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 things) 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).
If advances in genetics, robotics, artificial intelligence, nanotechnology, and synthetic biology (GRINS) ever succeed in bringing virtually unlimited lifespans to humanity, it’s not going to create the heaven on earth transhumanists are looking for.
As with every breakthrough in medicine, science, and technology, it will be reserved for the military or the wealthy, at least at first. Lt. Col. Robert Maginnis and journalist Annie Jacobsen have explored the potential military uses of cutting edge tech in their books Future War and The Pentagon’s Brain. If there are perceived advantages to restricting radical life extension technologies for the military, you can bet civilians won’t see them.
If and when the private sector does get access to medical miracles, the wealthy will be the beneficiaries. You might ask why I’m so skeptical. Fair enough. Consider education: Isn’t it in the best interests of society to provide the highest quality education for every child? In fact, wouldn’t society be better off if the lowest economic classes were given priority access to the best schools?
Of course it would. So, why do the wealthy send their children to expensive, top-notch learning academies that are out of reach for the poor and middle class?
Because they can. Be honest: If you could do that for your kids and grandkids, wouldn’t you?
Now, ask a transhumanist: Why do they think physical and mental upgrades that offer godlike power and near-immortality will be available for everybody?
Next question: Who gets to upgrade? Refer back to the attitude of Zoltan Istvan’s fictional transhumanist hero, Jethro Knights:
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.[i]
Obvious follow-up: Who decides who’s a loser, or mediocre, or downtrodden? Transhumanism’s promise of immortality could easily bring back the eugenics programs of the last century, which sought to improve mankind by removing the unfit from the gene pool.
It is a sad legacy of the United States that the eugenics program adopted by Hitler’s Germany was modeled in part on the one in California.[ii] Indiana was the first state in the Union to adopt a compulsory sterilization law (1909), but even though eugenics lost public support after World War II because of the horror of the Nazis’ implementation, women were still being sterilized in some states until the 1970s.[iii]
Although the United States Congress recently repealed the individual health insurance mandate, American progressives will keep fighting for a single-payer system. If they get their wish, how long before the right to have children is restricted for people with a family history of poor health to keep health care costs down for everyone else? And then how long before government requires genetic “improvements” to ensure all babies are healthy? And for a small upcharge, parents can specify height, minimum IQ, gender, eye color, and sexual preference. (Think that’s an exaggeration? A National Academy of Sciences panel has already endorsed the concept of “designer babies,” at least in limited circumstances.)[iv]
We won’t even bring up death panels for the elderly. I will, however, point out that a global push to legalize euthanasia is growing. In Belgium, a child who isn’t terminally ill may be put to death if a doctor deems them mature enough to make that decision. In the Netherlands, where infanticide is still illegal, doctors admit that killing sick and disabled babies goes on anyway.[v]
Already, transhumanists—unwittingly, I’m guessing, because I can’t believe they’d do this on purpose—have adopted the motto of the International Eugenics Congresses held in 1912, 1921, and 1932: “Self-directed evolution.”[vi]
How quickly we forget.
Next question: Assuming that science somehow overcomes the problems of death and distribution and rolls out the miracle of immortality to everyone on earth, does that really look like heaven?
Here’s why I ask: Imagine a world where most of the people, who do not subscribe to a biblical standard of morality, are immortal, and therefore no longer restrained from doing things that might have gotten them killed previously. Put another way, imagine a world in which Adolf Hitler, Josef Stalin, and Charles Manson could never die—and where others, who might have been too afraid of dying to live out their vile fantasies, no longer have that check on their behavior.
I don’t know about you, but that sounds more like hell than heaven to me.
Last question: How can Christians with a true understanding of what’s at stake call themselves transhumanists?
Now the speculation: For several years now, we’ve considered the possibility that an autonomous artificial intelligence might be used by the Antichrist to give life to the image of the Beast. While this sounds like science fiction, it’s not a new idea.
