[extropy-chat] C 101 Meta

Robert Bradbury robert.bradbury at gmail.com
Sun Mar 5 14:30:47 UTC 2006

Keith's words are wise.  Watching "Banned from the Bible" last night on the
"History" channel (Verizon cable) [1-4] was educational. It becomes clear
that "Christianity" is the result of collection of groups motiviated by
being out of power (be it political or religious) and that it is clearly a
"cult" having carefully selected the church "canon".  And of course this
leads to endless debate about the flaws in the Bible and how we should
really be believing the Quran (because Islam is "The True Religion of GOD
Almighty") [5,6].

And though my current favorite premise was that Christ, if he did indeed
exist, was a product of an alien experiment in ID ("intelligent
development"), it did occur to me ask the question of what if Christ was an
"Autistic savant" [7] like Kim Peek [8] (the real life Raymond Babbitt) or
Daniel Tammet [9] who were recently outlined in the The Discovery (Science)
Channel program "Brainman" [10]? ("A Beautiful Mind" [11] about the life of
John Nash was also on TV last night .)

Such people are obviously rare but they presumably were born at various
times in history (perhaps somewhat less frequently due to the smaller
population).  In our day and age we can have cameras document their
abilities and put neuroscientists to work figuring out how the tremendous
capacity of the brain ended up coming out a little bit "special" in their
cases.  (In Tammet's case it appears to be cross talk between the areas of
the brain involved in manipulating numbers and images.)  But in ancient
times these people presumably became outcasts ("different" doesn't get
handled well in many communities).  Some might have become leaders and/or
been put to death (Joan of Arc [12] comes to mind).  They were several
standard deviations away from the norm so in order to survive one probably
had to learn how to "game" the prevailing system.  That of course can lead
to the formation of "cults" (aka "religions").

It does look like the Extropy Institute has avoided becoming a cult (perhaps
because Max extracted himself as the figurehead) but it remains an open
question in my mind as to whether "The Singularity Institute" will be as

However observing the list for the last few months one must wonder whether
the selection of "The Canon" for the ExI participants is still quite an
active process and who might be burned at the stake as a heretic next week?

But getting back to Keith's perspective -- one is trying to overlay the
rational construction of future(s) on top of biological and cultural systems
that are ill-suited for it.  You have 2+ billion people belonging to "cults"
(a small fraction of which are extremely hard core believers) and The
Singularity is coming straight down the track putting "rational thinking"
into direct conflict with "self-direction" (even if its the "wrong"

Sounds to me like ExI is turning into a bunch of "moderates" who, as Sam
Harris points out, refuse to confront the flaws in the foundations that the
world around them is built upon.  If we can't engage in "freedom of
communication" and accept both "innovation" (e.g. "new" cults) which promote
"questioning" and subequent "learning" then what really is the point of
being here?


1. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Banned_from_the_Bible
2. http://www.mininova.org/tor/186368
3. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Bible_and_History
4. http://www.answers.com/topic/the-bible-and-history (mostly from
5. http://www.answering-christianity.com/authors_gospels.htm
6. http://www.answering-christianity.com/ac.htm
7. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Autistic_savant
8. Kim Peek: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kim_Peek
9. Daniel Paul Tammet: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Daniel_Tammet
10. The Science Channel: Brainman:
11. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0268978/
12. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Joan_of_Arc
-------------- next part --------------
An HTML attachment was scrubbed...
URL: <http://lists.extropy.org/pipermail/extropy-chat/attachments/20060305/b4d1d5a6/attachment.html>

More information about the extropy-chat mailing list