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…
We only know that ‘we’ exist; there is no proof of intelligence other than man, god or otherwise.
The only important thing in the universe is intelligence as w/o which there is no point to any of it.
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.
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.
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