Dr. Leon Kass is not alone in his conviction that humanity as we know it is being fundamentally altered. This is also the conclusion of Chairman and CEO of Biotechonomy, Juan Enriquez, according to a 2009 Ars Technica article titled “We Are Becoming a New Species, We are Becoming Homo Evolutis”:
Chairman and CEO of Biotechonomy, Enriquez says that humanity is on the verge of becoming a new and utterly unique species, which he dubs Homo Evolutis. What makes this species so unique is that it “takes direct and deliberate control over the evolution of the species.” Calling it the “ultimate reboot,” he points to the conflux of DNA manipulation and therapy, tissue generation, and robotics as making this great leap possible. … The day may come when we are able to take the best biology of the known animal kingdom and make it part of our own. This isn’t just about being a bit stronger, or having perfect eyesight our whole lives. All of our organs and limbs have weaknesses that can be addressed, and there are also opportunities to go beyond basic fixes and perform more elaborate enhancements.
Juan Enriquez is referring to something known as “transgenetics.” Transgenetics is the practice of altering the genetic material of an organism by artificially introducing DNA from an unrelated organism. Essentially, the DNA strand can be cut and spliced together with a piece of DNA from another organism. By doing this, negative or unwanted genetic code can be removed, and enhanced genetic code can be inserted. Although many different methods can be used to genetically alter an organism, the most common is the use of bacteria and viruses to replicate the altered DNA within the host.
Transgenetics is a subset of transhumanism. According to the Oxford Dictionaries, “transhumanism” is “the belief or theory that the human race can evolve beyond its current physical and mental limitations, especially by means of science and technology.” “Transhumanism” is today used as an umbrella title to refer to mankind’s efforts to use technology and genetic engineering to augment itself in such a way as to transcend the ordinary limitations of humanity in an effort to become “god-like.” It promises the realization of Satan’s original promises to man in Genesis 3:4–5, “You will not surely die,” and “You will be like God.”
Transhumanism, and particularly transgenetics, is rooted in Humanism and the Darwinian hypothesis of evolutionary process. Among other things, Darwinian evolution eliminates the inherent value of mankind. If there is no God, then man cannot be created in God’s image. As such, there is nothing sacred about humanity’s genetic design. According to Darwinian evolution, humans are fundamentally no different from the animals. If this is true, then there is no reason why human and animal DNA should not be combined. Furthermore, the Darwinian hypothesis of evolutionary process maintains that humans are merely the result of random genetic code. As such, there is no moral or natural reason why the scientist should not rearrange this code.
A core tenet of evolutionary theory is that man is continually evolving into new and more efficient life forms. If science is capable of guiding and accelerating this evolution, then why should man wait upon nature? In fact, survival of the fittest reasoning mandates that if science is capable of enhancing human life and abilities, then we are obligated to pursue it. In an article titled “Genetic Armageddon (Transhumanism: As the Days of Noah Were),” Transhumanism researcher, Dr. John McTernan, observes:
The natural progression is to enhance the human race by sharpening the senses. If the DNA is now understood and can be manipulated, why not increase the eyesight and hearing? With the addition of eagle DNA man could see like an eagle. By placing deer DNA, man could hear like a deer. The same enhancement could be accomplished for smell. For strength the introduction of gorilla DNA could give super strength, and for speed how about ostrich DNA! The evolutionists believe they are rapidly advancing evolution by manipulating the DNA. Many scientists believe they are enhancing evolution by improving man. Because, through evolution, man has no fear of God and thus no restraints on tampering with DNA, any attempts to stop this tampering will be met with cries from the scientists.
In his thesis paper titled “Transhumanist Values,” transhumanist philosopher and director of both the Future of Humanity Institute and the Programme on the Impacts of Future Technology at Oxford University, Dr. Nick Bostrom, writes:
Transhumanists view human nature as a work-in-progress, a half-baked beginning that we can learn to remold in desirable ways. Current humanity need not be the endpoint of evolution. Transhumanists hope that by responsible use of science, technology, and other rational means we shall eventually manage to become posthuman, beings with vastly greater capacities than present human beings have.
