Abstract: Mormon religiosity is deeply marked both by a culture of secrecy and also by a culture that obliquely indexes secret religious material as a means of communication. This secrecy, though, can at times be an engine of disbelief, a process which has been exacerbated by the internet. Because of high levels of social integration in the community, Mormon disbelief can have high social costs. Some Mormons, however, have retained a ‘testimony’ by using the concept of transhumanism as a way to re- negotiate what ‘belief’ in Mormonism means. However, in part due to the very culture of secrecy that can fuel doubt, and also in part due to the technical codes that transhumanism as a community often relies on, this very shift can itself be difficult for Mormon non-transhumanists to discern.
Abstract: Through practices such as cryonics and plans to build robotic bodies for future “consciousness transfer,” the Russian transhumanist movement has engendered competing practices of immortality as well as ontological debates over the immortal body and person. Drawing on an ethnography of these practices and plans, I explore controversies around religion and secularism within the movement as well as the conflict between transhumanists and the Russian Orthodox Church. I argue that the core issues in debates over the role of religion vis-à-vis immortality derive from diverse assumptions being made about “the human,” which—from prerevolutionary esoteric futurist movements through the Soviet secularist project and into the present day—has been and remains a profoundly plastic project.