Transhumanism—mankind’s next step forward?
Will mankind evolve into a perfect being?
Published: 3 February 2011 (GMT+10)
Illustration by Caleb Salisbury
Transhumanists believe that humans can use technology to guide their own evolution to become post humans, with fantastic new abilities and the possibility of eternal life.
Resistance is futile! Fans of the Star Trek science fiction franchise will recognize the classic phrase as a chilling warning delivered by humanity’s arch nemesis; the Borg.
The Borg were a group of beings that had been integrated together via technological implants that over-rode individual’s consciousness to form one massive hive–like existence for its members. They despised individualism above all and prized technology as a tool to further their cause, conquering entire races by absorbing them into their “collective” by force (or destroying those that resisted) hence the threatening phrase above. Their “cybernetic” implants were their most sinister and recognizable hallmark. By taking the best of every race they subjugated, they were formidably powerful beings. But was this just science fiction?
Those that relegate such ideas to fantasy or fiction might be jarred by modern headlines like the following; “Professor to Surgically Implant Camera in His Head”1. Many might consider such an act as bizarre, but the New York University photography professor is apparently attempting this as part of an art exhibit. The concept of surgical implants is becoming exceedingly more common in all levels of society.
Whether for safety reasons (tracking devices/chips), medical reasons (neural/dental implants) or purely cosmetic reasons (breast, extraocular implants) many people seem more comfortable with a blending of technology and their bodies.
The idea of using science to enhance our standard of living is of course a practical and biblical concept, as we now live in a sin–cursed world and so need to use whatever means we can to help us overcome threats such as crime, disease and disasters. But some have thought to use science for quite some time now in a more sinister and far reaching manner.
During the Great Depression (early 1930s) a social movement called Technocracy became highly popular in the USA for a brief period. The Technocrats proposed dealing with the crisis of the Great Depression by replacing politicians with scientists and engineers who supposedly had the technical expertise to manage the economy.
The Technocracy movement may be traced to the progressive engineers of the early twentieth century such as the writings of Frederick W. Taylor (who introduced the concept of scientific management). Although there were a variety of Technocratic groups and organisations in a number of countries, its most visible figurehead in the US was Howard Scott, who popularised the writings of Technocrats like Thorstein Veblen, a professor and published economist.
And what was at the root of the concepts championed by Veblen? As Geoffrey M. Hodgson (Research Professor in Business Studies at the University of Hertfordshire) made clear in his article Thorstein Veblen and Darwinism:
“ … Thorstein Veblen understood and applied Darwinian principles to his analysis of the evolution of socio-economic institutions. … Veblen knowingly applied the Darwinian principles of variation, inheritance and selection to institutional evolution.”2
The Darwinian connection
Using Darwinian principles to “improve” mankind is founded on the understanding that man has evolved over millions of years and that therefore we were less or “sub” human in the past. Then, logically we will evolve into something more/better or “post human” in the future. The concept that we can assist our evolution through scientific means isn’t new and is gaining widespread popularity. (For a pictorial depiction of this visit the Before & After Humans website on MSNBC released in 2005.3)
It’s an entirely logical premise if one thinks that man is the ultimate authority. After all, why not give evolution a hand if it’s headed onwards and upwards anyway. Such help could even be regarded as part of the evolutionary process itself. That is, until one realizes that this concept being applied to enhance societies has been tried before.
The horrific consequences of social Darwinism has been thoroughly documented, Nazi Germany being the prime example of ‘survival of the fittest’ ideas being applied to a society and the eugenics movement (the “science” developed by Darwin’s cousin, Francis Galton) frequently touted as the obvious result of the concept that some of us are “more fit” (evolved) and some “less fit” to survive/procreate etc. The Nazi death camps were the “final solution” birthed by eugenic concepts like “racial hygiene”.
Modern atheists like Richard Dawkins try to downplay the connection between Darwinism as “science”, and social Darwinism as a moral concept. Dawkins stated on The Science Show (ABC Radio, 22 January 2000);
“I’m a passionate Darwinian when it comes to science, when it comes to explaining the world, but I’m a passionate anti-Darwinian when it comes to morality and politics.”
But he has also said that although he doesn’t agree with Hitler, certain ideas of eugenics may not be that bad after all. In a letter to the editor of the Sunday Herald (Scotland) he said “ … if you can breed cattle for milk yield, horses for running speed, and dogs for herding skill, why on Earth should it be impossible to breed humans for mathematical, musical or athletic ability?”4 So in at least one sense Dawkins does agree with Hitler! And as much as he tries to avoid the logical connection between someone believing Darwinism also believing in social Darwinism, they are there all the same.
