The discussion at the Mormon Transhumanist Association Online Discussion Group, 26 October 2013, was centered on the establishment of a Christian Transhumanist Association (CTA). Watch the video below.
The CTA has not yet been formally established, but it already has a website and a Facebook Page, launched immediately after the discussion to complement the existing Facebook Group. If you are a Christian and a Transhumanist, or a Christian interested in Transhumanism, or a Transhumanist open to a religious interpretation of our ideas, we warmly encourage you to join.
Micah Redding has written a call for interest in a Christian Transhumanist Association. Of course I signed up, and I hope many others will do so. Please use this form to express your interest. There are 21 founders and we plan to start getting things moving when we reach the magic number 24.
Micah writes for a wide Christian audience, and doesn’t cover explicitly the more radical and visionary aspects of Transhumanism, but these are strongly implied.
We can show how to reconcile the scientific worldview with Christian faith, how to be compassionate Christians, tolerant of others’ personal preferences and lifestyle, without giving up science, and how to be Transhumanists without giving up Christianity. Christian Transhumanists like Frank J. Tipler, James McLean Ledford and Micah Redding promote a compassionate, smiling, playful, scientific, Transhumanist interpretation of Christianity similar to to Nikolai Fedorov and the Russian Cosmists.
Of course we need to find a good “elevator pitch” to start explaining the parallels between Christianity and Transhumanism to Christians who have never heard of Transhumanism. The Mormons have it easier, because they can use very clear quotes of Joseph Smith and the Mormon Scriptures. The Mormon Transhumanist Association (MTA) is the best instance of Transhumanism within a major religion, and a model for the CTA.
Mormonism has a concept of boundless elevation and exaltation of Man, through all means including science and technology, until he becomes like God. Conversely, God was once like Man before attaining an exalted status. “[Mormonism] allows for humans to ascend to a higher, more godlike level,” writes Max More in his introduction to The Transhumanist Reader, “rather than sharply dividing God from Man.” Mormon Transhumanists are persuaded that we will become like God — through science and technology — in a progression without end, and this seems a more faithful interpretation of the teachings of Joseph Smith and a return to the roots of the Mormon religion.
This Transhumanist formulation of religion is evident in Mormonism, but not so easy to find in mainstream Christianity, which makes a short elevator pitch more difficult to elaborate and defend. To make things even harder, in the Bible there are stories like the Tower of Babel, often interpreted as God punishing Man’s ambition and hubris. But the Babel story can also be interpreted as God encouraging Man to spread around the world and gain more experience before attempting to become God. “Ambition isn’t punished as sin, it is rewarded with challenge.” (see David Brin’s presentation at the Singularity Summit 2011). Actually, the parallels between Christianity and Transhumanism are there for those who want to see them.
In the Bible, when Moses asks for His name, God answers “Ehyeh asher ehyeh.” This is usually translated as “I Am That I Am,” but the correct literal translation is “I Shall Be What I Shall Be.” In a lecture on Frank Tipler’s The Physics of Immortality, theologian Wolfhart Pannenberg says: “The God of the Bible is not only related to the future by his promises, but he is himself the saving future that constitutes the core of the promises: ‘I shall be who I shall be’ (Exodus 3:14). He is the God of the coming kingdom. In hidden ways he is already now the Lord of the universe which is his creation, but it is only in the future of the completion of this universe, in the arrival of his kingdom that he will be fully revealed in his kingship over the universe and thus in his divinity. Therefore, the future of the kingdom of God formed the core of Jesus’ message as well as the objective of his prayer: ‘Thy kingdom come’ (Luke 11:2).” Pannenberg, and Tipler, see God emerging in the far future through the agency of intelligence, perhaps including our own descendants, able to manifest His presence everywhere in space-time, and able to resurrect the dead from the past.
In an article titled “Christianity is Transhumanism,” Micah Redding says: “Christianity is not just compatible with the desire to reach beyond ourselves, it is the call to reach beyond ourselves, in recognition of and empowered by the grace bestowed upon us… In Christianity, we are called to do the works of the one who sent us – the works of healing the sick, feeding the hungry, and bringing life to the dead. In doing so, we join in the work of God, and embrace the true meaning of humanity… So our desire to advance science and technology is as much a spiritual exercise as it is a material one.”
“Christian Transhumanism is simply the biblical view of humanity, as made in the image of God.
To live out that image, we create new things and bring new life into the world,” says Micah at christiantranshumanism.com. “In the pattern of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, we continually venture out on faith to build new futures in the wilderness. Because improving the world through technology, science, discovery, and innovation is a deep part of what it means to be human.”
This is one of the inspiring pictures on the Christian Transhumanist Association Facebook page.