In the podcast, “The Future and You”, Stephen Euin Cobb has mentioned a couple times that much of his family are dedicated Christians. Stephen, although I don’t know what his personal theological belief is, made these comments alluding to how Christians are fearful of transhumanism.
If you don’t know what ‘transhumanism’ or ‘transhuman’ is, click here (I didn’t know the term until recently although I’ve found the whole thing fascinating for sometime).
Now I’m going to make a leap here, but I don’t think it’s a big one. If one is afraid of something; there is usually one of two reactions to it: Run from it and avoid at all costs, or attack it, pummel and destroy it.
I’m hoping for all you transhumanist’s out there reading this that your experience has not been hostile. If it has, on behalf of all who profess to follow Jesus, I would like to ask your forgiveness.
Michael Anissimov, a futurist, made a wise comment when he was interviewed by Cobb. I’ll paraphrase by saying that he believes that not all Christians are against transhumanism (I’m not), of which I’m glad to hear that because that opens the door for future dialogue.
So, without going into much detail (you can find more information on the links within and at the end of this post if you want to read further. If anyone has other good links to share, I’d be happy to add them or you can add them in the comments) can transhumanism and Christianity be compatible?
I think it can – at least to the extent that both sides don’t have to run away or attack each other.
First let’s look at the obvious:
Both groups want a better planet to live on. Both groups want immortality. Both groups want to live life (virtual or not) to the fullest. I also think that both groups are looking for a spiritual experience. I would even argue (loosely) that an atheist transhuman – because s/he is looking to be a part of something bigger and more amazing than her/himself – is longing for a spiritual experience even though they may not use the same language.
All that aside, to me, comparing the two are a bit like comparing apples and carburetors. Why can’t a transhuman be a Christian or a Christian be a transhuman?
Am I wrong in assuming that there is no rule in “World of Warcraft” or “Second Life” that says you have to renounce religious beliefs before joining? I’ve heard of virtual churches that take place in Second Life.
The question then rather is (unless I’m wrong on the first one) is there a rule that in order to become a Christian you need to renounce all transhumanism? Obviously these is not the case for all Christians.
I know that transhumanism has generated quite a bit of debate about reality and truth and I say we need to welcome that. I think Christians need to be a part of this conversation. Not to denounce, demean or throw virtual Bibles, but to dream, explore, and engage; to build relationships in the virtual and not so virtual worlds in which we live.
It is in my opinion that Christians who are afraid of transhumanism also have a theology that the world is going to hell so we need to hold up and wait till Jesus comes back. But let us remember that even Paul expected Jesus to return in his lifetime and here we are 2,000 years later. So Jesus could come back before I finish this sentence… nope, didn’t happen, or it could be another 2,000 years or more.
Christians who wish to love and make the world a better place, and understand that God has called us to care for the poor, the widow, and the virtual and very real earth, should embrace transhumanism and more importantly embrace those who call themselves as such.
I could say more on this topic and probably will in the future (no pun intended), but as I’m exploring this and the science of futurists, I’ll stop before I say something really stupid – if I haven’t done so already. 😉
Some other links:
And the links in the post and these provide more links so venture virtually and enjoy.