On the coattails of the postmodernist movement, ultra-modernism has birthed a new concept based on these (above) ideas resulting in a large global phenomenon that is gaining tremendous popularity with a broad base of supporters worldwide. Dubbed Transhumanism, one of the reasons it is popular is it attempts to be all inclusive, embracing Darwinism, Intelligent Design, spirituality, science, belief in ET etc wrapped up in a self guided salvation message. In short:
“Transhumanism is the ultimate goal of Technocracy … a meta-movement: the idea that the works of Man’s hands can save Humanity—hence, technology and science forms the basis of a Technocratic society. Transhumanism takes this to its ultimate conclusion: The development of the post-human or neo-human.
“Based on the premise that evolution is true, Transhumanism looks to shape the human species through the direct application of science. In other words, by employing technology we can take hold of the evolutionary process and change it as we desire, thus becoming the masters of our future. To this end, advocates of Transhumanism ascribe to a multitude of possible options.”5
How will this utopia come about specifically? Christian apologist Carl Teichrib (a Canadian-based researcher and writer on globalization) explains;
“1. DNA: Now that we are unlocking the secrets of DNA, we can alter our genetic makeup to augment desirable traits and block negative characteristics. It’s hoped such a move will bring longevity and eradicate diseases. Other possible outcomes include the production of designer babies in the womb, and even introducing DNA from other species into the human code; thus building a ‘Human Plus’ equipped with advanced physical and cognitive traits. Such a trans-human/hybrid would be ‘transgenic’—literally a human GMO (Genetically Modified Organism).
“2. Computer Interfacing and AI: As the secrets of the brain are discovered, it is anticipated that a time will arrive when the mind is efficiently interfaced with cyber-space. It is believed that in such a scenario the brain, once ‘plugged-in,’ could allow the mind to surf the network, download and upload from the web, receive memory upgrades, and converge with a global mind-to-machine-to mind community—forming a type of cyber-hive. Or, according to some cybernetic purists, to allow one’s consciousness to completely leave the bounds of flesh and enter cyber-space as an electronic entity. After all the brain, it’s argued, is an electrochemical organ. This mind uploading, it’s believed, could culminate in what the Catholic mystic, Pierre Teilhard de Chardin called the noosphere: the emergence of a living, global consciousness. The web would thus ‘come alive’.”6
The transhumanist group Technolife’s website makes it clear;
“The exponential improvement of technology will make extensive body and mind enhancement possible within decades. Mainly through changing our genes and by emerging with machines (which by then will be just as ‘human’ as we are, and not like the machines we know today).”7
And in a video8 on their site we hear “Humans have a natural desire for perfection. Who will settle for normal when you can be perfect? Today we have the technology to go beyond any limitation … nanotechnology, biotechnology, neuroscience, informatics … all of these knowledge fields will soon converge. Superior bodies and minds, bodies without pain, without limits … now we can offer you to be happy, healthy, beautiful and forever young”.
Many might consider this a fringe movement except for the fact that this website represents a research project funded by European Union (The EU is an economic and political union of 27 member states located primarily in Europe including the UK, France, Germany, Sweden etc).
And a quick overview of a 2003 report titled, “Converging Technologies for Improving Human Performance: Nanotechnology, Biotechnology, Information Technology, and Cognitive Science” reveals these ideas are indeed far reaching. This extensive 405 page document issued by the National Science Foundation and the Department of Commerce of the US explains its (indiscernibly transhumanisistic) goal isn’t just better bodies and more effective minds but actually the preventing an inevitable societal “catastrophe”.
In its introduction we read;
“This report underlines several broad, long-term implications of converging technologies in key areas of human activity, including working, learning, aging, group interaction, and human evolution.
“Activities that accelerate convergence to improve human performance must be enhanced, including focused research and development, increased technological synergy from the nanoscale, developing of interfaces among sciences and technologies, and a holistic approach to monitor the resultant societal evolution.”9
This is more that overcoming illnesses, diseases and birth defects that have beset us since the Fall. According to this report the answer to humanity’s ultimate problems is a kind of worldwide technology induced unity:
“Technological convergence could become the framework for human convergence (Ostrum et al. 2002).
“The twenty-first century could end in world peace, universal prosperity, and evolution to a higher level of compassion and accomplishment. It is hard to find the right metaphor to see a century into the future, but it may be that humanity would become like a single, distributed and interconnected ‘brain’ based in new core pathways of society.”10
Sounds like the Borg to me!
