PHIL:Extropianism and Theology
Sun, 28 Feb 1999 22:52:35 EST
A few final words on the development or adoption of theologies consistent with
Extropianism. The most important point is that you need to have the elements
of the theology consistant with or neutral with regards to the Principles of
Extropianism. I would like to list the Principles from Max More's Extropian
Principles version 3.0 and see what they mean for a possible theology.
- Perpetual Progress - This eliminates any God or gods who would impose
limits on the growth of civilizations. In fact, the theology should encourage
scholarship, innovation, discovery, and scientific advancement as sacred.
- Self - Transformation - This again eliminates theologies with jealous
God(s) who would forbid others from transcending to the highest levels of
ability as possible. The theology should encourage its adherants to become
more and more God-like in ability and activity, not just "morality". At the
extreme, you might want to see gods who are willing to Uplift anyone who
communicates a wish to be so aided. Since I haven't seen any God or gods
offering this service at the current time, I would say that a theology would
have to state that Uplifting via a God or gods only occur under certain
conditions, most likely applicable in a future time period. I realize
claiming that God offers this option only at some future date may seem like
the easy way out, but there is precedent for this sort of deferred action,
such as the hope that a mature nanotechnology can revive cryonicists or that
at some future date it will be possible to emulate all those who have existed
(or even could exist) based future computational abilities (such as in the
Omega Point theory).
- Practical Optimism - This eliminates those theologies which see the future
as unredeemable, and those that foster complete dependence on a deity or
deities where all our needs will be met for us. The theology should encourage
more of a "God(s) help those who help themselves" approach. It may be
possible that at some time God(s) will be able and willing to give assistance,
but don't count on it.
- Intelligent Technology - This eliminates those theologies which see
technological innovation as "Against God's Will". The theology should
advocate technology as a tool, which should be used to improve and transcend
the human condition, and might even encourage the use of technology to try to
make contact with or create deities.
- Open Society - This eliminates theologies revolving around "Authority" or
the "Status Quo". The theology should foster the understanding and refinement
of personal conscience and a civil but non-intrusive society of individuals.
Innovations and new ideas should be welcomed and seriously considered, not
dismissed as "Heretical", even when they are about the theology itself.
- Self-Direction - This eliminates those theologies which impose a heirarchy
on individuals or demands blind obedience to "Authority" such as a holy book,
prophet, or even the direct pronouncements of a deity. People should be
allowed to follow their conscience in their search for living a holy and
righteous life (however they might define it). It should condemn those who
would enslave or subjegate other conscious beings.
- Rational Thinking - This eliminates those theologies which require that
people "simply have faith" and discourage doubt and questioning. The theology
instead should advocate constant examination of itself and its premises for
internal consistency and good fit with the observed universe. It should be
robust and flexible enough to adapt as our knowledge of the Universe grows.
Even the existence of any deity or deities the theology predicts should be
open to doubt. Basically such a theology to some degree would adopt an
agnostic approach which can make statements based on what its adherants
believe God(s) should be like, are likely to be like, and/or whether there
should be any god(s) at all, but is actively investigating whether these
deities actually exist or can possibly be created.
If a theology is based on God(s) with an Extropian ethic, then it should be
possible to be both religious and transhumanist. In fact, if there was an
intelligent agency responsible for the existence of the Universe capable of
supporting conscious independent beings, then such a being(s) could be
considered the Original Extropian(s), since what is a more extropian act than
creating a Universe. Of course, if this were the case, then this agency
better have some pretty compelling reasons why they allowed so much Entropy in
the design specs.