Futurists Anticipate Theosis

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

Nick Bostrom

"Although all the elements of such a system can be naturalistic, even physical, it is possible to draw some loose analogies with religious conceptions of the world. In some ways, the posthumans running a simulation are like gods in relation to the people inhabiting the simulation: the posthumans created the world we see; they are of superior intelligence; they are 'omnipotent' in the sense that they can interfere in the workings of our world even in ways that violate its physical laws; and they are 'omniscient' in the sense that they can monitor everything that happens. However, all the demigods except those at the fundamental level of reality are subject to sanctions by the more powerful gods living at lower levels.

"Further rumination on these themes could climax in a naturalistic theogony that would study the structure of this hierarchy, and the constraints imposed on its inhabitants by the possibility that their actions on their own level may affect the treatment they receive from dwellers of deeper levels. For example, if nobody can be sure that they are at the basement-level, then everybody would have to consider the possibility that their actions will be rewarded or punished, based perhaps on moral criteria, by their simulators. An afterlife would be a real possibility. Because of this fundamental uncertainty, even the basement civilization may have a reason to behave ethically. The fact that it has such a reason for moral behavior would of course add to everybody else’s reason for behaving morally, and so on, in truly virtuous circle. One might get a kind of universal ethical imperative, which it would be in everybody’s self-interest to obey, as it were 'from nowhere'."

Bostrom, Nick. "Are You Living in a Computer Simulation?" Philosophical Quarterly 53.211: 243-255. 2003. Web.

Ramez Naam

"'Playing God' is actually the highest expression of human nature. The urges to improve ourselves, to master our environment, and to set our children on the best path possible have been the fundamental driving forces of all human history. Without these urges to 'play God,' the world as we know it wouldn't exist today. A few million humans would live in savannahs and forests, eking out a hunter-gatherer existence, without writing or history or mathematics or an appreciation of the intricacies of their own universe and their own inner workings."

Naam, Ramez. More than Human: Embracing the Promise of Biological Enhancement. New York: Random House, 2005. 299. Print.

Ray Kurzweil

"The spiritual experience ‒ the feeling of transcending one's everyday physical and mortal bounds to sense a deeper reality ‒ plays a fundamental role in otherwise disparate religions and philosophies. Spiritual experiences are not all of the same sort but appear to encompass a broad range of mental phenomena. ... Regardless of the nature and derivation of mental experience, spiritual or otherwise, once we have access to the computational processes that give rise to it, we have the opportunity to understand its neurological correlates. With the understanding of our mental processes will come the opportunity to capture our intellectual, emotional, and spiritual experiences, to call them up at will, and to enhance them." (Kurzweil, Ray. The Age of Spiritual Machines. New York: Penguin, 1999. 151. Print.)

"An evolutionary algorithm can start with randomly generated potential solutions to a problem, which are encoded in a digital genetic code. We then have the solutions compete with one another in a simulated evolutionary battle. The better solutions survive and procreate in a simulated sexual reproduction in which offspring solutions are created, drawing their genetic code (encoded solutions) from two parents. We can also introduce a rate of genetic mutation. Various high-level parameters of this process, such as the rate of mutation, the rate of offspring, and so on, are appropriately called 'God parameters,' and it is the job of the engineer designing the evolutionary algorithm to set them to reasonably optimal values. The process is run for many thousands of generations of simulated evolution, and at the end of the process one is likely to find solutions that are of a distinctly higher order than the starting ones. The results of these evolutionary (sometimes called genetic) algorithms can be elegant, beautiful, and intelligent solutions to complex problems." (Kurzweil, Ray. The Singularity Is Near. New York: Penguin, 2005. 91-92. Print.)

"Yes, well, we need a new religion. A principal role of religion has been to rationalize death, since up until just now there was little else constructive we could do about it. ... We'd want to keep two principles: one from traditional religion and one from secular arts and sciences -- from traditional religion, the respect for human consciousness. ... From the arts and sciences, it is the importance of knowledge. ... Not yet, but there will be [a God in this religion]. Once we saturate the matter and energy in the universe with intelligence, it will 'wake up,' be conscious, and sublimely intelligent. That's about as close to God as I can imagine." (Kurzweil, Ray. The Singularity Is Near. New York: Penguin, 2005. 375. Print.)

"'To transcend' means 'to go beyond,' but this need not compel us to adopt an ornate dualist view that regards transcendent levels of reality (such as the spiritual level) to be out of this world. We can 'go beyond' the 'ordinary' powers of the material world through the power of patterns. ... It's through the emergent power of the pattern that we transcend. Since the material stuff of which we are made turns over quickly, it is the transcendent power of our patterns that persists. ... Random strokes on a canvas are just paint. But when arranged in just the right way, they transcend the material stuff and become art. Random notes are just sounds. Sequenced in an 'inspired' way, we have music. A pile of components is just an inventory. Ordered in an innovative manner, and perhaps with the addition of some software (another pattern), we have the 'magic' (transcendence) of technology. Although some regard what is referred to as 'spiritual' as the true meaning of transcendence, transcendence refers to all levels of reality: the creations of the natural world, including ourselves, as well as our own creations in the form of art, culture, technology, and emotional and spiritual expression. Evolution concerns patterns, and it is specifically the depth and order of patterns that grow in an evolutionary process. As a consummation of the evolution in our midst, the Singularity will deepen all of these manifestations of transcendence. ... the matter and energy in our vicinity will become infused with the intelligence, knowledge, creativity, beauty, and emotional intelligence (the ability to love, for example) of our human-machine civilization. Our civilization will then expand outward, turning all the dumb matter and energy we encounter into sublimely intelligent ‒ transcendent ‒ matter and energy. So in a sense, we can say that the Singularity will ultimately infuse the universe with spirit. Evolution moves toward greater complexity, greater elegance, greater knowledge, greater intelligence, greater beauty, greater creativity, and greater levels of subtle attributes such as love. In every monotheistic tradition God is likewise described as all of these qualities, only without any limitation: infinite knowledge, infinite intelligence, infinite beauty, infinite creativity, infinite love, and so on. Of course, even the accelerating growth of evolution never achieves an infinite level, but as it explodes exponentially it certainly moves rapidly in that direction. So evolution moves inexorably toward this conception of God, although never quite reaching this ideal. We can regard, therefore, the freeing of our thinking from the severe limitations of its biological form to be an essentially spiritual undertaking. ... Again, 'God' is a word by which people mean different things. For the sake of your question, we can consider God to be the universe, and I said that I believe in the existence of the universe. ... The universe is not conscious ‒ yet. But it will be. Strictly speaking, we should say that very little of it is conscious today. But that will change and soon. I expect that the universe will become sublimely intelligent and will wake up ..." (Kurzweil, Ray. The Singularity Is Near. New York: Penguin, 2005. 388-390. Print.)

"Does God Exist? Well, I would say, 'not yet'." (Kurzweil, Ray. Transcendent Man. Ptolemaic Productions, 2010. DVD.)