Transhumanism and Religion -- Call for Papers

The 2015 Call for Papers for the Transhumanism and Religion Group at the American Academy of Religion is online. The deadline for proposals is March 3rd, 2014, at 5pm EST. For more information, please follow this link:

Please note that this year, we are also co-sponsoring a special joint session with the Cognitive Science of Religion Group. Our call for papers is as follows:

This Group welcomes papers on any aspect of transhumanism and religion and seeks perspectives from a variety of religious traditions. We encourage feminist, queer, postmodern, and postcolonial analyses and more overtly philosophical critiques of posthuman discourse. Original research is a priority. Papers may identify and critically evaluate any implicit religious beliefs, practices, and values that might underlie key transhumanist claims, goals, values, and assumptions. For example, are there operative notions of anthropology, soteriology, ethics, embodiment, and eschatology at play in transhumanist quests? Papers might consider how transhumanism challenges religious traditions to develop their own ideas of the human future; in particular, the prospect of human transformation, whether by technological or other means. Papers may provide critical and constructive assessments of an envisioned future that places greater confidence in nanotechnology, cognitive science, robotics, and information technology to achieve virtual immortality and create a superior posthuman species. In accordance with the 2015 AAR theme (“Valuing Religion”), we are particularly interested in papers that address why religion is important to the transhumanist conversation.

We also are interested in receiving proposals that focus on potential modification of the human mind for a possible session cosponsored with the Cognitive Science of Religion Group. Topic/Title: "Can we now hack the religious mind?" (for possible co-sponsorship with the Transhumanism and Religion Group)

Papers Session Proposal Organizer: Don Braxton,

Cognitive Science has made significant progress in explaining how the normal human mind produces religious ideas. What it has not done, and cannot do as a science, is offer advice on how to put that knowledge to use to improve human life. By contrast, transhumanism seeks explicitly to put scientific knowledge to work to improve human life beyond its normal functioning. This panel wants to place these two intellectual currents in dialogue to see how the mind, as cognitive science explains it, can be upgraded in terms of the quality of religious life. What counts as an upgrade is left to the panel participants to articulate and defend.

Papers are welcome on topics that include:
-- How can we limit or eliminate the least desirable outputs of religion (e.g, tribal violence, science denial, etc.) in our world given what cognitive science tells us?
-- How can we encourage the most desirable outputs of religion (e.g. prosocial behavior, self-esteem improvement) in our world given what cognitive science tells us?
-- Are there novel forms of religion that might be possible with a little mind-tweaking? If so, what are they, and why do you think such novel forms are possible?

The conference will be held in Atlanta, 21-24th November, 2015.

Register Now for 2015 Conference of the Mormon Transhumanist Association

Register now for the 2015 Annual Conference of the Mormon Transhumanist Association, to be held 3 April 2015 at the Salt Lake City Public Library. We look forward to an inspiring and thought-provoking lineup of music and presentations, including keynote speakers Kristine Haglund and Ralph Merkle.

Also don't forget that the deadline for submitting papers is February 22nd.

Future Day Celebration Screening of Artificial Intelligence

The Mormon Transhumanist Association will celebrate Future Day on 1 March with a screening of AI Artificial Intelligence at 8pm in Provo UT.

About Future Day

Holidays provide a fantastic way of channeling attention and energy. Most of our holidays are focused on past events or individuals, or on the rhythms of nature. History and nature are wonderful and should be honored — but the amazing future we are building together should be honored as well. Future Day is a way of focusing and celebrating the energy that more and more people around the world are directing toward creating a radically better future. This is a brand new holiday — the first Future Day was in 2012. This year on March 1st Future Day will be even better! Let us all work together to continue to make Future Day a great success!

About AI Artificial Intelligence

In the not-so-far future the polar ice caps have melted and the resulting rise of the ocean waters has drowned all the coastal cities of the world. Withdrawn to the interior of the continents, the human race keeps advancing, reaching the point of creating realistic robots (called mechas) to serve them. One of the mecha-producing companies builds David, an artificial kid which is the first to have real feelings, especially a never-ending love for his "mother", Monica. Monica is the woman who adopted him as a substitute for her real son, who remains in cryo-stasis, stricken by an incurable disease. David is living happily with Monica and her husband, but when their real son returns home after a cure is discovered, his life changes dramatically.

