Catholic vs. Other - 2019-01-12 - Lincoln Cannon

Author Recorded Saturday January 12th, 2019

There are 41 episodes in the Versus:Other series.

Recorded September 21st, 2017

Catholic vs. Other - 2017-09-21 - Tino

Recorded September 10th, 2017

Catholic vs. Other - 2017-09-10 - Judah

Recorded September 2nd, 2017

Catholic vs. Other - 2017-09-02 - William

Recorded October 21st, 2016

Catholic vs. Other - 2016-10-21 - Ben

Eric Steinhart suggested that I interview Lincoln Cannon. Lincoln is an LDS Mormon and a Transhumanist, meaning that he is interested in ethical ways of using science, engineering, and technology to advance the human race beyond our present limitations. I enjoyed our friendly chat.

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Under Construction

These YouTube transcripts are generated automatically and are therefore unformatted and replete with errors.
hi my name is Lincoln cannon and you're listening to Catholic versus other so if you would please just tell the listeners a little bit about yourself who you are what you believe and how you came to believe what you believe yeah sure so I identify as a Mormon and as a transhumanist I also identify as a Christian most Mormons do we like other Christians consider the Bible to be to be a divinely inspired text we revere it as an authority in our spiritual lives although unlike many Christians Mormons also tend to consider other non biblical texts also to be scriptures so we have like the Book of Mormon which you probably have heard of and other texts like the Doctrine and Covenants or pearl of great price anyway I do consider myself a Christian I was particularly influenced as a young adult in my 20s by the writings of Paul in the New Testament in fact prior to doing a very deep reading of Paul looking at both you know authorship and maybe original intent of the texts and going deeply into that I probably didn't identify as deeply as a Christian as I did subsequent to that exercise Paul was very influential in my full embrace of a Christian identity and in the inspiration I received from Christianity I I I just loved the writings of Paul and you know prior to that I grew up in a Mormon home so I was taught the Mormon approach to Christianity we read the Bible at home regularly just about daily I guess and I'm also read other Mormon scriptures regularly so I grew up doing that I also grew up in a home that was very friendly to Science and Technology had kind of a faith crisis in my teenage years where I started to becoming more skeptical of God and religion generally that faith crisis kind of climaxed in my 20s which is odd because that's also when I was becoming most Christian a lot of people seem to like fall away from their theism and their yeah and at the same time I actually became more Christian as I became more atheistic and one of the reasons for that was just you know the influence of Paul I his writings persuaded me of the practical value of Christianity even when my trust in sort of a transcendent God was waning considerably anyway I digress I incent tech friendly home that ended up being very important to me as I got older I started looking at the ways to promote and to pursue many of the visions that are advocated by religion and over time that led me to transhumanism I and I've over the years been highly involved in the transhumanist movement particularly among religious transhumanists I'm one of the founders of the Mormon transhumanist Association also one of the founders of the Christian transhumanist Association been involved with many secular transhumanist organizations over the years and well-connected there know many of the most influential transhumanists in the world have good relationships with them haven't had opportunities to interact with them speak with them at conferences I identify as a transhumanist as I mentioned before a lot of people don't know what that is kind of a brief definition of that would be the ethical advocacy for the ethical use of technology to extend human abilities and I I consider that an important component of my religion although most transhumanists tend to identify a secular there is an important kind of minority of us that nonetheless consider it part of our religious worldview my mother and father were both highly participative in our Mormon faith they and and their children myself and my two sisters we we attended church on a weekly basis we also went to church activities during the week Mormon Mormon church services we we have a form of communion it's kind of simple more like Protestant and Catholic communions yeah I was baptized at age eight which is the age when Mormons practice baptism we associate baptism with kind of what we call moral agency at the age when we become when we consider ourselves become morally accountable so I was baptized at age eight I went to church regularly I participated in activities regularly I was taught to pray at a young age I would pray daily when you we pray before our meals we pray before going to bed have both family and individual prayers and we studied scriptures including the Bible and Mormon texts as far as experiential spirituality goes and as far as experiential religiosity one of the most formative things of my childhood years was actually my my relationship with prayer and how I I kind of would practice interacting with God in a personal way you know in Mormonism where we were taught to think of God as a parent and you know that reflecting the Bible where it talks about God is as the the father and in Mormonism we also have the idea of that we all have a heavenly mother and typically Mormons don't pray to heavenly mother we typically pray to Heavenly Father but I was taught nonetheless doesn't many Mormons are that we have these divine parents and that did that influenced the way I would pray although I was taught to pray to Heavenly Father I would very often think individually about heavenly mother too and I remember I remember that affecting the way I approached prayer I remember having experiences as a child where simple childhood stressors or challenges would lead me to pray and I would feel some fulfillment of those prayers in various situations that was satisfying I remember feeling that way about it so