In the last few days I’ve listened to a podcast from a Christian organization about transhumanism, and read an article declaring Elon Musk is on mission to link human brains with computers in four years.
I was both surprised and relieved to hear a group of theologians discussing the issue. The moral, sociological, and even religious implications need to be addressed before we all end up with enhanced gray matter. As for Musk’s agenda, the progression of transhumanism, as always, promises incredible benefit for the human race. A microchip bringing full recovery to a stroke victim is not something to fight against. If it would benefit me or a loved in such a way, I would allow the implant. But is there a greater scheme at work?
In past articles and in my fiction, I’ve noted the parallel of our current technological ambition and the tower of Babel. If we are working toward, as some call it, godlike intelligence then we are building that virtual high-tech tower. Infinite knowledge will propel us to new heights, but it will be a revolution void of godly wisdom.
And an act of God will be required to tame our aspiration.
And an act of God will be required to tame our aspiration.
Top Ten Things Christians Should Know About Transhumanism
1) It’s a science.
Maybe you were absent the day your high school science teacher addressed transhumanism. More likely, your teacher never heard of it. Where does it fit? Biology? Physics? Yes. As well as computer science—it takes a computer to make a transhuman. And social sciences—it will, if permitted, change the core of culture and society. Scientific study includes:
Cryonics: Preserving the body, or simply the brain, after death with the hope of reawakening in the future.
Gene therapy: Manipulating genetic code for the purpose of improved health and function, longevity, eliminating birth defects, and creating designer babies.
Cybernetics: Technology enhances life in positive ways. No one can deny improved function for a disabled person is a wonderful achievement of modern medicine. A deaf child hearing for the first time brings tears of gratitude to all who witness the amazement on the little one’s face. But how far will a healthy human go in obtaining super hearing, vision, strength, speed, and knowledge? The transhumanist will answer that question.
Mind uploading and AI: Non-biological intelligence may seem impossible. The computer, after all, only puts more information in one place than a person could possibly remember. A computer in a man’s brain might not make him smarter, but it would give him unparalleled recall. But consider this: if a man is enhanced to take on the characteristics of a computer, might the computer take on the characteristics of a man and begin to reason?
2) It’s a social movement.
Social science records and interprets societal movements in the past and the present. Transhumanism, or H+ (humanity plus), is a movement in society past, present, and future. It will affect the interrelational categories of social science: anthropology, economics, politics, psychology, and sociology.
Anthropology: The human being as the subject of varied studies—biology, humanities, and history—will no doubt take on new meaning with the transcendence of the human.
Economics: Cost-effective transhumanism will surely struggle to find validity. Perhaps only the super-wealthy will experience the bounty of the movement. Or maybe the government will choose those worthy, and leave the rest of the human race unenhanced. Imagine the monetary implications of transhuman corporations.
Politics: Already, bioethics is a force governing the present and preparing to govern future technological and medical advancements, and how those advancements can and cannot be used in reaching goals nonexistent twenty years ago. Government funding now pays to research a transhuman future.
The National Institutes of Health has allocated $46 million “to support the goals of the Brain Research through Advancing Innovative Neurotechnologies (BRAIN) Initiative.” 1
Professor Thomas Sugar and Jason Kerestes, designer robotic engineers with the iProject: 4MM (4 minute mile) from Arizona State University (ASU) has been granted monies from Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) to create a “jetpack to increase a soldier’s speed and boost a PT record to that of a four minute a mile.” 2
Psychology: A massive shift in the perception of humanness will come as cognitive ability increases, motivation and capability for extending life becomes reality, and relationships once required for the continuance of the race are deemed unnecessary. The resulting emotional struggle and moral reckoning will likely be met not with therapy for the mind, but with a tweak to the brain.
Sociology: Social class, law, religion, sexuality will take on new roles, or no role at all.
Government and family structure will be challenged. Belief systems will adjust, or else become channels of open rebellion against the transhuman emergence.
