Church of Perpetual Life The Church of Perpetual Life in Hollywood, Florida. Zoltan Istvan

Many people think of transhumanism — the belief that humans can evolve through science and tech  as a secular movement. For the most part it is, but there are a number of organizations that aim to combine science and spirituality together.

One of the largest is the Church of Perpetual Life, a brick and mortar worship center near Miami, Florida that looks like any other church. It has a minister, a congregation, and church activities. The only difference is this church wants to use science to conquer death. 

I was asked to speak at a Church of Perpetual Life service while traveling across America on my Immortality Bus — a coffin-like campaign bus I'm using during my run for president of the US (under the guise of the Transhumanist Part). Services at the Church of Perpetual Life don’t revolve around worshiping a deity. They're passionate exploration of life extension research. It’s a group of people that want to live forever, but also want belong to a spiritual community.

Conversations are centered around how humanity can improve itself through science, how we can overcome death with technology, and how suffering can be broadly eliminated.

The church itself welcomes people of all religions, and sometimes explores concepts of a benign creator in very nonspecific terms. But mostly church services are dedicated to hosting invited speakers who make presentations on the current status of the anti-aging field. For example, gerontologist Dr. Aubrey de Grey, Transhumanist Party anti-aging advisor, spoke there recently. So did entrepreneur Martine Rothblatt of Terasem

The Church of Perpetual Life—whose symbol is a fiery phoenix—was originally founded by multi-millionaire Bill Faloon and his business partner Saul Kent. Faloon is known widely in the transhumanist community for being a cryonicist , and he has helped fund many life extension projects.   

 A cornerstone of the philosophy of the Church of Perpetual Life is its interest in the 19th century Russian prophet Nikolai Fyodorovish Fyororov, considered by some an early transhumanist. He believed we could follow science to become our best selves, and that is was the task of humanity to conquer death and unite humans in love and peace. The Church of Perpetual Life considers him a prophet.

Major church services take place about every month, and sometimes more frequently if a longevity speaker is in town. Neal VenDerRee, the certified minister of the church, presides over the sermons. He is also the main go-to person of the 500+ person congregation. VanDerRee and I spoke a number of times on Buddhist philosophy, which both of us appreciate greatly.

On the night I spoke, the 37-foot-long Immortality Bus was parked by the church entrance, with flood lights hovering over it. Because the bus resembles a giant coffin (to remind people we should all be working on overcoming death), the church decided to put a spotlight on it after the sermon for the 60 or so churchgoers.    

Church of Perpetual Life The Church of Perpetual Life. Zoltan Istvan

Because I’m a US presidential candidate, my speeches are almost always political. But I promised VanDerRee I wouldn't speak at all about politics. So instead, I spoke on how important it is spread transhumanism to the general public. There were discussions about the implant I have in my hand, stem cell technology, and whether mind uploading is possible. I believe it is.

After my speech, Bill Faloon gave a short passionate talk on the dangers of high blood pressure, and transhumanist Maitreya One performed a short rap song about longevity. The evening ended with drinks and dinner, as well as visits aboard the Immortality Bus.

Leaving the Church of Perpetual Life made me think about my atheism. After being raised a Catholic, and even attending Catholic school where religious dogma was drilled into me, it was refreshing to be inside a church and feel part of a spiritual community without all the threats of damnation. 

A church that asks nothing from you and hopes to end death for all humanity using science—now that’s something I can support. 

Zoltan Istvan is a futurist, 2016 US Presidential Candidate of the Transhumanist Party, and author of The Transhumanist Wager.