Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Lincon Cannon response continued

In Lincoln Cannon's Blog he continues a response to some of my comments about the Mormon Transhumanist Affirmation.

First, let me share where we agree.   I fully agree that: 1) Science and technology have been and should be embraced by the Church of Jesus Christ of latter-day Saints.  Scientific discovery is one important means of discovering truth.  2)  I see no problem with attempts at scientific understandings of, say creation and evolution, geology, biology and medicine, etc.  I agree that these discoveries may contribute toward "positive futures," and support our full efforts to embrace scientific progress toward improving the human condition and extending life.

Lincoln reinforces these points through several quotes from early church leaders about how knowledge, truth, and wisdom can come through science and the arts.  At the same time, he admits that science does not describe a means for all persons to be resurrected, even though he agrees that universal resurrection is a requirement in LDS doctrine.

Having thought about and re-read his response a few times, I feel we're actually not too far off of each other, except by emphasis and degree, and perhaps by language choice.  The effort to explain everything through logic and philosophy can grow tiring, however.

For example, he proposes that the resurrections occurring 2,000 years ago at the time of Christ may have happened because either other “posthumans” made it work, or our future descendents will eventually acquire the ability to use science to go back in time and change the past.  To me, that's a mind-twisting exercise with far-reaching tentacles that reminds me I'm grateful "Back to the Future" was just a fun movie.

What about the resurrection of Christ Himself?  Was that a feat of time travel and changing history? According to Christian doctrine, which Mormonism strengthens in the Book of Mormon, Jesus Christ was a real person, who thousands of witnesses saw die and buried.  Then, after he was resurrected within less than 36 hours after being buried, numerous witnesses saw that he was risen and ate with, saw, touched him personally, and listened to his teachings.  After that, hundreds of these witnesses lost their lives defending their testimonies that this actually happened.   It wasn't just some "Christ in us" force that we all have inspiring us. He was a real person that many people knew, saw, and felt.  The Book of Mormon and latter-day revelation could not be more clear about that point.

I’d rather just enjoy some miracles, particularly this most important one, as miraculous.  I don’t feel this exercise of faith is superstitious just because I don’t make an effort to explain it scientifically.  I can find plenty of evidence in my own feelings, and in other historical witnesses to back up my faith without creating a full explanation for how it happened. 

In sum, here are the key views that I hold from LDS doctrine, which I feel still contradict the concept of transhumanism, even after Lincoln’s second response

Resurrection requires faith, and is controlled and ordered by God’s moral judgments of people's behavior, not their access to scientific knowledge or technology. The LDS embracing of technology and science does not extend to resurrection, and scientific knowledge is not currently close to a real solution for resurrection for all, particularly for persons whose remains have been completely obliterated.  Lincoln shares some of the same quotes I used about resurrection being a priesthood ordinance.  I interpret those statements as reinforcing the idea of resurrection being an orderly event based on the moral and loving behavior of those being resurrected, and also reminders that science and technology are at most minor aspects of the means of resurrection.

Exaltation or Eternal Life, requires faith, and involves sin, mercy and grace, and is available only to the righteous.  Lincoln suggests that: ". . .the Affirmation suggests the same nearly universalist perspective on salvation. Personally, I hold to a nearly universalist perspective on salvation, and observe a naturally enforced correspondence between benevolence and empowerment at play in the universe and our interaction with it." 

If his “universalist perspective on salvation,” means that almost everyone will attain Eternal Life with God, or exaltation, that concept contradicts several scriptures about God’s judgment, and the pattern of the Book of Mormon in which the more part of the people were destroyed.  It also contradicts much of my life experience with many people who don’t have any real interest in striving for eternal life.  Thankfully, though, I'm not the judge, and I do hope and work towards the goal of everyone reaching eternal life.

Finally, I just feel that this emphasis on explaining everything scientifically and logically may be intellectually interesting, but does not contribute much to our path to be like Him, and it ignores feelings, emotion, and faith that are vital components of religion.


  1. Hi Vblogger. Thanks for providing this feedback. Here are more of my thoughts:

  2. This blog post of mine relates to this discussion, especially as it relates to the gift of eternal life and "universalism":

    D&C 76 makes it clear that God gives salvation from BOTH physical and spiritual death to all but the sons of perdition. Our worthiness only determines the degree (or type) of salvation from physical and spiritual death that is given.

    We either get a Telestial salvation from both physical and spiritual death or else we are given a Terrestrial salvation from both physical and spiritual death, or else we are given a Celestial salvation from both physical and spiritual death.

    What does this mean? According to D&C 76, those who inherit the Telestial kingdom receive a Telestial body (salvation from physical death) and are brought back into the presence of the Spirit, the 3rd member of the Godhead (a degree of salvation from spiritual death). Those who inherit the Terrestrial kingdom receive a Terrestrial body, and are brought back into the presence of the 2nd and 3rd members of the Godhead, the Son and the Spirit, a degree of salvation from spiritual death. Those who inherit the Celestial kingdom receive a Celestial body, and are brought back into the presence of all three members of the Godhead, the full degree of salvation from physical and spiritual death.

    In any event, it is clear that Mormon doctrine is highly universal in its concept of salvation while still maintaining that works play a role in what type of universal salvation we receive. These concepts are not mutually exclusive.