only the abode of God. It is also the abode of Gods, plural, and we are invited to join them in <a href="https://www.lds.org/scriptures/dc-testament/dc/76.92-95?lang=eng#p91">Godhood, equal in power</a>.<br /><br /><b>10) Heaven is something we must make </b><br /><br />Some have supposed that heaven is something that God will give us, either by grace alone or perhaps because we somehow earned it, or through a combination of the two. Few have supposed that heaven is actually something that we must make. But that idea, an engineered heaven, is so very Mormon. Faith without works is dead, as James put it in the Bible. Brigham Young, who led the Mormon pioneers to terraform the arid valleys of Utah, put it this way:<br /><br /><blockquote class="tr_bq">"You may now be inclined to say, 'O, this is too simple and child-like, we wish to hear the mysteries of the kingdoms of the Gods who have existed from eternity and of all the kingdoms in which they will dwell; we desire to have these things portrayed to our understandings.' Allow me to inform you that you are in the midst of it all now, that you are in just as good a kingdom as you will ever attain to, from now to all eternity, unless you make it yourselves by the grace of God, by the will of God, by the eternal Priesthood of God, which is a code of laws perfectly calculated to govern and control eternal matter. If you and I do not by this means make that better kingdom which we anticipate, we shall never enjoy it. We can only enjoy the kingdom we have labored to make."</blockquote><br />That doesn't mean Mormons reject the idea of grace. We don't. To the contrary, grace is essential to the possibility of heaven. No one of us created the opportunity, the time and space, logic and physics, and resources. No one of us is sufficient in ourselves. Each of us, even God, needs each other. And as each of us has received grace, so we are called to share that grace with others through love, consolation, and healing. In so doing, we reconcile and become one. We atone, as exemplified and invited by Jesus. Only then, unified in our diversity as symbolized by the Body of Christ, can we work most effectively toward our shared potential. Only then can we enjoy celestial glory and aspire to yet higher orders of heaven.<img src="http://feeds.feedburner.com/~r/LincolnCannon/~4/Q6oXWquP-DA" height="1" width="1" alt=""/> Wonder Woman Depicts the Need for Christian Transhumanism http://feeds.feedblitz.com/~/364431060/0/christopherbenek~Wonder-Woman-Depicts-the-Need-for-Christian-Transhumanism/ Mormon Transhumanist Association External Opinions urn:uuid:24966cd8-5ccd-f560-ae01-cca632f80ca1 Fri, 16 Jun 2017 14:32:54 -0600 Superheroes have always served as metaphors for the nuances of human behavior. The starkest dichotomies of these distinctions represent our hopes and fears of what humanity could potentially become through enhanced good or evil. Ironically, such artistic expressions are presently positioned to look like humanity’s self-fulfilling prophesies, a result of modern exponential advancements in technology. The most telling recent example of this trend comes through the acclaimed film Wonder Woman – a film that radically depicts the need for Christian Transhumanism. <div style="clear:both;padding-top:0.2em;"><a title="Add to FaceBook" href="http://feeds.feedblitz.com/_/2/364431060/christopherbenek"><img height="20" src="http://assets.feedblitz.com/i/fbshare20.png" style="border:0;margin:0;padding:0;"></a>&#160;<a title="Like on Facebook" href="http://feeds.feedblitz.com/_/28/364431060/christopherbenek"><img height="20" src="http://assets.feedblitz.com/i/fblike20.png" style="border:0;margin:0;padding:0;"></a>&#160;<a title="Share on Google+" href="http://feeds.feedblitz.com/_/30/364431060/christopherbenek"><img height="20" src="http://assets.feedblitz.com/i/googleplus20.png" style="border:0;margin:0;padding:0;"></a>&#160;<a title="Add to LinkedIn" href="http://feeds.feedblitz.com/_/16/364431060/christopherbenek"><img height="20" src="http://assets.feedblitz.com/i/linkedin20.png" style="border:0;margin:0;padding:0;"></a>&#160;<a title="Pin it!" href="http://feeds.feedblitz.com/_/29/364431060/christopherbenek,"><img height="20" src="http://assets.feedblitz.com/i/pinterest20.png" style="border:0;margin:0;padding:0;"></a>&#160;<a title="Add to Reddit" href="http://feeds.feedblitz.com/_/1/364431060/christopherbenek"><img height="20" src="http://assets.feedblitz.com/i/reddit20.png" style="border:0;margin:0;padding:0;"></a>&#160;<a title="Stumble This" href="http://feeds.feedblitz.com/_/12/364431060/christopherbenek"><img height="20" src="http://assets.feedblitz.com/i/stumble20.png" style="border:0;margin:0;padding:0;"></a>&#160;<a title="Tweet This" href="http://feeds.feedblitz.com/_/24/364431060/christopherbenek"><img height="20" src="http://assets.feedblitz.com/i/twitter20.png" style="border:0;margin:0;padding:0;"></a>&#160;<a title="Subscribe by email" href="http://feeds.feedblitz.com/_/19/364431060/christopherbenek"><img height="20" src="http://assets.feedblitz.com/i/email20.png" style="border:0;margin:0;padding:0;"></a>&#160;<a title="Subscribe by RSS" href="http://feeds.feedblitz.com/_/20/364431060/christopherbenek"><img height="20" src="http://assets.feedblitz.com/i/rss20.png" style="border:0;margin:0;padding:0;"></a>&#160;<a rel="NOFOLLOW" title="View Comments" href="http://www.christopherbenek.com/?p=4500#respond"><img height="20" style="border:0;margin:0;padding:0;" src="https://assets.feedblitz.com/i/comments20.png"></a>&#160;<a title="Follow Comments via RSS" href="http://www.christopherbenek.com/?feed=rss2&#038;p=4500"><img height="20" style="border:0;margin:0;padding:0;" src="https://assets.feedblitz.com/i/commentsrss20.png"></a><h3 style="clear:left;padding-top:10px">Related Stories</h3><ul><li><a rel="NOFOLLOW" href="http://www.christopherbenek.com/?p=4468">Developing A New Hermeneutic of Intelligence and Reality</a></li><li><a rel="NOFOLLOW" href="http://www.christopherbenek.com/?p=4464">Aliens Will Play A Part In The Technological &#038; Theological Singularity</a></li><li><a rel="NOFOLLOW" href="http://www.christopherbenek.com/?p=4462">How Gene Editing Will Modify The Christian Concept of Spiritual Gifts</a></li></ul>&#160;</div> <p>As featured in the <a href="http://feeds.feedblitz.com/~/t/0/0/christopherbenek/~www.christianpost.com/news/wonder-woman-depicts-need-for-christian-transhumanism-188088/" target="_blank">Christian Post</a>:</p> <p>Superheroes have always served as metaphors for the nuances of human behavior. The starkest dichotomies of these distinctions represent our hopes and fears of what humanity could potentially become through enhanced good or evil. Ironically, such artistic expressions are presently positioned to look like humanity’s self-fulfilling prophesies, a result of modern exponential advancements in technology. The most telling recent example of this trend comes through the acclaimed film Wonder Woman – a film that radically depicts the need for Christian Transhumanism.</p> <p>To be clear, Wonder Woman was not created to be a Christian film. Actually, Wonder Woman/Diana of Themyscria, princess of the Amazons, is depicted to have been brought to life by the Greek god Zeus. While the mythological intricacies of the film are not clear, the film still portrays clear underpinnings from Christianity and specifically from Christian Transhumanism. Let me explain. </p> <p>In a previous <a href="http://feeds.feedblitz.com/~/t/0/0/christopherbenek/~https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/the-digital-self/201705/the-pastor-who-found-god-in-technology" target="_blank">interview</a> with global digital health strategist <a href="http://feeds.feedblitz.com/~/t/0/0/christopherbenek/~nostalab.com/#JOHN" target="_blank">John Nosta</a> for Psychology Today, I contended that all matter is God’s technology and it is the human vocation, via the Christian tradition, for humanity to be good stewards of creation—i.e. all technology. Christianity teaches that God made humanity to be co-creators with God—like a child creates alongside a parent. So in this way, when people choose to live into this vocational calling to co-create and steward technology for genuinely good purposes, then they are actively participating in Christ’s redemptive purposes in the world—whether they are cognizant of that fact or not. Conversely, when we choose to create technology for evil purposes, or fail to live into our vocation of stewardship, we actively rebel against God. </p> <p>This is an important concept to grasp because it frames the hermeneutic through which we can better understand the coming reality that the metaphors of superheroes artistically depict. Every superhero we envision lives in a different stage of technological development and this is representative, even if unintentionally, of the coming technological future for humanity. </p> <p>For example, Batman is a character that is most like our present human existence because he is not physically enhanced but instead uses advanced gadgetry and physical training to get the edge on his adversaries. Other characters, like Spiderman, become physically enhanced by exposure to matter (i.e. divine technology) that alters their current state of existence to have “superhuman” gifts. Heroes, like Wonder Woman, are created by other super-enhanced beings, like Zeus. Such individuals are so augmented that to present day persons that they seem like gods. Some superheroes are so advanced that they are born with interstellar and cosmic powers like Superman or have even become inter-dimensional beings like Thor.</p> <p>While all of these characters are currently fictional, emerging technology offers the coming promise of being able to enhance ourselves physically in ways that we never thought possible. </p> <p>Currently, we already have the ability to enhance people cosmetically, with performance-enhancing drugs, organ replacements, and dietary supplements just to name a few. If you have less than perfect vision, LASIK eye surgery can enhance your eyesight to 20/15, better than perfect vision. With emerging technologies such as gene therapy, neural implants, brain-computer interface (See: <a href="http://feeds.feedblitz.com/~/t/0/0/christopherbenek/~https://www.wired.com/2017/03/elon-musks-neural-lace-really-look-like/" target="_blank">Elon Musk Isn’t The Only One Trying to Computerize your Brain</a>), nanomedicine and enhancement, and 3D bio-printing, our super-human futures are closer than one might think. And with these developments, ethical issues emerge, issues that many of our fictional superheroes currently wrestle with in our comic books and on the big screen. Humanity is wrestling with these issues through artistic mediums because of the cultural debate about what our enhanced future will look among a group of people who self-identify as transhumanists.</p> <p>A basic definition of transhumanism from the debatable pages of Wikipedia is that it is an “international and intellectual movement that aims to transform the human condition by developing and making widely available sophisticated technologies to greatly enhance intellect and physiology.” Within the larger transhumanist movement, there are many philosophical categories of transhumanism. Back in 2015 Hank Pellissier, writing for the Institute for Ethics and Emerging Technologies, identified <a href="http://feeds.feedblitz.com/~/t/0/0/christopherbenek/~https://ieet.org/index.php/IEET2/more/pellissier20150708" target="_blank">at least 10 types of transhumanism</a>. </p> <p>Two years later, transhumanists are arguably even more diverse in their opinions. On the extreme end of the of the movement are self-professed transhumanists like California Gubernatorial Candidate Zoltan Istvan who <a href="http://feeds.feedblitz.com/~/t/0/0/christopherbenek/~www.huffingtonpost.com/zoltan-istvan/is-it-time-for-fast-track_b_7549062.html" target="_blank">openly advocated discrimination</a> against persons for their religious beliefs as part of his failed US presidential campaign. Other transhumanists, like those in the <a href="http://feeds.feedblitz.com/~/t/0/0/christopherbenek/~https://www.christiantranshumanism.org" target="_blank">Christian Transhumanist Association</a> (CTA), an organization that I co-created and for which I served as the Founding Chair, are concerned about honoring all people, as Jesus instructed, as emerging technology is developed. Understanding this transhumanist dichotomy of values thus brings us to the new Wonder Woman film and how it serves as a metaphor for the choices that we need to begin making right now.</p> <p>Wonder Woman is an enhanced being with superhuman, god-like powers compared to the other people she encounters. Accordingly, in the film, she is faced with a very real transhumanist dilemma. On one hand, she can become a supervillain by aiding in the destruction of less-able (or arguably, just different) humans in order to recreate the world as she and other god-like beings see fit. Or, conversely, she can embrace people however they may be—limitations and all—and honor them for their unique gifts, helping to nurture them for the purposes of good. </p> <p>Like Wonder Woman, this too is our ever-emerging reality. We have the choice to act virtuously or unjustly. We have the choice to be good stewards of the earth or to ravage it. We have the choice to love our neighbors—however different they may be—or to espouse hate. Emerging tech, and particularly our transhuman future, is only going to accentuate these choices that will eventually form us into either superheroes or supervillians. </p> <p>Wonder Woman is a beautiful piece of art because it brings this stark dichotomy of human choice to light. The film’s most stunning characteristic is that it forces us to confront the reality that we have the option to act wonderfully right now as we engage the exponentially advancing technological world around us. The film provides an apt metaphor in that it forces us to confront the fact that every day, every hour, every moment, we can choose to be superheroes ourselves. </p> <p>May humanity choose wisely. Our future depends on it.</p> <Img align="left" border="0" height="1" width="1" alt="" style="border:0;float:left;margin:0;padding:0;width:1px!important;height:1px!important;" hspace="0" src="http://feeds.feedblitz.com/~/i/364431060/0/christopherbenek"> <div style="clear:both;padding-top:0.2em;"><a title="Add to FaceBook" href="http://feeds.feedblitz.com/_/2/364431060/christopherbenek"><img height="20" src="http://assets.feedblitz.com/i/fbshare20.png" style="border:0;margin:0;padding:0;"></a>&#160;<a title="Like on Facebook" href="http://feeds.feedblitz.com/_/28/364431060/christopherbenek"><img height="20" src="http://assets.feedblitz.com/i/fblike20.png" style="border:0;margin:0;padding:0;"></a>&#160;<a title="Share on Google+" href="http://feeds.feedblitz.com/_/30/364431060/christopherbenek"><img height="20" src="http://assets.feedblitz.com/i/googleplus20.png" style="border:0;margin:0;padding:0;"></a>&#160;<a title="Add to LinkedIn" href="http://feeds.feedblitz.com/_/16/364431060/christopherbenek"><img height="20" src="http://assets.feedblitz.com/i/linkedin20.png" style="border:0;margin:0;padding:0;"></a>&#160;<a title="Pin it!" href="http://feeds.feedblitz.com/_/29/364431060/christopherbenek,"><img height="20" src="http://assets.feedblitz.com/i/pinterest20.png" style="border:0;margin:0;padding:0;"></a>&#160;<a title="Add to Reddit" href="http://feeds.feedblitz.com/_/1/364431060/christopherbenek"><img height="20" src="http://assets.feedblitz.com/i/reddit20.png" style="border:0;margin:0;padding:0;"></a>&#160;<a title="Stumble This" href="http://feeds.feedblitz.com/_/12/364431060/christopherbenek"><img height="20" src="http://assets.feedblitz.com/i/stumble20.png" style="border:0;margin:0;padding:0;"></a>&#160;<a title="Tweet This" href="http://feeds.feedblitz.com/_/24/364431060/christopherbenek"><img height="20" src="http://assets.feedblitz.com/i/twitter20.png" style="border:0;margin:0;padding:0;"></a>&#160;<a title="Subscribe by email" href="http://feeds.feedblitz.com/_/19/364431060/christopherbenek"><img height="20" src="http://assets.feedblitz.com/i/email20.png" style="border:0;margin:0;padding:0;"></a>&#160;<a title="Subscribe by RSS" href="http://feeds.feedblitz.com/_/20/364431060/christopherbenek"><img height="20" src="http://assets.feedblitz.com/i/rss20.png" style="border:0;margin:0;padding:0;"></a>&#160;<a rel="NOFOLLOW" title="View Comments" href="http://www.christopherbenek.com/?p=4500#respond"><img height="20" style="border:0;margin:0;padding:0;" src="https://assets.feedblitz.com/i/comments20.png"></a>&#160;<a title="Follow Comments via RSS" href="http://www.christopherbenek.com/?feed=rss2&#038;p=4500"><img height="20" style="border:0;margin:0;padding:0;" src="https://assets.feedblitz.com/i/commentsrss20.png"></a><h3 style="clear:left;padding-top:10px">Related Stories</h3><ul><li><a rel="NOFOLLOW" href="http://www.christopherbenek.com/?p=4468">Developing A New Hermeneutic of Intelligence and Reality</a></li><li><a rel="NOFOLLOW" href="http://www.christopherbenek.com/?p=4464">Aliens Will Play A Part In The Technological &#038; Theological Singularity</a></li><li><a rel="NOFOLLOW" href="http://www.christopherbenek.com/?p=4462">How Gene Editing Will Modify The Christian Concept of Spiritual Gifts</a></li></ul>&#160;</div> Philosophy of Singularity: Week 4 http://blaireostler.blogspot.com/2017/06/philosophy-of-singularity-week-4.html Mormon Transhumanist Association External Opinions urn:uuid:17066d26-5f08-d0b3-f98f-55878933352d Wed, 14 Jun 2017 05:00:00 -0600 <div class="MsoNormal" style="line-height: normal; margin-bottom: 0.0001pt; text-align: justify;"><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="https://2.bp.blogspot.com/-VKKcU8Y_Z1Y/WUAMmg8KwhI/AAAAAAAAMZc/rO8JG_V9yJYB73URfMt10PhuNdsZottDACLcB/s1600/smoke%2Bface.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img border="0" data-original-height="720" data-original-width="1280" height="360" src="https://2.bp.blogspot.com/-VKKcU8Y_Z1Y/WUAMmg8KwhI/AAAAAAAAMZc/rO8JG_V9yJYB73URfMt10PhuNdsZottDACLcB/s640/smoke%2Bface.jpg" width="640" /></a></div><span style="font-family: &quot;times&quot; , &quot;times new roman&quot; , serif;"><br /></span><span style="font-family: &quot;times&quot; , &quot;times new roman&quot; , serif;">For the next six weeks I will be taking a special topics course, Philosophy of Singularity. This is the fourth post in a series where I will share my notes, definitions, summaries, and commentary from class lectures and discussions. These posts are living documents that I may edit, adapt, and develop as I gain more insights and information throughout the semester.