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Transhumanism and Mormonism

I’ve been doing some developing of a novel that will feature a devout Mormon family, faced with questions of personhood, the singularity, etc. Writing it in reaction to such novels as Accelerando by Charles Stross. I’m a little tired of cynical, secular (and somewhat anti-religious) singularity novels. That fact is, devout religious people will still be here and will not be crazy or delusional. Loving families will still be here. So what is that going to look like? How will the range of human beings react to AIs, and how will the AIs act? What will those AIs feel, how will feelings work, and will they have a soul? When we can’t tell the difference between a ‘real’ human and a facsimile, what will we do?

A good friend of mine pointed me out to a group of people, the Mormon Transhumanist Society. Very cool. Some great threads of thought there, though I’m afraid they’re reaching towards a tower of babel society. I don’t think the technological enhancement of our bodies is a path towards transfiguration (basically being resurrected or instantly changed (if not dead) into new and incorrupt bodies).

But I do believe we will have technological enhancement of our bodies. I’m sporting some right now: I have implants in my eyes, that correct my otherwise flawed vision. I think there will be more, that go beyond correcting and into perceived and perhaps real improvement. But just because we can facebook stalk our friends with the flick of an eye, or upload new languages at will, suck energy directly from the sun with our new green skin, or learn quantum mechanics and evolution in first grade, doesn’t mean God will become less real. Nor does it mean we will become closer to God. The faster we’ll be able to run, the faster we’ll be able to fall flat on our spiritual faces.

Information ratios: how much information will be pushing us to make materially focused decisions vs spiritual decisions? And where were we before?

Next time, Information pollution.

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3 comments

  1. Hi Ami. If you have any questions about the Mormon Transhumanist Association, I’d be happy to help. On the issue of Babel aspirations, consider that we have reasons for disagreeing with your interpretation. For example, in the New Testament, Paul teaches of two kinds of would-be gods: one that would raise itself above all others, declaring itself god; and another that would raise us together in the glory of god. The first is the egotistical aspiration associated with babel. The second is the aspiration advocated by Christ. Mormon Transhumanists do not aspire to raise ourselves to an exclusive or displacing Godhood. Rather, we seek a shared Godhood, with those who’ve gone before, with you, and with everyone, according to the example and invitation of Jesus.

  2. Very interesting and thoughtful article.

    I would just like to comment briefly on the “tower of Babble” statement, since it comes up so often. I think that the difference between the Tower of Babble and Noah’s Ark was not whether both WORKED for their salvation, they both did. Nor was it that both had to use technology of one form or another to find their salvation, both did. Rather, it was that one did so while recognizing God’s sovereign hand, while the other did so in an attempt to remove their need for God.

    I believe that groups like the MTA avoid the Tower of Babble sin inasmuch as they continue to acknowledge God in their lives even as they work towards technological immortality and even resurrection. Such is the proper balance between works and faith.

  3. Sorry for my delay in reply. First I was gone for the weekend (LTUE writing conference in Provo – really great stuff), then I was distracted from my blogging. Thank you all for the great replies. I appreciate the “raising above” vs “reaching towards our Father” argument, and find it quite valid. I would also add to it, “Let thy will be done,” simply because we’re still quite ignorant children when it comes to information parsing and manipulation of our environment. As far as conformity goes, it’s not that I think we should all strive for a particular form of exaltation, it’s that I feel like striving for it with technology is a little like trying to build a combustion engine with wood.
    And yet, I also believe we must strive to better ourselves. Look for cures to diseases and improve our quality of life with all the tools we have. Go as far as we can, and God will pick up the slack.

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