Dear friends and members of the Mormon Transhumanist Association,
Thank you for all the many ways you've contributed to strengthening our association. You've donated time and money, participated in online and local discussions, attended lectures and conferences, and networked with each other to improve understanding and inspire pursuit of opportunities to use technology and religion to make a more creative and compassionate world.
As of early 2014, our association consists of over 400 members. This is particularly remarkable when you consider that the largest Transhumanist organization in the world, our affiliate Humanity+, reports 6000 members. Transhumanism is not yet a large movement, and while religious and Mormon Transhumanists are the minority, our relative numbers and influence are growing.
As it grows, our association continues to make positive differences in individual lives. I've had the privilege of speaking or otherwise corresponding with many of you about the value of the association. Some report intellectual invigoration or improved engagement with secular peers. Others report regaining a sense of purpose previously lost in faith crises, or developing new friendships around interests that had been isolating.
We have big plans for the remainder of 2014! Look forward to a refreshed website at Transfigurism.org; more great recordings of lectures and conferences, including the American Academy of Religion sessions on Transhumanism, on our YouTube channel; and edited versions of the best papers from past association conferences in our Scribd library. Of course, we also hope to see you at the annual association conference on 4 April at the Salt Lake City public library!
Members of the Mormon Transhumanist Association affirm the following:
In annual elections held in April, voting members elected three new directors: Carl Youngblood, Don Bradley and Karl Hale. We sincerely thank outgoing directors Bryant Smith, David Foster and Michael Ferguson for their service.
Director and Secretary
Director and Vice President
Director and Treasurer
Director and President
I arrived at the library a few minutes early, and spoke with the small crowd of MTAers waiting for the doors to open. Within an hour, our small group blossomed to fill our conference room on the fourth floor. Two sides of the room were made entirely of glass, one facing the spring sky and the other facing row upon row of library shelves.
Ushers helped sign in and seat attendees, and Association president Lincoln Cannon welcomed the group, after which he presented Purpose of the Mormon Transhumanist Association.
Chris Bradford, Association vice-president, introduced several of the speakers, whose presentations were live streamed and video recorded for future publication on the Association's YouTube channel. Amid the occasional distraction of seating newcomers in the to-capacity room, presenters delivered their remarks to an engaged audience, and answered questions.
The lineup of keynote speakers was impressive:
Between the morning and afternoon sessions, attendees networked with each other, catching up with friends and meeting new associates. The tone was positive, collegial, and with a buzz of energy that anticipated not only the next topic but the potential for action represented by the assembly.
The Mormon Transhumanist Barbershop Sextet caused no small amount of smiles to crack wide across the room, regaling the audience with their high-caliber and occasionally witty renditions. All told, the conference proved a great success!
Videos of the conference are available on YouTube.
Members of the MTA and their interested friends are invited to join in monthly meet-ups where we share snacks and discuss philosphy, current events, technological trends, Mormonism, and pretty much anything under the sun. Or any sun, really.
Actually, things that aren't under any sun are particularly interesting to this group.
In 2013, attendance at our monthly meet-ups increased, and we began meeting at Nathan Hadfield's home in Provo. We would love to expand these discussion groups into other areas, so if you are interested in sponsoring a monthly meet-up in your area, please let us know. We also have monthly meet-ups online (see below).
Information about meet-ups in Utah can be found at our account on MeetUp.com.
The Association hosts monthly online discussion groups through Google+. Topics are usually determined in advance. Recent discussions have focused on a proposal to launch a "Transfigurist Network" as an umberella organization to coordinate the work of different religious transhumanist associations, such as the MTA and the CTA.
To participate in the online discussion group, join Google+ and the Mormon Transhumanist Association community on Google+, add Giulio Prisco and Lincoln Cannon to a circle, and let us know that you wish to participate so we can invite you.
Thanks sincerely to Giulio Prisco for spearheading these discussions and making them available afterward on YouTube.
Brad Carmack, director and secretary of the Mormon Transhumanist Association, represented the Mormon Transhumanist Association at the 87th Annual Meeting of the American Philosophical Society in San Francisco. Brad spoke on the subject of "Transfigurism: a Syncretization of Mormonism and Transhumanism." His thesis was that emerging technology will continue to affect the evolution of religion, and Mormon Transhumanism is an early example of some of the adaptations we might expect to observe more broadly going forward.
Brad's remarks were warmly received (as well as challenged) by the attendees and other speakers, including Dale Carrico and Max Moore (CEO of the Alcor Life Extension Foundation). Printed versions of the full papers are published in Volume 8/2 of Extistenz, an open access journal of the Karl Jaspers Society of North America.
