Transhumanity
where strange brilliant ideas for the future intermingle and breed…

Home > Articles > Engineering Religion – Using Religion to Accomplish Long Term Success and Insure Singularity

Engineering Religion – Using Religion to Accomplish Long Term Success and Insure Singularity

Posted: Thu, January 03, 2013 | By: David J. Kelley



Let me start by saying I’m approaching this from my point of view; that being, there is a specific need to engineer a religion. And further, this article is specific to engineering a religion, as I think it should be, to help attain a post human future for all contingencies.

In many ways, religion and science tend to seem to each other on opposite sides of the fence in the perceptions of most.  One side espouses faith in God and other faith in Science.  Although this maybe not entirely accurate, there is a degree of truth in the world view that keeps science and religion apart. 

What I would like to talk about here is using good science to help create a religion that promotes further discovery of truth and one that moves civilization forward.  Where science and religion can come together is in the search for truth.  This gives us the foundation through which we can engineer a religion. That through the forces of religion we could help build that spiritual search for scientific truth to drive us forward even in the face of civilization’s collapse. 

Religion has some powerful tools to move the minds (and souls) of men and mold civilizations and I think here is where it can be turned to the good of all.

Why engineer a religion? 

In looking at human civilization and our quickly accelerating accumulation of knowledge, our abilities have brought us to the realization that we can transcend ourselves and we see a plethora of new thought around this idea.  However the ascendance of intelligence is a fragile thing and religion is a tool that can help us ensure we don’t fail if the current civilization does.  

Let me start by making some assumptions…

One:

We only know that ‘we’ exist; there is no proof of intelligence other than man, god or otherwise.

Two:

The only important thing in the universe is intelligence as w/o which there is no point to any of it.

Three:

Human civilization has a tendency to collapse as seen in the past and there is no indication that this will not endure as a tendency.

Four:

The earth will be burned to a crisp at some time in the future ending life on earth.

If we make these four assumptions, then it leads to the thought that the preservation of intelligence and knowledge are the most important elements of getting past our current situation.  Here is where it makes sense to engineer a religion to help push us forward and keep humanity on civilization on task.  That task being: To preserve knowledge and intelligence first, provide the spiritual framework to drive the passions of all to work to protect these and then to learn to move past our limitations.

There are many excellent religions that do good work, have a solid moral grounding and with lots of devotees.  There are even new transhumanist religions that are emerging that fit this bill, such as Terasem or the Praxis; that provide a more closely aligned religious structure to what we are talking about. They provide the same kinds of things to transhumanists that traditional religions provide to their devotee’s.  Let us engineer a religion that does more to fire the hearts and souls of men to forward those two goals called out earlier; to preserve knowledge and intelligence and work towards transcendence not just of our flesh but of this world.  This Foundation Religion would therefore provide the basis for moving past the earth, persevering knowledge and saving intelligence and thus give us a working foundation to technological immortality or singularity.

Let’s look at what this religion would need to look like.  It would need to place intelligence and knowledge above all else; so, these must be sacred and the Religion’s moral foundation must provide the basis for morality as well and explain why it is good to be good.  This engineered religion must give guidance for how one should live life; teach children, and all the things that bring personal fulfillment, for it to function.  

We don’t know the path the future will take regarding singularity and transcendence but the future could also bring darkness and, if darkness should arrive, this religion would keep the light of knowledge that it does not pass away.

What does this Religion look like?

More or less I’ve talked about this “engineered” religion at a high level but now to really make it real we need to build a mythos, doctrine and all the religious trappings to create faith and worship.  To start with, let us define what this new engineered religion “believes”.  For example, a number of religions use a statement or a series of ‘articles of faith’ like so:

“We believe that intelligence is the Glory of God, in how God is now or will be in the future.  We believe that there may be a God but, if not, we will make God after the manner in which we understand.  We believe that intelligence is the most sacred thing in the universe and like unto it knowledge.  We believe that all things are less important than the protection and preservation of sentient intelligence in any form.  We believe our sacred moral and ethical duty is the preservation of knowledge and the uplifting of all sentient intelligence.  We believe that all sentient intelligence should be free to engage in the pursuit of happiness and fulfillment and no power has the right to take that away.”

