All of a sudden, Christians seem to have discovered Transhumanism.
Transhumanism, of course, is the movement advocating the use of technology to help human beings free themselves from the limits of biology. For years, there has been a Mormon Transhumanism Association. And for about a decade, the American Academy of Religion has included a group on “Transhumanism and Religion.” (If you’re interested, the Call for Papers runs through March 2.)
Just today, however, Samford University announced a major conference on Transhumanism and the Church, set for September 24-26, 2015, in Birmingham, Alabama. Over the past couple of months, I have been in contact with Josh Reeves at the Samford Center for Science and Religion, offering a few suggestions on planning this event. My expectation is that it will be the main event for 2015 for Christians even remotely interested in the Transhumanist challenge. And please note: There’s another Call for Papers.
Even more evidence of growing interest is the behind-the-scenes organizing going on by a few activists who are out to create a “Christian Transhumanism Association.” They are beginning to stir things up on Transhumanist blogs and now have a Facebook group with an astonishing 1,664 “likes.” Not bad at all.
What’s going on here? Are we Christians so desperate for relevance that we are taking up with kooks? Or are some of us beginning to see transhumanism as a kind of parallel track alongside Christian eschatology, an alternative form of ye, Marning for a future profoundly different from the present? To be honest, I find myself shifting in that direction. Later this year, I’ll have an article in Dialog with the revealing title: “Going beyond the Human: Christians and Other Transhumanists.”
And in just a couple of weeks, I will be giving lectures at the First Presbyterian Church in Durham, NC, on the general theme of human enhancement. My sense is that interest among Christians in human enhancement and Transhumanism is expanding rapidly. I see this as a good thing. If nothing else, it forces Christians to rethink how we see the future. As the powers of technology expand and the pace of technological development quickens, how are we to understand its place in drama of human transformation? For all their differences, Christianity and Transhumanism both lead toward an open doorway. Is it the same doorway?