Re: Islam and extropianism

From: Anders Sandberg (
Date: Tue Feb 20 2001 - 06:46:08 MST

Charlie Stross <> writes:

> I'm not offering an opinion: I'm looking for them -- opinions from
> Muslims about the sort of issues that interest this mailing list.
> So far, my initial web searches for Islamic attitudes to cloning, genetic
> engineering, uploading, immortalism, transhumanism, AI, nanotech, and
> the singularity on have not been incredibly productive. Do any of you
> guys have any pointers to Islamic jurisprudence concerning high-tech
> developments, or to Moslem sites that discuss the singularity?

I found this: I don't
know if it is authoritative, but it seems to be fairly well
reasoned. It seems to essentially say that the methods are not in
themselves ethical or unethical, but applications may be.

My guess (it was a long time since I read Islamic theology - yes, I
actually spent a little while reading up on it a few years back) is
that Islam is not against useful applications from above technologies,
but that changing the nature of humanity or creating something
"better" is regarded out of bounds (here Islam appears to be more
clear on things than Christianity). In the above URL there is a quote
from the Quran saying that if you create a species of being, you are
responsible for the consequences of its actions to the end of time - a
hefty responsibility, but not an outright ban on AI (Eliezer better go
on a hajj just in case :-).

Unlike Christianity which seems to have a rather directional view of
history with a singularity at the end, Islam seems to be more directed
towards an eternity-perspective, giving me a feeling that to many
people from Islamic cultures the singularity would look much more
alien than to us.

Of course, there will always be people that take the Quran more or
less seriously. I guess there are many liberal moslems that will have
their own interpretations of things, coming up with as many positive
and negative responses to transhumanism as liberal christians and
humanists do. We might even be surprised by the fundamentalists, since
they are by no means total luddites and might very well use advanced
technology in the service of Allah.

> Note: this is NOT an invitation for an anti-moslem rant. I'm genuinely
> trying to get my head around what Moslems think about the way things
> are going to develop in the next 50 years, technologically speaking ...
> I think figuring out what 25% of the human population think about where
> we're going is important.

I agree. Quite often the debate on this list become very much centered
on beliefs and models that are particular to the Western tradition. It
is interesting to note how many parents in Asia for example regard
genetic modifications of their children much more ethically acceptable
than western parents, something that suggest we should really look
into the possibilities of transhumanist interpretations from other

Anders Sandberg                                      Towards Ascension!                  
GCS/M/S/O d++ -p+ c++++ !l u+ e++ m++ s+/+ n--- h+/* f+ g+ w++ t+ r+ !y

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