Monday, February 11, 2013

A Transhumanist Speculation from the Beatitudes, Part 1

I'm not fundamentally interested in proving the existence of God. I recently learned that I've been too strongly influenced by postmodern views of knowledge to feel that it is even possible to prove this kind of truth--we can only approximate truth, and even that claim is suspect and depends on having an agreed upon context. On the other hand, I am interested in becoming a god. I can't think of anything more beautiful or inspiring than the thought of becoming like Christ. In my best moments, I really want to bless all humanity, all humanity yet to be, and all humanity that has ever been. I always think the power and understanding to create worlds would be awesome. Living, learning, and loving forever sound pretty great, too. I've been asking myself what lessons I can learn by combining my faiths. I believe in evolution. If you've read past posts, you might see that I believe in it enough to think it is responsible for the existence of God, and defines some of His most likely characteristics--but this is all based on a debatable set of assumptions. I would like to turn my reasoning around. I would like to start with what I think I know about God, and what I think has been revealed about what it takes to become a god, combine that with my very Mormon belief in naturalistic, evolved gods (not common in Mormonism, but definitely a view constructed from statements made by LDS prophets), and see what it teaches me about what the cosmos is like. I will likely engage in circular reasoning. I will likely digress into sermonizing at times. It might take one blog post or a lifetime of discussion of minutiae. I will probably find that not one of my thoughts is original. With that in mind, you are welcome to join me in my explorations.

My first step is selecting revelations that I consider relevant to the nature of God. I'm not going to include anything that seems likely to apply only to this mortal life, or anything outside of my personal influence to shape. I am thinking I will start with:
  • The beatitudes
  • The two great commandments
  • Doctrine and Covenants 121 on how God has instructed that His power be exercised
  • The Law of  Consecration and descriptions of Zion societies
I'm not sure what order I'll take them in, and I would welcome suggestions of other passages I should consider.

The Mormon Transhumanist Association describes itself as ". . . promot[ing] radical flourishing in creativity and compassion through technology and religion. . . ." Some of us understand this radical flourishing as including immortality and eternal propagation of humanity through creation of new worlds. I believe we are to build Zion. I believe we are to become friends of Christ and gods ourselves. I believe God wants us to flourish radically, and that Christ has taught us many things about what characteristics we must develop in order to achieve this end. These characteristics will not lead to radical flourishing in every conceivable universe. In some universes, nothing we do will lead to flourishing. In others, selfishness or manipulation might lead to the most radical flourishing. In yet others there is nothing you can do to influence anything. But if radical flourishing is what made God God, then God is trying to pass on His success--after all, that is what defines success in evolutionary terms. If we have real knowledge from God about characteristics that entail success, then we also have knowledge of what the cosmos isn't like. Any conception of existence that would make a competing trait optimal can't be the universe God inhabits, or He would cease to be almighty God. As a corollary, where science and religion agree about characteristics needed for radical flourishing, we might do well to pay attention and prioritize their development. If God can cease to be God, I imagine it must be pretty easy for us to miss that trajectory, having never been there to start with.


  1. I like your list. I recommend that you also include D&C 93 on what and how to worship.

  2. There's also the King Follett discourse -- which couldn't be much more direct about God being an "exalted man." Nevertheless, I have to admit to finding the whole transhumanist business very foreign. Though no less foreign to me now than the concept of God in general. I actually take comfort in mortality. A few years ago, somehow that realization hit me with the feeling of a religious epiphany (ironically enough). Not that I had had doubt about my mortality for many years; but sometimes things suddenly come back to you with a different perspective and forcefulness. Seeing my truly limited lifespan is a bit melancholy, but I also think it colors life a bit more beautifully; things shine brighter, with their fragility and brevity. Pale green mayflies. And regarding the limits of our senses: occasionally I am graced with a wider, verging-on-mystical view, with myself as one of millions of eyes on the biosphere; but fortunately we slip back into our useful, prosaic perspectives as primates busying ourselves in the world. As astonishingly precocious primates, not only making our nests foraging for food, but sometimes also making music and writing words on paper (or on these amazing electronic devices that we've made!!). I am sufficiently amazed and happy with that level of exhalation.

    1. This is an agnostic/atheist perspective that I really respect and value.

    2. I appreciate your receptiveness and respectfulness! (Here and in general).

    3. Do you suppose perhaps that you are expressing mere sentimentality?

      I agree that we live in a world that is both ugly and beautiful, deadly and lively. It would seem that nearly everything exists to remind us of our telestial state. However, I think we have misunderstood the Book of Mormon in this regard. We live in a world that is both good and bad, currently, because we must learn to choose the good. This is slightly different than needing to experience bad to have any conception of the good. The latter may be the case as well, but to me that means the possibility of death and destruction must be real, not the inevitability of it.

    4. @Arkwelder: I don't understand. I think we are talking past one another. I'm not talking about "good" and "bad", but of my beliefs and interpretations of the nature of the world, mostly independent of norms and choice. I'm simply saying that I have difficulty in believing in gods, afterlife, etc.; but that nevertheless I am immensely moved and grateful to be living and perceiving in this physical world that I *can* understand. There is a sort of "exaltation" in merely becoming aware of this incredible circumstance of our existence in the beautiful world. That there is death isn't necessary for this perception, but is part of the package that I see and have come to terms with. I can be grateful and happy even without the promise of eternal life or the possibility of my becoming a god -- which is a good thing for me, since I seem to be extremely limited in my capacity to believe things that I can't believe!