Re: Extropianism & Theology
Fri, 5 Mar 1999 07:03:23 EST


Thank you for taking an interest in my theological musings. Allow me to share some thoughts on your comments.

  1. The Nightmare Big Brother Power - If I am following you correctly, this Big Brother takes charge and makes all the decisions for everyone else in existence, using the "I know better than you" argument as justification (if only to this being's self). A few questions come to mind. Is this being truly flawless, with perfect knowledge of the right action in any instance? And how would the being know that it IS truly flawless? What if one of the flaws is in your ability to detect personal imperfection? If there were a way to be absolutely certain that such a being were absolutely infallible (and quite frankly, I can't conceive of such a method), than the optimal thing might just be for it to do just that, although it could be that the act of imposing the correct action on a conscious being may in itself be intrinsically harmful, and thus the wrong action. If the Big Brother being were aware of this, it would have to determine which was more harmful, directing the action or letting the "puny" individual make mistakes. Of course, our Big Brother could instead control our actions unbeknownst to us, in which case we would have no independent existence at all and really be parts of the mind of God under the illusion of division. Wow, we've just rediscovered Hinduism! Of course, Big Brother might not be so arrogant. The Big Bro might believe it knows all, but admit the possibility that this is a mistaken belief. In which case, the Bio Brother God might decide to let us
    "puny" ones make our own decisions, on the off chace that one of us discovers
    something it doesn't know. Maybe it would only play dictator in the case of decisions where based on his so far uncontradicted knowledge an absolutely irrevocable harm will be committed...of course, if Big Brother is all powerful, than there shouldn't be much that it couldn't see a way to fix if we don't do it ourselves.
  2. A Power might not care at all if such beings were grateful or not, but be aware that technically they should be based on the puny ones own standards of gratitude. You also pointed out that a Power built on human value standards would be quite likely to meddle - probably still is holding onto that pesky gratitude meme.
  3. When you speak of nonhuman/inhuman Powers, do you mean, "not of human origin" or "not humane"? This may be quibbling a bit on my part, but it seems to me that if an alien Power developed from social antecedants, then it might share some "humane" values, though by no means necessarily all, nor all interpreted the same way. I think that there are certain strategies of interaction that are likely to arise in any social being, and I have difficulty imagining a solitary species achieving Power status. A Power descended from a social species may have some capacity for empathy, and even though us puny humans might be stretching the limits of its imagination, it might just be able to recognize us as kindred in a sense. Then again, I could be wrong. Well, I would accept noninterference from such a being so us "puny" beings could work on our own Powers, which might be a little more friendly. If this "inhuman" Power were to consider us a pest, than I guess I'll just have to go out fighting (hey, no fair incinerating me before I have a chance to shake my fist).

Again, thanks for the comments.

Glen Finney