Re: virus: Transhumanism and Christianity

Pat Bunt (
Wed, 10 Apr 1996 16:35:06 -0500 (EST)

>choose to apply it and can afford to do so. And private property is
>probably the best guard against overpopulation; if there is no free
>property then rational people will hopefully limit reproduction to their
>personal resources.
Are you familiar with the Prisoner's Dilemma? Imagine that you live in a
finite world with immortality. If both you and society control
reproduction, the world will be a happy place, but you will not have a big
family. If everybody controls reproduction but you, then you get the best
of both worlds- a big family on a happy planet. If society does not control
reproduction, then the world will be a miserable place, and you might as
well console yourself by having a big family. No matter what society does,
your best bet is to have as big a family as you want. Compare two
overpopulated countries: China, which has population control, but is guilty
of human rights abuses, and India, a democracy that cannot control
population without infringing on the rights of the individual. So, how do
you propose to keep people from reproducing? I would point out that
scarcity is not a successful deterrent to overpopulation- indeed, looking at
the growth rates of rich and poor countries, I would say that scarcity
_causes_ overpopulation.

>Believe in Christ the Lord, or you will be deprived of Eternal Life.
>Believe in the Gun, or you will be deprived of, well, Life period.

This is a little vague- I'm still trying to get a grasp on what you mean by
"believe". Christians believe that eternal life is only possible through
salvation. Transhumanists believe that eternal life is only available
through science. As for the gun, I don't use one and I'm safe (I suppose
that you might say I'm using a gun by proxy, because the policeman who
protects me is using one.)

>Note that the Gun does not in fact require belief. Transhumanists hope
>that gerontology or cognitive science will provide a means of extending
>our physical life or mental processes, and we intend to use them if we
>can. Some of us are even working in such fields ourselves. (Or hope to
>do so, a la me.) Belief is irrelevant, except in a banal everyday sense
>for risk analysis and resource distribution.

I still admit to a shaky grasp of "belief" here, but I think if I stick to
this discussion, it should come to me eventually. While I would encourage
you to continue with your pursuits in research, I am a little shaken to hear
you say that the side effects of immortality are banal (figure of speech, of
course- I know that you are typing, not saying, and I am not hearing, but
reading). I would think that resource distribution and risk analysis should
be as essential to Transhumanist thought as the research itself. If what
you are seeking is a happy world of immortality, then eternal life must be
accompanied by eternal resources- in short, if immortality gives you an
unhappy life, you have missed your mark.

"Eternal _youth_, damn it! I Should've wished for eternal _youth_!!!"

-A shrivelled immortal grasshopper (forget the name- any
classicists out there?).

Patrick D. Bunt

"Nobody can make coffee as strongly as I can."
-Johannes Brahms