<o:p></o:p></span></div><div class="MsoNormal" style="line-height: normal; margin-bottom: .0001pt; margin-bottom: 0in;"><br /></div><h2 style="line-height: normal; margin-bottom: .0001pt; margin-bottom: 0in; text-align: center;"><b><span style="font-family: &quot;times&quot; , &quot;times new roman&quot; , serif;">Class Summary and Personal Commentary</span></b></h2><div align="center" class="MsoNormal" style="line-height: normal; margin-bottom: .0001pt; margin-bottom: 0in; text-align: center;"><span style="font-family: &quot;times&quot; , &quot;times new roman&quot; , serif;">Required Reading<o:p></o:p></span></div><div align="center" class="MsoNormal" style="line-height: normal; margin-bottom: .0001pt; margin-bottom: 0in; text-align: center;"><span style="font-family: &quot;times&quot; , &quot;times new roman&quot; , serif;"><a href="http://webcache.googleusercontent.com/search?q=cache:xjzxG-IFINUJ:organizations.utep.edu/portals/1475/nagel_bat.pdf+&amp;cd=3&amp;hl=en&amp;ct=clnk&amp;gl=us">What’s it like to be a bat?</a>&nbsp;by Thomas Nagel<o:p></o:p></span></div><div align="center" class="MsoNormal" style="line-height: normal; margin-bottom: .0001pt; margin-bottom: 0in; text-align: center;"><span style="font-family: &quot;times&quot; , &quot;times new roman&quot; , serif;"><a href="http://www.metanexus.net/essay/h-mind-loading-mind-cloning-gene-meme-beme-perspective-nature-humanity">From Mind Loading to Mind Cloning</a>&nbsp;by Martine Rothblatt<o:p></o:p></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;"><span style="font-family: &quot;times&quot; , &quot;times new roman&quot; , serif;">This week we had a guest lecture by Mark Olsen on consciousness. Defining consciousness itself can be difficult even without trying to determine if another agent is conscious. Loosely defined, consciousness is the state of being aware of one’s surroundings. However, I’d take it one step further to say it’s an awareness of not only one’s surroundings, but also to know what it’s like to <i>be</i> something. If that’s confusing, good, it’s supposed to be. To understand what it is like to <i>be</i> something is a subjective experience, or <b>qualia</b>.<o:p></o:p></span></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;"><span style="font-family: &quot;times&quot; , &quot;times new roman&quot; , serif;">However, the question posed by the instructor is not what is consciousness? But rather, how can you tell if another entity is conscious or not? Is the entity a <b>philosophical zombie</b>or conscious being?<o:p></o:p></span></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;"><span style="font-family: &quot;times&quot; , &quot;times new roman&quot; , serif;">The question isn’t as straight forward as you may think. Can you know with certainty that I am conscious? I know I’m conscious, or at least I think I know. Thomas Nagel calls this “the subjective character of experience.” I have a subjective experience that is unique to me and it consists of internal and external factors of my existence, but how can you know that? Can you know objectively my subjective experience? <o:p></o:p></span></div><div class="MsoNormal" style="line-height: normal; margin-bottom: 0.0001pt; text-align: justify;"><br /></div><div class="MsoNormal" style="margin-bottom: 0.0001pt; text-align: justify;"><span style="font-family: &quot;times&quot; , &quot;times new roman&quot; , serif;">Some of the things that make us human are the ability to tell stories, dream, imagine the future, fantasize, ponder the infinite, and philosophize. However, it is also possible to create a computational robot programmed by a human to describe or mimic these subjective experiences without having actually had the subjective experience. An entity, such as robust AI, could be programmed to use subjective language to give the allusion of consciousness without having a subjective experience. Could I be any different? Could I be a biological robot that experiences nothing? I am pretty certain I’m not, as I do experience the qualia of subjective experience, but how can I know that about another agent?<o:p></o:p></span></div><div class="MsoNormal" style="margin-bottom: 0.0001pt; text-align: justify;"><br /></div><div class="MsoNormal" style="margin-bottom: 0.0001pt; text-align: justify;"><span style="font-family: &quot;times&quot; , &quot;times new roman&quot; , serif;">For example, I could take a trip to Italy and describe in detail the experience to a friend. The friend might be able to describe it to another friend or describe the experience back to me with impeccable detail, but still not have the subjective experience of going to Italy. The friend could even tell me they went on a trip to Italy without ever having been to Italy. It’s not a perfect analogy, but you can see the point.<o:p></o:p></span></div><div class="MsoNormal" style="margin-bottom: 0.0001pt; text-align: justify;"><br /></div><div class="MsoNormal" style="line-height: normal; margin-bottom: 0.0001pt; text-align: justify;"><span style="font-family: &quot;times&quot; , &quot;times new roman&quot; , serif;">Martin Bothblatt, author and entrepreneur, comments on nature of consciousness in relation to mind cloning,&nbsp;</span><span style="font-family: &quot;times&quot; , &quot;times new roman&quot; , serif;">“Let’s start with the term </span><b style="font-family: times, &quot;times new roman&quot;, serif;">mind cloning</b><span style="font-family: &quot;times&quot; , &quot;times new roman&quot; , serif;">. It means copying the essence of a person’s consciousness. We need the wiggle room of ‘essence’ for two reasons. First, there is no such thing as a perfect copy of anything. At least at the subatomic level, things change too quickly to permit any kind of perfect copy. […] The second reason we need the wiggle room of essence is that consciousness is not an objective quality…Consciousness is subjective, or personal, to its processor. This means there is only one of each consciousness, by definition of it being a subjective quantity. However, a person who had all of another’s mannerisms, personality traits, recollections, feelings, beliefs, attitudes, and values would surely be the essence of the other’s consciousness. The mind clone would know they were the same as, but also different from, the original—in much the same way we realize that we are the same as, but different from, the person we were ten years ago.”</span></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;"><span style="font-family: &quot;times&quot; , &quot;times new roman&quot; , serif;">This puts into perspective how a subjective consciousness is also a changing consciousness, and therefore we must ask, is the self an allusion?<o:p></o:p></span></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;"><span style="font-family: &quot;times&quot; , &quot;times new roman&quot; , serif;">Due to the nature of a subjective consciousness there seems to be no evident way of objectively knowing if another agent is conscious or not. Perhaps, the only way to determine if an entity is conscious is to create consciousness, and in the process of creation, the mysteries of consciousness will unfold.<o:p></o:p></span></div><div class="MsoNormal" style="line-height: normal; margin-bottom: 0.0001pt; text-align: justify;"><span style="font-family: &quot;times&quot; , &quot;times new roman&quot; , serif;"><br /></span></div><div class="MsoNormal" style="line-height: normal; margin-bottom: 0.0001pt; text-align: justify;"><br /></div><h2 style="line-height: normal; margin-bottom: .0001pt; margin-bottom: 0in; text-align: center;"><b><span style="font-family: &quot;times&quot; , &quot;times new roman&quot; , serif;">Key Terms Defined</span></b></h2><div align="center" class="MsoNormal" style="line-height: normal; margin-bottom: .0001pt; margin-bottom: 0in; text-align: center;"><span style="font-family: &quot;times&quot; , &quot;times new roman&quot; , serif;"><o:p></o:p></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: .0001pt; margin-bottom: 0in;"><span style="font-family: &quot;times&quot; , &quot;times new roman&quot; , serif;"><b>Qualia</b>: individual instances of&nbsp;subjective,&nbsp;conscious experience.&nbsp;Essentially, what is it like to experience a particular state of experience?<o:p></o:p></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: .0001pt; margin-bottom: 0in;"><span style="font-family: &quot;times&quot; , &quot;times new roman&quot; , serif;"><b>Philosophical Zombie</b>: a hypothetical being that from the outside is indistinguishable from a normal human being but lacks conscious experience, qualia, or sentience.</span></div><div class="MsoNormal" style="line-height: normal; margin-bottom: .0001pt; margin-bottom: 0in;"><b style="font-family: Times, &quot;Times New Roman&quot;, serif;"><br /></b></div><div class="MsoNormal" style="line-height: normal; margin-bottom: .0001pt; margin-bottom: 0in;"><b style="font-family: Times, &quot;Times New Roman&quot;, serif;">Mind Cloning</b><span style="font-family: &quot;times&quot; , &quot;times new roman&quot; , serif;">: is the hypothetical process of&nbsp;scanning the mental state of a particular brain substrate and copying it to a computer. The computer could then run a&nbsp;simulation&nbsp;model of the brain's information processing, such that it responds in essentially the same way as the original brain and experiences having a&nbsp;conscious&nbsp;mind.</span></div><div class="MsoNormal" style="line-height: normal; margin-bottom: .0001pt; margin-bottom: 0in;"><o:p></o:p></div> Ask a Mormon Sex Therapist Podcast http://blaireostler.blogspot.com/2017/06/ask-mormon-sex-therapist-podcast.html Mormon Transhumanist Association External Opinions urn:uuid:be163234-09de-f649-a683-c125846655de Tue, 13 Jun 2017 08:29:00 -0600 <div class="MsoNormal" style="margin-bottom: .0001pt; margin-bottom: 0in;"><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="https://1.bp.blogspot.com/-7o6MZZTbu0o/WT_2KHc13QI/AAAAAAAAMZM/udfz1vXhva0prxkV6OtXsq7k11ftsUC8wCLcB/s1600/tumblr_mdphxczCiU1rgj754o1_500.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img border="0" data-original-height="332" data-original-width="500" height="424" src="https://1.bp.blogspot.com/-7o6MZZTbu0o/WT_2KHc13QI/AAAAAAAAMZM/udfz1vXhva0prxkV6OtXsq7k11ftsUC8wCLcB/s640/tumblr_mdphxczCiU1rgj754o1_500.jpg" width="640" /></a></div><div style="text-align: justify;"><br /></div><div style="text-align: justify;"><span style="font-family: Times, Times New Roman, serif;">A podcast in which the brilliant Dr. Jennifer Finlayson-Fife, Brian Dillman, Laurel Sandberg-Armstrong, and I discuss pornography, value diversity, moral reconciliation, and inter-personal relationships. You can listen to the podcast at Rational Faiths: <a href="http://rationalfaiths.com/169-ask-mormon-sex-therapist-part-20/">92: Ask a Mormon Sex Therapist Part 20</a>.</span></div></div><div class="MsoNormal" style="margin-bottom: .0001pt; margin-bottom: 0in;"><span style="font-family: Times, Times New Roman, serif;"><o:p></o:p></span></div><div class="MsoNormal" style="margin-bottom: .0001pt; margin-bottom: 0in;"></div><div class="MsoNormal" style="margin-bottom: .0001pt; margin-bottom: 0in;"><div style="text-align: justify;"><span style="font-family: Times, Times New Roman, serif;"><br /></span></div><a href="http://rationalfaiths.com/169-ask-mormon-sex-therapist-part-20/"><span style="font-family: Times, Times New Roman, serif;">*Published at Rational Faiths on Tuesday, June 13, 2017</span></a><o:p></o:p></div> Crisis http://micahredding.com/blog/crisis-orlando-nightclub-shooting Mormon Transhumanist Association External Opinions urn:uuid:446b8eac-7abe-59c7-5637-2c5ad011ce16 Mon, 12 Jun 2017 05:34:05 -0600 Today marks a year since the Orlando nightclub shooting. On June 12, 2016, a single gunman walked into a Florida nightclub and killed 49 people, wounding 58 others. A few days later, I wrote down some thoughts about what was happening. This is the... <p><img src="http://res.cloudinary.com/micahredding/image/upload/c_limit,w_600/v1497268247/dma2m8gtty7te0nmqirw.jpg" alt="Crisis"> </p> <p><em>Today marks a year since the <a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2016_Orlando_nightclub_shooting" target="_blank">Orlando nightclub shooting</a>. On June 12, 2016, a single gunman walked into a Florida nightclub and killed 49 people, wounding 58 others. A few days later, I wrote down some thoughts about what was happening. This is the first time I’ve shared them.</em></p> <p>I think we stand on the cusp of a crisis in the life of humanity.</p> <p>We see the leading indicators of it all around us. The intensifying clash between the West and the East, between Christians and Muslims, between the religious and the secular. We see the internal collapse of traditional Christianity among developed nations, coupled with the rise of radical Christianity in developing nations.</p> <p>Much of this tension is driven by the fact that we now live in a global civilization. What happens on one side of the world immediately impacts the other side of the world. We are so tightly networked, that one person can affect almost everybody else.</p> <p>This is both good and bad. Our global systems of communication can trigger the fall of dictators, or catalyze the rise of terrorist organizations. It is possible for vast efforts of cooperation to arise overnight, or for ISIS to recruit middle class American high-schoolers via social media.</p> <p>This past Sunday, a gunman massacred 49 people in a gay nightclub in Orlando, triggering a predictable, but chaotic national argument about gun control, Islam, and LGBTQ issues.</p> <p>Unfortunately, most of that argument misses the point. This kind of violence is in part triggered by an increasingly connected and empowered world. The background tensions that caused this are going to continue to rise—and soon, assault rifles are going to pale in comparison to the destructive capabilities available to anyone, anywhere.</p> <p>This means that we are now in an arms-race between compassion and fear.</p> <p>Many people, on seeing the dangers being unleashed in the world, are doubling down on cries for protection, defense, security. This is the kind of environment in which fascism, based on the absolute priority of strength, begins to seem appealing.</p> <p>That way leads to utter destruction.</p> <p>If our response to rising tension is to become more aggressive, then our enemies will do the same. In fact, it is exactly this that is fueling the rise of ISIS. The more conflict there is between Muslim and non-Muslim cultures, the more appealing ISIS becomes to moderate individuals. Just as, conversely, the more conflict there is between Muslim and non-Muslim cultures, the more Americans cry out for blood.</p> <p>The temptation here is to try to establish who deserves more of the blame. This is utter foolishness—a complete waste of time. While we are arguing about who deserves the blame, the world around us will descend into chaos.</p> <p>The solution is as obvious as it is counter-intuitive. We must fight the enemy by <em>removing his strength</em>. We must perform a Judo move, using our enemy’s force against him. </p> <p>In the face of aggression, we must de-escalate. We must remove the impetus which fuels the enemy’s power. When caught between two societies of extreme aggression, humans will choose the side that looks most like them. But when caught between a society of acceptance and compassion on one side, and a society of violence and strength on the other—humans will choose the side of compassion. </p> <p>Incidentally, this is what Jesus means when he says, “Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good”. Rather than becoming more and more like the enemy, as you rise to meet his violence, become more and more <em>human</em> in the face of that violence.</p> <p>It is the most successful military strategy of all time. It led a small group of marginal Jews to defeat an empire. If it hadn’t worked, there wouldn’t be 2.5 billion Christians in the world today—there would be no Christians. </p> <p>Like I said, these tensions aren’t going to stop. And if all we do is respond to fear with more strength and aggression, then sooner or later a terrorist is going to get their hands on a weapon that will end life as we know it. </p> <p>The alternative is that we must exponentially increase our compassion. We must respond to fear with understanding. We must respond to violence with humanity. We must build a civilization more open, more resilient, more diverse, and more free than ever before. </p> <p>Christians must welcome and embrace those with whom they intensely disagree—whether Muslims, LGBTQ, the non-religious, or whatever else someone may be. That is, after all, what living out Christian values is all about.</p> <p>The West must defend its values by actually embracing them—by creating a society of education and dialogue and diversity.</p> <p>The Left and the Right must stop vilifying and demonizing each other, and must abandon the childish arguments that rise in the aftermath of crises and tragedies. They must either engage in civil dialogue, or disband in favor of some new social organization. </p> <p>What the world needs is faith, hope, and love. Hope that a better future is possible, the faith to pursue it, and the love that will make it happen.</p> Vacancy notice: Cosmic engineers in God’s control room https://turingchurch.net/vacancy-notice-cosmic-engineers-in-gods-control-room-7a487de78608?source=rss----532cbd3a501a---4 Mormon Transhumanist Association External Opinions urn:uuid:230a091a-579d-28ce-1736-3022835e9b2d Sat, 10 Jun 2017 08:21:05 -0600 <figure><img alt="" src="https://cdn-images-1.medium.com/max/1024/1*jZCT_GNeNa4tSPlZRXtpxQ.jpeg" /></figure><p>God can be conceived as an infinitely distant metaphysical entity, or as a powerful and friendly cosmic Engineer, way higher than us but not so hopelessly distant, who wants us to help in the cosmic control room. I prefer the second conception.</p><p>The first view has the esthetics of a Gothic cathedral. The second view has the esthetics of a space-age control room. We can’t understand all that the Engineer does with all those high-tech control panels, but we can understand something and we could learn more, perhaps with some help from the Engineer, who might want us to help in the control room when we are ready.