I’ve been reading Everyday Theology off and on lately, and it articulates what I find myself doing all the time: interpreting the world me theologically. The book consists of a dense programmatic essay by Kevin Vanhoozer, followed by many examples of the theological interpretation of the everyday on topics ranging from the Safeway checkout line to Eminem to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The chapter I’m reading currently is “Human 2.0: Transhumanism as a Cultural Trend” by Matthew Eppinette, which introduced me to Transhumanism.
Transhumanism, broadly speaking, envisions humanity as still being at a nascent stage in its evolution. Proponents wish to push beyond where we are right now through a combination of whatever technological means are available to us. They promote the development of these technologies in the hopes that we might become “posthuman,” a stage of evolution as far beyond humanity as humanity is beyond apes. The interesting thing is how religious the whole thing is. Taken from the Transhumanist FAQ §1.2:
It is sometimes useful to talk about possible future beings whose basic capacities so radically exceed those of present humans as to be no longer unambiguously human by our current standards. The standard word for such beings is “posthuman”…
Many transhumanists wish to follow life paths which would, sooner or later, require growing into posthuman persons: they yearn to reach intellectual heights as far above any current human genius as humans are above other primates; to be resistant to disease and impervious to aging; to have unlimited youth and vigor; to exercise control over their own desires, moods, and mental states; to be able to avoid feeling tired, hateful, or irritated about petty things; to have an increased capacity for pleasure, love, artistic appreciation, and serenity; to experience novel states of consciousness that current human brains cannot access. It seems likely that the simple fact of living an indefinitely long, healthy, active life would take anyone to posthumanity if they went on accumulating memories, skills, and intelligence.
One theological insight: Transhumanists have a fundamentally negative view of creation (what they would call “nature”): it is something in the way; to be dominated and bent to our will. It is not the way it should be and must therefore be fixed by using human ingenuity.
A proper Christian theology of creation embraces the material world as fundamentally good (fallen as it may be), and does not see our embodiment as something to be overcome. God affirms to goodness of the material world generally and embodiment specifically in the Incarnation of Jesus Christ. Christians can then, ironically, be materialists more properly than naturalists!
Any other theological (or other) reflections on Transhumanism?