Re: Extropianism & Theology

Anders Sandberg (
01 Mar 1999 18:21:21 +0100

"Eliezer S. Yudkowsky" <> writes:

> Anders Sandberg wrote:
> >
> > What systems in our brains produce an urge to
> > worship, and why? I can't see any obvious evolutionary benefit from
> > worshipping.
> Atheists get lynched. Cult leaders rake in the cash. End of story.

Doesn't exactly explain the situation during the stone age. Why bury flowers with the dead? Did somebody sell them? Atheists cannot get lynched if there is no strong urge to worship. A slightly more believable explanation would be that cult leaders have a lot of children, but that would suggest that cult leaders in general have worship-inducing genes, while in reality they more often tend to be of the sociopath phenotype (i.e opportunists exploiting an opportunity unhampered by storng feelings of empathy). No, I don't buy that explanation.

> That got started when some ur-theology (argued on grounds of strict
> what-passed-for-rationality) became a political issue. You don't need
> faith for that to happen (it was a long time before Occam's Razor), you
> just need political instincts.

Why would all this ur-theology involve worship? Why did not the view of the world "it is all natural, let's enjoy it" have any advantage?

> > As I see it, we need to find ways of making extropianism or
> > transhumanism as emotionally fulfilling as it is intellectually
> > fulfilling. I think it can be done, but it is an unusual (i.e. new)
> > use for psychology and critical thinking to come up with it.
> I don't think you can do that without losing the truth. A meme
> optimized for rationality cannot compete on grounds of emotional
> fulfillment. Besides, believing something because it's warm n' fuzzy is
> itself irrational.

I'm not saying we should change the transhumanist meme, I'm saying we should change (say) our meeting places (softer light on the list? background music :-), build supporting memes with positive emotional content (like transhumanist art) and foremost, learn to enjoy being rational.

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