29: Mormon Transhumanism

Clay interviews Lincoln Cannon and James Carroll about Mormon Transhumanism. Fellow Expositor panelist, Heather, joins the conversation.

Mormon Transhumanist Association

The Singularity is Near: When Humans Transcend Biology – Ray Kurzweil

Transcendent Man

Fermi paradox



  1. Lincoln Cannon

    Thanks, Clay and Heather, for the invitation, discussion and production. I’m impressed by your work.

    Heather, you mentioned at the end of the discussion a couple criticisms to which I’d like to respond:

    First, you suggested that science has been disproving agency. Science has clearly demonstrated our ability to predict at least some kinds of actions prior to our conscious awareness of any decision to perform those actions, and I’m confident that our abilities in this area will continue to improve, but this is different from disproving agency unless agency is understood in an unnecessarily narrow way. Quantum uncertainty, the evolution of consciousness, and causal feedback loops are matters to take into consideration when considering agency in broader ways.

    Second, you suggested that even if the aspirations of Mormon Transhumanism play out in the future, there will be many, already long deceased, who would not get to enjoy that future, apparently in contrast to the promises of Mormonism. If I recall correctly, James suggested that presently existing posthumans, if any, could take care of that problem by preserving the spirits (the information patterns) of those who have died. While that may be true, I prefer, for both practical and moral reasons, the more pragmatic hypothesis that we may be able to do something about this problem ourselves, and thereby make use of the means God has already provided. You can read about by preferred speculative hypothesis by googling “quantum archeology” and reading these blog posts:



    What do you think?

    Reply Jan 16, 2013 @ 22:51:00
    • Christopher Allman

      Lincoln, are you familiar with the recent in quantum entanglement and time? Allow particles which have ceased to exist to still exert influence on existing particles? This suggests that on a quantum level time may not be linear in the same way we experience and that the past and future can be entangled together. This suggests possibilities for resurrecting beings by being able to determine the nature (or pattern) of particles which may no longer exist. http://www.livescience.com/19975-spooky-quantum-entanglement.html

      Reply Jan 17, 2013 @ 15:05:00
      • Lincoln Cannon

        Christopher, thanks for the link. Although speculative, I’m optimistic that we’ll find ways, perhaps along these lines, to reconstruct our past with ever-increasing detail.

        Reply Jan 17, 2013 @ 21:58:00
    • Clay Painter

      Lincoln – Thanks for your participation and for the links! My thoughts about your resurrection ideas are that they are very interesting. Kurzweil seems to think similarly to you in that in the Transcendent Man movie, it shows him collecting data and memories about his father with hope that he might “resurrect” him. I think that is a fascinating idea, but in all honesty I do not see any implications of that implied within religious literature. Scriptures seem to give a much more literalistic view about what the resurrection is… I respect your ability to nuance gospel ideas, but I just do not feel like those are or were the ideas related within the Mormon framework. However, like I said, I find the idea of the singularity utterly possible in the future.

      Though, one thing that bothered me about The Singularity is Near, was what I perceived as Kurzweil’s dismissive attitude about a possible ethical obligation to die! He scurried past population problems and energy and resource consumption in an alarming fashion. I am of the mind that humans may have a moral obligation to die and to reduce global population. But, that is rather off topic!

      Reply Jan 17, 2013 @ 17:29:00
      • Lincoln Cannon

        Clay, I agree that the scriptures and Mormon tradition suggest a highly literal view of the resurrection, and I’m proposing nothing less than a literal interpretation of the resurrection. Consider Mormon temple work for the dead, and the well developed theology around the idea that we must “save ourselves and all our dead”. Consider the encouragement to keep journals and do family history work. Look at the many scriptural encouragements to “remember”. Joseph associated Godhood with progress “from exaltation to exaltation, until you attain to the resurrection of the dead”, which makes little sense in context unless it’s the power to resurrect the dead. He went on to teach that God had ordained, before the world was, that which would permit US to redeem our dead; why should we suppose baptism for the dead is the end of the work? As Joseph taught that transfiguration (or “translation”) is an ordinance of the priesthood, so Brigham Young taught that resurrection is an ordinance of the priesthood, and that either God or his “friends on the Earth” possessing the “keys of the resurrection” will wake him up from the dust. Modern Mormon authorities encourage us to participate in the work of God, which is not only to bring about our eternal life, but also our immortality. Jesus himself, as presented in the New Testament, tells us, his disciples, to raise the dead. Of course, there’s more, and here are some samples: http://community.transfigurism.org/quotes/mormon-authorities-on-transfiguration-and-resurrection

        I share Kurzweil’s rejection of the idea that there’s a moral obligation to die, as I share Nephi’s assessment that death is “an awful monster” to be vanquished. I do recognize moral obligations toward future generations and sustainability, but I’m optimistic that there are solutions to the problems. Here’s an interesting book to consider: http://www.abundancethebook.com/

        Reply Jan 17, 2013 @ 21:42:00
        • Clay Painter

          Thanks for the reply. I am not ignoring it; instead, I am just chewing it a bit with my brain. I’ll respond soon.

          Reply Jan 18, 2013 @ 18:15:00
  2. Christopher Allman

    Yes! This is hands down my favorite topic related to Mormonism and I’m happy you guys covered it.

    Heather, I was happy you were on this episode and thought you offered some valuable push back. I had more or less the same sort of beliefs as yourself when I was a believer. I even shared your speculation that the second coming might occur via some type of space ship.
    I remember trying to convince my fellow Mormon friends that we should think of God not as something supernatural but as the ultimate scientist. The consequence of this for me is that I could not see anything as ‘sacred’ or ‘evil’, only functional and dysfunctional. For example, something that would be considered ‘sacred’ is merely something that accurately describes the Universe and there would be no more harm in treating it lightly than making jokes about E=MC2 or cellular biology.

