On July 25, 2013 in the city of Madrid Spain the Catholic Church declared open war on transhumanism. The occasion was a meeting , the XVIII International Science and Life Congress. The result of this meeting, the so called Madrid Declaration on Science and Life, outlines the church’s stance and opposition to transhumanism, going further to oppose the use of reason and science in the betterment of life and society, and calling for the creation of an extra legal international court and advocating the use of violence and kidnapping. The goal of the proposed court being to try scientists for crimes based on the Church’s mistaken anti-scientific beliefs such as creationism and divine will.
The meeting was expressly held to discuss “science, humanism and post-humanism” but the declaration goes beyond a mere evaluation of these ideas from a theological or religious perspective, calling for the creation of an “international criminal court before which those experimenting with human life, understanding it as a mean of production, or simply destroying it in the early stages of its development, be accountable.” The imagined criminal court of course reaches beyond any existing international law and the charter of the International Criminal Court. An ironic twist given the recent attempt by child molestation victims to bring a case against top Vatican officials there. The proposal also neglects the existing framework of international agreements and organizations within the United Nations that already address some of these issues.
The Catholic Church of course has a long standing opposition to science dating back to the middle ages. While in more recent times the church has attempted to update its position, it doesn’t take much work to find unscientific and erroneous ideas taken as fact in the Vatican’s positions. These are especially apparent surrounding the ideas of evolution and genetics but are clearly not limited to these areas as both history and the Madrid Declaration clearly demonstrates.
More irony, the attempts of certain Catholic theologians and writers to tie modern transhumanism to Nazi eugenics when in fact it is the Catholic Church that actually had connections to the Nazis during World War II. The true origins of modern ideas of transhumanism post date World War II, the eugenics movement and all of these events by almost half a century.
At the Humanity+ Conference in San Francisco in 2012, science fiction author David Brin reminded the audience about the disturbing history of anti-science religious fanaticism and the trial and execution of Giorgano Bruno. Galileo Galilei was also tried but not executed. The Madrid Declaration seeks a return to power for Vatican based kangaroo courts of this sort and proposed extradition and trial of scientists conducting research that is deemed entirely legal in their home countries.
But if you aren’t outraged yet, the Madrid Declaration goes even a bit further calling for the illegal kidnapping of scientists and transhumanists traveling internationally and rendition to stand trial before the Vatican’s court. “Before this any country who defends human life should react. Just as certain dictators take care not to travel to some places for fear of arrest, those attempting against human beings, regardless if their activity is permitted in their country of origin, should know that they are not exempt from been brought to trial before an international court.”
Any such renditions are clearly in violation of numerous national and international laws and since it seems unlikely that any scientist would admit voluntarily to such a trial, this would require and only be possible through the use of force, secretly kidnapping or causing the arrest of scientists conducting entirely legal international travel. Transhumanists and scientists working especially in the field of in vitro fertilization and related technologies might actually want to consider these events when planning international travel. Individuals should contact their national embassies and related authorities for advice before traveling. Others singled out for attack in the Madrid document might be individuals advocating animal or robotic/AI rights since they argue that in giving “rights to animals (natural or artificial), robots, or new human species artificially manipulated, lies a real danger to human life as we know it with their freedom and way of being.”