Dust on the Moon
If advanced civilization and a continuous expansion of our understanding of the universe are the paramount objectives we strive toward, then a barbarous third world religious populace is not compatible, period. Even the faithful of the first world represent an encumbrance in this regard (and radical traditionalists are not interested is pursuing futurism anyway.) Indeed, any religion which claims authority to create policies related to technology or promote ‘noble savage’ fetishism based on a literal interpretation of scientifically unproven (perhaps even unprovable) supernatural or metaphysical beliefs, is something we need to distance ourselves from… unless we can restrict it’s utility to that of mythological guidance as strictly fictitious metaphor. There is an aesthetic case to be made for “cultural Christianity” or nominalism for neoreactionaries who idealize the medieval frame yet are not true believers. As an escapist who once clocked in nearly 300 hours marveling at the majestic world of Elder Scrolls IV (without ever even bothering with the main quest,) I could certainly see the appeal of such a society. Hell, even that virtual environment in many ways felt superior to what exists in our current reality.
The problem with cultural Christianity though arrives when it intersects with authentic believers. True believers will never accept those who embrace their religion for “values” or utilitarian purposes. Their faith requires them to be disgusted by it and they view it as form of heresy, which is why they recoil at post rationalist attempts at inventing religious concepts like “gnon” as a necessary part of the design of a functional society. Orthodox Christians take it as an insult that one would attempt to adopt their values while denying the divine “truth” of their doctrine. You could not have one without the other, they would claim, and they would find doubly insulting the notion that their values could simply be transplanted into some new metaphysical belief system that a few reactosphere bloggers came up with over the weekend. Not that that sort of thing can’t work on it’s own. Look at the success of Scientology as a religion, the closest thing to a neoreactionary tech comm monarchy that exists today. Have fun getting militant Christian reactionaries to accept your nominalism though in the new nation. As natural busybodies, they are not known for a hands off approach toward non-believers anyway.
To the extent religions, including Christianity (in anything other than their most benign strains) can be compatible with highly advanced technological civilizations at all is a stretch. If you think they are able to, then you and I simply define “advanced” civilization differently. It’s been shown possible with Christianity in the 19th and 20th century, but the pathological altruism and biblical aversion to pursuing certain avenues of technology present a significant hindrance to both civilizational maintenance and technological progress (think where genetic engineering, eugenics, stem cell research and transhumanism would be right now without constant obstruction from religious puritans)
Those who favor Islamification of Europe, or radical christian traditionalism would seem to be content with a sort of “Ape City” from Planet of The Apes as their gold standard, a primitive theocracy which makes use of some modest level of technology. In actuality, the orangutans like Dr. Zaius were pretty wise aristocrats and ape city would probably be preferable to living under actual Islamic law or being governed by pervy bishops, various third world tribal chieftains and the like.
For those of us who prefer to seek out and supersede the biologically imposed limits of our understanding of the universe as organisms, without restricting ourselves to uncritical faith in currently unproven bronze age supernatural beliefs or leaning on the crutch of an imagined higher power, the future is this way. Let those who are content on the prairie, live as happy families in their familiar traditional communities. We will strive to build lunar cities, our ashes will become moon dust, a lifeless and indifferent soil to be kicked up by the boots of subsequent pioneering dreamers, marching toward their next destination.
This essay originally appeared in Force Fields, on August 13, 2015