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Space exploration New World Encyclopedia

Posted: July 21, 2016 at 2:17 am

Space exploration is the physical exploration of outer space, by both human spaceflights and robotic spacecraft. Although the observation of objects in space (that is, astronomy) predates reliable recorded history, space exploration became a practical possibility only after the development of large, liquid-fueled rocket engines during the early twentieth century. Common rationales for exploring space include advancing scientific research, uniting different nations, and ensuring the future survival of humanity.

Space exploration has often been used as a proxy competition for geopolitical rivalries, particularly the Cold War. The early era of space exploration was driven by a space race between the Soviet Union and the United States. The launch of the first human-made object to orbit the Earth, the USSR’s Sputnik 1, on October 4, 1957, and the first Moon landing by the American Apollo 11 craft on July 20, 1969, are often taken as the boundaries for this initial period. After the first 20 years of exploration, focus shifted from one-off flights to renewable hardware, such as the Space Shuttle program, and from competition to cooperation, as with the International Space Station. From the 1990s onward, private interests began promoting space tourism. Larger government programs have advocated manned missions to the Moon and possibly Mars sometime after 2010.

Space exploration programs have received various criticisms, on cost or safety grounds, but there are many advocates as well, and public opinion in many countries is usually supportive of these programs. In any case, space missions have resulted in a variety of important discoveries, including the effects of low gravity on humans, the presence of Van Allen belts around the Earth, images of the far side of the Moon, and the absence of intelligent life on Mars. Current discussions revolve around the possibility of space colonizationthat is, the establishment of human settlements on extraterrestrial objects.

The first successful orbital launch was of the Soviet unmanned Sputnik 1 (Satellite I) mission on October 4, 1957. The satellite weighed about 83 kg (184 pounds), and is believed to have orbited Earth at a height of about 250 km (150 miles). It had two radio transmitters (20 and 40 MHz), which emitted “beeps” that could be heard by any radio around the globe. Analysis of the radio signals was used to gather information about the electron density of the ionosphere, while temperature and pressure data was encoded in the duration of radio beeps. The results indicated that the satellite was not punctured by a meteoroid. Sputnik 1 was launched by an R-7 rocket. It incinerated upon re-entry on January 3, 1958.

This success led to an escalation of the American space program, which unsuccessfully attempted to launch Vanguard 1 into orbit two months later. On January 31, 1958, the U.S. successfully orbited Explorer 1 on a Juno rocket. In the meantime, the Soviet dog Laika became the first animal in orbit on November 3, 1957.

The first human spaceflight was Vostok 1 (Sunrise 1) , carrying 27 year old cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin on April 12, 1961. The spacecraft completed one orbit around the globe, lasting about 1 hour and 48 minutes. Gagarin’s flight was a demonstration of the advanced Soviet space program, and it opened an entirely new era in space exploration: Manned space flights.

The U.S. launched its first man into space within a month of Gagarin’s flight, with the first Mercury flight by Alan Shepard. Orbital flight was achieved by the United States when John Glenn’s Mercury-Atlas 6 orbited the Earth on February 20, 1962.

Valentina Tereshkova, the first woman in space, orbited the Earth 48 times aboard Vostok 6 on June 16, 1963.

China launched its first taikonaut into space 42 years later, with the flight of Colonel Yang Liwei aboard the Shenzhou 5 (Spaceboat 5) spacecraft.

The dream of stepping into the outer reaches of the Earth’s atmosphere was driven by rocket technology. The German V2 was the first rocket to travel into space, overcoming the problems of thrust and material failure. During the final days of World War II, this technology was obtained by both the Americans and Soviets as were its designers. The initial driving force for further development of the technology was a weapons race for inter-continental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) to be used as long-range carriers for fast nuclear weapon delivery. In 1961, when the USSR launched the first man into space, the U.S. declared itself to be in a “Space Race” with Russia.

Other key people included:

The earliest discoveries included the fact that humans could survive in zero gravity. Once the Russians had progressed to flights that were longer than a few hours, space adaptation syndrome appeared; where the sickness and disorientation due to the removal of gravity caused physical symptoms.

In space stations, the effects of zero gravity on bones and skeletal muscles has become more evident, where the human body becomes progressively more optimized for zero-gravity to the extent that return to the Earth becomes problematic and humans become progressively more adapted to the weightless environment.

Americans were the first to discover the existence of the Van Allen belts around the Earth. These belts contain radiation trapped by the Earth’s magnetic fields, which currently prevent habitable space stations from being placed above 1,000 km.

Russians were the first to take pictures of the far side of the moon, which had never been visible to humans. It was discovered that the far side was somewhat different, more heavily cratered.

U.S. Apollo missions returned rocks from the Moon, supporting the theory that the Moon was once part of the Earth.

Contrary to fanciful early reports from astronomers viewing Mars, no canals, and certainly no advanced lifeforms are present on the surface of that planet, but the presence of microscopic organisms has not been ruled out.

Space colonization, also called space settlement or space humanization, implies the permanent, autonomous (self-sufficient) human habitation of locations beyond Earth, especially on natural satellites such as the Moon or planets such as Mars. It would rely on significant amounts of In-Situ Resource Utilization.

Many past and current concepts for the continued exploration and colonization of space focus on a return to the Moon as a “stepping stone” to the other planets, especially Mars. Traditional concepts also called for the construction of orbital shipyards for the construction of inter-planetary vessels. Unfortunately, such concepts were prohibitively expensive, with estimated costs of $450 billion or more.

During the 1990s, however, aerospace engineer Robert Zubrin developed the “Mars Direct” plan, emphasizing the utilization of Martian resources. In his widely acclaimed book Mars Direct, Zubrin explained how human beings could be sent to Mars within 10 years, using existing or foreseeable technologies, at a cost of between 20-30 billion dollars.

Other efforts have included the Ansari X Prize, which offered a 10 million dollar prize to any private, non-government organization that could develop a spacecraft capable of launching three human beings into space, returning them safely to Earth, and repeating the feat within 2 weeks. The X-prize was a resounding success with the launch of Space Ship One, which was developed from scratch for only 25 million dollars, a tiny fraction of the cost of a single space shuttle launch. This development was accompanied by other prize incentives, and plans for routine space tourist flights.

Although only the United States, Soviet Union/Russian, and Chinese space programs have launched humans into orbit, a number of other countries have space agencies that design and launch satellites, conduct space research and coordinate national astronaut programs.

Did you know?

Critics of space exploration usually point out the costs, limitations, and risks of human spaceflight. It is more expensive to perform certain tasks in space by humans rather than by robots or other machines. People need large spacecraft that contain provisions such as a hermetic and temperature-controlled cabin, production of breathable air, food and drink storage, waste disposal, communications systems, and safety features such as crew escape systems and medical facilities. There is also the question of the security of the spacecraft as whole; losing a robot is nowhere near as tragic as human loss, so overall safety of non-human missions is not as much of an issue.

All the extra costs have to be weighed against the benefits of having humans aboard. Some critics argue that those few instances where human intervention is essential do not justify the enormous extra costs of having humans aboard. However, others argue that many tasks can be more effectively accomplished by human beings.

Some, including the late physicist and Nobel prize winner Richard Feynman, have contended that space missions have not achieved any major scientific breakthroughs. However, others have argued that, besides the large (and otherwise unavailable) amount of planetary data returned by spacecraft, there have been many indirect scientific achievements, including development of the modern computer, lasers, and so forth.

The results of research carried out by space exploration agencies, such as NASA, is one of the reasons supporters justify government expenses. Some even claim that space exploration is a necessity to humankind and that staying in its home planet will lead humanity to oblivion. Some of the reasons are lack of natural resources, comets, nuclear war, and worldwide epidemic. Stephen Hawking, renowned British theoretical physicist, said that “I don’t think the human race will survive the next thousand years, unless we spread into space. There are too many accidents that can befall life on a single planet. But I’m an optimist. We will reach out to the stars.”[1]

Some critics contend that in light of the huge distances in space, human space travel will involve no more than visiting earth’s closest neighbors in the Solar System, barring any actualization of the theoretical concept of faster-than-light travel. Even such limited travel would consume large amounts of money and require complex spacecraft accommodating only a handful of people. Supporters of human space travel state that this is irrelevant, because its real value lies in providing a focal point for national prestige, patriotism, and international cooperation. They suggest the Clinton administration’s close cooperation with Russia on the International Space Station (ISS) gave Russia something to take pride in, becoming a stabilizing factor in post-communist Russia. From this point of view, the ISS was a justifiable cash outlay.

Some people also have moral objections to the huge costs of space travel, and say that even a fraction of the space travel budget would make a huge difference in fighting disease and hunger in the world. However, compared to much more costly endeavors, like military actions, space exploration itself receives a very small percentage of total government spending (nearly always under 0.5 percent), and space-exploration advocates frequently point out that long-term benefits could outweigh short-term costs. In addition, the successful launches of Space Ship One, a privately constructed, reusable space plane developed for only $25 million, has diminished the impact of cost-based criticisms.

Overall, the public remains largely supportive of both manned and unmanned space exploration. According to an Associated Press Poll conducted in July 2003, 71 percent of U.S. citizens agreed with the statement that the space program is “a good investment,” compared to 21 percent who did not.[2] NASA has produced a series of Public Service Announcement videos supporting the concept of space exploration.[3]

This is not to say that space exploration advocates do not criticize existing programs. Some supporters of space explorations, such as Robert Zubrin, have criticized on-orbit assembly of spacecraft as unnecessary and expensive, and argue for a direct approach for human exploration, such as Mars Direct.

Twenty-first century space advocates continue to work towards more advanced spacecraft, rotating space stations, lunar bases, and colonies on Mars. Some of these visions may come true, though significant obstacles remain.

All links retrieved October 14, 2015.

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Darwinism – New World Encyclopedia

Posted: July 3, 2016 at 6:38 pm

Darwinism is a term that is generally considered synonymous with the theory of natural selection. This theory, which was developed by Charles Darwin, holds that natural selection is the directive or creative force of evolution.

The term “Darwinism” also has been applied to the evolutionary theories of Charles Darwin in general, rather than just the theory of natural selection. It may also refer specifically to the role of Charles Darwin as opposed to others in the history of evolutionary thoughtparticularly contrasting Darwin’s results with those of earlier theories, such as Lamarckism, or with more modern versions, such as the modern evolutionary synthesis.

According to Ernst Mayr (1991), how the term “Darwinism” has been and is used depends on who is using it and the time period. On the other hand, Harvard evolutionist Stephen Jay Gould, himself a popular writer on evolution, maintains that although the popular literature often equates Darwinism with evolution itself, the scientific community generally agrees that the term “should be restricted to the worldview encompassed by the theory of natural selection” (Gould 1982). That is, the term should be limited to the philosophical concept of Darwin’s theory regarding the mechanism for evolutionary change.

Since the time of the publication of Darwin’s Origin of Species (1859), Darwinism has confronted challenges from both the scientific and religious communities. Among persistent scientific challenges are the lack of evidences for natural selection as the causal agent of macroevolutionary change; the issue of whether evidences on the microevolutionary level can be extrapolated to the macroevolutionary level; and the surprisingly rapid rate of speciation and prolonged stasis seen in the fossil record (see macroevolution). For religious adherents, the central role accorded “chance” in the evolution of new designs via natural selection is not proved and runs counter to the concept of a creator God. (See Challenges to Darwinism.)

