The Catholic Church Has Declared War on Transhumanism

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 BrunoGalileo 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.”



The Madrid Declaration on Science and Life

The Surprising Spread and Cultural Impact of Transhumansim

Proceedings of the FEAMC-AMCI Congress: Bioethics and Christian Europe, Rome, 2012

The Catholic Church and Science

41 Responses

  1. Rebecca says:

    I would like to point out another error by this author. He or she erroneously states that transhumanism post dates eugenics by half a century. Actually the term transhumanism was coined by Julian Huxley in a 1957 essay titled “Transhumanism.” (Link below) Huxley was President of the British Eugenics Society from 1959-1962. He wrote about transhumanism:

    ” The human species can, if it wishes, transcend itself —not just sporadically, an individual here in one way, an individual there in another way, but in its entirety, as humanity. We need a name for this new belief. Perhaps transhumanism will serve: man remaining man, but trans­cending himself, by realizing new possibilities of and for his human nature.

    “I believe in transhumanism”: once there are enough people who can truly say that, the human species will be on the threshold of a new kind of existence, as different from ours as ours is from that of Pekin man. It will at last be consciously fulfilling its real destiny. ”

    So transhumanism actually has its roots in eugenics.

    • Peter says:

      Not exactly…the term is actually a bit older, dating back to Dante Alighieri’s divine comedy.

      The author correctly states that the modern transhumanist movement is not directly connected to Huxley or the Eugenics movement, but originated elsewhere.

      “Max More, in his essay takes the time to run us through the history of transhumanism, from early definitions such as Dante Alighieri’s divine comedy of 1312 to Julian Huxley’s “New bottles for New wine” a 1957 book in which he included an entire chapter called “Transhumanism.”

      More however emphasizes that the history of the philosophy that transhumanism became is varied and depends largely on different sources. There are precursors and proto-transhumanists between the thirteenth and eighteenth centuries who searched the Elixir of life and philosopher’s stone. One such person was Pico della Mirandola whose 1486 essay “Oration on the dignity of man” has lately made him a subject of much controversy owing to his insistence that God is the craftsman. Some transhumanists today take offence at his refusal to give humans some credit especially as regards their ability to recreate themselves even as his essay suggests that God gave man the freedom to choose his form.

      Darwin’s “Origin of species” 1859 was the one that ultimately released the possibility that humans could just be getting started in their evolutionary path and led to scientists such as Friedrich Nietzsche to suggest that “humans can be overcome” and used such boldness that transhumanists were inspired to follow through on his challenge to “overcome” humans.

      Later precursors such as Nikolai Fedorovich Fedorov (1829– 1903), a Christian philosopher advocated for scientific methods to achieve immortality and even raise those who died back to life in new, immortal forms since evolution came with increased intelligence. Jean Finot, who came shortly after Fedorov went as far as to suggest the use of science to engineer life.

      Mr More goes on to more modern, broader-thinking influences and notable introductions such as cryonics and the prospect of immortality, the role of the arts and Natasha Vita-More’s 1982 Transhuman Manifesto, the Extropy Institute, the 1998 Transhuman Declaration, and the on-line Vital Summit in 2004 birthing the Proactionary Principle.”


  2. Michael Canoy says:

    Some of the Fundamentalist Christian groups carry their attacks further; linking Trans – humanism to the Apocalypse, the Anti-Christ, and the Beast in Revelation. These are the guys with the guns.

  3. ObviousStrawManIsObv says:

    Before you go about slinging charges of being anti-logic and reason, you might want to edit your article for logical fallacies. I counted at least four. Just sayin.

  4. VovixLDR says:

    Catholic church has the same chance to win the “war” against h+ as to win the war against condoms. it just won’t work.

  5. Mike Lorrey says:

    If its not the pope saying it, its not a declaration of war by the church, its just a declaration by some catholic luddites.

  6. Sally Morem says:

    International courts of any kind, including the International Criminal Court, are by definition moot. Since there is no such thing as an international legislative body representing the people of the world, passing bills, creating law codes, there can be no such thing as an international court ruling on any cases brought before it.

    So, I wouldn’t worry much over any Madrid declaration or anything like it.

