The latest New Age religion claims we can digitally record our thoughts and feelings, store them in a “mindfile” and one day use them to assemble a digital copy of ourselves for future use.
The Daily Mail is reporting on this new trans-religion, which is how New Agers refer to any of their religions that can be practiced alongside a person’s own beliefs (even though the founder has an ashram and statue of Buddha in his backyard where yoga is practiced).
Called the Terasem Faith, its followers are dedicated to studying and raising awareness about “personal cyberconsciousness” – or the creation of “mindfiles.”
These files are made by writing down or recording a video of a thought, memory or feeling with great detail, then uploading it to the Terasem website where the files are stored on servers located in their two headquarters in Vermont and Florida. Terasem promises to protect the files for long-term future use by a software program that has yet to be created that will make it possible to upload them into an artificial body 500 years from now.
No, I’m not making this up – and yes, people are actually buying this service – 32,000 so far (or so the creators say).
The idea is the brainchild of Bina and Martine Rothblatt who were inspired by the Octavia Butler sci-fi novel “Parable of the Sower” which was about a new religion called by the Greek name Terasem which means “earthseed”.
Martine, a transsexual businesswoman who came into the world as Martin, founded the successful satellite radio company Sirius XM in 1990.
Their new faith is organized around four core tenets: life is purposeful; death is optional; God is technological; and love is essential.
“Einstein said science without religion is lame. Religion without science is blind,” Martine told TIME. “Bina and I were inspired to find a way for people to believe in God consistent with science and technology so people would have faith in the future.”
For the Rothblatts, “God is in-the-making by our collective efforts to make technology ever more omnipresent, omnipotent and ethical,” Martine says. “When we can joyfully all experience techno immortality, then God is complete.”
The Rothblatts have turned over the reins of their new church to their son, Gabriel, who was managing a local pizza restaurant until his appointment as pastor in 2011. He’s now running for Congress in addition to managing the new church.
In what some might call the understatement of the century, Gabriel admits: “A lot of people have problems digesting the idea.”
In order to make his beliefs more believable, he opts for the more user-friendly “digital scrapbooking” rather than the too futuristic “mindfiles”.
Terasem also has rituals which they say are important to keep the movement going “until all of consciousness is connected and all the cosmos is controlled.”
These include setting aside one day a week for “Reading, Exercise, Sensuality and Transcendental Meditation.”
On the 10th of each month, followers are asked to gather at 10:00 a.m. or 10:00 p.m. to conduct a Terasem Gathering. “Even if there is just one of you, it is OK, because I am You, You am I, and We are One,” the website states. Gathering time consists of music jam, art sharing, recitation of 30 sequential truths of Terasem, talking and teaching, and practicing yoga.
When TIME visited Rothblatt’s headquarters in Melbourne Beach, Florida, they found the church’s mindfile operation to be housed in the basement of a cottage with two strange looking satellite dishes in the backyard. They were told the dishes were meant to transport mindfiles into space with the belief that they might one day reach an alien species that actually wants them.
“Next door is an ashram, an airy glass building with walls that slide away to reveal a backyard home to a telescope for stargazing and a space to practice yoga,” TIME reports. “Tucked behind a shroud of greenery, most neighbors don’t even know this house of worship exists” (which has to be a good thing for local property values).
Lori Rhodes, who helps run Terasem Movement Inc., said her sister warned her not to get involved with the organization because it looked like a cult, but she decided to over-ride her.
” . . .(A)ny religion starts with just a few members,” she said. “And I guess organized religions is cultish. Some people call it the rapture of the nerds.”
I couldn’t have said it better myself.