Pandemonium’s Engine

I am privileged to be included in this new book release by Defender Publishing. My chapter is titled “Christian Transhumanism: Pandemonium’s Latest Ploy.” The term “pandemonium” has an interesting origin. It is the capital city of Hell in Milton’s epic poem Paradise Lost. I run a little theme throughout my chapter using quotes from the 17th century Christian classic throughout my critique of transhumanism and the theology and philosophies which under gird it.

In Paradise Lost, Satan and the fallen angels have been relegated to Hell and seek to mount a new offensive. In Pandæmonium, the capital city, Satan employs his beguiling oratorical skills to incite his forces. Aided by his lieutenants Mammon, Beëlzebub, Belial and Moloch they plot to overthrow God’s forces. The final strategy is decided when Satan volunteers to poison the newly created Earth and God’s new and most favored creation, Mankind. This is where an intriguing parallel with transhumanism comes into play as it has the potential to do just that. Not only could we create a posthuman species, germline genetic therapies could pass it down to the next generation permanently altering the human genome. The potential for a horrific outcome is real.

The American philosopher, political economist, and author, Francis Fukuyama, agrees, contending that “the most significant threat posed by contemporary biotechnology is the possibility that it will alter human nature and thereby move us into a posthuman stage of history.”[i] The potential threat is real and the decisions made over the next decade will have a deciding influence on the outcome. The theological and ethical issues are critically important for Christian thinkers to consider. This book is just one ripple in the pond of our culture. I pray it inspires many of you to think critically about the spiritual implications of the bio-technology revolution.

Pandemonium’s Engine

Thomas Horn served as editor in chief for this book by numerous experts in Bible Prophecy

Forward – Jim Fletcher

Chapter 1 – Pandemonium and “Her” Children, by Thomas Horn, D.D.

Chapter 2 – Nimrod: The First (And Future) Transhuman “Super Soldier”, by J. Michael Bennett, Ph.D.

Chapter 3 – The Folly of Synthetic Life: Genetic Tampering, Ancient and Modern, by Gary Stearman

Chapter 4 – The Übermensch and the Antichrist, by Douglas Woodward

Chapter 5 – Christian Transhumanism: Pandemonium’s Latest Ploy, by Cris D. Putnam

Chapter 6 – Transhumanism Enters Popular Culture, by Frederick Meekins

Chapter 7 – Man Becoming His Own God?, by Douglas Hamp

Chapter 8 – Transhumanism From Noah To Noah, by Noah W. Hutchings

Chapter 9 – Genetic Armageddon, by John P. McTernan, Ph.D.

Chapter 10 – To Storm Heaven; To Be Like God; To Rule the World, by Carl Teichrib

Chapter 11 – Pandora’s Box for the 21st Century? The Sorcerer’s Apprentice, by Chuck Missler, Ph.D.

Chapter 12 – Dragon’s Breath, by Sharon K. Gilbert

    Order the book for $10.00 plus shipping:

[i] Francis Fukuyama. Our Posthuman Future.(New York: Picador, 2002),7.


Movie Review: Transcendent Man …the despair of modern existence

I saw a really well made documentary film last weekend: Transcendent Man. It is a biographical sketch of visionary computer scientist and inventor Ray Kurzweil. The strength of the film is that shows the heart and soul of the man. Kurzweil is a bonafide genius, a fact which certainly comes through in the film, but overall he is still a profoundly tragic figure. He is extremely talented and successful. He has much to be grateful to God for. Yet he denies his creator (Rom 1:21). Many of you are aware of my recent research in the area of transhumanism as it interfaces with a Christian worldview. My argument is that the two are incompatible worldviews. Of course that research was speaking to bible believing Christians, I would write it differently to nonbelievers. If you do not have Christ, I suppose all you have to hope for is transhumanism. I believe it is a false hope (Heb. 9:27). However, whether you accept the authority of scripture or not, Ray Kurzweil’s tragic desperation is laid bare by this film.

But we do not want you to be uninformed, brothers, about those who are asleep, that you may not grieve as others do who have no hope.” (1 Th. 4:13)

Modern man has no hope without God. Life is precious and yet fleeting (Jas. 4:14). Not only does Kurzweil believe that he can personally achieve immortality, he believes he can bring his dead father back to life using computer science. Having lost my own father to an untimely stroke in 2005, I certainly have empathy. My Dad was only 67 and I had hoped to garner much more of his wisdom. I spent most of my young adulthood in rebellion, now those years seem wasted. I would like to have them back but I know better. Ray doesn’t accept death. I suppose his own hype has gone to his head because he is determined to defeat it. He has collected all of his father’s writings with the audacious hope of recreating him from the raw data. Unfortunately, I am not exaggerating.

