Podcast No. 38 Posted 4/11/2011   Leave a comment

Podcast No. 38 Posted 4/11/2011

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TITLE:  Truths of Terasem – The “What” of Terasem  2.6 – 2.6.6

SUB TITLE:  The theology of Terasem

SUMMARY:  The Terasem theology is divided into six areas of study.  These are Terasem’s immortality theology, creation theology, reality theology, meaning-of-life theology, behavioral theology, and moral theology.

Music  – “Earthseed” fades out, as the voice recording begins.

(Fred)  Hi, we’re Fred & Linda Chamberlain, with podcast 38 on the Truths of Terasem.  This week we will be looking at the different theological aspects of Terasem as a body of principles.

(Linda)  Okay, those of us who are atheists, or secular in our approach to the ideology of Terasem, will find this session a real challenge.  My mind tends to snap shut, like a steel trap, when words like “theology” are mentioned.  It’s going to take a real, conscious effort to keep my mind open.   So, with toothpicks in my eyes to keep them open and act as constant reminders to my brain that I don’t want it to shut the door, what can you tell us to encourage us to stay with you?

(Fred)  Well, I have to agree that I have some difficulties here, too.  But let’s do what you suggest, and hang in there with an open mind and look for value rather than clinging to old arguments.  Let’s start with looking at the Wikipedia definition of the word “theology”.  Quote:

Augustine of Hippo defined the Latin equivalent, theologia, as “reasoning or discussion concerning the Deity”;[2] Richard Hooker defined “theology” in English as “the science of things divine”.[3] The term can, however, be used for a variety of different disciplines or forms of discourse.[4] Theologians use various forms of analysis and argument (philosophical, ethnographic, historical, spiritual and others) to help understand, explain, test, critique, defend or promote any of myriad religious topics. Theology might be undertaken to help the theologian:

  • understand more truly his or her own religious tradition,[5]
  • understand more truly another religious tradition,[6]
  • make comparisons between religious traditions,[7]
  • defend or justify a religious tradition,
  • facilitate reform of a particular tradition,[8]
  • assist in the propagation of a religious tradition,[9] or
  • draw on the resources of a tradition to address some present situation or need,[10]
  • draw on the resources of a tradition to explore possible ways of interpreting the world,[11] or
  • explore the nature of divinity without reference to any specific tradition.

(Linda)  I’m relaxing and feeling better already.  That definition was very helpful. I can now see that this will still fit comfortably with our four core principles in Terasem, which are I. LIFE IS PURPOSEFUL,

II. DEATH IS OPTIONAL, III. GOD IS TECHNOLOGICAL, and

IV. LOVE IS ESSENTIAL. So, let’s go for it!

(Fred) (laughing)  Let’s go for it very cautiously.  That Wikipedia entry is so broad and multifaceted it could allow the word ‘Theology’ to be interpreted any way you want.  Also, it’s a ‘buck passing’ definition, in that it cross-refers to ‘religion’, ‘divinity’ and/or ‘tradition’ in one way or another, and we know what kind of further multi-interpretation things we’re going to find if we link to those words on Wikipedia.

The only two of the many Wikipedia sub-interpretations I found consistent with a reasonably rational mode of thinking seemed to be helping to “draw on the resources of a tradition to address some present situation or need,” and helping to “draw on the resources of a tradition to explore possible ways of interpreting the world.”  I’m going to drop out references to ‘tradition’, since that can reduced to ‘blind, thoughtless acceptance of memes being circulated in one’s immediate circles’, and I’ll interpret ‘religious’ or ‘divine’ as relating to matters of faith and belief.

Now, with an interpretation of ‘Theology’ as being the intellectual domain of faith and belief, however organized and consistent, or not, it might be, I’ll move on to the Truths for today, only with the thought that these are epistomological vs. metaphysical areas.  We say that we know a thing, meaning that we think we know something about a thing, with varying degrees of confidence.  If it’s a thing that already exists, we ask to what extent we trust our observations and to what extent we find that we have rational corroboration from others.  If our faith or belief is in some future event or entity, we ask ourselves to what extent we think we can find a basis for certainty about that in which we have faith or belief or find others who believe or have faith in it also, and to what extent their basis of certainty seems to be the same as our own.

