Thursday, April 14, 2011

Why Christianity & Transhumanism Are Not Enemies 2

More reasons why Christianity and Transhumanism share very similar basic values.
We should restate that these articles are addressed to those who believe in the Bible as the inspired word of God and who interpret it literally, unless it is obvious that a certain passage is metaphorical.

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If the hopes and dreams of the transhumanists come true, eventually our consciousness or our minds will be implanted in a machine.  The nature of this artificial body is still debated.  Some view this machine as being a combination of our biological body with mechanical/electronic enhancements. Others, view this body as completely manufactured or shall we say, made up of non-biological materials.  But no matter what may be meant by it, it still a material body, made of the elements of the universe.  That is to say it is not a disembodied spirit.  Since this is the case, the biblical principle that Jesus stated in the book of John still stands...

"Flesh Gives Birth To Flesh, But The Spirit Gives Birth To Spirit"
This principle was around long before Jesus spoke it.  Transhumanism does not violate it, rather enforces it and enhances it.  Some will say that even if it were possible for our consciousness to dwell inside an artificial machine, this would be a rejection of the body that God gave us.   But this interpretation cannot be correct.  If this were true, then it would mean that ANY enhancement of the human body would also be an aberration.  Indeed, it is interesting to note that if the account given in the book of Genesis is accurate, then man was created naked and he clothed himself not because nakedness was a bad thing, but because he felt shame.  God did not tell him to clothe himself.  He did that on his own.  Yet nowhere in the Bible is clothing (which is an enhancement of the body) condemned by God.  Even further, Christians are encouraged to put on the "armor of God" in Ephesians 6:11.  This of course is understood to be metaphorical, but, it has no meaning unless the physical armor to which it refers is also a valid human activity.

Garden of Eden
Once it has been granted that the putting of clothing or armor is a not a rejection of the body God has given, then neither can any further enhancements which technology and science might produce.  Is a pacemaker a rejection of the body God has given?  Are vaccines such a rejection?  Are cars, which enhance the human ability to ambulate also evil?  No, of course not.  So then, neither should an external machine exoskeleton that enhances human muscles, an aberration.

From this conceptual position, it is only logical that science should continue to enhance a human's physical abilities until until all fleshly parts are replaced.  This would not be any kind of a rejection of any Biblical principle.  Because all these machines, all these enhancements, would still be what the Bible considers "flesh."  Flesh in the John passage heading this section, does not JUST refer to skin and bones, it also refers to the temporal, while the Spirit refers to the eternal.  Flesh refers to earthly physical materials.  This would include any machine that is manufactured, whether it incorporates nanotechnology or anything else.  And to make a machine, and to live in it like the transhumanists propose is not  say that this machines are eternal.  Ultimately, nothing manufactured or material can be eternal to any atheistic transhumanist. This is because in the present view of science, the Big Bang that began this expanding universe, will at some point, begin to bring it back together, which will result in the destruction of any manufactured machine.  So, as far as anyone knows, there is theoretically no such thing as an eternal machine.

the Generations of the Flood
These man created machines are not even immortal depending on how this term is defined.  Certainly, we know that Adam lived for a total of 930 years according to the Bible (Gen. 5:3).  His son Seth lived 912 years, Enosh his son, lived 905 years.  In case, one sees this as descending scale of years for each successive generation, Methuselah a descendant of Adam lived longer than Adam to the ripe age of 962 years (Gen. 5:18).  He had his first child at age 65 and for the next 300 years was able to have additional children.  I think for now, transhumanists would be very happy to extend their life for this period of time.  These man in the Bible were not immortal, neither does it seem that they were immune to some sort of very slow aging.  But we feel fairly sure that is a huge stone had fallen on them, they would have died.  Just like no machine created by any man (or even another machine), can withstand the forces of the universe forever.

Even the original Star Trek series in the 1960s dealt with the issues of man and machines interacting together as well as ageless men who were "Methuselah" experience.  If you cannot see this embedded video here is the link:


Jeremiahbilas said...

Good point, I think critical Christians needs to put up or shut up. They should simply stop using medical technologies if they really think its wrong, and really should abandon technology completely. But no, they want to draw a line where they can still use the technologies of today, and bash tomorrow's. but when tomorrow comes around I don't think many of them will be rejecting those life extension technologies.
In my opinion their faith is simply threatened by today's technology and life extensions.

Now there are parts of this article I disagree on also. For instance I view technology as eventually mastering the universe so completely we could rewrite the laws and physics of reality to suit our desires. Right now many physicists actually believe that with the matter present our universe will NOT collapse, but rather expand indefinitely. But even if its destined for collapse, just think how far we've manipulated our environment already, I still predict plenty of time to achieve total mastery of reality in the future.

srnatkins said...

hey, I know this is entirely old. You are correct in you assumption that Adam and Eve clothed and covered themselves once they noticed that they were naked. However, later in Genesis (3:21) is says "Also for Adam  and his wife the LORD God made tunics of skin, and clothed  them."  Most Christians are going to see that as God providing clothing, which would be why clothing wouldn't be condemned in the Bible. The armor of god metaphor wasn't just because clothing was a good thing, but because at that time Roman Soldiers were everywhere. It was a practical and strong metaphor to use that many people would understand. Which is why Paul goes in great detail (belt of truth, breastplate of righteousness, shodding your feet with the gospel of peace, sheild of faith, ect). I get what you are saying. I think you come up with valid points. But that one kind of is contradicting because you are saying that God had no part in that clothing when He clearly did. In fact, Adam and Eve only could cover themselves with fig leaves, while God made them a tunic, which is way better. If anything, that could convey that what God provides is better than what man could provide. 

In all honesty, the thing that bothers me with transhumanism is mostly because of the sole dependencies on reason and technology rather than God. Of course, Christians are not going to see medicine and technology as a bad thing, but they don't want to be so completely trusting upon that. I know from my perspective, I am going to take medication to treat for things I have, but I do want to God to heal me. I don't like being dependent on medication, event though taking medication isn't bad at all. Even the disciple Luke was a physician. Although Luke was a physician, he still prayed for healing for the sick. I don't want to ever forget that God is a healing God. I believe He can still heal people. 

Of course Christians do want to live as long as they can, but God promises a long life if we honor our Parents. It's a hard commandment to follow, but God's promises don't return void. God also promises eternal life if you believe in Christ is the way truth and life. It is just eternal life after this age is over with. But the age to come is so awesome and glorious that I don't want to miss out on it. 

I am not trying to do this to have an I am right and your wrong argument. That isn't my intention. If anything I am just trying to say that, as a Christian, this is what I believe. I don't want to be an enemy. I am so appreciative of what modern medicine has done for friends and family. It just hurts me that because of increase of technology among a load of other things, Christians have not followed their responsibility to actually lay hands on the sick and follow God's ways. We have used technology as almost a back up. Like if God doesn't heal them at least they have this medicine to take care of them. What lack of faith that is. It isn't technology's fault, it begins with our lack of faith in God.  I do believe that God can use people through medicine, but He isn't limited to that. It just sucks because Transhumanists and other groups of people tend to always hear  from Christians that they are wrong for x and y when really Christians need to work on themselves for lack of faith and other things. Christians are not perfect people, I don't know why they expect others to be different.  I am weak and broken, but I always turn to 2 Corithians 12:9-10 "And He said to me, 'My grace is sufficiant for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.' Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in needs, in persecutions, in distresses, for Christ's sake. For when I am weak, then I am strong."

srnatkins said...

typo 2 Corinthians 12:9-10* good thing I already said I was weak hahaha

Guillermo Santamaria said...

Great points! Thanks for your contributions to the discussion!