The film lays bare the utter desperation and futility of modern man. Kurzweil is a naturalistic scientist and he does not appear to have any belief in a theistic God. Naturalism and materialism leave the scientist in a cold, hopeless, mechanical universe. I think Richard Dawkins has encapsulated it well, “The universe that we observe has precisely the properties we should expect if there is, at bottom, no design, no purpose, no evil, no good, nothing but pitiless indifference.”[i] Atheists necessarily live in a constant state of cognitive dissonance. The internal conflict is that no matter how convincingly they might protest, the atheist cannot really live with the universe Dawkins describes. They leap into the infinite. This film Transcendent Man is a shining evidence of that.

Kurzweil is lashing out at the scientific determinism that leaves him so hopeless. He is embracing the irrational. Francis Schaeffer’s seminal work The Escape from Reason has an answer for transhumanism. Schaeffer wrote, “So man, being made in the image of God, was made to have a personal relationship with Him. Man’s relationship is upward and not merely downward. If you are dealing with twentieth-century people, this becomes a very crucial difference. Modern man sees his relationship downward to the animal and to the machine. The Bible rejects this view of who man is. On the side of personality you are related to God. You are not infinite but finite; nevertheless you are truly personal; you are created in the image of the personal God who exists.”[ii] It is especially poignant that he associated modern man to the animal and machine. Darwinism is the starting point in transhumanist thought. Despite his seemingly naïve optimism, Kurzweil’s worldview looks downward to the animal and then forward to the machine bypassing God altogether. His presupposition of naturalism limits his search for truth.

He has made everything beautiful in its time. Also, he has put eternity into man’s heart, yet so that he cannot find out what God has done from the beginning to the end.” (Ec. 3:11)

Because God has written eternity into men’s hearts they instinctively seek the eternal. C.S. Lewis said it this way, “If I find in myself a desire which no experience in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that I was made for another world.”[iii] Ray is not being irrational in seeking the infinite or the “upper story” as Francis Schaeffer put it. He is being irrational by denying his creator. I applaud this film for including criticisms of Ray’s ideas. Christianity was represented well by Dr. Chuck Missler and William Hurlbut M.D.. Those links tell you about the men, but I want to talk about what they said in the film.

Missler, a childhood computer prodigy himself, is a Bible teacher and lifelong student of prophecy. Missler offers Ray a salient word of correction, “God is who He is… And our challenge should be to know Him, not to try to create Him.”[iv] Missler believes we are on the precipice of the end times and I tend to agree with him but there is no guarantee it will be within my lifetime. Chuck contends that Kurzweil is going to run out of time. Perhaps he is correct?  Because when I ponder the extent to which man is violating the sanctity of life, I do not think the Lord will stand for it much longer. The other noteworthy Christian voice, Hurlbut, is also very impressive. He is a medical Doctor who serves on the Presidents’ bioethics commission. He argues that Kurzweil has vastly underestimated biological complexity. Kurzweil is an expert on the computational end not the biological. While we might have the number crunching ability in the near future, mapping the human brain is the limiting factor. It is being worked on. Yet even if the brain is reverse engineered, you are not your brain.  This is a fact Kurzweil doesn’t seem to get and it is because he begins with naturalism. A belief which ultimately reduces to materialism, the belief that matter and energy are fundamentally all that exist.

The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and the knowledge of the Holy One is insight.” (Pr 9:10)

While it is a widely held position by scientists, philosophical materialism is incoherent. In fact, the things that are most important to us don’t exist in the physical world, but they really do exist. Things like love, friendship, education, knowledge, ideas, virtues, morals and even scientific theories. All of those things are not physical. They are not made of atoms. It follows that whatever linking there might be between mental states like thoughts and feelings with biochemical brain-states, the connection is not identity. Brain-states have a specific location in the brain but mental states do not. Brain-states exist independent of a perceiver but mental states are not. In other words your brain chemistry may play a role in your thought life but chemistry is not your thoughts. Consciousness is something more than a physical process. Kurzweil would probably argue that it is a function of information but this is also incoherent.

