IMPORTANT SKYWATCH NOTICE: This series is being offered in the leadup to THE UNVEILING—an urgent Defender Virtual Conference event (May 13) wherein experts from around the world will update the public on (among other signs of the times) swiftly developing Human Enhancement / Hybrid Age advances directly tied to ancient prophecy and a coming seven years of Great Tribulation. Are you aware governments are enacting legislation NOW to protect the rights of the coming Human-Non-Human genetically engineered entities? (Early registration discount here).
According to leading bioethicist Wesley J. Smith, transhumanism is “an emerging social movement that promotes the technological enhancement of human capacities toward the end of creating a utopian era in which ‘post humans’ will enjoy absolute morphological freedom and live for thousands of years.”[i]
Transhumanists themselves are more direct in describing their goals and the means of attaining them:
Biology mandates not only very limited durability, death and poor memory retention, but also limited speed of communication, transportation, learning, interaction and evolution… transhumanists everywhere must support the revolutionary movement against death and the existing biological order of things.[ii]
In short, transhumanists believe God’s design is inherently flawed, so we humans must get busy “speeding up evolution and becoming true masters of our destiny.”[iii]
Zoltan Istvan, who ran for president in 2016 as a candidate for the Transhumanist Party (which he founded), distilled the objectives of transhumanism into a philosophy he calls Teleological Egocentric Functionalism. Istvan summarized those ideas with his Three Laws of Transhumanism:
- A transhumanist must safeguard one’s own existence above all else.
- A transhumanist must strive to achieve omnipotence as expediently as possible—so long as one’s actions do not conflict with the First Law.
- A transhumanist must safeguard value in the universe—so long as one’s actions do not conflict with the First and Second Laws.[iv]
You probably noticed that the first of Istvan’s laws runs head first into Jesus’ description of true love: “Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.”[v]
It shouldn’t surprise you that Istvan is an atheist. His three laws make perfect sense to those who believe there’s no God and no existence whatsoever after death. Even the actions of Jethro Knights, the protagonist of Istvan’s novel The Transhumanist Wager, are understandable, if chilling. To rid the world of the corrosive superstition of religion (as Istvan sees it), Knights and his team of super geniuses form a new, independent nation called Transhumania, and then they proceed to destroy the Vatican, the Kaaba in Mecca, and the Wailing Wall in Jerusalem, among other iconic religious and cultural sites around the world.
And Knights has no problem with adopting a eugenics program that would have made Hitler proud:
We need to divert the resources to the genuinely gifted and qualified. To the achievers of society—the ones who pay your bills by their innovation, genius, and hard work. They will find the best way to the future. Not the losers of the world, or the mediocre, or the downtrodden, or the fearful. They will only drag us down, like they already have.[vi]
To be fair, even other transhumanists are put off by The Transhumanist Wager.
The Transhumanist Wager has only one idea—a fascistic interpretation of the meaning of transhumanism in which the complexity of every other current of human thinking, including transhumanism itself, is reduced to a cartoon.[vii]
I bring this up because it’s important to understand that transhumanism means different things to different people, and not all transhumanists are ready to exterminate the “unfit.”
Obviously, whether one believes in God is a key factor in whether one thinks living forever through technology is a good idea. But theists (like Christians) can have very different views of transhumanism ranging from acceptance to, well, The Milieu.
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For example, there is a very active Mormon Transhumanist Association. This isn’t entirely unexpected, since Mormon theology is about apotheosis (at least for men)—literally becoming gods.[viii] But while it’s a shorter leap to transhumanism from the doctrines of the Church of Latter-day Saints than from the New Testament, there are, as noted above, a small, but growing, Christian Transhumanist Association.
It is difficult to see how any Christian who holds a futurist view of prophecy can embrace transhumanism. That said, not all Christian transhumanists are working toward virtual immortality and “absolute morphological freedom”—changing one’s body shape, physical abilities, and gender at will. Many of them appear to be concerned with just improving the quality of life for the poor and downtrodden, seeing this as a mission that follows in the footsteps of Jesus.
And yet well-meaning Christians who ally themselves with the transhumanist movement, because they believe advances in genetics, robotics, artificial intelligence, and nanotechnology will yield better tools for fulfilling this mission, are giving tacit approval to an alternate religion that promises salvation through technology. By promising to make us more than human, transhumanists and their Christian allies declare that God’s design is imperfect and must be improved.
By us. Sure. Because we’re smarter and have better technology than God.
In other words, in their effort to make humanity into H+, they will, ironically, downgrade the species to H-. And there is no guarantee that if they succeed to any degree, Humanity 2.0 will still be “human” in any meaningful way.