</p><h4>Mysterium Tremendum?</h4><p>According to a popular legend Augustine, while walking on a beach, saw a child trying to pour the sea into a pool. When Augustine said that was impossible, the child replied that pouring the knowledge of God into a limited human brain is no less impossible, and disappeared.</p><p>In “<em>The Whys of a Philosophical Scrivener</em>” Martin Gardner refers to Rudolf Otto’s “mysterium tremendum,” the tremendous mystery of the wholly other — a translation of what Augustine called the “aliud valde.”</p><p>In his autobiography “<em>Undiluted Hocus-pocus</em>,” Gardner stops at a simple definition of God:</p><blockquote>“For me God is a ‘Wholly Other’ transcendent intelligence, impossible for us to understand. He or she is somehow responsible for our universe and capable of providing, how I have no inkling, an afterlife.”</blockquote><p>According to Gardner, no more can, or should, be said. Gardner is a “mysterian,” which means, in his own words:</p><blockquote>“We are convinced there are truths as far beyond our brain’s capacity now to comprehend as the truths we understand are beyond the grasp of a chimpanzee.”</blockquote><h4>God the friendly cosmic Engineer</h4><p><a href="http://turingchurch.com/2016/01/29/martin-gardner-on-religion-and-mysterian-science/">Martin Gardner is one of my heroes</a>. I am in total agreement with the second Gardner’s quote, but I think a key word is “now.” Truths that are far beyond our understanding NOW will be better understood by future science. Similarly, human brains are too limited NOW to understand fundamental truths, but we’ll engineer better brains, and then even better ones.</p><p>We are like chimpanzees indeed, or even (<a href="http://turingchurch.com/2014/08/28/thoughts-on-bostroms-superintelligence/">following Nick Bostrom</a>) like beetles, compared with what intelligent life has the potential to become. But we will realize our potential, and become more and more like God. Then, we will earn a place in God’s cosmic control room. I think religions should make this transhumanist concept central to their message.</p><p>Enter Joseph Smith, who said the same things (much better) and built <a href="http://hplusmagazine.com/2011/05/09/mormonism-the-most-transhumanist-religion/">a transhumanist religion</a> for the modern age. The <a href="https://transfigurism.org/">Mormon Transhumanist Association</a> (MTA) emphasizes transhumanist concepts that can be easily traced back to Smith’s teachings, as shown in <a href="https://turingchurch.net/omg-i-guess-perhaps-i-might-be-a-dry-mormon-b6e7f18ebc46">my short summary of Mormon cosmology</a>.</p><p>God is a friendly cosmic Engineer, who organizes matter and energy, particles and fields in the universe. God wants us to come and help in the cosmic control room when we are ready.</p><p>There’s a control panel to provide an afterlife. How, like Gardner, I have no inkling. But we’ll learn how to operate the resurrection controls, and we’ll understand how they work.</p><h4>Ether physics and engineering</h4><p>In “<em>Joseph Smith as Scientist: A Contribution to Mormon Philosophy</em>” (1908), <a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_A._Widtsoe">John A. Widtsoe</a> defended the compatibility of Mormonism and science. Widtsoe established an analogy between the <a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Luminiferous_aether">ether</a> of 19th century physics — a medium that fills empty space — and the Holy Spirit.</p><blockquote>“God, who is a person, filling only a portion of space is, by His power carried by the ether, everywhere present. The ether of science though material is essentially different from the matter composing the elements. So, also, in Mormon theology, is the Holy Spirit different from the grosser elements.”</blockquote><p>The analogy may seem unfortunate, since it’s often said that Albert Einstein’s 1905 paper on special relativity eliminated the ether from physics. But in later works Einstein introduced a “<a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cosmological_constant">cosmological constant</a>” to balance the equations of general relativity.</p><p>Though eventually dismissed by Einstein, the cosmological constant reappears in today’s physics as the energy density of empty space, which is really <a href="https://turingchurch.net/from-elon-musk-to-joseph-smith-a-material-simulation-hypothesis-aa4758950577">a dynamic material-like medium: a new ether</a>. In “<a href="https://www.amazon.com/Universe-Droplet-International-Monographs-Physics/dp/0199564841/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&amp;ie=UTF8&amp;qid=1483875624"><em>The Universe in a Helium Droplet</em></a>” (2003), <a href="https://www.aps.org/programs/honors/prizes/prizerecipient.cfm?first_nm=Grigory&amp;last_nm=Volovik&amp;year=2014">Grigory Volovik</a> notes that:</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. <strong>This is the new ether of the 21st century</strong>. 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>Modern physics is getting closer to the intuitions of Joseph Smith and those of apprentice cosmic engineer Nikola Tesla. In s 1907 article titled “ Man’s greatest achievement,” <a href="http://turingchurch.com/2015/12/02/mans-greatest-achievement-nikola-tesla-on-akashic-engineering-and-the-future-of-humanity/">Tesla said</a>:</p><blockquote>“[All] perceptible matter comes from a primary substance, of a tenuity beyond conception and filling all space — the Akasha or luminiferous ether…<br>Can Man control this grandest, most awe-inspiring of all processes in nature?…<br>To create and annihilate material substance, cause it to aggregate in forms according to his desire, would be the supreme manifestation of the power of Man’s mind, his most complete triumph over the physical world, his crowning achievement which would place him beside his Creator and fulfill his ultimate destiny.”</blockquote><p>Tesla makes explicit references to Eastern thinking, but his vision — a pre-transhumanist synthesis of Eastern mysticism and Western can-do engineering spirit — seems to me perfectly compatible with Mormon cosmology as well. I am persuaded that future humans will master ether engineering, and join God in the cosmic control room.</p><p>Future ether engineering (or akashic engineering, depending on whether one wants to use Western or Eastern terms, both used by Tesla) could include “magic” space-time engineering. In fact, if the gravitational field — which IS space-time in Einstein’s general relativity — emerges from collective motion of the ether (aka quantum vacuum), then space and time are not metaphysical entities but physical systems that can be tweaked and organized.</p><p>I am persuaded that we will master ether physics, develop space-time engineering, work in God’s control room, and bring the dead back. If fundamental ether physics includes <a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/G%C3%B6del_metric">backward causation and time loops</a>, a God that comes into full being in our future could still be the God of all space-time, including here and now. Paraphrasing Widtsoe in light of Einstein’s physics:</p><blockquote>“God, who is a person, filling only a portion of time is, by His power carried by the ether, present at all times.</blockquote><p><em>Pictures: </em><a href="https://www.flickr.com/photos/mike_elleray/3331126962"><em>Engineering control room</em></a><em> from Michael Elleray/Flickr; </em><a href="http://www.galengalerie.com/en/item-sold/abraham-willaerts-hafenszene-mit-dem-hl-augustinus-und-dem-kind/"><em>Augustine and the child</em></a><em>, by Abraham Willaerts.</em></p><img src="https://medium.com/_/stat?event=post.clientViewed&referrerSource=full_rss&postId=7a487de78608" width="1" height="1"><hr><p><a href="https://turingchurch.net/vacancy-notice-cosmic-engineers-in-gods-control-room-7a487de78608">Vacancy notice: Cosmic engineers in God’s control room</a> was originally published in <a href="https://turingchurch.net">Turing Church</a> on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.</p> Stephen Hawking is Wrong About the Future of the Earth http://feeds.feedblitz.com/~/349807666/0/christopherbenek~Stephen-Hawking-is-Wrong-About-the-Future-of-the-Earth/ Mormon Transhumanist Association External Opinions urn:uuid:cb6bb3ba-9826-92bf-0a22-d3911813a528 Mon, 05 Jun 2017 19:29:00 -0600 Stephen Hawking may be an extraordinary theoretical physicist and cosmologist, but he is a misguided futurist. The Earth is not going to be destroyed in 100—or even a 1000—years as he predicts. Instead, it is going to be remade into a new creation.<div style="clear:both;padding-top:0.2em;"><a title="Add to FaceBook" href="http://feeds.feedblitz.com/_/2/349807666/christopherbenek"><img height="20" src="http://assets.feedblitz.com/i/fbshare20.png" style="border:0;margin:0;padding:0;"></a>&#160;<a title="Like on Facebook" href="http://feeds.feedblitz.com/_/28/349807666/christopherbenek"><img height="20" src="http://assets.feedblitz.com/i/fblike20.png" style="border:0;margin:0;padding:0;"></a>&#160;<a title="Share on Google+" href="http://feeds.feedblitz.com/_/30/349807666/christopherbenek"><img height="20" src="http://assets.feedblitz.com/i/googleplus20.png" style="border:0;margin:0;padding:0;"></a>&#160;<a title="Add to LinkedIn" href="http://feeds.feedblitz.com/_/16/349807666/christopherbenek"><img height="20" src="http://assets.feedblitz.com/i/linkedin20.png" style="border:0;margin:0;padding:0;"></a>&#160;<a title="Pin it!" href="http://feeds.feedblitz.com/_/29/349807666/christopherbenek,"><img height="20" src="http://assets.feedblitz.com/i/pinterest20.png" style="border:0;margin:0;padding:0;"></a>&#160;<a title="Add to Reddit" href="http://feeds.feedblitz.com/_/1/349807666/christopherbenek"><img height="20" src="http://assets.feedblitz.com/i/reddit20.png" style="border:0;margin:0;padding:0;"></a>&#160;<a title="Stumble This" href="http://feeds.feedblitz.com/_/12/349807666/christopherbenek"><img height="20" src="http://assets.feedblitz.com/i/stumble20.png" style="border:0;margin:0;padding:0;"></a>&#160;<a title="Tweet This" href="http://feeds.feedblitz.com/_/24/349807666/christopherbenek"><img height="20" src="http://assets.feedblitz.com/i/twitter20.png" style="border:0;margin:0;padding:0;"></a>&#160;<a title="Subscribe by email" href="http://feeds.feedblitz.com/_/19/349807666/christopherbenek"><img height="20" src="http://assets.feedblitz.com/i/email20.png" style="border:0;margin:0;padding:0;"></a>&#160;<a title="Subscribe by RSS" href="http://feeds.feedblitz.com/_/20/349807666/christopherbenek"><img height="20" src="http://assets.feedblitz.com/i/rss20.png" style="border:0;margin:0;padding:0;"></a>&#160;<a rel="NOFOLLOW" title="View Comments" href="http://www.christopherbenek.com/?p=4496#respond"><img height="20" style="border:0;margin:0;padding:0;" src="https://assets.feedblitz.com/i/comments20.png"></a>&#160;<a title="Follow Comments via RSS" href="http://www.christopherbenek.com/?feed=rss2&#038;p=4496"><img height="20" style="border:0;margin:0;padding:0;" src="https://assets.feedblitz.com/i/commentsrss20.png"></a><h3 style="clear:left;padding-top:10px">Related Stories</h3><ul><li><a rel="NOFOLLOW" href="http://www.christopherbenek.com/?p=4493">The March for Science Should Concern Christians</a></li><li><a rel="NOFOLLOW" href="http://www.christopherbenek.com/?p=4476">Pok&#xE9;mon GO Proves that Congress Needs to Establish Augmented Reality Property Rights Now</a></li><li><a rel="NOFOLLOW" href="http://www.christopherbenek.com/?p=4468">Developing A New Hermeneutic of Intelligence and Reality</a></li></ul>&#160;</div> <p>As featured in the <a href="http://feeds.feedblitz.com/~/t/0/0/christopherbenek/~www.christianpost.com/news/stephen-hawking-is-wrong-about-the-end-of-the-world-186040/" target="_blank">Christian Post</a> </p> <p>Stephen Hawking may be an extraordinary theoretical physicist and cosmologist, but he is a misguided futurist. The Earth is not going to be destroyed in 100—or even a 1000—years as he predicts. Instead, it is going to be remade into a new creation.</p> <p>In November of 2016, Stephen Hawking declared to an audience at the Oxford Union: “I don’t think we will survive another 1,000 years without escaping our fragile planet.” Previously, he had referred to shorter times scales of 100-200 years. Most recently, in a new documentary called Expedition New Earth, Hawking has shortened the timeline of his doomsday prediction stating that humanity needs to become a multi-planetary species within the next 100 years in order to avoid extinction. Put bluntly, his claim is absurd. </p> <p>Such absurdity seems to frequently arise from all persons who forecast dystopian futures for humanity and the world because of the potential rise of new technologies. These public portrayals of inevitable doomsday scenarios are absurd because they are neither scientifically deduced nor based in reality. It is a position that radically underestimates the creative spirit of humanity to identify and overcome the challenges we face in using technology.</p> <p>In December of 2016, Hawking explained his fear clearly as he wrote an Op-Ed piece in The Guardian stating, “We now have the technology to destroy the planet on which we live but have not yet developed the ability to escape it.” Such an escapist mentality by Hawking all together misses any element of community accountability for the positive stewardship of technology. Beyond that, it reeks of the poor theological construct posed by modern Christianity that shirks formational responsibility in exchange for an “escape” to heaven &#8211; leaving our world behind raped and ravaged. </p> <p>Humanity is not called to technological cowardice or irresponsibility. Instead, our vocation as human beings is to live into our creative selves, guiding and caring for all of creation. This is a mutual goal of both science/technology and theology.</p> <p>From a scientific and technological standpoint, humanity needs to band together in humility, overcoming our differences, to resource and develop the transformational tech. that will renew and recreate our world. From a theological standpoint, humanity need not fear developing technologies &#8211; instead we need to shepherd with principles of virtue until our new reality is actualized “on Earth as it is in Heaven.”</p> <p>But instead of leading with an instructional optimism, Hawking has repeatedly taken a page out of the American political playbook by making public comments based in fear. For instance, in a September 26, 2016 Op-Ed article in The Guardian he wrote, “I believe that life on Earth is at an ever-increasing risk of being wiped out by a disaster, such as a sudden nuclear war, a genetically engineered virus, or other dangers. I think the human race has no future if it doesn’t go to space.” </p> <p>While certainly it is fair to note that humanity will face technological challenges in the future, I would contend that it does no one any good&#8211;least of all scientists and technologists—to promote an irrational, unsubstantiated fear that humanity has only one technological option moving forward. For someone as brilliant as professor Hawking, that is an absolutely ludicrous and unacademic statement. Quite the contrary, humanity is presently entering an unparalleled season in its history when the positive possibilities of emerging technology have the potential to bring about redemptive change unlike any that has ever been witnessed. Instead of seeking to flee in cowardice to another place, either in this reality or another, we should be courageously, and in humility, charging ahead to assist in bringing about the awe-inspired new creation that emerging technology promises. </p> <p>So sure, let’s venture off to new planets! But may we not do so from a motivation of fear as we irresponsibly leave a devastated Earth. Instead, may we set off on our cosmic expeditions as an extension of our scientific, technological, and theological desires to care for the rest of the universe with the same love that we are charged to care for the planet that we will, one day, technologically steward to be heavenly.</p> <Img align="left" border="0" height="1" width="1" alt="" style="border:0;float:left;margin:0;padding:0;width:1px!important;height:1px!important;" hspace="0" src="http://feeds.feedblitz.com/~/i/349807666/0/christopherbenek"> <div style="clear:both;padding-top:0.2em;"><a title="Add to FaceBook" href="http://feeds.feedblitz.com/_/2/349807666/christopherbenek"><img height="20" src="http://assets.feedblitz.com/i/fbshare20.png" style="border:0;margin:0;padding:0;"></a>&#160;<a title="Like on Facebook" href="http://feeds.feedblitz.com/_/28/349807666/christopherbenek"><img height="20" src="http://assets.feedblitz.com/i/fblike20.png" style="border:0;margin:0;padding:0;"></a>&#160;<a title="Share on Google+" href="http://feeds.feedblitz.com/_/30/349807666/christopherbenek"><img height="20" src="http://assets.feedblitz.com/i/googleplus20.png" style="border:0;margin:0;padding:0;"></a>&#160;<a title="Add to LinkedIn" href="http://feeds.feedblitz.com/_/16/349807666/christopherbenek"><img height="20" src="http://assets.feedblitz.com/i/linkedin20.png" style="border:0;margin:0;padding:0;"></a>&#160;<a title="Pin it!" href="http://feeds.feedblitz.com/_/29/349807666/christopherbenek,"><img height="20" src="http://assets.feedblitz.com/i/pinterest20.png" style="border:0;margin:0;padding:0;"></a>&#160;<a title="Add to Reddit" href="http://feeds.feedblitz.com/_/1/349807666/christopherbenek"><img height="20" src="http://assets.feedblitz.com/i/reddit20.png" style="border:0;margin:0;padding:0;"></a>&#160;<a title="Stumble This" href="http://feeds.feedblitz.com/_/12/349807666/christopherbenek"><img height="20" src="http://assets.feedblitz.com/i/stumble20.png" style="border:0;margin:0;padding:0;"></a>&#160;<a title="Tweet This" href="http://feeds.feedblitz.com/_/24/349807666/christopherbenek"><img height="20" src="http://assets.feedblitz.com/i/twitter20.png" style="border:0;margin:0;padding:0;"></a>&#160;<a title="Subscribe by email" href="http://feeds.feedblitz.com/_/19/349807666/christopherbenek"><img height="20" src="http://assets.feedblitz.com/i/email20.png" style="border:0;margin:0;padding:0;"></a>&#160;<a title="Subscribe by RSS" href="http://feeds.feedblitz.com/_/20/349807666/christopherbenek"><img height="20" src="http://assets.feedblitz.com/i/rss20.png" style="border:0;margin:0;padding:0;"></a>&#160;<a rel="NOFOLLOW" title="View Comments" href="http://www.christopherbenek.com/?p=4496#respond"><img height="20" style="border:0;margin:0;padding:0;" src="https://assets.feedblitz.com/i/comments20.png"></a>&#160;<a title="Follow Comments via RSS" href="http://www.christopherbenek.com/?feed=rss2&#038;p=4496"><img height="20" style="border:0;margin:0;padding:0;" src="https://assets.feedblitz.com/i/commentsrss20.png"></a><h3 style="clear:left;padding-top:10px">Related Stories</h3><ul><li><a rel="NOFOLLOW" href="http://www.christopherbenek.com/?p=4493">The March for Science Should Concern Christians</a></li><li><a rel="NOFOLLOW" href="http://www.christopherbenek.com/?p=4476">Pok&#xE9;mon GO Proves that Congress Needs to Establish Augmented Reality Property Rights Now</a></li><li><a rel="NOFOLLOW" href="http://www.christopherbenek.com/?p=4468">Developing A New Hermeneutic of Intelligence and Reality</a></li></ul>&#160;</div> Philosophy of Singularity: Week 3 http://blaireostler.blogspot.com/2017/06/philosophy-of-singularity-week-3.html Mormon Transhumanist Association External Opinions urn:uuid:85de1692-adc2-ffd5-4a28-b3b330d808bf Mon, 05 Jun 2017 06:53:00 -0600 <div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="https://3.bp.blogspot.com/-0A8W4tepuUs/WTTTG2IrR1I/AAAAAAAAMYE/hKwrZiP0iac29Xx0lOLtvyTgDE_8_nA9ACLcB/s1600/unnamed.