Re: PHIL:Extropianism and Theology

Anders Sandberg (
04 Mar 1999 21:03:48 +0100 writes:

> I believe someone, (sorry, I forget who at the moment) suggested that it
> might be a bad idea to use the term God or gods when discussing posthumans.
> It made me think about the fact that there is a lot of associational baggage
> that goes along with these terms, and not all of it is the same for all of us.
> So I thought maybe I would list all of the roles I could think of that have
> been assigned to the God(s) meme in the past. It might be better if we
> discuss beings which held these roles in terms of the roles as opposed to
> labelling them all "God(s)".
> Roles:
> - Creator
> - Teacher
> - Savior
> - Judge/Referee
> - Punisher
> - Destroyer
> - Benefactor
> - Ideal
> - Forgiver/Redeemer
> - Personification
> - Master/Ruler
> - Companion
> - Guardian/Defender
> - Supreme Power
> - The Eternal
> If anyone has some more to add, please throw them in.

Explanation (the existence of a god with certain quirks explains certain things, even if he doesn't do much else. For example, Thor wasn't the personification of thunder, but thunder was due to his battles against the giants).

>From an applied theology point of view, what kinds of gods could we
build or become?

Creators are of course possible, either for our own virtual worlds, or for real physical systems (terraforming, artificial civilizations) or even baby universes.

Teachers - hmm, maybe we really should drop off to the jungles of Papua or Washington and teach the benighted natives the Civilized Arts? :-)

Savior - from what? The problem here is that saving people from normal threats is heroic rather than divine, the threats need to be impossible to solve without a deus ex machina. Deflecting dinosaurkiller asteroids (what was the spaceship in _Deep Impact_ called? :-) might do.

Judge/Referee - Anyone remember the nanarchism ideas? That system would in many way be a divine judge protecting mankind.

Punisher, Destroyer - all too easy, not certain it is a good idea - learning can be done in many ways.

Benefactor - The Extrosattvas?

Ideal/personification - Sounds like the ideal personas we strive to become.

Forgiver/redeemer - Hmm, I have a hard time figuring out what this really means. I can understand giving comfort and help, but the whole judeo-christian redeemer stuff escapes me. Guilt cannot be moved around like a fungible object, and sin appears to be a personal phenomenon that can't be modified by anybody but yourself. So I don't understand what the redeemer is to do.

Master/ruler - how many here love playing Civilization and similar games? I suppose there is a will to power in us. But it is not clear that this liking of ruling over people is something worth keeping, it is really a remnant of primate social hierarchies. It might be that we should get rid of it.

Companion, Guardian- "Hi, I'm Jup, your pocket-sized Jupiter Brain. OK, more of a meteor brain..." :-)

Supreme Power - The Omega Point?

Eternal - tricky, since it necessiates working outside time. It cannot be built in an ordinary sense, but it might have a cause and that could be reachable.

"I'm standing here at the main dome of the Aeternitas Project, waiting for the Aleph moment. At the center you can see the model of the Anselm Device; the real structure is too large and too far away to see properly in the sky above. As you can see, the collapse is almost finished - 20 neutron stars will combine in an exact configuration, releasing their load of picotech devices, wormholes and quantum black holes. For a hectic femtosecond outside time just at the edge of the Singularity they will reach into the pregeometry and induce a special seed pattern - or rather, if everything works as planned, it will already exist there when they do it. The seed will force the pregeometric structure into a pattern supporting Turing computation and the information package added to it will be processed - outside time, on a scale below the quantum foam. The time is now... the neutron stars are breaking up like flowers, the horizons reach out and - THERE! The Aleph moment may have happened. Dr Aquinas, is God online?"

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