The theory of natural selection is one of two major evolutionary theories advanced by Darwin, the other being the theory of descent with modification. The theory of descent with modification deals with the pattern of evolution: groups of organisms are related with one another, sharing common ancestors from which they have descended. The theory of natural selection (or “theory of modification through natural selection”) deals with the process or mechanism of evolution: how the evolutionary change occurred in order to arrive at the pattern.

Natural selection is the mechanism whereby populations of individuals with favorable traits reproduce more than individuals that lack such beneficial traits, and populations of individuals with deleterious traits reproduce less than individuals without such harmful traits. Over time, this results in a trend toward individuals with traits more conducive to their survival and reproduction. According to this theory, natural selection is the directive or creative force of evolution, creating new species and new designs, rather than just a force for weeding out unfit organisms.

In a modern definition of the term, a Darwinian process requires the following schema:

If the entity or organism survives to reproduce, the process restarts. Sometimes, in stricter formulations, it is required that variation and selection act on different entities, variation on the replicator (genotype) and selection on the interactor (phenotype).

Darwinism asserts that in any system given these conditions, by whatever means, evolution is likely to occur. That is, over time, the entities will accumulate complex traits that favor their reproduction. This is called Universal Darwinism, a term coined by Richard Dawkins in his 1972 book Selfish Gene.

Some scientists, including Darwin, maintain that natural selection only works on the level of the organism. Others, such as Gould, believe in hierarchical levels of selectionthat natural selection can work both on individuals or groups of individuals, such that some populations or species may have favorable traits that promote their survival and reproduction over other species or populations. Richard Dawkins maintained that natural selection worked on the level of the gene, although this has been generally discredited in scientific circles.

On the microevolutionary level (change within species), there are evidences that natural selection can produce evolutionary change. For example, changes in gene frequencies can be observed in populations of fruit flies exposed to selective pressures in the laboratory environment. Likewise, systematic changes in various phenotypes within a species, such as color changes in moths, can be observed in field studies. However, evidence that natural selection is the directive force of change in terms of the origination of new designs (such as the development of feathers) or major transitions between higher taxa (such as the evolution of land-dwelling vertebrates from fish) is not observable. Evidence for such macroevolutionary change is limited to extrapolation from changes on the microevolutionary level. A number of top evolutionists, including Gould, challenge the validity of making such extrapolations.

In Darwin’s day, there was no rigid definition of the term “Darwinism,” and it was used by proponents and opponents of Darwin’s biological theory alike to mean whatever they wanted it to in a larger context. In the nineteenth-century context in which Darwin’s Origin of Species was first received, “Darwinism” came to stand for an entire range of evolutionary (and often revolutionary) philosophies about both biology and society.

One of the more prominent approaches was that summed up in the phrase “survival of the fittest” by the philosopher Herbert Spencer. This was later taken to be emblematic of Darwinism, even though Spencer’s own understanding of evolution was more Lamarckian than Darwinian, and predated the publication of Darwin’s theory.

What we now call “Social Darwinism” was, in its day, synonymous with one use of the word “Darwinism”the application of Darwinian principles of “struggle” to society, usually in support of anti-philanthropic political agendas. Another interpretation, one notably favored by Darwin’s cousin Francis Galton, was that Darwinism implied that natural selection was apparently no longer working on “civilized” people, thus it was possible for “inferior” strains of people (who would normally be filtered out of the gene pool) to overwhelm the “superior” strains, and corrective measures would have to be undertakenthe foundation of eugenics.

Many of the ideas called “Darwinism” had only a rough resemblance to the theory of Charles Darwin. For example, Ernst Haeckel developed what was known as Darwinisms in Germany; though it should be noted that his ideas was not centered around natural selection at all.

To distinguish themselves from the very loose meaning of Darwinism prevalent in the nineteenth century, those who advocated evolution by natural selection after the death of Darwin became known as neo-Darwinists. The term “neo-Darwinism” itself was coined by George John Romanes in 1896 to designate the Darwinism proposed by August Weismann and Alfred Russel Wallace, in which the exclusivity of natural selection was promoted and the inheritance of acquired characteristics (Larmarckism) was rejected (Mayr 2001; Gould 2002). At that time, near the end of the nineteenth century, there was a strong debate between the neo-Larmarckians and the neo-Darwinians.

The term neo-Darwinism was not terribly
popular in the scientific community until after the development of the modern evolutionary synthesis in the 1930s, when the term became synonymous with the synthesis. The modern meaning of neo-Darwinism is not “genealogically linked” to the earlier definition (Gould 2002).

It is felt by some that the term “Darwinism” is sometimes used by creationists as a somewhat derogatory term for “evolutionary biology,” in that casting of evolution as an “ism”a doctrine or beliefstrengthens calls for “equal time” for other beliefs, such as creationism or intelligent design. However, top evolutionary scientists, such as Gould and Mayr, have used the term repeatedly, without any derogatory connotations.

In addition to the difficulty of getting evidence for natural selection being the causal agent of change on macroevolutionary levels, as noted above, there are fundamental challenges to the theory of natural selection itself. These come from both the scientific and religious communities.

Such challenges to the theory of natural selection are not a new development. Unlike the theory of descent with modification, which was accepted by the scientific community during Darwin’s time and for which substantial evidences have been marshaled, the theory of natural selection was not widely accepted until the mid-1900s and remains controversial even today.

In some cases, key arguments against natural selection being the main or sole agent of evolutionary change come from evolutionary scientists. One concern for example, is whether the origin of new designs and evolutionary trends (macroevolution) can be explained adequately as an extrapolation of changes in gene frequencies within populations (microevolution) (Luria, Gould, and Singer 1981). (See macroevolution for an overview of such critiques, including complications relating to the rate of observed macroevolutionary changes.)

Symbiogenesis, the theory that holds that evolutionary change is initiated by a long-term symbiosis of dissimilar organisms, offers a scientific challenge to the source of variation and reduces the primacy of natural selection as the agent of major evolutionary change. Margulis and Sagan (2002) hold that random mutation is greatly overemphasized as the source of hereditary variation in standard Neo-Darwinistic doctrine. Rather, they maintain, the major source of transmitted variation actually comes from the acquisition of genomesin other words, entire sets of genes, in the form of whole organisms, are acquired and incorporated by other organisms. This long-term biological fusion of organisms, beginning as symbiosis, is held to be the agent of species evolution.

Historically, the strongest opposition to Darwinism, in the sense of being a synonym for the theory of natural selection, has come from those advocating religious viewpoints. In essence, the chance component involved in the creation of new designs, which is inherent in the theory of natural selection, runs counter to the concept of a Supreme Being who has designed and created humans and all phyla. Chance (stochastic processes, randomness) is centrally involved in the theory of natural selection. As noted by eminent evolutionist Ernst Mayr (2001, pp. 120, 228, 281), chance plays an important role in two steps. First, the production of genetic variation “is almost exclusively a chance phenomena.” Secondly, chance plays an important role even in “the process of the elimination of less fit individuals,” and particularly during periods of mass extinction.

This element of chance counters the view that the development of new evolutionary designs, including humans, was a progressive, purposeful creation by a Creator God. Rather than the end result, according to the theory of natural selection, human beings were an accident, the end of a long, chance-filled process involving adaptations to local environments. There is no higher purpose, no progressive development, just materialistic forces at work. The observed harmony in the world becomes an artifact of such adaptations of organisms to each other and to the local environment. Such views are squarely at odds with many religious interpretations.

A key point of contention between the worldview is, therefore, the issue of variabilityits origin and selection. For a Darwinist, random genetic mutation provides a mechanism of introducing novel variability, and natural selection acts on the variability. For those believing in a creator God, the introduced variability is not random, but directed by the Creator, although natural selection may act on the variability, more in the manner of removing unfit organisms than in any creative role. Some role may also be accorded differential selection, such as mass extinctions. Neither of these worldviewsrandom variation and the purposeless, non-progressive role of natural selection, or purposeful, progressive variationare conclusively proved or unproved by scientific methodology, and both are theoretically possible.

There are some scientists who feel that the importance accorded to genes in natural selection may be overstated. According to Jonathan Wells, genetic expression in developing embryos is impacted by morphology as well, such as membranes and cytoskeletal structure. DNA is seen as providing the means for coding of the proteins, but not necessarily the development of the embryo, the instructions of which must reside elsewhere. It is possible that the importance of sexual reproduction and genetic recombination in introducing variability also may be understated.

The history of conflict between Darwinism and religion often has been exacerbated by confusion and dogmatism on both sides. Evolutionary arguments often are set up against the straw man of a dogmatic, biblical fundamentalism in which God created each species separately and the earth is only 6,000 years old. Thus, an either-or dichotomy is created, in which one believes either in the theory of natural selection or an earth only thousands of years old. However, young-earth creationism is only a small subset of the diversity of religious belief, and theistic, teleological explanations of the origin of species may be much more sophisticated and aligned with scientific findings. On the other hand, evolutionary adherents have sometimes presented an equally dogmatic front, refusing to acknowledge well thought out challenges to the theory of natural selection, or allowing for the possibility of alternative, theistic presentations.

New World Encyclopedia writers and editors rewrote and completed the Wikipedia article in accordance with New World Encyclopedia standards. This article abides by terms of the Creative Commons CC-by-sa 3.0 License (CC-by-sa), which may be used and disseminated with proper attribution. Credit is due under the terms of this license that can reference both the New World Encyclopedia contributors and the selfless volunteer contributors of the Wikimedia Foundation. To cite this article click here for a list of acceptable citing formats.The history of earlier contributions by wikipedians is accessible to researchers here:

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Mind Uploading FAQs

Posted: June 30, 2016 at 3:35 am

What is ‘mind uploading’ (MU)? What is a ‘substrate-independent mind’ (SIM)? And what is ‘whole brain emulation’ (WBE)?

As described in the Wikipedia entry for mind uploading (MU),

‘mind uploading (sometimes called “mind copying” or “mind transfer”) is the hypothetical process of copying mental content (including long-term memory and “self”) from a particular brain substrate and copying it to a computational device, such as a digital, analog, quantum-based or software-based artificial neural network.’

Mind uploading implies a process by which, from a subjective perspective, a person’s conscious experience (sense of ‘self’ or ‘personal identity’) continues, despite his or her neural functionality ceasing in the originating biological brain and subsequently occurring via brain-like processes in some other system (ostensibly some sort of computer). The concept of mind uploading therefore relies on the stance that all experience (sensory perception, conscious introspection, learning and memory, etc.) is an emergent function of neural-like processes. The biological brain is in that sense a device or machine, and as such utilizes functions which can be confidently replicated by properly arranged alternate systems, including nonbiological systems (once again, by this we imply something akin to a conventional computer).