So-called “Christian” transhumanists have good intentions. The Christian Transhumanist Association describes its mission as follows:
As Christian Transhumanists, we seek to use science & technology to participate in God’s redemptive purposes, to cultivate life and renew creation.
- We believe that God’s mission involves the transformation and renewal of creation including humanity, and that we are called by Christ to participate in that mission: working against illness, hunger, oppression, injustice, and death.
- We seek growth and progress along every dimension of our humanity: spiritual, physical, emotional, mental—and at all levels: individual, community, society, world.
- We recognize science and technology as tangible expressions of our God-given impulse to explore and discover and as a natural outgrowth of being created in the image of God.
- We are guided by Jesus’ greatest commands to “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength…and love your neighbor as yourself.”
- We believe that the intentional use of technology, coupled with following Christ, will empower us to become more human across the scope of what it means to be creatures in the image of God.[ix]
Analyzing the CTA’s affirmation runs the risk of setting up a series of straw men, and we don’t have any intention of doing that if we can help it. How we respond to their five points depends on how we define our terms.
The opening statement sounds harmless enough, but what exactly is meant by participating in “God’s redemptive purposes”? If we accept the definition of the word “redemptive” as “acting to save someone from error or evil,” then transhumanism, properly directed, is a means toward that end. Who can look on a child suffering from, say, a debilitating injury or genetic defect of any type without thinking it an error or evil? Wouldn’t any of us use whatever was in our power to correct such a wrong?
But how do we define “error” or “evil”? If we interpret God’s redemptive purpose according to the straightforward Gospel that Paul gave to the church at Corinth “as of first importance”—that “Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures”[x]—then the evil from which we are redeemed is spiritual, even if the physical, emotional, and mental imperfections that plague our world are sometimes side effects of that evil. In other words, what the Christian Transhumanist Association calls “the transformation and renewal of creation” needs sharper definition before we can sign on to that mission.
And we are certainly sympathetic to “working against illness, hunger, oppression, injustice, and death.” Jesus healed the sick and fed the hungry, and the Bible is clear about a Christian’s duty to help the poor, orphans, and widows. But Jesus also came “to destroy the works of the devil.”[xi] He cast out a lot of demons, and his choice of Mount Hermon for the Transfiguration was deliberate.[xii] We are in the middle of a very long spiritual war, and God isn’t called Lord of Hosts—i.e., Lord of Armies—for nothing.
Jesus didn’t say, “The poor you always have with you,” because there aren’t enough charities, but because evil is the default setting of the human heart. There will always be men and women who enrich themselves at the expense of others.
That is the evil from which the world must be redeemed. And Christ is the Redeemer—not you and me.
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Dr. Thomas Horn and Jimmy Evans Explain The Greatest Threat Transhumanism Poses To Humanity On Daystar
That’s the heart of the matter. What are Christian transhumanists trying to accomplish? While they embrace science, technology, and the full engagement of our minds in the service of our Lord, they may fail to recognize the danger in going too far. Scientists and tech entrepreneurs like Stephen Hawking and Elon Musk have likewise sounded warnings about the dangers of runaway science; in fact, Musk described the development of artificial intelligence, “our biggest existential threat,” as “summoning the demon.”[xiii]
The Rev. Dr. Christopher J. Benek, founding chair of the Christian Transhumanist Association, acknowledges that “the practical outcomes of escapist concepts in science and technology are just as bad as they are in theology.”[xiv] But, like Hawking and Musk, he argues that we must push forward anyway:
Christians are called to help in Christ’s redemptive purposes on earth as we seek to actualize Christ’s great prayer “on Earth as it is in Heaven.”
The reality of humanity is that humans are called to be CoCreators with God and one another. We have a divine appointment to explore possibilities and discern what constitutes proper choices in order to appropriately steward science and technology.[xv]
Well, we can agree in part. Yes, we Christians have a duty to appropriately steward science and technology. That’s why I’m proud to be called a part of The Milieu, and why I’m writing this instead of watching Doctor Who.
But “CoCreators with God”?
Whoa, there. That’s where we run into trouble. That’s where hubris can lead to really spectacular mistakes. And while I don’t think for a minute that Christian transhumanists are likely to do anything close to what secular transhumanists propose (like merging human biology with machinery to acquire godlike abilities), just describing the mission as co-creation with God moves humanity up a step in the cosmic order without His express written consent.
Frankly, the concept of co-creation moves uncomfortably close to territory occupied by Dominionists, a group within charismatic Christianity that believes we Christians must literally take over the world before Jesus can return. They, too, would describe their mission as participating in “Christ’s redemptive purposes on earth.” They believe we’re called to defeat God’s enemies and make them a footstool beneath Christ’s feet. What could be more redemptive than that?