More than a hundred years ago, theologian E. W. Bullinger put forward the very same idea in his commentary on the book of Revelation:
Nikola Tesla, the Hungarian-American electrician, boldly declares (in The Century magazine for June, 1900), that he has a plan for the construction of an automaton which shall have its “own mind,” and be able, “independent of any operator, to perform a great variety of acts and operations as if it had intelligence.” He speaks of it, not as a miracle, of course, but only as an invention which he “has now perfected.”
But again we say we care not how it is going to be done. God’s word declares that it will be done, and we believe it… We already hear of talking machines; with “a little” Satanic power thrown in, it will be a miracle very easily worked.[vii]
Now, Bullinger was not without controversial beliefs. He was an ultradispensationalist,[viii] a believer in the cessation of the soul between death and resurrection,[ix] and a member of the Universal Zetetic Society—a flat-earther.[x] Regardless, Bullinger’s 1903 observation about the potential prophetic application of Tesla’s research was profoundly insightful and relevant to our discussion of the transhumanist movement.
The human body in general, and the brain especially, is a bio-electrical machine. An electroencephalogram measures electrical activity in the brain to diagnose disorders such as epilepsy.[xi] As Christians, we know (or we should) that this bio-electrical device can be overwhelmed and controlled by an external entity—it’s what we call “demonic possession.” Is it possible, then, that an autonomous, electrical superintelligence could provide a substrate for “the image of the Beast”?
Speculative, yes. Has this phenomenon ever been observed? The abomination that was Windows ME notwithstanding, no, not as far as we know. But then, there wouldn’t be any advantage for the Enemy to disclose this ability. To quote the famous line by Baudelaire (paraphrased in the popular 1995 film The Usual Suspects), “The finest trick of the devil is to persuade you that he does not exist.”
This is precisely the type of blind spot to which Christian transhumanists have fallen victim. They’re not alone, of course; about 60 percent of American Christians believe Satan “is not a living being but is a symbol of evil.”[xii] In the book Last Clash of the Titans, we make the case that the horde of Magog in Ezekiel 38 and 39, which is the army that comes against Jerusalem at Armageddon, is linked to the “shades”—the Rephaim, which, we argue, the ancient Amorites believed were the spirits of the Nephilim.
We can’t say with certainty that artificial intelligence will produce the false miracle that is the resurrected Beast or an army of demonically possessed super soldiers, but it is a fact that leading transhumanists see their goal as transcendence—rising above the limits of our flawed (they think) biology. Inventor Ray Kurzweil, Google’s director of engineering, foresees what he calls the Singularity, “a future period during which the pace of technological change will be so rapid, its impact so deep, that human life will be irreversibly transformed.”[xiii]
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Kurzweil and his followers mean that literally. They foresee what Dr. Kurzweil calls the “Sixth Epoch of Evolution.” In his view, we’re now in the final stages of Epoch 4 (humans working with technology) and about to enter Epoch 5, where biology and technology merge to create higher forms of life. Epoch 6 is when “the Universe wakes up,” and virtually immortal human-machine hybrids go forth into the universe, presumably to be fruitful and multiply.[xiv]
As speculative as it sounds, this, like a demonically possessed AI, is not a new idea. The French Jesuit Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, a paleontologist by training and philosopher by nature, believed in the reverse entropy of Darwinian evolution. In his 1959 book The Phenomenon of Man, Teilhard theorized that creation was evolving to ever-higher levels of complexity toward something he called the Omega Point. At some future date, he believed, a sphere of sentient thought surrounding the earth he called the noosphere joins with itself, human thought unifies, and “our ancient itch to flee this woeful orb will finally be satisfied as the immense expanse of cosmic matter collapses like some mathematician’s hypercube into absolute spirit.”[xv]
In other words, mind merges with matter and the universe wakes up. Teilhard’s Omega Point and Kurzweil’s Singularity are the same thing.