prayer is prayer as a young child was a fulfilling experience for me and helped me develop some of my early spirituality as I became older and and kind of more critical and I as it turns out happened to be quite inclined to critical thought I had loved philosophy even did as a teenager I started to question my experiences and ask myself okay you know where are these experiences coming from why do I have the feelings I have the ideas that I have tried to analyze them you know what in ways that I considered more careful so as I says I began studying philosophy and religion and you know just you know not in school this was all on my own time I was my middle school in high school did not offer philosophy classes or or religious studies classes I was taking just usual classes and I was a good student but on my own time I would study these things and I would learn things that would promote you know questions I had never asked before considerations they had never come to mind before and and so and I and I felt like that was overall a good thing but it also strained my faith and consequently to some extent my relationship with my religious community and a little bit with my family over the years but I you know I don't regret that it was also a growing and learning experience so that atheistic agnostic phase kind of slowly built I actually in and it didn't build up quickly I built up very slowly and in fact I I in my late teenage years I still chose to serve a mission for the Church of Jesus Christ latter-day saints the largest Mormon denomination so I did that for two years but even during that period I was actually during that period of my mission where I I started becoming more serious about my Christianity but also my sense of atheistic agnosticism also continued to grow during that period which is a little bit ironic from what most people experience I got home from my mission and and really it was in my 20s my early 20s that my transition to recognizing that I had become an atheist agnostic kind of reached culmination there were a number of things that contributed to that a lot of them related to major life transitions for example my father had who had had cancer twice in my childhood got it a third time and died in my earth during my early 20s I got Mary and graduated from university with a philosophy degree and had my first child all in my early 20s and and so you know I'm entering the workforce for the first time trying to enter the workforce trying to make some money my father is dying I'm getting married having kids all of these responsibilities changes and you know life stressors are coming to play and through all of this I'm I now at that point in my life had access to the internet for the first time so all of my interest in this information regarding religious studies and history I had access to more information than ever before my identity was shifting and I and I was trying to be honest with myself and with other people and I realized you know what I said it kind of jokingly to kind of decrease the social threat for some friends and family I would joke that I have become agnostic towards any extraterrestrial humanoid deity that was my way of saying that you know I no longer had faith in kind of a God out there I still kind of had well not kind of very much had a faith in an imminent sort of God in human potential in our potential to thrive and develop and divine attributes ourselves and that motivated me a great deal and is one of the things that contributed to my eventual discovery of transhumanism but I had I had lost my faith in God out there and you know I I continued to explore and have new experiences life continued to shake me I encountered new ideas philosophically scientifically religiously the the philosophical tradition of pragmatism that ended up being very significant in another transformation like I mentioned I started studying Paul more thoroughly than I ever had before in the New Testament that continued to shape me I also encountered the ideas of transhumanism on the internet and they resonated deeply with me they reminded me of things I had always thought but I had never called transhumanism and then they helped me develop those ideas to a greater extent that I hadn't before and so those things all kind of came together discussions with friends across the internet that I developed contributed greatly the internet was an amazing thing for for me and over time I developed back into what I would call theism that would have been some there was probably a period of I'd say five to seven years where I was essentially a theistic agnostic and then I transformed again into having you know having rational reasons for going back to theism and that kind of helped me unlock my emotional inclinations my spiritual kind of psychological aesthetic inclinations that were always there but then I didn't feel like I could pursue for rational reasons during a period of time in my life so it helped me kind of put my heart in my brain back working together rather than against each other and between the years 2005 and 2007 I had transitioned back into theism because you've studied philosophy would you say that Nietzsche was a transhumanist oh so that's a controversial question right so yes I would but not in the superficial way that many transhumanists might think when they think of what transhumanism is so a lot of people when they think of transhumanism they think predominantly of increasing strength and intelligence and kind of on a superficial level Nietzsche was far more concerned with human transformation at a conceptual level and I happen to think that that's also essential to a robust transhumanism so my answer to that would be yes I do think Nietzsche can be properly considered a transhumanist but only if we're considering transhumanism more broadly than than in a superficial sense that is concerned merely with physical characteristics I do want to sort of pin you down on some of the philosophical categories for example I believe in an Psalms God whose infinite and every perfection and the first cause young caused cause prime mover you know I think that we have free will and that morality is objective and eternal and that we either conform with that or we die the eternal death