Re: Islam and extropianism

Date: Wed Feb 28 2001 - 07:35:34 MST

In a message dated 2/21/01 2:31:21 AM Central Standard Time,

> "John Marlow" <> writes:
> > >From a strictly practical standpoint, I don't think their stance,
> > if any, will be significant because they don't comprise a
> > significant portion of the "tech pool" and lack the influence to
> > affect development and applications.
> Will that situation last? Remember that educations levels in the world
> are rising fast, and you will find quite a few moslems in academia in
> the West too (when digging up the URL I posted earlier in this thread
> I had problems filtering out all research papers written by somebody
> with 'Islam' in their name). Also, being technologically leading is
> not the only way of being influential in world politics and culture;
> oil, being 25% of the population and having a growing cultural
> identity can definitely be significant. If 25% of the customers want
> something, there will be a big market of developing it.

I hope you're right, Anders, but I'm not at all sure you are. The question
may be whether simply increasing the speed and volume of information flow
will have a positive influence. I think the answer may well be a clear "no"
to that question. The CONTENT of the information flow is also very
important. My digital television cable set-up has dozens and dozens of
channels. On any given Sunday, those channels are choked with religious

> > Violent opposition, on the other hand, could have significant
> > effects.
> Why? Islam is not more likely to be dangerously violent than
> Christianity, and beside some fundie-bashing on this list I don't
> think many of us consider the Church to be a major factor in
> influencing the future of humanity?

I'm afraid the viewpoint you express may be heavily influenced by the fact
that you live in what is almost surely the most secular culture on Earth,
21st century Scandinavia. Spend some time in Latin America or anywhere in
the swath of the planet dominated by Islam, and see if you still hold the
opinion that religion won't be an important influence on humanity's future.
While I hate to seem the pessimist, the truth is that the fraction of
humanity that has really internalized the cultural breakthroughs of the
Enlightenment is very, very small. It is a testimony to the efficacy of our
world-view that we have the influence that we do - in great disproportion to
our actual numbers.
> Let's keep to the subject: how does Islamic religion and culture
> interpret and deal with transhumanist issues?

Yes, and as I just posted a moment ago, it would be VERY interesting to talk
to a scholar with deep knowledge of the transformation of Islamic culture
from one that encouraged innovation in mathematics and technology to one that
is deeply inimical to innovation and creative thought. Islam may well need
to undergo an analog of the Reformation before the Islamic world can embrace
the lessons of the Enlightenment. Alas, I feel that someone like Salmon
Rushdie would be pessimistic about the prospects for such a development.
> I think one factor that also should be studied here is the view of the
> relationship of the individual to society and the world at large; this
> is very culturally dependent, and the Enlightenment individualism we
> are grounded in here on this list is very different from what you find
> in other cultures. This could actually turn out to be one of the major
> stumbling blocks for spreading transhumanist ideas.

Very much agreed on this point.

       Greg Burch <>----<>
      Attorney ::: Vice President, Extropy Institute ::: Wilderness Guide -or-
                                           ICQ # 61112550
        "We never stop investigating. We are never satisfied that we know
        enough to get by. Every question we answer leads on to another
       question. This has become the greatest survival trick of our species."
                                          -- Desmond Morris

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