Re: virus: Transhumanism and Christianity

Twirlip of Greymist (
Wed, 10 Apr 1996 17:16:54 -0700 (PDT)

Pat Hunt, quoting me:

/>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

1) Yes. (2) "Immortality" is an approximation for "not dying any time
soon". Outside of some weird ideas of Tipler and Dyson, the universe
appears finite, which will put a crimp in things. But my life as it stands
already has a limit, of 100 more years, and probably less. I want to
push that back, among other changes. In the very long run it won't
matter -- we'll all be dead and gone. If the Norse could deal with
Ragnarok, I can deal with this. (I've got a short essay on this
somewhere on my website.)

/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

Natch. That's where the private property comes in. Ideally, your
children have to be supported by the income from your wealth, plus
whatever you can get from outside. If everyone's trying to reproduce
and there's minimal trade, then the material happiness of you and your
children is inversely proportional to how many kids you have. The
alternative is risking a war to get more from someone else. That might
happen, but if the universe is divided into heavily defended homesteads
overpopulation will only be a problem among those who've bred too much.
In this the children do inherit the sins of their parents.

/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.

Mmm. They see having many kids as insurance for their old age. They
are also used to much higher infant mortality rate. And I don't know
how they actually perceive resources. If transhumanists get their way
old age will be abolished. We'll be vulnerable to being killed, and
starving to death at the End, but spontaneous degeneration we hope to
avoid one way or another.

/>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

My point was that if I shoot someone, they die. Whether they believe
they will die is irrelevant. At least in my universe the bullet is
objective. I guess my statement was quite vague, actually. The real
point being to mock your own analogy, and to show that that wasn't what
we believe. Also that we're not proselytizing, at least not in that

/>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.
/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

Nope, you missed it. "Belief is irrelevant", except in that I have to
believe certain things to make decisions; this sense applies to
everything, hence is banal. Banality was applied to the necessity of
belief, not to immortality.

If "belief" is vague", well, it is to me too. You were the one who
brought it in, I think, making dubious analogies between transhumanist
thought and religious thought.

The basic point is that the human condition is improvable, and we intend
to improve it as much as we can. You can come along if you want, but
you don't have to; just don't get in our way. And "Join us or die" is a
_joke_. It sounds like the usual threat, but such would be unexpected,
to say the least, coming from mostly libertarian thinkers. Except that
because of the subject, it's still true, but in a different way, since
it's only false if you don't value immortality, but get it anyway, which
seems unlikely.

(Which mailing list is this? Between Extropians, transhuman, and this
twist on Virus, I'm losing track...)

-xx- Damien R. Sullivan X-) <*>

"Dragonlords fight for honor, Iorich nobles fight for justice, Jhereg
nobles fight for money, and Dzurlords fight for fun."
-- Steven Brust, a Vlad Taltos book