[extropy-chat] My reply to WJ Smith’s “Give Me That New Transhumanist Religion”

Giu1i0 Pri5c0 pgptag at gmail.com
Wed Jan 3 09:28:09 UTC 2007

I had the honor to be quoted by Wesley J. Smith in a blog post titled "Give
Me That New Transhumanist
where he comments my "Considerations on the development of the transhumanist
movement <http://ieet.org/index.php/IEET/more/prisco20061231/>".  This is
only fair, as I quoted him. However, he tries using my post in support of
his view of transhumanism as "a branch of scientism, that is, a quasi
religion that seeks to use science in ways for which the great method is not
meant". So I left the comment below on his blog.

Dear Wesley,

I wish to thank you for quoting me, but also wish to reply to your comments
which may give, I fear, a distorted view of what I try to say.

I have the highest respect for religion as search for meaning and wish to
live a "good" life.

At the same time, and based not only on my scientific training but also on
my common sense, I am just unable to *believe* in any religion.

I think, as you quote, that the succes of religions is due to the fact that
they offer an answer to the nightmare of death.

For previous generations, death was just something you cannot escape, so it
is not surprising that so many persons have accepted supernatural answers in
absence of scientific ones.

But today we are beginning to see how science and technology may be able,
someday and perhaps soon, to defeat death. I prefer this practical
engineering approach to blind belief in something that cannot be proven.

Of course, for most people, the scientific possibility of engineering
immortality for future generation is not enough. I am one of these people.
Many of my loved ones are dead and I wish to think that, perhaps, I will see
them again.

This is just human. But I cannot blind my eyes to the fact that, according
to the scientific worldview to which I subscribe, they are just gone.

Gone forever? Perhaps. And perhaps future science and technology may find a
way to bring them back. I do not *believe* this: I do not believe in
anything that I cannot prove. But I allow myself to contemplate this
possibility because it is not, in my opinion, incompatible with the
scientific worldview.

This is what I mean by offering hope to those who, like me, are unable to
find hope in religion.

It is, I think, unfair to quote "[The] Raelian message is very similar to
the transhumanist one" without the rest of my sentence: "with an extra layer
of UFO nonsense". Indeed, I think the Raelian message has the same weakness
of religion: it requires blind faith in things that cannot be proven.

I prefer, on the contrary, to believe in ourselves and in our capability to
improve our own condition. On the basis of our current understanding of
reality, I am confident that someday we will achieve immortality through
engineering. And later, perhaps, we will be able to do things even more
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