Although Teilhard’s writings were cited with a warning by the Vatican in 1962, the Pontifical Council for Culture recently approved a petition asking Pope Francis to remove it. The council expressed its desire for the pope to “acknowledge the genuine effort of the pious Jesuit to reconcile the scientific vision of the universe with Christian eschatology.”[xvi] The problem is that any such reconciliation of science and the Bible is neither scientific nor biblical. There is no evidence to support Teilhard’s theory of a noosphere as a “living thinking machine with enormous physical powers,”[xvii] and believing in his Omega Point (and likewise the transhumanist Singularity) requires throwing out the book of Revelation, for a start, and then deleting every other end-times prophecy in the rest of the Bible.
But transhumanists have begun to recognize that appealing to Teilhard’s work can help them win over skeptical Christians by providing Christianized language to describe their vision of the future.[xviii] Christians should see through this ruse. Trading God’s promise of a resurrected, incorruptible body for the transhumanists’ promise of eternal life for you in a cosmic mainframe is like Esau trading his inheritance to Jacob for a bowl of beans.
Transhumanists believe the Singularity will be humanity’s crowning achievement, our great evolutionary leap forward to finally exceed the limits of our biology—in other words, apotheosis, finally realizing the promise from the garden to “be as gods.”
This is a sad delusion. Transhumanism is nothing more than the ill-fated quest of Gilgamesh with a sci-fi veneer.
Now, the search will unquestionably yield benefits. We in The Milieu are not technophobes.[xix] Medical advances are a good thing, but they are restoration, not transformation. Christians should never confuse the two. An artificial knee is not the first installment in a full-body immortality upgrade.
According to the epic, when Gilgamesh died, he was laid to rest in a tomb of stone in the bed of the Euphrates River. There is evidence that Gilgamesh didn’t go to his eternal rest alone:
His beloved wife, his beloved children, his beloved favorite and junior wife, his beloved musician, cup-bearer and ……, his beloved barber, his beloved ……, his beloved palace retainers and servants and his beloved objects were laid down in their places as if …… in the purified (?) palace in the middle of Uruk.[xx]
Scholars have debated the meaning of that text for the last hundred years, but tombs of the wealthy at the Sumerian city of Ur, dated at least five hundred years after the probable time of Gilgamesh, included as many as sixty-five servants and retainers.[xxi] It’s possible that this was a tradition that extended back to the kingdom of Uruk ruled by Gilgamesh, and by Nimrod before him.
Sadly, Christian transhumanists are following in the footsteps of Gilgamesh. While we take them at their word that they have accepted Christ as Lord, and are thus ensured of eternity in our Father’s house, they, like the king of old, may be leading their beloved spouses, children, friends, and colleagues into death by signaling that Kurzweil is an acceptable substitute for Jesus Christ.
And the journey of unsaved transhumanists will not end inside an earthly tomb. If their trust is in science instead of Christ—in hoping to find their names written in lines of incorruptible computer code rather than in the Book of Life—then their final destination is the second death and a place in the Lake of Fire.
In a section titled “From Antichrist’s Mark to His Transhuman Church” from the best-selling book Forbidden Gates, we added these related insights:
Although most transhumanists, especially early on, were secular atheists and would have had little resemblance to prototypical “people of faith,” in the last few years, the exclusion of supernaturalism in favor of rational empiricism has softened as the movement’s exponential popularity has swelled to include a growing number of Gnostic Christians, Buddhists, Mormons, Islam, Raelianism, and other religious traditions among its devotees. From among these groups, new tentative “churches” arose—the Church of Virus, the Society for Universal Immortalism, Transtopianism, the Church of Mez, the Society for Venturism, the Church of the Fulfillment, Singularitarianism, and others. Today, with somewhere between 25–30 percent of transhumanists considering themselves religious, these separate sects or early “denominations” within transhumanism are coalescing their various religious worldviews around generally fixed creeds involving spiritual transcendence as a result of human enhancement. Leaders within the movement, whom we refer to here as transevangelists, have been providing religion-specific lectures during conferences to guide these disciples toward a collective (hive) understanding of the mystical compatibility between faith and transhumanism. At Trinity College in Toronto, Canada, for instance, transhumanist Peter Addy lectured on the fantastic “Mutant Religious Impulses of the Future” during the Faith, Transhumanism, and Hope symposium. At the same meeting, Prof. Mark Walker spoke on “Becoming Godlike,” James Hughes offered “Buddhism and Transhumanism: The Technologies of Self-Perfection,” Michael LaTorra gave a “Trans-Spirit” speech, nanotechnologist and lay Catholic Tihamer Toth-Fejel presented “Is Catholic Transhumanism Possible?” and Nick Bostrom spoke on “Transhumanism and Religion.”
