What It Is, and Why It Is So Fundamentally Wrong
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Imagine a future when earth’s inhabitants are not humans, but cyborgs—robotlike beings with both biological and mechanical components. With exosuits for added strength, cybernetic arms and legs, surgically-implanted earbuds for advanced hearing, bionic eyes for X-ray and infrared vision, and digitally-enhanced brains, these “superbots” think and act at lightning speed. Nanobots inside their bodies work continually to maintain and repair organs and tissues. Equally impressive are their “organic parts,” which have been genetically engineered for health.
These superbeings may sound like something out of a sci-fi movie, but they are the very real aspiration of influential business leaders, government officials, biotech engineers, scientists and futurists around the world, who are spearheading a philosophical and socio-political movement known as transhumanism.
In a nutshell, the transhumanist movement seeks to develop and use technology to radically transform humanity beyond its current physiology and limitations—to augment or amplify natural abilities like intellect and physical strength, create disease-resistant bodies, and extend lifespans or prevent death altogether.
To accomplish its goals, the transhumanist movement is looking to such technologies as genetic engineering (the deliberate altering of DNA sequences to produce new traits), implant technology (the embedding of digital implants in the body to interface with computers), artificial intelligence (the development of computer systems that mimic the thinking capabilities of the human mind), nanotechnology (the manipulation of atoms and molecules to produce new molecular structures), and cybernetics (the replacement of biological body parts with biomechanical devices).
Those involved in the transhumanism movement concede that much of what they envision is only in the early stages of development. We don’t have cyborgs living in our midst quite yet, and many question whether it would even be possible to create such beings. But a lot of research is currently underway, in all of the areas just mentioned, to try to speed the transhumanist agenda along.
Many times the innovations that move us closer to transhumanism were devised for totally different purposes. For instance, invitro fertilization was developed to assist with the conception of a child and screen for genetic diseases, but could also be used to select for certain “desirable” traits and create “designer babies.” Neural lace, a wireless brain-computer interface, is being billed as a new way to treat neurological disorders, but could also connect the brain with artificial intelligence (AI) software to boost mental acuity. Radiofrequency ID microchips got their start in retail and business applications, but are now being implanted in people’s hands as universal I.D. cards, building access card keys and credit cards, all under the auspices of convenience and security.
Our world is certainly moving towards a transhuman future. Some leaders in the movement are hoping to have created full-fledged cyborgs by the early 2030s. And while transhumanists would see that as a huge accomplishment, that’s not all they want to do. Ultimately, they hope to not only digitally and genetically enhance fleshly bodies, but to actually be “liberated” from them.
Many futurist thinkers envisage the day when people will be able to separate their minds from their biological bodies, and transfer them to a super computer or mega server (in the same way a computer file could be moved from one machine to another), and “live” forever in a virtual reality environment. Transhumanists refer to this as the posthuman state. They believe at that point, the distinctions between virtual reality and actual reality, or human and machine, will have been completely dissolved. Individuals will be able to take on holographic-like avatars, changing and shifting their identities to their liking, free to roam the Metaverse as immortal cyberbeings.
Futurist Ray Kurzweil, one of the main leaders in the transhumanism movement, predicts that around 2045, earth will be inhabited entirely by computers. Purely “organic” humans will have become extinct, he asserts. Those who survive will be the ones who will have fused their minds with the all-powerful computers.
The human reasoning behind transhumanism
It can be tempting to just laugh all this off, because much of what transhumanists want to do really DOES sound like science fiction. But the fact remains, the early workings of transhumanism ARE here. There are many negative implications of going that direction as a society, particularly from a biblical standpoint. We need to be aware of what this movement is about, because even though it’s unlikely transhumanists will be able to pull off everything they want to do, some of their ideas could impact us. Here are six very big reasons why transhumanism is so very wrong:
1. God is not part of the thinking.
Transhumanists reject any belief in God or a spiritual realm. Instead, they have generally adopted the philosophical position known as materialism, which regards the natural, material and physical universe as the only “reality.” They insist that anything which is not composed of matter, does not exist. They see science as the source of all knowledge, and the “lens” in which to understand the world, find solutions to life’s challenges, and discover meaning in existence.
Romans 1:28 aptly applies to transhumanism: “And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a debased mind, to do those things which are not fitting.” When people dismiss the Bible, their thinking immediately starts going in the wrong direction. Nothing truly good can come out reasoning that relies on human perspectives alone. Starting with a wrong premise only leads to more bad ideas.
2. The posthuman virtual world is a counterfeit version of eternal life.
Transhumanism is basically an attempt by mankind to achieve eternal life without God. Rather than being thankful for Christ’s sacrifice and looking to His return as the only hope for mankind, transhumanists regard technology as their “savior.” They still want to live forever, and have deluded themselves into thinking this can be done via a physical means—by uploading their minds onto a computer-generated virtual world. Even if that was doable, it would not be a joyful existence, as true peace and happiness is not possible apart from God.
3. Transhumanism is a form of evolution.
Materialism, which transhumanism is built on, posits that mankind came into existence through evolution—the theory that lifeforms are continually changing for the better, and that the present form of any organism is a diminished version of what is to come. Transhumanism offers its own twist: that mankind should use technology to artificially speed up the evolutionary process and bring on the next phase—merging humans with machines.
According to transhumanism, our physical bodies are the primary impediment to our advancement as a species. Yet the Bible describes the human body as “fearfully and wonderfully made” (Psalm 139:14). God created us as He intended. His design for us does not require improvement.