Indeed, the transhumanist magazine “H+” (Humanity +, the “+” signifying what humans will evolve into) revealed an article on November 16 2010 titled “Problem Solved”11 with the following tag line; “In 2011, with your help, H+ Magazine will solve all the world’s problems!”, listing everything from poverty, disease, discrimination, terrorism and even death as problems solvable by transhumanistic beliefs. While admitting tongue in cheek that they didn’t believe a magazine could solve all the world’s problems, it reveals the faith that they hold, that this path of transhumanism will eventually be our “savior”.
Transhumanist conferences are becoming popular, with Humanity+ holding one called “Redefining Humanity in the Era of Radical Technological Change” recently at the Beckman Institute at Caltech Los Angeles, California.
Transhumanists use the term convergence interchangeably with the word “singularity”, defined as “ … ‘singularity’ represents a point in a future time when technological change takes place so fast it produces a qualitative shift in society: the birth of a super-intelligence, the merging of Man and Machine.”12 Humanity will be so linked together and so able to communicate with itself that in a timeless moment of consciousness we will transcend into a higher plane of existence. In essence it would be what some transhumanists have described as the “Techno Rapture”. What would the result be?
Leading Transhumanist Mark Pesce (a co-inventor of 3-D interfacing for the worldwide web, and a judge on ABC’s TV show The New Inventors) posits the following; “Once the genome was transcribed, once we knew what had made us human, we had—in that moment—passed into the Transhuman. Knowing our codes, we can recreate them in our so-called synthetic rows of 1s and 0s…now we will reach into the improbable, re-sequence ourselves into a new Being, de-bugging the natural state, translating ourselves into supernatural, incorruptible, eternal. There is no God but Man.”13
Notice his use of biblical terminology within his worldview:
“Men die, planets die, even stars die. We know all this. Because we know it, we seek something more—a transcendence of transience, translation to incorruptible form. An escape if you will, a stop to the wheel. We seek, therefore, to bless ourselves with perfect knowledge and perfect will; To become as gods, take the universe in hand, and transform it in our image—for our own delight. As it is on Earth, so it shall be in the heavens. The inevitable result of incredible improbability, the arrow of evolution is lipping us into the transhuman – an apotheosis to reason, salvation – attained by good works.”14
Although most transhumanists emphasize only the seemingly beneficial aspects of their beliefs, the obvious ties to the eugenics movement have been brought before them and are seemingly summarily dismissed by most. It seems for many that an “ends justifies the means” approach is the norm. As human cloning researcher, Richard Seed said; “We are going to become Gods. Period. If you don’t like it, get off. You don’t have to contribute; you don’t have to participate. But if you’re going to interfere with me becoming God, we’re going to have big trouble. Then we’ll have warfare.”
To assist in “educating” those that may not be on board so to speak the Converging Technologies for Improving Human Performance paper suggested; “Unifying science and education. To meet the coming challenges, scientific education needs radical transformation (emphasis mine) from elementary school through postgraduate training. Convergence of previously separate scientific disciplines and fields of engineering cannot take place without the emergence of new kinds of people (emphasis mine) who understand multiple fields in depth and can intelligently work to integrate them. New curricula, new concepts to provide intellectual coherence, and new forms of educational institutions will be necessary.”15
The attraction of Transhumanism
Because transhumanism combines so many attractive concepts it is seen by many to be a unifying force for good. Many Mormons have embraced it as it affirms the central point of Mormon theology—transfiguration or exaltation—man becoming God. Hindu’s and Buddhists also share many transhumanist beliefs.
Some UFOlogists have also endorsed it as belief in intelligent alien life fits in quite nicely. After all, if we were once lower on the evolutionary scale, have evolved to where we are today and know we will evolve in the future then naturally there must likely be “post humans” of some sort already running around the universe. Perhaps they are visiting us and want to help us evolve and transcend further up the evolutionary scale.
Intelligent Design proponents and Darwinists can also work together. Perhaps aliens kicked off our evolution and even designed portions of life while evolution filled in the blanks? That way evolution is affirmed while explaining the complexity of some features that don’t seem to be explainable by wholly naturalistic means (ATP Synthase, Kinesin etc). And complete atheists/naturalists can maintain their worldview while giving a nod to some sort of “spiritual” notion as well. After all, it’s easier to believe in a god if you can become one yourself!
