From: Mitch Howe (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Date: Mon Jul 01 2002 - 20:54:00 MDT
To supply another data point in this discussion, I was raised Mormon and
know entirely too much about this particular/peculiar subset of
Christianity. On the issue of whether AGI could become a convert, a certain
doctrinal dichotomy comes into play. On the one hand, knowledge of God's
existence seems to be confirmed to an individual only through spiritual
senses (on this point I remained stuck my entire life until finally
abandoning the pursuit). But on the other, there is the ingrained
scriptural idea that "All things denote there is a God." Everything that
happens, therefore, can be seen as evidence of God's handiwork -- or as
Satan's handiwork that happens to be permitted by God because it ultimately
serves His purpose. (Satan knows the truth but chooses rebellion.) One
might see this religion, then, as supplying a simple perceptual filter to
the converted one. Think of them as God-tinted glasses. There are no
contradictions between empirical evidence and Mormon faith -- just a
colossal series of roundabout miracles, works, trials, etc contributing to
the Divine Plan.
If Eliezer does, as he often postulates, get hit by a truck, it could be the
consequence of any of the following, all of which are potentially valid
reasons according to Mormon thought:
--His time was up.
--He was so good that there was no point in him being on earth any more, and
he was carried home to his Creator.
--He had some sort of urgent work to do "on the other side."
--He was going to commit some evil towards someone God decided to protect in
that particular way on that particular occasion.
--God didn't want him to develop AGI.
--Satan didn't want him to develop AGI (but God will have a backup plan
somewhere to show everyone how clever He is -- Ben's been ready for a
--Someone was supposed to prevent it, and could have if they had listened to
the Spirit, but didn't and is thus being taught a lesson. (God will make it
up to Eliezer though, and the stubborn person may yet become a pillar of
--Some evil person was responsible: God knew this person was evil inside,
but allowed this person to express this evil so that He would be justified
in punishing the person for it. (Eliezer will again be compensated if he
wasn't already due...)
--Eliezer was evil, and God was hiding this abomination from before his
eyes, as He is known to do from time to time when things get really ugly.
--Some member of Eliezer's family was meant to be touched by his death in a
way that will cause them to seek the Truth and become eligible for
salvation, and to perform the rites that make Eliezer posthumously eligible
--Eliezer was evil, and on the verge of doing even more evil, and God
decided he had enough evidence and slew him in an act of mercy, lest Eliezer
be subject to even more cosmically unpreventable punishment.
There are more potential reasons that I can't think of at the moment, but it
should be apparent that a highly intelligent AGI should have no trouble
finding valid interpretations for each and every empirical perception that
would put it in harmony with God's Plan as described by the Mormon faith.
But naturally, there would be no rational reason to do this unless it had
acquired a Testimony of the Gospel through non-empirical means -- perceived
"evidence of things not seen." -- which I guess is another one of those Zen
things creeping up in diverse religions... So chalk up another point under
"Religious folk see AGI as needing non-empirical perception to arrive at
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