X-Message-Number: 26419
Date: Tue, 28 Jun 2005 09:53:52 -0700 (PDT)
From: "D. den Otter" <>
Subject: What's wrong with religion? A lot, actually...

> Message #26402
> Date: Mon, 27 Jun 2005 10:00:32 -0400
> From: Thomas Donaldson <>
> Subject: The Salvation Army and cryonics
> I remember years ago when I went to New Guinea. At
> the time I would have
> said that I was an atheist; now I say that I think
> religion and the 
> existence of God are irrelevant questions.

To me, atheism isn't just about rejecting God /
religion on "scientific" grounds, but also on moral
ones. In other words, not only is it unlikely that the
Christian (or some other) god exists, but it's also
highly undesirable. Why? Well, because A) it would
basically mean that we can never become gods ourselves
("be all that we can be"), and B) that an insane /
sadistic / uncaring / incompetent entity rules the
universe. If Creation is flawed, then so must be its
Creator. It logically follows, end of story.

> One of the things I noticed was that lots of
> religious groups, from
> Catholics to various kinds of Protestants, had set
> up parishes in New
> Guinea. And yes, it was easy to find New Guinea
> people who believed in
> 7th Day Adventism and various other "modern"
> religions. I also noticed
> two other things: every one of these parishes,
> regardless of the 
> variety of Christianity they promoted, did important
> things for those
> who lived nearby. Educating the children, getting
> everyone better 
> medical care, and all the rest. And the second thing
> I noticed was
> that NOT ONE group of atheists, or agnostics, or
> members of US 
> churches which fundamentally don't seriously believe
> in God --- NOT ONE
> showed up anywhere in New Guinea doing good things
> for and to the
> locals. 

Well, that's pretty easy to explain: the theists were
harvesting souls, which is pretty much their favorite
pastime. Gullibe, naive, *receptive* souls that,
unlike those pesky individualistic Westeners, haven't
yet developed (reasonably effective) memetic defenses
against religion. Souls that can easily be bribed
(with aid) or coerced (with guns in ye olde days, now
usually by more subtle means) into accepting their 
"benefactors'" religion.

Atheists etc. tend to be more aloof, and often
actively oppose proselytization which they strongly
associate with religion. At least, that's my
> You should not feel at all bad about your
> association with the
> Salvation Army. We can't do much charity work at all
> if we try to
> do it alone, and very few if any such charitable
> groups aren't
> associated with a religion or religious feelings of
> some kind.

Real hardcore charity work requires a kind of
self-sacrificing zeal or fanaticism that is almost
exclusively found in theists and political extremists
(especially leftists). You don't *have* to be crazy to
do it, but it helps...

The problem with religious charity is that there is no
real motivation to make fundamental improvements.
Religion, after all, thrives on misery; on ignorance,
fear, poverty, death & disease. Eliminate (or
significantly curb) these, and you eliminate (or
significantly curb) religion. Simple as that.

> I remember once reading something Ettinger said, to
> the effect that
> religious people seemed more receptive to cryonics
> than most free-
> thinking liberals and other such people. 

Afaik the (vast) majority of *actual* cryonicists are
atheists, or at least agnostics.

> You may
> even find a few
> people in your charity work who will come around to
> cryonics, of
> course not without lots of thought and time. After
> all, Brian
> Wowk was quite right in one sense: cryonics is NOT a
> form of 
> religion, and should not violate anyone's religious
> ideas. 

Cryonics *is*, however, an integral part of the
(nascent) memetic and technological complex that will
one day annihilate religion, and deep down the theists
know, or at least suspect it.

> The
> problem here is that it also conflicts with central
> current
> ideas -- so central that many believe those ideas
> are religious
> ones and violating them offends their religion. Yes,
> dealing with
> those feelings and ideas is hard, especially since
> we're dealing
> with ideas we think are complete delusions. 

They are. Most religious teachings are less logical
and internally consistent than children's stories. Not
to mention the fact that many religions are mutually
exclusive. And inherently disempowering (they, both
explicitly and implicitly, oppose free inquiry,
rational thought, and foster a deplorable kind of
slave mentality). Religion is BAD NEWS.
> But if you wish to do charitable work, you must deal
> with this 
> problem too. 

Only technology can truly elimite poverty and other
kinds of misery. If you really want to make a
difference, financially or otherwise support key
scientific and technological developments (cryonics,
nanotech, AI, mind uploading etc.).

Message #26407
From: "Joe Waynick" <>
Subject: "Cryonics Has No Beef With Religion" - WRONG?

<<For a group of people who scream at the first sign
of religious intolerance, we seem to be a highly
intolerant group ourselves.>>

We don't have to be more tolerant than the theists,
just *more right*. And that we are, both morally and

<<The fact is, you can not possibly know that cryonics
is going to work with any more surety than people of
faith can know God exists.>>

Not quite; while both are "uncertain", cryonics is at
the "reasonable" / "likely" end of the probability
spectrum, while religion is at the "theoretically
possible but no more than that" opposite end. Cryonics
is a rational, even mildly conservative extrapolation
of current technological trends and scientific
knowledge, while religion is little more than a bunch
of infantile, superstitious fantasies mixed together
with needlessly repressive (and often misogynist,
homophobic etc. etc.) laws and customs. Cryonics and
transhumanism empower, religion oppresses. 

<<Can you imagine what would happen to us if every
church in the country decided to file a lawsuit
against Alcor because they believed (falsely) we are
encouraging people to reject God? Are you really so
naive as to think we could win such a fight?>>

Is there actually a law that explicitly forbids
"encouraging people to reject God". I'm guessing there
isn't; otherwise orgs like American Atheists would
have been sued into oblivion long ago, their websites
taken down, and their members (possibly) jailed. So
no, I don't think there's much need to worry about
legal counterattacks; any half-assed law student could
probably deflect those. In fact, given the (relative)
success of recent legal attacks on religion, see for
, you might even win, at least initially. 

I do agree, however, that cryonics organizations
should stay out of this, and perhaps even post
disclaimers on their websites should some other group
or individual decide to go ahead with this "in the
name of cryonics". Just in case. But the basic idea of
suing religion is certainly interesting. If you
believe that there "ain't no such thing as bad
publicity", this might indeed be worth a shot. I
wonder why atheist groups have never tried it, btw (or
have they)? Maybe teaming up with these guys, who
after all have much more resources and experience with
this kind of thing than the cryonics community, would
be a reasonable compromise? Don't make it explicitly
about cryonics, but rather take a ride on the atheist
"truth in religious advertising" lawsuit's coattails.

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