Even those calling themselves Christians can enter in! James McLean Ledford (who runs the websites Technical-Jesus.com and Hyper-Evolution.com), a declared “Christian Transhumanist” recently spoke at the October 2010 Transhuman and Spirituality Conference at the University of Utah in Salt Lake City where he delivered a talk called Christian Transhumanism. The description of his talk contained the following;
“Soon, a wise and loving culture will apply the full power of technology to spiritual growth and so enter a state of hyper-evolution. They will enjoy continually diminishing hardship, and eternal life. God’s will in this matter is revealing itself in today’s quickening changes imposed by the forces that guide our society; science, technology, spirituality, and even economics.”
A future where all mankind’s problems are solved (no tears, no pain, no struggle for existence, no conflict between each other), new, perfect bodies and minds, eternal life. Sounds great doesn’t it!? The only problem is that transhumanism is based on a lie; evolution. All transhumanist’s hopes and dreams are built on a foundation believing “molecules to man” evolution being a real thing.
Just like the Technocrat Thorstein Veblen, they have designed their theories around the “positivist science” of Darwinian evolution. (Positivism is the philosophy that the only authentic knowledge is knowledge that is based on actual sense experience. Since Darwinian evolution has not been observed (so isn’t scientific in the sense of being repeatable) and that positivism itself is not derived from a sensory experience, these ideas are based on a completely false foundations to begin with. It is the same old deception from Satan saying “ … you will be like God … ”16 back in the Garden of Eden.
Have you been assimilated?
The concept of evolution is being constantly implanted into the consciousness of mankind. Similar to the victims of the Borg in Star Trek where the truth of who the victim was rewritten over the individuals true identity, once someone has been implanted with the concept of evolution, they can quickly get assimilated into an anti-God philosophy and be hard to lead back to truth.
Mankind’s greatest hopes and dreams can indeed be achieved, but not by himself. People can be free one day of all tears, pain, mourning and even death. They will have a new incorruptible body and will live in paradise, but not because of what we will have done, but because of what our Savior Jesus Christ has done.
But this promise will not be given to everyone. It will only be extended to those that have repented of their sin and put their faith in Jesus Christ, the Creator, Sustainer and Redeemer of the Universe.
- Professor to Surgically Implant Camera in His Head, <http://www.foxnews.com/scitech/2010/11/16/professor-surgically-implant-camera-head>, 22 November, 2010. Return to text.
- Geoffrey M. Hodgson (Research Professor in Business Studies at the University of Hertfordshire), Thorstein Veblen and Darwinism, Published in the International Review of Sociology, 2004, 14(3), pp. 343-361, 31 December 2003, Return to text.
- Before and after humans, <http://msnbc.msn.com/id/7348103/>, 22 November, 2010. Return to text.
- Cited in Hilary White, Anti-religion extremist Dawkins advocates eugenics: says Nazi regime’s genocidal project may not be bad, LifeSiteNews.com, 21 November 2006. <http://www.lifesite.net/ldn/2006/nov/06112103.html> Return to text.
- The Rise of Techno-Gods: The Merging of Transhumanism and Spirituality By Carl Teichrib, Forcing Change, Volume 4, Issue 10, <www.forcingchange.org>, October 2010, page 2 Return to text.
- Reference 5, page 5 Return to text.
- Technologies Modifying our bodies: What is to be a Human?, <http://body.kertechno.net/>, 22 November 2010. Return to text.
- Also available on YouTube at <http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=STiuB7nQn1w>, 22 November, 2010. Return to text.
- Converging Technologies for Improving Human Performance NANOTECHNOLOGY, BIOTECHNOLOGY, INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY AND COGNITIVE SCIENCE NSF/DOC-sponsored report Edited by Mihail C. Roco and William Sims Bainbridge National Science Foundation, Page X, www.wtec.org/ConvergingTechnologies/Report/NBIC_report.pdf, 22 November, 2010. Return to text.
- Reference 7, Page 6 Return to text.
- PROBLEM SOLVED-A New H+ Magazine Project, www.hplusmagazine.com/editors-blog/problem-solved-new-h-magazine-project, 22 November, 2010. Return to text.
- Reference 4, page 5 Return to text.
- Reference 4, page 4 Return to text.
- Reference 4, page 5 Return to text.
- Reference 7, Page XI Return to text.
- Genesis 3:5 Return to text.
Although advocates for transhumanism speak of the beneficial aspects of this marrying of humans and technology--health, beauty, life and so on--the inescapable reality is that all through history technology has been abused. Even when technology consisted of the very basics like hammers and nails, the Romans abused it to build crosses. While technology is undoubtably useful and necessary to society, and is a product of the creativity that humans have from being made in God's image, in our fallen world we also invariably use it to rebel against God and harm one another.
