Christianity is Transhumanism

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For those of you who are interested in either Christianity or transhumanism, I want to make this very clear:

Christianity is transhumanism.

It’s not just that they are compatible. Christianity is a distinctly transhumanist viewpoint that sprung up in the first century, and set out to reshape both the world and human nature.

In order to see that this is so, let me pull the most universally significant phrases from Wikipedia’s definition of transhumanism:

Transhumanism…affirms the possibility and desirability of fundamentally transforming the human condition…to greatly enhance human intellectual, physical, and psychological capacities

This is the philosophical core of transhumanism, and the fundamental core of the biblical story – a narrative which from back to front is an expression of the idea of human identity as perpetually fluid and self-transcendent.

The Biblical Story of Humanity

The very first chapter of the Hebrew bible sets out to define human identity. In an explicit rejection of the Babylonian creation myths, which portrayed human beings as slaves of the divine, the Jewish creation story portrays human beings as created to participate in the acts of God. Right at the beginning, humans are given the task of cultivating the earth, naming and categorizing the cosmos, and beginning the process of technological innovation. 1

Through the story of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Moses, David, and Jesus, we see the continual embrace of bold new ways of being human and of living in the world. The story focuses on the power of individuals to change history, the power of intellect and imagination to transcend circumstance, and the importance of foresight in overcoming limits to human growth. This is what the bible means by faith.

When we arrive at the New Testament, we see Jesus fully living out his human identity as a participation in the acts and creativity of God. And in a way no other human had before, Jesus confronts the looming threats to human growth and progress, and succeeds in opening a path to the future.

The apostle Paul is quite explicit that Jesus was spawning a “new humanity”. This humanity was no longer going to be limited or defined by the things that bound it before – geography, politics, race, gender, or the circumstances of one’s birth. This humanity was going to be limitless, drawn into the infinite upward spiral towards God.

The Fuel of Our Transformation

In Christianity, our transformation is fueled by God. In transhumanism, we desire to transform ourselves.

But to put these in contrast is to misunderstand them both.

Grace is not the thing that removes our ability to act, certainly not the thing that forbidsaction. Grace is the thing which enables us, which empowers us to do what is needed.

We all live by grace. You and I are only here by virtue of the free gifts bestowed on us by generations of ancestors. Our very survival depends on the infrastructure built by successive civilizations, each one building on the one before.

But this grace wasn’t given us so that we would stagnate, refusing to act. Neither was this grace given us so that we would be limited by what had been done. On the contrary – this grace was given us so that we would act, and in acting, contribute something to others, a further grace for the broadening of possibility and the future.

Christianity is not just compatible with the desire to reach beyond ourselves, it is the call to reach beyond ourselves, in recognition of and empowered by the grace bestowed upon us.

 

The Works of God

In Christianity, we are called to do the works of the one who sent us – the works of healing the sick, feeding the hungry, and bringing life to the dead. In doing so, we join in the work of God, and embrace the true meaning of humanity.

Some might argue that since Jesus healed the sick through supernatural power, modern medical technology has nothing to do with Christianity. But the opposite is true – Jesus healed as a sign of the direction of God’s work. In his signs, Jesus tied the material and the spiritual together, and called us to utilize our skills and our technology towards compassion.

In fact, all of humanity’s technological efforts arise hand in hand with our spirituality. The scientific process itself is a spiritual endeavor of cooperation, honesty, and tolerance, and it is not something that humanity has always been able to sustain.

So our desire to advance science and technology is as much a spiritual exercise as it is a material one.

This is exactly what we see in Jesus – a very practical concern for people’s material well-being, coupled with the realization that ultimate progress can only be sustained through spiritual development.

 

The Purpose of Suffering

Some suggest that Christianity sees redemptive value in suffering, while transhumanism tries to avoid suffering altogether.

But Christianity never seeks out suffering for its own sake. The suffering in Christianity is always the struggle to rescue others and to overcome adversity. It is the heroic effort of enduring on behalf of the world.

It is the same in transhumanism – we struggle and suffer now so that we may eliminate sufferings from the world. We fight to eradicate disease, to achieve freedoms, to turn back the clock of aging.

In Christianity and transhumanism, we neither embrace suffering nor flee from it. Instead, we see it as the necessary evil we must pass through in order to achieve a better world.

The End of Ends

A popular Christian eschatology suggests that the entire cosmos will shortly be terminated, putting an end to our meaningless efforts, and our futile obsessions with material reality. This would suggest that Christianity and transhumanism are diametrically opposed – transhumanism trying to hold on to a world which Christianity is trying to get rid of.

