[ExI] Humanity+ Talk [ExtroBritannia] RE: Religion & transhumanism (not the usual!)

Amon Zero amon at doctrinezero.com
Tue Sep 6 15:23:54 UTC 2011

On 6 September 2011 14:57, Natasha Vita-More <natasha at natasha.cc> wrote:

> Yes, but even a strident atheist community or as you say militant atheists
> is an aggression I find a turn off. Why? Because in my view harsh, shrill,
> combative actions are often dismissed as emotional and lacking in logic. It
> seems to me that the strategy in The Art of War is based on objective
> conditions and subjective understanding of the other. If were were
> militant, I would prefer it be more strategic than reactionary.

I agree entirely! I may not believe in any physical supernatural entities
without evidence, and don't like the idea of being told what to do by any
religious authority, but I'm also no fan of shrill atheism by any stretch of
the imagination.

Just because someone may not be a militant atheist does not make him a
> religious believer. And, in my view, it counters the striving more for
> intelligence and humanness (transhumane). Intelligence does not equate to
> pursuing and creating adversity, but to finding solutions to problems.

Quite right - I suspect we're being led down an uninteresting tangent here,
based upon a bit of unnecessary hyperbole in my blog post, perhaps. I
started out saying that a lot of transhumanists are "militant atheists" only
because of a personal impression, and I was about to start talking about the
possible value of an ancient (originally) religious belief system, not
because it was really important to my argument.

I think we can agree, however, that transhumanism as a whole does not tend
to be religious, right? So any attempt to compare transhumanism and
Gnosticism automatically looks a little odd, unless of course you're Alex
Jones and already believe we're some kind of alien lizard cult.

> It's an interesting idea. I am not a techno-Gnostic. I am a design-Gnostic
> interested in design-gnosis. I think that design is the solution to just
> about everything. I don't think technology is god or the answer to human
> problems. It is an element in overcoming odds and a tool for innovating
> solutions, but it is how we use the tools that will make a difference, not
> the tool itself. Design uses technology, but is not exclusively dependent
> on
> technology.

I like to think of technology as being a tool for embellishing and refining
the greatest aspects of humanity while minimising our less salubrious
tendencies. Obviously, like any tool, it can be misused.

> Davis highlighted the extropian use of the body and interest in health and
> fitness and makes fun of the extropic interest in body building, nutrition,
> etc.. What is amusing is that he predates the postmodernist argument
> against transhumanism is that the transhumanist "hates" the body.
> Nevertheless, Davis was one of the first journalists to garnish a style
> based on hyperbole. Others followed. It was not based on a McLuhanist media
> is the message, but hyperbole as the activator for a interpretive message,
> whether it was true or not. It was the style of the times and Jerry
> Springer and reality TV is part of this vein. Davis' more recent work:
> Nomad Codes: Adventures in Modern Esoterica (2010): he does not mention
> extropy or transhuman, but he does, however, us phrases such as
> "techno-freak" and mentions Burning Man. The red thread in Davis' work is
> religion, spirituality, symbols and myth from a cyberpunk perspective,
> which
> may be more punking us than about the field of cybernetics.

That's an interesting perspective - I haven't kept up with his more recent

> I didn't realize you wrote this blog article. I thought you were just
> brining it to our attention. If I knew that you wrote it, I would have been
> more considerate in my response and I apologize for this.

Nothing to apologise for! I'd rather have an earnest debate than platitudes,
so perhaps it's all for the best that you didn't realise I'd written the
post!  ;-)   I should stress, however, that it wasn't written as a
considered piece, hence the flaws and gaping holes in the narrative. Both
posts were excerpts from facebook conversations, preserved in the blog for
reference (rather than being left to be forgotten by facebook), and I
wondered what self-identified transhumanists would make of the sentiments.
There has been an interesting mix of responses overall... if I've learned
one thing, it's that a number of people seem to be very confident that there
is universal agreement, but not many can agree upon what is agreed upon...

- A
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