Thank you for informing the undoubtedly accurate observations you have made concerning the matter discussed! Just recently a friend of mine brought the question of the habitus and mental capability of the evolved human of the future up, so this is an acute matter in my small circles also. This said I would like to ask your informed, enlightened and hopefully biblical opinion on where will the limit be in “enhancing” humans genetically and through machine implementation before, well, essentially, Jesus comes back and thus all this being busy with nonsense becomes futile?
This article reminds me of someone I worked with in 2004. She claimed that while in hospital having an operation, a special “machine” was implanted in her body. Even though it was done without her knowledge or consent, she was convinced that she was “chosen” for a very special purpose by the people who had done this. While finding this scary, she also felt it an honour.
Certainly this lady, in spite of being able to hold down a job, showed signs of spiritual and probably mental damage. However, this article makes me wonder if her claims were indeed true.
In the Communist era they apparently used to treat “political” prisoners (such as Christians) with mind-altering drugs. But the possibility of implanting some kind of mind-control device takes the “science” of brainwashing to a whole new level.
In order to be faithful and to survive spiritually in the coming days we will have to live very close to the Lord.
Yet He is able to deliver – even from such a “fiery furnace” as this.
Great article. That being said, I do believe there is a place for connecting the nervous system to integrated circuits in a prosthetic arm or re-linking the spinal cord in paraplegics, were this possible, which I believe it may very well be at some point in the not too distant future.
“The road to hell is paved with good intentions” or “people who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it”. While these may not be quotes from scripture, after reading this article those sayings are what come to mind. Didn’t we hear back in the fifties that technology was going to make our lives better and free our time to enjoy ourselves more.
And now we have cyberbullying, identity theft, and people working constantly with their blackberries and smartphones. Not to mention that bane to all of us, the telemarketer. It should be clear to anyone that despite all of the potential benefits of being able to do some of these things, we are fallen and sinful people. As great and well intentioned we are, evil people are just as imaginative. Think of what they might conceive with such technology as DNA control and access to the brain? It would probably scare you.
All this should come as no surprise! “Professing themselves to be wise,they became fools” (Rom. 1:22-25) Would Stephen Hawking fall into this so called “Fittest” category?
This transhumanism movement reminds me of the quite popular science fiction movie Gattica where genetically ‘improved’ fetuses (valids)were given preference to natural born children (in-valids). I suppose this also relates to Hitler’s eugenics and its influence.
Two things are immediately stiking about this topic:
- It sounds a lot like the “mark of the beast” with people having to have that in order to be able to trade.
- So far, no amount of technological progress has been able to quell the human propensity towards evil. Because of that small fly in the ointment, no amount of cyber integration will be able to foster “peace and goodwill” for all. There wil ALWAYS be those who want more than they have for nothing; who want to control others for their own selfish purposes; Sin must be erradicated before peace can descend-and we know there’s only one solution for sin.
Like all the articles on this site, this is yet another fantastic documentary. I had heard of the term before, but wasn’t clear on its definition and hadn’t attempted to clarify. This is a great explanation, although disturbing, as it is indeed a very attractive philosophy to evolutionists and apparently even “Christians” who hold on to evolutionary theories. This again stresses the importance of understanding Creation according to the word, for as it was mentioned an other CMI article, if you can’t take God for His word on how He created our realm and our being, how can you believe the rest of the Bible? Creation is foundational to our faith. As mentioned in a previous article, without a strong foundation, one a structure is unstable and vulnerable. Don’t let your faith be unstable or vulnerable. Trust the Word… word for word.
Frightening article, but a great article. It makes me think of what Jesus said in John 10:1–3:
“Truly, truly, I say to you, he who does not enter by the door into the fold of the sheep, but climbs up some other way, he is a thief and a robber. 2But he who enters by the door is a shepherd of the sheep. 3To him the doorkeeper opens, and the sheep hear his voice, and he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out.”
Transhumanism is entering God’s “garden” by another way and stealing what is not ours. Jesus Christ is the only “door” into paradise–the kingdom of God. Only he is the progenitor of a new humanity and the only way forward is through repentance–resistance is futile.
What a brilliant expose of this mind-boggling attack on the Biblical worldview. It reminds me of Eph 6:12 “For we do not wrestle against flesh and bood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.”
God bless in your important work, exposing the Devil’s plans.
A very interesting and well-researched article! Calvin Smith has a way of packing his articles full of breath-taking quotes. Thanks again, CMI, for persisting to remain non-conformed to the world’s idea of “better”.