Penn Jillette on Theism vs Atheism

This is an interesting take on what I’ve always considered to be an argument I didn’t want to be involved in even from a mile away, but I thought I’d share nonetheless.

Full disclosure, I consider myself a Buddhist/Quasi-Atheist in a way. I’m not wholeheartedly part of the Buddhist faith although I’ve retained a lot of the principles. If you need to what “religion” I belong to (if you must stereotype), take a gander at one of my earlier posts.

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Site of the Week: Pantheism.net

I’ve been fascinated with the Pantheism movement for a very long time and this is probably the closest modern, spiritually prefaced, interpretation of the age long idea of not [pooping] where you eat. I.E. Live and let live, responsibly. Pantheism.net is a good resource for people just starting to learning the details.

Are you searching for a path which focuses on Earth in the Cosmos, rather than some imaginary beyond? Are you more concerned with saving the planet than saving your eternal soul?
Do you hunger for a spirituality that respects individual choice rather than pushing prejudice down people's throats, and that values reason rather than fanaticism?
Do you find it impossible to believe in supernatural beings, and difficult to conceive of anything more worthy of the deepest respect than the beauty of Nature or the power and mystery of the Universe?
Do you feel a deep sense of peace and belonging and wonder in the midst of Nature?
If you answered yes to these questions, then you will feel at home in the World Pantheist Movement.

What religion are you?

…Will prompt a reply (to your reply) which will leave you asking yourself, more often than not : “Why in the world did I answer?”

Then you will come to understand, the person who asked you isn’t really interested in your answer. Rather he/she is out to validate their own with confirmation or conversion. The moment that individual is able to discern a divergence in consensus, your convictions are  automatically wrong. And I especially have a tough time explaining mine in ordinary conversation since it’s all pretty long and convoluted.

So here’s the deal… I’ll clarify this once and for all and for anyone else who asks hereafter, I will link to this post. I will not get into this question any more.

I was raised a Buddhist, though I don’t really identify with many of its tenets as a religion or faith. I have adopted many of its useful components, namely self-discipline, patience and an even temperament (I’ve said it before, I’m trying damnit!). But as far as religion is concerned, there’s really only one way I can describe the particular “faith” I adhere to.

Technological Spirituality

And what the devil does that mean?

da Vinci Transhuman

da Vinci Transhuman

In many ways, it’s similar in concept to Transhumanism, except I’m not interested in changing the entire species*see update. That is a futile endeavor which will leave more wounds in society than anything. Whenever you set out to “cure” the world, you become one of its ills. But if you cure yourself, then those capable of accepting the cure will adopt what you have done.

Technology already has played a key part in the development of our society, culture and, to an extent, our own physiology. This is but a small fraction of what it is able to accomplish.

I believe in the liberal use of genetic engineering to eliminate diseases and genetic defects leading to a poor quality of life.  Moreover, it has the ability to augment what we are today. I see no reason why technology shouldn’t be incorporated at a biological level if it allows us to be more productive, creative and more advanced. Again… It’s all up to personal choice.

And there’s a spiritual aspect to this, in that I also believe in reincarnation. I’ve been through too many bizarre personal experiences not to. So obviously I believe there’s something to this whole “soul” business, but I don’t think a biological frame is the only prerequisite to having one. I.E. If a “soul” really does exist, I see no reason why it would simply vanish if I were to replace every cell in my body with a nanomachine equivalent or if I transferred my thoughts and consciousness to a computer capable of carrying them on.

On a comment to my post on the OPAR project, I tried to clarify how this may be possible. As a side note, this also implies that a sufficiently advanced machine able to recognize and understand the concept of “self” could also have a “soul”. Of course this opens up a whole new can of worms, so I’ll leave that topic for another day.

I don’t really care what you out there believe as long as your beliefs don’t interfere with mine. I.E. Bring in laws to quell the free expression of my beliefs or abolish laws that already exist to achieve the same outcome.

Nor would I stand for laws that impose my beliefs on others. Just because someone else is a narrow-minded boob doesn’t mean I have to be one. And tyranny comes from all sides, folks…

I will not join the flat Earthers who insist the sky will fall if we dare tamper with a perfect plan. In fact, I believe survival in the future will depend on what we do to enhance ourselves today. But if it’s your choice to let it all be, then it’s your choice and your alone. Leave me out of it as I have other plans…

Update 03/09

I guess what I believe falls more in line with Transhumanism than I previously realised. Thanks to Matt (see comments) for clearing this up. I still prefer “Technological Spiritualist” as that doesn’t easily fall in line with other labels. I like to keep things as individual as possible.