A crucial component of mind uploading is that the process does not merely transfer or duplicate neurological or cognitive functions. Rather, it implies that a person’s subjective experience (their identity) also comes to be associated with the emergent functionality arising from the activity of the new brain-like substrate. This concept is referred to as preserving personal identity in the new substrate. Recent work has addressed the question of whether the particulars of the method used to achieve mind uploading would lead to different outcomes (Wiley & Koene, The Fallacy of Favoring Gradual Replacement Mind Uploading Over Scan-and-Copy)

The concept of mind uploading, in its full meaning, has been used in science fiction at least since the mid 1950s (e.g. Frederick Pohl, The Tunnel Under the World; Arthur C. Clarke, The City and the Stars), and has also been used as a tool for thought experiments in philosophy. Mind uploading became a topic of considered scientific interest in the mid 1990s (e.g. the Mind Uploading Research Group).

A substrate-independent mind (SIM) is the method-agnostic term for the concept of a mind that can operate on many different types of underlying functional processing substrates, e.g. a biological brain, a special ‘neuromorphic’ device, software executed in a digital computer, etc. SIM is the desired result, the goal or objective of efforts to achieve mind uploading. The objective is to be able to sustain person-specific functions of mind and experience in many different operational substrates. A mind is then considered substrate-independent in a manner analogous to a programmer’s understanding of platform-independent computer code, which can be compiled to run on many different computing platforms.

Whole brain emulation (WBE) is the principal method proposed by which to accomplish SIM for mind uploading and many other purposes (e.g. general brain research, research into clinical neural prostheses, research into artificial general intelligence, etc). In academic research, the shorter term ‘brain emulation’ is sometimes used, and terms such as ‘whole-brain activity mapping’ are used to describe data acquisition tools developed and used in closely related fields of neuroscience. Whole brain emulation uses high resolution data about specific brain structure (e.g. the connectome) and specific brain activity (e.g. electrophysiology).

The term ’emulation’ is used, specifically, to underline the distinction when compared with investigative simulations carried out in computational neuroscience. Simulations are generally built to study system or mechanism principles derived and abstracted through the study of brain function in many animal or human subjects. While the principles learned there are important for WBE, the emulation aims to match the characteristics of mental function specific to an individual brain. When a smaller piece of a brain is emulated this is also known as a neural prostheses or neuroprosthetic (e.g. Berger et al and the hippocampal neural prosthesis).

Whole brain emulation can therefore also be thought of as applying neural prostheses to all parts of a person’s brain. Emulation, as a means to match a whole collection of target characteristics of a processing platform is also a well-known term in computing, where an emulator enables one computer system to behave like another one (e.g. emulating the old Commodore 64 on a modern computer). In engineering, the reverse engineering of a system for purposes such as emulation is known as system identification (as applied, for example, by Berger et al for the hippocampal prosthesis).

The site minduploading.org is dedicated to interest in the broader concept and goal of mind uploading. The site aims to serve general public and specialists alike, providing news, answers to questions and background information.

The minduploading.org site is closely affiliated with carboncopies.org, the non-profit organization operating as a nexus for activity and interest in the objective of substrate-independent minds (SIM). Carboncopies.org explains fundamental concepts of SIM and maintains the research roadmap and network. A Facebook carboncopies group carries on public discussions with contributed posts and updates about topical events and news.

The research site wholebrainemulation.org links to activities, labs and contacts in the fields of connectome research (e.g. high-throughput microscopy), neural prosthetics, neural interfacing, large-scale computational neuroscience and more.

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Golden Rule – New World Encyclopedia

Posted: June 28, 2016 at 2:56 am

The Golden Rule is a cross-cultural ethical precept found in virtually all the religions of the world. Also known as the “Ethic of Reciprocity,” the Golden Rule can be rendered in either positive or negative formulations: most expressions take a passive form, as expressed by the Jewish sage Hillel: “What is hateful to you, do not to your fellow neighbor. This is the whole Law, all the rest is commentary” (Talmud, Shabbat 31a). In Christianity, however, the principle is expressed affirmatively by Jesus in the Sermon on the Mount: “Do unto others as you would have others do unto you” (Gospel of Matthew 7:12). This principle has for centuries been known in English as the Golden Rule in recognition of its high value and importance in both ethical living and reflection.

Arising as it does in nearly all cultures, the ethic of reciprocity is a principle that can readily be used in handling conflicts and promoting greater harmony and unity. Given the modern global trend of political, social, and economic integration and globalization, the Golden Rule of ethics may become even more relevant in the years ahead to foster inter-cultural and interreligious understanding.

Philosophers disagree about the nature of the Golden Rule: some have classified it as a form of deontological ethics (from the Greek deon, meaning “obligation”) whereby decisions are made primarily by considering one’s duties and the rights of others. Deontology posits the existence of a priori moral obligations suggesting that people ought to live by a set of permanently defined principles that do not change merely as a result of a change in circumstances. However, other philosophers have argued that most religious understandings of the Golden Rule imply its use as a virtue toward greater mutual respect for one’s neighbor rather than as a deontological formulation. They argue that the Golden Rule depends on everyone’s ability to accept and respect differences because even religious teachings vary. Thus, many philosophers, such as Karl Popper, have suggested that the Golden Rule can be best understood in term of what it is not (through the via negativa):

First, they note that the Golden Rule should not be confused with revenge, an eye for an eye, tit for tat, retributive justice or the law of retaliation. A key element of the ethic of reciprocity is that a person attempting to live by this rule treats all people, not just members of his or her in-group, with due consideration. The Golden Rule should also not be confused with another major ethical principle, often known as Wiccan Rede, or liberty principle, which is an ethical prohibition against aggression. This rule is also an ethical rule of “license” or “right,” that is people can do anything they like as long as it does not harm others. This rule does not compel one to help the other in need. On the other hand, “the golden rule is a good standard which is further improved by doing unto others, wherever possible, as they want to be done by.”[1]

Lastly, the Golden Rule of ethics should not be confused with a “rule” in the semantic or logical sense. A logical loophole in the positive form of Golden “Rule” is that it would require a masochist to harm others, even without their consent, if that is what the masochist would wish for themselves. This loophole can be addressed by invoking a supplementary rule, which is sometimes called the Silver Rule. This states, “treat others in the way that they wish to be treated.” However, the Silver Rule may create another logical loophole. In a situation where an individual’s background or belief may offend the sentiment of the majority (such as homosexuality or blasphemy), the silver rule may imply ethical majority rule if the Golden Rule is enforced as if it were a law.

Under ethic of reciprocity, a person of atheist persuasion may have a (legal) right to insult religion under the right of freedom of expression but, as a personal choice, may refrain to do so in public out of respect to the sensitivity of the other. Conversely, a person of religious persuasion may refrain from taking action against such public display out of respect to the sensitivity of other about the right of freedom of speech. Conversely, the lack of mutual respect might mean that each side might deliberately violate the golden rule as a provocation (to assert one’s right) or as intimidation (to prevent other from making offense).

This understanding is crucial because it shows how to apply the golden rule. In 1963, John F. Kennedy ordered Alabama National Guardsmen to help admit two clearly qualified “Negro” students to the University of Alabama. In his speech that evening Kennedy appealed to every American:

Stop and examine his conscience about this and other related incidents throughout America…If an American, because his skin is dark, cannot eat lunch in a restaurant open to the public, if he cannot send his children to the best public school available, if he cannot vote for the public officials who will represent him, …. then who among us would be content to have the color of his skin changed and stand in his place? …. The heart of the question is …. whether we are going to treat our fellow Americans as we want to be treated.[2]

It could be argued that the ethics of reciprocity may replace all other moral principles, or at least that it is superior to them. Though this guiding rule may not explicitly tell one which actions or treatments are right or wrong, it can provide one with moral coherenceit is a consistency principle. One’s actions are to be consistent with mutual love and respect to other fellow humans.

A survey of the religious scriptures of the world reveals striking congruence among their respective articulations of the Golden Rule of ethics. Not only do the scriptures reveal that the Golden Rule is an ancient precept, but they also show that there is almost unanimous agreement among the religions that this principle ought to govern human affairs. Virtually all of the world’s religions offer formulations of the Golden Rule somewhere in their scriptures, and they speak in unison on this principle. Consequently, the Golden Rule has been one of the key operating ideas that has governed human ethics and interaction over thousands of years. Specific examples and formulations of the Golden Rule from the religious scriptures of the world are found below:

In Buddhism, the first of the Five Precepts (Panca-sila) of Buddhism is to abstain from destruction of life. The justification of the precept is given in chapter ten of the Dhammapada, which states:

Everyone fears punishment; everyone fears death, just as you do. Therefore do not kill or cause to kill. Everyone fears punishment; everyone loves life, as you do. Therefore do not kill or cause to kill.

According to the second of Four Noble Truths of Buddhism, egoism (desire, craving or attachment) is rooted in ignorance and is considered as the cause of all suffering. Consequently, kindness, compassion and equanimity are regarded as the untainted aspect of human nature.

Even though the Golden Rule is a widely accepted religious ethic, Martin Forward writes that the Golden Rule is itself not beyond criticism. His critique of the Golden Rule is worth repeating in full. He writes:

Two serious criticisms can be leveled against [the Golden Rule]. First of all, although the Golden Rule makes sense as an aspiration, it is much more problematic when it is used as a foundation for practical living or philosophical reflection. For example: sh
ould we unfailingly pardon murderers on the grounds that, if we stood in their shoes, we should ourselves wish to be pardoned? Many goodly and godly people would have problems with such a proposal, even though it is a logical application of the Golden Rule. At the very least, then, it would be helpful to specify what sort of a rule the Golden Rule actually is, rather than assuming that it is an unqualified asset to ethical living in a pluralistic world. Furthermore, it is not usually seen as the heart of religion by faithful people, but simply as the obvious starting point for a religious and humane vision of life. Take the famous story in Judaism recorded in the Talmud: Shabbat 31:

Forward’s argument continues:

Even assuming that the Golden Rule could be developed into a more nuanced pattern of behaving well in todays world, there would still be issues for religious people to deal with. For whilst moral behavior is an important dimension of religion, it does not exhaust its meaning. There is a tendency for religious people in the West to play down or even despise doctrine, but this is surely a passing fancy. It is important for religious people in every culture to inquire after the nature of transcendence: its attitude towards humans and the created order; and the demands that it makes. People cannot sensibly describe what is demanded of them as important, without describing the source that wills it and enables it to be lived out. Besides, the world would be a safer place if people challenged paranoid and wicked visions of God (or however ultimate reality is defined) with truer and more generous ones, rather than if they abandoned the naming and defining of God to fearful and sociopath persons (From the Inter-religious Dialogue article in The Encyclopedia of General Knowledge).

In other words, Forward warns religious adherents not to be satisfied with merely the Golden Rule of ethics that can be interpreted and used as a form of religious and ethical relativism, but to ponder the deeper religious impulses that lead to the conviction of the Golden Rule in the first place, such as the idea of love in Christianity.

Due to its widespread acceptance in the world’s cultures, it has been suggested that the Golden Rule may be related to innate aspects of human nature. In fact, the principle of reciprocity has been mathematically proved to be the most mutually beneficial means of resolving conflict (as in the Prisoner’s Dilemma).[3] As it has touchstones in virtually all cultures, the ethic of reciprocity provides a universally comprehensible tool for handling conflictual situations. However, the logical and ethical objections presented above make the viability of this principle as a Kantian categorical imperative doubtful. In a world where sociopathy and religious zealotry exist, it is not always feasible to base one’s actions upon the perceived desires of others. Further, the Golden Rule, in modernity, has lost some of its persuasive power, after being diluted into a bland, secular precept through cloying e-mail forwards and newspaper cartoons. As Forward argues, perhaps the Golden Rule must be approached in its original religious context, as this context provides an ethical and metaphysical grounding for a belief in the ultimate power of human goodness.

