We are witnessing the
birth of a new faith.
It is not a theistic
religion. Indeed, unlike Christianity, Judaism, and Islam, it
replaces a personal relationship with a transcendent God
in the context of a body of believers with a fervent and
radically individualistic embrace of naked materialistic
Moreover, in contrast to the orthodox Christian, Judaic, and
Islamic certainty that human beings are made up of both material
body and immaterial soul - and that both matter - adherents of
the new faith understand that we have a body, but what really
counts is mind, which is ultimately reducible to mere chemical
and electrical exchanges.
Indeed, contrary to Christianity's view of an existing heaven
or, say, Buddhism's conception of the world as illusion, the new
faith insists that the physical is all that has been, is, or
ever will be.
Such thinking leads to nihilism. That's where the new religion
leaves past materialistic philosophies behind, by offering
theism promises personal salvation, the new faith offers the
prospect of rescue via radical life-extension attained by
technological applications - a postmodern twist, if you will, on
faith's promise of eternal life.
This new religion is known as "transhumanism,"
and it is all the rage among the Silicon Valley nouveau riche,
university philosophers, and among bioethicists and futurists
seeking the comforts and benefits of faith without the
concomitant responsibilities of following dogma, asking for
forgiveness, or atoning for sin - a foreign concept to
is a religion for our postmodern times.
Transhumanist prophets anticipate a coming neo-salvific event
known as the "Singularity"
Transhumanism makes two core promises.
will soon acquire heightened capacities, not through deep
prayer, meditation, or personal discipline, but merely by
taking a pill, engineering our DNA, or otherwise harnessing
medical science and technology to transcend normal physical
compellingly, transhumanism promises that adherents will
soon experience, if not eternal life, then at least
indefinite existence - in this world, not the next - through
the wonders of applied science.
This is where
transhumanism becomes truly eschatological.
prophets anticipate a coming neo-salvific event known as the "Singularity"
- a point in human history when the crescendo of scientific
advances become unstoppable, enabling transhumanists to recreate
themselves in their own image.
Want to have the
eyesight of a hawk? Edit in a few genes.
Want to raise
your IQ? Try a brain implant.
Want to look like
Well, why not?
Different strokes for different folks, don't you know?
Most importantly, in the post-Singularity world, death itself
will be defeated. Perhaps, we will repeatedly renew our bodies
through cloned organ replacements or have our heads
cryogenically frozen to allow eventual surgical attachment to a
transhumanists' greatest hope is to eternally save their minds
(again, as opposed to souls) via personal uploading into
expect to ultimately live without end in cyberspace, crafting
their own virtual realities, or perhaps, merging their
consciousnesses with others' to experience multi-beinghood.
Transhumanists used to repudiate any suggestion that their
movement is a form of, or substitute for, religion.
But in recent years,
that denial has worn increasingly thin.
Yuval Harari, a historian
and transhumanist from Hebrew University of Jerusalem,
told The Telegraph,
"I think it is
likely in the next 200 years or so Homo sapiens will upgrade
themselves into some idea of a divine being, either through
biological manipulation or genetic engineering by the
creation of cyborgs, part organic, part non-organic."
According to Harari,
the human inventions of religion and money enabled us to subdue
But with traditional
religion waning in the West - and who can deny it? - he believes
we need new "fictions" to bind us together.
transhumanism comes in:
Religion is the
most important invention of humans.
As long as humans
believed they relied more and more on these gods, they were
controllable. With religion, it's easy to understand.
convince a chimpanzee to give you a banana with the promise
it will get 20 more bananas in chimpanzee Heaven. It won't
do it. But humans will.
But what we see in the last few centuries is humans becoming
more powerful, and they no longer need the crutches of the
Now we are
saying, "We do not need God, just technology."
The old stereotype of
the bearded Christian fanatic in robe and sandals carrying a
sign stating, "The end is nigh!" has been replaced by
transhumanism proselytizers like author Ray Kurzweil (of
Google fame) whose bestselling transhumanist manifesto is
The Singularity is Near.
I can't end this essay without highlighting an absolutely
crucial distinction that must be drawn between transhumanism and
orthodox faiths, particularly
highest ideal is love.
St. John the
"God is love."
commanded Christians to,
"love one another
as I have loved you."
understand that Christian living requires clothing the poor,
visiting the sick and imprisoned, etc.
Because, as Jesus
taught in the Parable of the Sheep and Goats, when we do
these things to,
"the least of
these, you have done it unto Me."
contrast, transhumanism's highest virtue is intelligence
In contrast, transhumanism's highest virtue is intelligence,
which is why increasing human brain capacity is the movement's
second-most desired enhancement after defeating death.
entrepreneur Bryan Johnson was
reported by the New Scientist
as investing $100 million to develop an implant to increase
"I arrived at
intelligence," the story quoted Johnson as saying, because
"I think it's the most precious and powerful resource in
In all the
transhumanist literature I have read, I have seen little
interest in increasing the human capacity to love, beyond the
most carnal understanding of that term.
Perhaps that is
because even crass materialists understand that love transcends
firing neurons, bringing us as close as we are capable to
expressing the divine.
Indeed, it is no
coincidence that an ancient theist gave us our most profound
description of love:
If I speak in
human and angelic tongues but do not have love, I am a
resounding gong or a clashing cymbal.
And if I have the
gift of prophecy and comprehend all mysteries and all
If I have all
faith so as to move mountains but do not have love, I am
If I give away
everything I own, and if I hand my body over so that I may
boast but do not have love, I gain nothing.
Love is patient, love
is kind. It is not jealous, it is not pompous, it is not
inflated, it is not rude, it does not seek its own interests, it
is not quick-tempered, it does not brood over injury, it does
not rejoice over wrongdoing but rejoices with the truth.
It bears all things,
believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love
You won't find anything as deep, meaningful, and yes,
intelligent as St. Paul's love discourse in any transhumanist
Indeed, even if we
ultimately reengineer ourselves into post-humanity, until and
unless we exponentially expand our capacity to love - which is a
spiritual discipline, not a mechanistic endeavor - we will never
become the creatures we long to be (or were created to be).