Monday, April 30, 2012

Transhumanism: The Logical End Product of Evolution

In a recent article written by David Yonke published on, Presbyterian minister and seminary professor Rev. Mark Douglas is quoted as saying
…Transhumanism is "inevitable," as long as humanity continues to exist. In extrapolating natural evolution as described by Darwin, and given enough time, the human race will undergo significant genetic and biological changes….
Wait. What? Yes, you heard him correctly. As a natural outgrowth of evolution, we humans will change, and if we avoid extinction due to mutational meltdown or our own stupidity, we will eventually become a new species – we did, after all, manage to throw off our ape heritage, so who’s to argue that we won’t eventually manage something even better (or at least, different). This line of reasoning is called transhumanism, and ultimately, post-humanism.

The article goes on to say
Theologically, one can find support in the Bible for transhumanism, he said, citing Scriptures that describe a future change or transformation. For example, I John 3:2 states that we "will be like him, for we will see him as he is."
Now that’s a new “twist” on things. The full verse in the ESV reads “Beloved, we are God's children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when he appears we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is.” The verse clearly refers to the gloried bodies we will receive after we are resurrected by Christ at His return on Judgment Day, not an evolutionary path. Like Dr. Matthew Becker’s evolutionary tale for the existence of Adam and Eve, the “theological evidence” only works if you believe that the transformation John refers to is a gradual naturally occurring evolution over the millennia, an explanation for which there is no credible Biblical support.

The World Tranhumanist Association (which has been renamed Humanity+), has a twofold definition of transhumanism (the remaining quotations on transhumanism come from the Wikipedia transhumanism page):
1. The intellectual and cultural movement that affirms the possibility and desirability of fundamentally improving the human condition through applied reason, especially by developing and making widely available technologies to eliminate aging and to greatly enhance human intellectual, physical, and psychological capacities.
2. The study of the ramifications, promises, and potential dangers of technologies that will enable us to overcome fundamental human limitations, and the related study of the ethical matters involved in developing and using such technologies.
On the face of it, this definition seems rather bland. Yet the transhumanist agenda includes many ideas which are opposed to a world created and sustained by the Triune God. Some of these ideas include:
  1. The underlying assumption that neo-Darwinian evolution is correct.
  2. Man controls his own destiny: “Transhumanist philosophers argue that there not only exists a perfectionist ethical imperative for humans to strive for progress and improvement of the human condition but that it is possible and desirable for humanity to enter a transhuman phase of existence, in which humans are in control of their own evolution. In such a phase, natural evolution would be replaced with deliberate change.” From a Christian perspective, it is God who controls our lives, not us.
  3. Placing people, animals, and sophisticated machines on the same moral plain, and therefore assigning them equal rights, the rejection of which is called speciesism. While ethical treatment of animals is important, assigning animals the same “moral status” as humans ignores our creation in the image of God, and God’s command for us to exercise dominion over all the earth. Assigning a sophisticated machine any moral status is laughable.
  4. “Postgenderism, a social philosophy which seeks the voluntary elimination of gender in the human species through the application of advanced biotechnology and assisted reproductive technologies.” Obviously, this idea is problematic. The elimination of gender also eliminates God’s created order by destroying normal human sexuality, as well as eliminating the family. The normal vocations of father and mother are eliminated, without which, society is decimated.
  5. The ultimate goal of immortality. Since death is the result of sin, and we are all sinners, this goal is impossible to achieve, and ignores our own sinful condition and need for a Savior.
  6. Mind uploading, in which human consciousness is uploaded into a computer. “After this point, the human body could be treated as an optional accessory and the mind could be transferred to any sufficiently powerful computer.” Our bodies are not optional. As Christians, we recognize that our bodies are important. Though worms destroy this body, yet in my flesh I will see God!
These are but a few of the problems which transhumanism preaches. Transhumanism encompasses all sorts of ideas, each of which should be evaluated on its own merit through the lens of a Christian perspective. I much prefer King David’s view of things:
For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother's womb. I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well. My frame was not hidden from you, when I was being made in secret, intricately woven in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw my unformed substance; in your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them. Psalms 139:13-16 ESV

The eyes of all look to you, and you give them their food in due season. You open your hand; you satisfy the desire of every living thing. The LORD is righteous in all his ways and kind in all his works. The LORD is near to all who call on him, to all who call on him in truth. He fulfills the desire of those who fear him; he also hears their cry and saves them. The LORD preserves all who love him, but all the wicked he will destroy. My mouth will speak the praise of the LORD, and let all flesh bless his holy name forever and ever. Psalms 145:15-21 ESV
Improving the “human condition” can be a worthy goal when understood within the framework of God’s good creation, but when left to our own devices, we become our own little creative gods, failing to trust in God’s providence. This behavior should come as no surprise when God's Word is twisted so that popularized scientific theory can rule our  hearts and minds.  We turn to an evolutionary and science fiction nightmare where we must manipulate nature to our own ends. Transhumanism is largely a philosophy which has fallen into this trap, and has forgotten Luther’s explanation to the First Article of the Apostle’s Creed. Hopefully, we will not do the same.
The First Article.

Of Creation.

I believe in God the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth.

What does this mean?--Answer.

I believe that God has made me and all creatures; that He has given me my body and soul, eyes, ears, and all my limbs, my reason, and all my senses, and still preserves them; in addition thereto, clothing and shoes, meat and drink, house and homestead, wife and children, fields, cattle, and all my goods; that He provides me richly and daily with all that I need to support this body and life, protects me from all danger, and guards me and preserves me from all evil; and all this out of pure, fatherly, divine goodness and mercy, without any merit or worthiness in me; for all which I owe it to Him to thank, praise, serve, and obey Him. This is most certainly true.

photo credits: Christina Aguilera’s album Bionic: RCA Records / h+ magazine Fall 2008 issue cover

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