When the holidays begin to wind down, I seem to find myself thinking back on the holidays before. The perception I walk away with changes nearly every year. This time, my wife posed a question: would the holidays we celebrate today still exist in a transhuman or post-human world?
It’s been a running discussion in our family for the last few weeks. After the conversation, If I were to place a bet on it, I would figure this:
Traditions like holidays have been around for time immemorial. The rites, religions, songs, views and activities change, but they’ve always been there. If humanity does undergo a transition period into a “post-human” world, it would be hard for me to imagine that the tradition would go away, as long as we still tell stories and stay nostalgic of our past. Though, I can see it going a couple of different ways, and I think it would depend on the religious makeup of human society at the transhuman point.
If we maintain a supernatural kind of religion, I can imagine our current traditions being passed down and altered accordingly. Just like how many pagan rituals now inhabit the mainly monotheistic world. Or how religious holiday music has been appropriated in the secular sphere. Assuming we live in a world that is totally in the transition phase to a post-human era, it would necessarily be completely globalized and cross-pollination of cultures could happen, as often happens when new worlds are opened up. A Hellenistic form of Buddhism developed when the Greeks made excursions into India. Yule, a Germanic pagan festival, was incorporated into Christian rites and traditions at the time of the Christianization of Europe. So on and so forth. In a transhuman era where we all can be closely connected more than ever before, new religions and traditions will develop and old ones will stay there for nostalgia and reference — a link to the old world, perhaps.
On the other hand, the transhuman movement could make human society do another complete turnaround and go fully secular. The new holiday (“holy day”) could celebrate humans and human achievement over the celebration of deities or religious achievements. If you weren’t raised in a religious family, I could see this transition being easy — practically seamless, since the religious aspect is little anyway, with emphasis being put on family togetherness.
One aspect of transhumanism is life extension. Some traditions and holidays center around the events of life and death. If we succeed in near-immortality, then the once-a-year Christmas gathering would become something like Pizza And A Movie Friday.
What’s your take on this? Do you think our traditions will change, or will they just compliment each other in a transhuman society? Let us know what you think on Twitter @RobotCentral, or you can check out our Facebook page.