Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Transhumanism and Satan's Plan

I recently read an interesting blog post equating the goals of transhumanism with those of Satan's plan. I found this article to be interesting, and reasonably well thought out, even though I disagree with it rather profoundly.

After reading that article, I figured that his thoughts deserved some form of rebuttal, and after writing that rebuttal, I decided that it had value in its own right, and should therefore be posted.

This is the comment I posted to his blog (we will have to wait and see if it is approved or not):


I believe that the central problem here is a misunderstanding of the doctrine of the proper balance between works and grace.

I have faith that death is part of God’s plan, and that God will eventually grant me immortality as a gift of grace, in fact, He will give this gift to all, and all will be saved (in this sense) but the Sons of Perdition (see D&C 76:43). If I am worthy, and do “all that I can do” to live a life of goodness, then I will also be granted eternal life, and given the power to become like God through the grace of Christ’s infinite atonement.

On the other hand, this faith doesn’t lead me to go out and step in front of a buss, nor does it lead me to refuse potential medical cures. When I get sick, I get a blessing, and I go to the doctor. Nor would it lead me to refuse medical means for moderate life extension, or even for radical life extension for that matter. Methuselah didn’t violate God’s plan by living for a long time, and neither did the three Nephites. If I too want to live and serve in His kingdom until He comes, that does not mean that I am following Lucifer’s plan. The fact that one group seem to have achieved their long lives from faith while transhumanists want to receive it through works, technology, and science does not mean that one is inherently good while the other is inherently evil. Nor is it fair to equate Lucifer’s plan of exaltation for all without any testing with transhumanists plan for immortality and a better life for all. Indeed, the transhumanist vision looks more like God’s plan for ALL his children (again read D&C 76:43) than it looks like Lucifer’s plan.

Pure religion is to feed the hungry, cloth the naked, serve those in need, heal the sick, and create a better world for all. As James so eloquently teaches us, this is about granting real, literal, physical, earthly, temporal aid. The sort of aid that in the past has best been provided through advances in technology. That last is nothing but a historically undeniable fact, and I have blogged about it extensively here and here. Technology leads to increased prosperity, and thus to a reduction in poverty, and thus to James’ “pure religion.” Of course we must also teach the gospel, but that priority does not absolve us from providing James’ pure religion. Doing this is a priority of our religious conviction. In other words, we are quite literally commanded to TRY to build heaven on earth as best we can, while at the same time waiting for God’s kingdom to come, and his will do be done, on earth as it is in heaven. We are commanded to strive to build Zion, through works as well as through faith.

A Luddite interpretation of our religion essentially denies its most fundamental aspect, charity, love, and compassion for all.

If the Telestial kingdom is really so much better than this world, and if ALL God’s children will eventually inherit that glory or greater, and we are commanded to seek by works that which we expect to be given by grace and faith, then a desire for the goals of transhumanism (and even those of the singularity) is nothing more than the logical extension of the doctrine of works and grace.


Lincoln Cannon said...

Tangentially, I'm interested in your thoughts on whether we're already living in a telestial world.

James Carroll said...

I believe that the answer to that has to be yes. At least that is what has been taught for quite some time, and is "canonized" in the endowment.

However, the word Terrestrial MEANS earthly, so this can be a bit confusing I think.

My opinion is that Joseph seems to imply that Celestial is heavenly, Terrestrial is the earth as it SHOULD have been (the Garden and the Millennium), while this world is a fallen earth (Telestial).

That makes the history of the earth a type of Chiasmus.

Celestial/Final destiny of the Earth.

But it would appear that there are many levels or types of Telestial worlds. We are living in a mortal Telestial world, while those living in a Telestial kingdom after the judgment will live in an immortal Telestial world. But there are reasons why I think that this mortal vs. immortal question is not the defining characteristic of a "kingdom."

It can help when we come to realize why there are three types of kingdoms. What makes a kingdom Telestial is that it is taught primarily by the presence of the Holy Ghost; while a Terrestrial kingdom is taught primarily through the appearance of the Son; and a Celestial kingdom is taught primarily through the presence of the Father; while the principle factor of Outer Darkness is that it involves a person's being cut off entirely from the presence of the Godhead (no Holy Ghost even), thus those in this state are the only ones not redeemed from spiritual death to one degree or another.

We often say that ALL are saved from physical death, while only the righteous are saved from spiritual death, but that isn't really what the scriptures say. D&C 76 says that ALL are saved from spiritual death but the sons of perdition, while D&C 84 says that there are levels of resurrected bodies, and not all are saved from physical death to the same degree.

Spiritual death involves being brought back into the presence of God, and there are three degrees of this type of salvation from spiritual death, Telestial, Terrestrial, and Celestial. Similarly, there are three degrees of salvation from physical death, you can receive a Telestial body, a Terrestrial body, or a Celestial body (although we are not entirely sure what the differences are).

Salvation from the two types of death are more similar than we give them credit for. They are both given to all, but the TYPE of salvation from death given depends (in both cases) upon our worthiness.

Lincoln Cannon said...

Thanks, James. I'm also interested in your thoughts on whether there are glories of higher orders than the celestial.

James Carroll said...

I think at least some part of the answer to that question has to be yes doesn't it? Such as our father's kingdom, or his father's kingdom. But I don't know if there are fundamentally different orders, or if there are just different magnitudes of the same order...

Simply put, yes, but I don't know the details.

Lincoln Cannon said...

James, I had this passage of scripture in mind . . .

James Carroll said...

Good point.