Similarly, Dr. Max More has said:
I think increasingly, we’re going to start realizing that this body is not sacred. The way we are is not some kind of God-given plan. It’s really a pure random accident. We take two sets of genes, and we shuffle them, and something comes out. Sometimes it’s a wonderful product. Sometimes it has a hole in the heart. Sometimes it has psychosis or tendencies toward extreme anger, has addictive problems, can’t concentrate—all kinds of defects. To say, “Awe, that’s normal. That’s sacred. That’s good.” to me is kind of absurd. It’s just—it’s random. It’s not a plan there that we’re thwarting. So, genetic engineering seems to be one of the most moral things we can do.
Transhumanism—standing upon the shoulders of the Darwinian hypothesis of evolutionary process—strips humanity of its sacredness. It redefines humanity, reducing it to the result of random mechanical processes. This begs the question, “What would be the result if this random sequence of DNA were altered?” Today the answer to this question is being explored within the field of transgenetics.
As bizarre as the concept of transgenetics may be, it is a reality. This is not a theoretical science of the future. It is being done today. DARPA’s Department of Defense Fiscal Year 2011 President’s Budget included funding for science that will lead to editing a soldier’s DNA and a project called BioDesign which includes “advanced genetic engineering and molecular biology technologies.” Included within this program is an effort to eliminate cell death through the creation of “a new generation of regenerative cells that could ultimately be programmed to live indefinitely.” In other words, this is a government research project into the secret of immortality. In 2010, Wired Magazine reported on this project in an article titled “Pentagon Looks to Breed Immortal ‘Synthetic Organisms,’ Molecular Kill-Switch Included.”
Editing a soldier’s DNA and researching immortality seem like projects which belong to the realm of science fiction. Nevertheless, our understanding of science today has brought to life some of science fiction’s most bizarre endeavors. A 2013 Daily Mail article titled “Frankenstein-style HEAD transplants could soon be a reality, claims leading surgeon” says:
It has until now been the work of science fiction and horror films, but scientists could soon be carrying out complete human head transplants, a leading surgeon has said. The procedure has previously been performed on monkeys but recent technological breakthroughs that make it possible to reconnect spinal cords could see the operation carried out on humans. Neurosurgeon Dr Sergio Canavero, from the Turin Advanced Neuromodulation Group, believes the operation would take 100 surgeons up to 36 hours and would cost £8.5million.
A 2011 Tech News Daily article titled “‘Bulletproof Human Skin’ Made from Spider Silk” reports:
A Dutch team created a piece of “bulletproof” skin from special, U.S.-made spider silk and human skin cells and found that it indeed can repel bullets — as long as they’re not traveling too fast. The bulletproof skin showed its superiority over normal human skin by stopping a bullet fired at a reduced speed. But it fell short of surviving a shot at normal speed from a .22 caliber rifle, the benchmark for protection for a Type 1 bulletproof vest.
Why wear a bulletproof vest when a person can make his own skin bulletproof? These are the kinds of questions that are being asked by transgeneticists today.
A 2013 CNN article titled “UK takes step toward ‘three-parent babies’” says:
The United Kingdom took a step Friday toward being the first country in the world to allow a pioneering in vitro fertilization technique using DNA from three people that could prevent mitochondrial diseases but that also raises significant ethical issues. … The new embryo will contain nuclear DNA from the intended father and mother, as well as healthy mitochondrial DNA from the donor embryo — effectively creating a ‘three-parent’ baby.
This may appear to be a radically new procedure, but it was successfully performed in the United States over a decade ago according to a 2012 Daily Mail article titled “World’s first GM babies born”:
The disclosure that 30 healthy babies were born after a series of experiments in the United States provoked another furious debate about ethics. … The babies were born to women who had problems conceiving. Extra genes from a female donor were inserted into their eggs before they were fertilised in an attempt to enable them to conceive. Genetic fingerprint tests on two one-year-old children confirm that they have inherited DNA from three adults—two women and one man. The fact that the children have inherited the extra genes and incorporated them into their “germline” means that they will, in turn, be able to pass them on to their own offspring.
The report that this article references was published in 2012, but these experiments were conducted over a decade ago. Today these three parent babies are teenagers.
Scientists are continually pushing the envelope in their transgenetic endeavors. The world was once shocked by the revelation that human clones had been created. A 1999 BBC articled titled “Details of Human Hybrid Clone Revealed” reports:
Details of the first hybrid human embryo clone have been released. … It was achieved using a cell from a man’s leg and a cow’s egg. … But this development will also see a significant heightening of the debate over the ethics of human cloning and, indeed, what it means to be a human.
