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Secular Opinions on Transhumanism
Posted: 08 July 2011 10:16 AM   [ Ignore ]
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I’m fairly new to the forum, so I’ll get try to give my opinion in the shortest manner possible.

What is the current secular opinion on Transhumanism? How do Atheists/Agnostics interpret the idea of advancing humanity through artificial selection?

In short, Transhumanism is the idea that humans should and will someday advance using new technologies to bolster our default biological deficiencies. If people on this forum are familiar with contemporary virtual entertainment, then some of you might know the series “Deus Ex”. There is a large moral bludgeon impeding the way for cloning and stem cell research, but also for basic steps in human bio-modification. Human genetic modification is already under an immense amount of criticism among the Deist population, but what about technological implants/modifications? What do Secularists think? Are they able to adopt the notion that technology will benefit the disabled and impaired, or are they going to adopt what the Deists have taken, which is bluntly issued, rhetoric-laden, morality-driven excuses for why not to?

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Posted: 08 July 2011 10:42 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]
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QuantumFrost - 08 July 2011 10:16 AM

I’m fairly new to the forum, so I’ll get try to give my opinion in the shortest manner possible.

What is the current secular opinion on Transhumanism? How do Atheists/Agnostics interpret the idea of advancing humanity through artificial selection?

In short, Transhumanism is the idea that humans should and will someday advance using new technologies to bolster our default biological deficiencies. If people on this forum are familiar with contemporary virtual entertainment, then some of you might know the series “Deus Ex”. There is a large moral bludgeon impeding the way for cloning and stem cell research, but also for basic steps in human bio-modification. Human genetic modification is already under an immense amount of criticism among the Deist population, but what about technological implants/modifications? What do Secularists think? Are they able to adopt the notion that technology will benefit the disabled and impaired, or are they going to adopt what the Deists have taken, which is bluntly issued, rhetoric-laden, morality-driven excuses for why not to?

Well, first you can’t generalize all secularists/humanist/atheists. But, from a reasoned approach I don’t see how anyone can argue against the use of technology to improve/prolong life if that is the wish of the “patient.” We do much of that now. But when it comes to the degree of tech/bio merging as Kurzweil envisions, I do not think we are anywhere nearly as close to that as he does. And personally, I’m not afraid of eventually returning to stardust since that is inevitable anyway.

Genetic modification is a very separate issue since it potentially becomes part of our species through reproduction (which is clearly not the case with technical mods). I doubt we are wise enough as a species to go about performing such mods wholesale, but there are areas (stem cells and genetic mods to heal) where I feel we should explore and experiment as with any medical advancement. I am against whole-body cloning for many reasons. We have enough life on the planet. The health of the clone is generally compromised. And I doubt our ability to treat a clone ethically.

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Posted: 08 July 2011 11:02 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]
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Hi QuantumFrost,

First, I am not sure what atheism has to do with this. I understand a theist may object to, say, cloning for religious reason (in fact I don’t think they do; religion in most cases only provides a justification for how people already felt about certain things for a number of different reasons), but atheism has nothing to say on how a person ought to behave.

Second, if science makes it possible and if the product will turn out to be beneficial to most, it will cease to be a taboo. It had happened with TVs and it is now happening with genetically modified food. People are afraid of what is new, but eventually learn to accept it.

And lastly, traveler, I would be interested to know why you think we might not treat a clone ethically. Do identical twins, natural clones, get to be treaded unethically?

[ Edited: 08 July 2011 12:29 PM by George ]
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Posted: 08 July 2011 11:11 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]
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Agreed with the foregoing. The aims of transhumanism are laudable, and I can’t agree with the religious objections to such things as stem cell research or cloning, which appear to me to be based either on fallacious reasoning or ignorance of the facts.

Just a quick note though to say that while I agree with the general aims of transhumanism, I don’t agree with the wild-eyed predictions of such transhumanists as Aubrey de Grey or Ray Kurzweil. There’s a quasi-messianic flavor to a lot of their talk, which seems to me absurd.

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Posted: 08 July 2011 11:14 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]
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George - 08 July 2011 11:02 AM

Hi QuantumFrost,

First, I am not sure what atheism has to do with this. I understand a theist may object to, say, cloning for religious reason (in fact I don’t think they do; religion in most cases only provides a justification for how people already felt about certain things for a number of different reasons), but atheism has nothing to say on how a person ought to behave.

Second, if science makes it possible and it the product will turn out to be beneficial to most, it will cease to be a taboo. It had happened with TVs and it is now happening with genetically modified food. People are afraid on what is new, but eventually learn to accept it.

And lastly, traveler, I would be interested to know why you think we might not treat a clone not ethically. Do identical twins, natural clones, get to be treaded unethically?