3) Its aim is the Singularity.
If you’re unfamiliar with transhumanism, you’ve probably never heard of the singularity. This is the point in time when the human race can no longer understand or predict the outcome of its own technological advancements. As science fiction would say, the machines take over. In the words of transhumanist frontrunner and author, Ray Kurzweil,
"Within a few decades, machine intelligence will surpass human intelligence, leading to The Singularity -- technological change so rapid and profound it represents a rupture in the fabric of human history. The implications include the merger of biological and nonbiological intelligence, immortal software-based humans, and ultra-high levels of intelligence that expand outward in the universe at the speed of light." 3
4) It has prophetic significance.
This is not too hard to fathom. Some interpret transhumanism will bring posthumans into a position of waging actual war against God. Not in the spiritual sense, but the physical. From end-times-bible-prophecy.com:
… it seems reasonable to assume that humanity will have to undergo some sort of radical transformation in order to plot a war against God Almighty. The arrogant impulse already exists. All that remains is the need for an exponential increase in human power which deludes humanity into believing it can overcome the Lord of lords. And make no mistake about it, the Bible is clear that this is where humanity is ultimately headed - physical conflict with God: "Then I saw the beast gathering the kings of the earth and their armies in order to fight against the one sitting on the horse and his army." Revelation 19:19 (NLT)
Do not confuse the "war" with a spiritual struggle. According to Strong's Concordance, the key word here is translated "polemos," and means:"warfare (lit. or fig.; a single encounter or a series) - battle, fight, war." The word "polemos" appears at least 16 times in the New Testament, and in each case, it refers to physical conflict, not a spiritual one… 4
5) It has historical significance.
Again, it’s easy to see that transhumanism is yet another attempt at building a tower to the heavens in order to become like God. As addressed by author Britt Gillette:
"Let's build a great city with a tower that reaches to the skies, a monument to our greatness!" (Genesis 11:4, NLT).
The human race set out to build a monument to its own greatness, exalting mankind above God and extending its tower far into Heaven with the sole intent of usurping God's glory and authority. This innate human desire did not end with the Tower of Babel. It continues to this day, and soon it will result in one final attempt to usurp the authority of God. 5
6) It assumes both creation and evolution are failures.
The argument that God’s creative power is not good enough is an obvious one. Yet, from a transhuman mindset, it doesn’t exist at all. The transhumanist will deny creation and embrace evolution, but then insist that even the natural process of improving the species isn’t good enough. For all its altering of the fabric of society, the theory of evolution is just as much a lost cause as creation. The transhumanist can do it better. Evolution needs a techno-boost. Humanity will become more than Darwin ever imagined.
7) Intermingling of faith and transhumanism is on the rise.
If considering a future of human life enhanced by technology isn’t quite relevant in your thinking, consider that a growing number of pseudo-Christian organizations believe transhumanism is the actualization of God’s plan for the salvation of mankind.
What it means to be human will change soon and you will probably experience it. So read carefully. In the coming years computer-human interfaces will become so intimate that users may be considered superhumanly intelligent transcendent humans, or "transhumans". We will have a choice in how to use vast new power. Use it for material gain? Or, aim this power at spiritual growth. In this new era of understanding, most will see the dead end of material gain, and see a better outcome in a life dedicated to spiritual growth. For individuals taking the spiritual path, the lower hierarchy of material needs will fall away and so naturally the transhuman will become a benevolent and self-actualized spiritual being. Ultimately, life as represented by mankind will shift from consuming material for sustenance to a flow of information. This means that we shift to a wholly spiritual life where truth is the way. As material needs diminish, transhumans will increasingly be sustained by a powerful flow of Word that can be called the Glory of God. In giving up competition and control strategies and turning to God, we grow to be all that we can be; Christ-like.
