From: mike99 (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Date: Sat Oct 23 2004 - 14:59:42 MDT
First, I, too, am a (modest) financial supporter of SIAI. It would certainly
be good if a few people could give Eliezer's institute several thousand
dollars apiece. But based on what Eli wrote about the criteria the IRS
applies to non-profits at SIAI's stage of development, it might be even
better if several hundred, or several thousand, people each gave a $100 or
even just $50 or $10 or so dollars each. That would show a more broad base
of public support.
Second, I think we should be circumspect about making religious appeals. The
Tiplerian scenario that Giulio described does, indeed, activate some of the
same meme-receptors that respond to the memes promulgated by the major world
religions. However, those religions claim to guarantee delivery of a
paradisiacal afterlife in exchange for strict adherence to their doctrinal
tenets, while any transhumanist claim can only be probabilistic and must
admit to the need for a lot of very difficult work to have been accomplished
over the course of a very long time in order for any hope of success to be
realized. In short, the religions promise salvation through faith, while
transhumanists can, at best, only promise paradise through works, and even
then without any guarantees that any particular individual will ever see the
Another aspect to religion is community. I suspect that very many so-called
"believers" do not really believe all that strongly in the quite incredible
claims of their religion, but they do enjoy being with fellow members of
their religious community, sharing meals, sharing joys and sorrows, and
experiencing the emotional support and comfort that comes from "being one of
This is something that the few, scattered transhumanists around the Earth
today cannot currently offer or enjoy (except in a few large urban areas and
during the annual conferences). Building face-to-face transhumanist groups
should be a major priority for us.
Finally, I believe that a transhumanist spirituality (which I call
Trans-Spirit) will be possible on the basis of rational, scientific
investigation into the psycho-neurological bases of spiritual experience.
This is a more personal, individual aspect of religion that does not
necessarily entail any group activity, but which is at the core of every
religious tradition. Spiritual experience supplies the foundational impetus
in which the founders (and major figures in the later development of) every
religion are rooted. (For more information about this, please go to my page
"For any man to abdicate an interest in science is to walk with open eyes
-- Jacob Bronowski
"Experiences only look special from the inside of the system."
-- Eugen Leitl
Extropy Institute: www.extropy.org
World Transhumanist Association: www.transhumanism.org
Alcor Life Extension Foundation: www.alcor.org
Society for Technical Communication: www.stc.org
> -----Original Message-----
> From: email@example.com
> [mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org]On Behalf Of Giu1i0 Pri5c0
> Sent: Saturday, October 23, 2004 10:20 AM
> To: ExI chat list; email@example.com; World Transhumanist Association
> Discussion List
> Subject: [wta-talk] Re: [extropy-chat] Re: SIAI: Donate Today and
> Eliezer asks to those who donated to speak up. I just donated 50
> bucks, I am sorry I was not able to donate more at this time. What
> Eliezer is doing is good, and we should support it.
> I am replying to the message with the question, why the Raelians are
> so much more successful than us. In another message in another thread
> (only on sl4), Ben Goertzel writes:
> "Religion is the one major case of people taking things distant from
> their everyday life seriously ... but this is arguably because
> religion gives people a lot of psychological comfort, and helps build
> comforting social structures."
> and I reply:
> "I think Ben is making a very, very good point here.
> Is there a way we could edit our message, without compromising it of
> course, in such a way as to provide *also* psychological comfort?
> I will risk heresy and confess that I am beginning to think current
> projects to "engineer a transhumanist religion" (see e.g.
> universalimmortalism.org) are actually good ideas."
> Now I wish to reply to the inevitable accusations of heresy before
> they are formulated, and elaborate some more.
> Imagine a Tiplerian omega-point scenario. Or if you think Tipler's
> physical assumptions are wrong, imagine some other scenario with the
> omega-point property: at some point in the future, a human
> civilization may develop the capability to acquire detailed high
> resolution information from the past (not against casuality), and use
> it to retrieve the information content of human minds in their past,
> perhaps including ourselves here and now. It seems plausible that a
> civilization with that kind of technology will also be able to easily
> upload such information to another body or a virtual environment.
> So we can build a worldview that includes a concept of resurrection
> while at the same time staying compatible with our rational scientific
> worldview. We can derive standard moral principles: for this to happen
> it is necessary that our specie survives, and, assuming resources will
> be large but limited, it seems reasonable to think that Mother Theresa
> will be revived before Hitler. Also, we can derive transhumanist moral
> principles: for this to happen it is necessary that our species
> evolves fast and acquires more and more control on mind and matter.
> All that and more in Tipler's book.
> Perhaps if this universal immortalism were a part of our message, or
> maybe even its front-end for those who need a religious worldview, it
> would be much easier to win minds and hearts.
> wta-talk mailing list
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