Live Video Stream

The conference is adjourned. Video archives can be found here. Thanks to all who participated.

Agenda for Transhumanism and Spirituality Conference 2010

The agenda for the Transhumanism and Spirituality Conference 2010 is now available. Terryl Givens will begin the day at 9am with a presentation on "Fear and Trembling at the Tower of Babel". Max More will present at 1pm on "Apotheosis and Perpetual Progress". James Hughes will be the final presenter at 3:40pm on "The Compatibility of Religion and Transhumanism: Metaphysics, Suffering, Virtue and Transcendence". The conference will then conclude with a panel discussion and responses to questions from the audience. One change has been made to the lineup of speakers: Ralph Spencer Steenblik will replace Richard Amoroso, and will present on "Positive Parametricism". The full agenda, including abstracts, is below. We look forward to seeing you at the conference. Register today for a discount!


9:00-9:45 KEYNOTE

Presenter   Terryl Givens

Title   Fear and Trembling at the Tower of Babel

Abstract   An overview of the idea of divinization through history, with a discussion of why the idea has been simultaneously appealing and horrifying in myth and religion.


[Five minute break]


9:50-10:10

Presenter   Ugo Perego

Title   DNA, genealogy, and spiritual identity: overcoming the concept of race while exploring our unique heritage

Abstract   Based on the inheritance properties of DNA, it is possible to identify informative markers that have survived in our genome from past generations and therefore take a glimpse into humanity’s recent and ancient past. Similarities observed in genetic profiles can be grouped in larger clusters, called haplogroups, linked to specific geographic regions and ethnic groups. The contribution of molecular science to personal and religious identity, spirituality, family history, and the concepts of race and diversity is calling for a re-evaluation of previously accepted paradigms that are deeply rooted in many cultures.


10:10-10:30

Presenter   James Felton Keith

Title   Integrationalism: Spiritual disincentives for humanity

Abstract   Over the past 200,000 years, spirituality has dominated the human consciousness, resulting in a wide array of immaterial theologies, ideologies and mythologies. Human ability to compensate for the unidentifiable and unknown over the millennia has provided extraordinary philosophical exploration, so much that thinkers have used spirituality's lack of rigidity to endorse everything from cultivating life to death alike. In Integrationalism, I will demonstrate that any activity is justifiable in reference to spirituality; and further, ethical ambiguities and disincentives to promote trans-humanism are prevalent. Considering the ambiguities, I offer an alternative understanding to all spiritual philosophy.


10:30-10:50

Presenter   Roger Hansen

Title   Three Spiritual Exemplars for Religious Transhumanists

Abstract   This presentation will explore the lives and spiritual contributions of three of the early 20th century’s most innovative minds -- John A Widtsoe, Alfred North Whitehead, and Pierre Teilhard de Chardin -- as possible inspiration for religious transhumanists. One of the three was a chemist, one a mathematician/philosopher, and one a paleontologist. One was a Mormon authority, one a religious non-joiner, and one a Jesuit priest. They were contemporaries, and each was very religious in his own way. But each had to invent his own belief system, as we all do.


[Ten minute break]


11:00-11:20

Presenter   Malcolm Dean

Title   The End(s) of Mythology

Abstract   At the boundary of the Axial Age, natural knowledge was transformed into classical mythologies and early religious systems. What actually happened to human thought five thousand years ago? Why do cultures come with mythologies? Exactly what is mythology doing? At the boundary of the 21st century, complexity science and neuroscience are recovering a world compatible with ancient thought. Ancient philosophy presents, in intuitive language and symbols, ideas that have only been "discovered" recently: complexity, scale-invariance, fractality, the observer, the horizon of information, non-linear and topological thermodynamics.


11:20-11:40

Presenter   Ralph Spencer Steenblik

Title   Positive Parametricism

Abstract   The parameter is a symbol for decentralization, for spontaneous organization. Instinctively, aggregated intelligence seeks to optimize for the most effective utilization of resources. It becomes pertinent to create and embrace systems which can accommodate and grapple with dynamic scenarios. We live in a time where technology has moved far beyond the way we live today. Problem solving must be collaborative, dynamic, and holistic.


11:40-12:00

Presenter   James McLean Ledford

Title   Christian Transhumanism

Abstract   Soon, a wise and loving culture will apply the full power of technology to spiritual growth and so enter a state of hyper-evolution. They will enjoy continually diminishing hardship, and eternal life. God's will in this matter is revealing itself in today’s quickening changes imposed by the forces that guide our society; science, technology, spirituality, and even economics. From a Christian Transhumanist point of view, humanity is about to merge with what is called the Technical Singularity and so transcend this world. Learn about love in action in the technical world; connect to understand, forgive to grow.