This statement embodies those ideas we want to instill in our engineered religion.  This statement of belief lays the foundation for a mythos and doctrine that is needed to drive the faithful even in the direst circumstances.

To this, we need to add the depth of the mythos or detail to the doctrine that will give us the rich faith

inducing structures to drive human passion towards the logical end we have aligned the faith to.  This will require the creation of a scripture that builds on each element of thestatement of faith above, provided to the faithful, that they might gain enlightenment.  Critical to this scripture creation is its ability to connect with the masses, give reasons for being moral, and provide hope for success. 

We can start by going into more detail; why is intelligence and knowledge so important as to be the most important thing in existence?

First, there are in fact a lot of definitions for intelligence and a lot of ways the term can be understood but here ‘Intelligence’ is defined as the measured ability to understand, use and generate knowledge or information independently.

It is important to note that the definition of intelligence is different from the meaning we are assigning to sentience which is the ability to understand one’s self and have subjective experiences. Although sentience is dependent on intelligence, or rather the degree of sentience is dependent on the degree of intelligence, they are in fact different. The premise that intelligence is important, and in fact the most important thing in existence, is better stated as sentient intelligence is of primary importance but intelligence less than truly sentient intelligence is relatively unimportant in comparison. It cannot progress independently.

This brings us back to the point about “Why?” Why is intelligence so important? The reason is: without intelligence there would be no witness to creation, no appreciation for anything of beauty, no love, no kindness and for all intents and purposes no creation. Without an “Intelligence”, there would be no point to anything; therefore. intelligence is not just the most important thing but the most sacred quality. If there is a God, these must be his chief qualities: intelligence and knowledge.

Certainly this is no proof of God,

but it is proof of the sacredness of intelligence; and if this is true we can say, “Intelligence is the Glory of God”. Because of this, our religion believes Intelligence and knowledge are sacred and that we should make every effort to preserve both.

Through this line of thought, we also conclude that intelligence being important is not connected with being Human nor is it related to biology; but the main point is intelligence, regardless of form, is sacred.

What about Knowledge? Why is knowledge sacred? If you go back to the definition of intelligence we see that intelligence, which is sacred, is the measured ability to understand, use, and generate knowledge; therefore since intelligence is sacred and intelligence requires knowledge to be truly intelligent then knowledge is sacred also.  

On God and Good and Evil

Without proof of God one might assume that there is no God and continue on with life. We, our religion, believe that it is better to assume there is a God, just in case there is. We also assume God can be defined as the greatest intelligence of all and that all lesser intelligence should aspire to be greater still. We feel we should therefore aspire to be greater and be like unto God so if God does not exist then we hope to create God someday within ourselves and if God does exist then we hope to venerate him and be like him and be children of God.

God is good. If we assume God is infinitely intelligent, we believe also that the mind of God must maintain infinite order to be able to maintain an infinite amount of knowledge; therefore there can be no paradox in God and thus no lie. God must therefore tell the truth and respect all other characteristics of sentient intelligence. This is the nature of God, where God is the definition or source of “Good”, where “Evil” is Chaos; which is diametrically opposed to God or Order in any form and thus our engineered religion has defined God and Good and Evil.

On Sin

Given the sacredness of intelligence and knowledge, what then of sin?

Traditionally, sin was an offense against God; where with the Foundation (our engineered religion), sin is an offense against any other sentient or potentially sentient being. The reason is that all sentient beings organic or not deserve or have the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Any act that harms or limits the freedom of another is therefore a sin.

What of potentially sentient beings such as a baby? If you willingly create such a being, it is your responsibility to care for and help develop it; until it is independently sentient.   Why then is it wrong or a sin to interfere with the life, liberty and pursuit of happiness of another sentient being?

If you believe in Order, or that existence is better than not, and Chaos is not the way, then to each other you should choose to do one to another as you would have them do unto you as a sentient being. Without this, there can be no order and no escape from chaos; either we all work together or none of us succeeds. In Order, we find kindness and happiness for all sentient beings.

And now our engineered religion has sin.

