Kurzweil and Obama spoke together about the contribution of their religious upbringing to their distinctive social visions.
Ray Kurzweil gave a keynote speech Saturday at the United Church of Christ 50th anniversary celebration, in Hartford, Connecticut, following a keynote by Senator Barack Obama.
“He spoke about his religious upbringing and his relationship with the United Church of Christ, of which he is a congregant in Chicago,” said Kurzweil. “His speech emphasized social justice, which a primary theme of UCC.
“I followed his lead and shared my religious education in a Unitarian church, where we studied the world’s religions with the theme, ‘many paths to the truth,’ which resonates well with the UCC theme of tolerance and exploration, and I also shared my involvement in the civil rights movement, which UCC was also involved in at that time.”
Kurzweil then sequed to our expanding human knowledge and our expanding awareness of all the things we don’t know, weaving in the themes of “social justice and expanding human knowledge and the boundaries of who we are.”
Kurzweil’s works provide a sweeping vision of human destiny (some might say anti-destiny, though he is merely the messenger and decidedly optimistic though cautionary). His books read to me like a kind of secular humanism (or transhumanism) and I can see the incorporation of values from world religions in his mighty synthesis. The ideas tackle future medicine and health from a broad perspective, incorporating the most recent technological advances while remaining mindful of contributions from alternative therapies such as acupuncture and inclusion of dietary supplements.
It will be interesting to track how Kurzweil’s Singularity ideas begin to permeate national governments and international agendas over the coming years. This double header provides an interesting configuration to seed further developments.
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