Regardless of the above objections, modern trends of political, social, and economic globalization necessitate the development of understandable, codifiable and universally-accepted ethical guidelines. For this purpose, we (as a species) could certainly do worse than to rely upon the age-old, heuristic principle spelled out in the Golden Rule.

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ThinkBeyond.us | What Is Transhumanism?

Posted: June 26, 2016 at 10:51 am

transhumanism, n.

trans hu man ism

an international intellectual and cultural movement that affirms the possibility and desirability of fundamentally transforming the human condition by developing and making widely available technologies to eliminate aging and to greatly enhance human intellectual, physical, and psychological capacities.

Wikipedia

That’s the definition of “transhumanism” the Web offers up. It’s true in a sort of reductionist sense, but I’m not sure it’s a terribly useful definition.

If I were to define transhumanism, I’d say that it’s an idea whose premise is that human nature is not some fixed quantity, forever unalterable; it’s something that is a consequence of our biology and our environment, and it can be changed. Furthermore, advances in technology and in our understanding of biology, chemistry, and physics, give us the power to change it as we wish–to take evolution from a blind, undirected process to a process that we can make choices about. It’s predicated on the idea that we can, if we so desire, choose what it means to be human.

A great deal of conventional thought has always held on to the idea that “human nature” is something that’s a fundamental part of who we are, forever unalterable. Certain aspects of the human condition, from mortality to aggression, from disease to territoriality, have always been thought of as fixtures of the human condition; no matter how our society changes, no matter what we learn, these things have been assumed to be an immutable part of us.

Transhumanist thought holds that this isn’t so. We are physical entities, whose nature comes from an extraordinarily complex dance of biochemical processes happening in our bodies. The way we respond to stress, the way we behave, the way our bodies suffer gradually increasing debility, all these things are the consequence of the physical processes happening inside our bodies and brains.

And they can change. Improved diet has made us qualitatively different from our neolithic ancestors–taller, longer-lived. Thousands of generations living in large numbers have made us more able to function in complex social environments; we have, in a sense, domesticated ourselves.

Right now, advances in biotechnology offer to revolutionize our view of who we are. What if aging and death were no longer inevitable? What if we could invent ways to repair genetic disorders? What if the human brain, which is a physical organ, could be modeled inside a computer? What if we could develop techniques to make our brains operate more efficiently? These sound like science fiction to a lot of people, but every single one of them is the subject of active research in labs around the world right now.

Transhumanism is a highly rationalist idea. It rejects the notion that human beings are corrupt, doomed to suffer and die as a result of a fall from grace. Rather, it postulates that the things that make us who we are are knowable and comprehensible; that the state of being human is a fit subject for scientific inquiry; and that as we learn more about ourselves, our ability to shape who we are increases.

The implications of these ideas are deeply profound. Transhumanist philosophy is built from the notion that things like indefinite lifespan, brain modeling, and improvement of human physical and intellectual capacity are both possible and desirable. Transhumanism, therefore, is profoundly optimistic.

It is not, however, Utopian. Like all new technologies, these things all have potential consequences whose outlines we can’t see clearly yet. Therefore, transhumanism tends to be concerned not only with the possibility of biomedical technology but also its ethics; the study of transhumanism is, in large part, the study of bioethics. Who controls the direction of new, disruptive biomedical technology? What does it mean to be a “person;” is an artificial intelligence a person? How should new biomedical technology be introduced into society? How can it be made available democratically, to everyone who wishes it? What role is available to people who for whatever reason don’t choose to benefit from new advances in medical understanding?

At its core, transhumanism is deeply pragmatic. Since it seems likely that biotechnology is going to improve over time whether we think about the implications of it or not, transhumanists think about things like bioethics, immortality, and the nature of consciousness in concrete, real-world terms, rather than as philosophical exercises. One of the things I most like about transhumanism is its drive to ask questions like “How can we maximize the benefit of what we are learning while maintaining human agency, dignity, and the right to choose?” Transhumanists are invited to be skeptical about everything, including the premises of transhumanism. It is quite likely that whatever views of the future we dream up will be flawed, as most prognostication tends to be. But by getting into the habit of examining these ideas now, and of considering the moral and ethical dimensions of our accelerating understanding of biology, we can at least train ourselves to get into the habit of asking the right questions as new breakthroughs come.

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Euthanasia and Physician Assisted Suicide – All sides

Posted: June 25, 2016 at 11:01 am

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A root cause for the desire to commit suicide is often depression. This can often be controlled with medication. If you are depressed, I strongly recommend that you seek medical help to see if your depression can be lifted.

Another cause of suicidal ideation is often intolerable levels of pain associated with a terminal illness, like cancer. Many physicians are reluctant to prescribe high levels of some pain killers out of fear that the person will become addicted to them. If you are suffering from pain in spite of medication, try insisting on better levels or types of pain killers. Recruit friends and family to intercede with your physician if you can.

If you feel overwhelmed and lack an effective support system of friends and family, consider tapping into the services of a crisis hotline. These are called by various names: distress centers, crisis centers, suicide prevention centers, etc. Their telephone numbers can often be found in the first page(s) of your telephone directory. If you cannot find a number for a center in your area, try phoning directory assistance at 4-1-1.

In the United States, you can call 1-800-273-TALK. See: http://www.suicidepreventionlifeline.org/ They will direct you to a crisis center in your area.

U.S. Crisis Center map

Crisis centers/distress centers/ etc are often confidential services that you can phone up at any time of the day or night for support. You can usually remain anonymous.

Wikipedia lists suicide crisis lines for many countries from Australia to the United States at: https://en.wikipedia.org/ Although these lines are often called “suicide prevention lines” or “crisis lines.” most of the people calling are not suicidal, not in crisis, but are in distress. So, don’t be reluctant to call them because you are not suicidal or in crisis.

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Throughout North America, committing suicide or attempting to commit suicide is no longer a criminal offense. However, helping another person commit suicide is generally considered a criminal act. A few exceptions are:

There were four failed ballot initiatives between 1991 and 2000:

Between 1994 and 2016, there have been in excess of 75 legislative bills to legalize PAS in at least 21 states. Almost all failed to become law. 4

The author of this section is approaching his 80th birthday and is in good health. To him, end of life issues have taken on a personal aspect. Being an Agnostic, he doubts the existence of an afterlife. He does not fear death. He does not fear being dead. However, he has considerable fear about the process of dying, For many people in North America is an agonizingly painful and lengthy process during which time one’s enjoyment of life often drops to zero and becomes negative without any hope that it will return to positive territory. Fortunately for him, he lives in Canada which — like all other developed countries except for the U.S. — has universal health care. So he will receive competent medical attention. Unfortunately, pain management is often as poorly managed in Canada as it is in the U.S. He regards suicide as a civil right and would prefer that he have access to a means of suicide if life becomes unbearable. He thus strongly supports legalizing physician assisted suicide.

He is critical of PAS laws that have been passed to date because they generally give access to assisted dying only to terminally ill people who are expected to die in the near future of natural causes. They do not do anything for people who experience chronic, overwhelming pain with no hope of relief for years.

He has attempted to remain impartial, objective and fair while writing these essays.

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Socio-Economic Collapse | Prometheism.net

Posted: June 17, 2016 at 5:04 am

In archaeology, the classic Maya collapse refers to the decline of Maya civilization and abandonment of Maya cities in the southern Maya lowlands of Mesoamerica between the 8th and 9thcenturies, at the end of the Classic Mayan Period. Preclassic Maya experienced a similar collapse in the 2nd century.

The Classic Period of Mesoamerican chronology is generally defined as the period from 250 to 900, the last century of which is referred to as the Terminal Classic.[1] The classic Maya collapse is one of the greatest unsolved mysteries in archaeology. Urban centers of the southern lowlands, among them Palenque, Copn, Tikal, Calakmul, went into decline during the 8th and 9thcenturies and were abandoned shortly thereafter. Archaeologically, this decline is indicated by the cessation of monumental inscriptions and the reduction of large-scale architectural construction at the primary urban centers of the classic period.

Although termed a collapse, it did not mark the end of the Maya civilization; Northern Yucatn in particular prospered afterwards, although with very different artistic and architectural styles, and with much less use of monumental hieroglyphic writing. In the post-classic period following the collapse, the state of Chichn Itz built an empire that briefly united much of the Maya region,[citation needed] and centers such as Mayapn and Uxmal flourished, as did the Highland states of the Kiche and Kaqchikel Maya. Independent Maya civilization continued until 1697 when the Spanish conquered Nojpetn, the last independent city-state. Millions of Maya people still inhabit the Yucatn peninsula today.

Because parts of Maya civilization unambiguously continued, a number of scholars strongly dislike the term collapse.[2] Regarding the proposed collapse, E. W. Andrews IV went as far as to say, in my belief no such thing happened.[3]

The Maya often recorded dates on monuments they built. Few dated monuments were being built circa 500 around ten per year in 514, for example. The number steadily increased to make this number twenty per year by 672 and forty by around 750. After this, the number of dated monuments begins to falter relatively quickly, collapsing back to ten by 800 and to zero by 900. Likewise, recorded lists of kings complement this analysis. Altar Q shows a reign of kings from 426 to 763. One last king not recorded on Altar Q was Ukit Took, Patron of Flint, who was probably a usurper. The dynasty is believed to have collapsed entirely shortly thereafter. In Quirigua, twenty miles north of Copn, the last king Jade Sky began his rule between 895 and 900, and throughout the Maya area all kingdoms similarly fell around that time.[4]

A third piece of evidence of the progression of Maya decline, gathered by Ann Corinne Freter, Nancy Gonlin, and David Webster, uses a technique called obsidian hydration. The technique allowed them to map the spread and growth of settlements in the Copn Valley and estimate their populations. Between 400 and 450, the population was estimated at a peak of twenty-eight thousand between 750 and 800 larger than London at the time. Population then began to steadily decline. By 900 the population had fallen to fifteen thousand, and by 1200 the population was again less than 1000.

Some 88 different theories or variations of theories attempting to explain the Classic Maya Collapse have been identified.[5] From climate change to deforestation to lack of action by Mayan kings, there is no universally accepted collapse theory, although drought is gaining momentum as the leading explanation.[6]

The archaeological evidence of the Toltec intrusion into Seibal, Peten, suggests to some the theory of foreign invasion. The latest hypothesis states that the southern lowlands were invaded by a non-Maya group whose homelands were probably in the gulf coast lowlands. This invasion began in the 9thcentury and set off, within 100years, a group of events that destroyed the Classic Maya. It is believed that this invasion was somehow influenced by the Toltec people of central Mexico. However, most Mayanists do not believe that foreign invasion was the main cause of the Classic Maya Collapse; they postulate that no military defeat can explain or be the cause of the protracted and complex Classic Collapse process. Teotihuacan influence across the Maya region may have involved some form of military invasion; however, it is generally noted that significant Teotihuacan-Maya interactions date from at least the Early Classic period, well before the episodes of Late Classic collapse.[7]

The foreign invasion theory does not answer the question of where the inhabitants went. David Webster believed that the population should have increased because of the lack of elite power. Further, it is not understood why the governmental institutions were not remade following the revolts, which actually happened under similar circumstances in places like China. A study by anthropologist Elliot M. Abrams came to the conclusion that buildings, specifically in Copan, did not actually require an extensive amount of time and workers to construct.[8] However, this theory was developed during a time period when the archaeological evidence showed that there were fewer Maya people than there are now known to have been.[9] Revolutions, peasant revolts, and social turmoil change circumstances, and are often followed by foreign wars, but they run their course. There are no documented revolutions that caused wholesale abandonment of entire regions.

