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