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What kind of spiritual ideas do YOU have?

On a mailing list I subscribe to, someone recently asked me if I subscribe to any philosophical or spiritual beliefs, and what they are. If you don't care, then I won't bother you with the answer; otherwise:

I am an extropian. Put most simply, what that means is that I believe a system's capacity for intelligence and information can and generally does improve over time.

Put more completely, it means that I believe the human potential, as with the potential of any complex, dynamic, evolving system, is open-ended. I believe that human systems tend over time to amass increasing amounts of knowledge and understanding about, and ability to control and manipulate, the physical world; that there are no arbitrary upper limits on that increase save for those imposed by the laws of physics themselves; and that as a consequence of this increasing capacity for information and ability, complex systems such as human societies tend toward an increasing capacity for freedom of action, including an increasing capacity for overcoming obstacles and limitations.

I have faith in the human potential. I think history demonstrates that human beings have continually improved their ability to understand the physical world, and that as that understanding increases, we gain the ability to do amost anything in the physical world not prohibited by the laws of physics. That includes extending our knowledge of ourselves and other biological systems to the point where many biological constraints we take for granted today, including processes such as ageing, can be controlled; extending our knowledge of materials sciences to the point where we can manipulate matter on a structural and atomic level in almost any way not prohibited by physics, including the ability to engineer structures on levels both far smaller and far larger than what we can do today; and so on.

I also believe that the universe operates according to principles which are knowable, observable, and comprehensible; and that rational and analytical thought, combined with experimentation and empirical observation, are tools with which those fundamental principles can be understood. I believe that constantly challenging ideas, including the ideas that I've laid out here, is a necessary and vital part of understanding the natural world, and that those who do not challenge their own ideas are fundamentally and fatally handicapped in their ability to progress.


( 5 comments — Leave a comment )
Dec. 29th, 2004 10:51 pm (UTC)
Beautifully put.

I usually just list out "BEST DO IT SO" and expand the terms when asked, but your description puts it all into a much more cohesive thesis.
Dec. 29th, 2004 11:37 pm (UTC)

Hee hee. That's my slashdot sig quote.
Dec. 29th, 2004 11:29 pm (UTC)
I have so clearly fallen in with the right crowd. It's difficult to be your archnemesis when at the core I completely agree with you.
Dec. 30th, 2004 03:45 pm (UTC)
Actually, I'd think that would make you the *best* archnemesis. I'm reminded of Magneto and Prof. X -- the two of them had *so* much in common insofar as their ultimate goals; it was in their tactics and motives that the conflict arose. As a result, certain actions of the one helped to advance the cause of the other.

Why do *all* the work if your archnemesis can do most of it, and you just step in at the end and take control and credit for it?
Dec. 30th, 2004 12:36 am (UTC)
Hear, hear. (hey... there's another one for your grammar page: it's not "here here.")

But it's amazing how repugnant these ideas seem to be to how many people.
( 5 comments — Leave a comment )