With that, let’s look at the Truths for today.  Do you have anything to add to that, Linda?

(Linda)  I guess not, except the feeling that we’re cross country skiing on early technology woodies, with no steel edges, and we’re on steep, hard, icy slopes.  Is there anything you can say about Theology that is reassuring, before we get started?

(Fred)  There is one very positive thing I think we can say about things that are religious or traditional.  They have common grounds with each other in many areas.  Very strong, ethical common grounds with respect to internal rules of behavior for their members, most of which seemed to be benevolent in nature, gauged to maximize harmony and synergism between individuals who otherwise might be competitively at each other’s throats or more exploitive and dominating in nature, more of the “everyone for himself or herself and the devil take the hindmost” kind.  In that sense, it seems as if religious traditions and beliefs foreshadow Terasem’s highest expectations of what an ideal society might be like.  This is why I think these Truths were devised, and why we should take them seriously.  The only cautionary note I wanted to start with is that we are walking on icy ground, as you pointed out with your cross-country skiing example.

(Linda)  Let me begin.  At the outset, we have: 2.6 “Theologically the Multiverse includes joyful immortality via data emulation of a diverse and united universe.”  To me, that seems perfectly straightforward.  We’re saying that, as we can easily observe, the universe is very diverse, but we can also imagine that with a sufficiently perfect ethical system it can be united.  And, we can assume that we’re talking about uniting conscious, sentient beings, regardless of biological origins or the substrates of consciousness to which they might have moved as they transcended biology.

Data emulation suggests consciousness of a cybernetic kind, probably beyond what we would call “bio-cybernetic” where we’re speaking of axons firing in biological brains.  Once biology is transcended and data backup is possible, immortality can be assumed to exist, meaning virtually an endless existence, and ‘joyful’ means not only filled with curiosity, adventure, and discovery, but freedom from pain and death.  Does that take care of it?

(Fred)  Admirably!  The first underlying Element is 2.6.1 “Unending life, the belief that once life arises it will last forever, is Terasem immortality theology.”  This one is even easier.  Immortality is clearly equivalent to ‘unending life’, and endlessness is far easier to deal with than the idea of ‘living forever’, which can only be demonstrated by finding an end to time and proving that you can transcend it.

The term ‘theology’ is undeniably an admission of this being a matter of faith and belief, not a claim of virtual certainty, and that’s fine.  The only phrase that is a bit uncertain is the three words ‘once life arises’.  That could imply that as soon as self-replicating biological life manifests itself on a formerly lifeless planet, survival is assured.  This ignores possibilities such as cosmic disasters such as black hole ‘gobble-ups’, incineration by local supernovae or even Quasars, and so forth.

A more resilient way of looking at it is the outlook that once biological life gets started on a planet, extropy pulls it inevitably toward sentience, then onward into what eventually becomes ‘kind consciousness’, transcendence of biology, survival of singularities, and an outward ‘Earthseeding’ that may only be slowed down by encountering other conscious entities with which it finds common ground, unites, and then expands further.

(Linda)  After that, we come to 2.6.2 “Never-ending creation, recycling and growth is the Terasem creation theology.”  Humankind has been engaged in creation, ever since it learned how to start fires, sharpen tools and engage in the artificial selection of other living organisms, in this way accelerating natural selection in a meaningful vs. chaotically competitive and unconscious way.

Social organization itself, a creative, extropic process, makes better and better use of intellectual resources until transcendence of biology is achieved, and then outward spread into the Cosmos as the anticipated outcome.  Belief that this is not just an inevitable process, but a process that may be ubiquitous throughout the universe, is undeniably theological. We don’t have proof of that, meaning it’s a matter of faith and belief.  What more can we say, than that?

(Fred)  Beats me!  Next is 2.6.3  “ ‘I think therefore I am’ is at the core of Terasem reality theology.”  Self-consciousness is implied by this well-known philosophical precept.  The next step upward might be, ‘Since we understand each other, at least a little, we each know the other exists,’ and that broadens into the idea of a collective consciousness in which the network is the higher reality, so long as it does not extinguish the individuality at lower levels.

