Re: HISTORY: Franklin and the Fire From Heaven

Anders Sandberg (
01 Sep 1997 13:21:35 +0200

Mike Schnobrich <> writes:

> For the most part, Christians and other "main stream" religions are
> comfortable with scientific reasoning even though they may not always agree
> with the moral implications of the technology that science makes possible.
> But there seems to be a strong presents of others on the net that
> categorize themselves as witches, pagans, and other similar religions that
> attack not traditional theology issues but scientific thinking its self.

Well, not all neopagans are anti-science, I have a friend who is a
practicing pagan priest who is also quite transhumanist and happily
discuss posthuman bodies and neural interfaces with me. But I think
you are right in that anti-science memes flourish in the less
mainstream groups, including non-mainstream christians.

> What is of interest to me is they claim to be growing in numbers. I believe
> their growth just may be true because the primary motivation for their
> growth is a hatred of science its self

I doubt that. You don't become a pagan because you hate science, you
become a pagan because you like the neopagan message of "back to
nature and natural religions" - which is of course quite compatible
with anti-science, but doesn't have to. I think the main reason
the non-mainstream religions are growing is that people more and more
decide individually what they will believe in, and feel that the
mainstream religions (and other mainstream institutions) are inflexible,
behind the times and confining.

> Many of the things that science
> makes possible can be real scary to people who don't have the benefit of a
> good education. This, combined with the fact that the cutting edge of
> science in many fields is no longer intuitive and understandable to an
> average person makes many people want to go to a simpler belief system that
> is pre-enlightenment in nature.

I agree with you on this. This is why we, since we are in general
pro-science, have to share our knowledge and ideas with others. I personally
plan to tour some schools this fall speaking about my research and
science in general (I of course plan to insert a few >H memes :-).

> I get the sense that many of these people are spiritually scared to death
> about the very subjects that this list talks about on a regular basis.

Very true. Most of the "back-to-nature-anti-science-anti-transhuman-luddites"
(gross oversimplification alert) are basically conservative about the
human condition and don't *want* to change it, and don't *want* to
have it changed. Essentially they are Stewards (to use Jaron Lanier's
terminology), while we are Extropians. Different value-sets. I think
many of us would be "spiritually scared to death" by their ideas of
a static, eco-friendly world with little high technology.

> I also think that they are gaining in influence and isolating science from
> everyday life replacing it with superstition. That is real bad. One day,
> science just may find that it is locked in a castle with the peasants
> outside the gate with their pitchforks and torches wanting to burn it for
> its heresy.

So let's fight it by making science more understandable and more present
in everday life. We scientists are partially to blame because we have been
living in our ivory towers too long, but now is the time to open the gates,
invite people in and go out and show what we have found. The point is that
increased contact is good - you cannot hate people you know, and
science and sceptic thinking does rub off.

> It seems the enlightenment is very fragile indeed and we should not take it
> for granted.

To keep a light burning it needs to be tended.

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