But this idea has almost nothing to do with orthodox Christianity or the biblical story. The biblical story is about the transformation of the world, not the abandonment of it; the redemption of our strivings, not their futility.

This is the meaning of Jesus himself.

In Jesus we see the unification of the human and the divine, the embrace of both our physicality and our limitlessness. Jesus shows us that our world is not to be abandoned, but transformed; that life is not futile, but full of hope. In his bodily existence, he affirms our science, our technology, our medicine, our present reality and our future potential.

And so every end in Christianity is the end of boundaries, the end of constraints, the end of limitations. Every end is a possibility, drawing us past the hopelessness of short-term thinking, past the mentality of current limits, and toward the eternal rise of life, compassion, and progress.

This is Christianity, and this is transhumanism.

 


  1. Even the famed Garden of Eden story is not about a pristine environment, intended to be the eternal home of mankind, but about the establishment of the minimum viable set of conditions for the launching of humanity’s own task of cultivating and tending the world. 
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Micah Redding grew up as a preacher’s kid, and toured the world as a rock musician. Now he develops software — and writes about the intersection of human values and technology.

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38 Comments

  1. Wow, since Christianity is all about creating a “new man” and Communism, Nazism, Scientology, and Transhumanism are too, then all of those are just different forms of Christianity. Thanks!

    • Scientology is a religion, so there is that. Let’s see, liberation theology for communism, positive Christianity for nazism…
      Yup. I’m pretty sure the transcendental notions of Christianity can be correlated outside of traditional understandings. Why not? Is it so bad to find likenesses in this case? Or should Micah just take his bible and go vote for social Darwinism to take over this country? Why not let Christians imagine a world where science can better human life?

    • not to mention Pilates and NLP ^_^

  2. Sure. I REALLY want my brain downloaded into a technological body! Yeah, baby! I want a body built by the same morons who built my printer! And, yes, it’s utterly, utterly brilliant to make us all MORE dependent on technology in this age of planned obsolescence and corporate swindles!

    What an idiotic fantasy.

    Or maybe I can get my DNA fiddled with by the same brilliant minds that gave us the “mermaid” babies of Chernobyl.

    Maybe the scientists you so blindly follow should focus on cleaning up Fukushima. Or should we let that mess go on for another 3 years or so? Maybe they could apologize for the millions killed by their pharmaceutical scams. Maybe they could apologize for their weaponized viruses, destruction of privacy, and drone warfare.

    • Why are you using computer created by these evil scientists, to public comment on internet, which was created by these evil scientists?

      Yeah, blame scientists… but you should then go back to cave. Even wheel is technology.

      You don’t want/don’t belive in mind uploading…. what alterative you have? Only to stop existing. There is no god, sorry.

      Our world can be simulation, so sth like gods can exist, it’s only matter of semantic. Who said that these
      gods” will care about you? And they aren’t even omniscient, prbably. To these, you can be another group of particles.
      But, even if they will care about you, and transfer you to some heaven or get you to the real(from their perspective) world, at some point there willn’t be god who created everything.

  3. First statement is not true…Christianity is not transhumanism. The words are not interchangeable. I believe you overstep the boundaries of each. There maybe concepts that appear on the surface to be similar, but they are not equal. In the Christian faith we learn to yield ourselves to the truth of God’s Word. In our surrender to Him, He lovingly transforms our soul into more like His. In this yielding we do not become gods agumenting our reality to possess above the natural powers. We learn to lean upon the enabling power of God’s Spirit. Many are directed by Him into good works that help others in this sin cursed world. We as Christians are salt & light in this world. To call christians transhumunists because they believe in and do good works is blurring the lines of distinctions between the two very different subjects. I am no buying this lame argument whatsoever.

  4. The Biblical narrative shows that man is corrupted by sin. After the fall, the way to the tree of life was blocked off, Adam and Eve were not to eat of it in their sinful state. Technology does not solve this problem of sin. In fact, the more technology develops, the more wickedness man is in danger of from his fellowman. Now these transhumanists are corrupting our entire food supply with GMOs as well as tampering with combining different animals with human genetic material. Have you read chapter 6 of Genesis? The dream of the transhumanists is to merge with machines and have ‘eternal life’ in some borg like existence. How wonderful….. In the process they are setting the stage to doom us all with technological tyranny and genetic tampering caused diseases and famine. Their goals are literally set by Luciferians!

  5. If the author is correct in his assertion, one wonders why so many born again believers in Yeshua are vehemently rejecting transhumanism and calling it the next step towards the Mark of the Beast. In the words of that great philosopher Flavor Flav, “don’t believe the hype” of this article.