  7. Martin says:

    This is merely anti-Catholicism. Most of the points and text just attack the church’s history (and much wrong has been done in history secular and otherwise, no historical institution is free of accusations). Much is simply polemic nonsense of a rabid anti-theist. The church has had its indefensible moments, and this is a known fact, often acknowledged by the church (as in the case of Galileo and Bruno.)

    As to the only substantial issue here. Is the church calling for international regulation of trans-humanism research and the creation of an ethical code that has legal teeth, a good idea? Of course it is. Much harm can be done by reckless social impacting science that proceeds without a conscience or concern for its ethical impacts.

    One of the greatest trans-humanists with a conscience is the Jesuit Priest/Archaeologist Pierre Teilhard de Chardin. An individual who received some criticism by the church in the beginning but has been subsequently recognized and acknowledged at the highest level in the church. May of his ideas are now considered orthodox.

    Keep in mind even Popes have pacemakers to enable life to be lived to the fullest extent and significance.

    This article is wrong in its conclusion and irrational and prejudiced in its argument. Pathetic.


    • Peter says:

      Yes. I linked to Chardin, Max More’s essay, and D. Brin’s talk above.

      The fact remains that this group did meet in Madrid to discuss transhumanism from the church’s perspective and they did issue a declaration calling for the arrest of scientists and others conducting legal research and international travel.

      Before publishing, I checked to determine this was true. It is. Much of the rest remains the author’s opinion and as this article is labeled “opinion” I allowed it with some edits.

      Now, IMO, this declaration goes beyond any valid sort of “international regulation”, ignores existing international law and enforcement of crimes, and is clearly and obviously a proposal for arresting innocent people at least in certain countries.

      FIAMC could simply remove this proposal for illegal arrest of scientists and medical practitioners from the declaration and the rest of it wouldn’t be objectionable.

  8. Nicholas says:

    motives and details aside, I actually like the idea of an international court for morally responsible human augmentation. We dont want dictators experimenting or forcibly augmenting individuals.

  9. I posted on a catholic news site… As a Christian Transhumanist I say: With this attitude you risk stunting the growth of the tree of life and the diversity of the Kingdom of God. Don’t demonize the whole transhumanist movement, but guide the movement by infusing it with gospel. There is a lot of power in the synergy. I agree transhumanism is dangerous in ignorant hands; “because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leads unto life, and few will find it”. Technological progress is accelerating. Maybe the time is right: “To him that overcomes will I give to eat of the tree of life, which is in the midst of the paradise of God. Take of the tree of life, and eat, and live forever.” What is an overcomer? The first thing God said to us was: “Overcome the world”. Let’s hope that these overcomers, transhumanists infused with the holy spirit… these transcendent beings, will look back at your article, the official catholic attitude, and forgive its ignorance 🙂

    • You have an interesting take on the words of the Bible, James.

      I like this:
      “To him that overcomes will I give to eat of the tree of life, which is in the midst of the paradise of God. Take of the tree of life, and eat, and live forever.” What is an overcomer? The first thing God said to us was: “Overcome the world”. Let’s hope that these overcomers, transhumanists infused with the holy spirit… these transcendent beings,

      You are seeing that tree as being…
      Ok, so the tree is the genetic tree, of DNA, as you are seeing it?

      How are you going to get the spirit infused into the mechanical beings? That is one of the posts H+ had on here a bit back in earlier posts. From the Athiests view point, or some of them, the idea of spirit is something totally absent from the body; the idea to him of giving the AI that ability or knowledge of the spiritual aspect of man was unthinkable.

      By saying that they, we, will have an infusion of the spirit, how would you wire the AI to give them this?

    • I liked this. I was not expecting to and I do not care to watch many video’s but you guys are right; he is good. and interesting. Just got a couple of his books from Amazon, and then realized that I have one of his books, The Transparent Society. it was one that somebody on one of the FB posts suggested) from all of my cookies about living in a transparent society because it was driving me absolutely bats. I did not read the whole thing, and pretty much agreed when he said that the way to keep people from being interested in us was to be totally boring. I happened to agree and have been practicing that as often as possible. Except to write a book one can be almost anything but boring and get away with it.

      II was surprised to see that he was the author of that book. There is so very much here, and the Christian side of it, well, what you both have said about, in my words, about ‘meeting the Christian where they are and simply dialogue, or debate. This is something that many of the Christians have forgotten how to do, is to debate; I think that they have forgotten that this is what the Elders and the Authors of their Book(s) did was to debate. The men would sit in the ‘Gates’ and conduct their business and discuss and debate.

