Transhumanism belief that by means of Science and Technology humans can evolve beyond its current physical and mental limitations.

Are human beings on a path to becoming Godlike? The Mormon Transhumanist Association thinks so, reports Giulio Prisco for Kurzweil: Accelerating Intelligence.

Is the human race capable of erasing the aging process and eradicating death? Transhumanists believe so.  

Those two questions in themselves are quite a bit to process, so let’s take pause and learn some terminology.

Transhumanism is the theory or belief that technology and scientific advances can enhance human beings and improve quality of life to the point where humans no longer age and do not die, therefore achieving Godlike immortality.

Transhumanists have an answer to the age old “evolution vs. creation” debate: They’re both wrong. Transhumanists believe the human species has evolved, but it doesn’t have the power to continue evolving on its own and needs to embrace technology as a means to continue the human race.

Any philosophy that focuses on scientific advance and human beings staving off death will find an opponent in most organized religions. Internet research quickly reveals headlines such as “The Catholic Church Has Declared War on Transhumanism.”

In speaking about Transhumanism, Leslie Fain (Catholic World Report) presents the Catholic perspective, saying it is not “morally acceptable” to “supplant or ignore God’s providential plan for humanity.”

Hava Tirosh-Samuelson explores the topic as it relates to Judaism. She says Jews “have embraced innovation in the life sciences,” however, there are three guiding principles for the Jewish perspective on biotechnology:

“first, the notion that humans are created in the image of God; second, the view that the body belongs to God rather than to us (so we have an obligation to take care of the human body so as to preserve life); and, third, the belief that we act as God’s partners and are obligated to improve the world that God has created.”

Tirosh-Samuelson does not think the Jewish community would support life extension for several reasons. In this aspect of transhumanism, she believes transhumanists are looking at the body from an engineer’s perspective, rather than a doctor’s perspective, which goes against the Jewish belief of God’s gift of life. The body is instead looked at as a mechanical entity, rather than a living being with a soul. Postponing death would be “human rebellion against God” and would blur the lines between the human and the divine.

Like Judaism, Bernhoft didn’t find Islam’s opinions on Transhumanism, but he conjectured that, like the Christian faiths, Islam would most likely oppose due to its “hierarchy of ascension, transcendence” with their God being at the top.

A 2013 article claims “A.I. Day” will replace Christmas Day as the most important day of the year in the next 25 years.

Enter the Mormon Transhumanist Association (MTA). Unlike more modern Mormons, who believe in a separation between God and humans, and do not believe in the practice of polygamy, Prisco says that the MTA and other Mormon Transhumanists point to the Mormon Church’s belief in a “boundless and elevation and exaltation of man…until he becomes like God.” Even, if this includes the use of science and technology to achieve it.

Further, Prisco states that MTA president Lincoln Cannon believes Transhumanist beliefs are “a correct interpretation of the writings of Joseph Smith, the founder of the Mormon Church…” and are “close to the historic and philosophical roots of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints doctrine.”

It is worth clarifying that the Mormon Transhumanist philosophy, which leans heavily—if not exclusively—on the advances of science and technology, represents a refocusing on a more traditional Mormon belief system. 

Recent studies have shown that society has become less spiritual and more secular. So has the mainstream unwittingly moved toward a Transhumanist perspective? Zoltan Istvan, 2016 U.S. Presidential candidate of the Transhumanist Party thinks so, stating that the business community is “getting involved and supporting longevity science.”

Further, Istvan points to what is currently happening. Google’s Ray Kurzweil, author and futurist, believes the goals of Transhumanism can be achieved with uploading minds to computers, while Transhumanist Party Anti-Aging Advisor Dr. Aubrey de Grey thinks it will come down to advances in biology and medicine.

Istvan has also been quoted as saying Transhumanism “cuts against” organized religions such as Christianity, Judaism and Islam because by removing “restrictions on morality that religion imposes on life you have more freedom to think”.

Recently, Wesley J. Smith attended a Transhumanist conference and had the following to say about what he learned:

“It is clear to me that Transhumanism aspires to be what monotheism was to polytheism, e.g., to supplant theism as society’s reigning source of mores and values. If it can be said to ‘worship’ anything, it is an intense and distinctly eugenic sense of the pursuit of a perfected humanity.”

“…Like many faith systems, it also offers itself as a bulwark against suffering (we can eliminate it) and hope in the face of death (it is optional)…”

Smith offered a stern warning, though, based on his ten years of studying Transhumanism and the ten hours he spent at the conference:

“…There was precious little discussion of love for, or duties toward, others…Transhumanists tacitly—sometimes explicitly—reject the principle that each and every human being deserves respect and protection simply by virtue of being human.”

He further warns that “like all Utopian movements,” Transhumanism can “unleash violently destructive forces.”

Resources

Follow the Conversation on Twitter