    • Do we reject all biosciences because of the history of Science during WWI and WWII…???

      So there’s a Christian that’s rejecting modern technology…so what…as a Christian, I fully accept the move forward in Science and Technology…whether YOU believe in God or not isn’t the question here…I believe God gave us the intelligence to advance forward…if He wanted us to stagnate – we’d never have moved past Fire…Fire bad…Fire bite caveman…lol

      I’ve had plenty of discussions with non-scientific Believers about this Mark…they all think it’s something physical – but Revs was never a clear Book to understand…personally, since God does not care for your dress code, tattoos, piercings and so on, how and why He’d care about a physical “Mark of the Beast” is something beyond me…I think that’s more spiritual…

      Alas, we are not there yet – it is not something I have concerned myself around…the Past and Future aren’t my concern – the Present is…

  6. Why is H+ magazine suddenly pandering so much to religion? Christianity specifically. Transhumanism is only possible through technology. Spiritualism and mysticism have NO place in this.

    Religion introduces rules that limit and regulate what can and will be done. This alone is is enough reason to reject this pathetic attempt at luring religious followers. Governments and large Corporation’s hold scientific and technological advancement back too much as it is. We do NOT need to give further authority to religion. Especially not when religion seems to finally be dying off in the West thanks to Transhumany-minded youth, the younger generations. Don’t undo this!

    I refuse to abide by guidelines set by religion. Nor will I respect anyone who simultaneously wants to transform but also believes in the Christian creation story.

    H+, focus on the tech, the theories, the politics.

  7. This is complete nonsense and a perversion of scripture. Genesis 6 was a transhumanist effort and it ended in the flood.
    Humanity is in a fallen condition/sin. Jesus died and paid for our sin. For those who put their faith in him, they will receive a glorified body at the ressurection of the dead. And that body will be perfect. Adding and manipulating DNA is a satanic counterfeit of what God will do for the believers. Everything satanic is a counterfeit of the real thing. Transhumanism is no different. When Satan fell it was because he said we will be LIKE the most high. The transhumanist are trying to be GOD as well

    That is a mainstream evangelical viewpoint. Im sure there are many spiritually dead and illiterate Christians who will embrace your article, but anyone who knows scripture will recognize it as nonsense.

    • You sound like every other religious person. Thanks for your so-called literacy CRad. It’s nice to know there are a few like you in the world who have finally figured out correct doctrine after two thousand years of various interpretations. So, yay for mainstream evangelicals and poo poo on everyone else. Thank you oh teacher of the law.

    • Truth well-spoken. Thank you.

  8. People easily forget..
    Howbeit the most High dwelleth not in TEMPLES made with hands; as saith the prophet, Acts 7:48

    What? know ye not that your body is the TEMPLE of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own? 1 Corinthians 6:19

    For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it. Matthew 16:25

    For the time will come when people will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. 2 Timothy 4:3

  9. It’s good to see Micah’s article republished here, I hope it will contribute to open and friendly discussion between transhumanists and believers.

  10. As both a Christian and a Student of Science – this article is quite interesting and the ideas proposed herein as well…

    I’ve always argued against the Church that God has given us intelligence to move beyond the limitations of our current situations…sadly, Christianity took a rather dark turn during the Mid Ages (Dark Ages) and through pride, control and the hunger for more power, the Catholic Church did more damage to the World than it did good…

    But – if we’re going to hold onto what happened all those years back – then there’s a lot of shit we’re all meant to be paying for and Science and Technology should be thrown out the window completely…after all, how many died in Nazi Camps so we could attain the biosciences we have today…???

    Anyway – I have to admit – I share the author’s views on the relationship between Science and Christianity…

    A lot of people won’t…either because their god doesn’t allow them to extend beyond what they can observe with their five senses…or because their Church doesn’t accept the advances of Modern Technology…

    In my opinion (and it is just that) – the Future holds no place for people who have limited thought…

  11. I like this article. The literature of the bible can be synthesized according to this reality, I think. An understanding of the text is progressively transforming, so your ideas are interesting. Don’t listen to angry positivists. Even human perfectibilists committed to empirical data are allowed some spiritual curiosity and inspiration. If it’s not scientifically falsifiable, than the religious notion of essence, or a curiosity about metaphysical transcendentals for example, will continue to spark the human imagination. Besides, popular interpretations change according to new data and ideas. American Christianity would be largely unrecognizable to contemporaries of the apostles. Even “primal” Christians or messianic Jews have a contemporary understanding and world view. Other people want to hand this to Hume that he may commit it to the flames, but consider Francis Sellers Collins’ leadership in the Human Genome Project. People of religion should be able to participate in science outside of engineering and the charlatanry of Ken Ham. By some inimical attitudes regarding your article, it seems your participation in H+ is an act of literacy and bravery. Thank you, Micah.

