What is expected to be the biggest change in human history is on the way. A new epoch is approaching. Transhumanism, the integration of man and machine, has as its Holy Grail, its goal, nothing less than immortality for man.
Transhumanism spans established science, ongoing research, prospective research, science fiction, what appears to be science fantasy, and bioethics. This area is developing rapidly: my 2012 computer keeps telling me that “transhumanism” is not a word.
In pursuit of immortality, various lines of science and technology are being pulled together; cybernetics (machine parts for human organs and limbs), genetic engineering (including chimeras), nanotechnology (for rearranging things at the atomic level), Artificial Intelligence, aging suppression and reversal, and whatever I’ve missed, integrated as needed to make us more.
Intermediate goals include creating super humans that are smarter, stronger, happier, and live longer than we do. Telepathy is on the agenda; as is integrating humans with machines to take conscious control of mankind’s future evolution. When this happens, it is not at all clear that whatever it is we will have created will be human. Thus the trans in transhuman.
Some people view these prospective developments with horror and alarm (think of the original Terminator movie), others with utopian optimism. But in either case the science and technology are unlikely to be stopped. How are miracle cures to be opposed?
The philosophical foundation of transhumanism is materialist reductionism, and hubris. Material reductionists see only the material world. There is no “higher,” unobserved realm involved with life. It’s all a bag of chemical reactions and electrical impulses and therefore, in principal, machine replicable, and enhanceable.
The transhumanists are going to have their say. Progress is everywhere. In 2013 researchers at Harvard Medical School used a brain to brain interface (BBI) to have a human controller move a rat’s tail by just thinking about it, without any invasive surgical connections. (NYTIMES 8/1/13) (Rumors that the controller has begun to crave cheese are unverified.)
The following year researchers at Wake Forest University taught a mouse to sip water, and recorded the memory (don’t ask me how). In time, the mouse forgot its training. The stored memory was then uploaded into the mouse’s brain, and recall of the task was immediate. (Dr. Michio Kaku, RT interview 2/25/15) This sort of thing is breaking down the barrier between science and fantasy. Bye, bye Alzheimer’s?
From a Christian world view, however, the transhumanist pursuit of immortality is not going to work out well; sci-fi movies such as The Matrix aside. Transhumanists do not realize that they are already immortal; it’s just that the immortal part of them is temporarily stuck in an earthly body. The real issue is not immortality, but where the immortal part of them will spend eternity. Transhumanism is on a collision course with God.
In the bible, after the original disobedience of Adam and Eve, God reportedly took deliberate action to see to it that Adam and Eve did not live forever.
And the Lord God said, “The man has now become like one of us, knowing good and evil. He must not be allowed to reach out his hand and take also from the tree of life and eat, and live forever.” Genesis 3:22 (emphasis added)
To guarantee this:
24 After he drove the man out, he placed on the east side of the Garden of Eden cherubim and a flaming sword flashing back and forth to guard the way to the tree of life. (Gen 3:24)
I don’t know what cherubim and a flaming sword look like, but I am quite certain that today’s transhumanists are unprepared to deal with them.
Mankind’s unlimited ability to advance is foreseen elsewhere in Genesis. Genesis 11:4-7 speaks of the Tower of Babel: (emphasis added)
Now the whole world had one language and a common speech.
… they said, “Come, let us build ourselves a city [Babel], with a tower that reaches to the heavens,…”
The Lord said, “If as one people speaking the same language they have begun to do this, then nothing they plan to do will be impossible for them. 7 Come, let us go down and confuse their language so they will not understand each other.”
Computers, it seems, are about to overcome the curse of Babel.
I wonder if “nothing they plan to do will be impossible for them” is what the bible prophet Daniel left unreported; Daniel 12:4 (circa 550 BC):
“But you, Daniel, shut up the words, and seal the book until the time of the end; many shall run to and fro, and knowledge shall increase.”
Whatever was shut up, we are told that at the time of the end “many shall run to and fro, and knowledge shall increase.” That many are now running to and fro, and knowledge is increasing, is an understatement. We are on a biblical trajectory.
That trajectory includes God having to intervene to stop a mankind gone off the rails. This theme occurs throughout the bible, culminating in the Book of Revelation.
Ominously, an immortal transhumanist future is irreconcilable with that projected by the bible. So here it comes: transhumanism is going to force a showdown between God and man. Either He will interdict the drive to immortality, or we are going to have a discredited bible, some seriously disillusioned Christians, and transhumanism, however good or horrible, victorious.
In 1991 Pam Reynolds underwent brain surgery that required Dr. Robert Speltzer of the Barrow Neurological institute in Phoenix AZ to make her dead. All blood was drained from her body. Sensory input was blocked. During the operation, brain stem activity and all other vital signs were monitored continuously: there weren’t any. She was dead.
When her body was successfully restarted, she related, among other things, the operation on herself that she had witnessed over Dr. Speltzer’s shoulder, from outside her body. And she had it right.
Material reductionists have tried to dismiss this episode (and others like it) as hallucination, or a false report (but this is documented – BB). (Reader’s Digest, August, 2003, pp. 122 – 132)
Hallucination is out. Brain activity was zero. She was, by every criterion known to science, dead, dead, dead.
And this of course raises the question of how she managed to watch the operation. But a deeper question is: What did she remember the episode with? Where was the memory? Sensory input was blocked. Brain activity was at zero, nonexistent. She had no blood! How did memory get into this? There’s more going on here than transhumanism has dreamt of.