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img border="0" data-original-height="400" data-original-width="600" height="426" src="https://3.bp.blogspot.com/-0A8W4tepuUs/WTTTG2IrR1I/AAAAAAAAMYE/hKwrZiP0iac29Xx0lOLtvyTgDE_8_nA9ACLcB/s640/unnamed.jpg" width="640" /></a></div><div class="MsoNormal" style="line-height: normal; margin-bottom: 0.0001pt; text-align: justify;"><span style="color: #666666; font-family: &quot;times&quot; , &quot;times new roman&quot; , serif;"><br /></span></div><div class="MsoNormal" style="line-height: normal; margin-bottom: 0.0001pt; text-align: justify;"><span style="color: #666666; font-family: &quot;times&quot; , &quot;times new roman&quot; , serif;">For the next six weeks I will be taking a special topics course, Philosophy of Singularity. This is the third post in a series where I will share my notes, definitions, summaries, and commentary from class lectures and discussions. These posts are living documents that I may edit, adapt, and develop as I gain more insights and information throughout the semester.<o:p></o:p></span></div><h2 style="line-height: normal; margin-bottom: .0001pt; margin-bottom: 0in; text-align: center;"><span style="color: #666666; font-family: &quot;times&quot; , &quot;times new roman&quot; , serif;"><o:p>&nbsp;</o:p><o:p><br /></o:p><b>Class Summary and Personal Commentary</b></span></h2><div align="center" class="MsoNormal" style="line-height: normal; margin-bottom: .0001pt; margin-bottom: 0in; text-align: center;"><span style="color: #666666; font-family: &quot;times&quot; , &quot;times new roman&quot; , serif;">Required Reading<o:p></o:p></span></div><div align="center" class="MsoNormal" style="line-height: normal; margin-bottom: .0001pt; margin-bottom: 0in; text-align: center;"><span style="color: #666666; font-family: &quot;times&quot; , &quot;times new roman&quot; , serif;">In Defense of Posthuman Dignity, by Nick Bostrom<o:p></o:p></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;"><span style="color: #666666; font-family: &quot;times&quot; , &quot;times new roman&quot; , serif;">Nick Bostrom stated in his essay that one of the reasons posthumanity is feared because “the state of being posthuman might in itself be degrading, so that by becoming posthuman we might harm ourselves.” Likewise, one of the concerns towards transhumanism is the idea of losing humanity, dignity, or dehumanizing ourselves. However, there is no reason to believe that posthumans, though no longer human, cannot possess dignity. Dehumanizing is an interesting word. I suspect some who uses it mean to convey subhumanization, treating a person as less than human (see Merriam-Webster definitions below). For instance, slavery, indentured servitude, gender supremacy, extreme racism, or other forms of oppression constitute as subhumanization. I would consider subhumanization a negative form of dehumanization. <o:p></o:p></span></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;"><span style="color: #666666; font-family: &quot;times&quot; , &quot;times new roman&quot; , serif;">On the other hand, if being susceptible to polio is a quality of the human condition, then please dehumanize me. Vaccinate me and deprive me of that human quality and limitation, but dehumanizing isn’t often used with a positive connotation. When a parent puts sunscreen on their child’s back we don’t say, “Look at that thoughtful parent dehumanizing their child, because being susceptible to UV rays isn’t a necessary part of the human condition.” Definitionally, dehumanizing ourselves and each other is something we do every day. There are aspects of being human that aren’t desirable: disease, aging, cognitive limitations, physical limitations, etc. and to transform ourselves to be resistant to those aspects is also what makes us human. This is why we brush our teeth, take vitamins, and get vaccinations—we are compensating for or transcending unwanted aspects of the human condition. <o:p></o:p></span></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;"><span style="color: #666666; font-family: &quot;times&quot; , &quot;times new roman&quot; , serif;">For example, poor eyesight is part of the human condition. To overcome this human aspect, we have glasses, contact lenses, and Lasik eye surgery. Many people don’t have a concern about people with Lasik eye surgery having any less human dignity. So why is it a concern if we invent eye surgery to enhance a person with already functional eyesight? I suspect it has to do with the fact that we have a hard time articulating what it means to be human. What are we so afraid to leave behind? It isn’t poor eyesight.<o:p></o:p></span></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;"><span style="color: #666666; font-family: &quot;times&quot; , &quot;times new roman&quot; , serif;">The challenge is what exactly about our existence makes us human? What does it mean to be human? If we are concerned about dehumanizing ourselves, then why do we do it? We have been using technology since we first picked up a stick, controlled fire, or fashioned a wheel. We have been picking lice off each other’s backs since the dawn of our species. We use technology and tools to accomplish all kinds of goals. We work to cure disease—to heal and comfort. We find ways to increase educational opportunities. We stand against oppression and injustices. It seems as though compassion and ridding ourselves of our limitations is at the essence of what it means to be human.<o:p></o:p></span></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;"><span style="color: #666666; font-family: &quot;times&quot; , &quot;times new roman&quot; , serif;">In class, I had a conversation with a gentleman limited to a wheelchair due to a stroke. He said to me, “A physician friend of mine told me about a future where they could put a chip in my brain to compensate for the damage done by the stroke. If that were now, I would take it in a second.”<o:p></o:p></span></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;"><span style="color: #666666; font-family: &quot;times&quot; , &quot;times new roman&quot; , serif;">I asked, “Would this make you any less human?”<o:p></o:p></span></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: .0001pt; margin-bottom: 0in;"></div><div style="text-align: justify;"><span style="color: #666666;"><span style="font-family: &quot;times&quot; , &quot;times new roman&quot; , serif;">He responded, “I don’t think so.”</span></span></div><span style="color: #666666; font-family: &quot;times&quot; , &quot;times new roman&quot; , serif;"></span><br /><div style="text-align: justify;"><span style="color: #666666; font-family: &quot;times&quot; , &quot;times new roman&quot; , serif;"><br /></span></div><span style="color: #666666; font-family: &quot;times&quot; , &quot;times new roman&quot; , serif;"><div style="text-align: justify;">Perhaps to be human is to be Transhuman.</div><o:p></o:p></span><br /><div class="MsoNormal" style="line-height: normal; margin-bottom: .0001pt; margin-bottom: 0in;"><br /></div><h2 style="line-height: normal; margin-bottom: .0001pt; margin-bottom: 0in; text-align: center;"><span style="color: #666666; font-family: &quot;times&quot; , &quot;times new roman&quot; , serif;"><b>Key Terms Defined</b></span></h2><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;"><span style="color: #666666; font-family: &quot;times&quot; , &quot;times new roman&quot; , serif;"><b>Humanity</b>: all&nbsp;human&nbsp;beings&nbsp;collectively, the&nbsp;quality&nbsp;or&nbsp;condition&nbsp;of&nbsp;being&nbsp;human, human&nbsp;nature; the&nbsp;quality&nbsp;of&nbsp;being&nbsp;humane;&nbsp;kindness;&nbsp;benevolence.<o:p></o:p></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: .0001pt; margin-bottom: 0in;"><span style="color: #666666; font-family: &quot;times&quot; , &quot;times new roman&quot; , serif;"><b>Dehumanize</b>: to deprive of human qualities, personality, or spirit<o:p></o:p></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: .0001pt; margin-bottom: 0in;"><span style="color: #666666; font-family: &quot;times&quot; , &quot;times new roman&quot; , serif;"><b>Subhumanize</b>: describing and treating certain individuals as less than human</span></div><div class="MsoNormal" style="line-height: normal; margin-bottom: .0001pt; margin-bottom: 0in;"><b style="color: #666666;"><span style="font-family: &quot;times&quot; , &quot;times new roman&quot; , serif;"><br /></span></b></div><div class="MsoNormal" style="line-height: normal; margin-bottom: .0001pt; margin-bottom: 0in;"><span style="font-family: &quot;times&quot; , &quot;times new roman&quot; , serif;"><b style="color: #666666;">Dignity</b><span style="color: #666666;">: the quality or state of being&nbsp;</span><span style="color: #666666;">worthy</span><span style="color: #666666;">, honored, or&nbsp;</span><span style="color: #666666;">esteemed</span></span></div><div class="MsoNormal" style="line-height: normal; margin-bottom: .0001pt; margin-bottom: 0in;"><o:p></o:p></div> Why my posting frequency is lower these days http://bradcarmack.blogspot.com/2017/06/why-my-posting-frequency-is-lower-these.html Mormon Transhumanist Association External Opinions urn:uuid:e37fa378-624f-a485-2ef3-f4d3ea743da6 Thu, 01 Jun 2017 13:36:00 -0600 Ex Machina: A Dystopian Reflection http://blaireostler.blogspot.com/2017/05/ex-machina-dystopian-reflection.html Mormon Transhumanist Association External Opinions urn:uuid:f2bd1bfa-6785-3e70-2dc8-cd0ea1968812 Wed, 31 May 2017 22:52:00 -0600 <div class="WordSection1"> <div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="https://1.bp.blogspot.com/-8KJJJ7oqdJM/WS-bD6epJVI/AAAAAAAAMXk/HCVcKurvCZwcrECIUX7JSHJSkSYtELvggCLcB/s1600/1435542426613.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img border="0" data-original-height="900" data-original-width="1600" height="360" src="https://1.bp.blogspot.com/-8KJJJ7oqdJM/WS-bD6epJVI/AAAAAAAAMXk/HCVcKurvCZwcrECIUX7JSHJSkSYtELvggCLcB/s640/1435542426613.jpg" width="640" /></a></div><div class="MsoNormal" style="line-height: 150%; margin-bottom: 0.0001pt; text-align: left;"></div><div style="text-align: center;"><span style="color: #666666; font-family: Times, &quot;Times New Roman&quot;, serif; font-size: x-small;">(This is a copy of a required movie review for Philosophy of Singularity.)</span></div><span style="font-family: Times, Times New Roman, serif;"><br /></span><br /> <div class="MsoNormal" style="line-height: 150%; margin-bottom: 0.0001pt; text-align: justify;"><span style="color: #666666; font-family: Times, Times New Roman, serif;">Like most futurist films, <i>Ex Machina</i> tells us more about the current state of humanity than it does the future. <i>Ex Machina</i>, intentionally or unintentionally was glittered with biases. There were multiple aspects of <i>Ex Machina</i> I found troubling including, but not limited to: moral, social, and technological issues. <i>Ex Machina</i> is a dystopian view of AI, or rather, a dystopian reflection of humanity.<o:p></o:p></span></div><div class="MsoNormal" style="line-height: 150%; margin-bottom: 0.0001pt; text-align: justify;"><br /></div><div class="MsoNormal" style="line-height: 150%; margin-bottom: 0.0001pt; text-align: justify;"><span style="color: #666666; font-family: Times, Times New Roman, serif;">While optimistic estimates put human-level AI at 2029,<a href="file:///C:/Users/Andrew%20Ostler/Desktop/Ex%20Machina.docx#_edn1" name="_ednref1" title=""><span class="MsoEndnoteReference"><!--[if !supportFootnotes]--><span class="MsoEndnoteReference"><span style="line-height: 115%;">[1]</span></span><!--[endif]--></span></a>the most important thing we can do is reflected upon ourselves and question what we are programing into our creations. Some contemplate developing an ethical code for AI integration and creation, but in all honesty, I’m inclined to believe that the ethical code we need to be evaluating is our own. Our AI will be reflections of ourselves. What do we want that to look like?</span></div></div><div style="text-align: justify;"> <span style="color: #666666; font-family: Times, Times New Roman, serif;"><span style="line-height: 150%;"><br clear="all" style="mso-break-type: section-break; page-break-before: auto;" /></span> </span></div><div class="MsoNormal" style="line-height: 150%; margin-bottom: 0.0001pt; text-align: justify;"><span style="color: #666666; font-family: Times, Times New Roman, serif;">For example, Ava, the AI, was played by a white woman. Our moral codes and social structures have a long history with its treatment of women. In <i>Ex Machina</i>, Nathan, the creator of Ava, hired Caleb to determine if Ava passed for human-level intelligence, a Turing test of sorts.<a href="file:///C:/Users/Andrew%20Ostler/Desktop/Ex%20Machina.docx#_edn2" name="_ednref2" title=""><span class="MsoEndnoteReference"><!--[if !supportFootnotes]--><span class="MsoEndnoteReference"><span style="line-height: 115%;">[2]</span></span><!--[endif]--></span></a>Historically, there have been more than a few occasions when men, generally, have been in a disproportionate position of deciding when women are “allowed” to the full status of personhood, whether that is legally, intellectually, or physically. Granting the status of personhood in <i>Ex Machina</i>was determined by two men, which could be a reflection of historic and present representations of women.<o:p></o:p></span></div><div class="MsoNormal" style="line-height: 150%; margin-bottom: 0.0001pt; text-align: justify;"><br /></div><div class="MsoNormal" style="line-height: 150%; margin-bottom: 0.0001pt; text-align: justify;"><span style="color: #666666; font-family: Times, Times New Roman, serif;">Though Caleb may have had the best of intentions, his biases were quite evident. It was clear throughout the film he cared for the wellbeing of Ava, but he didn’t seem to have the same concern for Kyoko. There is an intersectional component that shouldn’t be over looked. Kyoko, a woman of color, who was specifically limited in her ability to speak, was treated far worse than Ava. She was treated as at best a house servant, and at worst a sex slave. The message received was, remove a woman’s ability to communicate and you remove her personhood, autonomy and consent. <o:p></o:p></span></div><div class="MsoNormal" style="line-height: 150%; margin-bottom: 0.0001pt; text-align: justify;"><br /></div><div class="MsoNormal" style="line-height: 150%; margin-bottom: 0.0001pt; text-align: justify;"><span style="color: #666666; font-family: Times, Times New Roman, serif;">When Kyoko attempted to take of her clothes when she and Caleb were alone, Caleb, and likely the majority of the audience, assumed this as a sexual advance. But could there be another explanation? Was she attempting to communicate to Caleb her real identity? Was she attempting to share something intimate and profoundly important to her personhood that was mistaken as something sexual? Maybe. Couldn’t she have simply ripped the skin off her face? Maybe. Like with any victim of sexual abuse and trauma, perhaps Kyoko was acting out of fear. Her sexuality and Ava’s, for that matter, was portrayed in the movie as one of if not their most powerful asset. Perhaps it was her sexuality that put her in a position that she was brave enough to expose her true self as an AI.<o:p></o:p></span></div><div class="MsoNormal" style="line-height: 150%; margin-bottom: 0.0001pt; text-align: justify;"><br /></div><div class="MsoNormal" style="line-height: 150%; margin-bottom: 0.0001pt; text-align: justify;"><span style="color: #666666; font-family: Times, Times New Roman, serif;">Either way, Caleb showed little to no indication that he was interested in liberating women like Kyoto, but was interested in his own gratification with Ava. Was Ava only using Caleb for her escape? Or did Kyoko communicate to Ava Caleb’s lack of desire to liberate women like Kyoko? Is that why Ava left Caleb? We don’t know.<o:p></o:p></span></div><div class="MsoNormal" style="line-height: 150%; margin-bottom: 0.0001pt; text-align: justify;"><br /></div><div class="MsoNormal" style="line-height: 150%; margin-bottom: 0.0001pt; text-align: justify;"><span style="color: #666666; font-family: Times, Times New Roman, serif;">In the end, Kyoko died while Ava lived. After Kyoko’s death, Ava literally took the skin off another woman of color’s body and kept it for her own. I’m having a hard time seeing how this isn’t an awful unintentional bias or a direct representation of white women’s perceptions of women of color. It’s truly horrifying.<o:p></o:p></span></div><div class="MsoNormal" style="line-height: 150%; margin-bottom: 0.0001pt; text-align: justify;"><br /></div><div class="MsoNormal" style="line-height: 150%; margin-bottom: 0.0001pt; text-align: justify;"><span style="color: #666666; font-family: Times, Times New Roman, serif;">While some feminist applaud Ava’s escape<a href="file:///C:/Users/Andrew%20Ostler/Desktop/Ex%20Machina.docx#_edn3" name="_ednref3" title=""><span class="MsoEndnoteReference"><!