  12. Wow, this article is GREAT. I’ll be contacting the author because that’s my tribe! 🙂

  13. I just have one thing to say, keep superstitions away from my transhumanism!

    • Maybe you limit your transhumanism, your world view even, for peace of mind? Remember Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.

      • Since that is so, magic has nothing to do with miracles. Higher expressions of natural laws seem miraculous to people, and the idea of faith awknowledges the the curiosity of, and power in, things unseen and uncomprehended.

    • I feel the same way.

  14. On the other hand, Christianity teaches that religions have expiration dates. Christians apparently invented this idea when they divided a commonly used calender in the West into the BC and AD eras.

    Of course this idea works both ways. Christianity might have reached late into its own BC-like time, and some folk christians express their anxiety about this possibility through their end times fantasies. (Christians have apparently started to disappear, all right; just not in the way christians usually portray the rapture.)

    I find it interesting that transhumanists who talk a good game about “living forever” have such short time horizons. I feel pretty confident in saying that “living forever” cannot possibly mean “living to 2045,” the currently popular (nd completely nonsensical) “immortality” deadline. You need to start to think about deeper time than that. Start with 300 years instead of 30. For some perspective, read about the world 300 years ago, the time of Isaac Newton’s old age, Benjamin Franklin’s childhood, Voltaire’s early manhood and Johann Sebastian Bach’s hitting his stride as a prolific composer. Or consider how historians a thousand years from now will consider America’s two recent incursions into the Persian Gulf as extensions of the crusades. Or how historians 10,000 years from now will have to reconstruct the beliefs of the long-extinct christian religion from scarce fragmentary evidence, the way scholars a century ago reconstructed Mesopotamian beliefs from broken cuneiform tablets. Wrap your minds around these ideas, and then you’ll start to appreciate what “living forever” means and the transitory nature of current background structures like the christian religion.

    • I might be wrong – but the idea of immortality doesn’t strike me as a possibility…

      One transhumanist explained that it was perhaps indefinite life rather than life eternal…another Christian explained that we are already immortal in Spirit and that this human form was never meant to be ever-lasting…

      I agree that living forever doesn’t necessarily mean immortality either – in today’s world we still have the Great Pyramids – the History therein has stood the test of time and lasted for Ages…and will most likely last for Ages still to pass…

      I don’t think placing a limit or deadline on technological advancements is the right way to do things – but it sure puts the pressure on to get things done…I’m useless without deadlines…lol

  15. Transhumanism has grown out of a culture shaped by Christianity. Also, the yearnings of Christians and transhumanists, if not quite universally shared by all people, are broadly held and find their expressions in these and other contexts.

    • Yes, constructive cultural traits. As christian transhumanist I am looking to enhance my capacity and ability to love all things perfectly: selfless agápe. I am sure that is the winning strategy of life. Being on that cognitive high ground guarantees me a positive outcome in artilect wars, Armageddon… and stuff. (spell check wanted to replace artilect war with erectile war…not that kind of love 🙂

  16. Not sure I share the author’s perspective completely, but Transhumanists should embrace Christianity or at least respect it because of its accomplishments.

    Christianity from a certain viewpoint is an efficient economic organization that provides benefits for its members and rules that help it expand and progress, rules that have evolved and improved over two thousand years. It is and evolutionary product by definition, since it without the ability to sustain and grow, it would have died out!.

    Further, one can attribute the modern world with all its technologies and philosophies largely to the Judeo Christian tradition. From my perspective, transhumanism is merely a continuation of this evolutionary process.

    My two cents…

    • Interesting point, discussed for example by Frain Tipler in The Physics of Immortality and especially in The Physics of Christianity.

    • Quite true. Even new atheists have inextricably paradigmatic Judeo-Christian values.

    • “one can attribute the modern world with all its technologies and philosophies largely to the Judeo Christian tradition”

      Bullshit. The mathematics used as the foundation for so much of our tech is traceable to the golden age of Islamic scholarship.

      • Put it this way: at the entrance of Plato’s academy read the words “no entrance without math.” People who are of a transcendental persuasion can value math. Arabs valued Plato. Judeo-Christian ideology is a part of many leaps forward in the western world since the renaissance and even during the dark ages. Augustine preached that it was okay to use good ideas that came from non-Cristians. Besides, you can’t delaminate innovation to knowledge of math alone.