Recently, the New York Times picked up this meme (contagious idea) in its June 11, 2010, feature titled “Merely Human? That’s So Yesterday,” speaking of transhumanism and the Singularity as offering “a modern-day, quasi-religious answer to the Fountain of Youth by affirming the notion that, yes indeed, humans—or at least something derived from them—can have it all.”[xxii] In commenting on the Times article at his blog, one of our favorite writers, bioethicist Wesley J. Smith, observed the following:
Here’s an interesting irony: Most transhumanists are materialists. But they desire eternal life as much as the religionists that so many materialists disdain. So they invent a material substitute that offers the benefits of faith, without the burden of sin, as they forge a new eschatology that allows them to maintain their über-rationalist credentials as they try to escape the nihilistic despair that raw materialism often engenders. So they tout a corporeal New Jerusalem and prophesy the coming of the Singularity—roughly equivalent of the Second Coming for Christians—that will¼begin a New Age of peace, harmony, and eternal life right here on Terra firma.[xxiii]
In the peer-reviewed Journal of Evolution and Technology published by the Institute for Ethics and Emerging Technologies (founded in 2004 by transhumansists Nick Bostrom and James Hughes), the “Apologia for Transhumanist Religion” by Prof. Gregory Jordan lists the many ways transhumanism is emerging as either a new form of religion or a mirror of fundamental human ambitions, desires, longings, shared hopes, and dreams that traditional religions hold in common. In spite of denial by some of its advocates, Jordan concludes that transhumanism may be considered a rising religion because of its numerous parallels to religious themes and values involving godlike beings, the plan for eternal life, the religious sense of awe surrounding its promises, symbolic rituals among its members, an inspirational worldview based on faith, and technology that promises to heal the wounded, restore sight to the blind, and give hearing back to the deaf.
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Of the technological Singularity in particular, Jordan writes how some transhumanists especially view the Singularity as a religious event, “a time when human consciousness will expand beyond itself and throughout the universe.” Quoting Kurzweil’s The Singularity Is Near: When Humans Transcend Biology, Jordan provides:
The matter and energy in our vicinity will become infused with the intelligence, knowledge, creativity, beauty, and emotional intelligence (the ability to love, for example) of our human-machine civilization. Our civilization will expand outward, turning all the dumb matter [normal humans] and energy we encounter into sublimely intelligent—transcendent—matter and energy. So in a sense, we can say that the Singularity will ultimately infuse the world with spirit.
According to these Singularitarians, this expansion of consciousness after the Singularity will also be an approach to the divine:
Evolution moves toward greater complexity, greater elegance, greater knowledge, greater intelligence, greater beauty, greater creativity, and greater levels of subtle attributes such as love. In every monotheistic tradition God is likewise described as all of these qualities, only without any limitation: infinite knowledge, infinite intelligence, infinite beauty, infinite creativity, infinite love, and so on.¼ So evolution moves inexorably toward this conception of God.¼ We can regard, therefore, the freeing of our thinking from the severe limitations of its biological form to be an essentially spiritual undertaking.[xxiv]
Yet while development of a new universalist religion appears to be forming among members of transhumanism’s enlightenment, conservative scholars will taste the ancient origin of its heresy as the incarnation of gnosticism and its disdain for the human body as basically an evil design that is far inferior to what we can make it. “Despite all their rhetoric about enhancing the performance of bodily functions,” says Brent Waters, director of the Jerre L. and Mary Joy Stead Center for Ethics and Values, “the posthuman project is nevertheless driven by a hatred and loathing of the body.”[xxv] Transhumanist Prof. Kevin Warwick put it this way: “I was born human. But this was an accident of fate—a condition merely of time and place.”
