Qyxxql Merlin (qyxxql_merlin) wrote,
Qyxxql Merlin

Seminar on Transhumanism and Religion Commentary 3.4.2 Interview with Ahman Hax and conclusion...

Here is my interview that I conducted with Ahman Hax (Lincoln Cannon) last week via email about Mormon Transhumanism aka. Transfigurism...

QYXXQL MERLIN: What is the Mormon Transhumanists' position towards those who become Posthuman but do not adopt the Christ Consciousness as part of their moral fabric?

AHMAN HAX: Here are two responses to your question:

1) One may adopt a Christ consciousness without calling it "Christ".

There is an insightful story in the Book of Mormon that illustrates this idea. As the story goes, there was a king that was impressed by the service that a missionary provided to the kingdom, and the king wanted to know more about the ideas that inspired the missionary. The missionary asked whether the king believed in God. The king replied that he didn't know anything about God. The missionary responded by asking whether the king believed in a "Great Spirit". The king replied in the affirmative, and the missionary quickly affirmed: "That is God."

This story is reflected in various aspects of Mormon thought and practice. Joseph Smith claimed that he would force no one to believe as him, except by persuasion, and that if persuasion did not work with a person then he would build that person up in her own way. Likewise, missionaries of the LDS Church are taught to emphasize commonalities between Mormon beliefs and those of the persons they teach, instead of arguing over who is right. The current leader of the LDS Church, Gordon Hinckley, has also taught that persons converting to Mormonism should bring with them all of the good they have received from other ideologies, and add to that what Mormonism can provide.

2) As Joseph Smith described it, we look forward to worlds without end, each adapted to the desires and wills of its inhabitants.

Joseph taught of a class of worlds, as innumerable and varying as the stars, in which the inhabitants would not embrace a Christ consciousness, yet would enjoy glory far beyond that which we now experience. In Mormon cosmology, there is no permanent hell, except perhaps for the small number of persons that would seek constantly to create hell for themselves. To emphasize the pragmatism of this idea, Joseph once claimed, in response to critics, that if he and the Mormons are sent to hell then they will make a heaven of it.

That said, Mormons do understand faith in Christ (who by any other name is as divinely and eternally charitable) to be essential to enabling more advanced classes of worlds.

QYXXQL MERLIN: Hello again, I forgot to ask you as a Mormon Transhumanist, where do you personally draw the line between the right-to-choose (self-determination) and societal oppression?

For example, I know that some Mormons (perhaps all), oppose the act of homosexuality and probably beastiality too but what if the Posthuman chooses
to switch (or even neutralize) gender and perhaps even species of their own
free will? Do they lose their right to Godhood in the Posthuman era or is
it only as not-yet-Gods that we are denied the right to choose such

AHMAN HAX: I believe dynamic balance is required between the wills of individuals and the laws of their communities, neither being more important than the other.

This reflects Mormon soteriology, which inter-relates individual and communal salvation.

Most Mormons do oppose homosexual relations, generally because they are
perceived as being incompatible with or a poor environment for families,
which Mormons consider to be the strongest foundation for community.

Personally, I do not oppose homosexual relations to the extent that they are
committed and consensual, with no neglect, abuse, promiscuity or infidelity
involved (which are precisely the same qualifications I put on appropriate
heterosexual relations).

The LDS Church, of which I am a member, does oppose homosexual acts of all sorts and will excommunicate any member that engages in them, although it does not oppose homosexual inclinations, so long as they are not acted upon.

Obviously, in this case, I am not representative of most Mormons, but I am certainly not alone. Given that this is an emotionally charged issue, I try not to focus on it, choosing instead to direct my energy toward matters that will take us all forward to a day when perhaps we can look on these matters in clearer light.

Regarding bestiality, every Mormon I know opposes it. Personally, my opposition arises from the same reasoning that leads me to oppose sexual
relations between adult humans and their children. As I see it, the
psychological consequences of human sexuality are such that the practice
should be reserved as an intimate expression between persons of similar
spiritual magnitude, otherwise it quickly becomes oppressive.

I can imagine future paradigms in which my practical views, and those of
other Mormons, regarding sex and gender issues could change dramatically.

As Joseph taught, morality adapts to context, and new revelation will never
cease. Our theology and ethics are not absolutist, even if some Mormons
choose so to behave in regards to various matters.

QYXXQL MERLIN: It seems that Transfiguration inplies that that the Son becomes the Father (God) or at least Father-like in an infinite cycle of progression.

What I have learned about Mormonism so far is that the image of the heavenly
Father is actually in our image...by that, did Joseph Smith mean that any
Mormon Posthuman would in fact still look completely Humanoid but with
Godlike powers? I noticed for example that your avatar in SL looked quite
human and not so alien in its appearance...is this to express the humanoid
appearance of the Fatherly avatar? Would a Posthuman with Mormonesque
beliefs in Christ and Mormon morality be considered saved if the image of
the Posthuman did not look at all humanoid?

