I Will Finally Get To Be A Hot Borg Chick!

When I was a kid I used to take a telescope, sit in the front yard and just purposefully freak myself out pondering the infinity of the universe.  I can still remember a peculiar feeling of cosmic split personality – there was the infinite, cold universe and there was the part with God in it.  If I got too hopelessly lost in the impersonal void, the God of heaven was close and put a face on things for me.

I imagine a lot of atheists would say that proves their point that deities are just the security blankets for those poor human animals who just can’t accept their position in the natural order of things -the position of experiential “so what”.  So what that I’m here on this planet; life is random chance.  So what that I act altruistically; that’s gene-expressed survival behavior.  So what that I’m self-critical and repentant when I screw up – there is no right and wrong when you’re a human animal.

Being merely human apparently isn’t good enough anymore.  Welcome to the world of serious scientists and their believers who see our future as moving past humanity (as Transitory Humans i.e. transhumans) into a post-human, immortal state.  This isn’t merely a change in attitudes and beliefs, but an engineered, purposeful physical evolution of the human body and mind through any means necessary: genetic, bio-mechanical, chemical.  Transhumanism is their religion; ultimate-perfection-through-science their creed; posthumanism their heaven.  By the definition of the World Transhumanist Association, a posthuman is one

“whose basic capacities so radically exceed those of present humans as to be no longer human by our current standards … Posthumans could be artificial intelligences, or they could be uploaded consciousnesses, or they could be the result of making many smaller but cumulatively profound augmentations to a biological human. The latter alternative would probably require either the redesign of the human organism using advanced nanotechnology or its radical enhancement using some combination of technologies such as genetic engineering, psychopharmacology, anti-aging therapies, neural interfaces, advanced information management tools, memory enhancing drugs, wearable computers, and cognitive techniques.”

To understand what this means and its implications for humanity, you can’t find a better overview than John Coleman’s current article in Salvo Magazine called “Better Than Human:  The Transhumanist Transition to a Technological Future”

Transhumanism per se has been around since human beings first made wooden legs and falseteeth, or dyed their hair and put on false eyelashes, then began inserting pacemakers, cochlear implants and insulin pumps.  Shamanism, accupuncture, Western medicine are really just forms of transhumanist science – the basic idea of fighting disease, restoring health, prolonging life.  All are attempts to improve on what God gave us, or through our fallen state, was lost.   But where does the boundary of sci-fi and reality exist; the boundary between what is acceptable and what is taking away from the sovereignty of God?   Isn’t the reason I read so much science fiction the possibility that at some level it could be true, and if not now, at least someday?  I freely admit I think some of the techological stuff would be cool, but I don’t necessarily want the whole package and its implications for humanness.  Think too long about the goals of transhumanism and you’ll get the same overwhelming feeling I had when I looked through that telescope.

Some of this technology is already here, and God-willing, if I’m still around in 40 years, I might have custom-grown joints, hair that doesn’t grey and …hmm…wings, yeah I want wings.  We all want to live longer and better, and you can’t go to your doctor, or be exposed to technology of any kind without realizing the world is changing rapidly.  But do any of us stand a chance of stopping the hellbent will of humans to learn, to grow, to live longer but more beautifully?  Gene therapy, neural implants, trans-species cloning are here, it’s just going to be a case of what kinds of moral restraints we can put on technology, and for how long.  It will require, more than ever, a clear witness for the sanctity of life and the Gospel. 

But don’t expect this religiously defined moral restraint to come from transhumanists.   A reading of their literature makes it very clear that most are agnostic at best, feral atheists at worst.  I suppose there is nothing more logical for someone who has no belief in an afterlife to make the present one last a really good long time.  They have chosen to disbelieve the promise of Christ who came to “…deliver them who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage.” Hebrews 2:15     Tranhumanists fail to realize that immortality was given to man as a gift through the very process they are so set on avoiding.  Immortality has been achieved and will continue to happen all around us until the final reckoning – the true posthumanity. 

 

 

Tanka No. 14  Bioengineering 1

 

The brochure promised

wing buds in seven weeks

and feathers in six more.

But there was no timeline for

Spring song, dawn chorus, beauty.

                                    TinaG46©

 

 

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3 Responses to “I Will Finally Get To Be A Hot Borg Chick!”

  1. Joshua Says:

    wings, yeah I want wings

    That might be possible, but difficult. See my blog: http://hplusbiopolitics.wordpress.com/2008/04/01/why-cant-i-have-wings/

    I do sense, however, a degree of sarcasm in your tone there.

