The New Religion in Town

Decades ago, some of us deemed religion and God outdated; for others, this shift happened centuries ago, while some are still navigating this transition. Regardless of when you RSVP'd to this godless, sinful, senseless soiree (yikes)—early bird or fashionably late—the theme has unequivocally been physicalism. Nowadays, most of us agree we inhabit a secular, physicalist world where everything, from the workings of the human mind to the rotation of planets, is seen as an observable process. Enchantment, celestial beings, and spiritual essences have faded into the background, all in favor of a world where the sum is merely the total of its parts. (Shout out to the few scientists who persisted in exploring emergent theories and concepts, holding the fort for a more nuanced understanding).

This secular declaration, however, did not usher in the utopia of rationality and freedom from existential angst that many had anticipated. Instead, it left us stranded in a state of secular trauma, a testament to our persistent internal struggles and unanswered existential inquiries.

How do we navigate beyond this secular quandary? Well, there is a new religion in town. It is called Artificial Intelligence. It arrived in the 1940s-50s (or today if you are young and ignorant like me). AI has emerged as a modern repository for these age-old questions. Issues traditionally addressed within the realm of religion, such as the potential for immortality, the essence of free will, the concept of an afterlife, and the foundations of morality, the nature of consciousness (mind/body), are now being tackled again within the context of AI research and development.

The essence of our inquiries (who are we, and what is all of this?) remained unchanged (for now at least), while the mediums through which we explore—be it the stars, magic, or AI—evolve with our era. This shift underscores the adaptability and resilience of human intellect. We're perpetually advancing, never retreating. Maybe, in our quest for understanding, we are merely in the process of molding ourselves into the gods we've been seeking all along.

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