That would depend on why the clone is created. If it’s for potential body parts, then it’s obvious. If it’s for research, then abuse is a potential. If it’s for having a kid, then adoption or artif insem seem smarter. It’s all new territory so I’m sure I don’t know all the ways people could abuse a clone but if there is no parent in the clone’s life then I envision forced labor, prostitution and all sorts of potential problems.

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Posted: 08 July 2011 12:03 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 5 ]
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Hmm, if cloning ever became as easy as, say, toasting a slice of bread I could see how some people could take advantage of it. But I doubt it will. The majority of people who adopt a kid don’t do it for the purpose of turning him into a sex slave and I don’t see why treating a clone would differ from the way people treat adopted or “in vitro” kids. If anything, people would probably be much more carrying while raising a clone since she would share 100% of her genes with her parent.

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Posted: 08 July 2011 12:37 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 6 ]
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dougsmith - 08 July 2011 11:11 AM

Agreed with the foregoing. The aims of transhumanism are laudable, and I can’t agree with the religious objections to such things as stem cell research or cloning, which appear to me to be based either on fallacious reasoning or ignorance of the facts.

Just a quick note though to say that while I agree with the general aims of transhumanism, I don’t agree with the wild-eyed predictions of such transhumanists as Aubrey de Grey or Ray Kurzweil. There’s a quasi-messianic flavor to a lot of their talk, which seems to me absurd.

Indeed. I suppose it is the Brave New World theme associated with their predictions that makes them near zealous in pursuit of such.

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Posted: 08 July 2011 12:40 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 7 ]
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traveler - 08 July 2011 10:42 AM
QuantumFrost - 08 July 2011 10:16 AM

I’m fairly new to the forum, so I’ll get try to give my opinion in the shortest manner possible.

What is the current secular opinion on Transhumanism? How do Atheists/Agnostics interpret the idea of advancing humanity through artificial selection?

In short, Transhumanism is the idea that humans should and will someday advance using new technologies to bolster our default biological deficiencies. If people on this forum are familiar with contemporary virtual entertainment, then some of you might know the series “Deus Ex”. There is a large moral bludgeon impeding the way for cloning and stem cell research, but also for basic steps in human bio-modification. Human genetic modification is already under an immense amount of criticism among the Deist population, but what about technological implants/modifications? What do Secularists think? Are they able to adopt the notion that technology will benefit the disabled and impaired, or are they going to adopt what the Deists have taken, which is bluntly issued, rhetoric-laden, morality-driven excuses for why not to?

Well, first you can’t generalize all secularists/humanist/atheists. But, from a reasoned approach I don’t see how anyone can argue against the use of technology to improve/prolong life if that is the wish of the “patient.” We do much of that now. But when it comes to the degree of tech/bio merging as Kurzweil envisions, I do not think we are anywhere nearly as close to that as he does. And personally, I’m not afraid of eventually returning to stardust since that is inevitable anyway.

Genetic modification is a very separate issue since it potentially becomes part of our species through reproduction (which is clearly not the case with technical mods). I doubt we are wise enough as a species to go about performing such mods wholesale, but there are areas (stem cells and genetic mods to heal) where I feel we should explore and experiment as with any medical advancement. I am against whole-body cloning for many reasons. We have enough life on the planet. The health of the clone is generally compromised. And I doubt our ability to treat a clone ethically.

Re. 1
It was unwise to ask. I’m still interested, however, in learning what the Atheist community in a generalized sense feels over such modifications, even if restricted to this forum. :D

Re. 2 “Cloning”
The potential for producing colonial populations on new planets can fulfill their currently absent niche, as well as birthing whole populations modified as a standard improvement over their producers. There is some paranoid “Terminator”-esque worries over their eventual dissent, I find it nothing more than Sci-Fi fearmongering.

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Posted: 08 July 2011 12:46 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 8 ]
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George - 08 July 2011 11:02 AM

Hi QuantumFrost,

First, I am not sure what atheism has to do with this. I understand a theist may object to, say, cloning for religious reason (in fact I don’t think they do; religion in most cases only provides a justification for how people already felt about certain things for a number of different reasons), but atheism has nothing to say on how a person ought to behave.

Second, if science makes it possible and if the product will turn out to be beneficial to most, it will cease to be a taboo. It had happened with TVs and it is now happening with genetically modified food. People are afraid of what is new, but eventually learn to accept it.

And lastly, traveler, I would be interested to know why you think we might not treat a clone ethically. Do identical twins, natural clones, get to be treaded unethically?

Re. 1 “Atheism and Relevance to OP”

It’s merely an probe into the extent of Techno-centric tolerance Atheists/Agnostics can manage to show. I’m one of many Atheists who embrace scientific progress in any field, but I also know there are some Atheists who hold themselves to near-deistic morality, which obstructs them from desiring the potential for idea’s retaining elements of Transhumanism, Genetic Modification, Cloning, and Stem Cell research. Atheism is not always associated with rational, logical individuals. To assume that would be arrogance.

