Wednesday, May 26, 2010

What difference does it make?

Lincoln asks what practical difference it makes whether we embrace logical and philosophical explanations for human effort making all kinds of good things happen. He promotes the active faith involved in Mormon Transhumanism as promoting good works.

It is a good and perhaps fundamental question. I do really like his thoughts about an active faith and the concept of fully utilizing technology and scientific opportunities, and promoting the best of human effort.

I'll try and describe here the difference it makes for me.

When it comes to the resurrection and atonement of Christ, I personally enjoy the feeling of faith and the awe at the miraculous and things that are not fully explained. I can more easily love and embrace the concept of "My Heavenly Father," than I can "posthuman capacity." Perhaps we're talking about the same thing, but it's just more tiring and less enjoyable for me to try and explain my entire faith scientifically or logically.

When I pray to my Father in Heaven, I like to imagine a real, tangible person who through some miraculous process I don't (nor do I try to) understand, loves and understands me just as he loves and understands the billions of other people who must be praying to Him as well. I love the feeling that "I am a child of God," and that my literal Spirit Father loves me so much that He gave His Only Begotten Son to enable His love and grace to overcome all my weaknesses and sins to allow me to eventually live with Him forever. I'll desperately need this mercy because I cannot possibly approach the perfection He envisions for me through my own efforts.

Even with His grace, I want to and need to work hard and do my best to develop my personal capacity, and I agree with the emphasis on stretching to reach for our fullest human potential. But, often I fail, or feel weak, or need help or inspiration from a source beyond my own, or I just feel I've reached the limits of my personal capacity. At those moments, I love feeling the comfort inside that comes when I ponder and pray and sense His infinite love for me. It's a special, loving peace that sometimes includes tingles or special emotions that are hard to explain. I feel comforted, loved, motivated to do better, and want to reach out to help others. Sometimes I have sudden ideas or thoughts that help people or help solve personal problems. At those times, I just want to enjoy and feel the miraculous wonder of His Mercy and Grace without trying to explain it all through logic and philosophy. It’s an unexplained, sometimes not fully logical, but emotional connection to not just the “Christ within me” but with a real, powerful and awesome personal Heavenly Father who loves me.

Yes, I love learning, scientific discovery, and using technology to do good. However, all the logical and scientific jargon about "positive futures," “posthumans,” "posthuman capacity" and "engineered resurrections" explaining how everything could work takes away a part of the peaceful, loving feeling I get when I wrestle with difficult issues in prayer as I pour out my soul to my Heavenly Father. Maybe it’s just semantics, but the semantics make a difference to me.

Put simply, I want to feel the love.
It's harder for me feel love from or for numerous unknown "posthumans" who happened to use their own genius to eventually develop the capacity to create other worlds.

Too much logic, philosophy and scientific explanation of miracles such as mercy, resurrection, and grace can rob me of some of those special feelings that are central to my religious experience.


  1. Vblogger, it is possible to focus too much on emotionality, as it is possible to focus too much on rationality. The peaceful and loving feelings we have are good to the extent they do not dissuade us from doing the hard work of making this world better. There is a time for meditation and service, as there is a time for research and experimentation. We have a moral obligation toward both. Most Mormons do a good job of emphasizing the former, while giving the latter too little attention, which is among the reasons for the existence of the MTA. The MTA would be superfluous if all Mormons were sufficiently supportive of science and technology. Until that happens, we have a moral obligation to encourage improvement. I've written more about this here:

  2. I should add an additional thought. Our simple and beautiful religious words, inherited from our ancestors, are NOT on their own sufficient for our salvation, no matter how good they make us feel. For example, we would not be able to discuss this matter, sharing our feelings and attempting to persuade each other toward that which we feel is important, as we are doing now, without many other kinds of words of a highly technical sort, such as HTML and Javascript. We might not be aware of them, and we might not like to think about them, but they enable us. Likewise, it may detract from some of our moments of peace, but we still ought to improve our understanding of science and technology, which are essential to the contemporary work of God (and which we should expect to have increasingly substantial impact on that work, given present trends).

  3. Does one aesthetic fit all?

    VBlogger, from my perspective it seems that both you and Lincoln are talking about the same beings. You call them God, Lincoln may call them posthumans. I take comfort in a faith that these beings are there, whether I call them God or whether I call them posthumans. I also see value in both labels. God means something special to me, as does the idea that God, who once "dwelt on an earth" and now "sits enthroned in yonder heavens", "found himself in the midst of spirits and glory, and because he was greater, he saw proper to institute laws whereby the rest could have the privilege of advancing like himself".

    I love the mystery of God, the mystery of Godliness, and the sheer immensity of them. I am grateful that God has given us the capacity to grow, to understand, and to advance like unto himself. For me, logic, philosophy and scientific explanation is vital to my religious experience, and is as inextricably tied to the spiritual feelings I experience in my life as is my church attendance and participation.