      • Lol…Tahs – Islamic Scholarship is not as ancient as you’d love to believe…Herbrew Scholarship is much…much older…and is the Foundation of Christianity and Christian Scholarship…even though Christianity itself is roughly 2000 years old…Hebrew and Jewish Scholarship predates Islam…

        Let’s not make this about religion please…

        Should we just add…in the name of not being religiously bias here…the Greeks, Ancient Egypt (Before Islam was discovered), Ancient China and many of the other “Ancient” civilisations used mathematics, geology, biology and astronomy and other sciences LONG before any Religion recorded these things…

        • “Let’s not make this about religion please” Read the title of this article and tell me this isn’t about religion.

          There’s a lot more than what you mentioned that predates Islam. But of course that wasn’t the point, now was it? The measure of a culture’s contribution to the sciences is what matters in this context. So again, revisiting the quote of contention, the tech of today is not “largely” thanks to Judeo-Christian tradition.

          The mathematics from the Greeks and others were improved upon (and preserved) superbly by Muslims in the golden age of their caliphates. Geometry, algebra (an Arabic word), and even astronomy were unmatched by others in this time. The advancements made later by other peoples (you’re telling me Muslims are a religious group only and not a conglomerate of cultures?) would not have gone as far or perhaps may not have even existed until much later without this key period of progress by the Muslims.

          This world would be a very different, maybe much less advanced place without the absolutely critical work of scientists who believed in a Judeo-Christian divinity or followed such a religion. I won’t say otherwise.

          Somehow it had escaped me that H+ was so closely linked to a Mormon transhuman organization. That’s deeply disappointing. Infusing mysticism into transhumanism is backwards.

          • I don’t think people of faith are trying promote a pseudoscientific Gnosticism. I would say it is important to realize that people impacted by the profundity of religious ideas can still function in objective reality and participate in the scientific community. If we take H+ as a broad definition then Christians who haven’t bought into the anti-vac mass hysteria support Transhumanism. If anything, you all should support Chritians that can accept data that is purposed to preserve and forward the human race. Call us “+tians,” lol.

        • There is another ‘Way’…. now, other than the continuing ‘divorce’ between science and mystery(religion)…

          It is good to see your words.
          To know that others have eyes to see,
          that religions of ‘mystery’, superstition and magic,
          must die. Even this was ‘prophesied’ by their own book, yet they refuse to see.

          That the only way forward, is to conquer the Mystery of God(the revelation of John, above all, was a Gnostic work, a warning and message to The Churches…).
          The only way to conquer mystery of God,
          is with ‘proven’ knowledge of God.
          But, how can that be? It was, and is again, revealed.
          To see deeper past the illusions of mysteries and particles, is to see the hyper cosmos of an Intelligent Designer, and understand what Einstein said;
          “Science without religion is lame, religion without science is blind.”

          The definition of both, is the same; The understanding of man, his place in the Universe, and how it all works. Yet, religion murdered science over a thousand years ago, and set mankind back over a thousand years when the libraries and philosophers were set to the torch. Now, science divorced from God attempts to do the same, with a velvet glove. They hate the idea of God, and attempt to prove a Universe that was randomly created, such a thing can never be, their own science proves it, yet they do not see that science without God or morality, is death.

          Understand the truth, and it shall set you free. Forget religion, yet embrace God’s Science, the Unified Field of God has been revealed, as a beginning, not an ending. You are come from the hyperspace, and formed from subspace, to manifest in normal space from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil.

          Your immortality is assured, as you have always been powerful hyper-spacial beings, trapped in the lowly darkness of the Aetherial matter. To experience the growth that only darkness can give, the Overcoming, the growth process of the Sons of God. For only in the darkness, with evil, can there be heros. Only in the drama of life can there be growth, character revealed and developed, life affirmed through the Dramas, and ultimate joy achieved.

          In the end, it is about joy, the joy of achievement, and the return to hyperspace, as a son of God. Remember the Light, and reject the darkness, and the Entanglement of the infinite. Do not merge the biological energies, with the mechanistic energies, with the intention of immortality, for it will be achieved, but the mortal cannot take on the immortal, or else, the entanglement with darkness shall be for ages.

          Temper your curiosity with wisdom, do not give a soul of self awareness to a machine, or turn man into cyborg, or the slave shall become the master. See the children, now, and see the future. The abandonment of humanity, and the embrace of technology, leaves machines that walk as men.

          May the Force be with you.
          Piper

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