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Posted: 08 July 2011 12:46 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 9 ]
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George - 08 July 2011 12:03 PM

Hmm, if cloning ever became as easy as, say, toasting a slice of bread I could see how some people could take advantage of it. But I doubt it will. The majority of people who adopt a kid don’t do it for the purpose of turning him into a sex slave and I don’t see why treating a clone would differ from the way people treat adopted or “in vitro” kids. If anything, people would probably be much more carrying while raising a clone since she would share 100% of her genes with her parent.

Ah, you’re assuming the clone is raised by the biological parents. I was not making that assumption. I pictured a (future) lab with anonymous sperm and egg supplies. I agree with what you say given your assumption.

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Posted: 08 July 2011 12:49 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 10 ]
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traveler - 08 July 2011 12:46 PM
George - 08 July 2011 12:03 PM

Hmm, if cloning ever became as easy as, say, toasting a slice of bread I could see how some people could take advantage of it. But I doubt it will. The majority of people who adopt a kid don’t do it for the purpose of turning him into a sex slave and I don’t see why treating a clone would differ from the way people treat adopted or “in vitro” kids. If anything, people would probably be much more carrying while raising a clone since she would share 100% of her genes with her parent.

Ah, you’re assuming the clone is raised by the biological parents. I was not making that assumption. I pictured a (future) lab with anonymous sperm and egg supplies. I agree with what you say given your assumption.

Even without biological parents, the clone, I believe, would still operate as a functional member of society. I believe the Western, and even perhaps Eastern definition of necessity for family is largely outdated, and the nuclear model isn’t suitable to a world that is increasingly mobile. Plenty of families will be able to operate as a united association of genetically related beings, but to believe that necessity of physical presence is largely opinionated by society due to the norm of established structures indicating as to how they should organize. A clone could perhaps even operate more efficiently, free from the constraints and stresses that many modern families endure.

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Posted: 08 July 2011 12:52 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 11 ]
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QuantumFrost - 08 July 2011 12:40 PM

Re. 1
It was unwise to ask. I’m still interested, however, in learning what the Atheist community in a generalized sense feels over such modifications, even if restricted to this forum. :D

Nope, I’m not saying it is unwise to ask (I don’t think I’d ever say that). I’m just letting you know that not everyone will have the same thoughts about, well anything.  LOL 

Re. 2 “Cloning”
The potential for producing colonial populations on new planets can fulfill their currently absent niche, as well as birthing whole populations modified as a standard improvement over their producers. There is some paranoid “Terminator”-esque worries over their eventual dissent, I find it nothing more than Sci-Fi fearmongering.

Yeah, I’m certainly not worried about a Terminator scenario at our current level of expertise. I would like to know, given what our species has done to this planet, why you would want to create more of (possibly improved, but that’s subjective) us on another planet.

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Posted: 08 July 2011 12:57 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 12 ]
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traveler - 08 July 2011 12:52 PM
QuantumFrost - 08 July 2011 12:40 PM

Re. 1
It was unwise to ask. I’m still interested, however, in learning what the Atheist community in a generalized sense feels over such modifications, even if restricted to this forum. :D

Nope, I’m not saying it is unwise to ask (I don’t think I’d ever say that). I’m just letting you know that not everyone will have the same thoughts about, well anything.  LOL 

Re. 2 “Cloning”
The potential for producing colonial populations on new planets can fulfill their currently absent niche, as well as birthing whole populations modified as a standard improvement over their producers. There is some paranoid “Terminator”-esque worries over their eventual dissent, I find it nothing more than Sci-Fi fearmongering.

Yeah, I’m certainly not worried about a Terminator scenario at our current level of expertise. I would like to know, given what our species has done to this planet, why you would want to create more of (possibly improved, but that’s subjective) us on another planet.

While I retain a certain level of pessimism that I have acquired through life, I still see the genuine concern and sense of compassion present in what one calls an optimist. They can be deistic, atheist, or agnostic, but their concern and desire for the well-being of others is an observable trait, and they are not isolated enclaves.

To be able to produce a “Proto” generation of advanced and far more wise humans could create the potential to increase the output of positive human traits in controlled environments, whereas most human birthing is random and creates vastly contrasting characters, while cloning could provide the platform for mastering the creation of a docile, intelligent, and healthy population to integrate with our largely aggressive “Base” population. It seems like a crappy eugenics-based “Master Race” argument, but the idea is still out there, untainted by lesser-minded individuals who seek to discriminate.

