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Religion and Transhumanism (May 10 conference)

Posted: Fri, April 25, 2014 | By: Conferences

Don’t miss this! Want to argue about the difference between Scientific Immortality and “Heaven” ? Did God make People or will People Make God?

14 speakers from different Faiths - Islam, Raelism, Lutheran, Mormon, Catholic, Seventh Day Adventist, Buddhist, Wicca, Urantia, Terasem, Atheism, Agnosticism - will discuss the similarities and contradictions of Religion and Transhumanism. 3 panels + plenty of time to get your questions answered.

This is the 4th TRANSHUMAN VISIONS !

May 10, from 9am - 9pm at Piedmont Veteran’s Hall, 401 Highland Avenue, Piedmont, California.


Tickets are available via EventBrite HERE.

The conference is sponsored by the Institute for Ethics and Emerging Technology. is a nonprofit think tank which promotes ideas about how technological progress can increase freedom, happiness, and human flourishing in democratic societies. IEET was founded by James Hughes, PhD., in 2004. Since then, it’s website has published thousands of articles on transhumanism, and displayed hundreds of videos on the topic. IEET has generously donated funds for Mike LaTorra’s airfare, and it provided publicity to the RELIGION AND TRANSHUMANISM conference via its website and mailing list. (Mike LaTorra is on IEET’s Board). Additionally, several of the conference speakers are contributing writers or Affiliate Scholars.

The conference is also sponsored by the Mormon Transhumanist Association.

MTA is an international nonprofit that promotes radical flourishing in compassion and creation through technology and religion, as outlined in the Transhumanist Declaration and the Mormon Transhumanist Affirmation. MTA is not affiliated with any religious organization; it supports all members in their personal religious affiliations, Mormon or otherwise, and encourages them to adapt Transhumanism to their unique situations. MTA is generously paying for the videotaping cost of the conference, and providing publicity via its website and other resources.

Brighter Brains Institute is the producer of the TRANSHUMAN VISIONS conferences; Religion and Transhumanism is the 4th topic addressed by BBI. Founded in 2013 by Hank Pellissier, BBI is a think tank seeking non-profit status, located in Piedmont. BBI’s primary mission is to elevate global intelligence via education, activism and our 14 brain health policy recommendations. BBI presents 6-10 conferences per year on subjects it feels deserve public consideration.


What’s the nature of ultimate reality?

Is Transhumanism intrinsically atheist, pantheist, deist, or metaphysical in any particular way?

How broad and inclusive is Transhumanism?

Are Religion and Transhumanism compatible or antagonistic? What are the real points of disagreement?

How will Religions change in the face of new Science and Technology?


Mike LaTorra Mike LaTorra (Rev. Michael “Gozen” La Torra-sensi) writes and teaches in Las Cruces, New Mexico, where he’s a professor in the English Department at New Mexico State University. He is the author of A Warrior Blends with Life: A Modern Tao. He serves as President and Abbot of the Daibutsuji Zen Temple (Zen Center of Las Cruces) and a formal devotee of Avatar Adi Da Samraj. Additionally, he is on the Board of Directors of the Institute for Ethics and Emerging Technology and Humanity+. Mike’s appearance at the conference is sponsored by the Institute for Ethics and Emerging Technology.

Ted Peters is a futurist and scholar who focuses on the interaction between theology and science. Rather than warfare, he pursues a peaceful cooperation between these two great enterprises of the human mind. He co-edits the journal, Theology and Science, for the Center for Theology and the Natural Sciences (CTNS) at the Graduate Theological Union (GTU) in Berkeley. He has published numerous articles and books on the evolution controversy, the genetic determinism controversy, the stem cell controversy, and the UFO controversy. See his website: Ted’s Timely Take,

His topic will be: The Future of Transhumanism as a New Religious Movement

Despite the rejection of traditional religious views of immortality on the part of Trasnhumanists, the H+ agenda looks more and more like that of the rejected religion. Could H+ itself be a form of secular spirituality? In this presentation Ted Peters will provide an introduction to the key components within the Transhumanist vision and show that there is greater compatibility with classic Christian commitments than is usually assumed. The Promethean zeal for a techno-utopia will lead to an ethical proposal: if we fall short of achieving an immortal utopia, might the H+ agenda still contribute to human flowering by providing advanced biotech therapies and even enhancement techniques?

