Some thoughts on extropianism

Some time ago, I wrote in this very journal:

I am an extropian. Put most simply, what that means is that I believe a system’s capacity for intelligence and information can and generally does improve over time.

Put more completely, it means that I believe the human potential, as with the potential of any complex, dynamic, evolving system, is open-ended. I believe that human systems tend over time to amass increasing amounts of knowledge and understanding about, and ability to control and manipulate, the physical world; that there are no arbitrary upper limits on that increase save for those imposed by the laws of physics themselves; and that as a consequence of this increasing capacity for information and ability, complex systems such as human societies tend toward an increasing capacity for freedom of action, including an increasing capacity for overcoming obstacles and limitations.

I also believe that the universe operates according to principles which are knowable, observable, and comprehensible; and that rational and analytical thought, combined with experimentation and empirical observation, are tools with which those fundamental principles can be understood. I believe that constantly challenging ideas, including these ideas, is a necessary and vital part of understanding the natural world, and that those who do not challenge their own ideas are fundamentally and fatally handicapped in their ability to progress.

I’ve been told these things represent a religious system, and that extropianism is a religious belief, much like any other. In fact, some people take it even farther than that; I’ve seen Web sites that describe the extropian philosophy as a "cult," in a rather stunning display of Missing The Point. No, Dorothy, we’re not in Kansas here; extropianism, much as it is a philosophical belief system, is not actually a religious system at all.
Hang on, the rabbit hole goes pretty deep…