It has been hypothesized that the decline of the Maya is related to the collapse of their intricate trade systems, especially those connected to the central Mexican city of Teotihuacn. Preceding improved knowledge of the chronology of Mesoamerica, Teotihuacan was believed to have fallen during 700750, forcing the restructuring of economic relations throughout highland Mesoamerica and the Gulf Coast.[10] This remaking of relationships between civilizations would have then given the collapse of the Classic Maya a slightly later date. However, after knowing more about the events and the time periods that they occurred, it is now believed that the strongest Teotihuacan influence was during the 4th and 5thcenturies. In addition, the civilization of Teotihuacan started to lose its power, and maybe even abandoned the city, during 600650. This differs greatly from the previous belief that Teotihuacano power decreased during 700750.[11] But since the new decline date of 600650 has been accepted, the Maya civilizations are now thought to have lived on and prospered for another century and more[12] than what was previously believed. Rather than the decline of Teotihuacan directly preceding the collapse of the Maya, their decline is now seen as contributing to the 6thcentury hiatus.[12]

The disease theory is also a contender as a factor in the Classic Maya Collapse. Widespread disease could explain some rapid depopulation, both directly through the spread of infection itself and indirectly as an inhibition to recovery over the long run. According to Dunn (1968) and Shimkin (1973), infectious diseases spread by parasites are common in tropical rainforest regions, such as the Maya lowlands. Shimkin specifically suggests that the Maya may have encountered endemic infections related to American trypanosomiasis, Ascaris, and some enteropathogens that cause acute diarrheal illness. Furthermore, some experts believe that, through development of their civilization (that is, development of agriculture and settlements), the Maya could have created a disturbed environment, in which parasitic and pathogen-carrying insects often th
rive.[13] Among the pathogens listed above, it is thought that those that cause the acute diarrheal illnesses would have been the most devastating to the Maya population. This is because such illness would have struck a victim at an early age, thereby hampering nutritional health and the natural growth and development of a child. This would have made them more susceptible to other diseases later in life. Such ideas as this could explain the role of disease as at least a possible partial reason for the Classic Maya Collapse.[14]

Mega-droughts hit the Yucatn Peninsula and Petn Basin areas with particular ferocity, as thin tropical soils decline in fertility and become unworkable when deprived of forest cover,[15] and due to regular seasonal drought drying up surface water.[16] Colonial Spanish officials accurately documented cycles of drought, famine, disease, and war, providing a reliable historical record of the basic drought pattern in the Maya region.[17]

Climatic factors were first implicated in the Collapse as early as 1931 by Mayanists Thomas Gann and J.E.S. Thompson.[18] In The Great Maya Droughts, Richardson Gill gathers and analyzes an array of climatic, historical, hydrologic, tree ring, volcanic, geologic, lake bed, and archeological research, and demonstrates that a prolonged series of droughts probably caused the Classic Maya Collapse.[19] The drought theory provides a comprehensive explanation, because non-environmental and cultural factors (excessive warfare, foreign invasion, peasant revolt, less trade, etc.) can all be explained by the effects of prolonged drought on Classic Maya civilization.[20]

Climatic changes are, with increasing frequency, found to be major drivers in the rise and fall of civilizations all over the world.[21] Professors Harvey Weiss of Yale University and Raymond S. Bradley of the University of Massachusetts have written, Many lines of evidence now point to climate forcing as the primary agent in repeated social collapse.[22] In a separate publication, Weiss illustrates an emerging understanding of scientists:

Within the past five years new tools and new data for archaeologists, climatologists, and historians have brought us to the edge of a new era in the study of global and hemispheric climate change and its cultural impacts. The climate of the Holocene, previously assumed static, now displays a surprising dynamism, which has affected the agricultural bases of pre-industrial societies. The list of Holocene climate alterations and their socio-economic effects has rapidly become too complex for brief summary.[23]

The drought theory holds that rapid climate change in the form of severe drought brought about the Classic Maya collapse. According to the particular version put forward by Gill in The Great Maya Droughts,

[Studies of] Yucatecan lake sediment cores provide unambiguous evidence for a severe 200-year drought from AD800 to 1000 the most severe in the last 7,000years precisely at the time of the Maya Collapse.[24]

Climatic modeling, tree ring data, and historical climate data show that cold weather in the Northern Hemisphere is associated with drought in Mesoamerica.[25] Northern Europe suffered extremely low temperatures around the same time as the Maya droughts. The same connection between drought in the Maya areas and extreme cold in northern Europe was found again at the beginning of the 20thcentury. Volcanic activity, within and outside Mesoamerica, is also correlated with colder weather and resulting drought, as the effects of the Tambora volcano eruption in 1815 indicate.[26]

Mesoamerican civilization provides a remarkable exception: civilization prospering in the tropical swampland. The Maya are often perceived as having lived in a rainforest, but technically, they lived in a seasonal desert without access to stable sources of drinking water.[27] The exceptional accomplishments of the Maya are even more remarkable because of their engineered response to the fundamental environmental difficulty of relying upon rainwater rather than permanent sources of water. The Maya succeeded in creating a civilization in a seasonal desert by creating a system of water storage and management which was totally dependent on consistent rainfall.[28] The constant need for water kept the Maya on the edge of survival. Given this precarious balance of wet and dry conditions, even a slight shift in the distribution of annual precipitation can have serious consequences.[16] Water and civilization were vitally connected in ancient Mesoamerica. Archaeologist and specialist in pre-industrial land and water usage practices, Vernon Scarborough, believes water management and access were critical to the development of Maya civilization.[29]

Critics of the drought theory wonder why the southern and central lowland cities were abandoned and the northern cities like Chichen Itza, Uxmal, and Coba continued to thrive.[30] One critic argued that Chichen Itza revamped its political, military, religious, and economic institutions away from powerful lords or kings.[31] Inhabitants of the northern Yucatn also had access to seafood, which might have explained the survival of Chichen Itza and Mayapan, cities away from the coast but within reach of coastal food supplies.[32] Critics of the drought theory also point to current weather patterns: much heavier rainfall in the southern lowlands compared to the lighter amount of rain in the northern Yucatn. Drought theory supporters state that the entire regional climate changed, including the amount of rainfall, so that modern rainfall patterns are not indicative of rainfall from 800 to 900. LSU archaeologist Heather McKillop found a significant rise in sea level along the coast nearest the southern Maya lowlands, coinciding with the end of the Classic period, and indicating climate change.[33]

David Webster, a critic of the megadrought theory says that much of the evidence provided by Gill comes from the northern Yucatn and not the Southern part of the peninsula, where Classic Maya civilization flourished. He also states that if water sources were to have dried up, then several city-states would have moved to other water sources. The fact that Gill suggests that all water in the region would have dried up and destroyed Maya civilization is a stretch, according to Webster.[34]

A study published in Science in 2012 found that modest rainfall reductions, amounting to only 25 to 40 percent of annual rainfall, may have been the tipping point to the Mayan collapse. Based on samples of lake and cave sediments in the areas surrounding major Mayan cities, the researchers were able to determine the amount of annual rainfall in the region. The mild droughts that took place between 800-950 would therefore be enough to rapidly deplete seasonal water supplies in the Yucatn lowlands, where there are no rivers.[35][36][37]

Some ecological theories of Maya decline focus on the worsening agricultural and resource conditions in the late Classic period. It was originally thought that the majority of Maya agriculture was dependent on a simple slash-and-burn system. Based on this method, the hypothesis of soil exhaustion was advanced by Orator F. Cook in 1921. Similar soil exhaustion assumptions are associated with erosion, intensive agricultural, and savanna grass competition.

More recent investigations have shown a complicated variety of intensive agricultural techniques utilized by the Maya, explaining the high population of the Classic Maya polities. Modern archaeologists now comprehend the sophisticated intensive and productive agricultural techniques of the ancient Maya, and several of t
he Maya agricultural methods have not yet been reproduced. Intensive agricultural methods were developed and utilized by all the Mesoamerican cultures to boost their food production and give them a competitive advantage over less skillful peoples.[38] These intensive agricultural methods included canals, terracing, raised fields, ridged fields, chinampas, the use of human feces as fertilizer, seasonal swamps or bajos, using muck from the bajos to create fertile fields, dikes, dams, irrigation, water reservoirs, several types of water storage systems, hydraulic systems, swamp reclamation, swidden systems, and other agricultural techniques that have not yet been fully understood.[39] Systemic ecological collapse is said to be evidenced by deforestation, siltation, and the decline of biological diversity.

In addition to mountainous terrain, Mesoamericans successfully exploited the very problematic tropical rainforest for 1,500years.[40] The agricultural techniques utilized by the Maya were entirely dependent upon ample supplies of water. The Maya thrived in territory that would be uninhabitable to most peoples. Their success over two millennia in this environment was amazing.[41]

Anthropologist Joseph Tainter wrote extensively about the collapse of the Southern Lowland Maya in his 1988 study, The Collapse of Complex Societies. His theory about Mayan collapse encompasses some of the above explanations, but focuses specifically on the development of and the declining marginal returns from the increasing social complexity of the competing Mayan city-states.[42] Psychologist Julian Jaynes suggested that the collapse was due to a failure in the social control systems of religion and political authority, due to increasing socioeconomic complexity that overwhelmed the power of traditional rituals and the kings authority to compel obedience.[43]

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Utopia – New World Encyclopedia

Posted: June 16, 2016 at 5:53 pm

Utopia is a term denoting a visionary or ideally perfect state of society, whose members live the best possible life. The term Utopia was coined by Thomas More from the Greek words ou (no or not), and topos (place), as the name for the ideal state in his book, De optimo reipublicae statu deque nova insula Utopia (Louvain, 1516).

Utopianism refers to the various ways in which people think about, depict, and attempt to create a perfect society. Utopian thought deals with morality, ethics, psychology, and political philosophy, and often originates from the belief that reason and intelligence can bring about the betterment of society. It is usually characterized by optimism that an ideal society is possible. Utopianism plays an important role in motivating social and political change.

The adjective “utopian” is sometimes used in a negative connotation to discredit ideas as too advanced, too optimistic or unrealistic and impossible to realize. The term Utopian has also been used to describe actual communities founded in attempts to create an ideal economic and political system. Many works of utopian literature offer detailed and practical descriptions of an ideal society, but usually include some fatal flaw that makes the establishment of such a society impossible.