Conversely, in Judeo-Christian faith, the human body is not an ill-designed “meat sack,” as transhumans so often deride. We were made in God’s image to be temples of His Holy Spirit. The incarnation of God in the person of Jesus Christ and His bodily resurrection are the centerpieces of the Gospel and attest to this magnificent fact. While in our fallen condition human suffering is reality, most traditional Christians believe this struggle makes us stronger and that healing and improvements to the human condition are also to be desired. Throughout history, the Church has therefore been at the forefront of disease treatment discovery, institutions for health care, hospitals, and other medical schools and research centers. In other words, we do not champion a philosophy toward techno-dystopianism. Indeed, what a day it will be when cancer is cured and we all shout “Hallelujah!”
But in the soulless posthuman, where DNA is recombined in mockery of the Creator and no man is made in God’s image, “there are no essential differences, or absolute demarcations, between bodily existence and computer simulation, cybernetic mechanism and biological organism, robot technology and human goals,” says Katherine Hayles, professor of English at the University of California, in her book How We Became Posthuman. “Humans can either go gently into that good night, joining the dinosaurs as a species that once ruled the earth but is now obsolete,” she says in transhuman contempt of—or outright hostility to—intrinsic human dignity, “or hang on for a while longer by becoming machines themselves. In either case…the age of the human is drawing to a close.”[xxvi]
Thus the gauntlet is thrown down and a holy war declared by the new and ungodly apostles of a transhuman faith! We who were created in His image will either adapt and be assimilated to posthuman, or be replaced by Nephilim 2.0 and the revival of their ancient mystery religion. This solidifies how, the more one probes into the ramifications of merging unnatural creations and non-biological inventions according to the transhumanist scheme of seamlessly recalibrating humanity, a deeper malaise emerges, one that suggests those startling “parallels” between modern technology and ancient Watchers activity may be no coincidence at all—that, in fact, a dark conspiracy is truly unfolding as it did “in the days of Noah.”
Consider, in conclusion of this entry, the thoughtful commentary by Dr. C. Christopher Hook:
There are several key questions that our churches and theologians will have to address. Is it appropriate for members of the body of Christ to engage in alterations that go beyond therapy and are irreversible? Is it just to do so in a world already deeply marked by inequities? What does it mean that our Lord healed and restored in His ministry—never enhanced? Is it significant that the gifts of the Holy Spirit—wisdom, love, patience, kindness—cannot be manufactured by technology?[xxvii], [xxviii]
NEXT: Embedding Transhumanism into Church and Society Through Predictive Programming
[i] Istvan, Zoltan. The Transhumanist Wager. Futurity Imagine Media LLC, 2013, pp. 127–128.
[ii] Murphy, Timothy F., and Marc A. Lappé (1994). Justice and the Human Genome Project. Berkeley: University of California Press, p. 18.
[iii] Ko, Lisa. “Unwanted Sterilization and Eugenics Programs in the United States,” Independent Lens, January 29, 2016. (http://www.pbs.org/independentlens/blog/unwanted-sterilization-and-eugenics-programs-in-the-united-states/), retrieved 12/28/17.
[iv] Regalado, Antionio (2017). “U.S. Panel Endorses Designer Babies to Avoid Serious Disease,” MIT Technology Review, February 14, 2017. (https://www.technologyreview.com/s/603633/us-panel-endorses-designer-babies-to-avoid-serious-disease/), retrieved 12/31/17.
[v] Smith, Wesley J. “Netherlands Push to Euthanize Children,” National Review Online, April 28, 2016. (http://www.nationalreview.com/corner/434712/netherlands-push-euthanize-children), retrieved 12/28/16.
[vi] For example, Vita-More, Natasha. “Transhuman: A Brief History.” (http://www.natasha.cc/quiz.htm#Transhuman%20History), retrieved 12/28/17.
