4 October 2011

Why Christianity & Transhumanism are not Enemies..... apparently

Are Transhumanism and Christianity inherently opposed to each other?  We think not.  Here’s why.
In recent years, as the Transhumanist Movement has become better known, it has been seen as an enemy of spirituality and religion.  To others it has been seen as part of a conspiracy to take away the freedom of the people by influential elites.
It is true, that many transhumanists are atheists.  Not all are however.  It is also true that some members of the transhumanist movement mock religion in all its forms.  Yet this is no different than Christians mocking atheists, of which there are a great number.  This atmosphere creates suspicion, animosity and in the end confusion at a time in which humanity needs to see things clearly.
We will try to demonstrate how there is nothing in the Bible that would speak against any of the basic principles of transhumanism.
via: http://subrealism.blogspot.com/
Definition of Transhumanism
First we must state the main tenet of transhumanism.  Transhumanism’s main idea is that the physical limitations of the human body can and should be overcome.  The first goal is supersede the limitations of our biology, with the eventual goal of merging our bodies with machines, most likely the computers, rendering us cyborgs.  The ultimate goal of this movement might be the installation of consciousness inside an otherwise artificial machine. To many who are first hearing these words, these things may seem like science fiction or things that will happen in an age far in the future.  Whether this is so or not, is not the point of this article.  But suffice it to say that in human history things which would have seemed impossible have come to pass.  We doubt that the Wright Brothers, would have envisioned of multiple trips to the moon by men only 50 years after their flying machine was flown.
Things for Christians To Consider
Jesus healing the blind man via: 
Just because some members of the transhumanist community are atheists is not enough of a reason for those who believe in a personal God to reject their research and results.  No technology should be judged primarily on the metaphysical beliefs of those who developed it.  If one rejects this view, then that person is left considering ridiculous things like determining the religious belief system of those who develop medicines, cars, cell phones to decide whether they will use them or not.
Some Christians may say that there is a difference here between cell phones, medications, etc., and attempts to model human consciousness. And certainly there is.  Some Christians may say that these efforts will ultimately end in failure.  And indeed they may.  But what if they do succeed?  What if they can model human consciousness in such a convincing manner that no one could distinguish the difference between this kind of machine or a biological human?  The critical question is, is there anything in the goals of the transhumanist community that inherently goes against Christianity? We answer no and we will demonstrate why.
Life Extension and Aging Consistent With Christian Philosophy
It is natural for living things to wish to continue living.  The rule in nature, animal and human is survival.  This is why we eat every day.  This is why we avoid oncoming trucks, etc. So it should not surprise us that Jesus espoused this same principles.
Rembrandt, Raising of Lazarus
Death according to the Bible is not a natural condition of humanity.  It is an aberration.  When man was created he was not created to die, but to live indefinitely.  In fact according to the Bible as all Christians know, “just as sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, and in this way death came to all men, because all sinned.” Romans 5:12.  So Adam and Eve were not created to die.  Now some might say that transhumanism seeks to deny the influence of sin on humanity or to try to circumvent the decree of God.  But this is not true.  All transhumanism tries to do is extend life.  Even when and if a human consciousness is implanted in a machine, this is still an extension of life.  If one opposes this extension of life, then one would need to consistently resist all attempts at life extension, including all the efforts of physicians, and medical treatments.  Did Jesus endorse this view by his actions and words?  Certainly not.  What do the Christian Scriptures tell us, “Jesus went throughout Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, proclaiming the good news of the kingdom, and healing every disease and sickness among the people.”  Matthew 4:23.  Elsewhere we read of the famous story of Lazarus found in the book of John chapter 11:
“11 After he had said this, he went on to tell them, “Our friend Lazarus has fallen asleep; but I am going there to wake him up.”  12 His disciples replied, “Lord, if he sleeps, he will get better.” 13 Jesus had been speaking of his death, but his disciples thought he meant natural sleep.  14 So then he told them plainly, “Lazarus is dead, 15 and for your sake I am glad I was not there, so that you may believe. But let us go to him.”16 Then Thomas (also known as Didymus[a]) said to the rest of the disciples, “Let us also go, that we may die with him.”  17 On his arrival, Jesus found that Lazarus had already been in the tomb for four days. 18 Now Bethany was less than two miles[b] from Jerusalem, 19 and many Jews had come to Martha and Mary to comfort them in the loss of their brother. 20 When Martha heard that Jesus was coming, she went out to meet him, but Mary stayed at home.  21 “Lord,” Martha said to Jesus, “if you had been here, my brother would not have died. 22 But I know that even now God will give you whatever you ask.”  23 Jesus said to her, “Your brother will rise again.”  24 Martha answered, “I know he will rise again in the resurrection at the last day.”  25 Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die; 26 and whoever lives by believing in me will never die. Do you believe this?”  27 “Yes, Lord,” she replied, “I believe that you are the Messiah, the Son of God, who is to come into the world.”  28 After she had said this, she went back and called her sister Mary aside. “The Teacher is here,” she said, “and is asking for you.” 29 When Mary heard this, she got up quickly and went to him. 30 Now Jesus had not yet entered the village, but was still at the place where Martha had met him. 31 When the Jews who had been with Mary in the house, comforting her, noticed how quickly she got up and went out, they followed her, supposing she was going to the tomb to mourn there.  32 When Mary reached the place where Jesus was and saw him, she fell at his feet and said, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.”  33 When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who had come along with her also weeping, he was deeply moved in spirit and troubled. 34 “Where have you laid him?” he asked.  “Come and see, Lord,” they replied.  35 Jesus wept.  36 Then the Jews said, “See how he loved him!”  37 But some of them said, “Could not he who opened the eyes of the blind man have kept this man from dying?”  38 Jesus, once more deeply moved, came to the tomb. It was a cave with a stone laid across the entrance. 39 “Take away the stone,” he said.  “But, Lord,” said Martha, the sister of the dead man, “by this time there is a bad odor, for he has been there four days.”  40 Then Jesus said, “Did I not tell you that if you believe, you will see the glory of God?”  41 So they took away the stone. Then Jesus looked up and said, “Father, I thank you that you have heard me. 42 I knew that you always hear me, but I said this for the benefit of the people standing here, that they may believe that you sent me.”  43 When he had said this, Jesus called in a loud voice, “Lazarus, come out!” 44 The dead man came out, his hands and feet wrapped with strips of linen, and a cloth around his face.  Jesus said to them, “Take off the grave clothes and let him go.”
This passage is full of love and healing.  The original ideas that glorified the pursuit of medicine.   All of medicine is endorsed in the Bible.  Indeed, Jesus himself is called the Great Physician.  It might be said by Christians reading these things that the greater message of the Bible was one of Jesus performing signs and wonders so as to demonstrate that he was the Messiah. But this fact is not the only one being put forth.  No Christian can disagree that part of the message was that Jesus by restoring the life of Lazarus, by healing the sick and giving the sight to the blind was doing an inherently good thing. After all, he could have demonstrated his divinity by flinging entire mountains into the sea.  No, he chose life extension as his method of showing his very power and glory.
We will continue in part 2 of this series to cover other areas where transhumanism and Christian values coincide.  Stay tuned.
Guillermo Santamaria is an author of the Plus Ultra Tech weblog.

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