Google+
Close

Human Exceptionalism

Life and dignity with Wesley J. Smith.

Transumanism and the “Will to Evolve”



Text  



I am covering a conference on transhumanism and religion, about which I will write at some length elsewhere.

For now, I have to say that my previous opinion of transhumanism as a materialistic religion–or perhaps better stated, a worldview that seeks to obtain the benefits of religion without submitting to concepts of sin or the humility of believing in a Higher Being–are being substantially borne out.

It is interesting how important evolution seems to be to the entire concept. But in so doing, it seeks to transform human evolution from a purposeless phenomenon to one steeped in meaning. As one participant stated:..

Transhumanism is a thrust toward transcendence. It is not classical mysticism but seeks a temporal transcendence The driving force behind this is evolution…

What is reality? Reality is evolution. It has a direction from the simple to the complex; the most complex [outcome] is intelligence. Thus evolution is aimed at intelligence.

We should thus have a will to evolve. We have a moral responsibility to increase evolution and do so by continually striving to expand our abilities throughout life by acting in harmony with the evolutionary process…

Science and technology move us toward Utopia. One of the most exciting things about transhumanism is that all will be fixed.

Tellingly, from my perspective, we have seen no real discussion of love at the conference–except an oblique reference to a “Chrisitan transhumanist” (not present) who disagrees with the thrust toward intelligence.

For now, I want to focus a bit on what could be called transhumanism’s will to Utopianism, perhaps the most alarming ideological drive of the movement.  

Religion isn’t the source of evil. Neither is atheism, agnosticism, or other isms. But all of these can become very dangerous when they presume that facilitating their views into wide acceptance is of such importance broadly that they justify all means. That leads to horror and tyranny–as in the French Revolution–a secular movement–and Al Qaeda, a religious movement.

Thus, I am not overly concerned with the technological aspirations of transhumanism. For example, I don’t believe we will ever upload our minds into computers. But I do worry about the value system and the zeal to achieve a materialistic New Jerusalem that transhumanism can engender.

Utopian transhumanism is also profoundly anti-human exceptionalism–from both sides of the coin. First, it holds that there is nothing special about human life per se. And it so asserts toward the end that we presume license to seize control of our own evolution and remake ourselves in our own image.

I don’t see any way that can lead to a positive outcome. We don’t have the wisdom to intelligently redesign ourselves into an inherently different being–as contrasted with, say, using technology as a tool to improve our circumstance, for example, the grafting of a prosthetic arm after amputation.

We are, after all, the species that built the unsinkable ship Titanic.



Text  


Sign up for free NRO e-mails today:

Subscribe to National Review