[One hour break]


1-1:45 KEYNOTE

Presenter   Max More

Title   Apotheosis and Perpetual Progress

Abstract   Transhumanism has a strongly spiritual aspect to it. That aspect can be obscured by an emphasis on science, technology, and analytical philosophy in many transhumanist discussions. But transhumanism is both transhuman-ism and trans-humanism. The philosophy’s deep roots in humanism mean that transhumanism champions not only rationality and scientific understanding but, critically, also champions an inspiring and challenging vision of perpetual progress, dynamic optimism, and progressive self-transformation. Essential to the perspective of transhumanism is an extropic striving not for a state of final, static perfection but for endless improvement -- apotheosis as perpetual perfecting rather than perfection. I will outline a few aspects of this vision, and respond to common questions and concerns about the meaningfulness of a transhuman life and the status of the physical body.


[Five minute break]


1:50-2:10

Presenter   Dorothy Deasy

Title   Epiphany Endangered: the relevance of God in a transhuman society

Abstract   As we move further into the 21st century humanity has within reach the ability to alter the body human to such an extent as to give rise to a new post-human species. What is less clear is whether our ethical, moral and spiritual development can keep pace with our technological prowess. This paper will take the position that our faith communities are in a unique position to speak up for the need to hold both God and science together in our lives, to check human hubris and offset individual motives in exchange for ethical standards that support social justice.


2:10-2:30

Presenter   Michael Ferguson

Title   Trinitarian Archetypes: A Transhumanist Mythos

Abstract   Three streams of Darwinian processes are bio-organic, technological, and cultural evolution. In this presentation I will explore the interrelationships between these evolutionary media, and demonstrate the application of Christian archetypes for a succinct mythos that accurately encodes the transhuman worldview. Mythos is story-telling; rather than view transhuman and the religious stories as inherently destructive competitors, the opportunity for synergy is emergent from the multimodal faculties of human beings to engage story at both technical and holistic levels of cognition.


2:30-2:50

Presenter   Lincoln Cannon

Title   Trust in Posthumanity and the New God Argument

Abstract   If we will not go extinct before becoming posthumans then, given assumptions consistent with contemporary science and technological trends, posthumans probably already exist that are more benevolent than us and that created our world. If prehumans are probable then posthumans probably already exist. If posthumans probably increased faster in destructive than defensive capacity then posthumans probably are more benevolent than us. If posthumans probably create create many worlds like those in their past then posthumans probably created our world. The only alternative is that we probably will go extinct before becoming posthumans.


[Ten minute break]


3:00-3:20

Presenter   Jason Anthony

Title   Hacking Religion and the Ten Year Game

Abstract   The scientific paradigm embraces the value of cumulative progress: theories are tested, advances are made, and the field moves forward. Religious evolutions, however, seldom follow that trend. There are usually returns to fundamentalisms, forefathers or a pristine state. As we look at the future of religion over the next 10-30 years, which “returns” offer the most fruitful direction for those looking to “hack” -- or reconfigure -- religion to meet 21st century challenges? I offer suggestions, and outline the rules for the Ten Year Game -- an attempt to build a next-gen religion that thrives on opposition and crowd-sources wisdom.


3:20-3:40

Presenter   Giulio Prisco

Title   The Cosmic Visions of the Turing Church

Abstract   Following the Turing-Church conjecture, minds can be uploaded from biological brains to other computational substrates. Mind uploading research may achieve practical results within decades. Given the technology, humans may live indefinitely, colonizing the universe, and resurrecting the dead by "copying them to the future". Perhaps they will create synthetic realities inhabited by sentient minds; perhaps we are in a synthetic reality. These considerations parallel the tenets of many religions. The Turing Church will be a meta-religion, without central doctrine, characterized by common interest in the promised land where science and religion meet, science becomes religion, and religion becomes science.


[Five minute break]


3:40-4:25 KEYNOTE

Presenter   James Hughes

Title   The Compatibility of Religion and Transhumanism: Metaphysics, Suffering, Virtue and Transcendence

Abstract   Transhumanism - the proposition that human beings should use technology to transcend the limitations of the body and brain - is a product of the Enlightenment humanist tradition. As a consequence most avowed transhumanists are secular, and many religious are skeptical or hostile towards the transhumanist project. However there are also many religious transhumanists who find the project of human enhancement at least consistent with, and sometimes a fulfillment of, their metaphysics, soteriologies and eschatologies. Transhumanism appears to be especially compatible with religious traditions that emphasize human agency and evolution to a transcendent state, such as Buddhism, or that have incorporated Enlightenment values, such as liberal Christianity. But elements of the transhumanist worldview and enhancement technologies are compatible with one element or another of most world faiths, even the most fundamentalist. We can thus expect that human enhancement technologies will be adopted creatively into the theologies of groups within all the world's faiths, producing many flavors of "trans-spirituality."


4:25-TBD

Discussion panel with keynote speakers and audience Q&A