Amin Tejpar is interested in transhumanism and its religious implications from a Muslim perspective. He is currently a doctoral student at Graduate Theological Union, who explores the intersections of science and religion from cultural and historical perspectives. As a science and technology education consultant and advocate for the popularization and public understanding of science, he has a passion for promoting cross-cultural dialogue through the history of ideas. He is a frequent speaker on the global history of science and philosophy at campuses, schools, conferences, and public forums. Amin has worked with Zayed University, Cornell University, and Université de Montréal. He was a consultant on National Geographic’s publication Lost History: The Enduring Legacy of Muslim Scientists, Thinkers, and Artists (2007). With GAPC (Ottawa), Amin worked on a team to help develop a TV-series that would investigate the production of science in Muslim societies from the 9th to 16th centuries. He is also currently developing youth development and teacher education programs that promote global perspectives, pluralism, and civil society in international communities and classrooms. Amin is a graduate of Columbia University’s Teachers College (MA, Science Education) and University of Toronto (BSc, Molecular Genetics and Biology), with graduate research at the Institute for the History and Philosophy of Science and Technology.

Brian Green, Ph.D., is Assistant Director of Campus Ethics Programs at the Markkula Center for Applied Ethics and faculty in the School of Engineering at Santa Clara University. His doctorate and MA degrees are in Ethics and Social Theory from the Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley, and his undergraduate degree is in Genetics from the University of California, Davis. After spending two years as a teacher in the Marshall Islands, a nations still suffering the effects of nuclear weapons testing and facing the future threat of climate change, he transitioned his interests from science and biotechnology towards questions concerning the ethical applications of technology. He has a strong interest in the dialogue between science, theology, technology, and ethics, and the questions that they pose for each other. Transhumanism, as the ultimate application of technology towards human nature, provides excellent test cases for investigating these questions. He has written and talked on genetic anthropology, the cognitive science of the virtues, astrobiology and ethics, cultural evolution and Catholic tradition, medical ethics, Catholic moral theology, Catholic natural law ethics, transhumanism, and many other topics. He blogs at TheMoralMindfield and many of his writings are available at his profile.

Lincoln Cannon is a technologist and philosopher. He has over seventeen years of professional experience in information technology, including leadership roles in software engineering at, where he mentored management and reorganized teams for major strategic shifts, and Symantec, where he reduced costs by millions of dollars through process automation and globalized teamwork; and in marketing technology at Merit Medical, where CIO Magazine and others featured him for innovation.

Lincoln is a leading advocate of technological evolution and postsecular religion, and is a cofounder and president of the Mormon Transhumanist Association, which has become the largest religious Transhumanist organization in the world. He holds degrees in business administration and philosophy from Brigham Young University. He is married with Dorothée Vankrieckenge, a French national, and they have three bilingual children. In his spare time, he enjoys touring, backpacking, watching science fiction movies, playing strategy games, reading and writing philosophy, cheering for his children at sporting events, and discussing just about anything controversial over good food with family and friends. Lincoln’s appearance at the conference is sponsored by the Brighter Brains Institute.

Shannon Friedman

Shannon Avana will talk about her transitioning from atheism to agnosticism. “I was a hardcore atheist for most of my life, so I understand where most of the transhumanist community is coming from.” Shannon will share her exploration and the logic of her transition, and talk a bit about how this impacts her world views as well as day to day life.

Shannon Avana is a personal coach and lecturer, living in Berkeley, CA and who works with clients on multiple continents. She specializes in teaching how to increase work productivity via overcoming anxiety and depression. She understands that results are what most matter when it comes to psychological interventions, and that taking data is crucial. Her studies and personal counseling practice have taught her that there many opportunities for overcoming anxiety and depression in unexpected and powerful ways. Her results speak for themselves. See the impressive results she is getting with her clients here.