Likewise, a 2001 CNN article titled “Bush: Human cloning ‘morally wrong’” states:
President Bush Monday criticized the creation of human embryos through cloning as “morally wrong” and “bad public policy,” saying the procedure should not be allowed. … Bush spoke one day after a Massachusetts company announced that it had created the first human embryos through cloning.
Today we realize that human cloning was only the beginning. A 2004 Washington Post article titled “Of Mice and Men and In-Between: Scientists Debate Blending of Human, Animal Forms” states, “During one recent meeting, scientists disagreed on such basic issues as whether it would be unethical for a human embryo to begin its development in an animal’s womb, and whether a mouse would be better or worse off with a brain made of human neurons.” Also, a 2009 Reuters article titled “Scientists Want Debate on Animals with Human Genes” states, “A mouse that can speak? A monkey with Down’s Syndrome? Dogs with human hands or feet? British scientists want to know if such experiments are acceptable, or if they go too far in the name of medical research.”
Chimeras and human/animal hybrids have already been created. In a 2010 LifeSiteNews article, Senior Counsel for the Alliance Defense Fund Joseph Infranco writes:
The chimera in Greek mythology was a monster with a lion’s head, a goat’s body, and a dragon’s tail. It was universally viewed by the Greeks as a hideous creature, precisely because of its unnatural hybrid makeup; Prince Bellerophon, who was assigned the unhappy task of fighting the creature, became a hero when he slew it. If we fast-forward to today, the chimera, or combination of species, is a subject of serious discussion in certain scientific circles. We are well beyond the science fiction of H.G. Wells’ tormented hybrids in The Island of Doctor Moreau; we are in a time where scientists are seriously contemplating the creation of human-animal hybrids. The hero is no longer Bellerophon who killed the creature; it is, rather, the scientist creating it.
Combining DNA from distinct species has been practiced for years, resulting in a vast number of chimeras. A 2011 Mail Online article titled “150 human animal hybrids grown in UK labs: Embryos have been produced secretively for the past three years” reports that the United Kingdom has produced “cybrids,” which is an animal egg fertilized by human sperm. A 2000 ABC News article titled “Spinning Tough Spider Silk From Goat Milk” says, “Turner and his team of bio scientists took the genes responsible for creating spider silk into the cells of mammals, such as goats. Using those genes, the re-engineered goats were then able to produce in their milk the same protein that makes up spider’s silk.” Furthermore, a 2011 Guardian article titled “Glow Cat: Fluorescent Green Felines Could Help Study of HIV” states, “It is a rite of passage for any sufficiently advanced genetically modified animal: at some point scientists will insert a gene that makes you glow green. The latest addition to this ever-growing list – which includes fruit flies, mice, rabbits and pigs – is the domestic cat.” According to the article, this gene is from a jellyfish. Additionally, a 2005 National Geographic News article titled “Animal-Human Hybrids Sparks Controversy” states, “Chinese scientists at the Shanghai Second Medical University in 2003 successfully fused human cells with rabbit eggs. The embryos were reportedly the first human-animal chimeras successfully created.” Furthermore, a 2011 Reuters article titled “Cows churn out ‘human breast milk’” reports:
Researchers at the State Key Laboratory of Agrobiotechnology of the China Agricultural University introduced human genetic coding into the DNA of Holstein dairy cow embryos, then transferred the embryos into cow surrogates. … “The genetically modified cow milk is 80 percent the same as human breast milk,” said Li Ning, a professor and the project’s director as well as lead researcher.”
Also, a 2004 Washington Post article titled “Of Mice and Men and In-Between” says, “In Minnesota, pigs are being born with human blood in their veins. In Nevada, there are sheep whose livers and hearts are largely human. In California, mice peer from their cages with human brain cells firing inside their skulls.”
The line between humans and animals was crossed long ago. However, as promising as combining human and animal DNA may be, the ultimate promise to humanity rests in synthetic biology. Instead of cutting and splicing existing genetic code, synthetic biology creates its own genetic code one piece at a time. The end result can be a tailor-made strand of DNA which is unique within creation.
Already “synthetic life” has been developed. A 2010 CNN article titled “Scientist: ‘We Didn’t Create Life from Scratch’” states:
Genetics pioneer J. Craig Venter announced Thursday that he and his team have created artificial life for the first time. Using sequences of genetic code created on a computer, the team assembled a complete DNA of a bacterium, then inserted it in another bacterium and initiated synthesis, or in Venter’s words “booted up” the cell. In a statement, Venter called the results “the proof of principle that genomes can be designed in the computer, chemically made in the laboratory and transplanted into a recipient cell to produce a new self-replicating cell,” controlled only by the synthetic genome.
