Compel Them to Come in to The City of God? (was RE: Ben's "Extropian Creed")

From: Michael LaTorra (
Date: Mon Nov 13 2000 - 22:20:47 MST

Actually, you have a problem. Given Singularity or even many of the things
along the way, providing for everyone and healing them of their fundamental
ills and limitations would not be impossible. But there is a little matter
of free will. Will you heal someone whose brain is underpowered (whether
through genetics, human condition, malnutrition or whatever) and is
therefore limited in their enjoyment of life and possibilities against their
will? You can at best only prepare the feast. No one can be forced to eat.

This is an important problem that has been faced before. Augustine of Hippo,
the 4th century Catholic saint and philosopher, wrote a book detailing his
ideal Christian civilization that he titled _The City of God_. Augustine
reasoned that since eternal damnation would come to those who refused the
offer of salvation contained in his ideal City, it was the moral duty of
Christians to "compel them to come in." From this philosophical idea came
the Crusades, the forced conversion of the native populations of North and
South America, and much other wickedness ostensibly perpetrated for the
ultimate benefit of those whom we deem today to have been Christianity's

I don't know of any Extropians or Singularitarians who advocate or would
countenance the Augustinian approach. Nonetheless, we must reiterate often
our opposition to compulsion. Which is why the libertarian aspect of our
movement is so important. The principle of non-initiation of force as our
"prime directive" should keep us from "compelling them to come in."

At the same time, as Samantha pointed out, we must aim at improving the
conditions for those who choose to remain "outside the gates," as it were,
so that they may eventually recognize the desirability of coming in by their
own volition.


Michael LaTorra

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