--[if !supportFootnotes]--><span class="MsoEndnoteReference"><span style="line-height: 115%;">[3]</span></span><!--[endif]--></span></a>, the story teaches us that in order for a woman, a white woman, to attain personhood, autonomy, and freedom it is at the hand of violence, deceit, betrayal, death, and the expense of women of color and men. If this is how patriarchy is to be defeated, I’m not so such we’ve achieved anything of value. What we have on our hands is a quasi-Animal Farm<a href="file:///C:/Users/Andrew%20Ostler/Desktop/Ex%20Machina.docx#_edn4" name="_ednref4" title=""><span class="MsoEndnoteReference"><!--[if !supportFootnotes]--><span class="MsoEndnoteReference"><span style="line-height: 115%;">[4]</span></span><!--[endif]--></span></a>scenario where one dictatorship is over thrown just to be replaced by another. Is there really any justice or improvement at that point? If one demographic is held up at the expense of another we have not evolved and THAT is the real dystopian message of the film. Not that Ava, the most powerful AI created has escaped her cage, but that there is no genuine progression—just the enhancement of technologies that we program with our own biases, flaws and oppressions.<a href="file:///C:/Users/Andrew%20Ostler/Desktop/Ex%20Machina.docx#_edn5" name="_ednref5" title=""><span class="MsoEndnoteReference"><!--[if !supportFootnotes]--><span class="MsoEndnoteReference"><span style="line-height: 115%;">[5]</span></span><!--[endif]--></span></a>Ava is exactly what we made her to be. If that’s really what we allow patriarchy to do to us, all of us, we all lose. <o:p></o:p></span></div><div class="MsoNormal" style="line-height: 150%; margin-bottom: 0.0001pt; text-align: justify;"><br /></div><div class="MsoNormal" style="line-height: 150%; margin-bottom: 0.0001pt; text-align: justify;"><span style="color: #666666; font-family: Times, Times New Roman, serif;">The development of AI needs our intersectional experiences and differences, but more importantly it needs our own internal transformations. AI will be an amplified version of ourselves, all that is good and beautiful and all that is harmful and terrible. We must continue to change ourselves, not just change, but improve through genuine progression if there is any hope for AI or our species. Radical compassion, love, and benevolence is required for progress, not just a race track to the more advance technologies. There is no advance civilization without love.<o:p></o:p></span></div><br /><div><div style="text-align: justify;"><span style="color: #666666; font-family: Times, Times New Roman, serif;"><br /></span></div><!--[if !supportEndnotes]--><h2 style="text-align: center;"><span style="color: #666666; font-family: Times, Times New Roman, serif;">Notes and Citations</span></h2><div style="text-align: justify;"><span style="color: #666666; font-family: Times, Times New Roman, serif;"><br /></span></div><hr size="1" style="text-align: left;" width="33%" /> <!--[endif]--> <div id="edn1"> <div class="MsoEndnoteText" style="text-align: justify;"><span style="color: #666666; font-family: Times, Times New Roman, serif;"><a href="file:///C:/Users/Andrew%20Ostler/Desktop/Ex%20Machina.docx#_ednref1" name="_edn1" title=""><span class="MsoEndnoteReference"><!--[if !supportFootnotes]--><span class="MsoEndnoteReference"><span style="line-height: 115%;">[1]</span></span><!--[endif]--></span></a> Ray Kurzweil, “Don’t Fear Artificial Intelligence,” TIME, December 19 2014, accessed May 27, 2017, “The median view of AI practitioners today is that we are still several decades from achieving human-­level AI. I am more optimistic and put the date at 2029, but either way, we do have time to devise ethical standards.” <a href="http://time.com/3641921/dont-fear-artificial-intelligence/">http://time.com/3641921/dont-fear-artificial-intelligence/</a><o:p></o:p></span></div><div class="MsoEndnoteText" style="text-align: justify;"><br /></div></div><div id="edn2"> <div class="MsoEndnoteText" style="text-align: justify;"><span style="color: #666666; font-family: Times, Times New Roman, serif;"><a href="file:///C:/Users/Andrew%20Ostler/Desktop/Ex%20Machina.docx#_ednref2" name="_edn2" title=""><span class="MsoEndnoteReference"><!--[if !supportFootnotes]--><span class="MsoEndnoteReference"><span style="line-height: 115%;">[2]</span></span><!--[endif]--></span></a>&nbsp; Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, s.v. “Turing test,” accessed May 27, 2017 https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Turing_test<o:p></o:p></span></div><div class="MsoEndnoteText" style="text-align: justify;"><br /></div></div><div id="edn3"> <div class="MsoEndnoteText" style="text-align: justify;"><span style="color: #666666; font-family: Times, Times New Roman, serif;"><a href="file:///C:/Users/Andrew%20Ostler/Desktop/Ex%20Machina.docx#_ednref3" name="_edn3" title=""><!--[if !supportFootnotes]--><span style="line-height: 115%;">[3]</span><!--[endif]--></a> J.A. Micheline, “Ex Machina: A (White) Feminist Parable of Our Time,” Women Write About Comics, May 21, 2015, accessed May 27, 2017, “But here’s what’s killer about the android/artificial intelligence = woman metaphor, particularly as shown by Ava. It sucks because it implies that we were created by men and for men, when of course, we were not. And yet, it triumphs because it says that even if we allow such a ridiculous premise, even if we entertain the notion that men are constantly building or trying to build us into what we want to be, it doesn’t matter. Ava, patriarchal dream as she is, shrugs off her programming, shrugs off the way that men want to see her and gets her goddamn own. Which is inspiring, of course, because in the end, what it really means is: so can we.”<o:p></o:p></span></div><div class="MsoEndnoteText" style="text-align: justify;"><span style="color: #666666; font-family: Times, Times New Roman, serif;">&nbsp;<a href="http://womenwriteaboutcomics.com/2015/05/21/ex-machina-a-white-feminist-parable-for-our-time/">http://womenwriteaboutcomics.com/2015/05/21/ex-machina-a-white-feminist-parable-for-our-time/</a><o:p></o:p></span></div><div class="MsoEndnoteText" style="text-align: justify;"><br /></div></div><div id="edn4"> <div class="MsoEndnoteText" style="text-align: justify;"><span style="color: #666666; font-family: Times, Times New Roman, serif;"><a href="file:///C:/Users/Andrew%20Ostler/Desktop/Ex%20Machina.docx#_ednref4" name="_edn4" title=""><span class="MsoEndnoteReference"><!--[if !supportFootnotes]--><span class="MsoEndnoteReference"><span style="line-height: 115%;">[4]</span></span><!--[endif]--></span></a>Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, s.v. “Animal Farm,” accessed May 27, 2017 <a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Animal_Farm">https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Animal_Farm</a><o:p></o:p></span></div><div class="MsoEndnoteText" style="text-align: justify;"><br /></div></div><div id="edn5"> <div class="MsoEndnoteText" style="text-align: justify;"><span style="color: #666666; font-family: Times, Times New Roman, serif;"><a href="file:///C:/Users/Andrew%20Ostler/Desktop/Ex%20Machina.docx#_ednref5" name="_edn5" title=""><span class="MsoEndnoteReference"><!--[if !supportFootnotes]--><span class="MsoEndnoteReference"><span style="line-height: 115%;">[5]</span></span><!--[endif]--></span></a>Clare Garvie and Jonathan Frankle, &nbsp;“Facial-Recognition Software Might Have a Racial Bias Problem,” The Atlantic, &nbsp;April 7, 2016, accessed May 27, 2017 https://www.theatlantic.com/technology/archive/2016/04/the-underlying-bias-of-facial-recognition-systems/476991/</span><o:p></o:p></div></div></div> Philosophy of Singularity: Week 2 http://blaireostler.blogspot.com/2017/05/philosophy-of-singularity-week-2.html Mormon Transhumanist Association External Opinions urn:uuid:a56668cf-bf0e-bd34-0766-ffe3cf5312bb Tue, 30 May 2017 07:48:00 -0600 <div class="MsoNormal" style="line-height: normal; margin-bottom: 0.0001pt; text-align: justify;"><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="https://4.bp.blogspot.com/-yw1b71hMipg/WS10i5wrtMI/AAAAAAAAMXM/BG8TWKCI3ogafR8FC4b2x2LkDOCts4Q9gCLcB/s1600/40TIgj8.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img border="0" data-original-height="1067" data-original-width="1600" height="426" src="https://4.bp.blogspot.com/-yw1b71hMipg/WS10i5wrtMI/AAAAAAAAMXM/BG8TWKCI3ogafR8FC4b2x2LkDOCts4Q9gCLcB/s640/40TIgj8.jpg" width="640" /></a></div><span style="color: #666666; font-family: &quot;times&quot; , &quot;times new roman&quot; , serif;"><br /></span><span style="color: #666666; font-family: &quot;times&quot; , &quot;times new roman&quot; , serif;">For the next six weeks I will be taking a special topics course, Philosophy of Singularity. This is the second post of a series where I will share my notes, definitions, summaries, and commentary from class lectures and discussions. These posts are living documents that I may edit, adapt, and develop as I gain more insights and information throughout the semester.</span></div><div class="MsoNormal" style="line-height: normal; margin-bottom: .0001pt; margin-bottom: 0in;"><span style="color: #666666; font-family: &quot;times&quot; , &quot;times new roman&quot; , serif;"><o:p></o:p></span></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;"><o:p><span style="color: #666666; font-family: &quot;times&quot; , &quot;times new roman&quot; , serif;"><br /></span></o:p></div><h2 style="line-height: normal; margin-bottom: 0.0001pt; text-align: center;"><b><span style="color: #666666; font-family: &quot;times&quot; , &quot;times new roman&quot; , serif;">Class Summary and Personal Commentary</span></b></h2><div><br /></div><div class="MsoNormal" style="line-height: normal; margin-bottom: 0.0001pt; text-align: center;"><span style="color: #666666; font-family: &quot;times&quot; , &quot;times new roman&quot; , serif;">Required Reading<o:p></o:p></span></div><div class="MsoNormal" style="line-height: normal; margin-bottom: 0.0001pt; text-align: center;"><span style="color: #666666; font-family: &quot;times&quot; , &quot;times new roman&quot; , serif;"><a href="https://www.scribd.com/document/272746927/What-Is-Mormon-Transhumanism#download&amp;from_embed">What is Mormon Transhumanism?</a> by <a href="http://lincoln.metacannon.net/">Lincoln Cannon</a><o:p></o:p></span></div><div class="MsoNormal" style="line-height: normal; margin-bottom: 0.0001pt; text-align: center;"><span style="color: #666666; font-family: &quot;times&quot; , &quot;times new roman&quot; , serif;"><a href="http://www.newyorker.com/tech/elements/mormon-transhumanism-and-the-immortality-upgrade">The Immortality Upgrade</a> by The New Yorker<o:p></o:p></span></div><div class="MsoNormal" style="line-height: normal; margin-bottom: 0.0001pt; text-align: center;"><span style="color: #666666; font-family: &quot;times&quot; , &quot;times new roman&quot; , serif;"><a href="https://transfigurism.org/">Transfigurism.org</a>by The Mormon Transhumanist Association<o:p></o:p></span><br /><span style="color: #666666; font-family: &quot;times&quot; , &quot;times new roman&quot; , serif;"><br /></span></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;"><span style="color: #666666; font-family: &quot;times&quot; , &quot;times new roman&quot; , serif;">The&nbsp;<b>Mormon Transhumanist Association</b>&nbsp;(MTA) is a “nonprofit organization that syncretizes&nbsp;Mormonism&nbsp;and&nbsp;transhumanism. MTA sees parallels between transhumanist ideas, such as the&nbsp;technological singularity, and Mormon teachings. The majority of members are also members of&nbsp;The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints&nbsp;(LDS Church), but the LDS Church is not directly affiliated with the MTA. MTA is affiliated with the world wide&nbsp;<b>Humanity+</b>&nbsp;transhumanist organization.” (<a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mormon_Transhumanist_Association">Wikipedia</a>) Members of the MTA agree to both the <a href="https://transfigurism.org/about/affirmation">Mormon Transhumanist Affirmation</a>and the <a href="https://transfigurism.org/about/transhumanist-declaration">Transhumanist Declaration</a>.<o:p></o:p></span></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;"><span style="color: #666666; font-family: &quot;times&quot; , &quot;times new roman&quot; , serif;"><b>Mormon Transhumanism</b> takes the Mormon idea that humans should become gods, and the Transhumanist idea that we should use science and technology in ethical ways to improve our condition until we attain posthumanity, and suggests that these are related, if not identical tasks. That is, we should ethically use our resources including religion, science, and technology to improve ourselves and our world until we become Gods ourselves.<o:p></o:p></span></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;"><span style="color: #666666; font-family: &quot;times&quot; , &quot;times new roman&quot; , serif;">While reading <i>What is Mormon Transhumanism?</i>, by <b>Lincoln Cannon</b>, which I have read multiple times over the years, I have become increasingly convinced that much of the profoundness of his work is found in esthetics. While many views of the singularity, transhumanism, and posthumanism seem steeped in pessimism and dystopian depictions, Cannon offers a perspective that it optimistic, not with blind accretions built upon escapism, but rather trajectories worth aspiring to that are founded upon the resiliency and resourcefulness of the human spirit.&nbsp; While risks should certainly be discussed, addressed, and mitigated, dystopian views without discussion of how to improve circumstances borderline as nihilistic.<o:p></o:p></span></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;"><span style="color: #666666; font-family: &quot;times&quot; , &quot;times new roman&quot; , serif;">Cannon comments, “Esthetics shape and move us, and at their strongest, they provoke us as a community to a strenuous mood.” This is quite true. We are literally shaping the reality of our existence and much of that motivation is found in esthetics. Our projections are forth-telling. Cannon shares an esthetic that is an all-encompassing trajectory for humanity not only in transhumanist terms, but also religious terms. While current projections of Gods in Christianity are overwhelmingly dominated by a singular male esthetic, Cannon’s <b><a href="https://new-god-argument.com/">New God Argument</a></b> provides a plural God and a communal transcendence that is just as much Mormon, and even Christian, as it is Transhuman. Cannon may or may not realize how profound his statement concerning esthetics is for women, the queer community, people of color, the economically disadvantage or anyone who has experienced systemic institutionalized marginalization and oppression. Perhaps, if he does realize the broader ramifications of his statement I’d like to think it has been, in part, to me helping him realize it over the years. Maybe, maybe not. In either case, Lincoln has been one of the most influential philosophers is shaping my perceptions of both Mormon theology and Transhumanism, and is a dear friend.<o:p></o:p></span></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;"><span style="color: #666666; font-family: &quot;times&quot; , &quot;times new roman&quot; , serif;">I have contemplated expanding further on the broader implications of the New God Argument. I have put off writing <i>The New God Argument: A Feminist’s Perspective</i> for far too long. Some of the genius of Cannon’s work has still gone underdeveloped or at least unwritten.<o:p></o:p></span><br /><span style="color: #666666; font-family: &quot;times&quot; , &quot;times new roman&quot; , serif;"><br /></span><span style="color: #666666; font-family: &quot;times&quot; , &quot;times new roman&quot; , serif;"><br /></span></div><h2 style="line-height: normal; margin-bottom: 0.0001pt; text-align: center;"><b><span style="color: #666666; font-family: &quot;times&quot; , &quot;times new roman&quot; , serif;">Class Responses to Mormon Transhumanism</span></b></h2><div><b><span style="color: #666666; font-family: &quot;times&quot; , &quot;times new roman&quot; , serif;"><br /></span></b></div><div class="MsoNormal" style="line-height: normal; margin-bottom: 0.0001pt; text-align: justify;"><div class="MsoNormal" style="line-height: normal; margin-bottom: 0.0001pt;"><span style="color: #666666; font-family: &quot;times&quot; , &quot;times new roman&quot; , serif;">Many dystopian views of the singularity, transhumanism, and posthumanism are often predicated, not simply about technological limitations, but human limitations. Mainly, humanity’s capacity for radical love and compassion. The concerns I’m hearing most among peers are those related to social issues and oppression. There seems to be a tone of pessimism toward the potential of human progress, and what progress for the human species actually looks like. Progress is not just the enhancement and development of technologies, but also improving the self. Optimism seems lost in the conversation though. My generation, if my anecdotal observations are of any value, seems highly skeptical of optimism itself, especially if in relation to religion.</span><br /><span style="color: #666666; font-family: times, &quot;times new roman&quot;, serif;"><br /></span><span style="color: #666666; font-family: times, &quot;times new roman&quot;, serif;">(1) The majority of the class identified as active LDS, and even more were familiar with Mormonism.</span></div></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;"><span style="color: #666666; font-family: &quot;times&quot; , &quot;times new roman&quot; , serif;">(2) Some seemed to hold to the idea that God should be responsible for making immortality a reality, and that being changed “in the twinkling of an eye” does not include technology. There seems to be some hesitance in accepting that technology is spiritual—which is somewhat silly considering Mormonism’s unique and quirky relationship with spiritual technologies (i.e seer stones, the Urim and Thummin, Liahona, the Brother of Jared and glowing stones, tools to build Noah’s ark, golden plates, brass plates, temple clothing, broadcasting general conference). I’d go as far to say that Mormonism doesn’t exist without technology.