As a perfect example, if a beehive were so intolerant of diversity that no diversity of worker bees were permitted, they would all die before the first winter was over.  Among humans, the same is true.  The communist revolution of 1918 was so intolerant of individuality and motivational incentives that it was like a social cancer from the start.  It lasted for a while, like any organism, but its doom was spelled out in its insistence of mandatory homogeneity, which Terasem finds to be intolerable as a characteristic of higher level social order.

(Linda)  in 2.6.4 we find “Teleological belief in diversity, unity, and joyful immortality forms Terasem meaning-of-life theology.”  Here, we can make better use of Wikipedia than in that first example.  I’m going to read the basics of what it has to say about teleology:

“A teleology is any philosophical account which holds that final causes exist in nature, meaning that design and purpose analogous to that found in human actions are inherent also in the rest of nature. The word comes from the Greek τέλος, telos, root: τελε-, “end, purpose.” The adjective “teleological” has a broader usage, for example in discussions where particular ethical theories or types of computer programs (such as “teleo-reactive” programs) are sometimes described as teleological because they involve aiming at goals.”

Terasem’s goal is, succinctly stated, ‘joyful immortality’, which we’ve already discussed in other contexts earlier.  That’s the ‘end purpose’, or ‘meaning of life’ to put it in teleological  terms.  The blending of diversity and unity in the highest way, denying neither and maintaining the most perfect balance between the two, is the ‘means to the end’, again consistent with the idea of teleology as a philosophical way of speaking about one’s belief.

The only elements of the Terasem Pledge absent from this Truth are the principles of ‘education persistently’ and the word ‘everywhere’.  The term ‘everywhere’ is intended to take into account all corners of existence, while all downstream zones of time are included by the idea of immortality.  ‘Education persistently’, meaning unending commitment to the elevation of understanding and thus ever increasing control over inanimate existence, is consistent with perception of the irresistible advance of extropy over the long term.  I’m not sure what more there is to say about this one.

(Fred) Me either!  Here’s the following Element, 2.6.5 “Euthenics, improving the well-being of extant life, is Terasem behavioral theology.” Let’s deal with the word “extant” first.  It means “still existing”, in the simplest interpretation.

If we look at this word in terms of biological evolution, it could be taken to mean surviving or non-extinct species.  If we look at it in terms of the evolution of human culture and its constituent individuals, the term could mean ‘still existing’ in the sense of there being enough data about an individual to permit eventual cyber-resurrection and integration in an ongoing way with the advance of human culture.

Now for ‘euthenics’.  Wikipedia tells us, that it “deals with human improvement through altering external factors such as education and the controllable environment, including the prevention and removal of contagious disease and parasites, environmentalism, education regarding home economics, sanitation, and housing.”  So, improving the well-being of life, by means of an external social environment, can be taken to mean helping those who are cyber-resurrected to transcend the biological evolutionary baggage that might stand in the way of their having the maximum opportunity to expand their individual beings, by immersion in a culture reflecting a higher standard.

Putting all of this together, ‘behavioral theology’ could mean that we believe that we can best help others by creating a society in which they will feel comfortable and unthreatened, but where people are virtually immune to being hurt by those who have not yet adapted.  Is such a society even a possibility?  We believe that it is, and it is by our steadfast belief that we will have an opportunity to create it.

Does this sound circular?  Only if we cannot imagine how it would work.  And there’s a way.  It’s depicted in a short story by Thomas Donaldson named Birthscars, and it’s online at http://www.lifepact.com/.  If you really want to have a vision of a circumstance in which this could sound achievable, that’s where you will find it.  I wish it were possible to read it into the podcast, but that would add at least ten minutes.  Sadly, we can’t do it that!

(Linda)  There’s one more, 2.6.6, and it’s “Deontologically weighted decision-making is the basis of Terasem moral theology.”  Again we’re back to Wikipedia, where we find a few observations that help illustrate the complexity of this Truth.  It’s a very intertwined one.