you know we have to conform to God and as goodness there is no evil is only the good and that evil is a falling away from the good it's a privation of the good I want you to talk about some of these principles philosophically where you are today do you agree with everything I've said or if not can you sort of show me where you differ I would characterize what you're talking about as a platonic approach to theism and that's been highly influential throughout Christian history over and over again Christianity whether Catholicism or otherwise has reintegrated itself with platonic ideas and been deeply influenced by them and I don't think that's necessarily good or bad I'm not I'm not making any kind of moral judgment about that but it's also not the approach that inspires me I do find some inspiration in it to be to be a little bit more clear I think that it's interesting and useful and often inspiring to think of God in that ultimate sense but I find it more useful and inspiring to me in my life to think of that ultimate sense as being derived from something more embodied and physical and dynamic on so I take a perhaps a more Aristotelian approach the theology if we want to contrast the Platonic and the Aristotelian where the instantiations or manifestations of the categories are more important to me more ontological II significant to me than the Ultimates in fact I would I would suggest that we derive the Ultimates from the instantiations rather than the other way around where most platanus would say you know the shadows on the back of the wall have a lower ontological status than the good I would suggest that the good is ultimately a manifestation or an abstraction from the instances so I would kind of turn that around so God for me is most important in the embodied sense in the dynamic since in the living breathing parts and passions since not in the without parts and passions sense and so and this is very typical of the Mormon tradition in the Mormon tradition we emphasize the embodied God we emphasize the idea that humanity as the children of God can and should develop into godhood as children do into adulthood and that by doing so we're not displacing God we're joining God we're communing with God we're becoming one in God that is to have Christ in us as Paul might put it in the New Testament that's how we would interpret something like that so there are lots of interesting commonalities how Catholics might approach divinization or how the Eastern Orthodox might approach up their version of apotheosis lots of interesting commonalities but of course where there's commonalities there's also some divergences in interpretation and I'm not at all unusual among Mormons in emphasizing the embodied and the instance over the category I have a great deal of respect for Catholicism my mother was a Catholic converted to Mormonism my wife was a Catholic converted to Mormonism I've had many excellent Catholic friends and I have high esteem for Catholics individually and I and I like the Catholic Church on the whole I don't think that there's anything in the world that's perfect not even my own church to be frank so I don't think the Catholic Church is perfect but I respect it and I think that on the whole it does more good for the world than bad is that a typical attitude for a Mormon to hold toward the church it's not unusual I don't know if I'd say it's typical there are some Mormons that have negative attitudes toward Catholicism there there's a strain of Mormon thought which has associated Catholicism with apostasy that strain of Mormon thought has become weaker contemporarily than it was historically but there are many Mormons who look at Christianity on the whole and and who will say something like we see God manifesting truth throughout all of this to varying extents that's a pretty typical Mormon thing it is a dogma of the Catholic Church that the church is a perfect society that's a dogma it means that all of the means of salvation are there in the Catholic Church and outside of the Catholic Church there are means of salvation also but they're imperfect and they're not complete so I just wanted to mention that as a sort of a bit of a joke but it's it's also something I take very seriously no no I understand you take it seriously what Mormons have a similar thing and and to be clear what I when I say the word Mormon I'm referring to a cultural movement that's broader than the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter day Saints but the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter day Saints is by far the most prominent division of Mormonism it's like I don't know 90% of Mormons are members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter day Saints I'm a member of that church but just to be clear when I say Mormon I do mean something somewhat broader than that and personally I identify as both a member of that church and as a Mormon and I mean somewhat different things by though so many Mormons and many members of my church would say something along similar lines to what you just said about the Catholic Church Authority is very important in Mormonism ritualistic authority and authority received from God are things they're emphasized in Mormonism much like in Catholicism there are many many versions of Christianity which kind of downplay Authority Mormonism does not it like Catholicism emphasizes Authority and so historically that played into this idea that I mentioned a few minutes ago about Catholicism particularly but much of Christianity in general also being in apostasy and the need for a restoration so Mormonism is a restoration movement a need for a restoration of authority to bring in all of these like what you described essential ordinances for salvation that's a very common Mormon approach my personal approach to those sorts of things is that rituals do have salvific effect those sub if ik effects are in my estimation not supernatural they're not magical they're all natural and can be understood and they could even be quantified if we had a sufficiently sophisticated set of machines to help us measure the effects on communities but the way that I look at ordinances and a thought is that they affect our societies in our cultures as a social technology