The term Utopia was coined by Thomas More from the Greek words ou (no or not), and topos (place), as the name for the ideal state in his book, De optimo reipublicae statu deque nova insula Utopia (Utopia Louvain, 1516). The book is narrated by a Portuguese traveler named Raphael Hythlodaeus, who criticizes the laws and customs of European states while admiring the ideal institutions which he observes during a five year sojourn on the island of Utopia.

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Utopia is a perfect society, where poverty and misery have been eliminated, there are few laws and no lawyers, and the citizens, though ready to defend themselves if necessary, are pacifists. Citizens hold property in common, and care is taken to teach everyone a trade from which he can make a living, so that there is no need for crime. Agriculture is treated as a science and taught to children as part of their school curriculum; every citizen spends some of his life working on a farm. The people live in 54 cities, separated from each other by a distance of at least 24 miles. The rural population lives in communal farmhouses scattered through the countryside. Everyone works only six hours a day; this is sufficient because the people are industrious and do not require the production of useless luxuries for their consumption. A body of wise and educated representatives deliberates on public affairs, and the country is governed by a prince, selected from among candidates chosen by the people. The prince is elected for life, but can be removed from office for tyranny. All religions are tolerated and exist in harmony; atheism is not permitted since, if a man does not fear a god of some kind, he will commit evil acts and weaken society. Utopia rarely sends its citizens to war, but hires mercenaries from among its warlike neighbors, deliberately sending them into danger in the hope that the more belligerent populations of all surrounding countries will be gradually eliminated.

Utopia was first published in Louvain in 1516, without Mores knowledge, by his friend Erasmus. It was not until 1551, sixteen years after More’s execution as a traitor, that it was first published in England as an English translation.

Although some readers have regarded Utopia as a realistic blueprint for a working nation, More likely intended it as a satire, allowing him to call attention to European political and social abuses without risking censure by the king. The similarities to the ideas later developed by Karl Marx are evident, but More was a devout Roman Catholic and probably used monastic communalism as his model. The politics of Utopia have been seen as influential to the ideas of Anabaptism, Mormonism, and communism. An applied example of More’s utopia can be seen in Vasco de Quiroga’s implemented society in Michoacn, Mexico, which was directly taken and adapted from More’s work.

The word utopia overtook More’s short work and has been used ever since to describe any type of imaginary ideal society. Although he may not have founded the genre of utopian and dystopian fiction, More certainly popularized it. Some of the early works which owe something to Utopia include The City of the Sun by Tommaso Campanella, Description of the Republic of Christianopolis by Johannes Valentinus Andreae, New Atlantis by Francis Bacon and Candide by Voltaire.

The more modern genre of science fiction frequently depicts utopian or dystopian societies in fictional works such as Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World (1932) Lost Horizon by James Hilton (1933), “A Modern Utopia” (1905) and New Worlds for Old (1908) by H. G. Wells, The Great Explosion by Eric Frank Russell (1963), News From Nowhere by William Morris, Andromeda Nebula (1957) by Ivan Efremov, 1984 (1949) by George Orwell, and The Giver (1993) by Lois Lowry. Authors of utopian fiction are able to explore some of the problems raised by utopian concepts and to develop interesting consequences. Many works make use of an outsider, a time-traveler or a foreigner, who observes the features of the society and describes them to the reader.

Utopian thought is born from the premise that through reason and intelligence, humankind is capable of creating an ideal society in which every individual can achieve fulfillment without infringing on the happiness and well-being of the other members of society. It includes the consideration of morality, ethics, psychology, and social and political philosophy. Utopian thinking is generally confined to physical life on earth, although it may include the preparation of the members of society for a perceived afterlife. It invariably includes criticism of the current state of society and seeks ways to correct or eliminate abuses. Utopianism is characterized by tension between philosophical ideals and the practical realities of society, such as crime and immorality; there is also a conflict between respect for individual freedom and the need to maintain order. Utopian thinking implies a creative process that challenges existing concepts, rather than an ideology or justification for a belief system which is already in place.

Two of Platos dialogues, Republic and Laws, contain one of the earliest attempts to define a political organization that would not only allow its citizens to live in harmony, but would also provide the education and experience necessary for each citizen to realize his highest potential.

During the nineteenth century, thinkers such as Henri Saint-Simon, Charles Fourier, and Etienne Cabet in France, and Robert Owen in England popularized the idea of creating small, experimental communities to put philosophical ideals into practice. Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels recognized that utopianism offered a vision for a better future, a vision that contributed much to Marxism, but they also criticized utopian writers’ lack of a wider understanding of social and political realities which could contribute to actual political change. Herbert Marcuse made a distinction between abstract utopias based on fantasy and dreams, and concrete utopias based on critical social theory.

Utopianism is considered to originate in the imaginative capacity of the subconscious mind, which is able to transcend conscious reality by projecting images of hopes, dreams, and desires. Utopian ideas, though they may never be fully realized, play an important role in bringing about positive social change. They allow thinkers to distance themselves from the existing reality and consider new possibilities. The optimism that a better society can be achieved provides motivation and a focal point for those involved in bringing about social or political change. Abolitionism, womens rights and feminism, the Civil Rights movement, the establishment of a welfare system to take care of the poor, the Red Cross, and multiculturalism are all examples of utopian thinking applied to practical life.

The harsh economic conditions of the nineteenth century and the social disruption created by the development of commercialism and capitalism led several writers to imagine economically utopian societies. Some were characterized by a variety of socialist ideas: an equal distribution of goods according to need, frequently with the total abolition of money; citizens laboring for the common good; citizens doing work which they enjoyed; and ample leisure time for the cultivation of the arts and sciences. One such utopia was described in Edward Bellamy’s Looking Backward. Another socialist utopia was William Morris’ News from Nowhere, written partially in criticism of the bureaucratic nature of Bellamy’s utopia.

Capitalist utopias, such as the one portrayed in Robert A. Heinlein’s The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress or Ayn Rands The Fountainhead, are generally individualistic and libertarian, and are based on perfect market economies, in which there is no market failure. Eric Frank Russell’s book The Great Explosion (1963) details an economic and social utopia, the first to mention of the idea of Local Exchange Trading Systems (LETS).

Political utopias are ones in which the government establishes a society that is striving toward perfection. These utopias are based on laws administered by a government, and often restrict individualism when it conflicts with the primary goals of the society. Sometimes the state or government replaces religious and family values. A global utopia of world peace is often seen as one of the possible inevitable ends of history.

Through history a number of religious communities have been created to reflect the virtues and values they believe have been lost or which await them in the Afterlife. In the United States and Europe during and after the Second Great Awakening of the nineteenth century, many radical religious groups sought to form communities where all aspects of people’s lives could be governed by their faith. Among the best-known of these utopian societies were the Puritans, and the Shaker movement, which originated in England in the eighteenth century but moved to America shortly after its founding.

The most common utopias are based on religious ideals, and usually required adherence to a particular religious tradition. The Jewish, Christian and Islamic concepts of the Garden of Eden and Heaven may be interpreted as forms of utopianism, especially in their folk-religious forms. Such religious “utopias” are often described as “gardens of delight,” implying an existence free from worry in a state of bliss or enlightenment. They postulate existences free from sin, pain, poverty and death, and often assume communion with beings such as angels or the houri. In a similar sense the Hindu concept of Moksha and the Buddhist concept of Nirvana may be thought of as a kind of utopia.

Many cultures and cosmogonies include a myth or memory of a distant past when humankind lived in a primitive and simple state of perfect happiness and fulfillment. The various myths describe a time when there was an instinctive harmony between man and nature, and mans needs were easily supplied by the abundance of nature. There was no motive for war or oppression, or any need for hard and painful work. Humans were simple and pious, and felt themselves close to the gods. These mythical or religious archetypes resurge with special vitality during difficult times, when the myth is not projected towards the remote past, but towards the future or a distant and fictional place (for example, The Land of Cockaygne, a straightforward parody of a paradise), where the possibility of living happily must exist.

Golden Age

Works and Days, compilation of the mythological tradition by the Greek poet Hesiod, around the eighth century B.C.E., explained that, prior to the present era, there were four progressively most perfect ones.

A medieval poem (c. 1315) , entitled “The Land of Cokaygne” depicts a land of extravagance and excess where cooked larks flew straight into one’s mouth; the rivers ran with wine, and a fountain of youth kept everyone young and active.

Scientific and technical utopias are set in the future, when it is believed that advanced science and technology will allow utopian living standards; for example, the absence of death and suffering; changes in human nature and the human condition. These utopian societies tend to change what “human” is all about. Normal human functions, such as sleeping, eating and even reproduction are replaced by artificial means.

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Utopia – New World Encyclopedia

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by Phillip D. Collins , Jan. 10th, 2006

Luciferianism constitutes the nucleus of the ruling class religion. While there are definitely political and economic rationales for elite criminality, Luciferianism can account for the longevity of many of the oligarchs projects. Many of the longest and most brutal human endeavors have been underpinned by some form of religious zealotry. The Crusades testify to this historical fact. Likewise, the power elites ongoing campaign to establish a socialist totalitarian global government has Luciferianism to thank for both its longevity and frequently violent character. In the mind of the modern oligarch, Luciferianism provides religious legitimacy for otherwise morally questionable plans.

Luciferianism is the product of religious engineering, which sociologist William Sims Bainbridge defines as the conscious, systematic, skilled creation of a new religion (New Religions, Science, and Secularization, no pagination). In actuality, this is a tradition that even precedes Bainbridge. It has been the practice of Freemasonry for years. It was also the practice of Masonrys religious and philosophical progenitors, the ancient pagan Mystery cults. The inner doctrines of the Mesopotamian secret societies provided the theological foundations for the Christian and Judaic heresies, Kabbalism and Gnosticism. All modern Luciferian philosophy finds scientific legitimacy in the Gnostic myth of Darwinism. As evolutionary thought was popularized, variants of Luciferianism were popularized along with it (particularly in the form of secular humanism, which shall be examined shortly). A historical corollary of this popularization has been the rise of several cults and mass movements, exemplified by the various mystical sects and gurus of the sixties counterculture. The metastasis of Luciferian thinking continues to this very day.