According to the J. Craig Venture Institute website:
Genomic science has greatly enhanced our understanding of the biological world. It is enabling researchers to “read” the genetic code of organisms from all branches of life by sequencing the four letters that make up DNA. Sequencing genomes has now become routine, giving rise to thousands of genomes in the public databases. In essence, scientists are digitizing biology by converting the A, C, T, and G’s of the chemical makeup of DNA into 1’s and 0’s in a computer. But can one reverse the process and start with 1’s and 0’s in a computer to define the characteristics of a living cell? … In a publication in Science magazine, Daniel Gibson, Ph.D. and a team of 23 additional researchers outline the steps to synthesize a 1.08 million base pair Mycoplasma mycoides genome, constructed from four bottles of chemicals that make up DNA. This synthetic genome has been “booted up” in a cell to create the first cell controlled completely by a synthetic genome.
This artificial life form is a micro-organism. Scientists remain far from their ultimate goal to create synthetic macro-organisms. Nevertheless, their goal has now been proven to be theoretically possible. A three-year feasibility study by the global think tank, the Millennium Project—together with the United Nations University, the Smithsonian Institution, and the Futures Group—concluded in their 2010 “State of the Future” report that international synthetic biologists affirm that “as computer code is written to create software to augment human capabilities, so too will genetic code be written to create life forms to augment civilization.” It is believed that mankind will be able to eventually create synthetic DNA to accomplish its wildest imaginations.
In a 2013 Inventing the Future interview with Robert Tercek, Autodesk distinguished researcher, Andrew Hessel, shared stories of students who are actively developing synthetic life forms designed to better humanity. In Cambridge University, students are creating “super-bright glowing bacteria in all different colors” with the aim of creating glowing trees to replace street lights. Other students from the University of Groningen in the Netherlands developed bacteria that can sense when food is spoiling. They hope this will prevent good food from going to waste because of expiration dates rather than actual spoiling.
Impressive as these developments may be, ultimately, the primary goal of synthetic biology is not to create trees that can replace street lights and bacteria that can detect expired food products. The true objective is to eventually bestow supernatural abilities and a form of immortality upon mankind. The greatest motivating factor behind this research is the drive to become gods. Richard Seed has said, “God made man in His own image. God intended for man to become one with God. We are going to become one with God. Cloning, and the reprograming of DNA, is the first serious step in becoming one with God.” Likewise, in his book Radical Evolution, American journalist, Joel Garreau, writes:
The ability to tinker with our genes offers the astounding promise—and peril—of immortality, which mythically has been the defining difference between gods and mortals. It also offers the possibility of an even greater variety of breeds of humans than there is of dogs.
Similarly, in an interview with Wesley Smith, Dr. Leon Kass said, “All of the boundaries are up for grabs. All of the boundaries that have defined us as human beings, boundaries between a human being and an animal and between a human being and a super human being or a god.”
Like the transhumanist technological singularity, these genetic endeavors are designed to offer man everything that God offered man, apart from God’s requirements. The promise is that through genetic manipulation and synthetic biology, man can overcome the curse of sin on his own, apart from repentance. Using transgenetics, man can accomplish greater things than he can imagine, and this can all be accomplished apart from submitting his will to God. As such, the end-goal of transgenetics undermines the authority of the Word of God. Recall that this is a characteristic of the spirit of antichrist. This transhumanist agenda is the ultimate display of pride and arrogance. Recall that this, too, is a characteristic of the spirit of antichrist. Transgenetics is rooted in self-love, covetousness, pride, boasting, blasphemy, resisting of the truth, ungratefulness, etc. These are all characteristics of the spirit of antichrist.
It is important that we be capable of identifying the spirit behind the transhumanist agenda because the defining debate of the 21st century will most likely revolve around transhumanist ideology and philosophy, questioning what it means to be human. Until now, these debates have been relegated to philosophers and thinkers in very specialized fields. This is about to change. These transhumanist concepts are on the verge of becoming mainstream. Soon politicians and even our neighbors will begin to debate what it means to be human. One indication of this is the fact that many movies and TV shows have begun to incorporate transhumanist methods and philosophies into their plots. Some examples include, Splice, The Amazing Spiderman, Iron Man 3, Rise of the Planet of the Apes, Robocop, Elysium, Transcendence, Heroes, and Almost Human.
