Creationists: Enemies of the Future

Michelangelo's "The Creation of Adam" on the Sistine Chapel ceiling

Creationists are back in the news with their outcry over the new Cosmos series. But creationists are fighting something much bigger than the science of evolutionary biology—they are fighting against the future. For twenty-first century technology—especially nanotechnology, genetics, artificial intelligence and robotics—will transform reality beyond our imaginations. Humans may become post-human; our descendants may evolve to resemble us about as much as we do the amino acids from which we sprang; humans and their post-human descendants may understand and control matter, life, and mind. These developments are part of cultural evolution which itself is a part of cosmic evolution–processes that produce more complex forms of life and mind.

However at the moment the above is science fiction and subject to trillions of variables; contingent factors beyond our imagination will lead to some unimaginable future. Thus technological progress is not inevitable, and in no way does our view entail optimism–technology can be used for good or ill.  But even if our technology can lead to a glorious future, it could be halted by terrestrial or celestial disasters, or by dogmatists, zealots, religious fanatics, and others who oppose progress. Such individuals may have legitimate fears about the repercussions of future technologies, but they may also dream of a past paradise, fear what they don’t understand, believe they possess a monopoly on the truth, or think humans subservient to super beings. But for whatever reasons, they oppose change, preferring stasis and stagnation to dynamic, progressive evolution; they delay or prevent the groundswell of initiative, inventiveness, perseverance, and hope that drive evolution forward. They are fearful that the new world will render them, and their beliefs, anachronistic. They are the enemies of the future.

But if the surge of cosmic longing presses forward, then higher forms of being and consciousness will emerge. In the process, the universe will become increasingly self-consciousness. This is after all the story of cosmic evolution, of a universe becoming self-conscious through the creation of conscious beings. Humans are not an end, but a beginning. They need not fear imaginary gods, but need instead to have the courage to create minds more powerful than the gods. Let the dark ages not again descend upon us; rather, let our most fantastic longings be realized. Let us have faith in the future.

2 thoughts on “Creationists: Enemies of the Future

  1. “and in no way does our view entail optimism–technology can be used for good or ill.  But even if our technology can lead to a glorious future, it could be halted by terrestrial or celestial disasters, or by dogmatists, zealots, religious fanatics, and others who oppose progress. Such individuals may have legitimate fears about the repercussions of future technologies, but they may also dream of a past paradise, fear what they don’t understand, believe they possess a monopoly on the truth, or think humans subservient to super beings. But for whatever reasons, they oppose change, preferring stasis and stagnation to dynamic, progressive evolution; they delay or prevent the groundswell of initiative, inventiveness, perseverance, and hope that drive evolution forward. They are fearful that the new world will render them, and their beliefs, anachronistic. They are the enemies of the future.”

    Past ‘paradise’ is the most valid creationist sentiment: the world does become more cluttered shall we say, as time goes by. But creationists are intensely interested in progressing materially. How many creationists want to devolve to a simpler economic life? Very few. Creationists want the gravy train for their families and dynasties; they want to keep up with the Joneses in every respect. They rationalize it by saying a new Heaven and Earth is guaranteed by God.
    Cannot argue with them– the argument goes nowhere fast.

    Creationism is necessary fiction, naturally, for those who need such fiction. Uneducated/unintelligent people do admire creationism, yes– but certain others as well. Very few — if any– people can take reality unfiltered. I [over] use this example:
    even a stone cold atheist will celebrate religious holidays not only to share festivities with family and friends, but also as an altered state of consciousness. (Drink spiked eggnog on Christmas and those colored flashing Christmas bulbs get brighter. The cares of the day are gone.)
    At any rate few except the feistiest want to directly challenge creationists, so we are sometimes complicit in their ignorance-is-bliss.

    “Thus technological progress is not inevitable,”

    Possibly it is inevitable, as so many are absolutely determined to progress materially, for themselves & their people. Would write that the technological is guaranteed, albeit the progress is not; unless one’s definition of progress is very elastic. Not that the future will be hideous, however surely morality as we know it will continue to fade. And this certain erosion of morality is not what the majority of creationists want.

    What can they do about that?: live in creationist space colonies? On Earth, creationist communities would not work– as the technological temptations will become irresistible.

  2. really appreciate your detailed comments here. I do think that transhumanism will be the end of religion as we now know it as I’ve argued multiple times in this blog. thanks again, JGM

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