Luciferianism represents a radical revaluation of humanitys ageless adversary: Satan. It is the ultimate inversion of good and evil. The formula for this inversion is reflected by the narrative paradigm of the Gnostic Hypostasis myth. As opposed to the original Biblical version, the Gnostic account represents a revaluation of the Hebraic story of the first mans temptation, the desire of mere men to be as gods by partaking of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil (Raschke 26). Carl Raschke elaborates:

In The Hypostasis of the Archons, an Egyptian Gnostic document, we read how the traditional story of mans disobedience toward God is reinterpreted as a universal conflict between knowledge (gnosis) and the dark powers (exousia) of the world, which bind the human soul in ignorance. The Hypostasis describes man as a stepchild of Sophia (Wisdom) created according to the model of aion, the imperishable realm of eternity. On the other hand, it is neither God the Imperishable nor Sophia who actually is responsible in the making of man. On the contrary, the task is undertaken by the archons, the demonic powers who, because of their weakness, entrap man in a material body and thus cut him off from his blessed origin. They place him in paradise and enjoin him against eating of the tree of knowledge. The prohibition, however, is viewed by the author of the text not as a holy command but as a malignant effort on the part of the inferior spirits to prevent Adam from having true communion with the High God, from gaining authentic gnosis. (26)

According to this bowdlerization, Adam is consistently contacted by the High God in hopes of reinitiating mans quest for gnosis (26). The archons intervene and create Eve to distract Adam from the pursuit of gnosis (26-27). However, this Gnostic Eve is actually a sort of undercover agent for the High God, who is charged with divulging to Adam the truth that has been withheld from him (27). The archons manage to sabotage this covert operation by facilitating sexual intercourse between Adam and Eve, an act that Gnostics contend was designed to defile the womans spiritual nature (27). At this juncture, the Hypostasis reintroduces a familiar antagonist from the original Genesis account:

But now the principle of feminine wisdom reappears in the form of the serpent, called the Instructor, who tells the mortal pair to defy the prohibition of the archons and eat of the tree of knowledge. (27)

The serpent successfully entices Adam and Eve to eat the forbidden fruit, but the bodily defilement of the woman prevents man from understanding the true motive underpinning the act (27). Thus, humanity is fettered by the archons curse, suggesting that the orthodox theological view of the violation of the command as sin must be regarded anew as the mindless failure to commit the act rightly in the first place (27). In this revisionist context, the serpent is no longer Satan, but is an incognito savior instead (27). Meanwhile, Gods role as benevolent Heavenly Father is vilified:

The God of Genesis, who comes to reprimand Adam and Eve after their transgression, is rudely caricatured in this tale as the Arrogant archon who opposes the will of the authentic heavenly father. (27)

Of course, within this Gnostic narrative, God incarnate is equally belittled. Jesus Christ, the Word made flesh, is reduced to little more than a forerunner of the coming Gnostic adept. According to the Gnostic mythology, Jesus was but a mere type of this perfect man (27). He came as a teacher and an exemplar, to show others the path to illumination (27-28). The true messiah has yet to come. Equally, the serpent is only a precursor to this messiah. He only initiates mans journey towards gnosis. The developmental voyage must be further facilitated by the serpents predecessor, the Gnostic Christ. The Hypostasis provides the paradigmatic template for all Luciferian mythologies.

Like the Hypostasis, the binary opposition of Luciferian mythology caricatures Jehovah as an oppressive tyrant. He becomes the archon of arrogance, the embodiment of ignorance and religious superstition. Satan, who retains his heavenly title of Lucifer, is the liberator of humanity. Masonry, which acts as the contemporary retainer for the ancient Mystery religion, reconceptualizes Satan in a similar fashion. In Morals and Dogma, 33rd degree Freemason Albert Pike candidly exalts the fallen angel:

LUCIFER, the Light-bearer! Strange and mysterious name to give to the Spirit of Darkness! Lucifer, the Son of the Morning! Is it he who bears the Light, and with its splendors intolerable blinds feeble, sensual, or selfish Souls? Doubt it not. (321)

He makes man aware of his own innate divinity and promises to unlock the god within us all. This theme of apotheosis underpinned both Gnosticism and the pagan Mystery religions. While Gnosticisms origins with the Ancient Mystery cults remains a source of contention amongst scholars, its promises of liberation from humanitys material side is strongly akin to the old pagan Mysterys variety of psychic therapy (28). In addition, the Ancient Mystery religion promised the:

opportunity to erase the curse of mortality by direct encounter with the patron deity, or in many instances by actually undergoing an apotheosis, a transfiguration of human into divine (28).

Like some varieties of Satanism, Luciferianism does not depict the devil as a literal metaphysical entity. Lucifer only symbolizes the cognitive powers of man. He is the embodiment of science and reason. It is the Luciferians religious conviction that these two facilitative forces will dethrone God and apotheosize man. It comes as little surprise that the radicals of the early revolutionary faith celebrated the arrival of Darwinism. Evolutionary theory was the edifying science of Promethean zealotry and the new secular religion of the scientific dictatorship. According to Masonic scholar Wilmshurst, the completion of human evolution involves man becoming a god-like being and unifying his consciousness with the Omniscient (94).

During the Enlightenment, Luciferianism was disseminated on the popular level as secular humanism. All of the governing precepts of Luciferianism are encompassed by secular humanism. This is made evident by the philosophys rejection of theistic morality and enthronement of man as his own absolute moral authority. While Luciferianism has no sacred texts, Humanist Manifesto I and II succinctly delineate its central tenets. Whittaker Chambers, former member of the communist underground in America, eloquently summarizes this truth:

Humanism is not new. It is, in fact, mans second oldest faith. Its promise was whispered in the first days of Creation under the Tree of the knowledge of Good and Evil: Ye shall be as gods. (Qutd. in Baker 206)

Transhumanism offers an updated, hi-tech variety of Luciferianism. The appellation Transhumanism was coined by evolutionary biologist Julian Huxley (Transhumanism, Wikipedia: The Free Encyclopedia, no pagination). Huxley defined the transhuman condition as man remaining man, but transcending himself, by realizing new possibilities of and for his human nature (no pagination). However, by 1990, Dr. Max More would radically redefine Transhumanism as follows:

Transhumanism is a class of philosophies that seek to guide us towards a posthuman condition. Transhumanism shares many elements of humanism, including a respect for reason and science, a commitment to progress, and a valuing of human (or transhuman) existence in this life Transhumanism differs from humanism in recognizing and anticipating the radical alterations in the nature and possibilities of our lives resulting from various sciences and technologies (No pagination)

Transhumanism advocates the use of nanotechnology, biotechnology, cognitive science, and information technology to propel humanity into a posthuman condition. Once he has arrived at this condition, man will cease to be man. He will become a machine, immune to death and all the other weaknesses intrinsic to his former human condition. The ultimate objective is to become a god. Transhumanism is closely aligned with the cult of artificial intelligence. In the very influential book The Age of Spiritual Machines, AI high priest Ray Kurzweil asserts that technological immortality could be achieved through magnetic resonance imaging or some technique of reading and replicating the human brains neural structure within a computer (Technological Immortality, no pagination). Through the merger of computers and humans, Kurzweil believes that man will become god-like spirits inhabiting cyberspace as well as the material universe (no pagination).

Following the Biblical revisionist tradition of the Gnostic Hypostasis myth, Transhumanists invert the roles of God and Satan. In an essay entitled In Praise of the Devil, Transhumanist ideologue Max More depicts Lucifer as a heroic rebel against a tyrannical God:

The DevilLuciferis a force for good (where I define good simply as that which I value, not wanting to imply any universal validity or necessity to the orientation). Lucifer means light-bringer and this should begin to clue us in to his symbolic importance. The story is that God threw Lucifer out of Heaven because Lucifer had started to question God and was spreading dissension among the angels. We must remember that this story is told from the point of view of the Godists (if I may coin a term) and not from that of the Luciferians (I will use this term to distinguish us from the official Satanists with whom I have fundamental differences). The truth may just as easily be that Lucifer resigned from heaven. (No pagination)

According to More, Lucifer probably exiled himself out of moral outrage towards the oppressive Jehovah:

God, being the well-documented sadist that he is, no doubt wanted to keep Lucifer around so that he could punish him and try to get him back under his (Gods) power. Probably what really happened was that Lucifer came to hate Gods kingdom, his sadism, his demand for slavish conformity and obedience, his psychotic rage at any display of independent thinking and behavior. Lucifer realized that he could never fully think for himself and could certainly not act on his independent thinking so long as he was under Gods control. Therefore he left Heaven, that terrible spiritual-State ruled by the cosmic sadist Jehovah, and was accompanied by some of the angels who had had enough courage to question Gods authority and his value-perspective. (No pagination)

More proceeds to reiterate 33rd Degree Mason Albert Pikes depiction of Lucifer:

Lucifer is the embodiment of reason, of intelligence, of critical thought. He stands against the dogma of God and all other dogmas. He stands for the exploration of new ideas and new perspectives in the pursuit of truth. (No pagination)

Lucifer is even considered a patron saint by some Transhumanists (Transtopian Symbolism, no pagination). Transhumanism retains the paradigmatic character of Luciferianism, albeit in a futurist context. Worse still, Transhumanism is hardly some marginalized cult. Richard Hayes, executive director of the Center for Genetics and Society, elaborates:

Last June at Yale University, the World Transhumanist Association held its first national conference. The Transhumanists have chapters in more than 20 countries and advocate the breeding of genetically enriched forms of post-human beings. Other advocates of the new techno-eugenics, such as Princeton University professor Lee Silver, predict that by the end of this century, All aspects of the economy, the media, the entertainment industry, and the knowledge industry [will be] controlled by members of the GenRich class. . .Naturals [will] work as low-paid service providers or as laborers. . . (No pagination)

With a growing body of academic luminaries and a techno-eugenical vision for the future, Transhumanism is carrying the banner of Luciferianism into the 21st century. Through genetic engineering and biotechnological augmentation of the physical body, Transhumanists are attempting to achieve the very same objective of their patron saint.

I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God: I will sit also upon the mount of the congregation, in the sides of the north: I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will be like the most High. (Isaiah 14:13-14)

This declaration reflects the aspirations of the power elite as well. Whatever form the Luciferian religion assumes throughout the years, its goal remains the same: Apotheosis.

Phillip D. Collins acted as the editor for The Hidden Face of Terrorism. He has also written articles for Paranoia Magazine, MKzine, News With Views, B.I.P.E.D.: The Official Website of Darwinian Dissent and Conspiracy Archive. He has an Associate of Arts and Science. Currently, he is studying for a bachelors degree in Communications at Wright State University. During the course of his seven-year college career, Phillip has studied philosophy, religion, and classic literature. He also co-authored the book, The Ascendancy of the Scientific Dictatorship: An Examination of Epistemic Autocracy, From the 19th to the 21st Century, which is available online here. He also moderates the Yahoo discussion group Panoptic Age.

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Luciferianism: The Religion of Apotheosis Conspiracy Archive

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Luciferianism: The Religion of Apotheosis – Conspiracy Archive

Posted: June 12, 2016 at 8:22 pm

by Phillip D. Collins , Jan. 10th, 2006

Luciferianism constitutes the nucleus of the ruling class religion. While there are definitely political and economic rationales for elite criminality, Luciferianism can account for the longevity of many of the oligarchs projects. Many of the longest and most brutal human endeavors have been underpinned by some form of religious zealotry. The Crusades testify to this historical fact. Likewise, the power elites ongoing campaign to establish a socialist totalitarian global government has Luciferianism to thank for both its longevity and frequently violent character. In the mind of the modern oligarch, Luciferianism provides religious legitimacy for otherwise morally questionable plans.

Luciferianism is the product of religious engineering, which sociologist William Sims Bainbridge defines as the conscious, systematic, skilled creation of a new religion (New Religions, Science, and Secularization, no pagination). In actuality, this is a tradition that even precedes Bainbridge. It has been the practice of Freemasonry for years. It was also the practice of Masonrys religious and philosophical progenitors, the ancient pagan Mystery cults. The inner doctrines of the Mesopotamian secret societies provided the theological foundations for the Christian and Judaic heresies, Kabbalism and Gnosticism. All modern Luciferian philosophy finds scientific legitimacy in the Gnostic myth of Darwinism. As evolutionary thought was popularized, variants of Luciferianism were popularized along with it (particularly in the form of secular humanism, which shall be examined shortly). A historical corollary of this popularization has been the rise of several cults and mass movements, exemplified by the various mystical sects and gurus of the sixties counterculture. The metastasis of Luciferian thinking continues to this very day.