Already there are rumblings of how this will affect the politics of our nation. The Executive Director of the Institute for Ethics and Emerging Technologies, Dr. James Hughes, has written a book titled Citizen Cyborg: Why Democratic Societies Must Respond to the Redesigned Human of the Future. Also, the United States government, through the National Institute of Health, provided Case Law School with a grant to begin developing guidelines to be used in setting government policy on genetic enhancement. This study questioned what legal rights and privileges a genetically modified human should be granted. It even questioned how forensic sciences may be compelled to change in light of genetic enhancements.
Christians need to prepare themselves for the inevitable questions and issues that will arise.* These questions will be incredibly challenging as they will be inextricably tied to strong emotions. Consider the commentary of biophysicist, board member of the American Journal of Bioethics, and former Director of the Program on Medicine, Technology, and Society, Dr. Gregory Stock, in the documentary TechnoCalyps:
Our future is not to try and hold back genetic engineering, but to try and use it in a way that best serves us. If we can—if our children can be more intelligent, and healthier, and live longer lives through altering our genetics, why would we not want to do it? I mean, imagine if other children could live for two centuries, and if you could only live for eighty years because your parents believed that it was improper to tamper with human genetics. You would not be pleased with that decision. The same thing if your IQ were a normal IQ, and all of your classmates were much much brighter because there had been sort of, some biological or genetic manipulation that was possible. You’d feel very angry about this.
When the implications of the transhumanist agenda become openly debated within our society, it will raise questions which the church has never been forced to answer. Today’s debates about music, tattoos, alcohol, dress standards, etc. will soon be trivial compared to what the parent and the pastor of tomorrow may face. American journalist Joel Garreau speculates about the near future in his book Radical Evolution, writing:
[F]lash forward a decade and a half from today. Look at the girl who today is your second-grade daughter. Fifteen years from now, she is just home for the holidays. You were so proud of her when she not only put herself through Ohio State but graduated summa cum laude. Now she has taken on her most formidable challenge yet, competing with her generation’s elite in her fancy new law school. Of course you want to hear all about it. It is her first time home in months. But the difference between this touching tableau and similar ones in the past is that in this scenario—factually grounded in technologies already in development in the early years of the 21st century—changes in human nature are readily available in the marketplace. She is competing with those with the will and wherewithal to adopt them.
“What are your classmates like, honey?” you ask innocently.
“They’re all really, really smart,” she says. But then she thinks of some of the students in contracts class—the challenging stuff of One L fame. And she stops.
How does she explain what the enhanced kids are like? she wonders. She knows her dear old parents have read in their newsmagazines about some of what’s available. But actually dealing with some of her new classmates is decidedly strange.
- They have amazing thinking abilities. They’re not only faster and more creative than anybody she’s ever met, but faster and more creative than anybody she’s ever imagined.
- They have photographic memories and total recall. They can devour books in minutes.
- They’re beautiful, physically. Although they don’t put much of a premium on exercise, their bodies are remarkably ripped.
- They talk casually about living a very long time, perhaps being immortal. They’re always discussing their “next lives.” One fellow mentions how, after he makes his pile as a lawyer, he plans to be a glassblower, after which he wants to become a nanosurgeon.
- One of her new friends fell while jogging, opening up a nasty gash on her knee. Your daughter freaked, ready to rush her to the hospital. But her friend just stared at the gaping wound, focusing her mind on it. Within minutes, it simply stopped bleeding.
- This same friend has been vaccinated against pain. She never feels acute pain for long.
- These new friends are always connected to each other, sharing their thoughts no matter how far apart, with no apparent gear. They call it “silent messaging.” It almost seems like telepathy.
- They have this odd habit of cocking their head in a certain way whenever they want to access information they don’t yet have in their own skulls—as if waiting for a delivery to arrive wirelessly. Which it does.
- For a week or more at a time, they don’t sleep. They joke about getting rid of the beds in their cramped dorm rooms, since they use them so rarely.
Her new friends are polite when she can’t keep up with their conversations, as if she were handicapped. They can’t help but condescend to her, however, when she protests that embedded technology is not natural for humans.