      This was also something that one of their most beloved Authors did in the New Testament; Paul debated in the Temple and pretty much everyplace that he went. I think that Christians, somehow believe that once Jesus died and left this Earth, once the words of all of the Characters of the Bible were sealed and delivered that ended the time of debate. And, debate would have included logic as well, given the importance of men who debated in the Temples.

      I say all of that to say that I think you are right.

  10. Peter says:

    Here was the presentation given by science fiction author David Brin at Humanity+ 2012 which the author references. The presentation was given remotely and the resulting audio recording is not great.

  11. Brad Arnold says:

    Transhumanism will succeed on a commercial level, with technological products being lucrative as consumer goods. If the Catholic church wants to engage in a physical war against such powerful corporations, it will lose badly. All there idle declarations really show now is their ignorance, backwardness, ossification, and impotence. We of the Transhumanist community will watch closely and overreact to any physical assaults sponsored or conducted by the Vatican or their proxies. Until then, we will continue to mind our own business in the pursuit of our first and foremost goal: immortality. High church officials will have the choice (like any other consumer) of either taking advantage of such consumer products, or dying a “normal” death by senescence.

  12. Michael Anissimov says:

    This is just alarmism.

  13. isoth says:

    what a virulent and unfounded attack! i hope it is motivated more by ignorance than by malevolence (that would mean hypocrisy, something worse than evil)

    and let us not forget that almost all universities, well into the times after reformation, were (and some still are) founded by the Roman Catholic Church

    you are welcome.

  14. Clyde says:

    I’m sorry. After reading the actual declaration, it looks like this essay borders on sensationalism.

    (IMO) they are trying to ward of Elysium Syndrome, not kidnap scientists and put them on trial… Etc

    Creationism v/s Sensationslism?

  15. Hans Tjelle says:

    “the Church’s mistaken anti-scientific beliefs such as creationism and divine will”

    What exactly is “divine will” and how is it anti-scientific? And the Roman Catholic Church doesn’t support creationism. Its official stance is a theistic evolution.

    “anti-science religious fanaticism and the trial and execution of Giorgano Bruno. Galileo Galilei was also tried but not executed”

    Bruno was a mystic. He was indeed executed, but for heresy. Not very flattering, but hardly anti-science.
    Galileo was indeed tried for heresy because he believed in the Copernican model of the universe. The affair also had a whole lot to do with politics and marking of territory (e.g. who has the right to interpret scripture?), and Galileo had his supporters within the Church, but it’s no getting away from the fact that he was tried, and the Copernican model was forbidden to be taught as anything else than a hypothesis.

    However, that is the probably the sole example of the Catholic Church banning or forbidding anything we might recognize today as “natural science”. As an anecdote, it is gripping, but if you look on history as a whole, you will find a great many “scientists” in Europe have been clergy or church-educated, the Church has been probably the largest single and longest-term patron of science in history, and it has usually stayed well clear of meddling in scientific affairs.

    Using anectodes to prove points is a fairly bad way of using history, in my opinion.

  16. TSCTH says:

    I’m sorry, but i don’t see a declaration of war in that article. What i see is a failed organization desperately trying to claw at the moral high-ground it lost while molesting uncountable children.

    But really, what they’re trying to do is show how much they care about protecting life by drumming on their chest and grunting “Jesus”. And that’s more sad than it is disturbing.

    But in any case, I’ll still make sure to let friends and family know when and where i go internationally. I’m not scared of their “Congratsturbating”, but i might as well be sure.

    • Starrdusk~ Debi K says:

      Ok, so forget about Who the organization is here. In fact, to be fair one would also have to forget about the article above that brings this issue to our attention because as you say, “I see no war declared”…

      not here…
      “In science, as in politics or the exercise of any profession, must be provided the assurance and protection necessary so that their function is not usurped by economic interests or manipulative designs that often have as a hallmark disregard for defenseless”

      What I do see is that this is a necessary and Responsible concern that should Always be given consideration in the light of a conscious and cognizant peoples who has the ability to affect the lives of all people in regards to the evolution of mankind. There is, at least in this statement, no threat to Transhumanism itself, but concern only about those who would choose to manipulate the advancement of this technology to use it against the mind and will of the general population in the movement of the singularity and computer designated One Mind…

      Nor here…
      “In this sense we advocate to focus on the most disadvantaged with the maximum inclusion criteria possible, going away from valuations based on wealth to measure quality of life, excellence, or the development of human communities”

      Other than, again, a concern for the continued development of the general population, this compared to the non- inclusive approach that Almost any progress of Transhumanism will bring.