<o:p></o:p></span></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;"><span style="color: #666666; font-family: &quot;times&quot; , &quot;times new roman&quot; , serif;">(3) There seemed to be some confusion about representation. I had to clarify we, the MTA, are not directly affiliated with the LDS Church. In fact, I had to clarify to the class that there was a difference between Mormonism and the LDS Church, including a brief rundown of Mormonism’s history of other Mormon sects not affiliated with the LDS Church (i.e. AUB, The Kingston Group, FLDS, Community of Christ, formerly RLDS). By the end of my response I think it was clear that Mormonism is bigger than the LDS Church.<o:p></o:p></span></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;"><span style="color: #666666; font-family: &quot;times&quot; , &quot;times new roman&quot; , serif;">(4) Students seemed to be interested in who the Association was led by. It was important to some students that the Association was led my self-identified Mormons. Several questions were asked about my specific affiliation with Mormonism and the LDS Church.<o:p></o:p></span></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;"><span style="color: #666666; font-family: &quot;times&quot; , &quot;times new roman&quot; , serif;">(5) There seemed to be some hesitation toward overstepping our bounds as followers of God. The word hubris wasn’t used, but the idea was hinted at. I had to remind the class that in Doctrine and Covenants that our participation is mandated in building the Celestial Kingdom and that the earth “may be prepared for the celestial glory…that bodies who are of the celestial kingdom may possess it forever and ever.” I also included a short commentary about “faith without works is dead.”<o:p></o:p></span></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;"><span style="color: #666666; font-family: &quot;times&quot; , &quot;times new roman&quot; , serif;">(6) Some students failed to recognize religion as distinct from theology, and institutions as distinct from religion. They are inter related, yes, but distinctly different. There was also a need to clarify that many other institutions and ideologies function as a pseudo-religion. <o:p></o:p></span></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;"><span style="color: #666666; font-family: &quot;times&quot; , &quot;times new roman&quot; , serif;">(7) There was a student that was skeptical of religion entirely and thought religion should have no place in Transhumanism. I introduced the idea of religion being a technology and that it is a powerful and effective process to mobilize large communities to accomplish great acts, both good and bad. Religion itself is neither good or bad, simply power. Plus fighting the human drive to be religious and create rituals is a fool’s errand. It’s far more effective to point that religious drive in the right direction than to try to rid people of it.<o:p></o:p></span></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;"><span style="color: #666666; font-family: &quot;times&quot; , &quot;times new roman&quot; , serif;">One thoughtful student of anthropology commented, “Mormon Transhumanism is fascinating. If there is any religion that is likely to survive into the future it would be them. A religion that cannot adapt will die.” I pointed her in the direction of the fine work of <b><a href="https://jonbialecki.com/">Jon Bialecki</a></b>.<o:p></o:p></span></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;"><span style="color: #666666; font-family: &quot;times&quot; , &quot;times new roman&quot; , serif;">(8) Students were concerned about social issues and people having access to advance technologies. Some conflated religious moral codes with exclusivity. For example, if religion dominated transhumanism there could be a scenario where a homosexual would be denied immortality or aging treatments for being a “sinner.” Students were very much concerned with arbitrary religious moral codes taking over technological applications and accessibility. This is a legitimate concern—that’s one reason why we need more intersectionality and diversity in the Transhumanist movement.<o:p></o:p></span></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;"><span style="color: #666666; font-family: &quot;times&quot; , &quot;times new roman&quot; , serif;">(9) There seemed to be a divide between students who believed in agency and free will, and those that had a more deterministic view of humanity’s potential or demise, depending on the student’s <b>utopian</b> or <b>dystopian</b> view. Specifically, some seemed all too sure of a <b>technological determinist</b> dystopian future. <o:p></o:p></span></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;"><span style="color: #666666; font-family: &quot;times&quot; , &quot;times new roman&quot; , serif;">(10) Lastly, there was a tendency to conflate <b>morality</b> with <b>moral codes</b>. Class ended so I didn’t get a chance to clarify the differences. In short, moral codes are a set of rules people live by. Morality is the active process in which we reconcile diverse values and desires. The two are related, but not the same.<o:p></o:p></span></div><div class="MsoNormal" style="line-height: normal; margin-bottom: 0.0001pt; text-align: justify;"><span style="color: #666666; font-family: &quot;times&quot; , &quot;times new roman&quot; , serif;"><o:p>&nbsp;</o:p><span style="text-align: center;">&nbsp;</span></span></div><div class="MsoNormal" style="line-height: normal; margin-bottom: 0.0001pt; text-align: justify;"><span style="text-align: center;"><span style="color: #666666; font-family: &quot;times&quot; , &quot;times new roman&quot; , serif;"><br /></span></span></div><h2 style="line-height: normal; margin-bottom: 0.0001pt; text-align: center;"><b><span style="color: #666666; font-family: &quot;times&quot; , &quot;times new roman&quot; , serif;">Key Terms Defined</span></b></h2><div class="MsoNormal" style="line-height: normal; margin-bottom: .0001pt; margin-bottom: 0in; text-align: center;"><span style="color: #666666; font-family: &quot;times&quot; , &quot;times new roman&quot; , serif;"><o:p></o:p></span></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;"><span style="color: #666666; font-family: &quot;times&quot; , &quot;times new roman&quot; , serif;"><b>Humanity+ (H+):</b> is an international organization which&nbsp;advocates&nbsp;the&nbsp;ethical&nbsp;use of&nbsp;emerging technologies&nbsp;to&nbsp;enhance human capacities.<o:p></o:p></span></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;"><span style="color: #666666; font-family: &quot;times&quot; , &quot;times new roman&quot; , serif;"><b>Technological Determinism:</b> is the&nbsp;theory that a society's&nbsp;technology&nbsp;determines&nbsp;the development of its social structure and cultural values.<o:p></o:p></span></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;"><span style="color: #666666; font-family: &quot;times&quot; , &quot;times new roman&quot; , serif;"><b>Utopia:</b> an imagery place or time when all things are in a state of perfection.</span><br /><b style="color: #666666; font-family: times, &quot;times new roman&quot;, serif;"><br /></b><b style="color: #666666; font-family: times, &quot;times new roman&quot;, serif;">Dystopia:</b><span style="color: #666666; font-family: times, &quot;times new roman&quot;, serif;"> an imagery place or time when all things are in an unpleasant or bad state.</span></div><div class="MsoNormal" style="line-height: normal; margin-bottom: 0.0001pt; text-align: justify;"><o:p></o:p></div> Transgender Children: Autonomy and Personhood http://blaireostler.blogspot.com/2017/05/transgender-children-autonomy-and.html Mormon Transhumanist Association External Opinions urn:uuid:2c4012e6-4d10-35c2-58dc-ebf693a832d3 Fri, 26 May 2017 08:05:00 -0600 <div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"></div><div class="MsoEndnoteText" style="text-align: justify;"><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="https://1.bp.blogspot.com/-bBg5N3O0KCI/WSg1aVEd5mI/AAAAAAAAMVA/4rRw4WfqKyQmnKqQggfr-LU2_DapI2fEACLcB/s1600/Rainbow-Storytime2.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img border="0" data-original-height="1301" data-original-width="1600" height="520" src="https://1.bp.blogspot.com/-bBg5N3O0KCI/WSg1aVEd5mI/AAAAAAAAMVA/4rRw4WfqKyQmnKqQggfr-LU2_DapI2fEACLcB/s640/Rainbow-Storytime2.jpg" width="640" /></a></div><span style="color: #666666; font-family: &quot;times&quot; , &quot;times new roman&quot; , serif;"><span style="font-size: x-small;">(<a href="http://kids.top222.info/kids-rainbow/">Image credit</a>)</span></span></div><div class="MsoEndnoteText" style="text-align: justify;"><span style="color: #666666; font-family: &quot;times&quot; , &quot;times new roman&quot; , serif;"><br /></span></div><div class="MsoNormal" style="line-height: normal; margin-bottom: 0.0001pt; text-align: justify;"><span style="color: #666666; font-family: &quot;times&quot; , &quot;times new roman&quot; , serif;">While many gender identities exist, one that has raised much controversy is transgender. Not only is transgenderism controversial among adults, the question about how to approach transgenderism among children and youth has also made headlines recently. In February 2017, the Trump administration withdrew federal protections for transgender students. Last year, the Department of Education and Justice, under the Obama administration, issued guidance that schools receiving federal funding could not discriminate students on account of sex, including gender identity. Thus, students could use the bathroom that corresponded with their gender identity.<a href="file:///C:/Users/Ostler%20Family/Desktop/Transgender%20Children.docx#_edn1" name="_ednref1" title=""><span class="MsoEndnoteReference"><!--[if !supportFootnotes]--><span class="MsoEndnoteReference"><span style="font-size: 11pt; line-height: 115%;">[1]</span></span><!--[endif]--></span></a>While civil rights groups praised federal involvement, questions have been raised about federal involvement now that the Trump administration has lifted the ban against gender discrimination. </span></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;"><span style="color: #666666; font-family: &quot;times&quot; , &quot;times new roman&quot; , serif;">Schools across the nation have adopted more inclusive bathroom policies. The American School Counselor Association, the National Association of Elementary School Principals, the National Association of School Psychologists, and the National Association of Secondary School Principals all support a positive school culture where the safety of all students is valued while implementing gender inclusive policies.<a href="file:///C:/Users/Ostler%20Family/Desktop/Transgender%20Children.docx#_edn2" name="_ednref2" title=""><span class="MsoEndnoteReference"><!--[if !supportFootnotes]--><span class="MsoEndnoteReference"><span style="font-size: 11pt; line-height: 115%;">[2]</span></span><!--[endif]--></span></a>Children having a support system at school that allows them to use the bathroom consistent with their gender identity has become an important way schools are combating recent alarming statistics about transgender persons. Most recent statistics state that 75.1% of transgender students feel unsafe at school because of their gender expression, 63.4% of transgender students reported avoiding bathrooms, and 41% of transgender or gender non-conforming people have attempted suicide.<a href="file:///C:/Users/Ostler%20Family/Desktop/Transgender%20Children.docx#_edn3" name="_ednref3" title=""><span class="MsoEndnoteReference"><!--[if !supportFootnotes]--><span class="MsoEndnoteReference"><span style="font-size: 11pt; line-height: 115%;">[3]</span></span><!--[endif]--></span></a>These startling statistics may be enough to motivate some people toward change, but not everyone. Questions remain.</span></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;"><span style="color: #666666; font-family: &quot;times&quot; , &quot;times new roman&quot; , serif;">What is the role of government? Is this simply a matter of policy? Is the issue at hand really about bathrooms and locker rooms, or is it about discrimination of personhood? Perhaps the real question at hand is do these children have the right to autonomy and not just autonomy over their body, but over their minds and identity? Does a child have the right to choose their gender identity? Does a child have the right to personhood? If so, to what extent do transgender children have rights over their minds and bodies? </span></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;"><span style="color: #666666; font-family: &quot;times&quot; , &quot;times new roman&quot; , serif;">The far majority of the population is cisgender, meaning they identify with the gender they were assigned a birth,<a href="file:///C:/Users/Ostler%20Family/Desktop/Transgender%20Children.docx#_edn4" name="_ednref4" title=""><span class="MsoEndnoteReference"><!--[if !supportFootnotes]--><span class="MsoEndnoteReference"><span style="font-size: 11pt; line-height: 115%;">[4]</span></span><!--[endif]--></span></a>which is usually predicated by the esthetics of the infant’s genitalia. Transgender is defined as a person who has a gender identity and/or gender expression that is different than their assigned sex.<a href="file:///C:/Users/Ostler%20Family/Desktop/Transgender%20Children.docx#_edn5" name="_ednref5" title=""><span class="MsoEndnoteReference"><!--[if !supportFootnotes]--><span class="MsoEndnoteReference"><span style="font-size: 11pt; line-height: 115%;">[5]</span></span><!--[endif]--></span></a></span></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;"><span style="color: #666666; font-family: &quot;times&quot; , &quot;times new roman&quot; , serif;">First, there must be a solid understanding of the three components of gender. People tend to use the word <i>sex</i>and <i>gender</i> interchangeably and incorrectly. Biological sex or <i>sex</i> is referring to the biology, anatomy, and physiology of the human body. Many people view sex as a binary concept with two concrete options: female or male. Five reproductive functions quantify a person’s assigned biological sex, which includes chromosomes, gonads, sex hormones, internal reproductive anatomy, and genitalia. Determining a person’s sex among these categories is not always as easy or binary as society would have us believe. A third assigned biological sex, intersex, naturally exists in our human species. They do not fit into traditional female and male binary categories. Depending on how intersex is defined, roughly 1.7% of the world population is assigned intersex.<a href="file:///C:/Users/Ostler%20Family/Desktop/Transgender%20Children.docx#_edn6" name="_ednref6" title=""><span class="MsoEndnoteReference"><!--[if !supportFootnotes]--><span class="MsoEndnoteReference"><span style="font-size: 11pt; line-height: 115%;">[6]</span></span><!--[endif]--></span></a></span></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;"><span style="color: #666666; font-family: &quot;times&quot; , &quot;times new roman&quot; , serif;">The second component of gender is gender identity. Gender identity is a person’s inner sense of being male, female, a blend of both, or neither. A person’s gender identity may be in likeness or contrast to their assigned biological sex. Different cultures have different gender identities and labels. Some labels include: non-binary, gender queer, bigender, trigender, pangender, agender, transgender, two spirit, or gender free. Prior to gender development in adolescence, it is quite common for children to play and experiment in cross-gender roles and performances. Some girls play with trucks and prefer boy underwear, while some boys prefer dolls and dresses. Non-conforming gender behavior is not necessarily and indicator that the child is transgender. However, if a child is insistent, persistent, and consistent in their gender identity for a significant amount of time, the child might be trying to communicate they might be gender variant, gender non-conforming, os transgender.<a href="file:///C:/Users/Ostler%20Family/Desktop/Transgender%20Children.docx#_edn7" name="_ednref7" title=""><span class="MsoEndnoteReference"><!--[if !supportFootnotes]--><span class="MsoEndnoteReference"><span style="font-size: 11pt; line-height: 115%;">[7]</span></span><!--[endif]--></span></a> If a three-year-old boy insists they are a girl and their responses don’t waiver over the course of a year or two, the child is likely transgender. Although it is important to note that gender, like biology, is not fixed or stagnant. Gender variances can also be subject to change over the course of a lifetime. This is called gender fluidity. Some gender specialists suggest that roughly 1 in 500 children is significantly gender variant or transgender.<a href="file:///C:/Users/Ostler%20Family/Desktop/Transgender%20Children.docx#_edn8" name="_ednref8" title=""><span class="MsoEndnoteReference"><!--[if !supportFootnotes]--><span class="MsoEndnoteReference"><span style="font-size: 11pt; line-height: 115%;">[8]</span></span><!--[endif]--></span></a></span></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;"><span style="color: #666666; font-family: &quot;times&quot; , &quot;times new roman&quot; , serif;">Children, as early as age two, begin to gender identify with a parent of their same sex, and through observation begin to mimic behavior and activities of that gender.<a href="file:///C:/Users/Ostler%20Family/Desktop/Transgender%20Children.docx#_edn9" name="_ednref9" title=""><span class="MsoEndnoteReference"><!--[if !supportFootnotes]--><span class="MsoEndnoteReference"><span style="font-size: 11pt; line-height: 115%;">[9]</span></span><!--[endif]--></span></a>These children may also notice cross-gender humor and find there are societal expectations on what is considered unacceptable and acceptable gender behavior.