He cannot explain the connection between the material and immaterial. Mental events cause physical events. For example, your mental decision to throw a ball causes it to fly. In a similar fashion, physical events cause mental events. You see a ball flying toward your face and become excited. Clearly there are laws that govern mind-body communication. Mental and physical events are related but distinct. Scientific materialism and naturalism cannot adequately explain this. This called the mind/body problem in philosophy. Kurzweil smuggles the immaterial in the back door as “information patterns” but his reasoning is incoherent because he cannot account for the connection. He starts from the wrong place. The only satisfactory explanation for the connection between the two is a theistic one. God sustains the coordination between mind and body (Col. 1:17). No matter how brilliant he is, no matter how accurate his calculations, Ray Kurzweil can never get the right answer because he started from the wrong beginning. Renowned philosopher Alvin Plantinga has put it this way, “If we don’t know that there is such a person as God, we don’t know the first thing (the most important thing) about ourselves, each other and our world. This is because… the most important truths about us and them, is that we have been created by the Lord, and utterly depend upon him for our continued existence.”[v] Indeed it is the most important thing, it is the beginning of all wisdom. One is lost with out it.

I ask you to join me in prayer for Ray Kurzweil and all the lost transhumanists who instinctively know that there is more to life than blind pitiless indifference. Pray that they will come to realize there really is a God who is there and that he can be known. Christians do not need to fear death. Only through the Lord Jesus Christ can we exclaim,
O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?”(1 Co. 15:5)

[i]Richard Dawkins, “God’s Utility Function,” Scientific American, November, 1995, p. 85.

[ii]Francis A. Schaeffer, The Escape from Reason in The Complete Works of Francis A. Schaeffer : A Christian Worldview. (Westchester, Ill.: Crossway Books, 1982).

[iii] C.S. Lewis. Mere Christianity, (NY: Harper Collins, 1980), 137.

[iv] Chuck Missler quoted from “Transcendent Man Film Trailer” 2:00 (accessed March 17, 2011).

[v] Alvin Plantinga, Warranted Christian Belief (accessed March 17, 2011).

Dialog With MTA President Lincoln Cannon

Cris: Lincoln, In your H+ Interview you stated that “Mormons typically believe that, after death, we continue to exist spiritually while awaiting the resurrection, when we will regain physical bodies.” However, you have also stated that you are a philosophical materialist. These two ideas are contradictory. How can one exist “spiritually” if materialism (everything is matter) is true?

Also you stated that “76% of Mormon Transhumanists identify as theists, and many of the others think God just doesn’t exist yet.” I suppose that means that 24% of Mormon Transhumanists are indeed atheists. You seem to lean that way from your comments here. Are you an atheist Lincoln? Does God exist… yet?

Lincoln: Hi Chris. I am a theist (google for “New God Argument”), and I consider spirit to be information, which always requires a material substrate.

Cris:  You offer information as an alternative to an immaterial spirit. But what is information made of?

I suppose it is true then that 24% of the Mormon Transhumanist Association  members are atheists?

(continued in the comments section)

Three Peas in a Pod: Mormonism, Transhumanism & Pelagianism

I have been challenged here by a Mormon on the topic of “Christian Transhumanism” on which my research is published at Raiders News here .  A foundational problem is that my paper was written to Christian Bible believers. My challenger is neither. While he seems to claim the term “Christian”, there are profound inconsistencies in his reasoning. They are so fundamental to his worldview, that an exchange is not likely to be fruitful. It is my sincere hope that he might recognize his error and turn to Christ but realistically my goal for responding is simply that those who are in Christ might learn from seeing his errors exposed. Perhaps I can put a stone in his shoe? Snippets of his response are in red, my responses are in black. In the first paragraph he reveals:

One aspect of this critique is accurate: Christian transhumanists do tend to be driven by a Pelegian view of sin, which is nonetheless compatible with Christianity. However, the other two aspects of the critique are inaccurate; some biblical anthropologies and educated understandings of Christian theology are quite compatible with Transhumanism.

With his blatant embrace of heresy in the very first paragraph, it’s quite tempting to say “check mate, thesis proven” and leave it at that. The British monk Pelagius (c. 354–415) declared that human effort and merit could bring about salvation without divine grace. Pelagius was vigorously opposed by the church father Augustine and deemed a heretic in 418 at the Council of Carthage.  A proper definition of Pelagianism includes that it is heretical:

Theologically, Pelagianism is the heresy which holds that man can take the initial and fundamental steps towards salvation by his own efforts, apart from Divine grace.[i]

The law of non-contradiction is quite clear that ‘A’ cannot be ‘B’ and ‘non-B’ at the same time and same place.  Thus, my opponents next statement that “some biblical anthropologies are compatible” is rendered incoherent since Pelagianism is an unbiblical anthropology. It can not be biblical and Pelagian. That said, he seems to believe that Mormons are Christians as well. Of course, that is demonstrably false and Pelagianism is a key factor. Mormon theologian Sterling M. McMurrin stated “The theology of Mormonism is completely Pelagian.”[ii] The nineteenth century work of cultic fiction known as the Book of Mormon even went so far as to alter the clear words of scripture:

Bible: “For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God;” (Ephesians 2:8)

Book of Mormon: “For we know that it is by grace that we are saved, after all we can do” (II Nephi 25:23).