Luciferianism represents a radical revaluation of humanitys ageless adversary: Satan. It is the ultimate inversion of good and evil. The formula for this inversion is reflected by the narrative paradigm of the Gnostic Hypostasis myth. As opposed to the original Biblical version, the Gnostic account represents a revaluation of the Hebraic story of the first mans temptation, the desire of mere men to be as gods by partaking of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil’ (Raschke 26). Carl Raschke elaborates:

In The Hypostasis of the Archons, an Egyptian Gnostic document, we read how the traditional story of mans disobedience toward God is reinterpreted as a universal conflict between knowledge (gnosis) and the dark powers (exousia) of the world, which bind the human soul in ignorance. The Hypostasis describes man as a stepchild of Sophia (Wisdom) created according to the model of aion, the imperishable realm of eternity. On the other hand, it is neither God the Imperishable nor Sophia who actually is responsible in the making of man. On the contrary, the task is undertaken by the archons, the demonic powers who, because of their weakness, entrap man in a material body and thus cut him off from his blessed origin. They place him in paradise and enjoin him against eating of the tree of knowledge. The prohibition, however, is viewed by the author of the text not as a holy command but as a malignant effort on the part of the inferior spirits to prevent Adam from having true communion with the High God, from gaining authentic gnosis. (26)

According to this bowdlerization, Adam is consistently contacted by the High God in hopes of reinitiating mans quest for gnosis (26). The archons intervene and create Eve to distract Adam from the pursuit of gnosis (26-27). However, this Gnostic Eve is actually a sort of undercover agent for the High God, who is charged with divulging to Adam the truth that has been withheld from him (27). The archons manage to sabotage this covert operation by facilitating sexual intercourse between Adam and Eve, an act that Gnostics contend was designed to defile the womans spiritual nature (27). At this juncture, the Hypostasis reintroduces a familiar antagonist from the original Genesis account:

But now the principle of feminine wisdom reappears in the form of the serpent, called the Instructor, who tells the mortal pair to defy the prohibition of the archons and eat of the tree of knowledge. (27)

The serpent successfully entices Adam and Eve to eat the forbidden fruit, but the bodily defilement of the woman prevents man from understanding the true motive underpinning the act (27). Thus, humanity is fettered by the archons curse, suggesting that the orthodox theological view of the violation of the command as sin must be regarded anew as the mindless failure to commit the act rightly in the first place (27). In this revisionist context, the serpent is no longer Satan, but is an incognito savior instead (27). Meanwhile, Gods role as benevolent Heavenly Father is vilified:

The God of Genesis, who comes to reprimand Adam and Eve after their transgression, is rudely caricatured in this tale as the Arrogant archon who opposes the will of the authentic heavenly father. (27)

Of course, within this Gnostic narrative, God incarnate is equally belittled. Jesus Christ, the Word made flesh, is reduced to little more than a forerunner of the coming Gnostic adept. According to the Gnostic mythology, Jesus was but a mere type of this perfect man (27). He came as a teacher and an exemplar, to show others the path to illumination (27-28). The true messiah has yet to come. Equally, the serpent is only a precursor to this messiah. He only initiates mans journey towards gnosis. The developmental voyage must be further facilitated by the serpents predecessor, the Gnostic Christ. The Hypostasis provides the paradigmatic template for all Luciferian mythologies.

Like the Hypostasis, the binary opposition of Luciferian mythology caricatures Jehovah as an oppressive tyrant. He becomes the archon of arrogance, the embodiment of ignorance and religious superstition. Satan, who retains his heavenly title of Lucifer, is the liberator of humanity. Masonry, which acts as the contemporary retainer for the ancient Mystery religion, reconceptualizes Satan in a similar fashion. In Morals and Dogma, 33rd degree Freemason Albert Pike candidly exalts the fallen angel:

LUCIFER, the Light-bearer! Strange and mysterious name to give to the Spirit of Darkness! Lucifer, the Son of the Morning! Is it he who bears the Light, and with its splendors intolerable blinds feeble, sensual, or selfish Souls? Doubt it not. (321)

He makes man aware of his own innate divinity and promises to unlock the god within us all. This theme of apotheosis underpinned both Gnosticism and the pagan Mystery religions. While Gnosticisms origins with the Ancient Mystery cults remains a source of contention amongst scholars, its promises of liberation from humanitys material side is strongly akin to the old pagan Mysterys variety of psychic therapy (28). In addition, the Ancient Mystery religion promised the:

opportunity to erase the curse of mortality by direct encounter with the patron deity, or in many instances by actually undergoing an apotheosis, a transfiguration of human into divine (28).

Like some varieties of Satanism, Luciferianism does not depict the devil as a literal metaphysical entity. Lucifer only symbolizes the cognitive powers of man. He is the embodiment of science and reason. It is the Luciferians religious conviction that these two facilitative forces will dethrone God and apotheosize man. It comes as little surprise that the radicals of the early revolutionary faith celebrated the arrival of Darwinism. Evolutionary theory was the edifying science of Promethean zealotry and the new secular religion of the scientific dictatorship. According to Masonic scholar Wilmshurst, the completion of human evolution involves man becoming a god-like being and unifying his consciousness with the Omniscient (94).

During the Enlightenment, Luciferianism was disseminated on the popular level as secular humanism. All of the governing precepts of Luciferianism are encompassed by secular humanism. This is made evident by the philosophys rejection of theistic morality and enthronement of man as his own absolute moral authority. While Luciferianism has no sacred texts, Humanist Manifesto I and II succinctly delineate its central tenets. Whittaker Chambers, former member of the communist underground in America, eloquently summarizes this truth:

Humanism is not new. It is, in fact, mans second oldest faith. Its promise was whispered in the first days of Creation under the Tree of the knowledge of Good and Evil: Ye shall be as gods.’ (Qutd. in Baker 206)

Transhumanism offers an updated, hi-tech variety of Luciferianism. The appellation Transhumanism was coined by evolutionary biologist Julian Huxley (Transhumanism, Wikipedia: The Free Encyclopedia, no pagination). Huxley defined the transhuman condition as man remaining man, but transcending himself, by realizing new possibilities of and for his human nature (no pagination). However, by 1990, Dr. Max More would radically redefine Transhumanism as follows:

Transhumanism is a class of philosophies that seek to guide us towards a posthuman condition. Transhumanism shares many elements of humanism, including a respect for reason and science, a commitment to progress, and a valuing of human (or transhuman) existence in this life Transhumanism differs from humanism in recognizing and anticipating the radical alterations in the nature and possibilities of our lives resulting from various sciences and technologies (No pagination)

Transhumanism advocates the use of nanotechnology, biotechnology, cognitive science, and information technology to propel humanity into a posthuman condition. Once he has arrived at this condition, man will cease to be man. He will become a machine, immune to death and all the other weaknesses intrinsic to his former human condition. The ultimate objective is to become a god. Transhumanism is closely aligned with the cult of artificial intelligence. In the very influential book The Age of Spiritual Machines, AI high priest Ray Kurzweil asserts that technological immortality could be achieved through magnetic resonance imaging or some technique of reading and replicating the human brains neural structure within a computer (Technological Immortality, no pagination). Through the merger of computers and humans, Kurzweil believes that man will become god-like spirits inhabiting cyberspace as well as the material universe (no pagination).

Following the Biblical revisionist tradition of the Gnostic Hypostasis myth, Transhumanists invert the roles of God and Satan. In an essay entitled In Praise of the Devil, Transhumanist ideologue Max More depicts Lucifer as a heroic rebel against a tyrannical God:

The DevilLuciferis a force for good (where I define good simply as that which I value, not wanting to imply any universal validity or necessity to the orientation). Lucifer means light-bringer and this should begin to clue us in to his symbolic importance. The story is that God threw Lucifer out of Heaven because Lucifer had started to question God and was spreading dissension among the angels. We must remember that this story is told from the point of view of the Godists (if I may coin a term) and not from that of the Luciferians (I will use this term to distinguish us from the official Satanists with whom I have fundamental differences). The truth may just as easily be that Lucifer resigned from heaven. (No pagination)

According to More, Lucifer probably exiled himself out of moral outrage towards the oppressive Jehovah:

God, being the well-documented sadist that he is, no doubt wanted to keep Lucifer around so that he could punish him and try to get him back under his (Gods) power. Probably what really happened was that Lucifer came to hate Gods kingdom, his sadism, his demand for slavish conformity and obedience, his psychotic rage at any display of independent thinking and behavior. Lucifer realized that he could never fully think for himself and could certainly not act on his independent thinking so long as he was under Gods control. Therefore he left Heaven, that terrible spiritual-State ruled by the cosmic sadist Jehovah, and was accompanied by some of the angels who had had enough courage to question Gods authority and his value-perspective. (No pagination)

More proceeds to reiterate 33rd Degree Mason Albert Pikes depiction of Lucifer:

Lucifer is the embodiment of reason, of intelligence, of critical thought. He stands against the dogma of God and all other dogmas. He stands for the exploration of new ideas and new perspectives in the pursuit of truth. (No pagination)

Lucifer is even considered a patron saint by some Transhumanists (Transtopian Symbolism, no pagination). Transhumanism retains the paradigmatic character of Luciferianism, albeit in a futurist context. Worse still, Transhumanism is hardly some marginalized cult. Richard Hayes, executive director of the Center for Genetics and Society, elaborates:

Last June at Yale University, the World Transhumanist Association held its first national conference. The Transhumanists have chapters in more than 20 countries and advocate the breeding of genetically enriched forms of post-human beings. Other advocates of the new techno-eugenics, such as Princeton University professor Lee Silver, predict that by the end of this century, All aspects of the economy, the media, the entertainment industry, and the knowledge industry [will be] controlled by members of the GenRich class. . .Naturals [will] work as low-paid service providers or as laborers. . . (No pagination)

With a growing body of academic luminaries and a techno-eugenical vision for the future, Transhumanism is carrying the banner of Luciferianism into the 21st century. Through genetic engineering and biotechnological augmentation of the physical body, Transhumanists are attempting to achieve the very same objective of their patron saint.

I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God: I will sit also upon the mount of the congregation, in the sides of the north: I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will be like the most High. (Isaiah 14:13-14)

This declaration reflects the aspirations of the power elite as well. Whatever form the Luciferian religion assumes throughout the years, its goal remains the same: Apotheosis.

Phillip D. Collins acted as the editor for The Hidden Face of Terrorism. He has also written articles for Paranoia Magazine, MKzine, News With Views, B.I.P.E.D.: The Official Website of Darwinian Dissent and Conspiracy Archive. He has an Associate of Arts and Science. Currently, he is studying for a bachelors degree in Communications at Wright State University. During the course of his seven-year college career, Phillip has studied philosophy, religion, and classic literature. He also co-authored the book, The Ascendancy of the Scientific Dictatorship: An Examination of Epistemic Autocracy, From the 19th to the 21st Century, which is available online here. He also moderates the Yahoo discussion group Panoptic Age.

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Luciferianism: The Religion of Apotheosis – Conspiracy Archive

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