Massive Transhumanist Arrogance

A reader writes:

You’ve written on your blog on occasion about the post-Christian world reinventing paganism, and I thought this might interest you and your readers. I was just listening to this video and couldn’t help seeing that reversion to paganism as its main theme. The statements start out flabbergasting and proceed ever further into unconscious silliness. I don’t have any opinion on whether a culture steeped in this stuff would be a more fertile soil for Christian evangelism than the present Western world, though I’ll grant it’s possible.

Humanity 2.0 from The RSA on

This does remind me a lot of, if memory serves, NY Times critic Pauline Kael registering her stupefaction that Reagan won by a landslide when “nobody I know voted for him”. This opening speaker’s confident declaration that “nobody” believes the doctrine that man is in the image and likeness of God is one of the most hilariously insular declarations by a member of a tiny religious sect I have ever run across.

He’s perfectly right that transhumanism (like all forms of gnosticism) is a Christian theological heresy (and a particularly silly and deadly one since the pride at the root of it effectively cuts him off from contact with the tradition up which it parasitically feeds).

Gnosticism, in any age, tends to recapitulate the same errors under different guises. Being a creature of pride rather than humility, it promises us secret knowledge while the gospel says the the deepest truth is obvious, open and available to the merest children. This offends the prideful who don’t want to join the common herd of ordinary slobs. And, indeed, gnosticism has a curious hostility to children, both literal and metaphorical. Ancient gnostics were hostile to childbirth because it imprisoned souls in bodies. Modern gnostics are hostile to children because they hamper limitless casual sex. And all gnostics, believing themselves to be Humanity Come of Age tend to speak (as the first guy did) as though the childhood of the race when people believed all that god junk as thing to be ashamed of and to be overcome.

Gnosticism, like many heresies, has a huge problem with the Incarnation and with the human body. The prospect that God became man is right out and, getting that wrong, it tends to make one of two mistakes reflected precisely in the gnosticism under discussion here. Some people want to pretend that man, the rational animal, is merely and animal. Others want to pretend that he is merely a reason and that the body is a hindrance and a thing to be left behind. The Catholic faith says something that is, at once, more common sense and more mysterious. It says that we are rational animals and that the body is to die and yet be raised in glory. It says that God himself has assumed such a body, as well as all the rest of human nature and that the things we love best about this world are neither meant to satisfy, nor yet snare and delusions. Rather, they are signs and sacraments pointing us to the joy who is their Maker and that, if we die to them as ultimate goods and take Him as our greatest good, we shall have them back again as secondary goods and find even our bodies are given back to us in glory.

Funnily enough, it turns out that outside of the cramped gnostic world of transhumanism (accurately described as “eschatology for nerds” by the invaluable Mike Flynn) there turn out to be a lot more people than “nobody” who still believe that theology. My suggestion to the dangerous and crazy Planners of Humanity 2.0: get a larger sample of the population before you start crowning yourselves the Architects of the New Humanity. Also, learn something about the past century. You sound like just the sort of people who did spade work for the Third Reich.

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  • Sal

    Had never heard of transhumanism until I checked out Leah Libresco’s site per your linkage. It makes a certain logical sense- if this life is all there is, why not extend it however possible for as long as possible?

  • B.E. Ward

    Seems there’s a fine line between Leisure: The Basis of Culture and Leisure: You Have Way Too Much Time On Your Hands.

  • Mark, you’re criticizing a straw man of Transhumanism. You say Transhumanists need to get a larger sample of humanity, but your sample of Transhumanists is itself too narrow. For example, some Transhumanists believe humanity was created in the image of God:

  • JDH

    I liked the presentation by Cylon Number 8.

  • c matt

    Well, he’s criticizing at least one manifestation of transhumanism. That there are others supposedly more in line with traditional theology doesn’t make the one he criticized a strawman.