Micah Redding — Christian Transhumanism: faith, technology & the future

Gardeners of the Stars

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I hope that one day humanity will assess its gifts, its skills, and its history, and come to the conclusion that our purpose in this world is to cultivate and create life.

Certainly, this is what we have always done — not just in procreating, but in our efforts to domesticate animals, to breed new kinds of creatures, to grow plants and fruits and pets that would never survive in the wild. This has been with mixed results, but I think at the root of those impulses was the urge to bring more goodness into the world.

Our efforts extended farther. For our entire history, we have been telling each other stories, making up new ones as we went along. People worked hard to come up with new ideas, new thoughts which could be passed on to future generations, built on by their children and grandchildren.

These stories were very much a way of creating new life. New ways of being were born from them, new societies grew from their telling.

Other humans explored, leaving behind their villages and their cities to plant the seeds for civilization in the deserts and unknown expanses. They crossed seas and mountains, and overcame fears and limitations to reach the places others were afraid to go.

Whether through exploration, agriculture, or story-telling, all humans have tried to create life.

I hope that we continue that. I hope that society recognizes this as our purpose, and begins to focus our efforts and energies in this one direction. Maybe then war would quiet, maybe the background nihilism of our time would lift, maybe the self-destructive tendencies of the young and old would vanish.

But if we do embrace this, it will eventually require that we leave our planet. Just like the explorers before us, leaving their homes and villages, we will need to venture out into the universe to plant new worlds. I hope that as we do so, we will bring life where there is none, encourage whatever life we may find, and if we encounter any other sentient beings out there, join with them in cultivating the universe.

Maybe there will be planets where we allow whales to flourish and grow, giving them free reign of vast oceans. Maybe there will be planets where we bring back creatures the earth has lost, like the saber-toother tiger or the wooly mammoth. Maybe we will create environments for them, and allow them to live and grow and develop in ways they never had the chance to.

Maybe we will watch them from afar, enjoying the experience of each of their beautiful and unexpected lives.

Perhaps hundreds of thousands of years from now, we will be watching over millions of worlds.

In the end, this is the only way to escape turning inward, becoming obsessed with self-gratification, decaying into a futile and worthless species. If we do not go out, if we do not generate, we will become masturbatory and disgusting. And when we can stand ourselves no longer, we will die by our own hand.

But if we do embrace what is out there, all the beauty that is possible, then we will become a species that knows the joy of watching life flourish on massive scales. We will become the parents of worlds, the gardeners of the stars, living in the spaces between, ecstatically watching over all the creatures in our care.

Lincoln Cannon:

I enjoyed that, Micah. It also reminds me of the extended allegory of the vineyard in the Book of Mormon: http://www.lds.org/scriptures/bofm/jacob/5?lang=eng

lee workman:

Yes, humanity is a fascinating creation in itself. It is a huge gamble, in my opinion, on the part of God. Regular animals "behave" for the most part - they do what they were designed to do: kill, mate, eat, sleep, migrate, die. Humans of course also do these things, but just a bit more. I figure one of the definitive leaps for us was development of speech, which lead to the bicameral brain, a sense of time, and abstract thought (which further lead to mathematics, writing, philosophy, religion, and technological developments like agriculture). When you consider the amount of epochal time in which these developments took place, it is truly like a miracle, an explosion because it took place in an instant. I think this is the main reason our species has such a turbulent and chaotic record. We are basically riding the razors edge between "goodness" and "evil", happiness and suffering, - we are the point at which the two meet, interact and conflict. We are like the surface of a wing in a stall: all the airflow is in maximum chaos, unpredictability, turbulence. Stability is out the window, we continue to fail to fall into one state or the other, remaining a quantum indeterminacy in our own right. Maybe we, in this universe, are not ever meant to. Maybe we will always be the "ace in the hole", or the potential that is never meant to be realized. I know that sounds pessimistic and depressing, but it may be the truth. Death takes us out of this life, but we know not whence, other than on faith. There are, indeed, many mansions.

Stephen Wheeley:

While I share your hope that man will one day roam amongst the stars I don't necessarily share your pessimism that if we find this physically impossible we must inevitably stagnate and self-destruct . If we find interstellar flight impossible to achieve in our physical bodies then perhaps we can achieve interstellar communication with other species by either unknown mental or spiritual powers. And if we are confined to this solar system we can still work to achieve, with God's help, the life of spiritual and social perfection I believe we were created to enjoy. There are more ways to 'go beyond " this physical world than by merely departing it in the flesh, and if we do not perfect ourselves spiritually first we have no business going to other worlds and corrupting them as we are corrupted. Don't need to put the cart before the horse.

micah:

Thanks Lee. I like the idea that our creation was something of a gamble for God - something with huge risks, but potentially amazing rewards.

micah:

Steve, I'm not so much worried that we will be physically unable to leave the planet, as I am worried that we will lack the desire. A lot of people think we "need to get things figured out down here first", which has truth to it, but also danger. A teenager could spend their entire life trying to get everything perfect before moving out of their parents' home. But "getting everything perfect" isn't really living. Walking out the door and getting started is.

Albert Schindler:

Dead on, Micah! I believe that a bit of trepidation in our beliefs, plans and activities is good: helps us to concentrate and involve just enough study and carefulness on our part so that what we do is quality.

Jonathan Cannon:

Thanks, Micah, for again sharing a picture of what a beautiful future could look like.