To learn more about Shannon visit .

Zoltan Istvan is a best-selling visionary author. An Hungarian-American, he began a solo, multi-year sailing journey around the world at the age of 21. His main cargo was 500 handpicked books, mostly classics. He’s explored over 100 countries—many as a journalist for the National Geographic Channel—writing, filming, and appearing in dozens of television stories, articles, and webcasts. His work has also been featured by The New York Times Syndicate, Outside, San Francisco Chronicle, BBC Radio, NBC, ABC, CBS, FOX, Animal Planet, and the Travel Channel. In addition to his award-winning coverage of the war in Kashmir, he gained worldwide attention for pioneering and popularizing the extreme sport of volcano boarding. Zoltan later became a director for the international conservation group WildAid, leading armed patrol units to stop the billion-dollar illegal wildlife trade in Southeast Asia. Back in America, he started various successful businesses, from real estate development to filmmaking to viticulture, joining them under ZI Ventures. He is a philosophy and religious studies graduate of Columbia University and resides in San Francisco with his daughter and physician wife. Zoltan recently published The Transhumanist Wager, a fictional thriller describing apatheist Jethro Knights and his unwavering quest for immortality via science and technology. The novel was recently a #1 bestseller in both Philosophy and Sci-Fi Visionary & Metaphysical on Amazon. Zoltan also blogs for Psychology Today and The Huffington Post.

Carol Queen is an author, editor, sociologist, and sexologist active in the sex-positive feminism movement. Queen has written on human sexuality in books such as “Real Live Nude Girl: Chronicles of Sex-Positive Culture.” She has written a sex tutorial, “Exhibitionism for the Shy: Show Off, Dress Up and Talk Hot” as well as erotica, such as the novel “The Leather Daddy and the Femme.” Queen has produced adult movies, events, workshops and lectures. Queen was featured as an instructor and star in both installments of the “Bend Over Boyfriend” series about female-to-male anal sex. She has also served as editor for compilations and anthologies. Her presentation will be on Wicca. She has been profiled in newWitch magazine, and is anthologized in Modern Pagans. Her appearance at the conference is sponsored by the Brighter Brains Institute.

Byron Belitsos - is an author, editor, journalist, and publisher. He’s the founder and CEO of Origin Press, an award-winning book publishing company based in San Rafael. He earned a B.A. in intellectual history from the University of Chicago, plus graduate work in history, literature, poetry, philosophy, and religious studies at Naropa Institute, University of California, and California Institute of Integral Studies. Byron has studied the The Urantia Book for 37 years; he has written and spoken widely on its teachings, and he’s co-authored and published three books on the topic: The Center Within: Lessons from the Heart of the Urantia Revelation (1998); The Secret Revelation: Unveiling the Mystery of the Book of Revelation; and The Adventure of Being Human: Lessons on Soulful Living from the Heart of the Urantia Revelation (2012). He also co-authored A Return To Healing (2009) (Nautilus Gold Prize winner) and One World Democracy (2005). Belitsos was an inaugural member of Ken Wilber’s Integral Institute.

Is The Urantia Book an literary hoax? Or a “New Age Bible”? Or revelation from extra-terrestials? The futuristic 2,000-page text has been an enigmatic underground legend since its publication in 1955 - influencing intellectuals and artists such as Jimi Hendrix and Carlos Santana— while selling over a million copies worldwide. Its topics include cosmology, the afterlife, science, evolution, planetary history, spirituality, and the life and teachings of Jesus.