That’s what they call her—“Natural.” In fact, that’s what they call all those who could be like them but choose not to, the way vegetarians choose to abstain from meat.
They call themselves “Enhanced.” And those who have neither the education nor the money to even consider keeping up with enhancement technology? These they dismiss as simply “The Rest.” The poor dears—they just keep falling farther and farther behind.
Everyone in your daughter’s law school takes it as a matter of course that the law they are studying is changing to match the new realities. The law will be upgraded, The Enhanced believe, just as they have new physical and mental upgrades installed every time they go home. The technology is moving that fast.
In fact, the paper your daughter is working on over the holidays concerns whether a Natural can really enter into an informed-consent relationship with an Enhanced—even for something like a date. How would a Natural understand what makes an Enhanced tick if she doesn’t understand how he is augmented?
The law is based on the Enlightenment principle that we hold a human nature in common. Increasingly, the question is whether this still exists.
If even part of Joel Garreau’s speculation is correct, this technology will have enormous implications. For example, it could soon be that teenagers are not only going to a federally-funded abortion clinic without parental knowledge or consent, but they could be visiting a federally-funded augmentation clinic without parental knowledge or consent. If these augmentations are ever deemed to be a human right, then their availability apart from parental consent will become mandatory. It is possible that parents could lose their children and even face jail time for refusal to augment their children. It is not difficult to imagine such a scenario when we consider that it was only a short time ago that children were taken by the State from parents who chose to educate their children at home. It is not unreasonable to believe that the government may consider failure to augment children to be a crime because such a decision places the child at a disadvantage. In fact, unenhanced children may grow up to become burdens for the State. Therefore, the State may feel obligated to provide mandatory enhancement for all children at birth.
Such a scenario is terrifying. Because of this, it is easy to overreact, and Christians have a history of overreacting to societal and technological developments. Recognizing this, we should be careful not dismiss all scientific research into augmenting the human body as being evil.
A favorite argument used by those who tend to overreact is the argument that a particular development should be rejected because it may eventually lead to something that is morally wrong or dangerous. This reasoning is commonly referred to as the “slippery slope argument.” Certainly what begin as positive technological and genetic advancements can lead down a slippery slope into error and danger. Nevertheless, this is not sufficient reason to reject these fields of study as a whole. Everything is capable of leading down a descending path. A Christian should not be paralyzed for fear of what something may eventually become.
Most scientists do not have sinister intents. They are not trying to eradicate humanity as we know it. Rather, most scientists are merely curious. However, history reveals that if something is conceivable, it is only a matter of time until it becomes reality. There is too great a temptation, and too strong a pull, for scientists not to continue to walk along their scientific path until they reach its logical end. Having said this, just because a particular field possesses the potential to morph into something anti-biblical does not make the entire field evil. We must be intellectually honest and distinguish where the appropriate boundaries are rather than dismiss the entire field as being dangerous and evil. There is nothing wrong with expressing concern that a particular technology may lead to something unbiblical, but it is never appropriate to label a technology as already being evil because of what it may eventually become.
Many people have lost their respect for religious opposition because such opposition tends to construct straw man arguments and is prone to over-generalization. Many people can respect someone who disagrees with them if the arguments are based on a proper understanding and representation of the issue. If Christians are willing to acknowledge which aspects of these fields are morally or Biblically positive, neutral, or negative, then we can be a relevant and respected voice within the debate.
Our bodies are subject to the curse of sin. Seeking ways of alleviating the suffering and trials of this curse is a display of love and compassion toward our fellow man. This is a way of helping to meet the needs of those around us. This is something which God encourages. We should never refuse to help someone in need because “God made him that way.” We use many methods and devices to help man overcome the curse of sin, such as, reading glasses, hearing aids, crutches, and clothes. The example of Genesis 3:21 reveals that God is not opposed to this form of augmentation because God Himself aided Adam and Eve in their efforts. Fundamentally, there is little difference between helping a person to regain his hearing through a hearing aid and helping a deaf person to receive his hearing through a cochlear implant. There is nothing inherently sinful in this. However, our pursuit of technology and human advancement must remain within the parameters of Scripture. God has made man in His image (Gen. 1:26–27). Man is not merely a biological machine. Likewise, man is not simply another kind of animal. We do not have the right to fundamentally alter what it means to be human.