AHMAN HAX: Most Mormons believe that God is and will be humanoid in physical
appearance. However, I believe a persuasive case, using Mormon scripture and
tradition, can be made for keeping our minds open to additional
possibilities. Joseph Smith repeatedly taught that God has always interacted
with humanity according to our understanding, complete with its various
limitations. Moreover, Joseph taught that humanity commonly sees God without
comprehending. Such teachings, coupled with the pervasive Mormon expectation
of eternally continuing revelation, should remind us, as the Bible puts it,
that eternal life is to know God -- and if we assume dogmatically to know
God exhaustively then we are merely damning ourselves from learning more.

QYXXQL MERLIN:... another great answer about the persuasive case of the possible post-humanoid nature of God... I was comtemplating more about the idea of God the Father being made in "our image"...maybe you are thinking along the same lines as me when thinking about what "our image" actually is? Perhaps you are hinting in your persuasive case that "our image" could be the mirror-image of all of multidimensional selves that exist within the endless worlds of creation? This would allow both God and ourselves who wish to become as God to choose the kind of image we would wish according to our will in this practical dimension, correct?
For example, I consider my avatar lives (yes, I have more than one) to be the more godlike/ideal aspects of my RL self..in a sense, I consider it a reflection of my higher moral self (well, at least as Qyxxql)...I also personally believe in astral counterparts who are my higher selves in other dimensions...so, if I pursue Godhood in the physical/realm, I can also choose to mold my mundane humanoid self into these higher manifestations of my outward appearance or "image", right?

AHMAN HAX: Qyxxql, I am personally open to the ideas you express above. My primary concern is that our choices in such matters (indeed, in all matters) do not oppress others, except to the extent of countering their oppression. On the one hand, that sounds simple, but, on the other hand, recognition of and proper response to oppression is a complex issue -- infinitely complex, I suspect...


And now, here are some concluding thoughts I have about Mormon Transhumanism, as I currently understand it... First of all, I should quote here
the official comparison between Mormonism and Transhumanism:

"Mormon teachings of the Dispensation of the Fullness of Times parallel Transhumanist ideas regarding the Fourth Epoch, in at least the following ways:

Present knowledge is the culmination of multiple past periods.
Acquisition of knowledge and power is accelerating.
Future progress depends on knowledge and power acquired today.

First, present knowledge is the culmination of multiple past periods. In the Dispensation of the Fullness of Times, we benefit from the restoration of the knowledge and power of previous dispensations. Likewise, in the Fourth Epoch, the technologies of previous epochs – physics, chemistry, biology and brains –enable present human technologies.

Second, the acquisition of knowledge and power is accelerating. In the Dispensation of the Fullness of Times, God is shortening the days and increasing the rapidity of the work. Similarly, in the Fourth Epoch, technological advances are recursively leveraging previous advances to progress exponentially.

Third, future progress depends on knowledge and power acquired today. In the Dispensation of the Fullness of Times, we are establishing the foundation for yet greater dispensations to come. Analogously, in the Fourth Epoch, we are introducing technologies that will enable future epochs to combine biological and information technologies.

Mormon teachings of the Millennium and immortality parallel Transhumanist ideas regarding the Singularity and transhumans in at least the following ways:

First, a period of dramatic and unexpected change is imminent. Although some ridicule and few have recognized its signs, the Millennium approaches, and we should prepare ourselves for the Day of Transfiguration and its attending changes. Likewise, although critics scoff and despite the
intuitive linear view of change, the Singularity is nearer than we anticipate, and we should review and mitigate associated risks.

Second, minds and bodies may be changed diversely. In the twinkling of an eye, we and other animals may be transfigured or resurrected to bodies of varying types and degrees of glory.

Similarly, information technology may enable genetics, nanotech and robotics to enhance the minds and bodies of humans and other animals.

Third, anatomical changes may extend lives indefinitely. From one transfiguration to another, exchanging blood for spirit, we may attain immortality. Analogously, as transhumans, we may
extend or exchange our biological substrate with another to ensure persistence of our identity.

Fourth, our work may contribute to these changes. Transfiguration and resurrection may be ordinances for us to perform for each other. Comparatively, our science may provide technology
that enables us to enhance ourselves and attain indefinite longevity."
- Parallels and Complements between Mormonism and Transhumanism - .

And here are my concluding point form reflections on this quoted text...

-Mormons are judged for their "works" and so the Mormon Transhumanists wanted to make sure their faith was more actively involved in the emergent future of Transfiguration as outlined in the Book of Mormon. What better way to beta-test their "works" in the Transfigurable environment of Second Life?

-Mormons seem to suggest that the "creation of worlds without end" might refer to virtual worlds such as SL and the future descendents that might be inspired by it or even related to SL's memetic heritage.

-Morality would occur because of the possible awareness that our simulators of this virtual world (See Nick Bostrom's Simulation Hypothesis in a previous posting) are judging our actions for the next level or "afterlife"...In order to become Posthuman, we must emulate the benevolent moralist of the Posthumans that created us as inhabitants of one of many "worlds without end"...

Well, I think I have given a sufficient amount of commentary for this Transhumanism and Religion seminar...if anyone wishes to further this discussion, please add a comment to one of my postings and we can take it from there...

My next posting (to be unveiled in the near-future) will be about creative visualization in SL due to our Angelic Spirit Guides :-)
Tags: ahman hax, lincon cannon, mormonism, qyxxql merlin, religion, second life, transhumanism

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