X-Message-Number: 20070
From: "Mark Plus" <>
Subject: Re: Religion and Secularism
Date: Sun, 15 Sep 2002 12:22:39 -0700

In Message #20063, Mike Perry writes,

>I am "godless," yes, but, I would say, not at all lacking a "concept of 
>divinity"--you can read about it in my book, ch. 10. I am also an
immortalist, of course, not a death-accepter, in contrast to most who call 
themselves atheists. So far, with a few exceptions, they have not seemed 
much interested in cryonics or radical life extension.

This addresses something I've been thinking a lot about lately. The older I 
get, the more I'm struck by the inapplicability of the prevailing worldviews 
& social models to what I'd like to do as a cryonicist & immortalist. 
Secular Humanism & Objectivism have some good ideas, but also some literally 
fatal deficiencies. That's why I find reading their literature so 
exasperating. Most of the people in my society only halfway "get it" at 
best. Even the handful who've figured out what I think is really important 
often make critical mistakes (as we've seen from recent examples).

I'd like to have an off-the-shelf "Transhumanism" to plug into my life, just 
as Christians have a whole library of how-to literature for their lives 
(setting aside the question of the value of much of this advice). However, 
while there are people around who call themselves Transhumanists (as I often 
do, for want of a better term -- "Venturist" as yet doesn't have much name 
recognition), in general Transhumanism has generated more enthusiasm & 
speculation than workable solutions to some hard practical problems for 
trying to survive in a society that is nowhere near optimal for our 
purposes. (It could be worse, I suppose. I'd hate to be a would-be 
Transhumanist in some Koranistan.) I think it is WAY too early to put 
Transhumanism onto the market as a competitive life stance, until the state 
of technology catches up to the task of making human enhancement (including 
radical life extension) plausible & desirable.

So I'm finding myself in a making-it-up-as-I-go-along mode, testing, picking 
& choosing ideas & practices from a variety of sources. One of my tentative 
conclusions is that I find it better to work towards tangible goals 
regarding health, savings & investments than to obsess over quality-of-life 
fantasies like "self-esteem," personal fulfillment & such. Objectivists like 
Nathaniel Branden can esteem themselves all they want, but their esteem 
won't keep them alive in the long run. (Ironically, in Rand's novels the 
heroes emphasize tangible activities like building, inventing, running 
businesses etc. over subjective indulgences.) Money may not buy you 
"self-esteem," but its proper application can go a long way towards buying a 
better chance of survival. Applying measurable physical or behavioral 
criteria to my goals seems to be simplifying my practical decision-making. 
(Materialism, utilitarianism and behaviorism might not be completely 
defensible as philosophies, but there's no denying that they can suggest 
some useful approaches to certain real-world problems.)

That's why I've been a bit disappointed with Alcor's magazine lately. I'd 
like to read more articles about the real aspects of using cryonics to 
survive -- how to avoid autopsy, what's happening with vitrification 
research, what Alcor's financial needs are, etc. -- and fewer ones about 
science-fictional speculations, what happened at parties, philosophical 
discussions of the nature of identity, etc. Basically I want to learn about 
things that are doable or useful now, where cryonics service providers with 
enough money can attain something tangible to show for their efforts. The 
magazine seemed much more informative 10-15 years ago than it has recently.

Mark Plus
It's not "religious" or "science fictional" if you can do it.

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