Robert Walden Kurtz wants to bridge H+, humanism, and religion. Why? Since funding and policy depend on it, our lengthenable lives are at stake. A Seventh-day Adventist pastor, he is currently Adjunct Professor of Philosophy, Assistant Dean of Men, and I.T. Steering Committee Chair at Pacific Union College, where he has also taught ethics, theology and mathematics and served as Director of Development. He earned his M.Div. at Andrews University and peace officer certification from Phoenix Law Enforcement Training Center and Contra Costa County Sheriff’s Academy. He served in law enforcement for fifteen years in five agencies, most recently as a Contra Costa deputy, was a member of the Arizona Department of Education Curriculum Design Team, and taught mathematics at Vallejo High School. Wellness and life extension leaders since 1863, Adventists are known for longer lifespans and wild, futuristic medical research. Trained in Adventist health education at Weimar Institute, Kurtz was Wellness Program Coordinator at Andrews University and has conducted smoking cessation, fitness, and nutrition programs for thirty years. He is also an emergency medical technician, firefighter, chaplain, dog trainer, poet, tenor, and student of Danzan Ryu Kodenkan Jujitsu. His scholastic interests include ontology, philosophy of mind, consciousness, spirituality, and integrative health. His goal: Live well forever—by whatever means

Jason Xu Jason Xu is community organizer for Terasem Silicon Valley, a spiritual community celebrating humanity’s path toward joyful immortality via future digital emulations of all consciousness. He has spent the past two years exploring all eight major world religions and being a passionate advocate for Transhumanism. As a Terasem center coordinator in Florida, he managed Terasem gatherings and performed Terasem rituals. As a spiritual transhumanist, he advocates devotion to technoutopianism as the fulfillment and syncretization of all faiths.

Hank Pellissier was the Institute for Ethics and Emerging Technology’s managing director in 2012, and he’s an IEET Affiliate Scholar. He is director of Brighter Brains Institute and the TRANSHUMAN VISIONS conference series. He has a Master’s degree in Humanities/Religious Studies, with a thesis on “Jodo-Shinshu Buddhism in the Insect Haiku of Kobayashi Issa.” He produced San Francisco’s first Buddhist Performance Festival, the SF Bay Area’s first Muslim Performance Festival, and the world’s first Atheist Film Festival. He was raised Catholic; he lived for a year in a Quaker community in Costa Rica; and he currently intends to be a member of Kehilla Community Synagogue in Piedmont.

Felix Clairvoyant - is of mixed ethnicity, born in France, grew up in Montreal, and has lived in Northern California for the past 25yrs. He’s known about the Raelian Movement for 32 years and has been a member for the past 25 years. He has a B.Sc. in molecular biology and has worked in the Biotech industry for 15yrs (from 1988-2003). Currently, he’s a certified massage therapist and personal trainer (1997 to present) and has been self-employed for the past 11yrs. In 2011, he completed a 4.5yr program for a PhD in Human Sexuality. Also, he’s been taking Math classes at a Community College for the past two years due to a passion for Math and he’s been tutoring that subject privately for the past year.

Felix will show two film clips that will introduce the audience to the Raelian Movement.


9:45 - 9:55 - HANK PELLISSIER

9:55 - 10:55 - TED PETERS

10:55 - 11:10 BREAK

11:10 - 11:40 CAROL QUEEN

11:40 - 12:10 BYRON BELITSOS

12:10 - 12:30 JASON XU


1:00 - 1:30 LUNCH

1:30 - 2:00 LINCOLN CANNON

2:00 - 2:30 ZOLTAN ISTVAN

2:30 - 2:45 BREAK

2:45 - 3:30 MIKE LATORRA

3:30 - 4:00 SHANNON AVANA

4:00 - 4:30 ROBERT KURTZ


5:00 - 5:30 DINNER

5:30 - 6:00 BRIAN GREEN

6:00 - 6:30 AMIN TEJPAR





With the wonders of techno-archiving, will this audacious conference be available for those of us elsewhere to access live online? Thanks!

Editor: The Mormon Transhumanist Association is paying for the videographer, and they will post the event on their website. It will also be on youtube, I think, so everyone can view it either at MTA or youtube, plus it will be copied and distributed to other sites, probably IEET, etc.

By Multiverse on Apr 17, 2014 at 10:23am

Per some discussions held offline during the conference, here are notes taken during the talks:

By The Doctor on May 24, 2014 at 4:05pm

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