No more gods, no more faith, no more timid holding back. Let us blast out of our old forms, our ignorance, our weakness, and our mortality. The future is ours. – Max More (Well-known Transhumanist advocate)
Every human being alive today has been physically altered or enhanced in one way or another. We see the most common examples around us every day. Things like prescription glasses, contact lenses, hip replacements, knee replacements, heart valve pumps, etc. Nearly everyone has received vaccines which enhance our normal physical ability to stave off a wide variety of diseases. Everyone has been touched by some form of physical enhancement. I would also say very few Christians today would argue against every form of enhancement in existence, since many of them actually improve the quality of life and the longevity. However it is helpful to take a close look at the degrees of physical enhancement so that we can Biblically recognize what is and is not acceptable to God.
If such Transhumanists as Max More can be taken seriously (and they should), then the leap from ethical and moral enhancement to the creation of hybrid beings no longer possessing the full qualities of what it is to be a distinctly human can be crossed very easily. If we are not very careful with such technology we could easily wake up in a future not unlike that of many science fiction films, should our Creator even allow things to go where the Transhumanists want to take us.
Three Types of Enhancement
We can break physical enhancement down into three basic types.
1. Life Enhancing – This would include the examples given above. Things such as vaccines, glasses, contact lenses, and the like. In all of the examples we can find there are none which would be of any concern either ethically, morally or theologically.
2. Advanced Enhancement – This category would encompass everything from cosmetic surgery, to prosthetic devices developed to improve the quality of life for those who might otherwise be disfigured or disabled. Again, we can find little of concern here from an ethical, moral or theological position, though cosmentic surgery can be abused.
3. Transhumanist Enhancement – This involves the use of advanced scientific technologies to create abilities that are far beyond those of a normal human being under any circumstances, supported by a philosophy that advocates a movement away from the human experience to that which it calls ‘posthuman’. This raises very serious ethical, moral and theological questions, concerns and problems which need to be addressed.
Believe it or not, Transhumanism is seeing ever increasing popularity among atheistic and evolutionary academics, and the philosophical views of the movement are being increasingly popularized through various scientific and philosophical societies and New Age journals and magazines. Transhumanist role playing has become a source of entertainment through such online gaming as Second Life, in which players create enhanced alternate selves and alternative realities in which to live and experience their world.
At it’s very core, Transhumanism is a philosophy born out of a belief in evolution, and can even be connected to the Eugenics movement of the 20th century which gave us such horrors as the Holocaust. The National Socialists (Nazis) can be looked upon as early Transhumanists, in that they too believed in the evolution of the species and sought to create a master race which would be immune to the problems of the “inferior races” and rule over the planet. Transhumanists likewise considers humanity to be evolving both physically and in the use of the conscious mind. The Transhumanists however, like their National Socialist forebears, are not content to trust in the process of evolution they so believe in, but instead claim that we need to take control of the evolutionary process through our technologies, taking a giant leap toward what the infamous evolutionist and heretical Modernist theologian Tielhard de Chardin called the Omega Point. This is basically the same concept as the National Socialist “Aryan Superman”, and what the Transhumanist calls ‘Post-humanism’.
For the Transhumanist our physical form is unimportant. What is important for them is simply our essence as “conscious beings” Transhumanists are basically out to change our very life form to something that, in their philosophy, overcomes the limitations of the human biology. This frighteningly science fiction like future form will, in their own terms, be almost divine, in that they will be super- intelligent and immortal. Transhumanists are very clear that the future they envision is not one of the Homosapien, but something quite new; what New Age philosophers have called the Homonoeticus.
The Cybernetic Messiah
The Transhumanist philosophy sets off many ethical, moral and theological alarms. From the orthodox Christian theological point of view, humans are the unique creation of God, created in His image and possessing a soul. We are not the product of evolution, but a loving Creator. Every facet of human life, including sickness, disability, and limitation exist as a result of the fall of Adam. They cannot be fixed through any technology, but can only be removed from the human equation through Jesus Christ, who sanctified each and every stage of human life. Transhumanists, essentially being Eugenicists and evolutionary philosophers, view humanity in purely Eugenic (racial) terms and as a mere products of a cold, uncaring universe and natural process. Such a fatalistic view of humanity causes the Transhumanist to seek “salvation” in a future species.
The fundamental human problem is not our frailty, our limitation or our susceptibility to sickness, old age, and death. The true fundamental human dilemma is our alienation from the Creator. The Transhumanist seeks to address the need for human redemption not in responding to the call of the Redeemer provided by our Creator, but in an attempt to replace that Redeemer with a self generated “savior” of technological fashioning. In effect, a cybernetic messiah.
Christians, rather than looking for technological salvation from human weakness, embrace the Redeemer and salvation offered by the Creator and look forward to the day of our resurrection in new glorified bodies that will be impervious to the affects of the Fall, by the very command of God, not the misguided experiments of science gone mad.
Though many will find in my critique of Transhumanism a rejection of science and technology, this is in fact not the case at all. While such things as cosmetic surgery can be abused, we understand that for some it can improve the quality of life, especially if disfigured in an accident or attack of some sort. It is the responsible use of technology that concerns the Christian. Abortion is one such use of technology that has become a very controversial issue. Most people who are pro-abortion would have no problem condemning the scientific insanity of the National Socialist Eugenics pogroms. Yet how many are aware that Margaret Sanger was a racial Eugenicist and only advocated abortion to specifically control the population of what she felt were inferior races, African Americans in particular? It is from this particular section of the Eugenics community that we hear such challenges to the moral and ethical questions of abortion on demand as, ‘Who are you to tell me what I can do with my body?’Beyond the issue of the life of an unborn child, the Christian response must be “How do we each best bring glory to our Creator, and to humanity, through the use of my physical being?” While science and technology are certainly viewed as a blessing from the Almighty, we recognize that without the God inspired ethical and moral foundation necessary to appropriately utilize them, they can, and often are used to abuse God’s creation, including human beings. Human history is replete with examples that demonstrate this without question.
Life enhancing and advanced enhancements generally provide little ethical, moral or theological problems from the position of the Christian worldview. Transhumanism however clearly does. We do not need a world populated by bionic men and women, or ruled over by a pure cybernetic master race, or even of the New Age Homonoeticus. What is needed is a humanity transformed by the love of God, such that we reach out to each other in all of our weaknesses, failings, disabilities and shortcomings with compassion and an eye for seeing the beauty of our unique individuality gifted to us by our Creator.
For more from J. Davila Ashcraft, visit: http://www.paleoorthodoxy.com