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.