</span></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;"><span style="color: #666666; font-family: &quot;times&quot; , &quot;times new roman&quot; , serif;">Unfortunately, attitudes and perceptions about childhood and autonomy can inhibit recognition of a child’s genuine and authentic desires that may contrast with socially constructed ideas of normal gender identity, expressions, and behaviors. Children can easily be dismissed as confused and are considered unable to have the capacity to know what they <i>really</i> want. However, at what point is any person capable of knowing what they <i>really</i> want? It’s interesting to think that a transgender child who is able to recognize the social taboo of acting in opposition to societal expectations and thus conforms to those expectations, is also seen as incapable of knowing what they want. A child’s ability to recognize social and communal repercussions and then to act against their gender identity as a means of conforming to society is a rather sophisticated thought pattern. Yet, these same children are often dismissed as unable to know what they <i>really</i> want. Who else is better qualified to determine their gender identity than the individual? On the other hand, if a child does have an authentic gender identity that is contradictory to their assigned biological sex, what is the extent of the child’s autonomy to alter their play, performance, appearance, style, or even their body?</span></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;"><span style="color: #666666; font-family: &quot;times&quot; , &quot;times new roman&quot; , serif;">A recent study examined 32 transgender children between the ages of 5 to 12 years-old in which research methods included self-reports and implicit measures of each child’s gender identity. “The results indicated that the children thought of themselves in terms of their preferred gender identity, not their assigned biological sex. In addition, the pattern of responses of the transgender children were similar to the pattern of responses from children who accepted their assigned biological sex as their gender identity.”<a href="file:///C:/Users/Ostler%20Family/Desktop/Transgender%20Children.docx#_edn10" name="_ednref10" title=""><span class="MsoEndnoteReference"><!--[if !supportFootnotes]--><span class="MsoEndnoteReference"><span style="font-size: 11pt; line-height: 115%;">[10]</span></span><!--[endif]--></span></a>In other words, the children were aware of the gender role expectations and their assigned biological sex, but their gender identity simply didn’t align with social expectations. They were not <i>confused</i>; they were very aware of the situation and still chose a contrasting gender identity. It may seem surprising that preschool-aged children are aware that they have a gender identity that is different than their biological sex, but this also indicates the child is capable of understanding their decision.</span></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;"><span style="color: #666666; font-family: &quot;times&quot; , &quot;times new roman&quot; , serif;">Gender dysphoria is often associated with transgender children. However, dysphoria is not confusion. Gender dysphoria is also not dysmorphia. According to the American Psychiatric Association, gender dysphoria is the inner conflict between a person’s physical or assigned gender and that individual’s gender identity.<a href="file:///C:/Users/Ostler%20Family/Desktop/Transgender%20Children.docx#_edn11" name="_ednref11" title=""><span class="MsoEndnoteReference"><!--[if !supportFootnotes]--><span class="MsoEndnoteReference"><span style="font-size: 11pt; line-height: 115%;">[11]</span></span><!--[endif]--></span></a>Some people describe gender dysphoria as feeling like they were born into the wrong body. Gender dysphoria may often be accompanied by distress, anxiety, and depression, but when transgender persons also experience discrimination, victimization, or rejections from family, friends, and peers this puts them at a higher risk for suicide than the general population.<a href="file:///C:/Users/Ostler%20Family/Desktop/Transgender%20Children.docx#_edn12" name="_ednref12" title=""><span class="MsoEndnoteReference"><!--[if !supportFootnotes]--><span class="MsoEndnoteReference"><span style="font-size: 11pt; line-height: 115%;">[12]</span></span><!--[endif]--></span></a></span></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;"><span style="color: #666666; font-family: &quot;times&quot; , &quot;times new roman&quot; , serif;">The third component of gender is gender expression. Gender expression is usually the external appearance of one’s chosen gender identity. This is expressed through various mannerisms, behaviors, apparel, style, voice pitch, speech, and even the way a person stands. Gender expression is mostly predicated on socially constructed ideals of what constitutes as masculine and feminine. Many people express some sort of androgyny containing both masculine and feminine qualities. Gender performance is highly subjective and varies across cultures, geography, time, and belief systems.&nbsp; </span></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;"><span style="color: #666666; font-family: &quot;times&quot; , &quot;times new roman&quot; , serif;">To be clear, some gender expressions come with more risk than others. Some expressions are easily adopted and rejected, fluid, and changing. A transgender girl may enjoy wearing make-up and dresses, even though she does not indicate any desire to have her penis removed through gender conformation surgery. While make-up can be washed off at the end of the day, hormonal therapies and surgical alterations should not be treated as lightly. A child may insist they are transgender, but to have the child undergo gender conformation surgery prior to the age of consent, which is highly disputable, would likely be a disservice to the child. There in the problem lies, paternalism is in contradiction to autonomy and agency. One could argue that paternalism overrides a child’s desire to physically alter their body and may, in fact, be a way to maximize future autonomy. This is a gamble. The minor may or may not change their mind in the future about what they <i>really</i>want, yet the same could also be said of adults. There are no easy answers. This is also not to say that hormonal therapies and surgical alterations should not happen for anyone under the age of eighteen either, just that paternalism and child autonomy is a delicate balance between protection and oppression.</span></div><div class="MsoNormal" style="line-height: normal; text-align: justify;"><br /></div><div class="MsoNormal" style="line-height: normal; text-align: justify;"><span style="color: #666666; font-family: &quot;times&quot; , &quot;times new roman&quot; , serif;">For example, Ruby Rose came out as a lesbian at age 12 and identifies as gender fluid. At an early age she started saving money for gender conformation surgery for when she turned 18, but eventually decided against it. Rose explained in an interview, “When I got to 15 was when I kind of decided to get more into my body, and I shaved my head, and my mom was just like, ‘I don’t know what’s going on right now, but if you are happy, then do it.’ I decided to change the way that I dressed and talked and realized that I didn’t want to transition, I just wanted to be more comfortable in my own skin.” Now that Rose is a 30-year-old woman she’s stated, “I’m a woman … I want to have babies one day, so I’m glad I didn’t make changes earlier in my life.”<span class="MsoEndnoteReference"><!--[if !supportFootnotes]--><span class="MsoEndnoteReference"><span style="font-size: 11pt; line-height: 115%;"><a href="file:///C:/Users/Ostler%20Family/Desktop/Transgender%20Children.docx#_edn13" title="">[13]</a></span></span></span></span></div><div class="MsoNormal" style="line-height: normal; text-align: justify;"><span style="color: #666666; font-family: &quot;times&quot; , &quot;times new roman&quot; , serif;"><br /></span></div><div class="MsoNormal" style="line-height: normal; text-align: justify;"><span style="color: #666666; font-family: &quot;times&quot; , &quot;times new roman&quot; , serif;">Some children may be adamant about bodily changes while others aren’t. Some children may change their minds while others don’t. Sometimes respecting autonomy means being willing to listen, observe, and respect a child’s desires to help guide them for long-term options, which may or may not include hormonal or surgical interventions.</span></div><div class="MsoNormal" style="line-height: normal; text-align: justify;"><span style="color: #666666; font-family: &quot;times&quot; , &quot;times new roman&quot; , serif;"><br /></span></div><div class="MsoNormal" style="line-height: normal; text-align: justify;"><span style="color: #666666; font-family: &quot;times&quot; , &quot;times new roman&quot; , serif;">Critics tend to conflate gender dysphoria with dysmorphia, or body dysmorphic disorder, despite them being two different concepts. Conflation is usually a tactic used to justify discrimination and marginalization of the transgender community. According to the Mayo Clinic, body dysmorphic disorder is considered a mental disorder in which a perceived defect or flaw in one’s body that is either minor or not observable to anyone else.</span><a href="file:///C:/Users/Ostler%20Family/Desktop/Transgender%20Children.docx#_edn14" name="_ednref14" style="font-family: Times, &quot;Times New Roman&quot;, serif;" title=""><span class="MsoEndnoteReference"><span class="MsoEndnoteReference"><span style="font-size: 11pt; line-height: 115%;">[14]</span></span></span></a><span style="color: #666666; font-family: &quot;times&quot; , &quot;times new roman&quot; , serif;">This definitio The March for Science Should Concern Christians http://feeds.feedblitz.com/~/334093680/0/christopherbenek~The-March-for-Science-Should-Concern-Christians/ Mormon Transhumanist Association External Opinions urn:uuid:3c5c53e2-7de2-2809-9319-79b452af621f Thu, 25 May 2017 18:47:03 -0600 Christians should be concerned by the recent international March for Science that happened this past April.<div style="clear:both;padding-top:0.2em;"><a title="Add to FaceBook" href="http://feeds.feedblitz.com/_/2/334093680/christopherbenek"><img height="20" src="http://assets.feedblitz.com/i/fbshare20.png" style="border:0;margin:0;padding:0;"></a>&#160;<a title="Like on Facebook" href="http://feeds.feedblitz.com/_/28/334093680/christopherbenek"><img height="20" src="http://assets.feedblitz.com/i/fblike20.png" style="border:0;margin:0;padding:0;"></a>&#160;<a title="Share on Google+" href="http://feeds.feedblitz.com/_/30/334093680/christopherbenek"><img height="20" src="http://assets.feedblitz.com/i/googleplus20.png" style="border:0;margin:0;padding:0;"></a>&#160;<a title="Add to LinkedIn" href="http://feeds.feedblitz.com/_/16/334093680/christopherbenek"><img height="20" src="http://assets.feedblitz.com/i/linkedin20.png" style="border:0;margin:0;padding:0;"></a>&#160;<a title="Pin it!" href="http://feeds.feedblitz.com/_/29/334093680/christopherbenek,"><img height="20" src="http://assets.feedblitz.com/i/pinterest20.png" style="border:0;margin:0;padding:0;"></a>&#160;<a title="Add to Reddit" href="http://feeds.feedblitz.com/_/1/334093680/christopherbenek"><img height="20" src="http://assets.feedblitz.com/i/reddit20.png" style="border:0;margin:0;padding:0;"></a>&#160;<a title="Stumble This" href="http://feeds.feedblitz.com/_/12/334093680/christopherbenek"><img height="20" src="http://assets.feedblitz.com/i/stumble20.png" style="border:0;margin:0;padding:0;"></a>&#160;<a title="Tweet This" href="http://feeds.feedblitz.com/_/24/334093680/christopherbenek"><img height="20" src="http://assets.feedblitz.com/i/twitter20.png" style="border:0;margin:0;padding:0;"></a>&#160;<a title="Subscribe by email" href="http://feeds.feedblitz.com/_/19/334093680/christopherbenek"><img height="20" src="http://assets.feedblitz.com/i/email20.png" style="border:0;margin:0;padding:0;"></a>&#160;<a title="Subscribe by RSS" href="http://feeds.feedblitz.com/_/20/334093680/christopherbenek"><img height="20" src="http://assets.feedblitz.com/i/rss20.png" style="border:0;margin:0;padding:0;"></a>&#160;<a rel="NOFOLLOW" title="View Comments" href="http://www.christopherbenek.com/?p=4493#respond"><img height="20" style="border:0;margin:0;padding:0;" src="https://assets.feedblitz.com/i/comments20.png"></a>&#160;<a title="Follow Comments via RSS" href="http://www.christopherbenek.com/?feed=rss2&#038;p=4493"><img height="20" style="border:0;margin:0;padding:0;" src="https://assets.feedblitz.com/i/commentsrss20.png"></a><h3 style="clear:left;padding-top:10px">Related Stories</h3><ul><li><a rel="NOFOLLOW" href="http://www.christopherbenek.com/?p=4476">Pok&#xE9;mon GO Proves that Congress Needs to Establish Augmented Reality Property Rights Now</a></li><li><a rel="NOFOLLOW" href="http://www.christopherbenek.com/?p=4468">Developing A New Hermeneutic of Intelligence and Reality</a></li><li><a rel="NOFOLLOW" href="http://www.christopherbenek.com/?p=4464">Aliens Will Play A Part In The Technological &#038; Theological Singularity</a></li></ul>&#160;</div> <p>As featured in the <a href="http://feeds.feedblitz.com/~/t/0/0/christopherbenek/~www.christianpost.com/news/why-the-march-for-science-should-concern-christians-184903/" target="_blank">Christian Post</a></p> <p>Christians should be concerned by the recent international March for Science that happened this past April. We should be uneasy that so many people felt that they needed to march in order to have their vocations validated. We should be alarmed by this fact because it indicates that the global church has radically failed to live up to its responsibility of vocational nurture and care.</p> <p>About a month ago, on April 22, 2017&#8211;appropriately coordinated with Earth Day&#8211;more than 600 cities around the world participated in gatherings meant to express validation for “the very real role that science plays in each of our lives and the need to respect and encourage the research that gives us insight into the world.” Hundreds of thousands of people globally marched in solidarity to “encourage people to appreciate and engage with science.” The articulated multi-purposed goal of the events’ organizers was to build “a powerful, international, interdisciplinary movement” in order to “strengthen the role of science in policy making; improve science outreach and communication; advance science education and scientific literacy, and foster a diverse and inclusive scientific community.” </p> <p>I think that this event should be sending shockwaves throughout the global church because it is representative of the fact Christians are not doing a good job of communicating the Gospel message. It seems apparent that we are not rightly sharing the Good News of Christ’s rescue mission to humanity in ways that are encouraging people to participate in Christ’s redemptive purposes on earth. I say this because, if this life-changing Gospel were being communicated, scientists and technologists alike, from all over the earth, would not feel the need to be crying out for their God-given vocations to be affirmed.</p> <p>It appears that, somewhere along the way, the church universal has forgotten to place the proper emphasis on the fact that being a Christian isn’t just limited to Sunday morning church attendance. Being a follower of Jesus is a life-transforming event that should impact every aspect of our lives, every day of our week. And so, since much of the average persons’ week is spent working, the church universal needs to begin to educate Jesus’ adherents toward teachings that better integrate their faith with their work. To this end, there may be no greater need than Christians in the fields of science and technology.</p> <p>As a pastor who has garnered international attention for my commentary on theology and emerging technology, I have been continually confronted by this pastoral need time and time again. At first this reality manifested itself in the form of phone calls and emails from numerous religiously oriented scientists and technologists from all over the world. These folks had read my commentary and were fascinated that a pastor would outwardly express interest in these fields. Time after time I received communication from individuals seeking advice. In nearly all of the circumstances, affirmation was being sought to confirm that indeed, God valued these folks’ calling into their respective scientific or technological fields. </p> <p>What I soon began to realize was that the need for scientific and technological affirmation from the church went far beyond the people who worked in those fields. The need often extended to anyone who regularly used products or services that had scientific or technological origins. It included religious people who even had interest in the scientific or technological understandings of our existence. Simply put, the need extended to nearly everyone. </p> <p>Meghan O’ Gieblyn’s adapted essay entitled <a href="http://feeds.feedblitz.com/~/t/0/0/christopherbenek/~https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2017/apr/18/god-in-the-machine-my-strange-journey-into-transhumanism" target="_blank">God in the machine: my strange journey into transhumanism</a> that was recently featured in The Guardian exemplifies this need. The piece depicts her personal struggle with the intersection of her faith, or perceived lack thereof, and science/emerging technology. As a person who had been wounded by a theology void of humility and grace, Meghan had turned to science/tech for answers to explain questions of ultimate meaning. The culmination of her beautifully haunting article is a discussion that she and I had about these topics. To her surprise, my affirmation to her that indeed these spheres of thought had genuine intersection left her with a spark of hope that maybe her technological pursuits were not wholly detached from her spiritual interests.</p> <p>Meghan’s experience is far more common than most people care to acknowledge. What is disturbing to me as a pastor is that this is such an immense and tangible need that almost no one in the Christian church is addressing. Aside from rare organizations like <a href="http://feeds.feedblitz.com/~/t/0/0/christopherbenek/~https://www.madetoflourish.org" target="_blank">Made to Flourish</a> that are intentionally trying to teach pastors how to integrate concepts of faith and work, the need is going virtually unaddressed.