Religious Anthropologist Launches Study of Mormon Transhumanist Association



Religious anthropologist, Jon Bialecki, has launched a study of the Mormon Transhumanist Association, with support of Association leadership. We invite members, friends, critics, and observers of the Association to contribute by welcoming Jon to related discussions and events. You may direct questions to Jon or to Association leadership. Below is a letter of introduction from Jon.

Hello, members of the Mormon Transhumanist Association! I’d like to introduce myself, and also explain why such an introduction might be necessary.

My name is Jon Bialecki, and I’m a lecturer in Social Anthropology at the University of Edinburgh; my area of focus is the anthropology of religion. Most of my work has been on Pentecostal-like forms of American Christianity, where I’ve concentrated my research on what is considered authoritative in communities that, in addition to relying on scripture, also believe members can receive direct individual revelation from God. Over time, though, I’ve become interested in how American religion in general frames issues of authority. I’ve become particularly curious about what are considered reliable sources of religious knowledge, and how religious knowledge interacts with other authoritative discourse, such as science.

This interest in revelation and in science has led me directly to an interest in the sort of issues that seem to concern much of the MTA as well. Furthermore, the MTA seems to also have a distinct take on this problem, and also has managed to avoid many deadlocks associated with discussion of religion, science, and technology. The MTA is also interesting because these concerns are not merely abstract intellectual problems for most members. Given the educational background and professions of many members of the MTA, these questions appear to have to do with approaches to contemporary technologies as well. Finally, I’ve also become curious as to how the MTA manages to have such a diverse body, which includes not only practicing members of the LDS, but “cultural Mormons,” non-Mormon Christians, and non-Christian members. For these reasons, I’ve proposed a study of the MTA.

As a socio-cultural anthropologist, studying usually means ‘participant observation,’ which basically means taking part in the same activities and conversations that everyone else in the MTA does. In this case, this means you’ll be seeing me in social media, online forums, and other spaces where much of the MTA virtually ‘meets.’ I’m also interested in interviews with members who would feel comfortable talking with me. Finally, I’m hoping to somewhat regularly come out this summer and fall to Utah, so I can sit in on a few of the meet-ups, and perhaps talk to some of you individually in person.

I’m sharing this with you for two reasons. First, I want to reach out to as many of you as possible, in the hopes that you’ll feel free to contact me in return (which is best done by email at Jon.Bialecki@ed.ac.uk, though I’m available through other platforms as well). Second, it is important to me that you know in what capacity I’m participating in MTA events. Like a lot of other academic writing, anthropological writing is usually not that controversial, and there is a long-standing practice of anonymizing our data, even when presenting it anecdotally (and as a qualitative social science, narrative is often a large part of how we convey what we have learned). However, most anthropologists feel that it is best practice to let the people you are spending time with know that you’re an anthropologist, and that your presence is at least in part in your capacity as a researcher. It also might explain why I might tend, from time to time, to ask questions that are seemingly obvious – as a non-Mormon who is also still just starting to understand transhumanism, I’m looking forward to learning a great deal from being together with you, but I probably will say things every so often that betrays my ignorance.

Again, thank you for taking the time to read this, and also for letting me participate in the MTA. I’m very much looking forward to getting to know more about this unique organization!

Mormon Transhumanist Association Member Survey Results 2014



The Mormon Transhumanist Association has released a summary of results from its 2014 member survey. The survey asked questions about religion, politics, feedback and demographics. It also explored members' views on the nature of God, the problem of evil, and consciousness. At the end of 2013, the association consisted of 481 members, 66 of whom participated in the survey. The association thanks Brent Allsop for managing the 2014 survey.

The 2014 survey results summary is available at the following link:

https://www.scribd.com/doc/265567156/Mormon-Transhumanist-Association-Member-Survey-Results-2014

An archive of survey result summaries from previous years, is available at the following link:

http://transfigurism.org/pages/about/member-survey-results/

Lincoln Cannon on Convergence with John Carosella at Blog Talk Radio

On Sunday 17 May at 11:30am Mountain time, Lincoln Cannon, president of the Mormon Transhumanist Association, will be on Convergence with John Carosella, at Blog Talk Radio.

http://www.blogtalkradio.com/fireflywillowslive/2015/05/17/convergence-with-john-carosella

John Carosella hosts Convergence, a journey into shamanism, science, and mysticism, exploring our beautiful world. Making the mystical accessible to the scientific-minded, and bringing the language of science to the Mystery, John brings provocative, new perspectives to living, learning, healing, and discovery.

This month, John speaks with Lincoln Cannon, co-founder of the Mormon Transhumanist Association and philosopher of theological evolution and post-secular religion, about the nature of consciousness, thriving, and the role technology might play in the very near future. Their conversation includes an exploration of transhumanism - the use of technology to extend what it means to be human, and on the perspectives within Mormonism that make transhumanism and Mormonism such interesting bedfellows.

Blaire Ostler, Dorothy Deasy, and Lincoln Cannon Elected to Mormon Transhumanist Association Board of Directors

The Mormon Transhumanist Association is pleased to announce the results of the 2015 director election. Each year, terms expire for three of the nine seats on the board of directors. This year, the seats occupied by Dorothy Deasy, James Carroll, and Lincoln Cannon expired. The Association thanks Dorothy, James, and Lincoln for the leadership and service they've provided. Voting members of the Association have elected the following three persons to serve as directors for the 2015 to 2018 term:

Blaire Ostler
Dorothy Deasy
Lincoln Cannon

The Association congratulates Blaire, Dorothy, and Lincoln, and thanks them for their willingness to contribute. Below is additional information about these directors. Information about all directors and officers of the association is available here:

http://transfigurism.org/pages/about/board-of-directors/

Blaire Ostler

Blaire Ostler is a designer and artist. She graduated from the Academy of Design and Technology, Seattle, with a BFA in Design. She specializes in abstract modern art. Her paintings can be seen throughout residences and businesses in Seattle. She and husband Drew have three children whom Blaire currently homeschools. She is passionate about esthetics, design, art, spirituality, photography, gender equality, animal ethics, and early childhood education.

Dorothy Deasy

Dorothy Deasy is a freelance design researcher specializing in strategic qualitative projects for new product development and branding. A Christian Existentialist and a Methodist, she has a Bachelor’s degree in Industrial/Organizational Psychology and a Masters of Applied Theology. She is developing a Spiritual Direction practice, with an emphasis on theology for a transhuman age. Dorothy is an occasional contributor for the Institute for Ethics and Emerging Technologies.

Lincoln Cannon

Lincoln Cannon is a technologist and philosopher. He has over seventeen years of professional experience in information technology, including leadership roles in software engineering and marketing technology. Lincoln is a leading advocate of technological evolution and postsecular religion, and holds degrees in business administration and philosophy. He is married with Dorothée Vankrieckenge, a French national, and they have three bilingual children.

News

Subscribe Subscribe to News