On Other Religions

The history of man is fraught with religion. Religion has brought much chaos, pain and suffering but it also has done much to bring good, order, love and kindness. Whatever religion teaches equality, love and kindness, where no harm should come to anyone, with no limitations enforced on heathen or believer, at its core is good and these should be kept and respected as individual’s desire. On the other hand, any religion or church that rejects good or endorses violence, for any reason other than protection of life, liberty and the pursuit happiness for all, should be rejected.

Our new religion believes we are all free to worship as we see fit.

On Artificial Intelligence

The ‘Foundation Religion’ rejects the idea of artificial intelligence or rather would redefine it. For whatever entity that achieves sentience is therefore intelligent and it is not ‘artificial’ intelligence. Artificial Intelligence may refer to soft A.I. or even the programmed behavior of an ant colony but the idea of Strong AI is not “AI” but true intelligence, if it is truly sentient, and therefore sacred with all the rights of any other sentient being.

But what of sacred duties in this new religion?  Maybe the keeping of the data of the sacred wikipedia? These sacred duties, I think, are the subject of another article but I’d imagine donating a small amount of time each week to adding content or helping make a bound archive of Wikipedia or things like this might be good.  Things that build strong communities, helping neighbors and learning to live in a sustainable way are all things I’d imagine our engineered religion to uphold.

Before our civilization fails, let’s lay the foundation for our success in all contingencies and let us have engineered faith in the most Holy Intelligent God that we all might undergo technological apotheosis.

Image #2 “Apotheosis of Washington” (12/31/2012) http://refmogospeldoctrine.blogspot.com/2010_01_24_archive.html



Comments:

i’m doing something similar to this already. It’s called the Church of the One Zero.  Although I feel it is a better idea to not assume there is a god as a belief in such a thing can be left up to each person but should have nothing to do with their membership in the church.

But i do agree although i am a non believer myself that the faster we move to a technological singularity the more likely i feel that this could have all been created in some giant computer. 

Faith as i see it though can exist in the faith in us and a faith in future.

Thank you for this article.

By Andrew Zero on Jan 03, 2013 at 7:41am

I will add something I wrote in the introduction to the Praxis listing the features a working religion needs. The full text is here:
http://www.neopax.com/praxis/index.html

Simply put, a religion needs to satisfy as many of these conditions as possible:

It must provide a doctrine

It must have canonical texts that expound upon that doctrine

It must offer an ethical framework

It must offer an explanation of the world around us and the world within

It must offer hope and comfort in adversity

It must offer community, fellowship, mutual support and a better way to live

It must empower the individual

It must offer a mission in life beyond the mundane

It must offer a vision of a life beyond this one

It must offer transcendence

By Dirk Bruere on Jan 03, 2013 at 7:53am

I strongly and highly recommend Roy Rappaport’s Ritual and Religion in the Making of Humanity (http://www.amazon.com/Religion-Humanity-Cambridge-Anthropology-ebook/dp/B000VDKF7E) to anyone interested in engineering religion.  As an anthropologist, he clearly defines ritual and religion, what functions they promote and serve, and how and what he believes that we should engineer in/for the future.

By Mark Waser on Jan 03, 2013 at 8:04am

I love it… A convergence milestone. I figure this type of writing is going to become more common in the mainstream media.

By James McLean Ledford on Jan 03, 2013 at 11:36am

Mark, Dirk and Andrew: I wonder if these ideas can be given a “KickStart”. I would expect a slow start till the idea got spme publicity in the way of our crazy media smile  http://www.kickstarter.com/?ref=NewsJan0313&utm_campaign=Jan03&utm_medium=email&utm_source=newsletter

By James McLean Ledford on Jan 03, 2013 at 1:39pm

Andrew; I’m interested in what your working on then.  we have a site www.pratoriate.org where we are working on flushing this stuff out around the number of related projects including something called the Archive but also engineering the mythos around it. 

Dirk; Yes, I’ve read your work including the Praxis and am interested and in general agree with the Praxis but in this case wanted something a bit more focused on the particular goals as stated in the article.  Currently in my own project I’m working on that canonical text you called mentioned among other things.