There is a difference between helping man to overcome his infirmities and “upgrading” man to become super-human. Our infirmities are a consequence of our sin. These are aberrations of God’s perfect plan for our lives. As such, there is nothing inherently wrong with developing a means to overcome these infirmities. (Of course, we should always keep in mind that even though our infirmities are a curse upon mankind because of sin, they can also be a blessing because they can remind mankind of his need for a Saviour. We desperately need healing—both physically and spiritually—and our infirmities can be an important reminder of this truth.) However, there is something inherently wrong with seeking to improve upon God’s design for man.* Man does not need to be upgraded. God’s design for man is “very good” (Gen. 1:31). This was the declaration of our omniscient and holy God. How then are we supposed to improve upon what God has already called very good? Because we are not omniscient, our “improvements” will most likely have unforeseen consequences.
God has established a barrier between species (Gen. 1:20–27; Lev. 20:15–16). We may not understand why God established this barrier. We may not even agree with it. Nevertheless, we do not have the right to cross barriers which God has established. Genetic manipulation which confuses and intermingles the DNA of separate species defies God’s protective guidelines and His intent for creation. It is at this point that scientific advances cross the line and proceed in defiance of God.
Another line which must not be crossed pertains to our self-control. God has given us a sound mind and a spirit of self-control (2 Peter 1:4–7; Gal. 5:22–23; 2 Tim. 1:7). Humans should never augment themselves in such a way that they lose control over their mental processes. It does not matter whether this control is given over to a machine or to other humans. We must never relinquish our self-control.
Of course, this is not as easy as it may sound. As Christians, we ought to be willing to accept the sacrifices and struggles which may arise from our remaining faithful to God’s Word. It could be that we may not be able to join in society’s use of certain technologies. This may mean that we can no longer experience certain luxuries and aspects of life to which we have become accustomed. This may even result in persecution and ridicule. This may also cause us to “fall behind” our co-workers and peers, making it increasingly difficult to find work and to function in society.
Obedience to God’s Word is not always easy. Nevertheless, it is what we as Christians are called to do. Jesus declares in John 14:15, “‘If you love me, you will keep my commandments.’” We must trust that God knows what is ultimately best for us even when we cannot see it ourselves.
Science has boundaries. Not every scientist who is working on these technologies is attempting to transform man into a god. Most scientists are simply curious or are genuinely seeking to better mankind. Nevertheless, many of these scientists have crossed the acceptable limitations established by God. The ends do not justify the means, regardless of how admirable or enticing they may be. Whether they realize it or not, many of these scientists have furthered the cause of the spirit of antichrist. In the pursuit of their goals, they have rejected the authority of Scripture, they have coveted after something which may not belong to mankind, and they have displayed an arrogance against God.
As Christians, we need to determine where the Scriptural boundaries are for these transhumanist technologies. We then need to take a stand for these boundaries and become involved in the debate. Transhumanist philosophers are currently laying the necessary foundation for future public policy to embrace these technologies. Right now, some guidelines and laws are being established regarding these issues, but this is largely being done outside of the public view. If we wait until these technologies are implemented and utilized by society to become informed and involved in the debate, then we will have lost our opportunity to effect true change. Instead, we will find ourselves reacting to that which has already been established. At that point, it is very difficult to cause any significant and lasting changes.
Pastors should also begin preparing themselves for the inevitable questions that will arise as a result of this technology and the philosophy that undergirds them. It will not be long before people seek answers to the questions that will arise as a result of these technologies. Where will they turn? How many pastors today are prepared to answer such questions?
Sometimes it is easy to become so preoccupied with immediate concerns that pastors fail to anticipate the questions and concerns of tomorrow. However, an important responsibility of any shepherd is to peer into the distance in search of approaching threats. Pastors should serve as watchmen on the wall and look ahead to the future, anticipating the threats and questions which will arise. This requires extra work and an intentionality in their studies. Pastors today simply cannot afford to live within a religious bubble.
Transhumanism will likely give rise to the greatest debates of the 21st century. If the spirit of antichrist is truly behind this philosophy, then we as Christians need to gear up for an incredible spiritual battle. This will not be an easy challenge, but the implications are too great to risk ignoring the subject.
