Transhumanism is a topic that comes up from time to time in the apologetics realm. It is an idea that is relatively popular in both the mainstream and scientific realm, generating 3.8 million search results on Google and a further 15.7 thousand on Scholar. Clearly, people are asking about this issue. As Christians, how do we view such an idea? Is transhumanism in our future? Or does God have something else planned?
For those who don’t already know, transhumanism is the idea that humans can control their own fate and essentially upgrade themselves. This “upgrade” happens by integrating technology onto the human body. It is symbolized by an “H” with a “+” symbol. We already upgrade ourselves, in a sense, when we replace lost appendages with prosthetics. However, these are downgrades on the originals, in that they do not perform at the same level of dexterity and comfort as the originals. Transhumanism views the robotic parts that will be added to humanity as giving them a pure upgrade, adding additional function, without harming existing function.
If this vaguely sounds like evolution, that’s because it is. Sort of anyway. Transhumanism assumes evolution is true at the outset. Given this purported fact, transhumanists wonder, rightly, if human evolution could continue by mixing man and machine together. Of course, if the assumption of evolution is false, then transhumanism falls apart.
The theistic evolutionists are very open to transhumanism. In a lengthy article on the BioLogos website, frequent contributor Dr. Jim Stump wrote a relatively balanced presentation on transhumanism from a theistic evolutionary perspective. While Dr. Stump clearly sees some potential in the transhumanism, he has some pretty strong ethical and theological concerns as well. Most of these revolve around equity. Stump wonders whether those without insurance could possibly achieve this transhumanist state. He also wonders if the change in the way people interact because of the technology would be positive and if it might end up serving as a substitute Gospel. Not to knock Stump, but this last objection rings really hollow coming from BioLogos given, as far as I can tell, they have no Gospel presentation anywhere on their website. I’m happy to be corrected if someone can link me to it but I looked for it and did not find it.
Transhumanism is a rare area where Reasons to Believe, the Old earth ministry of Dr. Hugh Ross, and the various creation ministries agree, though for vastly different reasons. Ken Samples of RTB wrote a brief article about transhumanism, that Dr. Fazale Rana followed up on later. Samples argued that the flaw in the naturalistic logic of transhumanism is that it cannot account for man’s sin nature, nor can they stop the inevitable march of death that comes for all men. Rana has a slightly different take, arguing that humans were created exceptional, different from the animals. He worries that the transhumanist movement will strip humanity of its dignity.
While both Samples and Rana make decent points, (realistically, Stump does too in places, though his are more pragmatic than actual objections to transhumanism on principle), none of them make the best objection because they can’t. They are obligated, by their a priori adherence to naturalistic ideas of the origin of the earth to ignore the problem of man being made perfect. Both RTB and BioLogos reject the idea of an original perfect creation (for different reasons). Because of the fall, man has been in decline since Adam. While seeking a restoration to a pre-fall state in natural, attempting to sort of “help God out” by adding things to humanity that were not intended is essentially telling God we know better than He does.
This is not to say that we cannot attempt to improve the plight of humanity. Medicine can and should be developed. New technologies should be developed and applied to the benefit of mankind and so on. However, it is important to balance developing things to help humans exist more comfortably and developing things to improve on God’s design for humanity. This is why transhumanism fails. It fails to acknowledge God the creator and, as such, attempts to fix all the perceived errors in humanity, and improve on God’s design. This human arrogance, in attempting to fix God’s handiwork, is both an affront to God and incredibly foolish.
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