Re: PHIL:Extropianism and Theology
Fri, 5 Mar 1999 19:07:08 EST


Thanks for the reply; let me see now....

  1. Explanation - Okay, this is true. I guess I always thought of God as Explanation as either mythology or evidence for a God, as opposed to that actually being the role of a God, but I can see it the other way too.
  2. Teachers - Maybe we should; though as I am limited, I would prefer starting closer to home and working my way out....although, if we wanted a lobbyist for DC, a God might do a fairly good job.<G>
  3. Savior - From something we've run out of options for self preservation. In an ideal world, we would all be able to handle any situation, but this is not always true due to our limited nature. A Savior would be very useful at that point, whether human, transhuman, or Power. If I can't get out of something on my own (especially if it is something I had no responsibility for inflicting on myself), I'm going to call for help, and be naming savior anyone who gives me that help with no strings attached, even if it was a piddling matter for the Uber-Power. Now granted, there are a small number of problems where only a Power can aid, but I don't see that as a particularly bad thing....means most of the time we can handle things ourselves, which I find much more appealing. Now, I should acknowledge that one of the major reasons for attributing the status of Savior in religion is the specific instance of being rescued from permanent death and/or neverending torment, a la Christ according to Christians. I see this specific instance of Salvation as quite useful in case I don't manage to get past the Singularity on my own (though I'm gonna give it the old college try). What would be less attractive is an entity that offered saving you from mortality for a price (obey/worship me, read my book, sing me songs off-key for the rest of your existence, etc.), this person I would refer to more as the Extortionist, as the being takes advantage of my desparation to gain. Of course, depending on what the requirements were, I might have to start trying to find a way out of the deal as soon as I was out of immediate peril. BTW, I believe the whole Savior concept is related to why they say there are no Atheists in Foxholes...desparate times call for desparate measures.

Judge/Referee - Nanarchism ideas? I don't remember encountering this idea before. Could you flesh it out a little, or refer me to a reference?

Punisher & Destroyer - Not sure I like this one either, unless you consider destructive scan uploading as a Destroyer trait...sounds vaguely Shiva-like
(Destroy the old you in order to create the new you). Punishment I would
prefer to see replaced with the double-edged gift (I will grant you complete enlightenment -- of course that means you'll finally realize what an idiot you've been). Imagine being able to remember your entire life in harsh, objective detail, and having upgraded heuristics which point out all the inconsistencies in your most cherished prejudices. Some would not welcome such a gift (I would though, the pain would be worth the growth).

Benefactor - The Extrosattvas - Just so, I think. I just today found Greg Burch's commentary on the Extrosattva. I think it is an excellent model for Extropian (or just plain >H) Ethics, though I am not sure of the difference between being Fair and Reciprocating, unless Reciprocity is considered a special case of Fairness for interactions between two agencies, whereas Fairness would be a sort of universal tangle of reciprocal relations. Don't worry, Greg, I'll remember you...I hope you'll remember me.

Ideal - Sort of a proof by example that such a state can be acheived; wouldn't it be nice to know that a Power wasn't just theoretically possible, but existed (as long as it was REALLY NICE or REALLY DISTANT.

Personification - Humans are social animals; we like to have relationships with that which we care about. And many humans care for abstractions, such as Good or Power or Cats (not to be confused with 'a cat' or the musical, but rather the concept of Cat-ness). For some, this desire would be so strong that they would want to become the embodiment of that abstract, or would like to have a personal relationship with a conscious representation of that abstract. I admit to a touch of this particular fetish myself; part of the reason why I would hope that a Power would use its ability to be the Personification of Good.

Forgiver/Redeemer - Causality is immovable, but the feeling of Guilt sure is. If you do something wrong, you will always have been the cause of that harm. If you have a conscience, you would probably experience Guilt, and if others had a sense of Justice, they would likely feel you are Guilty. Now, the matter of guilt really is a perceptual issue. The question is, "How do you stop feeling guilty for a previous act, and how do I get others to stop thinking badly of me for that act?" There are several ways to do this; wait it out if it were a minor infraction that would soon be forgotten, repair the damage you have caused, do other good acts which convince yourself and others that what you did before was an abberation, confess your culpability indicating your understanding of the error and wish to never have such an error happen, etc. One of the roles of God is as a mediator of this process. God is perfect and all-knowing, so God might expect less from you and besides, God already knows. So you spill your guts out to God (BTW, one of the first ways to minimize harmful emotions is to express them), ask for forgiveness or a way to acheive it. Then God (or the intermediaries) tell you and everyone else all is forgiven, or how it can be forgiven. Since God is considered such a wise being amongst the worshippers, this is pretty much accepted, and the person is now psycho-socially salvaged (Go forth and sin no more!). This can either be a sham redemption (a restoration of your reputation alone) or it can be true redemption (a restoration of your character). Remember, our future actions are often dictated by our self-image. Granted, you don't necessarily need a God to have a way to forgive/reform people, but it is a role that has been assigned to God in the past.

Master/Ruler - The desire to control others is a strong one in social species such as humanity, but as we find other ways to control our environment, some of that desire may be satiated. Now the question of whether there should be retained in a Power really depends on whether you believe in the possibility and utility in having a Benevolent Despot. I believe Extropianism rejects the concept of Benevolent Despotism as an matter of principle, though it might not be completely incompatible with some models of >H.

Companion - What if you were an Atheist, and you suddenly were presented with scientific proof of the existence of a God, and worse, you met the Power and actually LIKED God? I'm not talking about worship here, but what if you found it pleasurable to be with a being with complete empathy for and understanding of you, who could share ideas with you anywhere, anytime? Maybe our most asocial members wouldn't care about this, and maybe others would seek similar experience through high-bandwidth networking (hey, wasn't that suggested as one of the ways to Create God?), but I think this might be someone some of us found worth having around. "Hi Jup, its great to have you around. So, what do YOU think is silliest meme ever devised? Personally, I think it is...."

Guardian - This is similar to the Savior model, but more preventative as opposed to interventional. Making sure a dinosaur killer never got that close to begin with would be a good start.

Supreme Power - Nothing defeats this being's will, nothing. The question isn't what can the Supreme Power do...its what will it do. Again, in a VERY NICE being, especially one that stayed mostly out of our lives, this might be useful. Would pretty much guarantee success at any of the other roles this being might assume. The Omega Point is one model of how there might be such a being.

Eternal - It is tricky, and does require a certain immunity to the constraints of time. I think it might be reachable, and at the very least worth investigating. Worst that happens? We don't ever find a way to do it. Worse than that? There's a way to do it and we didn't ever look for it.

Dr Aquinas, is God online? - I like that, like that a lot.

Glen Finney