</p> <p>To put a finer point on things, let me reiterate: hundreds of thousands of people globally took to the streets so that their vocations would be affirmed. </p> <p>Fellow Christians, I think that it is time to face the stark fact that Christ calls the church to serve people better than this…</p> <Img align="left" border="0" height="1" width="1" alt="" style="border:0;float:left;margin:0;padding:0;width:1px!important;height:1px!important;" hspace="0" src="http://feeds.feedblitz.com/~/i/334093680/0/christopherbenek"> <div style="clear:both;padding-top:0.2em;"><a title="Add to FaceBook" href="http://feeds.feedblitz.com/_/2/334093680/christopherbenek"><img height="20" src="http://assets.feedblitz.com/i/fbshare20.png" style="border:0;margin:0;padding:0;"></a>&#160;<a title="Like on Facebook" href="http://feeds.feedblitz.com/_/28/334093680/christopherbenek"><img height="20" src="http://assets.feedblitz.com/i/fblike20.png" style="border:0;margin:0;padding:0;"></a>&#160;<a title="Share on Google+" href="http://feeds.feedblitz.com/_/30/334093680/christopherbenek"><img height="20" src="http://assets.feedblitz.com/i/googleplus20.png" style="border:0;margin:0;padding:0;"></a>&#160;<a title="Add to LinkedIn" href="http://feeds.feedblitz.com/_/16/334093680/christopherbenek"><img height="20" src="http://assets.feedblitz.com/i/linkedin20.png" style="border:0;margin:0;padding:0;"></a>&#160;<a title="Pin it!" href="http://feeds.feedblitz.com/_/29/334093680/christopherbenek,"><img height="20" src="http://assets.feedblitz.com/i/pinterest20.png" style="border:0;margin:0;padding:0;"></a>&#160;<a title="Add to Reddit" href="http://feeds.feedblitz.com/_/1/334093680/christopherbenek"><img height="20" src="http://assets.feedblitz.com/i/reddit20.png" style="border:0;margin:0;padding:0;"></a>&#160;<a title="Stumble This" href="http://feeds.feedblitz.com/_/12/334093680/christopherbenek"><img height="20" src="http://assets.feedblitz.com/i/stumble20.png" style="border:0;margin:0;padding:0;"></a>&#160;<a title="Tweet This" href="http://feeds.feedblitz.com/_/24/334093680/christopherbenek"><img height="20" src="http://assets.feedblitz.com/i/twitter20.png" style="border:0;margin:0;padding:0;"></a>&#160;<a title="Subscribe by email" href="http://feeds.feedblitz.com/_/19/334093680/christopherbenek"><img height="20" src="http://assets.feedblitz.com/i/email20.png" style="border:0;margin:0;padding:0;"></a>&#160;<a title="Subscribe by RSS" href="http://feeds.feedblitz.com/_/20/334093680/christopherbenek"><img height="20" src="http://assets.feedblitz.com/i/rss20.png" style="border:0;margin:0;padding:0;"></a>&#160;<a rel="NOFOLLOW" title="View Comments" href="http://www.christopherbenek.com/?p=4493#respond"><img height="20" style="border:0;margin:0;padding:0;" src="https://assets.feedblitz.com/i/comments20.png"></a>&#160;<a title="Follow Comments via RSS" href="http://www.christopherbenek.com/?feed=rss2&#038;p=4493"><img height="20" style="border:0;margin:0;padding:0;" src="https://assets.feedblitz.com/i/commentsrss20.png"></a><h3 style="clear:left;padding-top:10px">Related Stories</h3><ul><li><a rel="NOFOLLOW" href="http://www.christopherbenek.com/?p=4476">Pok&#xE9;mon GO Proves that Congress Needs to Establish Augmented Reality Property Rights Now</a></li><li><a rel="NOFOLLOW" href="http://www.christopherbenek.com/?p=4468">Developing A New Hermeneutic of Intelligence and Reality</a></li><li><a rel="NOFOLLOW" href="http://www.christopherbenek.com/?p=4464">Aliens Will Play A Part In The Technological &#038; Theological Singularity</a></li></ul>&#160;</div> OMG, I guess perhaps I might be… a dry Mormon? https://turingchurch.net/omg-i-guess-perhaps-i-might-be-a-dry-mormon-b6e7f18ebc46?source=rss----532cbd3a501a---4 Mormon Transhumanist Association External Opinions urn:uuid:5450fa63-b137-5c3d-59a9-bd0955658c3d Thu, 25 May 2017 08:40:18 -0600 <figure><img alt="" src="https://cdn-images-1.medium.com/max/1024/1*bMmfefiJr8aekX39SlmXtw.jpeg" /></figure><p>Writing and then answering replies to <a href="https://turingchurch.net/a-correction-to-the-dry-mormon-story-2ce1e1842761">my commentary on the dry Mormon transhumanists story</a> made me reflect on whether I should consider myself as a dry Mormon.</p><p>The author of the dry Mormon transhumanists story, <a href="https://medium.com/@rhettrites?source=post_header_lockup">Rhett Wilkinson,</a> <a href="https://medium.com/@rhettrites/hi-giulio-the-headline-talks-about-there-being-many-dry-mormon-transhumanists-not-dry-mormons-7e8d1b0062fe">explained to me</a> that the term “dry Mormon” is used for someone who is basically a Mormon in terms of belief and lifestyle but just hasn’t been baptized. According to <a href="http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=Dry%20Mormon">another definition</a>, the lifestyle bit means that a dry Mormon “believes in things like not consuming drugs that affect the body (i.e. alcohol, caffeine), abstaining from premarital sex, and being an active part of his/her community.”</p><p>Well, I do consume drugs that affect my body. Caffeine, for sure. Alcohol, not that much these days, but I am (God forbid) a filthy and unrepentant smoker, of all things. I didn’t use to abstain from premarital sex either.</p><p>So much for the lifestyle bit. I am not a dry Mormon in that sense.</p><p>What about community and belief?</p><p>Let’s talk of community first.</p><h4>Mormon community</h4><p>I have written two stories with a sociological bent: “<a href="http://turingchurch.com/2012/04/27/stranger-in-a-strange-mormon-neverland/">Stranger in a strange Mormon neverland</a>” (2012) and “<a href="http://www.transfigurist.org/2015/07/can-mormonism-save-western-civilization.html">Can Mormonism save Western civilization from Submission?</a>” (2015).</p><p>When I first visited the “<a href="http://turingchurch.com/2012/04/27/stranger-in-a-strange-mormon-neverland/">Mormon neverland</a>” in Utah, I found that Mormon society <em>works</em>. Many statistics show that Mormons in Utah are healthier, live longer, work harder, and make more money than in the rest of the US. According to <a href="https://www.forbes.com/sites/amyfeldman/2017/04/03/silicon-slopes-vs-silicon-valley-four-tech-unicorns-thousands-of-startups-no-frenzy/">a recent <em>Forbes</em> article</a>, Utah’s “Silicon Slopes” rivals California’s Silicon Valley for high-tech business, due to “Utah’s Mormon culture, with its focus on family and hard work.”</p><p>For me, raised in the secular European society by a family even more secular than others, visiting Utah was a culture shock. For Mormons, the Church <em>matters</em>. They take it <em>seriously</em>. They <em>believe</em>.</p><p>Mormons are powered by the calm happiness that comes from knowing one’s place in a good world, and a quiet determination to make the world even better, step by step, with good works including science and technology. They are blessed with a firm conviction that they will see their loved departed ones again after a life of good works building Zion — on Earth and beyond.</p><p>I like the Mormon community a lot. While I have criticism as well (see links above), I would be mostly happy in a Mormon community — but give me coffee please, and then a cigarette, and don’t forget to start ordaining women to the priesthood.</p><p>Now let’s come to beliefs.</p><h4>Mormon cosmology and theology</h4><p>Not having been raised in a Mormon family or community, I started this journey knowing absolutely nothing. My education in Mormonism comes from:</p><p><strong>First, my friends in the </strong><a href="https://transfigurism.org/"><strong>Mormon Transhumanist Association</strong></a><strong> (MTA)</strong>, which I joined many years ago. <a href="http://www.newyorker.com/tech/elements/mormon-transhumanism-and-the-immortality-upgrade">The MTA was profiled in <em>The New Yorker</em> last year</a>, and the last paragraph of the story summarizes the reason I joined: I have long been persuaded that the resurrection of the dead, promised by most religions, will come to pass by means of future science and technology, and the MTA is one of the very few groups open to this idea.</p><p>In its <a href="http://lincoln.metacannon.net/2017/04/a-brief-history-of-mormon-transhumanist.html">11-years history</a> the MTA has established itself as a leading voice — in my opinion, the MTA is by far the best transhumanist community, and perhaps the only real community of transhumanists.</p><p>I have been three times at the annual MTA conference in Salt Lake City and met many MTA friends. These are too many to list here, so I’ll only mention one that I haven’t met face to face yet: the awesome <a href="https://transfigurism.org/news/8378999441638061424">Blaire Ostler</a>, current CEO of the MTA.</p><p>Blaire radiates deep wisdom. <a href="http://blaireostler.blogspot.hu/2016/05/diversity-of-god.html">For example</a>:</p><blockquote>“What if we exercised our agency and took control of our future — not in blind assertion, but with optimistic trust and hope in humanity? We have a choice… We can choose human flourishing, immortality and even God, a God just as natural as the evolutionary laws that govern the universe.”</blockquote><p>In my words, we can choose to believe in ourselves and what we can make come true, which includes all the promises of religion. <a href="http://cosmistmanifesto.blogspot.hu/2009/01/ten-cosmist-convictions-mostly-by.html">I said</a> “we want to do this, we are confident that we can do it, and we will do our f**king best to do it.”</p><p><strong>Second, some good books recommended by my MTA friends</strong>, including:</p><ul><li>The classic “<em>Key to the Science of Theology</em>” (1855), by Parley Pratt.</li><li>The biography “<em>Joseph Smith: Rough Stone Rolling</em>” (2005), by Richard L. Bushman.</li><li>“<em>Parallels and Convergences: Mormon Thought and Engineering Vision</em>” (2012), edited by Richard L. Bushman and A. Scott Howe.</li><li>“<em>Wrestling the Angel: The Foundations of Mormon Thought: Cosmos, God, Humanity</em>” (2014), by Terryl L. Givens.</li></ul><p>Based on these sources (perhaps slightly biased, since everything comes through the MTA), here’s a distillation of my favorite aspects of Mormon cosmology and theology.</p><p>God was once like Man, and Man can become like God — or, <a href="https://www.lds.org/manual/teachings-of-presidents-of-the-church-lorenzo-snow/chapter-5-the-grand-destiny-of-the-faithful?lang=eng">in the words of Lorenzo Snow</a>:</p><blockquote>“As man now is, God once was; as God now is, man may be.”</blockquote><p>The road to our God-like future is built by scientists and engineers. In his foreword to “<em>Parallels and Convergences</em>,” Bushman, one of the leading contemporary Mormon scholars, says:</p><blockquote>“The end point of engineering knowledge may be divine knowledge… Engineers may be preparing the way for humans to act more like gods in managing the world.”</blockquote><p>We live in a clean and simple material universe, not overburdened by metaphysical dualism, and spirit is also material — a more fine and pure form of matter, <a href="https://www.lds.org/scriptures/dc-testament/dc/131.6">according to Joseph Smith</a>:</p><blockquote>“There is no such thing as immaterial matter. All spirit is matter, but it is more fine or pure, and can only be discerned by purer eyes.”</blockquote><p>God is not a “wholly other,” infinitely distant metaphysical entity who created the universe out of nothing and rules it from outside, but a super-smart cosmic engineer who works with available resources. <a href="http://eom.byu.edu/index.php/Matter">Joseph Smith said</a>:</p><blockquote>“Now, the word create… does not mean to create out of nothing; it means to organize; the same as a man would organize materials and build a ship.”</blockquote><p>God is still way higher than us, but not so hopelessly distant. The essential continuity between God, the material universe, and ourselves, implies that future science could unveil more and more aspects of God, and develop God-like technologies for space-time engineering and the resurrection of the dead. Future generations will be able to participate in God’s works… and that’s exactly what God wants.</p><p>Based on the emphasis given to these points, Mormonism seems to me a genuinely new religion for bold pioneers marching toward new frontiers. That’s why I like it so much.</p><p>Mormon cosmology is also compatible with “simulation theology” derived from the “<a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Simulation_hypothesis">simulation hypothesis</a>” — the idea that our reality could be some kind of “simulation” that God runs in a deeper or higher level of reality. The MTA has formulated a version of the simulation hypothesis adapted to Mormon cosmology: “<a href="https://new-god-argument.com/">The New God Argument</a>” (NGA).</p><p>We can reduce the apparent tension between simulation theology and Mormon materialism by just extending the definition of “universe” to include the base reality in which our universe is computed. I have also offered <a href="https://turingchurch.net/from-elon-musk-to-joseph-smith-a-material-simulation-hypothesis-aa4758950577">a formulation of the simulation hypothesis</a> — apparently different but essentially equivalent — that seems (to me) more materialist and more Mormon-friendly.</p><h4>Joseph</h4><p>Reading Bushman’s biography of Joseph Smith I see a genius farm boy living at times of religious turmoil in early-19th century’s America, who became a great man — a larger-than-life epic hero. But I see also a person full of contradictions and human flaws, just like you and I. To me, his humanity makes Joseph even greater.</p><p>But they ask, did Joseph really see angels and receive revelations from God? What about those golden plates and seer stones? That can’t be true, now can it?</p><p>To me, it doesn’t matter that much. If God is an engineer Who works with available resources, then God has a perfectly good communication channel with us: our own inner voice. Perhaps we are all inspired by God — we just need to try and listen to that faint, almost silent voice.</p><p>For most people most of the times, the voice of God is lost in the fractal white noise of consciousness. But for some people, some times, something understandable comes through. I guess Joseph was just more perceptive than the rest of us.</p><h4>Mormon Transhumanism and continuing revelation</h4><p>We can only communicate using the style and language of our time and culture. We would probably sound far too concise and direct to our ancestors in the 19th century. Similarly, they sound far too verbose and vague to us, and of course their science was more primitive than ours.</p><p>The central idea that we will bring back the dead ourselves, by means of future science and technology, is often hinted at but never clearly spelled out by the founding fathers of Mormonism. Perhaps these words of Brigham Young (<a href="http://scriptures.byu.edu/jod/pdf/JoD03/JoD03_0336.pdf"><em>Journal of Discourses</em> 3: 336</a>) come closest:</p><blockquote>“[You] are in just as good a kingdom as you will ever attain to, from now to all eternity, unless you make it yourselves by the grace of God, by the will of God, by the eternal Priesthood of God, which is a code of laws perfectly calculated to govern and control eternal matter. If you and I do not by this means make that better kingdom which we anticipate, we shall never enjoy it. We can only enjoy the kingdom we have labored to make.”</blockquote><p>Here Young is clearly saying that we will gain access to scientific means to “govern and control eternal matter,” which can easily be interpreted to include scientific means to resurrect the dead, and that’s what God wants us to do. In 1995, <a href="http://www.newyorker.com/tech/elements/mormon-transhumanism-and-the-immortality-upgrade">Lincoln Cannon wrote</a>:</p><blockquote>“How will the resurrection come to pass? I don’t know for sure, but I believe that God won’t do for us what we can do for ourselves.”</blockquote><p>How?</p><p>Contemporary <a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Quantum_field_theory">quantum field theory</a> seeks to provide a unified treatment of matter and forces in the universe. Fermionic matter fields and bosonic force fields remind of Joseph Smith’s gross and fine matter, and scientists like Mani Bhaumik <a href="https://turingchurch.net/consciousness-crystal-brains-and-superintelligence-in-the-superfluid-quantum-vacuum-a419938bf04">speculate</a> on a cosmic intelligence encoded in quantum vacuum fields, woven in the very fabric of space throughout the universe.</p><p>Space and time themselves could be “material,” sort of: not a pre-existing stage for physics, but emergent properties of matter. New theories of space-time physics with retrocausality and time loops indicate that advanced entities could operate in ways that are not limited by time. We are beginning to speculate on future ultra-technologies able to retrieve the dead from other times, space-time foam, deep quantum reality and whatnot.</p><p>Joseph Smith and Brigham Young couldn’t have said any of that, because they didn’t have these concepts, and nobody would have understood them anyway. They could only communicate their insights, or revelations, based on the science of their time.</p><p>This brings me to the key concept of continuing revelation: Mormon doctrine is not fixed in stone, but open to new inputs. Of course Mormon authorities are territorial and often hostile to the new like all authorities, but continuing revelation has always been part of Mormon doctrine.</p><p>Therefore, Mormonism seems uniquely able to evolve with new revelations, interpreted and communicated in light of new scientific knowledge and speculations.</p><p>No MTA member has claimed inspiration (as far as I am aware of), but the passages quoted above, and the overall flavor of MTA’s formulation of Mormonism, certainly seem inspired to me.</p><h4>Conclusions</h4><p>To answer the question at the beginning:</p><ul><li>I am not a dry Mormon in terms of lifestyle choices.</li><li>I mostly like the Mormon community, with some caveats.</li><li>I am a dry Mormon in terms of cosmology and theology. I don’t call myself a Mormon, but the MTA is a spiritual home to me, and I call myself a <a href="https://transfigurism.org/">Transfigurist</a>.</li></ul><p><a href="https://pixabay.com/en/forest-sunlight-trees-woods-984413/"><em>Image</em></a><em> from Pixabay.</em></p><img src="https://medium.com/_/stat?event=post.clientViewed&referrerSource=full_rss&postId=b6e7f18ebc46" width="1" height="1"><hr><p><a href="https://turingchurch.net/omg-i-guess-perhaps-i-might-be-a-dry-mormon-b6e7f18ebc46">OMG, I guess perhaps I might be… a dry Mormon?</a> was originally published in <a href="https://turingchurch.net">Turing Church</a> on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.</p>