Mark; yes I saw this book.

James; smile thank you for the sentiment.  It will be interesting to see what evolves albeit I’m going to see how far I can take this particular line of thought in the article.  It seems that the particular goals stated in this article are some what more focused thing the general sentiment to which the general feel I don’t think needs to be engineered but will evolve biologically so to saw.

By David J Kelley on Jan 03, 2013 at 2:56pm

Does kickstarter do cult kickstarts? grin
@David - the most important thing in a successful religion, and the most difficult to create and maintain is number 7 on the list:
“It must offer community, fellowship, mutual support and a better way to live”
If you do not have that then it’s just another clever idea that will fade away.

By Dirk Bruere on Jan 03, 2013 at 4:04pm

@Dirk, I dont’ disagree, on this particular project I’ve been working on this for a number of years on a number of elements on your list.  Its just in the past year that things have started to come together enough that I can devote large amounts of time to it.

@Everyone else and @Dirk too.  Along those lines we have been looking at a couple of elements besides a religious book including a kickstart campaign not for the ‘religion’ but for the archive were sponsors would get a copy of the type 1 archive for sponsoring but the money would be used to first build a better archive but also to purchase land for a library/retreat for transhumanist religions.  maybe even something of a monastery but for use by all willing to abide the rules.  props and a number of things including scripts etc have been prepared but we are working on something we are calling our ‘path of illumination’ that will be installed in several cities around the country.  The test model was finished for a local tourist city here in Washington but the three feet of snow over the past month has prevented the installation.  all in all I hope to have a few cities around the us setup as well as a few in Europe over the course of the coming year but ones this ‘marketing’ tool is in place then we were going to do the archive kickstart campaign.  In any case would love all your guys help.

By David J Kelley on Jan 03, 2013 at 6:31pm

We are actually doing a kickstarter but it is a documentary about what it takes to start a legal church.  I’m going to use a website that advertises that it helps people do that… but i am not going to tell them it’s not a christian church until they ask.

kickstarter doesn’t have a company kickstart but this is kind of a way to do it and make a film (which is what i do for a living) so it works both ways.

yes number 7 will be the most important thing, it is based on a future “hope” not a past mythology, as i think i said the creation myth is that which science has proven and if science finds a different theory it would change the origin story of the church.

Feel free to find me on www.youtube.com/thezero if you want to talk more about it more.

By Andrew Zero on Jan 03, 2013 at 7:55pm

When it comes to premises two existing orgs spring to mind. The Freemasons, and more importantly the Unitarian Churches.

By Dirk Bruere on Jan 04, 2013 at 6:38am

@Andrew nice videos, I don’t see a way to just email you there though. 

Would love to interview either of you on my podcast #TiredAllOver (www.TiredAllOver.com)

@Dirk, I’d say the ‘Foundation’ as designed is more in line with Freemasons for Transhumanists then anything else.  Still a lot of work before its a ‘religion’

By David J Kelley on Jan 04, 2013 at 7:55am

The only way to develop a ‘liberal’ and ‘progressing’ set of doctrines and morals and beliefs, which is progressing exponentially, is to survey for expert consensus on all such morals and values, where we should be going, what we should be wanting, and so on.

In short, you need to know, concisely and quantitatively, what everyone wants - and that needs to be everyone’s guide, and the one true religion of everyone.

And everyone needs to select who the experts they truest are, and focus on that expert consensus.

This is the kind of stuff people of all beliefs are already doing at Canonizer.com.

 

By Brent Allsop on Jan 05, 2013 at 11:19am

Brent but that is counter productive in this case as the goal is to use or engineer a religion to ‘mold’ thought within a certain demographic and change or enhance that segments ideas only around accomplishing a specific goal.  the truth of that religion is not relevant to engineering a religion to accomplishing a task.