Christian transhumanists don’t share that view. My concern is that their emphasis is on the wrong end of the rope. As noble as their motives are, they’re pulling in the same direction as the rest of the transhumanists; which is to say, Luciferian transhumanists—an accurate description, whether they recognize it or not.
I don’t mean that non-Christian transhumanists worship Satan. Most of them wouldn’t even acknowledge the existence of Satan.[xvi] By “Luciferian,” I mean they’re committed to the goal of creating heaven on earth—what scholars would call “anthropocentric soteriology,” or salvation by our own works.
Being Christians, I am confident that the Rev. Dr. Benek and his colleagues deny that their hope for salvation is in anything other than the atoning death of Jesus Christ. But then that begs the question: Why work for the “transformation and renewal of creation”? Dr. Benek rationalizes it thus:
When Christ sent people out—to effectively do what seems miraculous from [a] given perspective in time—he was calling them to imagine a better way of looking at the world and then challenging them to believe that better way into existence with action. Now that technology is expanding the possibilities of our imaginations, we are faced with new opportunities to virtuously live into the wonder of these possibilities.[xvii]
But those weren’t our marching orders. In the beginning, we were told to “be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it.”[xviii] Later, Jesus commanded His disciples to “go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.”[xix] There was nothing in there about transforming and renewing. That’s what the military calls “mission creep.”
And it can be dangerous. First, it puts our focus on this world instead of the next. Christians have an absolute duty to demonstrate sacrificial love to those around us—but we should never, ever forget that the whole point of doing so is to open doors so that we can share the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
Second, we’re on the verge of being able to permanently change what it means to be human at the genetic level. We are nearing a day when we can create an autonomous intelligence capable of thinking millions, if not billions, of times faster than us. It is misguided to join forces with those who not only want to put that kind of power into human hands, they want to redesign and fundamentally transform God’s ultimate creation, humankind.
That is ironic. As Christians, we are all transhumanists by definition. To paraphrase what Paul wrote to the Corinthians, we won’t all die but we will all be changed.[xx] At His return, Jesus will grant all who have accepted Him as Lord the immortality we were originally created to enjoy.
Now, it’s understandable that non-Christian transhumanists would reject that in favor of a Manhattan Project-scale effort to unlock the key to eternal life. By why on God’s green earth would a Christian trade God’s promise for an offer of artificial immortality?
NEXT: Heaven On Earth?
[i] Smith, Wesley J. “The Trouble with Transhumanism,” Christian Life Resources, http://www.christianliferesources.com/article/the-trouble-with-transhumanism-1191, retrieved 12/24/17.
[ii] Danaylov, Nikola. “A Transhumanist Manifesto (Redux).” Singularity Weblog, March 11, 2016. (https://www.singularityweblog.com/a-transhumanist-manifesto/), retrieved 12/24/17.
[iv] (http://www.zoltanistvan.com/TranshumanistWager.html), retrieved 12/24/17.
[v] John 15:13.
[vi] Istvan, Zoltan. The Transhumanist Wager. Futurity Imagine Media LLC, 2013, pp. 127–128.
[vii] Searle, Rick. “Betting Against the Transhumanist Wager.” Institute for Ethics and Emerging Technologies, September 16, 2013. https://ieet.org/index.php/IEET2/more/searle20130916, retrieved 12/25/17.
[viii] Which is just one of several key points of LDS doctrine that disqualifies Mormonism as a Christian denomination.
[ix] (https://www.christiantranshumanism.org), retrieved 12/28/17.
[x] 1 Corinthians 15:3–4, ESV.
[xi] 1 John 3:8.
[xii] See Matthew 16:13–17:13. Jesus led Peter, James, and John “up a high mountain” in the vicinity of Caesarea Philippi, which can only be Hermon.
[xiii] Kumparak, Greg (2014). “Elon Musk Compares Building Artificial Intelligence to ‘Summoning the Demon’,” TechCrunch, October 26, 2014. (https://techcrunch.com/2014/10/26/elon-musk-compares-building-artificial-intelligence-to-summoning-the-demon/), retrieved 12/31/17.
[xiv] Benek, Christopher J. “How to Prevent an Artificial Intelligence God,” The Christian Post, October 20, 2017. (https://www.christianpost.com/news/how-to-prevent-an-artificial-intelligence-god-203458/), retrieved 12/28/17.
[xvi] Sadly, most American Christians don’t, either.
[xvii] Benek, op. cit.
[xviii] Genesis 1:28.
[xix] Matthew 28:19.
[xx] See 1 Corinthians 15:35–58.