Using Technology to Deepen Democracy, Using Democracy to Ensure Technology Benefits Us All

Monday, January 26, 2015

Techno-Transcendental Celebrants of Science Are As Destructively Anti-Scientific As Any Creationist

Robot Cultist John G. Messerly hilariously declares religion doomed in a palpably religious techno-transcendental screed published over at hplus magazine (h+ stands for "humanity-plus" for all you merely human mehum humanity-minuses out there, in case you were wondering).

I am an atheist myself, but I tend to be rather cheerfully nonjudgmental about the issue. Both my sense of the force of aesthetic sublimity and my awareness of the demands of a faith in democracy connect with at least some of what religiosity can be for at least some of the variously religious, and so I do not find it so easy to dismiss all faith as such as many other atheists seem to do -- at least many of the atheists who seem to be getting a lot of media attention lately.

That said, I do find it easy to condemn efforts to politicize organized religiosity and militarize moralizing. Since this kind of militant evangelism threatens the differently religious quite as much as it threatens the non-religious, the majority of my allies on this issue are religious as I am not, exactly as you would expect if you are thinking sensibly about the question. As a champion of scientific discovery and practical problem-solving, I also condemn efforts to substitute fundamentalist articles of faith for warranted scientific beliefs where matters of prediction and control are concerned. And again, plenty of theologians are as concerned about the distortion of faith when it is misapplied to instrumental concerns as they are, and I am, concerned about the distortion of science by these misapplications.

What is extraordinary about the transhumanoids, singularitarians, techno-immortalists, digi-utopians, nano-cornucopiasts of techno-transcendental futurology is how readily they peddle what are palpable wish-fulfillment fantasies, eschatalogical narratives, end-time narratives (often quite obviously citing theological and mythological archives for conceits, images, frames as they proceed) as if they were actually thought-experiments, scientific hypotheses, or responsible public policy proposals. I have to say that the prevalence of deceptive and hyperbolic advertizing discourse and parochially extrapolative blue-skying across the neoliberal public and institutional terrain has unquestionably enabled futurologists to get away with this con artistry, indeed futurology is something like a reductio ad absurdum of neoliberal assumptions and aspirations, norms and forms, exposing the dangerously delusive, uncritically symptomatic, unsustainably infantile faith-based initiative of extractive-industrial complacent-conformist-consumerist corporate-militarism.

To say the least, of course, there simply is nothing to commend digi-topian cyberangel uploads in Holodeck Heaven over more conventionally religious conceptions of an afterlife. There is nothing to commend superintelligent post-biological AI over more conventionally religious omniscient sky-daddies. There is nothing to commend eugenic talk of enhancement and optimality over religious zealots declaring non-normative morphologies signs of Satan demanding consignment to the flames. There is nothing to commend the body-loathing of futurists pining to be digitized out of mortality or virtualized out of gravity or bio-enhanced out of vulnerability or artificially super-intellectualized out of error over the religious death-cults that inspire forced pregnancy zealotry and private arsenals and the inevitably mistaken execution of some of their fellow citizens and belligerent war posturing and the neglect of poor, cold, ill, hungry, homeless fellow-citizens in the name of a "culture of life." There is nothing to commend nanobotic superabundance over genies-in-a-bottle or prosperity theology.

And there is nothing to commend robocultic wish-fulfillment pseudo-science over religious creationist anti-science. Declaring this pseudo-science a championing of science merely adds insult to injury.

No comments: