Human Exceptionalism

The Church of Transhumanism: Let us Upload

Have you noticed how materialists are inventing their own church? It is called transhumanism, and it seeks the same meaning people receive from religion, but perhaps without Liturgy and God forbid–sorry atheists–any concept of sin (other than staying fully human).

I follow transhuman comings and going, noting with great amusement how the newest proselytizer on the block, Zoltan Istvan, hustles the quasi-faith as boisterously as Jimmy Swaggert. 

I have a piece on all of this over at First Things getting into some of this. I call it, “Even Materialists Crave Religion:”

Even materialists crave religion. The need to believe—to locate ultimate meaning in the universe—is deeply embedded in our natures. Atheists seek to deflect attention from this deeply human yearning. Thus, Richard Dawkins famously wrote that Darwin made it possible “to be an intellectually fulfilled atheist.”

But intellectual fulfillment is hardly the same thing as finding meaning and purpose to the mystery of existence.

In fact, on another occasion, Dawkins pinpointed a major reason why naked materialism is not widely embraced: “Religion teaches the dangerous nonsense that death is not the end,” he blustered. Maybe. But ultimate existential extinguishment is not a flag most people will cheerily follow. Oohing and aahing at natural selection can only take one so far.

Thus, it was only a matter of time before materialists began grasping at a materialist substitute for religion.

I get into how transhumanists replace faith in technology for belief in God, and how they expect to live for thousands of years through applied technology or attaining the superpowers of an X-Man comic book character.

I quote a transhumanist booster about how all of this invention is like what man did with religion and is needed for the species to advance. I conclude:

Alas, for transhumanists, technology is a very hard pillow. The fantasy of uploading one’s mind into a robot might be fun to contemplate at academic symposia and in boardrooms of high-tech companies overflowing with investment capital. And I certainly understand why living longer is preferable to the alternative of permanent nonbeing.

But such temporary detours and—let’s face it—highly unlikely scenarios will never supply true meaning to yearning souls (if transhumanists will pardon the term), only a diversion. In the end, transhumanism is a wail of despair in the night, spitting vainly into the howling existential winds of what most true materialists see as a meaningless void.

I’m having none of it. But I sure find it fascinating to watch.

Oh well, at least Steve Martin wrote the Church of Transhumanism’s first hymn: “Atheists Ain’t Got No Songs!”

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