      Not even here…
      “The desirability of establishing 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. It is necessary to end the impunity with which certain scientific, medical and health personnel, operates destroying and manipulating human beings under permissive laws or legal loopholes”

      Again, I will say what I said in the beginning;
      this is a necessary and Responsible concern that should Always be giving consideration in light of a conscious and cognizant peoples that has the ability to affect the lives of all people in regards to the evolution of mankind….
      It is almost inevitable as well as historically proven that any kind of research and testing of that research is going to include experiments that may and most likely will prove to be harmful to the test subjects at some point along the way. It is also very doubtful that any threat of court or trial or imprisonment is going to do more than to curtail the harm that might be incurred during the process of reaching the goals being brought forth with continued advancement of Transhumanism…with a capital T, which, if you drink too much of you are going to have to….well, you know the rhyme…
      Basically, and, can I use a purely biological term here for the sake of shortening this post?
      The DeclarTion is merely a point at which to start, to keep as many people as possible from being shit on by those who, through whatever means, have acquired the funds that are needed to see the Transhumanism agenda to its end.

      How is that a declaration of War, no matter who says it?

      Added; there is a possibility of threat in this part of the quote above
      “It is necessary to end the impunity with which certain scientific, medical and health personnel, operates destroying and manipulating human….”

      Ending the impunity. This however is in no way a Catholic nor Religious request or concept. Nor is this belief of ending impunity a singular belief attributed solely to the church. People of all walks and ranks and beliefs have wanted to see the impunity of those dictators or Foreign Diplomats ended. People of all ranks also ranks and beliefs also do not care for the idea of scientific researchers having full impunity. This is an age old debate. Not given only to nor for the Church by any name.

  17. Joe R says:

    Catholic bashing never gets old. Catholicism is opposed to eugenics. For goodness sake get your facts right before going on a rant. I know their eccentricities make them an easy target but really – they’re against science? The Catholic Church have produced some of the best physicists and biologists of all time.

  18. I just published a novel on Transhumanism (with a capital “T” and that rhymes with “P” and that… or never mind) last month entitled “Ashes of Souls.” Does this mean I should have to watch my ass? I did add how I imagined synthetic lifeforms would be ostracized and judged for being thought of as soulless (Prophetic? I ain’t seein’ it! lol.) Thanks for the head’s up though. Does this mean I get to see the pope-mobile or get dragged behind it? 😉

    • Starrdusk~ Debi K says:

      I would suggest simply that you get yourself implanted with good tracking devices (discussed in link below) so that even if you are kidnapped you can be found. Seriously though, one never knows what part of your self you may have to keep a watch on in future but I think they will be more interested in your brain then your hind quarters
      . As for not seeing something that has been declared as a future possibility remember this; Wireless as we know it today was foretold and foreshadowed by the works of Tesla and his contemporaries and peers 1000 years before we actually began to see it in our daily lives. I have seen things that most people today would declare as insanity, just as Tesla was often thought insane by a few. What I have seen and experienced Is also a foreshadowing of future events.

      However, all of that aside, I cannot help but wonder if a part of the Catholic Churches opposition has to do with their actual involvement and experimentations in eugenics post war II. Their opposition may be disguised as concern for man trying to play God when what they are really concerned about is somebody else taking the reigns

      • christopher neitzert says:

        I think that this has more to do with keeping the flock of christian sheep-soldiers fearful, shameful and feeling guilty about technology. To create technophobes so that nobody threatens their monopoly on the god concept with its immortality, extreme intelligence and other technologies that are sufficiently indistinguishable from witchcraft…

        Christians, Please understand don’t want to kill your god with science, but we do want to clone it and use the scientific evidence we learn in that attempt to further the plot and plight of humanity.

    • Stephen says:

      Yeah, watch your back, they might catch you in 500 years. And your book is only on Kindle, add another 150yrs. Haha

      If you’re interested I started a Community on google + called Science Fiction & Fantasy Review Exchange to help aspiring authors of the genres to share inspiration and get reviews.

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