The subject of transhumanism is following the path Tom Horn warned about years ago. Due to length, this post is divided into two parts. Below is an article by Christianity Today. My comments follow …
Can Christians Affirm Transhumanism?
“The next frontier, the next real step-change in human history, is biological,” said author Andy Crouch in an interview with CT last week. “The next ‘easy everywhere’ in the 21st century is about permanently modifying the conditions of human embodiment.”
Crouch’s prediction isn’t new. In fact, CT ran a major story announcing the upcoming arrival of the “techno sapiens” back in 2004. But for the most part, most Christians have paid scant attention to the implications of this technological revolution—and of the transhumanist ideology parallel to it, says Douglas Estes, a theology professor at South University with a lifelong interest in science.
“It seems to me that the biggest misunderstanding of Christians for transhumanism is that they think that it’s just science fiction, that’s it’s some crazed scientist idea that is never going to happen.” said Estes, pointing to Captain America as an example. “I think that dismissing this issue would be a huge mistake for us because it would not allow Christians to engage in this issue.”
Estes joined assistant editor Morgan Lee and editor-in-chief Mark Galli on Quick to Listen to discuss just how fast technology is changing, why Christians may be willing to genetically modify their children, and the best way to understand transhumanism.1
Approximately ten years ago after repeatedly hearing references to super soldiers and the desire of militaries to manipulate genes for purposes of artificially enhancing vision, hearing, endurance, sleep requirements, desensitization (e.g. suppression of emotions, appetite, evacuation of waste). I began praying about it for a time. One night while praying before going to sleep I asked God would let me know if this was real; and, that night I had a vivid dream, very uncommon for me, which confirmed this as reality.
Defining transhumanism is a good place to start:
Transhumanism, social and philosophical movement devoted to promoting the research and development or robust human-enhancement technologies. Such techologies would augment or increase human sensory reception, emotive ability, or cognitive capacity as well as radically improve human health and extend human life spans. Such modifications resulting from the addition of biological or physical technologies would be more or less permanent and integrated into the human body.
The amount of information available online has increased with names such as Nick Bostrom, David Pearce, Ray Kurzweil, Zoltran Istvan and Dr. James Hughes. Istvan is known by those within Transhumanist Movement and Hughes is a former head of World Transhumanist Association2 (a.k.a. Humanity Plus/Human+).
David Pearce, British philosopher and founder of World Transhumanist Association (WTA) promotes the idea that there exists a strong ethical imperative for humans to work towards the abolition of suffering in all sentient life. In 1995, Pearce published an internet manifesto, The Hedonistic Imperative3 or Hedweb3, and what follows is text at the conclusion of the YouTube video linked below:
David Pearce is a British philosopher. He promotes the idea that there exists a strong ethical imperative for humans to work towards the abolition of suffering in all sentient life. (or, as stated in the video, “… to phase out the biology of human suffering”) His book length internet manifesto The Hedonistic Imperative outlines how technologies could potentially converge to eliminate all forms of unpleasant experience among human and non-human animals, replacing suffering with gradients of well-being, a project he refers to as “paradise engineering.“4
A visit to the site reveals how Pearce views transhumanism and how it might impact humanity:
This manifesto combines far-fetched utopian advocacy with cold-headed scientific prediction. The Hedonistic Imperative outlines how nanotechnology and genetic engineering will eliminate aversive experience from the living world. Over the next thousand years or so, the biological substrates of suffering will be eradicated completely. “Physical” and “mental” pain alike are destined to disappear into evolutionary history. The biochemistry of everyday discontents will be genetically phased out too. Malaise will be replaced by the biochemistry of bliss. Matter and energy will be sculpted into life-loving super-beings animated by gradients of well-being. The states of mind of our descendants are likely to be incomprehensibly diverse by comparison with today. Yet all will share at least one common feature: a sublime and all-pervasive happiness.
This feeling of absolute well-being will surpass anything contemporary human neurochemistry can imagine, let alone sustain. The story gets better. Post-human states of magical joy will be biologically refined, multiplied and intensified indefinitely. Notions of what now passes for tolerably good mental health are likely to be superseded. They will be written off as mood-congruent pathologies of the primordial Darwinian psyche. Such ugly thoughts and feelings will be diagnosed as typical of the tragic lives of emotional primitives from the previous era. In time, the deliberate re-creation of today’s state-spectrum of normal waking and dreaming consciousness may be outlawed as cruel and immoral.5
Ray Kurzweil founded Singularity University and has been referred to as the singularity prophet, and has stated, “I do plan to bring back my father” while conceding technology is still a long way from bringing back the dead.6 He wrote the documentary Transcendent Man7 and produced a movie The Singularity is Near8, and does interviews discussing immortality by uniting man and machine. Kurzweil teaches about technological Singularity, virtual reality, mind uploading, continuity of conscience.9
Transhumanism Technology Being Used Today
In 2002, Wired featured Dobelle bionic eye system, which is a silicon retina that is 2mm wide chip with 5,000 photodiodes which has proven effective in people with damaged retinas.10 I believe we are about to step off a slippery slope, or already have, as we are unaware of how advanced our own military is. Where does it end? What about the creation of Cyborgs? Well.
When you combine nanotechnology with cyborg technology (interfacing living nervous tissue with electronic devices), the results are breathtaking. Researchers in Georgia are helping people stricken with a horrible disorder called the locked-in syndrome. Its sufferers appear to be in a persistent vegetative state, but are in fact completely aware of their surroundings. Via electrodes implanted near the motor regions of these patients’ brains, they have been taught to control the cursor on a computer screen by their thoughts. This means they essentially type with their thoughts, and thus can communicate with others.11
[Photo Credit – Christianity Today]
Here’s another Christianity Today article apropriately titled In the image of Our Choosing,
In 2013, scientists demonstrated that a technology known as CRISPR can edit the genes of living human cells at a fraction of the time and cost required by previous methods. Think of editing the genome like a “find-and-replace” function: a tool finds, removes, and replaces a specific sequence of genetic material. In older methods of gene editing, imprecise protein structures, which are laborious to construct, search for the specific sequence. Instead, CRISPR uses RNA, which most good graduate students working in a lab can construct cheaply and quickly. Additionally, it’s possible to use CRISPR to edit the germline—embryonic or reproductive cells, in which any edits pass on to all future generation.12
Do you remember the baby boy born in 2016 having DNA from three parents? The procedure is legal in the United Kingdom, but restricted to parents with rare genetic mutations. An American-based team treated the parents in Mexico. Dr. John Zhang, one of two physicians, aspires to cease genetic disorders inherited from the mother via mitachondrial and believes this can be accomplished through three-parent intervention prior to cell division.13
- World Transhumanist Association
- https://www.hedweb.com/hedethic/hedonist.htm (Intro)
- Ethical Questions of Genome Engineering
- Baby born with three parents