Monday, 23 February 2015

Will transhumanism bring the end to Christianity?


Transhumanism, or post-human future, is the movement whereby humans will endeavour to alter and improve their God-given capabilities. Humans will have the option to swap their real limbs with cyber limbs, simply because they can - not because they need to. It will improve strength and endurance. Humans will one day be able to upload their entire brain, memories and thoughts onto a USB stick for safe-keeping - so if you have an accident and are in critical condition, humans will be able to simply re-upload their brains. These are just a few of the possibilities available, and would have a major impact on the human race. Eventually we'd all be living to 10,000 years old, even forever. We're turning into miniature Gods.

All of this sounds fantastic, it provides the very real possibility of extending the human race's natural lifespan. It gives us the chance to populate other planets, to live long enough to develop an understanding of the world that wouldn't be possible otherwise. Who knows what one man could accomplish in a thousand years. But what does this mean for Christianity?

Man was created in God's image, so should we really be changing it and improving on what God has created? Are we then not playing 'God' ourselves. Perhaps there's another side to it though, perhaps it's in our very nature to improve ourselves and push the boundaries of humanity - perhaps this is what God has created for us. There's a moral line that we have the potential to cross - we could push ourselves, we could live forever, we could change our physiques so that we never get ill and are always expanding our minds and discoveries. But once we cross that line what becomes of our humanity? If we push that far, we might forget the core values that make us human beings. If we're going to live forever, what does it matter if kill the neighbour that's been really winding us up.

There's an argument out there that says transhumanists need to be christians to ensure we don't loose our core values, that atheists cut through these values and aren't equipped to hold the torch for human values. But I wonder if that's necessarily true. I don't think that you're going to be a better person if you read the bible, it's a human choice as to whether you do right or wrong. We all know right from wrong whether we're christian or not. I can't see how there's a space for christianity as we know it today, in a post-human future, so many traditional christian beliefs will have been lost in order to push humanity forward. But there is certainly a place for God. Humans by their very nature are inquisitive and curious, and in a christian view - it is God who has created us. So why would he not want us to explore and live forever, if we're able to?

Christianity would have to change in order to survive. It would have to be a post-human christianity, one that accepts humans as they are and embraces change, one that wants to explore the universe to better know God. In a post-human world where everything is possible, it seems to me that christianity would be essential in keeping us grounded and respectful of life. The question is simply, what does christianity look like in this new world?

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