Religion Lately: Transhumanism, Rise of the “Preppers,” & Apocalypse Tomorrow, Surf Now!

By Kenny Smith, Emory University

Unsatisfied with an average lifespan of 70 odd years?  Consider the emerging tradition of Transhumanism which seeks to convince traditional religions to open their minds (and souls) to fusion with the technological.

See, for example, “The Cyborg Buddha,” which explores the possibility that the goals of Buddhism (freedom from suffering) might well by grafting organic and technological components in a new and improved humankind. Yes, they’re serious. 

Hoping to attract the attention of “nones” (i.e., the 18% of Americans who have no use for “organized religion”), one chaplain contemplates “disorganized religion… I’d take the Ten Commandments from the Jewish faith, but I might not be able to keep them in their original order. I’d bow toward the east like the Muslims, but I might lean more toward Minot, North Dakota. Like Christians, we’d look for a Second Coming of the Messiah, but we’d hit the snooze button to wait for the second trumpet.”  Psychological research links religion with increased levels of self-control. So, does this make the whole disorganized thing more, or less, likely?  

In what is bound to be far more controversial research, a cluster of attitudes frequently associated with religious and political conservativism (hierarchy, resistance to chance, racism, bigotry) have also been correlated with lower intelligence scores

Don’t have Jedi powers yet?  Don’t worry, just purchase a Vodaphone.  But whatever you do, do NOT turn to the bark side.

  

You-Tube is said to be “raging” with responses to Jeff Bethke’s “Why I hate religion, but love Jesus,” video.

At the CCN religion blog, one writer predicts that Gingrich’s past marital woes will be no problem with Evangelical voters, and he was of course correct.  

Apparently, there are atheists in foxholes, and they want better protection of their freedom to disbelieve without harassment while serving in the armed forces.  

One writer for Skeptic magazine predicts the demise of Scientology. The primary factor?  The church’s growing inability to control information, control members, and intimidate critics in the age of online social media.  In Hollywood, CA, the local Scientology center offered invitations to come over and watch the NFL playoffs.  In Tampa Bay, visitors to the county fair were greeted by Scientology volunteers handing out self-help materials, and Scientology volunteers likewise participated in public celebrations of the MLK Jr. holiday.  

An emerging American subculture of “preppers” prepares for the apocalypse by stockpiling food, arms, ammunition, and survival supplies.

What does the apocalypse look like for surfing devotees?

In Arizona, some legislators seek to mandate high school courses that study the Bible and its influences upon Western culture in study, while banning ethnic studies (e.g., of Latino Americans especially) on college campuses.  

In North Carolina, one lawmaker hopes to bring back public executions by hanging, something the whole family could enjoy together (as happened at the last public hanging in America in 1936, which attracted some 20,000 spectators). More, he hopes to begin with abortion providers.  

In New York, the NYPD has been widely criticized for its overblown training film, intended to “educate” officers about Islam in America, “The Third Jihad.”

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