and in fact I would consider religion as manifest through rich ritual and ordinance to be the most powerful social technology so we its use as I would characterize it is something to shape our communal action towards our transformation and that can be both good and bad I think religion can be used for horrible MS I also think religion can be used for wonderful ends and often it's used for a little bit of both so I I do embrace full heartedly the importance of authority but maybe approach it differently and more pragmatically than some persons who approach it that might see it more supernaturally than I do do you believe in the supernatural no if what we mean by that is something which is beyond our ability to interact with naturally yes I do believe in the supernatural if what we mean by that is just something that we don't yet know how to interact with naturally do you believe that the material universe has a beginning or no I'm open to the possibility that it does I'm open to the possibility that it doesn't and I'm also open to the possibility that's it that it is indefinite and which is kind of a strange idea but I'm open to that the basic question I'm getting at here is does God need a material physical universe in order for him to exist as some sort of epic phenomenon of the natural world or if the universe is a creation of God could he just as well exist without having created matter and substance and and the natural world most Mormons reject the idea of a materiality in general even spirit in Mormonism is understood to be a manifestation of materiality we're not duelists in the classic sense where there's like the body and then there's like something immaterial maybe the soul that is non material in Mormonism we still talk about the difference between spirit and body but we consider them both material even our scriptures will make it about spirit just being more refined or more pure and we could see it if we had pure eyes God in Mormonism is also embodied and embodiment is an inseparable aspect of God so when you ask a Mormon can we imagine their being gone without a physical manifestation that's that's almost a category error in Mormonism that the two go necessarily one with the other there is there is no such thing as that which is immaterial from a Mormon perspective okay is the Mormon God considered infinite in every perfection or no some Mormons do want to take an approach that is maybe more reminiscent of the approach that would resonate with you where yes God is infinite in every virtue or every perfection but they have trouble then reconciling that with the embodiment of God which is heavily emphasized in Mormonism so I think that there are very useful categories and you know the superlatives that we attribute to God that we can consider as useful approximations and that God is manifesting them in approximate ways but the God in which I put my trust is a dynamic God a growing God a God who is increasing in knowledge not in any ways that I would recognize far beyond my own capacities but who continues to increase in knowledge who continues to increase in power and who is attempting to cultivate those capacities in us as well now we might think of that you know going back to Mormons who try to reconcile that with a little bit more platonic worldview than the one that inspires me they might talk about their being kind of a spiritual understanding of God in which the embodied God is an instance and participates in and they might give that kind of more general spiritual version of God a greater ontology that I'm personally inclined to give it so there are some variations and how Mormons approach that but my own my own inclination is to consider that abstraction to be useful in many cases not in all cases but not to be superior in its ontological status to the dynamic Living God which we can talk about as being omnipotent and omniscient compared but it's almost nonsensical to talk about it in like an absolute sense is there any theoretical objection in principle to considering the possibility that some being could overtake God's number one position on the top of the hill in Mormonism there is the idea that if God were not to adhere to certain principles God would cease to be God but it's also commonly understood in Mormonism but that's not going to happen that the reason why God is where God is is because God does it will with like I don't know a we want we almost want to go through the superlative there and say God always will adhere to these crystals but there's that risk that then we're just that we're just attributing some other superlative and so my own approach to that would be well we're talking about a super intelligence here who knows a lot more about the challenges of life than you and I do is far more advanced in all of those virtues and capacities that you and I are it's pretty reasonable to have trust and confidence in that but do I insist on some kind of absolute list to it no I don't I don't even care to be honest whether it's absolute or not and I don't even think I could no I don't think I have the anatomical capacity to judge such a thing do you know the difference between a potential infinite and an actual infinite in mathematics and philosophy in a layman's sense yes your God is a potential infinite whereas my God is an actual infinite if you subtract from my God's infinite nature there's nothing taken away whereas yours when you add and subtract there is an actual difference that sounds fair to me and in fact this relates to interactions I've had with Eric Steinhardt who connected you and me Eric is definitely much more platonic in his version of theology than I am and that's okay with me I have nothing against platanus --tz-- I just don't pretend to know and so I have a very pragmatic approach to theology what matters to me is the difference it makes in practice to my spiritual life to your spiritual life to our community's spiritual and how it either contributes to or detracts from our transformation to be more like the God that we Revere and so if a platanus tells me the kinds of things that you and Eric tell me and I see the spark in their eyes and I see them acting and living principles better because of that spark all I can do is go yes go brother