By Cris D. Putnam
This is a response to part 1 of Guillermo Santamaria’s article at H+, “Why Christianity & Transhumanism Are Not Enemies.” While I want to make every effort to be charitable and represent his arguments accurately, Santamaria doesn’t seem to understand Christianity. I contend the philosophy of transhumanism is antithetical to Christianity in a fundamental way and I will examine his counterarguments. First, he defines Transhumanism in this way:
First we must state the main tenet of transhumanism. Transhumanism’s main idea is that the physical limitations of the human body can and should be overcome. The first goal is supersede the limitations of our biology, with the eventual goal of merging our bodies with machines, most likely the computers, rendering us cyborgs. The ultimate goal of this movement might be the installation of consciousness inside an otherwise artificial machine.
While Christianity and TH may have similar goals, they are antithetical. Christians also believe that the physical limitations of our bodies will be overcome but I will show that far from being a compatible vision, transhumanism is an alternative vision. One elevates man, the other elevates Christ. Santamaria seeks to mitigate this hopeless inversion. His first argument is:
Just because some members of the transhumanist community are atheists is not enough of a reason for those who believe in a personal God to reject their research and results. No technology should be judged primarily on the metaphysical beliefs of those who developed it.
I have no problem with this. I would drive a car designed by an atheist. So what? This is non controversial. He misses the point in that our argument is not that transhumanism is incompatible because atheists are involved, rather that its philosophy is atheistic. What exactly is God’s role in transhumanism? It offers a competing vision, it is an alternative to Christian hope. Do you trust in God’s promise for eternal life or would you rather upload your consciousness to a machine? They are alternative eschatologies, the law of the excluded middle applies. But of course, he does not see it that way and lays down a challenge:
The critical question is, is there anything in the goals of the transhumanist community that inherently goes against Christianity? We answer no and we will demonstrate why.
Of course he has already missed the forest for the trees, the fact that we have similar goals is exactly the problem! It is not the goals of the TH community but the means of achieving them. They want to achieve immortality by their own effort instead of trusting God. This is the opposite of faith. Because he fails to recognize this, all of his subsequent arguments are all self defeating. He cites the account in John 11 of Jesus raising Lazarus from the dead as support. He argues that Jesus chose life extension as his means to authenticate his Messianic status. Jesus was demonstrating his authority over death, so that one might believe in Him (Jn 20:30-31). But he was not advocating life extension on its own merits. To the contrary, the dominant overarching theme of Christian life is dying to self. John the Baptist understood this, speaking of Christ, “He must increase, but I must decrease”(Jn 3:30). We die to self and selfish ambitious so that Christ may increase. While this is a supernatural work of the Holy Spirit, the Christian does play a part. In Romans, Paul extols both practice of virtues and avoidance of evils (Rom. 12:9, 16–17). Believers put to death the works of the body (Rom. 8:13) and present their bodies a living sacrifice:
I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.(Ro 12:1-2)
Transhumanism is about human augmentation and glorification. It is fleshly and worldly, a work of the body (Rom 8:13). Christianity is about humility and sacrifice. It is of the Spirit. It calls one to die to oneself and one’s desires so that Christ may increase. Unfortunately, Santamaria has missed Jesus’ primary message for the Christian:
Then Jesus told his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.”(Mt 16:24–25)
“Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit. Whoever loves his life loses it, and whoever hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life.”(Jn 12:24–25)
This brings the incompatibility with life extension into sharp relief. Transhumanism is openly hostile to Christ’s teaching. Paul understood this and also taught it clearly:
“always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our bodies. For we who live are always being given over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh. So death is at work in us, but life in you.(2 Co 4:10–12)
I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.(Ga 2:20)
Furthermore, he fails to understand that the promise of God to the Christian is that the limitations of our physical body will be overcome not in a cold, hard, lifeless machine but a glorious spiritual body:
For this perishable body must put on the imperishable, and this mortal body must put on immortality. When the perishable puts on the imperishable, and the mortal puts on immortality, then shall come to pass the saying that is written:
“Death is swallowed up in victory.”
“O death, where is your victory?
O death, where is your sting?”
The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.(1 Cor 15)
Transhumanism is a substitute vision for Christian hope. It is opposed to Christ. In the sense that the prefix “anti” means “instead of” it is antichrist. In truth, it is attempting to supplant the promises of God through humanly contrived means. It is offering the same things but not through Christ, rather technology. It’s a very poor trade. Transhumanism will ultimately fail because it fundamentally misunderstands consciousness as I have written about here. Ultimately, Christians are in a process that makes the transhumanism seem tawdry and sad. Do not accept the imitation. I urge you to forego the faux, pick up your cross and follow Christ. Jesus’ message was not about life extension but being born again to a new life (Jn 3:3).
Read more about it from me and my friends Chuck Missler, Tom Horn, Gary Stearman, Carl Teichrib, Mike Bennett aka “Dr Future”, Sharon Gilbert, Noah Hutchings and more! Get a signed copy of Pandemonium’s Engine here for $10.00