A video recording of Brad's presentation is available on YouTube. Brad speaks from 1:38:56 to 1:50:48 and participates in the panel discussion beginning at 2:04:40.
Adam Ford, a director of Humanity+, interviewed Lincoln Cannon, president of the Mormon Transhumanist Association, on the subjects of Transhumanism and Mormonism. Humanity+ and the Mormon Transhumanist Association are affiliates.
Carl Youngblood, director and chief information officer of the Mormon Transhumanist Association, presented to the London Futurists at the Birkbeck College of the University of London. His presentation was part of a conference on the topic of "Futurism, Spirituality and Faith." Carl emphasized the ongoing relevance of religion in modern life and how greater awareness of and accommodation for human religiosity will be essential for a successful transition to positive posthuman futures.
Also presenting at the conference, association member Giulio Prisco argued that future science may achieve all the promises and mental benefits of religion without being based on outmoded theories.
Other panelists presented various points of view, including a defense of secular science in opposition to religion and an argument for the importance of being aware of religious trends. More details can be found on the event's meetup page.
Adam Ford, a director of Humanity+, interviewed Karl Hale, director and chief financial officer of the Mormon Transhumanist Association, for a Mormon Transhumanist perspective on Calico, Google's anti-aging initiative.
Humanity+ and the Mormon Transhumanist Association are affiliates. The interview is available on YouTube.
The Mormon Transhumanist Association and the Teilhard de Chardin Project formed an institutional partnership to promote familiarity with Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, a twentieth century philosopher and Jesuit priest whose life and works continue to inspire modern Transhumanism, an ideological identity that reflects Teilhard de Chardin's observations that humanity is approaching a critical "trans-human" stage in our evolution.
The Teilhard de Chardin Project will produce a two-hour television biography, tentatively entitled The Evolution of Teilhard de Chardin, interpreting the life and philosophy of Teilhard, a contemporary of Einstein, and a powerful voice for both evolutionary science and religion in the twentieth century, plus a robust interactive website. Produced by Frank Frost Productions, LLC, the documentary will be accompanied by a multifaceted Internet outreach that provides opportunities for viewers to dialogue with one another and scholars from around the world on topics introduced by Teilhard’s sweep of ideas. More information is available on the Teilhard de Chardin Project website.
The council of scholar advisors for the project includes Stephen R. White, professor in the Department of Leadership and Educational Studies at Appalachian State University, author of many articles contextualizing Teilhard’s thought in global education (including “Teilhardian Thought, Cyberspace and Educational Organization,” Sage Publications, 2013), and member of the Mormon Transhumanist Association.
The Mormon Transhumanist Association co-sponsored a lecture by Dr. Amit Goswami at the Eccles Auditorium on the University of Utah campus in Salt Lake City. Dr. Goswami spoke on the subject of quantum physics and health, including discussion of integrating conventional science, spirituality and healing.
Dr. Goswami is a professor of theoretical nuclear physics (retired) at the University of Oregon where he served since 1968. He is a pioneer of the new paradigm of science called "science within consciousness," an idea he explicated in his seminal book, The Self-Aware Universe, where he also solved the quantum measurement problem elucidating the famous observer effect. Goswami has written several other popular books based on his research on quantum physics and consciousness. More information is available on his web site.
The MTA provided the recording of Dr. Goswami's lecture, which can be viewed on YouTube.
Association CIO Carl Youngblood presented at the European Mormon Studies Conference at the Hyde Park LDS Chapel in London.
The subject of Carl's presentation was "Demythologizing Mormonism." Theologian Paul Tillich described "myths" as a special subset of the symbols of faith in the form of "stories about divine-human encounters." Contrary to popular understanding, such myths are not untrue. They can even be, and often are, based on historical events. But their strength is not derived from their historicity. It comes from their being powerful motivational narratives that will still be relevant long after the historical incidents that led to their emergence.
The experiences of the "mythic" heros of Mormonism, most notably Joseph Smith, continue to resonate with believers throughout the world. But the gap between the modern world and the one that Joseph inhabited continues to widen, and a work of translation is necessary if these narratives are to continue to motivate contemporary audiences.
Carl's presentation explored how paradigm shifts can render myths inaccessible and how myths must be "broken" (in Tillich's parlance) in order to remain relevant. It also examined some potential applications of Tillich's theory to Mormon doctrines and practices.
The Association continued its rapid growth, welcoming 134 new members.
96 members participated in our annual survey in 2013. The following charts illustrate a portion of the data collected from this survey.
|Licensing and Taxes||$850.00|
|Cash on Hand 1/1/13||$10,868.99|
|Cash on Hand 1/1/14||$6,777.18|