from the getting-used-to-the-future dept.
In a surprisingly early adjustment, the Christian Science publication Sentinel (not online, see Jan 8, 2001 issue) includes two articles that reconcile the coming era of smart robots and human/machine blends with Christian Science beliefs. Both are responding to Ray Kurzweil's book The Age of Spiritual Machines. Instead of fighting the future, these articles thoughtfully integrate technology and religion. Read more for excerpts. From the first article, "From Robert to robot: what about future identity? Does the future hold a mechanized you?" by Patricia Tupper Hyatt:
"Artificial intelligence. Cloning. Robots creating robots. From year to year, the world you and I live in changes dramatically. It's like living in science fiction…Looking toward the future, we can be alert without being fearful…Used intelligently, technology will continue to help us put off the limits of matter…It's possible to reconcile this approach with technological research. It's possible to pray about the work being done in technology — that it will help to keep humanity on the path to healing and immortality."
The author makes clear why the longer lifespans offered by technology do not threaten religion: "We can't find immortality in matter..because matter is mortal." This is correct — protons themselves will someday decay.
From the second article, "Virtual spirituality?" by David Cramer:
About uploaded human personalities: "The computerized version would only be a different representation of the owner's material sense of existence — with the good and the bad still intermixed…Shedding the material body doesn't necessarily lead to spirituality…Computers are one of many human tools that can facilitate our spiritual progress…Whether predictions like Kurzweil's come true in 10 or 100 years, they urge on humanity new ethical, moral, and spriritual responsibilities."