This does not mean that we should oppose thoughtful use of gene editing and other biomedical procedures to treat or screen for genetic diseases, or restore normal body functioning after catastrophic injuries. But if we “cross the line to reinvent the human body,” we are, in effect, saying that we can “do better” than God, writes B.M. Coaker in Who are You? (AuthorHouse, 2018). “We have been given the ability to appreciate and admire God’s handiwork in His originally unflawed design . . . but He has not given us the mandate to take our exploration and curiosity beyond his handiwork” (p. 56). The primary concern lies in implementing biotechnological enhancements to the point that we lose our identity as human beings.
4. There is no recognition of the spiritual components of the mind.
The Bible tells us that we human beings have a spiritual component to our makeup (Job 32:8, 1 Corinthians 2:11). It is this spirit of man that imparts intellect to our brains, creating the human mind. Transhumanists, as materialists, are not open to this truth. They posit that the human mind (including our thoughts and personalities) is purely physical, consisting of groups of chemicals, neural connections and electrical impulses that operate in predetermined ways. This is why they think it’s possible to capture and digitize the information patterns that supposedly comprise a person’s consciousness, and upload it to a computer server.
However, some scientists, even within the transhumanism movement, have expressed doubts about whether this idea of “mind uploading” is actually possible, acknowledging that the faculties of the human mind cannot be reduced to simple patterns of brain chemistry. They point out that even if a person’s mind could be “reproduced” in machine form, the results would not preserve the original person in any true sense. At best, it might be a rough copy of a few personality traits or mimic some of the person’s attitudes, but without true self-awareness, sentience, and consciousness.
5. Morality is not addressed or seen as important.
When transhumanists talk about the future they envisage, they focus on physical health and strength and cognitive abilities. That’s because they see the human condition as purely a physical problem, needing physical solutions. But the fact is, humanity’s foundational problems are spiritual in nature, and require spiritual solutions. We won’t be able to control our human nature or have true morality without God.
“Human nature can’t be changed through the augmentation of intelligence,” writes Sandra Godde in Reaching for Immortality: Can Science Cheat Death? (Wipf and Stock, 2022). “Even a cursory view of history reminds us that sophisticated societies can still invent more horrific ways to destroy their neighbors and exalt themselves . . . It follows that technological advance does not inevitably lead to advance in human goodness” (p. 40).
For the most part, transhumanists have no explanation for what human nature is, where it comes from, or how to manage it. There is also no consensus among them as to how morals are developed. Some transhumanists will at least admit that moral character is not an attribute that can be “programmed in.” The Bible makes it clear that character development requires the free choice of individuals who must want to build it, and that it is something we have to diligently pursue (2 Peter 1:5-8).
Even if character could be instilled as an enhancement, there would be no agreement among transhumanists as to what constitutes good morals. Moral absolutes depend on an absolute law giver, which could only be our Creator. Without belief in God, transhumanists become moral relativists by default, meaning individuals decide for themselves what’s “right” and “wrong.” This inevitably leads to individuals to pursuing their own selfish motives. Living in a world like that for eternity hardly sounds pleasant.
6. Transhumanism could intensify conflict or lead to enslavement.
Without God and His standards of morality and justice being integrated into the theoretical transhuman or posthuman worlds, the machine-beings that exist would still have “human” nature and the same type of evil predispositions as mankind has always had, but with much more power to perform their acts. Some warn that in the future there could be two classes of beings on earth: the bionically-enhanced superhumans, who brutalize the other weaker class of beings, the non-enhanced humans. Others warn that if computers were to achieve super AI (a level of intelligence that’s vastly superior to that of humans) and human minds were able to “live” via a cloud connection in the virtual world, their more intelligent machine overlords could enslave them.
But even the “softer” forms of transhumanism we’re seeing now could set the stage for control. For instance, subdermal microchips and brain computer interfaces could be used for surveillance, or even for reading and manipulating our thoughts and behavior. This is particularly troubling if those who are doing the monitoring are positions over us and have different values or beliefs than we do.
Transhumanists—and ultimately Satan—will not succeed.
There can be no doubt that Satan is behind the transhumanism movement. Satan hates God’s plan to “bring many sons to glory” (Hebrews 2:10). He will do everything he can to try to destroy mankind before that happens, and transhumanism appears to be a way he is trying to do that. But it is a futile endeavor. Many of the world’s “intellectuals” too have convinced themselves transhumanism will work, despite facts indicating just the opposite.
Futurists often point to recent innovations like brain-controlled prosthetic limbs, surgically-implanted hearing aids, and antenna implants in the skull to help colorblind individuals perceive colors—as “proof” that we’re on our way to transhumanism. But these kinds of augmentations are a far cry from the creation of cyborgs and avatars.
Transhumanists face some insurmountable challenges. For one, the human mind with its nonphysical components, cannot be “removed” from a physical body and “transferred” over to a robot, computer server or any other machine. Moreover, qualities like emotions, beliefs, values and intuition cannot be reduced to mere computer codes, to be uploaded to a digital medium.
The other huge challenge is their quest to achieve “strong” AI, which is central to creating the superbeings they desire. Strong AI includes Super AI and General AI (intelligence equal to humans), and would have all features of human cognition, including self-awareness, sentience, consciousness. Scientists have been trying to develop Strong AI for several decades and they are still only in the theoretical stage. There is growing doubt about whether a computer could ever really think and understand like a human.
In so many ways, transhumanism is Satan’s attempt to detour God in His incredible plans for mankind. Thankfully, it’s unlikely transhumanism will ever come to fruition. It really IS mostly fiction. Still, understanding what transhumanism is about is a helpful exercise and a huge reminder of what happens when humans do not include God in their thinking.