Human Exceptionalism

“Christian Transhumanism” is an Oxymoron

A Presbyterian pastor/ethicist named Mark Douglas has apparently claimed that transhumanism is consistent with Christian theology. Pshaw. They are theologically diametrically incompatible.  From the Toledo Blade story:

Theologically, one can find support in the Bible for transhumanism, he said, citing Scriptures that describe a future change or transformation. For example, I John 3:2 states that we “will be like him, for we will see him as he is.”…

In summarizing the theology of posthumanism, Mr. Douglas said Christianity is shaped by the belief that “God is doing something new to us, and that, therefore, we neither can nor need to transform ourselves.” Rather than naive optimism or nihilistic cynicism, Christians ought to practice “prophetic hope,” he said. “Believe in a better future because God is doing something.”

Good grief.  Christians certainly believe that they will indeed become a new (“glorified”) being–but not “post human,” and certainly not through human efforts.  And Rev. Douglas also seems to embrace a trend I see growing within some Christian circles, which expediently conflates what I want with that which supposedly God wants for me. 

But more fundamentally, transhumanism’s eschatology is incompatible with that of Christianity.  Transhumanism embraces materialism with white-knuckled fervor, believing that its “New Jerusalem” (if I may) will be wholly here, a human creation located in this “place,” that is, in the current “creation” as we know it now.  In contrast, Christian orthodoxy holds that the current reality will “pass away,” and in its place God will create something altogether new, a future reality that is different from the current corporeality, in which Christians will be raised physically but transformed–the same, yet different–and abide for eternity in the very presence of God, in whom most transhumanists disbelieve or find irrelevant– except perhaps, for wanting God’s job.

But the incompatibility is most vividly seen in the two theologies’ contrasting beliefs about suffering: The overarching purpose of transhumanism, its very point, is to avoid suffering–all suffering–whatever the cost and effort that project requires. In contrast, Christians see suffering altogether differently, although there is much confusion in the secular world over this. In Christian theology, suffering can be redemptive. That is not to say that Christians revel in suffering or want others to suffer.  To the contrary, it is a Christian obligation to alleviate and palliate the suffering of humanity whenever possible, that is, to take others’ suffering upon their own shoulders. But suffering can also be a trial to accept with humility and for which to give thanks because it can lead the sufferer and his/her caregivers directly into the unconditionally and eternally loving arms of God.

There is much more that could be said, but I will summarize: “Christian transhumanism” is an oxymoron.

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