    Reply Jan 17, 2013 @ 14:57:00
    • Clay Painter

      Thanks, Christopher, for your input and your excitement about the topic!

      Reply Jan 17, 2013 @ 17:30:00
  3. Christopher Allman

    Lincoln or James, I’m curious if either of you have read Greg Bear? He is the only sci-fi author I’ve known who writes a future that seems like a plausible post-singularity reality. It was actually reading him that got me interested in the singularity and transhumanism (although it was several years later that I learned those terms, or that there was a community of people interested in these ideas).

    Very few sci-fi authors play with a future where human beings have learned how to alter their minds and bodies for the better, and Bear does so in a way that makes it seem not only plausible, but inevitable.

    If you have not read him, and you are interested in doing so, I suggest you start with the book ‘Eon’. They live in a future where, when someone dies, they simply put the chip in their neck into the next body. Or live virtually in ‘city memory’. The series even ends with a sort of deity like super being known as ‘The Decendent’ and is composed of alien species from across the universe who have combined their essences together (or sometimes through Borg-like assimilation) that exists at the ‘end of the Universe’ and are working to bring it (the Universe) to an aesthetically desirable end.

    Reply Jan 17, 2013 @ 16:38:00
  4. chriss

    Lincoln or James: Do the guests see anything that can derail the coming ascendancy? History is ripe with civilizations that ultimately collapsed. Can technology transcend this fate for modern civilization? If you believe in Mormon prophesy than you must believe civilization will collapse in some form. Do you see the millennium as the pinnacle of Mormon transhumanism?

    As true believing mormons how do your views of how technology will impact society differ than non-believers? Isnt it technology that will cause or rather bring about the destruction prophesied in mormon theology and usher in the 2nd coming? How are your expectations about transhumanism informed by mormon millennialism theology?

    Reply Jan 23, 2013 @ 13:24:00
  5. Torin

    I like the Star Trek references. Personally, I like the Klingon paradigm. They Tracked down their “Gods” found out they weren’t divine and because their Gods enslaved them, the Klingons declared war on them and destroyed them.

    Reply Jan 23, 2013 @ 14:12:00
    • Clay Painter

      I like that theme too, Torin. There was an early Star Trek movie where they find god and find him to be malevolent (Star Trek I maybe?). The new film Prometheus does a good job at discussing that idea, I think.

      Reply Jan 23, 2013 @ 15:23:00
  6. Jonathan Burgess

    I always found the Yogic/transcendentalist view of each aspect of individualized consciousness(humans etc,) as being a window into the pure oneness of conscioucness a better view. In this philosphy, each individual collects and stores information for the whole. BUt I like how this transhuman approach is a way to entice atheists into the discussion and to perhaps end up embracing the idea I began my post with.

    Reply Jan 29, 2013 @ 19:18:00
  7. David Herbert

    Dear Lincoln:
    This past Monday, I interviewed Nicola Danaylov for my upcoming book, Becoming God: Moving Beyond Humanism and Darwinism to Posthumanism. He has agreed to be a peer reviewer and mentioned that I should contact to see if you would be interested.
    I am presently on chapter 6 and I am hoping to have the MS ready some time in the fall of this year.
    I want to thank you in advance for considering this request.
    David Herbert
    To see the other books that I have written, go to http://www.diherbert.ca

    Reply Feb 20, 2013 @ 13:57:55
  8. Mormon Transhumanism - What is transhumanism? - Rational Faiths

    […] God), resurrection, and the potential existence and nature of God. These issues, and specifically how they interact with Mormon theology and culture, will be the subject of our next article in the series […]

    Reply Jun 23, 2013 @ 11:04:12
  9. Ike Evans

    Transhumanism has given me a lense, so far as I see to this point, that has removed any crisis of faith that I have previously struggled with. In other words, I have never been so comfortable in my faith as a Mormon as I have come to understand Transhumanism.

    Reply Oct 20, 2014 @ 12:45:24
  10. 91: A Conversation with James L. Carroll: No Stranger to Paradox

    […] James’ previous interview: Mormon Expositor Episode 29 – Mormon Transhumanism […]

    Reply Feb 25, 2015 @ 02:01:13
  11. William Law

    : No Stranger to Paradox

    Mormon singularity Ethical use of Technology and human Intercession . . .
    This is the unethical use of Manipulative Mormon buzz words woven into psudoscience by the Mormon Transhumanists re-reresercted notion of authority and agency for the right of man to evolve into Post-Humanity through magic, this is Mormon Hokum.
    Through ordained means the mormon transposon by grace and works creates Mormon Transfigurism using the Liohona and God’s love.
    How do mormons engage in ethical use of technology? How do Mormons engage in ethics given the Mormon ethical track record? How do mormons engage in ethics when Mormon engage in a manichean world view –– where demons, sprites and jinns are real to the Mormon.
    Double speak is stock in trade for Mormon Transhumanism, as Mormons say, “Follow the Prophet.” and “Sacred not secret.”
    Seems Lincoln Cannon is cheerleading for a forlorn cause, why not drop the fraud and engage in Humanism. Perhaps Mormons can engage in Humanistic Transhumanism.
    So Lincoln Cannon must sing his song and sit on his hand and wait for the Prime Directive. If Mormonism ain’t true then it will be kludged into a new reality by Divine Rite Insight made of sparkles and glitter.
    Remember the Good God is Compassionate . . .

    William Law

    Reply Jul 22, 2015 @ 22:15:49
  12. William Law

    Say no more, the L was missing on my html

    Reply Jul 22, 2015 @ 22:19:14

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