Singularitarianism as Religion Entails Testable Predictions

by Eric Steinhart

Singularitarianism is religious. Specifically, it is a kind of millenarian movement. It will therefore develop according to millenarian patterns. Millenarian movements can develop in several ways. The first way is good: the movement turns into a positive mature religion. The second way is bad: the movement turns into a self-destructive cult. The third way is neutral: the movement just fades away. Each of these developmental trajectories has been well-studied and has its own distinctive features.

The thesis that singularitarianism is a religion yields a testable prediction: singularitarianism will develop along one of these paths. The social course of singularitarianism can be studied (and is being studied) using well-established methods in the sociology of religion.

The thesis that singularitarianism is a religion entails that observable variables are correlated with probabilities of future development.

First example: if singularitarians isolate themselves into their own networks (refusing to participate in trust-networks by using conventional methods to establish legitimacy or credibility), then singularitarianism is more likely to be going down the negative path; if singularitarians engage conventional trust-networks, seeking legitimacy through standard channels, then singularitarianism is more likely to be going down the positive path.

Second example: if singularitarianism focuses more on highly charismatic personalities rather than on impersonal research projects, then it is more likely to go down the negative path; otherwise, it is more likely to go down the positive path.

Anyone familiar with the literature on millenarian movements will easily make a large number of other predictions.

My own hope is that singularitarianism develops along the positive path. I think it would be good to have a religion of reason.

Guest Contributor Eric Steinhart is a professor of philosophy at William Paterson University. Many of his papers can be found here .

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About Daniel Fincke

Dr. Daniel Fincke  has his PhD in philosophy from Fordham University and spent 11 years teaching in college classrooms. He wrote his dissertation on Ethics and the philosophy of Friedrich Nietzsche. On Camels With Hammers, the careful philosophy blog he writes for a popular audience, Dan argues for atheism and develops a humanistic ethical theory he calls “Empowerment Ethics”. Dan also teaches affordable, non-matriculated, video-conferencing philosophy classes on ethics, Nietzsche, historical philosophy, and philosophy for atheists that anyone around the world can sign up for. (You can learn more about Dan’s online classes here.) Dan is an APPA  (American Philosophical Practitioners Association) certified philosophical counselor who offers philosophical advice services to help people work through the philosophical aspects of their practical problems or to work out their views on philosophical issues. (You can read examples of Dan’s advice here.) Through his blogging, his online teaching, and his philosophical advice services each, Dan specializes in helping people who have recently left a religious tradition work out their constructive answers to questions of ethics, metaphysics, the meaning of life, etc. as part of their process of radical worldview change.