Re: God

Max More (
Fri, 15 Nov 1996 12:08:17 -0700 (MST)

At 05:19 PM 11/14/96 -0500, Lyle Burkhead wrote:
>David Musick writes,
>> Lyle Burkhead has informed me that I have discovered the
>> biggest sacred cow in the Extropian herd with my "God" post.
>> Is that true? Are you guys all dogmatic athiests?
>I'm on your side, David. I'm not a dogmatic atheist. I'm a
>creedal minimalist. Maybe you haven't been on the list long enough
>to be aware that I'm something of an outsider here. When I refer to
>"Extropians," I don't necessarily include myself. The fact that I don't
>hold religion in contempt is one thing that separates me from

An inaccurate statement Lyle. It may separate you from many Extropians, but
not from all Extropians. In my own writings, such as "Transhumanism: Towards
a Futurist Philosophy" -- even though it was written over six years ago when
lingering personal anger towards religion remained -- you will find a
recognition of the positive side of religion. Speaking for myself (though
also, I believe, for some percentage of other Extropians) I do not hold
"religion" in contempt as a whole, since religion includes several strands
and is hard to pin down exactly.

What I do despise in religions: Blind faith, self-sacrifice, dogmatism,
debasement of the real world and the physical realm and elevation of a
mythical other-realm.

What I respect in religions: Attempts to make sense of our place and purpose
in life; attempts to discover a code of values to live by.

What I understand and sympathize with but disagree with: A belief in an
afterlife, with certain behaviors increasing your chances of making it
there. I find this an understandable rationalization in the face of
extinction. For most of history, when there was zero chance of truly
overcoming death, falling into this rationalization was very easy. Today, I
think some cryonicists overestimate their chances of successful suspension
and revival for the same reasons (ditto some of those who seem to be certain
that they will live long enough to be uploaded). [I wrote about this in the
context of a *rational* dynamic optimism in my "Dyamic Optimism" in Extropy #8.)

So, Lyle, please be more careful in how you characterize Extropian's views
on religions. We don't all agree. And some of us find *some* value in
religions. They contain (mostly primitive) philosophy and psychology, an
attempt at values sometimes conducive to successful living (even
Christianity, hideous though I find it in many ways, contains important
moral lessons), and an attempt to increase the meaningfulness of our lives.
Their problems mostly derive from people dogmatically sticking with beliefs
that might have been vaguely believable a couple of thousand years ago in
the face of massive evidence and better ideas.


Max More, Ph.D.
President, Extropy Institute, Editor, Extropy,
(310) 398-0375