Sunset - Larnaca

Sunset - Larnaca

Wednesday, 9 December 2015

Transhumanism

Transhumanists consider our species' integration with technology as an extension of the creative tools used by our ancestors, as they are seen to have built the first steps towards the advancement of human knowledge, ability and discovery. Their claim is that humanity has continued to develop both physiologically and intellectually through biological, social and technological evolution. 

The technological advances of our day would be unthinkable to previous generations. As a geeky plane-spotter, I significantly remember my father reminding me of my grandfather's amazement, gazing up at the sky in the Troodos Mountains of Cyprus, wondering what on earth this 'big bird' was; of course it was an aircraft. The question is, how far does technology have to take humanity? The issue lies in the fact that transhumanists often strive for a transhuman, even post-human phase of existence, in which humans are in control of their own evolution. In such a phase, natural evolution would be replaced with deliberate change - with the desire to go beyond our human means, into a new technological realm of existence. We currently live in a world of pacemakers, retinal implants, and various other technological advances; but many would argue that the transhumanist movement awaits the day we are able to transfer our mind to a computer, so that we live on after the bodily death. This rather concerning concept is, in my opinion, a secular way of trying to defeat death. A method trying to overcome death through technology, and without God, Our Creator and true defeater of death, is disastrous and impossible.

Likewise, the desire and thirst for human development without any clear end, meaning, or purpose, can be catastrophic as it is centred on self gain, supremacy, and lacks the very objective of human existence; love. Love, the greatest virtue (1 Cor 13:13), and fulfilment of the law (Rom 13:10) binds God and man together in relationship; and only through this communal, personal relationship can man achieve his full potential and complete development. God 'so loved the world that He sent His only-begotten Son.. not to condemn, but to save the world.' (John 3:16, 12:47) Although the development of technology is undoubtedly beneficial, the Christian faith highlights that man's destiny cannot be met without Christ - our renewer, saviour and Lord. St Athanasius the Great writes: 'God has been pleased to bring down His own wisdom to creatures so that what has come to be may also be wise.' Humanity's wisdom is God's; it is Christ. As Panayiotis Nellas writes 'For as our own reason (logos) is an image of the true Logos of the Son of God, so the wisdom that has been created in us, whereby we possess the power to know and to think, is likewise an image of His true Wisdom; and so by virtue of our human wisdom we are capable of receiving the Wisdom of the Creator.' 

The human being can only achieve true wisdom, knowledge, development and fulfilment of his potential through our Archetype, the incarnate Logos. Nellas tells us that 'the fathers stress deification is union with Christ, because it is precisely union with the Archetype which leads man to his fulfilment.' Returning back to our topic, transhumanism promotes an unjust, unrealistic, unnatural desire to oppose the unavoidable human processes and realities of pain, bodily and mental imperfections, and physical death. The movement is in favour of ideologies such as Abolitionism (based upon a perceived obligation to eliminate any suffering or imperfections) and immortalism (radical life extension and immortality through the means of technology). 

Founded by Julian Huxley in 1927, Transhumanism proposes that human nature is capable of transcending itself as a species. Like Christianity, it at least respects the intrinsic dignity of the human person, and its goal is, as we have seen, to push the human race to the highest possible point; however its desire has no clear and secure path, purpose or meaning - and realistically it is impossible for man to transcend himself, with his own limited capabilities. Matthew Zaro Fisher for example, in 'More Human than the Human' argues that transhumanism can be compared to Hesychasm, due to the similar concept of transcendance. This is an absurd comparison. One has to do with the soul, with man's relationship with God, indeed transcending cares of this world, offering prayer and ones whole life to Christ. On the other hand, we have a movement based upon technological advancements, created by the human mind (therefore not transcending humanity, but still being very much part of this world). It may improve our human capabilities or distort our natural behaviour and environment (depending on the use of the particular technology) but will not in any way transcend our human existence and condition. The human being is in control, and this means there is no room for trusting God, acquiring His grace, and distorts our mission in the world, as carriers of His eternal and boundless love. 

The 'better world,' hoped for by transhumanists, unrealistically opposes Christ's promise of His eternal and everlasting Kingdom, of which our life on earth is a foretaste, of this joy to come. We grow in wisdom and in love towards our end and fulfilment of human life, not by intellectual advancements of the human brain, but by delving into the heart within us, (1 Cor 3:16) in communion with one another.


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