X-Message-Number: 23028
Date: Sat, 6 Dec 2003 01:36:11 -0800
Subject: Re: Libertarianism, Cryonics, Religion
From: Allan Randall <>


I found your views on religion and cryonics very interesting. Just to 
add to the discussion, I thought I'd summarize my own experiences with 
respect to religion, cryonics and transhumanism. I think that any 
attempt to create a religious outlet for cryonicists must work both at 
creating new organizations of a religious nature that are friendly to 
cryonics (eg, WTA, Extropians and Venturism), and also on creating a 
more comfortable place for cryonicists in already established religious 
organizations. "Religious" here is meant in the broader sense you have 
already laid out.

Unitarianism: this is probably the most established religious outlet 
for humanists and freethinkers, having a predominantly humanist 
emphasis over the last 50 to 100 years. As such, it seems a natural 
choice for a transhumanist cryonicist. However, most Unitarian 
humanists are not of the "trans" variety, but the more generic variety, 
and so there is not currently a large transhumanist element in the 
church, at least not one that is organized. I hosted a cryonics panel 
and discussion at our church recently. featuring some local cryonics 
personalities, and there were some rather hostile reactions by some 
church members, although some others were good-naturedly curious (and 
at least no one seemed to question the appropriateness of having the 
panel in first place). There are some humanist Unitarian ministers 
partial to cryonics, but many more of the mortalist stripe. I have been 
a Unitarian for a few years now, and there is one other cryonicist (at 
least) in my congregation. Unitarianism is noncreedal, and has 
affiliate organizations within it for the various belief groups. There 
is currently an attempt underway to create an affiliate group for 
transhumanists, but it is in the early stages. See: 
http://www.tuun.com/. One problem is that Unitarianism has typically 
attracted a large number of left-wing liberals, who, statistically 
speaking, tend to be heavily on the mortalist side of humanism ('we 
desire to die for the good of our children', etc.). However, there is 
an affiliate group for classical liberals, who are I think represented 
more strongly in the younger generation.

Freemasonry: I am currently applying for membership in a co-masonic 
(men and women's) lodge. Traditional male-only freemasonry in North 
America has rather stagnated in the last 100 years, but this is not at 
all the case in Continental Europe, where Freemasonry is a 
fast-growing, thriving, freethinking institution. North American 
male-only masonry also has this freethinking element, as well, but it 
has a very aging membership and a somewhat out-dated perspective on 
what constitutes 'freethinking'. Co-masonry in North America, however, 
is based on the European model, and is a very open, freethinking 
institution. While a secular institution, Freemasonry has some 
religious objectives, when "religious" is defined in a very broad 
sense. From what I know, its rituals (broadly religious or spiritual in 
nature but not supernatural in content) seem very compatible with the 
typical transhumanist / cryonicist world view. (I can elaborate if 
there is interest.) Although nonpolitical, Masonry has also (like 
cryonics) tended to attract individualistic and libertarian personality 
types, due to the nature of their rituals and their organizational 
structure. One of the earliest modern advocates of cryonics, Ben 
Franklin, was a mason (back when American masonry was more like the 
European masonry of today).

The WTA, the Extropy Institute and Venturism are all wonderful outlets, 
of course, and already have a strong cryonics element to them. However, 
they are also very new and very tiny compared to Unitarianism and 
Freemasonry. I think those cryonicists and transhumanists with some 
religious or quasi-religious interests may be well served by also 
exploring existing institutions, and trying to grow a 
transhumanist/cryonics-friendly population within them.

Good luck with Aionism... if you can distill its essence in a list of 
principles or somesuch, I'd like to see it. (Might even sign up if I 
like what I see...)


Allan Randall, , http://www.elea.org/
"Whatever can be thought of or spoken of necessarily IS, since it is
possible for it to be, but it is not possible for NOTHING to be."
      -- Parmenides of Elea, c. 475 B.C.

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