By David J Kelley on Jan 05, 2013 at 1:23pm

Hi David,

I’m obviously still completely failing to communicate what Canonizer.com is about.  So might I ask how you are going to determine how to do this ‘molding’, and what are the most important tasks or goals you speak of?  Even if you are able to determine such, how might you keep this so it is progressing, exponentially, and keeping up with our exponentially growing powers?  Progressive liberals have been seeking to do this for eternity, and failing miserably, leaving the primitive hierarchical religions to fill the power vacuum - leaving us stuck in primitive biblical morality.  The main reason they fail, is because they’ve sought to destroy religions and replace it - completely missing how important it is to survey for what people still want.  How many people are getting on board with your effort, might I ask?  Any more than any other liberal attempt at such throughout the ages?

Obviously, the wisdom of the herding sheepish crowd is stuck in the biblical past.  Even the bleating of most transhumanists is still far behind what still lonely emerging experts know now.  The problem is, nobody can hear the voice of these lonely experts above the bleating of the sheepish crowds.

The only thing needed, is to provide these leading experts a way to build consensus, in a consistent language, so they can speak in a unified voice (the way only primitive religions can do today)  Lonely Atheists and transhumanists, or any other leading experts just can’t be heard, today.

The still lonely emerging leading experts need to know and survey for what the entire crowd still believes, concisely and quantitatively.  They need to work from within that perspective.  What convinces the experts is completely impervious to the crowd.  The experts need to co-op-relatively speak in a unified voice, while measuring for what the popular crowd still believes, and why, so they can know what works and what doesn’t - not for them, but for the crowd.

Canonizer.com is not about determining truth via popularity.  It’s about enabling the experts to build consensus, rigorously measure for how well they are doing, compared to previous popular, still immoral theories, and building a system that can make that new lonely moral theory be heard as a unified emerging expert consensus voice, above the bleating of the masses - molding the masses to what is morally right, at an accelerating rate.

That which you measure, will improve.

Brent Allsop

By Brent Allsop on Jan 05, 2013 at 3:34pm

Brent; I really think we are talking about 2 different issues.  Personally I think Canonizer’s is a great way to do what you’re saying and is a worthwhile cause and could develop into something used as a tool in helping the masses see the light as it were.  And I agree that which you measure will improve.
Honestly though my goal is not starting a new major religion nor is it to mold the masses.  I don’t have key elements needed to do that and I’m not sure I can entirely create them.  While I am trying to get to some place in between the low bar for success really is 30 transhumanist zealots with families feverishly executing their sacred duty in updating Wikipedia and living near a library in the middle of the wilderness with an underground archive of Wikipedia micro etched on nickel disks.  When it comes down to it, on the off chance civilization collapses this seems like the simplest, most attainable thing I can do to protect knowledge.  It seems to me that the biggest problem is we are not planning for the worst case scenario which to means seems the logical place to start.  For me I can’t focus on additional research and other tasks fully unless this contingence is better addressed.
Now if enough elements fall into place I certainly am willing to work towards a larger religious movement that is ‘engineered’ but this first step is really the foundation that needs to be in place or at least mostly laid.  I have the financial resources to do this but right now only a handful of people helping me.  Along the way though I’ll continue to revise and engineer said religion based on what seems most logical and if enough external elements falls in place then we will see where it goes.  In either case I think it is a good thing if Canonizer is able to build consensus enough and be used to raise a consensus voice above the buzz of the masses enough to be heard but to me that is a of less importance then planning for the worst case civilization ending edge case.

By David J Kelley on Jan 07, 2013 at 9:15am


Leave a Comment:

Note We practice Buddhist Right Speech in our communication. All comments must be polite, friendly, and on topic.







What color is a blue sky?



Subscribe

Enter your email address:

Books

The Left Hand of Darkness
The Left Hand of Darkness
The Hedonistic Imperative
The Hedonistic Imperative
The Praxis… Implementing an H+ religion
The Praxis… Implementing an H+ religion
More Books
Videos
Joe Betts-LaCroix at Health Extension Salon #1
Joe Betts-LaCroix at Health Extension Salon #1
The Upgraded Self: Dave Asprey’s Top 6 Biohacks to Upgrade your Body and Mind
The Upgraded Self: Dave Asprey’s Top 6 Biohacks to Upgrade your Body and Mind
Building Gods - Rough Cut by Ken Gumbs
Building Gods - Rough Cut by Ken Gumbs
More Videos