Of course, Mormonism is no more Christian than Islam, in fact they are quite similar, see this video here. Furthermore, it is really quite odd that there are Mormon Transhumanists being that most transhumanists are scientifically literate. DNA testing has conclusively proven the book of Mormon is a work of fiction, as there are no traces of Semitic DNA markers in North American Indians. This evidence is so damning that even high level Mormon scholars have left the cult. For an excellent documentary expose’ I highly recommend: DNA vs. the Book of Mormon.

From the beginning, Cris creates a false dichotomy between technology and Christ, claiming the two are incompatible means of conquering death and creating utopia.

There is no false dichotomy presented but a real one.  Quite the contrary, I wrote, “Thus, we have a mandate to engage in some of technologies discussed but with the explicit caveat of when it is exclusively directed toward the healing aspect of medicine.” I love technology. I just don’t agree with making an idol of it or myself. I especially do not agree with using it to supplant Christ’s job description in scripture. The Bible is crystal clear about how, when and by whom death will be conquered:

“For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ all will be made alive. But each in his own order: Christ the first fruits, after that those who are Christ’s at His coming, then comes the end, when He hands over the kingdom to the God and Father, when He has abolished all rule and all authority and power. For He must reign until He has put all His enemies under His feet. The last enemy that will be abolished is death. ” (1 Corinthians 15:22–26)

The Mormon transhumanist hopes to do this through man made technology, not God.  However, it is Christ’s destiny to abolish death, not sinful fallen mankind.  He has demonstrated my point for me. It is a biblical dichotomy.

Also from the beginning, Cris establishes a narrow interpretation of Christianity, thereby assuming his own conclusion that Christianity is incompatible with Transhumanism. This is well illustrated by the one sentence of dismissive attention that he gives to the Mormon Transhumanist Association, despite the fact that it is by far the largest group of Transhumanists that identify as Christians.

Identifying themselves as “Christian” is not enough (Matt 7:22). This is the crux of matter. He criticizes me for having a narrow view. This is a charge I am more than happy to accept. If it were up to me it would not be so narrow, but I have submitted to higher authority. For it is not my idea, it was that of my Lord and Savior who said,

“Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the way is broad that leads to destruction, and there are many who enter through it.” (Matthew 7:13)

Of course Mormon transhumanism only merited this one sentence in my paper, “There is a Mormon Transhumanist association, which is hardly surprising in light of their polytheism and apotheosis doctrine.” My paper was a critique of “Christian Transhumanism” not Mormon Transhumanism. Carl Teichrib recently covered that topic. I was addressing alleged Christians. Mormons are not Christians in any sense of the word. Nearly all of his argumentation further proves my point. For example:

Also, there is potential for irony in Cris’ appeal to self-denial and humility: as it can be self-indulgent and arrogant to focus exclusively on improving one’s self, so it can be to refuse and resist improving one’s self. In positive terms, the Bible tells of a time when the dead will be raised and the living changed to spiritual bodies, incorruptible and immortal in comparison to our present bodies. This is enhancement, and it is by definition compatible with biblical ethics.

God does these things, not man! The dead will be raised by God at Christ’s return:

Behold, I tell you a mystery; we will not all sleep, but we will all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet; for the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed. For this perishable must put on the imperishable, and this mortal must put on immortality. (1 Corinthians 15:51–53)

We will be transformed by God at Christ’s return, not by Lincoln Cannon, Ray Kurzweil or Max More’s materialistic musings.

Cris compounds the problems with his criticism by claiming that transhumanists consider our bodies simple hardware or biological prostheses. The problem with this claim is its irony, given that he presumably holds to the common Christian notion that our bodies are precisely that: prostheses for our souls.

Again he seems woefully ignorant of what orthodox biblical Christianity holds true. I will let scripture make my case once again:

Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own? For you have been bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body. (1 Corinthians 6:19–20)

Christians do not live for themselves but for Christ. This is why things like posthuman enhancement are opposed to sound biblical doctrine; as followers of Jesus we “present our bodies as a living sacrifice.” (Rom 12:1)

The real substance (pun intended) of Cris’ criticism is that he considers philosophical materialism to be incompatible with Christianity.

Yes, absolutely I do!

