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.

  1. 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.
  2. 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).
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.

Glen Finney