go at the same time that's not what moves me the most what moves me the most is the conception of a progressive God like whom I can become and who is reaching back to me and trying to cultivate that in me hmm the New Age is almost the opposite of Mormonism in as much as the Spirit is good the Spirit is the ultimate reality and the material world is evil now this is a borrowing from Gnosticism ancient Gnosticism I don't know if you know that much about it but can you just talk about the New Age movement why it's so powerful how it contrasts very obviously with your own Mormonism and how does it drive with transhumanism or does it at all yeah so I'm not sure I would fully share your characterization of the New Age movement as a mirror or the inverse of Mormonism I know persons who identify with the New Age movement that do match the profile you've described and I know others who don't I have some friends who identify out the New Age movement whose conception of the importance of embodiment are very similar to my own and they probably tend to be a little bit more neo-pagan than others so there might be kind of a spectrum within more New Age inclinations and and I do think part of that spectrum does match what you described you commented on on Gnosticism and how that's kind of fed I totally agree I think and a lot of them may not even be aware some of them surely are but a lot of them might not be aware of just how much ancient Gnosticism has informed many of their views but also Gnosticism ancient Gnosticism was also rather diverse there was a spectrum of ancient Gnosticism that did range from the rather escapist to other forms which had much more positive takes on the body but the most influential and well-known of them were rather escapist you know that the idea that that kind of a lesser God if it was even a God some kind of Demiurge created the world against God's will and that our job was to escape it and return to God and overcome materiality of course that's a that's a well-known ancient Gnostic I did which is reflected in some aspect of some forms of new-age snot and and and maybe this is this comes down to how we choose to label something as new-age or not I guess I kind of tend to think of the neo-pagans as being a form of new-age thought maybe I'm wrong maybe they wouldn't like that characterization but if they are and if and if that's a reasonable characterization then I've found that I actually have a lot in common with many neo-pagan approaches to spirituality and embodiment I want you to talk just briefly about stoicism Erik made a connection between stoicism and neo-paganism a loose connection but a connection that he wanted to emphasize anyway but the the main point with stoicism that I think overlaps with you that I'm curious about is the connection with Nietzsche Nietzsche was really into stoicism and there's this idea in Nietzsche and in stoicism about the eternal return and about the fire that's at the heart of existence and there's that fate that idea of fate if you can talk about that and talk about your notion of progress God's progress your progress and acknowledge if you would that we cannot have infinite time behind us because if we had an infinite time behind us and if we're progressing then that progression would be infinite so it seems to me that there would be a finite amount of time behind us so I've given you a whole lot to think about and to talk about just pick up on what interests you and answer as you wish yeah I'm familiar with the notion of the eternal return I'm actually a fan of Nietzsche they're some edges of his thought that I think are limitations that I wouldn't embrace but on the whole I like a lot about Nietzsche I don't like where the notion of the eternal return ends I think it's an interesting thought experiment is actually the the pragmatic cash value of the idea is that listen I'm going to embrace life and the strongest way of doing that is to say I will do this again and so I get where he's coming from with that night and I and I do see value in that but I and most Mormons don't think of progress as merely circular we do often talk about there being repetition of sorts but it's more like maybe a spiral than an actual circle the way that most Mormons think of it if we want to give it a geometric symbol to help us visualize it and it's very common among Mormons to argue that there was no beginning to time and space and matter and energy and gods and God and that likewise there will be no end and that progress is eternal we have we have a very strong idea doctrine with in Mormonism called eternal progression instead of eternal recurrence eternal progression is the opportunity for us to become increasingly like God all of us all of humanity has this potential and that it is a process that will go on you know maybe literally forever I'm open to the possibility that it's a very indefinite thing and it may even be that the greatest of God's God if I were to be able to ask the question you know and receive an answer in a way that I could articulate in English back to you right now might tell me that not even God knows when the first expression of God or the first God began to be and not even God knows when the last expression of God or the last God will be or if there would be a last or if there was a first these are questions beyond the scope of the kind of God that motivates me being possible to answer I'm open to that possibility but I also recognize I'm human my intelligence is limited by my biology my Anatomy to whatever humans can think and do and I trust that it's ridiculously minuscule compared to what I imagined God to be and so maybe God actually does have a great answer to that question it's just that I don't require that God have a good answer to that question I want to ask you about two fringe movements ralien ISM have you heard of that I've heard of it yeah and then something I guess similar is Scientology I'm sure you've heard of that what what is your take on Scientology both of these religions have in common with Mormonism being widely criticized right because they're minority groups have unusual ideas and get a lot of heat because of it just because of the strangeness to begin with like Catholicism it's not strange strange