Essential to Christian Transhumanism is the notion that love is a cognitive process and God expects us to participate in our salvation by learning how to love perfectly. In this way we access the Glory of God, becoming Christ-like (Christian). 6
8) It is anti-Christian
Even so, it’s not to say Christians won’t participate, to some degree, in the rise of H+. If you can’t put down your iPhone or if you’re lost without your Bluetooth, then you know dependence on technology is an ever-increasing part of modern life. If your child is the one who can now hear you call his name, you are blessed by God. Technology is not bad. But don’t be misled by the message that our technological transcendence to being God-like is our salvation. The transhumanist goals of ending disease and poverty, of attaining eternal life, of saving the planet from the humans won’t happen. God already set a plan in motion to take care of His creation in the way of His choosing. Any other plan devised in the mind of a created being is doomed. Consider this proclamation in an article by Zoltan Ivstan, author of best-selling novel, The Transhumanist Wager.
One thing is for sure, to the human species, the birth of an advanced artificial intelligence will become far more important than the birth of Christ. Christmas, if it survives at all, will be relegated to just another commercial and cultural holiday that superstores and big business thrive on. Meanwhile, reasonable people will celebrate AI Day, the real moment in history the savior of civilization was born. 7
In response, Gonz Shimura, in his article “The Trials of Transhumanism: An Assault on Christianity”, writes:
First off, it is clear that Mr. Istvan has a tremendous amount of “faith” in not only our own human management abilities pertaining to these developments, but also that any establishment of such a thing as AI would share in its consciousness, the same moral and ethical framework as humans. Secondly, and perhaps more importantly, as most know, Antichrist doesn’t mean “against Christ”; it means, “instead of Christ.” It is the replacement of Christ. Therefore, what Mr. Istvan is promoting here is quite literally the Antichrist. My particular views are that AI itself will not be the Antichrist figure as described in Bible Prophecy, but play a role in the establishment of the Image of the Beast. 8
9) You may be helped by it.Again, technological advancements aren’t necessarily evil. They may be inspired and brought to fruition by the grace of God, whether or not the person who brings about the newest innovation recognizes that fact or not. Christian or otherwise, you may be the one whose paralysis is soon overcome. You may benefit from the use of techno-medical breakthroughs to end dementia. Your grandchild may be the product of reproductive science unheard of when your children were born. Go ahead and love that child, who is no less a creation of God. A human who becomes a transhuman will need the same thing every human needs—the grace of God that leads to salvation through the death and resurrection of Christ. Whether or not your life is improved by whatever God allows, for however long He allows it, there is no other way to eternal life.
10) It is not fiction.
Transhumanism is certainly the subject of fiction. Many novels have been written in recent years from a secular worldview, both pro H+ and con. At least one transhuman work of fiction written from a Christian worldview exists. (Yes, I wrote it.) Some authors believe it will happen. Some simply use H+ to carry their stories. Movies have been bringing us cyborgs and AI stories for years, most without ever referencing transhumanism. There is an H+ TV series (fiction) and an H+ magazine (non-fiction). Some say the thought and goal of transhumanism is ancient, but the word came from Julian Huxley in 1957. He did not intend to describe a fictitious world, but a very real one. Behind each made-up story, and hundreds of non-fiction books and articles, is an ever-progressing scientific and cultural movement intending to redefine the meaning of life. To recreate the human being. To realize God in self. Not a wilder theme exists for a novel. But in the real world, the transhumanist plans to take us far beyond imagination.
1 Susanne Posel ,Chief Editor Occupy Corporatism | The US Independent, October 1, 2014
2 Susanne Posel ,Chief Editor Occupy Corporatism | The US Independent September 13, 2014
3 The Law of Accelerating Returns, Ray Kersweil, March 7, 2001
5 Transhumanism and the Great Rebellion, Britt Gillette
6 Prepare for HyperEvolution with Christian Transhumanism, James McLean Ledford
7 http://www.huffingtonpost.com/zoltan-istvan/ai-day-will-replace- christmas_b_4496550.html