First, Wikipedia says, “Deontological ethics or deontology is an approach to ethics that judges the morality of an action based on the action’s adherence to a rule or rules. Deontologists look at rules and duties.”  Then, we find, “Deontological ethics is commonly contrasted with consequentialist or teleological ethical theories, according to which the rightness of an action is determined by its consequences.”  However, there is a difference between deontological ethics and moral absolutism.   Deontologists who are also moral absolutists believe that some actions are wrong no matter what consequences follow from them.

We could follow on with this kind of reasoning into such labrynthian depths that in the end we would have to block diagram it to even know how we got to where we are, or how to find our way out, much less to know how to reach some sound conclusion.  So, I’m going to cut through the red tape here and observe that in everything we choose to do, or omit doing, we either measure our actions by some standard or we do not, and the most chaotic way of choosing actions is to simply act blindly on feelings, with no thought given to principles at all.  At the other end of the spectrum, we choose actions based on pure logic and deny all impulses that cannot be integrated into the reasoning.

To put this into the context of how many of the more interesting Star Trek episodes unfold, we can either choose our actions like Vulcans are supposed to, or not.  If we do not, we then have to choose to what extent to decide based on principles, and to what extent feeling must be taken into account.

Literally interpreted, this Truth’s words, “Deontologically weighted decision-making”, implies that we must balance logic as to ethics with feelings that are empathy derived, and that it is no easy matter.  Then, ‘moral theology’ can be interpreted to mean ‘doing what we believe is right based on a combination of logic and empathy’, meaning that neither of them may be excluded.

This last Truth for today, then, can be seen as a challenge, and an awesome responsibility, to neither trust purely in logic, nor in our feelings, but to find a middle ground.  If anything, it alerts us to how slippery a slope we may confront in terms of Geoethical Nanotechnology, as we evolve it.

(Fred)  Next week, we examine how we bridge the gap between ritual and reality-based belief, how we expand the idea of life extension and life expansion to encompass immortality as envisioned by traditional as well as more recently developed religions.  We will look at how the concept of afterlives, as were believed in at the time of a pre-scientific world, may be a possibility now, as an outgrowth of technology.  Can we fit our visions of a post-Singularity future to the expansive hopes of myth-based religions?  What role does faith have in emulating and controlling the universe?  By comparison with this week’s Truths, next week’s seem still more daunting!

(Linda)  Find out more about joining Terasem at terasemfaith.net. “Waking up in cyberspace” can be pursued by way of CyBeRev.org or LifeNaut.com, no fees to participate.  And if you want to preserve your DNA very inexpensively, you can do that at LifeNaut.com, too.

(Fred)  The new maze-based game, created by Mike Clancey, at Terasem, is surprisingly addictive! The difficulty level ramps up quickly with multiple layers, like “motor neurons”, plaques that obstruct your path and macrophages to hunt you down.

(Linda)  Here’s the premise from the introduction to the app: “You are an artificial intelligence charged with controlling a nanobot inside a human brain. The brain belongs to a person who has just been resuscitated after being cryonically stored for almost 50 years. You have been chosen because, ironically, the person being restored to life is the same person on whom you (the AI) were based! Their mannerisms, personality, recollections, feelings, beliefs, attitudes and values were recorded and stored with the CyBeRev project and later coupled with mindware to create your digital persona.

(Fred) And if you still need to blow a few more of your neurons, go to   mindclones.blogspot.com for fascinating discussions about mindclones, mindfiles and mindware.  And if you want to read the text of our podcasts, to help to dig deeper into the details, and maybe find websites that you weren’t able to write down, go to truthsofterasem.wordpress.com.

(Linda)  If you’ve been enjoying the music that we use on this podcast series, it’s called Earthseed.  It’s the Terasem Anthem.  It was written by Martine Rothblatt, who also plays the flute and the keyboard.  If you’d like to experience that music in a video, with spectacular astronomical artwork, go to the Join! tab on the terasemfaith.net website.

(Fred)  Join us, and our quest for an endless future…

(Linda)  Come with us – into Tomorrow!

 Closing music – no fade – full length.

Posted April 24, 2011 by Truths of Terasem - Podcasts in Uncategorized

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