is a relative thing because if there's lots of people that you meeting in your life that have what otherwise would be considered a strange idea you become accustomed to it that's no other state so when you only mean a Mormon once in a while you only meet are a lien or a Scientologist once well there's more weirdness that is apparent just in the experience so in part you know I think that there's some lack of fairness in the way that both of those groups and Mormonism frankly are criticized by people who really don't know all that much about them so I want to be careful in anything I say about them because I know that you know they suffer through some of the same superficial criticisms that Mormon is the Mormons face regularly that said you know I you know there there have been some interesting scandals that I've heard about among Scientologists that you know personally do raise some red flags for me but to be completely honest there have been scandals in my own religion and scandals and Catholicism no you're kidding you know Eligius people really shouldn't be too surprised when there are red flags that are raised because religion can be abused it really can be an often is and so it shouldn't be too surprising that you know they have some strange things that happened with the ways that maybe the psychological experiments in Scientology have been applied to people and maybe they've been abused as a consequence I mean I'm not an expert there I'm on the Raelian front people are thinking it as kind of an et religion that actually has some commonalities with Mormonism right because in Mormonism God is embodied and so often there are many Mormons who think of God as an ET my own approach to that is is a little bit different I am equally strange but my own approach to that would be that yeah I think God is embodied but that you and I either were or now still are the thoughts of that God in the same way that you and I have thoughts and analogously to the way that we are now developing artificial intelligence software programs agents if you want to call persons ultimately I think maybe the potential of our AI development that's how we began with God something along those lines that's that's my own approach that's not a common Mormon approach but many Mormons will think of God in something that approximates kind of an ET perspective and so nothing like that turns me off automatically actually I'm kind of intrigued by and enjoy having discussions with people about those sorts of things and again I'm a pragmatist so at the end of such a conversation what I will ask them and what I will ask myself is okay well well how does this affect the way that I live my life how does this affect the way that you live your life how does this affect the way that we are working to make our world better is it first of all it doesn't have any effect or is it just like pointless if it is having effect is the effect generally good or bad or can we even make a case that it's generally good or bad those are the things that end up interesting me the very most and and then at that point I invariably find that I have more in common with these people in what we care about then might be initially supposed even though we you know have some different ways of describing the God that motivates us what are the criticisms that are leveled the most devastating criticisms that are leveled against not Mormonism but the transhumanism project well so for transhumanism itself it's very often criticized as being just one more version of eugenics I think that criticism is very uninformed but that's a common criticism and the reason I think it's very uninformed that transhumanists fall over themselves to emphasize the importance of morphological and cognitive liberty and that imposing these things on other people is a bad idea ethics are hugely important to almost all transfer unis so the whole eugenics criticism is usually leveled by people that really don't have a good grasp of what modern trends humanism is about another common criticism of transhumanism is kind of an aesthetic or demographic criticism it's a bunch of middle-aged wealthy white dude philosopher engineers and nobody else matters you know the rich people inherit the earth type philosophy and my response to that criticism is it sure as hell could be so listen that make sure that doesn't tap it right it could be that bad we can use science and technology to empower our vices to empower us against each other to empower us over each other and if we allow ourselves or the wealthy to oppress the rest of us and to build on our backs then that's a problem so that that criticism I actually think is legitimate but also I'm far from alone among transhumanist to think that would be a horrible outcome of transhumanism we need to be working against that kind of future are there any popular Hollywood films that explicitly tackle the issue of transhumanism in a positive light or in a negative light many tackle transhumanism in sci-fi and dystopian light that's very common most science fiction just the necessity of a plot and the necessity of tension and and the resulting entertainment value requires dystopian versions of the future right you can't have a movie that lasts more than five minutes if all you do is say look how awesome this is and they're like yeah I want to be there but this story's over so yeah almost all science fiction is involved in some extent or another of exploration of transhumanism and dystopian possibilities related with it whether it even recognizes that or not because transhumanism really is about how human the human condition has been evolving and will continue to evolve in the future with increasing effects from science and technology intentionally shaping our evolutionary trajectory I'd like you to talk a little bit about existentialism and then post-modernism please yeah so I I probably am in function rather existentialist myself I don't think that meaning is imposed on us I think meaning is something we create and as you might imagine that NGO that fits well with the theology that motivates and inspires me right because in my theology the God in which I put my trust the God that inspires me is a God who sets about instituting laws whereby others might learn