    I would also suggest, however, that Coleman’s article is a criticism more of a form of ‘extropianism’, rather than transhumanism. Transhumanists, like myself, do not necessarily believe that immortality and infinite intelligence are the standard of perfection, nor that such things are even likely. I merely that a longer life and a better brain are valuable enough goals to be sought after, at least for now.

    Now that I have admitted that, feel free to ask me some questions, if you have any.

  2. tinag46 Says:

    Joshua – thank you for taking the time to respond. I took a long look at your site and I wouldn’t try and argue science with you, but I still think we’d have plenty to argue about over a good bottle of Australian wine.

    Please explain the difference between trans- and expro- views. I just can’t seem to pick out the fine details that make them two philosophies. They seem to use the same technology for similar ends.

    I wouldn’t disagree that extending life and enhancing mental capacity are good things, but as you can imagine, most Christians are going to have a problem with how you do that. There is one basic foundation that controls what Christians and specifically for this blog, Orthodox Christians believe in. Human beings are created in the image and likeness of the triune God for a life of communion with God and for the purpose of entering into a loving relationship with God, forever trying to grow more into that image and likeness. We’ll never be a god; there is only one God, but we share in his attributes of love, creativity, compassion, etc… I’m not too eloquent or smart to explain, but try watching this stub of a video by Fr. Demetrios Demopulos, a PhD geneticist and a priest.

    http://www.counterbalance.net/iftm/demo-frame.html

    The principal of image and likeness therefore means that for Orthodox Christians, the sanctity of life must begin at conception when the soul and body are irrevocably intertwined until death, and still, we believe that after death, one day they will be reunited. Any technologies that may be acceptable to Orthodox have to take that into consideration. I couldn’t help but notice that on your site, some of the technologies you are in favor of sound more like human farming. What is the point of an enhanced life if you have to exploit so many other humans to do it? Even if they are body husks or body parts, can you be so sure that at some point you crossed a line that you didn’t even recognize?

    Part of the reason I’m Orthodox is that I recognize mystery in the universe. There is always going to be some part of ultimate scientific truth that can never be explained or measured. That’s where I’m thinking God is.

    Peace to you,
    Tina G

  3. Joshua Says:

    Please explain the difference between trans- and expro- views. I just can’t seem to pick out the fine details that make them two philosophies. They seem to use the same technology for similar ends.

    Transhumanism is basically defined as the idea it is permissible to improve upon the human being. Extropianism is similar, but specifies that such improvements are highly desirable. While many transhumanists may think certain enhancements are desirable (otherwise, why would they be called ‘enhancements’?), a transhumanist may not necessarily want to be immortal and omniscient. Many, however, do – I, myself, don’t think I’m in a position to know whether that would desirable or not.

    Human beings are created in the image and likeness of the triune God for a life of communion with God and for the purpose of entering into a loving relationship with God, forever trying to grow more into that image and likeness.

    Indeed, but the Image of God does not include such things as lifespan, number of limbs or capacity for reliable long-term memory, does it? It’s a spiritual thing, referring to the human ability to be self-aware, act morally and be able to grow in spirit. I hardly think that enhancing lifespan, giving somebody a pair of wings or a great memory is going to inhibit that spiritual growth (though, it may not enhance it either).

    The principal of image and likeness therefore means that for Orthodox Christians, the sanctity of life must begin at conception when the soul and body are irrevocably intertwined until death, and still, we believe that after death, one day they will be reunited.

    I’m afraid I don’t understand this viewpoint. Conception doesn’t necessarily produce a human life. A single conception could produce two (or three) human lives: identical twins. Two conceptions could produce a single human life: a tetragametic chimera. It even seems possible, through cloning, to produce a human without any conception event (if ‘conception’ is limited to the fusion of a sperm to an egg).

    How does your viewpoint cope with such biological realities?

    Part of the reason I’m Orthodox is that I recognize mystery in the universe. There is always going to be some part of ultimate scientific truth that can never be explained or measured. That’s where I’m thinking God is.

    I see.

    Part of the reason I’m an atheist is similar. I recognise that our knowledge is limited, but that we should always be seeking to expand our knowledge. To answer some mystery by positing a God seems far too premature, for how do we know such an answer would be correct? How do we test it? And what will happen if the mystery is solved with a non-supernatural solution? This seems, to me, to be why science conflicts so often with religion – science, in seeking to explain all things with natural explanations, often treads on territory where the previously accepted explanation was simply ‘God did it’.

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