Atheists Anticipate Theosis

Celebrity atheists use theistic language when describing their visions of human potential. This is consistent with the religious doctrine of theosis, also known as deification: the idea that humanity should become God.

Michael Shermer

"I would like to immodestly propose Shermer’s Last Law ... 'Any sufficiently advanced ETI is indistinguishable from God.'

"God is typically described by Western religions as omniscient and omnipotent. Because we are far from possessing these traits, how can we possibly distinguish a God who has them absolutely from an ETI who merely has them copiously relative to us? We can’t. But if God were only relatively more knowing and powerful than we are, then by definition the deity would be an ETI!

"Consider that biological evolution operates at a snail’s pace compared with technological evolution ... Then, too, the cosmos is very big and very empty. ... Ergo, the probability that an ETI only slightly more advanced than we are will make contact is virtually nil. If we ever do find an ETI, it will be as though a million-year-old Homo erectus were dropped into the 21st century, given a computer and cell phone and instructed to communicate with us. The ETI would be to us as we would be to this early hominid — godlike.

"Because of science and technology, our world has changed more in the past century than in the previous 100 centuries. ... Extrapolate out about a million years (just a blink on an evolutionary timescale and therefore a realistic estimate of how far advanced ETIs will be), and we get a gut-wrenching, mind-warping feel for how godlike these creatures would seem."

Shermer, Michael. "Shermer's Last Law". Michael Shermer. Jan. 2002. Web. 22 Mar. 2016.

Richard Dawkins

"Whether we ever get to know them or not, there are very probably alien civilizations that are superhuman, to the point of being god-like in ways that exceed anything a theologian could possibly imagine. Their technical achievements would seem as supernatural to us as ours would seem to a Dark Age peasant transported to the twenty-first century. Imagine his response to a laptop computer, a mobile telephone, a hydrogen bomb or a jumbo jet. As Arthur C Clarke put it, in his Third Law: 'Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.' The miracles wrought by our technology would have seemed to the ancients no less remarkable than the tales of Moses parting the waters, or Jesus walking upon them. The aliens of our SETI signal would be to us like gods ..."

Dawkins, Richard. The God Delusion. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 2006. 72-73. Print.

Sam Harris

"When you're talking about superintelligent AI that can make changes to itself, it seems that we only have one chance to get the initial conditions right, and even then we will need to absorb the economic and political consequences of getting them right. But the moment we admit that information processing is the source of intelligence, that some appropriate computational system is what the basis of intelligence is, and we admit that we will improve these systems continuously, and we admit that the horizon of cognition very likely far exceeds what we currently know, then we have to admit that we are in the process of building some sort of god. Now would be a good time to make sure it's a god we can live with."

Harris, Sam. "Can we build AI without losing control over it?" TED. Sep. 2016. Web. 30 Sep. 2016.