Re: Neal Stephenson's new essay

J. R. Molloy (
Sat, 14 Aug 1999 23:00:28 -0700

Mark Phillips wrote (in part),
>As for Politics, please make a close study of Public Choice Theory in
>general, and, in particular, please read Anthony de Jasay's truly excellent
>treatise, *The State* (reprinted, with a new preface, recently by
>LibertyPress out of Indiana). Jasay clearly and masterfully demonstrates
>that the institution *The State* does indeed have an *inherent*
>agenda/trajectory toward authoritarian/totalitarian socialism, precisely as
>Molloy suggests. Need I even argue that this would be highly problematic
>(i.e., dangerous if not catastrophic) in the context of nanotech, AI/SI,
>pico-, femto- and hyperspatial-technologies? Now, I am open to slight (or,
>as some might see them, not-so-slight) revisions/modifications to pure
>libertarian "anarchism"

At first, Molloy used the pseudonym "zenarchy" on the Extropy mailing list. Zenarchy means, of course, rule by Zen.
Too cute, but quite sincere, it remains my quasi-political position. "Homo sapiens shall experience mass meditation or mass extinction," according to my teacher M. T. Ness.
(Some rule!)

>As for religion and theism....Pul-leeeze, give me a frickin' break!
>organized religions are, for the most part, little more than rackets. (With
>the exception, maybe, of "free thought"---as in "Think for Yourself,
>Schmuck!"--RAW). One need not be "religious" to be "spiritual", and one
>need not be exactly "spiritual" (depending upon what one means by this
>latter term) to nonetheless be *philosopically contemplative*, concerned
>with metaphysical (more-or-less literally meta-physical, if this is
>coherent) issues, (meta)cosmological issues and
>(meta)normative/axiological/jurisprudential issues, etc.

It made me laugh to read Wilson's counsel, "Think for Yourself, Schmuck!" which resonates (rather harmoniously I think) with Buddha's last words: "Be a light unto yourself" One might imagine that a closer translation of Pali would render Buddha's admonition even more similar to RAW's. Another enlightened master advises, "If you see the Buddha on the road, kill him!" Not that he had anything against clones. Rather, no other enlightened master would imitate Buddha, just as Buddha would not imitate Krishna. (And of course you could only see an imitation, a phony Buddha, "on the road," and exposing him would end the pretense.)

>As for theism in particular, while I must give respectful credit to
>J. Adler's fine attempt to come up with a coherent cosmolgical argument for
>"God" and thus give the term "God" some sort of specific meaning (instead
>the *de facto* ultra-vague notion of some sort of "ultimacy" or "ultimate
>entity")---see his book *How to Think about God, an Argument for the 20th
>Century Pagan* (HarperCollins)---surely, again, anyone who takes the time
>really survey the literature, will come out more-or-less atheist. See not
>only George Smith's classic, *Atheism: The Case Against God*, but,
>especially, Michael Martin's *Atheism: A Philosophical Defense* (Temple U.
>Pr., 1989), and the late J.L. Mackie's *The Miracle of Theism* (Oxford U.
>Pr., 1986). Also important here is the late Robert Wesson's *Cosmos &
>MetaCosmos: An Argument for a Non-theistic Non-Materialism* (Open Court

Genetic algorithms, Organic chemistry, and Darwinian evolution (G.O.D.) provide, IMNSHO, a much richer and more generous weltanschauung than any traditional belief systems -- including, insofar as it engenders belief, Buddhism. Nevertheless, the scientific method, in the hands of theistic politicos sitting on their weapons of mass destruction, equates allegorically to (in the words of David Ormsby Gore) "an ape playing with a box of matches on a petrol dump." Perhaps not just extropians will consider that allegory valid, and so help to avert the kind of holocaust that even Presidents fear.

"I think that people want peace so much that one of these days government had better get out of their way and let them have it." --Dwight D. Eisenhower (Yeah, it surprised me too, coming from Mr. "Nucular.")

>I'm all for "spirituality" in the sense of, say, "(meta)cosmological
>appreciativeness/contemplativeness" coupled with an extropian/eudaimonistic
>benevolence and goodwill-toward-others, but one can *HAVE* all this and yet
>be utterly secular and (more-or-less) atheistic.

In further support of your comments, I'd add that, like schizophrenia, dogmatic theism has neuro-biological components that do not respond to reason
in the absence of powerful medications. At the risk of inciting the very behavior that sane folks dread, a little e-prime exercise follows:

English: "God is love." _The New Testament_ E-prime: "Theistic epiphany feels a lot like the temporary insanity of falling in love."

English: "God is dead." _The New York Times_ E-prime: "Having revealed the immaturity and anthropic hubris of theism, reason opts not to mention it further."

English: "Love is dead." _The New Analects of Atman_ E-prime: "The luscious lunacy of love blazed only momentarily... But what a moment!"