Re: Extropianism & Theology

Anders Sandberg (
24 Feb 1999 21:09:11 +0100 writes:

> As someone with an interest in both >H and Theology, I couldn't
> resist joining in on this discussion. I think one of the first
> things I would ask of you is what you are using as initial
> parameters. Theology, if I remember correctly, means "The study of
> God (or gods)." This implies that you are predicting the existence
> and or emergence of a God or gods. So my first question is what
> criteria would a being have to meet to be classified as a god?
> There have been several such standards suggested. Two that seem to
> be fairly constant is Power and Worship. A god is thus defined as
> in some way being incredibly (transcendantly?) capable, and/or being
> worshipped.

Good points. I have noticed that the power part seems overemphasized when discussing gods in transhumanism (c.f. the gods of David Zindell's books, which are definitely regarded as gods and with one notable exception not worshipped). Maybe it is the atheist bias so prevalent in transhumanism that crops up, we tend to think religion as more a matter of belief in power than in worship (while many people actually appear to reverse the emphasis and care more about the worship part).

> Given the strong libertarian and humanist background of
> Extropianism, worship might be something that Extropians might find
> unappealing (for to worship implies a level of submission, and to be
> worshipped implies having others dependent upon you).

Actually, if somebody worships me of his/her/its free will it is really not my problem. It might be unaesthetic and possibly psychologically bad for the worshippers, but it is their problem. Things would get ethically iffy if I started exploiting this condition in some way.

One example would be the protagonist in Walter John Williams' _Aristoi_, who is the subject of a religion he feels rather little for (mainly some embarrasment). He makes sure it doesn't hurt anybody, but does nothing actively to help or hinder it.

> However, there is another way to look at the worship issue. If you
> think first what qualities are worthy of worship, by which I mean
> what principles (memes?) are you willing to give you life to and for
> (for some people, the answer would be none), now posit the
> possibility of a being or beings capable of exemplifying those
> principles perfectly, as well as having the power to back up those
> principles, then you might just have found that there is a God(s) to
> you.

You mean as one step beyond just being examples for all? One might imagine a gradual ascent into embodying something regarded as positive, a kind of slow apotheosis as the personality and ability develops. I don't think power might be necessary for this (even if it certainly helps).

> Adrian, I believe you said you were interested in developing an
> Extropian Theology. This I imagine would have two main qualities,
> one would be a God or gods whom uphold Extropian values, and a
> Cosmology based on an Extropian worldview. In such a theology, I
> imagine a deity would begin in some material substrate and develop
> through an evolutionary process. In fact, intelligent life in this
> Universe might be considered the raw materials from which gods will
> develop somewhere on the other side of the Singularity.

Hmm, this sounds a bit like The Truth (previously at, but now the pages are under construction). It was rather similar to this, regarding the universe as a growing god.

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