Anti-Transhumanist Wesley J. Smith Argues that Yogi Claims of Living Without Food/Water are Evidence Against Scientific Materialism and in Favor of Human Exceptionalism

See here. Really, this is exasperating. Wesley J. Smith wants so bad for humans to have a mystical power that he has to use an obvious hoax as evidence for his point.

Mr. Smith, perhaps for your next citation against scientific materialism and in favor of mystical, metaphysical human exceptionalism, you should go through back issues of Weekly World News.

Does Mr. Smith also believe in the mystical powers of holy Catholic relics such as the bones of saints or fragments of the “True Cross”?

For those who suggest that Smith is a marginal figure, be assured that he is not. He has debated Peter Singer on the issue of robot ethics, and co-authored books with Ralph Nader. My theory is that Mr. Smith would not really mind transhumanism and artificial intelligence so long as they did not inherently mock and contradict the religious view of Homo sapiens as a god-favored being. This is in contrast to some others who seem to detest the prospect of morphological freedom for its own sake.

Checking Wikipedia, apparently there is a connection between Catholic tradition and Hindu claims of inedia. It’s funny how the actions of deceptive people from over a thousand years ago now force a modern theo-pundit to dance an odd dance defending the phenomenon.

Like amor mundi, Mr. Smith’s Secondhand Smoke blog is a popular watering hole for anti-transhumanists. Here is one choice comment from a recent post:

Well i respect you highly wesley for standing up to the lies and criminal acts of transhumanism. You can consider me a loyal ally in this war against ray kurweil and his army of idiots. Anyone who believes immortality is a good idea or thinks we should do non-medical enhancement is my enemy. These people will destroy the world simply because they are afraid of death. Get ready for the transhuman eugenics war wesley its coming.

Sure sounds menacing to me! Aren’t eyeglasses, scopes, and caffeine non-medical enhancement?

Comments

  1. Matt Perry

    Caffine is very much a medical enhancement but I totally agree. I worry about the potential backlash to transhumanism from the religious community but then perhaps I shouldn’t. After all, we’ll be by far and away the more powerful side.

  2. ben951

    I can understand people who cannot believe In acceleration of change and in indefinite lifespan in the next 50 or 100 years, but how can someone seriously believe even with linear thinking that in millenniums or millions of years from now our descendant won’t extent their lifespan.

    I don’t know how he can draw the line between medical enhancement and non-medical enhancement, maybe he meant Geriatrics is OK but gerontology is not, anyway we will continue to extend human lifespan even only by improving cure for old age induced diseases it will just take longer to reach indefinite lifespan that way.

    ben951 army of idiots soldier :D

  3. Jay

    The sheer hateful idiocy that people are willing to give into because they can’t resist the temptation of stress induced pleasure… is mind boggling.

    Don’t these people realize the cost of their own attitudes?

    Oh well, it’s their life. They can piss it away any way they g#ddamn please.

  4. Michelle Waters

    The whole thing about claims of powers is that besides being fraudulent, there existence says nothing about consciousness or goodness. Star Wars, especially the second trilogy, explored this well despite Jar-Jar. Even if humans had clear mystical powers that would say little directly about the implementation of natural intelligence or even the metaphysical or moral status of human beings. The empowered Jedi Knights were in some ways less important than the Force blind droids.

  5. Panda

    What that commenter Michael cites may not realize is that transhumanists are also worried about eugenics and possibility of futuristic technologies being used by the few to oppress the many. The difference is that transhumanists are more likely to think the possible gains outweigh the risks and, more importantly, the technologies will probably be developed by the bad guys anyway if the good guys hide behind feeble attempts to restrict technology development.

    To call this concern for our future a war against transhumanists makes no more sense to call it a war against scientists for doing the science. The conservative paranoid and the forward-looking transhumanist may have many more moral concerns in common than either side admits. The difference is more on how one responds to the moral dilemma- by confronting it or trying to shut down the science.