In the actual world, apart from his particular brand of Christianity, he’s simply incorrect. Some Christians are philosophical materialists, as are most Transhumanists. Clearly, in practice, the two can be compatible in this area.

This is so profoundly incoherent that I am almost at a loss for words. For meaningful discourse using language to be possible both parties must agree to the law of non-contradiction. If up is down and red is blue, reasoning is no longer possible. Accordingly, if you are a philosophical materialist you are necessarily an atheist. A typical philosophical dictionary defines it as a:

Belief that only physical things truly exist. Materialists claim (or promise) to explain every apparent instance of a mental phenomenon as a feature of some physical object. Prominent materialists in Western thought include the classical atomists, Hobbes, and La Mettrie.[iii]

God is an immaterial being. If you are a philosophical materialist then you do not believe in God. God is spirit (Num. 16:22; 2 Cor. 3:17 Heb. 12:9). God is not a man (Num 23:19). He is not composed of matter. As his attributes like omnipresence imply, he is immaterial or nonphysical. This is very clearly stated by Jesus in John 4:24, “God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in spirit and in truth,” and is also implied in the many references to his invisibility (John 1:18; 1 Tim. 1:17; 6:15–16).[iv] Also Jesus reassures the apostles that he is not immaterial after the resurrection in Luke 24:39 by telling them,

See My hands and My feet, that it is I Myself; touch Me and see, for a spirit does not have flesh and bones as you see that I have. (Luke 24:39)

So we have Jesus explicitly teaching God is a spirit and also that spirits do not have flesh and bones. Thus anyone who believes God is material does not follow Jesus and is necessarily not a Christian. Christians believe Jesus.

No mere theist or even a self respecting deist, let alone Christian, is a philosophical materialist. That is an absurdity on the order of a square circle or a married bachelor. It gives me a headache imagining the massive level of cognitive dissonance that must result from such an internally contradictory worldview. Perhaps he will defend “Christian Atheism” in his next post?  In the end, heretical beliefs such as Pelagianism always lead to larger errors like Mormonism or “Christian Transhumanism.” They are man centered and self-aggrandizing as opposed to Christ centered and God glorifying.  It all leads back to the original lie in the garden,

“The serpent said to the woman, “You surely will not die! “For God knows that in the day you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” ” (Genesis 3:4–5)

[i] F. L. Cross and Elizabeth A. Livingstone, The Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church, 3rd ed. rev. (Oxford; New York: Oxford University Press, 2005), 1257.

[ii],Sterling M. McMurrin. The Theological Foundations of the Mormon Religion 1965.

[iii] “Materialism” in Philosophical Dictionary (accessed 2/20/20011)

[iv]Millard J. Erickson, Christian Theology, 2nd ed. (Grand Rapids, Mich.: Baker Book House, 1998), 294.

Transhumanism: Sin and Hubris

Last night during my interview with Derek Gilbert, he asked me for a theological justification for opposing transhumanism. My first answer was to think of the humility of Christ. He came in the form of a humble servant and laid down his life. This seems antithetical to enhancement and life extension. We have eternal life in Christ, not science. Of course, this is only meaningful if one is a Christian.  Yet I would submit that if one is not yet a Christian they have a bigger problem than whether or not they should enhance themselves. That aside, this is what the Lord led me to in my research and I think provides a very clear explanation:

As far as the question, “Can a Christian be a transhumanist”, that one need ask reveals a wayward heart condition. Transhumanism is less a sin as it is hubris. The Evangelical Dictionary of Theology makes the distinction that:

Whereas hubris signifies the attempt to transcend the limitations appointed by fate, sin refers to an unwillingness to break out of our narrow limitations in obedience to the vision of faith. While hubris connotes immoderation, sin consists in misplaced allegiance. Hubris is trying to be superhuman; sin is becoming inhuman. Hubris means rising to the level of the gods; sin means trying to displace God or living as if there were no God. (Bloesch 2001, 1104)

Based on this, transhumanism is hubris of the highest order while becoming post human is a sin. The “obedience to the vision of faith” spoken of above is not Tillich’s or Hefner’s but Paul’s. The Apostle exhorted the Colossians to “Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience,” (Col 3:12). Tillich, Hefner and Ledford all demonstrate a gross misunderstanding of the human condition. Humans are both finite and sinful. We lack the wisdom and moral purity necessary to decide matters of human “perfection.” Therefore, it is immoral and sinful to use such technologies to enhance or evolve humanity. Christians must take an informed stand on transhumanism understanding both the appropriate use of technology and the potential dangers it presents. Thus a theology of healing as opposed to enhancement must be developed in accordance with sound biblical guidelines.