[vii] Bullinger, E. W. (1903). The Apocalypse or “The Day of the Lord.” London: Eyre & Spottiswoode.
[viii] He believed that the Church Age started at Acts 28:28 rather than Pentecost, and that Paul’s authoritative teaching began after the conclusion of the Book of Acts.
[ix] Bullinger, E. W. (1902). The Rich Man and Lazarus or “The Intermediate State,” London: Eyrie & Spottiswoode.
[x] Schadewald, Robert J. (2000). The Plane Truth: A History of the Flat Earth Movement. (http://www.cantab.net/users/michael.behrend/ebooks/PlaneTruth/pages/Chapter_04.html), retrieved 12/30/17.
[xi] Mayo Clinic (2014). “EEG Definition,” (https://www.mayoclinic.org/tests-procedures/eeg/basics/definition/prc-20014093), retrieved 12/30/17.
[xii] “Most American Christians Do Not Believe that Satan or the Holy Spirit Exist,” (https://www.barna.com/research/most-american-christians-do-not-believe-that-satan-or-the-holy-spirit-exist/), retrieved 12/31/17.
[xiii] Kurzweil, Raymond (2005). The Singularity Is Near: When Humans Transcend Biology. New York: Penguin Books, p. 7.
[xiv] Honan, Daniel. “Ray Kurzweil: The Six Epochs of Technology Evolution,” Big Think. (http://bigthink.com/the-nantucket-project/ray-kurzweil-the-six-epochs-of-technology-evolution), retrieved 12/30/17.
[xv] Draper, Lucy (2015). “Could Artificial Intelligence Kill Us Off?” Newsweek, June 24, 2015. (http://www.newsweek.com/artificial-intelligenceomega-pointai-603286), retrieved 12/30/17.
[xvi] O’Connell, Gerard (2017). “Will Pope Francis Remove the Vatican’s ‘Warning’ from Teilhard de Chardin’s Writings?” America: The Jesuit Review, November 21, 2017. (https://www.americamagazine.org/faith/2017/11/21/will-pope-francis-remove-vaticans-warning-teilhard-de-chardins-writings), retrieved 12/30/17.
[xvii] Steinhart, Eric (2008). “Teilhard de Chardin and Transhumanism,” Journal of Evolution and Technology, Vol. 20, Issue 1, 1–22. (http://jetpress.org/v20/steinhart.htm), retrieved 12/31/17.
[xix] For example, as I write this from my living room couch, there are six Internet-connected devices in view, three more in the next room, and seven more in our office on the other side of the wall.
[xx] “The Death of Gilgamesh: translation.” The Electronic Text Corpus of Sumerian Literature, (http://etcsl.orinst.ox.ac.uk/section1/tr1813.htm), retrieved 12/31/17.
[xxi] Marchesi, Gianni (2004). “Who Was Buried in the Royal Tombs of Ur? The Epigraphic and Textual Data,” Orientalia, Nova Series, Vol. 73, No. 2, p. 154.
[xxii] Ashlee Vance, “Merely Human? That’s So Yesterday,” New York Times, (6/11/10) (http://www.nytimes.com/2010/06/13/business/13sing.html?_r=1).
[xxiii] Wesley J. Smith, “Pitching the New Transhumanism Religion in the NYT,” First Things (6/14/10) (http://www.firstthings.com/blogs/secondhandsmoke/2010/06/14/pitching-the-new-transhumanism-religion-in-the-nyt/).
[xxiv] Gregory Jordan, “Apologia for Transhumanist Religion,” Journal of Evolution and Technology, Published by the Institute for Ethics and Emerging Technologies (2005) (http://jetpress.org/volume15/jordan2.html).
[xxv] Brent Waters, “The Future of the Human Species (Part 1),” (http://www.cbhd.org/content/future-human-species).
[xxvi] As quoted by C. Christopher Hook in “The Techno Sapiens Are Coming,” Christianity Today (January 2004) (http://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2004/january/1.36.html).
[xxviii] Thomas and Nita Horn, Forbidden Gates, Defender Publishing, 2011, 252–257.