If you would like to attend the screening, join the Utah meetup group of the Mormon Transhumanist Association.

Humanitarian Managers Report from Uganda

Mormon Transhumanist Association Humanitarian Managers Roger Hansen and Hank Pellissier were recently in Uganda, checking up on the multiple Association-funded projects that are operating there.

Roger Hansen set up a Computer Training School in Masaka (southern Uganda) in the classroom of an LDS church building. The Computer Training School has ten Chromebooks, an Epson projector, a Samsung laptop, and a large projection screen. An Indiegogo campaign ( launched by the Association raised funds for the project, and additional equipment was donated by Association members. Roger’s son-in-law provided the wifi-installing expertise.

Roger Hansen also set up a swing set in Kyarumba, in the Rwenzori foothills. The swing set equipment was paid for by an Indiegogo campaign (; the labor required in the installation was provided by Kyarumba residents; the welding was provided by Edward’s Welding Workshop. Roger is also installing additional swing sets in Uganda, aided by Association generosity.

Edward’s Welding Workshop, plus two carpenter workshops - Kyarumba Anti-AIDS Youth Group Carpentry Workshop, and Alchangel’s Carpentry Workshop, were also visited in Kyarumba by Hank and Roger. Hank ran a GoFundMe campaign ( that provided $1,078 in tools and equipment to the three groups. Roger also delivered a new lathe to the carpenters.

Hank and Roger attended a 4-hour party in Kyarumba, that thanked the Association for its contributions to Kyarumba. The party included dancing, singing, numerous speeches and a huge feast with groundnuts, rice, goat meat, cabbage, and other local Bakonzo tribe recipes, served free to 120+ members of the community, and eaten delightfully with our bare hands, utensil-free.

In nearby Nyakiyumbu, near the Congo border, Hank and Roger were guests at another party (preceded by a parade) that thanked Association members for participating in the Kikoy Dresses for Orphan Girls campaign ( This event was 3 hours long, highlighted by dancing and singing orphan girls wearing the kikoy dresses.

Hank and Roger also visited Kasese Humanist Primary School (KHPS), receiving thanks there for Association participation in the Kikoy Dress campaign (, that additionally benefited KHPS. Roger gave a wonderful Lego Robot gift to KHPS director Bwambale Robert Musugaho, who assured him it would be well-used in their science classes.

Hank also visited six clinics that Brighter Brains Institute (BBI) established in the region; four in Kyarumba, one in Nyakiyumbu, one in Kasese. Four clinics were primarily funded by Hank’s family members - one via a GoFundMe campaign (; the other two were funded by a GoFundMe campaign ( by BBI Secretary Biba Kavass.

The Association is considering establishment of its own clinic in the region in 2015; the clinics are staffed with medics, microscopes, and sufficient medicine to combat local ailments like Malaria, Bilharzia, and parasitic worms. Locations for an Association clinic are being considered in Kyarumba and in a fishing village called Kahendero, on the shores of Lake George.

Due to time constraints, the COISER orphanage in Jinja that was largely funded by the Association in a GoFundMe campaign (, was not visited at this time. We have learned, though, that the 200 chickens the Association helped purchase are now only 1 week away from laying eggs. Their egg-productivity will enable the orphans to eat nutritionally, plus it will provide them with much-needed income.

Hank and Roger wish all Association members who donated to these campaigns could have been in Uganda with them, to witness the enormous gratitude that the Ugandans expressed. Many songs thanking our charity were written and performed specifically for us at the above-mentioned parties. The warmth and thankfulness expressed was truly overwhelming. Any Association members who want to travel to Uganda, to visit Association projects there, are hugely encouraged to do so.

The Mormon Transhumanist Association Humanitarian Managers are planning additional charity drives in 2015 to help Ugandans, plus there might be a campaign to assist a northern India preschool. We will keep you informed and we thank you for your huge kindness in 2014.


dancers at the party in Kyarumba
singers at the party in Nyakiyumbu wearing Kikoy dresses


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