[ Edited: 08 July 2011 12:59 PM by QuantumFrost ]
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Posted: 08 July 2011 12:57 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 13 ]
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QuantumFrost - 08 July 2011 12:49 PM
traveler - 08 July 2011 12:46 PM
George - 08 July 2011 12:03 PM

Hmm, if cloning ever became as easy as, say, toasting a slice of bread I could see how some people could take advantage of it. But I doubt it will. The majority of people who adopt a kid don’t do it for the purpose of turning him into a sex slave and I don’t see why treating a clone would differ from the way people treat adopted or “in vitro” kids. If anything, people would probably be much more carrying while raising a clone since she would share 100% of her genes with her parent.

Ah, you’re assuming the clone is raised by the biological parents. I was not making that assumption. I pictured a (future) lab with anonymous sperm and egg supplies. I agree with what you say given your assumption.

Even without biological parents, the clone, I believe, would still operate as a functional member of society.

That’s quite an assumption. The clone/person would operate as any other person. How would society guarantee an ample chance at participation/success?

I believe the Western, and even perhaps Eastern definition of necessity for family is largely outdated, and the nuclear model isn’t suitable to a world that is increasingly mobile. Plenty of families will be able to operate as a united association of genetically related beings, but to believe that necessity of physical presence is largely opinionated by society due to the norm of established structures indicating as to how they should organize. A clone could perhaps even operate more efficiently, free from the constraints and stresses that many modern families endure.

I like your futuristic perspective. More people need to think like that, but I’m not so sure I agree that any present society is at a stage in which it could/would act as a “united association of genetically related beings.” Our in group/out group behaviors are still pretty primitive. I can certainly envision your idealized world, I just don’t see it happening in the next several hundred years. And I like to be optimistic.

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Posted: 08 July 2011 01:01 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 14 ]
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traveler - 08 July 2011 12:57 PM
QuantumFrost - 08 July 2011 12:49 PM
traveler - 08 July 2011 12:46 PM
George - 08 July 2011 12:03 PM

Hmm, if cloning ever became as easy as, say, toasting a slice of bread I could see how some people could take advantage of it. But I doubt it will. The majority of people who adopt a kid don’t do it for the purpose of turning him into a sex slave and I don’t see why treating a clone would differ from the way people treat adopted or “in vitro” kids. If anything, people would probably be much more carrying while raising a clone since she would share 100% of her genes with her parent.

Ah, you’re assuming the clone is raised by the biological parents. I was not making that assumption. I pictured a (future) lab with anonymous sperm and egg supplies. I agree with what you say given your assumption.

Even without biological parents, the clone, I believe, would still operate as a functional member of society.

That’s quite an assumption. The clone/person would operate as any other person. How would society guarantee an ample chance at participation/success?

I believe the Western, and even perhaps Eastern definition of necessity for family is largely outdated, and the nuclear model isn’t suitable to a world that is increasingly mobile. Plenty of families will be able to operate as a united association of genetically related beings, but to believe that necessity of physical presence is largely opinionated by society due to the norm of established structures indicating as to how they should organize. A clone could perhaps even operate more efficiently, free from the constraints and stresses that many modern families endure.

I like your futuristic perspective. More people need to think like that, but I’m not so sure I agree that any present society is at a stage in which it could/would act as a “united association of genetically related beings.” Our in group/out group behaviors are still pretty primitive. I can certainly envision your idealized world, I just don’t see it happening in the next several hundred years. And I like to be optimistic.

Re. 1 “Functionality”
How would society insure that for orphans? What about victims of civil strife/war? There will always be variables that can determine how one ends up in society, but the place of their origin will always be a trivial concern to me. It is a matter of environmental development. Equal opportunity, in a sense.

Re. 2 “Perspective”
Ah, then it is merely a barrier of time. I might as well jump-off a cliff trying to debate the variables that will arise in between those two zones. XD

[ Edited: 08 July 2011 01:04 PM by QuantumFrost ]
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Posted: 08 July 2011 01:04 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 15 ]
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traveler - 08 July 2011 12:46 PM
George - 08 July 2011 12:03 PM

Hmm, if cloning ever became as easy as, say, toasting a slice of bread I could see how some people could take advantage of it. But I doubt it will. The majority of people who adopt a kid don’t do it for the purpose of turning him into a sex slave and I don’t see why treating a clone would differ from the way people treat adopted or “in vitro” kids. If anything, people would probably be much more carrying while raising a clone since she would share 100% of her genes with her parent.

Ah, you’re assuming the clone is raised by the biological parents. I was not making that assumption. I pictured a (future) lab with anonymous sperm and egg supplies. I agree with what you say given your assumption.

Well, not sure where we are going with this, but I am absolutely positive there will never (!) be a surplus of female eggs in any lab to use for cloning of sex slaves. Sperm maybe, but not eggs.

Did you know it costs only a few hundred dollars to buy sperm from a sperm bank but thousands of dollars to buy an egg? (And this is just aside, but what is also interesting here that nobody will buy your sperm unless you have a degree. An egg from any woman is accepted, but en egg from a highly attractive and educated woman can sell for up to seventy thousand dollars.)

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