to progress as God has and those laws range from physical laws to moral laws to you know aesthetics even and as a child part of part of the reason for my early faith crisis was the breaking down of things that I kind of you know as a child inherited as this naive sense of absoluteness and it all kind of broke down and the way I built things back together was very pragmatic in its approach where truth is what works that's not to say that there's not the possibility of some absolute truth out there it's just to say that the only way I'll ever know anything about that absolute truth if it exists but I'm not saying it does I think it's a hypothesis at best and one that I'm not even sure that anybody could prove but the only way we could ever know anything about it is through our subjective experience of it and so at the end of the day we have to measure the utility of things through ourselves and through each other and exchanging information and objectivity for me is not the negation of subjectivity objectivity for me is the sharing of subjectivity or the attempt to abstract across subjectivity explain more subjectivity and aspiring to explain subjectivity universally now that's an aspiration I don't think we can ever get there in a final static sense but in a dynamic improving sense I think we can we can increase objectivity potentially forever but forever end is another you know ultimate which I you know we never really get there so so much on existentialism I kind of consider myself something of an existentialist on post-modernism I'm probably more of a modernist in the sense that I believe in the power of categories and I believe in progress but with the qualification that we're always going to define progress in terms of where we are now we can only ever understand it and define it in context of who we are so this gets back to the existentialism and and so there's a little bit of post modernist as a foundation and it's like an acknowledgment yes there are limits there are limits to modernism I'm I'm not an absolutist when it comes to the notion of progress I think in fact that's would be kind of silly because I'm an existentialist but but at the same time I'm a pragmatist and I don't care that there's limits to it the fact is is that it makes my life better better defined in terms of how I want to live better in terms of how I understand people that I care about and love wants to live better in terms of how our community appears to thrive relative to my desires my family and friends desires and the kind of world that fulfills those desires better tomorrow apparently than yesterday so yeah there's kind of an acknowledgment of the breakdown of categories that ultimately you know we can move beyond beyond them all but that for me you know maybe I'm a post post modernist right in the sense that the fact that we can be skeptical to the point of breaking down categories is not a reason to do that it's just a reason for humility and humility is a good thing and so acknowledging humility acknowledging my limitations I still can get together with my friends and say let's build something that matters to us and let's bring in other people and see if they can help us bring something that matters to us extended and let's go from there when I think about pragmatism and abortion it doesn't really come up with a really good outcome for the little one in the womb what is your position on abortion and what is your position morally on sexuality generally I think you can acknowledge that the Catholic Church has a pretty restrictive view of sexuality within marriage between one man one woman talk a little bit about your own personal view of sexuality about the Mormon view of sexuality the trans human view of sexuality and just generally what's going on with all this because it's a very hot topic Mormons emphasize sex in marriage so sex prior to marriage is not a good thing according to most Mormons sex in marriage is a great thing whereas in Catholicism there's often expressed this idea that marriage is kind of a lesser law if you can live celibate ly that might be an even better thing yeah it's hard to answer that but they are both valued and it's more straightforward in Mormonism and Mormonism is just straightforward marriage is awesome another DIF another slight difference Mormons by and large they don't like abortion but our position towards abortion is a little bit more liberal than Catholicism in Mormonism the official policy of the dominant Church the one that which I'm a member Church of Jesus Christ of Latter day Saints is that you know abortion is a bad thing but abortion is morally permissible after going to God and seeking inspiration and making sure that you know you feel right about this in cases of incest rape and threat to the life of the mother kind of things so while Mormons tend to be quite anti-abortion there's this practical qualification on it I want to talk about militant atheism and why there's a lot of anger and pettiness in the comments section on my youtube channel and on the internet generally why are people petty and angry oh isn't it terrible it is so horrible so yeah you probably get some of the similar things as you might imagine being both a Mormon and a transhumanist I am ridiculed and demonized by various groups to incredible extents on the one hand there are conservative Christians who think that Mormons are really really evil right that we worship Satan that we are like the most counterfeit attempt at Christianity that we have totally you know ruin everything about Christianity and we're deceiving the world and the horrible things that they have said to me about how they hope that I burn in hell and that I live in infinite pain seriously mentally ill attacks on me based on just them knowing that I'm a Mormon add to that the fact that they think that transhumanism is the mark of the beast incarnate inspired by Satan that it's this new world order that's trying to take over everything it's that it's this weird conspiracy between engineers and scientists and the World Bank and and Colonel Sanders so they hate transhumanists - I am evil squared Mormon times transhumanism there is nothing worse to these people than a Mormon transhumanist and and I was just picking on the