  6. Gus K.

    This is all fascinating for a different reason. Some field of inquiry should study how urban legends, religions and the like develop and spread through society.

    When I was in junior high, my teacher caught students spreading gossip. To prove how malicious untruths can spread, she ran an experiment. She had 10 students wait outside the classroom. She called 1 student in and told him a long story. A second student was then called in and the first student told the second student the story from memory. This was repeated 10 times. By the 10th student, the class had witnessed the story mutate and evolve beyond all recognition. This was my first real introduction to memetics.

    A field of social anthropology should develop to study and publicize this. This explains how frauds and simple misunderstandings can evolve into UFO sightings, major religions and the like.

    After the crucifiction, a few of the apostles must’ve concurently seen Jesus in a dream. By the time the Gospels were written down decades later, and a thousand retellings later, he had appeared in bodily form and shown them his wounds; and had performed all kinds of miracles.

    We live in a time when organizations like CSICOP could investigate, and debunk, stories like this yogi who allegedly doesn’t eat. When the Shroud of Turin has been carbon dated and proven to be a 14th century hoax; I could go on. Society should have an appreciation of how hearsay entropy (to coin a phrase) can mutate common occurences into the most fantastic stories.

  7. Martin

    Considering that Hinduism and Christianity make fundamental claims about reality that contradict, the fact that a Hindu mystic is (supposedly) empirically performing acts of magic should not sit well with Christians. He claims to be performing his miracle by channeling one of the Hindu Gods, or manifestations thereof, which, if it were true, would be evidence of Hinduism over Christianity, regardless of the historical similarities that Smith is trying to find.

  8. “Get ready for the transhuman eugenics war wesley its coming.”

    If these people try to even bring a war, they’ll simply learn that in a war between insects and Gods, the insects have no say and no hope against the divine.

  9. Panda

    Cameron, remember that if a super-intelligent AI is made, all of us will be the insects. The idea is that it behooves us to think ahead to create as democratic an implementation of AI as possible, rather than to leave it to chance, not to brush aside the very real concerns of critics of future technologies.

  10. Khannea Suntzu

    It’s time someone pranked these people, and created a website that suggests it is sponsored by a (nonexisting) billionaire, a front for a sinister organisation with links to (imaginary) banks and governmental think tanks. A website that advocates all the wrong things – eugenics by forcible sterilization; robot law enforcement units programmed by the UN and the world bank, emblazoned with oddly pyramidal logo’s, patrolling ‘real america’.

    It would be an amazing prank. Collect all prejudice and fear and rage, and bundle it together for the phobics to rant over.

    Has been done before:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=crhzA2lDd0M&feature=related

    I call for a campaign of ‘desensitation’.

  11. iPan

    We just need to make transhumanism appealing and acceptable to them within the boundaries of their ideology.

    “Jesus wants you to become a cyborg”
    “God is a transhumanist”

    Start interpreting scriptures (hey, anyone can interpret scripture) in a way that obviously shows that God intended for man to become transhuman all along.

    Infiltrate.
    Subvert.
    Become the information war.

  12. Hervé Musseau

    Actually, iPan, you should read Pierre Teilhard de Chardin. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pierre_Teilhard_de_Chardin
    He was a Jesuit priest who reinterpreted Scripture, and was very influential to early transhumanism.
    IIRC James Hugues wrote an article about Teilhard, and another about reconciling religious and transhumanist ideas.

  13. Assuming the yogi in question were shown to survive without food or water, I would suspect some alternative energy source than supernatural power. A human only requires about 100 watts, right?

    I don’t understand why the mystical mode of consciousness should necessarily oppose transhumanism. You don’t have to be a positivist or strict materialist to grasp the benefits of science and technology. The dominance of reason over emotion in our movement probably turns off the more intuitive and spiritual. It’s a shame because the Singularity has the potential to make the world a far more magical place. Even the most ardent skeptic could become confused under the influence of advanced virtual reality and mischievous genies.

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