COPY: Sagan:Reply to: Breaking My Promise

Robert Owen (
Sun, 17 Oct 1999 20:24:04 -0400

Joe Helfand wrote:

> Hi,
> I am breaking my promise, but just a bit, in that I am supplying a
> thought: Bob, I really liked your posts. You might get me to convert
> yet to your extropianism. You ask some very intelligent questions, ones
> that I do not have an answer for. But I can point out that theologians
> have addressed the same question, and helped much in formulating them
> and defining them. A most suitable example is Rudolph Otto, and his
> semi-famous work, Das Heilige, or the Idea of the Holy as translated
> into English.

Thank you for the courtesy, Joe. CAVEAT: there is NO Unified Extropian Field Theory -- we debate everything, including the definition of the term "Extropian" (which is, in principle, the contrary of "Entropian" with respect to "entropy"). But there IS a pervasive view that reliance on any transcendental Object or "Supra-ordinate Power" for the achievement of our objectives (about which there is a broad consensus) is counterproductive.

Before you subscribe, I am most willing to go into more detail by means of private Email.

Finally, Otto's "Das Heilige", rendered by its English translator John Harvey [Oxford University Press, London, l923) as "The Idea of The Holy", is in my view quite comparable to Frazer's "Golden Bough" in importance, and I welcomed your mention of it. Not only that, I strongly recommend its reading by all List members who experience religious feelings but who do not subscribe to the official doctrinaire views of the Christian Establishment.

For example, those us involved in optical and radio telescopic research to verify the proposition that civilized, intelligent life is widely distributed throughout the Universe feel we are confronting Otto's "mysterium tremendum", and possibly "wholly other", and it is entirely appropriate to use his term "numinous" for the description of our emotion during those moments when we fully comprehend the implications of it all.


Robert M. Owen
The Orion Institute
57 W. Morgan Street
Brevard, NC 28712-3659 USA