evangelical kind of super conservative Christians there but the same sort of thing happens from atheists like the militant atheists right and I want to point out that I think that there's actually functionally a lot in common between the dogmatic militant religious person and the dogmatic militant atheist both of them have a very rigid conception of religion very rigid one of them asserts that this rigid conception of religion is absolute truth and anything that deviates from it to any extent is pure evil is like this black and white all hell breaks loose if you are not exactly this thing and then the rigid militant atheist says yes that is religion that thing that behavior is religion that is exactly what it is and everybody who is religious does that and they're all horrible you know there's a lot in common between both of the approaches of these dogmatically militant ideologues one acknowledges their religiosity one probably miss recognizes their religiosity and thinks it's non-religious why do they do this well you know maybe Nietzsche talks about this a little bit on the one hand they're burying these burdens they're the camels right who have received this they feel strongly about it they're afraid of a tag they've been taught that the world is attacking them that Satan is very very real in the world and very very really wants to consume them and has already consumed most of the world more often than not they've been raised with the idea that good is something that is rare and most of the world is horrible and so they want to protect it and they want to protect themselves and even their family and friends this core group and they're very suspicious and frightened by things they don't understand in the world at large so I think fear drives it on the other hand and you've got the the New Atheists who maybe we're often raised with that sort of conception of religion responded to it very negatively feel angry and they become the lion right and they're tearing it to shreds they're so sick and tired of all this garbage and all religious persons are that way because that's how would they were raised in religion so clearly that's how everybody was raised in religion and so they want to tear it to pieces they want to reevaluate everything and not reevaluate they just want to tear it apart if they're angry about it what but what they don't realize is that they're still holding on to some dogmas about the nature of truth and the nature of humanity and the nature of goodness that are still very very rigid that they haven't yet recognized in themselves they're focused on some narrow theological claims and they haven't gotten to the aesthetic and ethical claims and they haven't started tearing those apart when they finally get to that level and they become lions for it on the ethical and aesthetic level and not just merely on I'm the more shallow epistemic level that they started at then they like turn in on themselves and then they start carrying themselves apart and that's when things if they get to that point become really interesting sometimes it can be life-threatening unfortunately but it can also be transformative if traversed so why are people doing this well they're trying to grow or they're trying to preserve what they value why do they hate us well because we're scary from where they are we really are scary or we really do represent things that have hurt them or have hurt people that they care about at least in their minds right they've associated you and me with something that frightens them or hurt them or did something bad to the world and they're fighting back or they're resisting it and they feel strongly about the importance of doing that so I guess that would be my charitable take on it in the long run I I hope that these Lions transform one more time as they turn their critical thinking abilities onto themselves and not just on other people and they become the child the childlike creator the reevaluate er of all values that they realize you know what everybody else is like me and in this way and this way is that we want to create value and meaning in life we all want that we all want meaning now some of us are more confident than others about whether we we have it some of us feel it deeply some of us know it intellectually some of us just hope for it vaguely and some of us have lost our hope but we all kind of want that and so I think once they once they start to get beyond the camel and the lion and they start becoming the child and we're all only starting maybe from Nietzsche's perspective maybe that's when we can find more commonality with each other and and that doesn't mean we all have to agree or ignore our differences I love the approach you're taking saying yeah well it's boring to say of just the things that we agree on let's talk about what we disagree on but we can approach that also in ways where we're not strangling each other we really can and you seem to do it well I have not known you long but you seem to do that I do want to let you close the show you've said a lot about hope you said a lot about reconciliation with our fellow man but dig a little bit deeper and give a general message of hope to the listener just to end the show and to wrap up what could you say to anyone that might be out there listening now I'm deeply inspired by the idea as as expressed by polymer New Testament that the body of Christ requires all of its members and I think that that body of Christ does incorporate all of humanity to varying extents and to the varying degrees of willfulness and so you know the head cats they have the beat that it doesn't need each other if you can't say that the head it doesn't need each other we need each other we're all learning we all have things to learn better and so give me a chance to learn and I'll give you a to learn and I think I not only think I am perfectly confident as confident as a pragmatist can be that the consequence of giving each other opportunities to learn and being constructively critical and supportive of each other simultaneously will make the world better will make the body of Christ stronger so whether you're a transhumanist or not I want to be in communion with you if you like it will do all you got to do is all you got to do do