- Fisher, “We Are Becoming a New Species, We are Becoming Homo Evolutis.” ↵
- “Transhumanism.” ↵
- McTernan, “Genetic Armageddon (Transhumanism: As the Days of Noah Were).” ↵
- Bostrom, “Transhumanist Values,” Ethical Issues for the 21st Century (Philosophical Documentation Center Press, 2003); reprinted in Review of Contemporary Philosophy, Vol. 4, May 2005, Source: Bostrom, “Transhumanist Values.” ↵
- Frank Theys, TechnoCalyps, (DVD, Votnik, 2006), Source: TheDejavu434, “TechnoCalyps.” ↵
- Department of Defense Fiscal Year (FY) 2011 President’s Budget 57, 265. ↵
- Drummond, “Pentagon Looks to Breed Immortal ‘Synthetic Organisms,’ Molexular Kill-Switch Included.” ↵
- Woollaston, “Frankenstein-style HEAD transplants could soon be a reality, claims leading surgeon.” ↵
- “‘Bulletproof Human Skin’ Made From Spider Silk,” Tech News Daily, August 17, 2011, Source: “‘Bulletproof Human Skin’ Made From Spider Silk.” ↵
- Smith-Spark, “UK takes step toward ‘three-parent babies’.” ↵
- Hanlon, “World’s first GM babies born.” ↵
- Mercola, “Dozens of Genetically Modified Babies Already Born – How Will They Alter Human Species?” ↵
- “Details of hybrid clone revealed.” ↵
- “Bush: Human cloning ‘morally wrong’.” ↵
- Weiss, “Of Mice and Men and In-Between: Scientists Debate Blending of Human, Animal Forms.” ↵
- Kelland, “Scientists Want Debate on Animals with Human Genes.” ↵
- Hamp, “Part Sixteen: Man Becoming His Own God Via Transhumanism.” ↵
- Martin, “150 human animal hybrids grown in UK labs: Embryos have been produced secretively for the past three years.” ↵
- “Spinning Tough Spider Silk From Goat Milk.” ↵
- Jha, “Glow Cat : Fluorescent Green Felines Could Help Study of HIV.” ↵
- Mott, “Animal-Human Hybrids Sparks Controversy.” ↵
- Fan, “Cows churn out ‘human breast milk’.” ↵
- Weiss, “Of Mice and Men and In-Between: Scientists Debate Blending of Human, Animal Forms.” ↵
- “Scientist: ‘We Didn’t Create Life from Scratch.” ↵
- J. Craig Venture Institute, “First Self-Replicating Synthetic Bacterial Cell.” ↵
- Millennium Project, “Update Challenge 14: How can scientific and technological breakthroughs be accelerated to improve the human condition?.” ↵
- LiveLab Network, “Synthetic Biology – Inventing the Future.” ↵
- Frank Theys, TechnoCalyps, (DVD, Votnik, 2006), Source: TheDejavu434, “TechnoCalyps.” ↵
- Garreau, Radical Evolution, 53. ↵
- Wesley Smith, “A Conversation with Leon Kass: Science Doesn’t Trump All,” San Francisco Chronicle, October 20, 2002, Source: Smith, “Stupider and Worse?” ↵
- Futurist, science fiction writer, and editor of the Mirrorshades anthology, Bruce Sterling reminds us that the rise of the post-human epoch will not solve many of our current problems. Instead, it may only intensify these issues while adding to them an additional layer of problems: “It’s important to recognize that the post-human epoch is coming. It really is. It’s what we want. And it’s kind of—you can see it written in the pages of magazines. It’s—the word of the prophet is on the subway walls here. We really, really, do want to violate human limits now, and we’re getting closer and closer to the ability to do it. But, it’s also important to realize that this is not the end of history. It doesn’t solve any of our other problems. It just creates new problems that are going to intensify. And there’s going to be more than one kind of post-humanity. And the mere fact that you’re no longer human doesn’t mean you don’t have the same personality problems that you did before. It doesn’t liberate you from yourself. It probably makes you more than you were before, not less. You’re not gonna clank and beep like Robocop. You’re just gonna to have new abilities and new powers. And, you know, dealing with power is troublesome. If you have more power, you have more responsibility, not less.” (Frank Theys, TechnoCalyps, (DVD, Votnik, 2006), Source: TheDejavu434, “TechnoCalyps.”) ↵
- Frank Theys, TechnoCalyps, (DVD, Votnik, 2006), Source: TheDejavu434, “TechnoCalyps.” ↵
- Garreau, Radical Evolution, 6–8. ↵
- God designed man in perfection, but this design has been corrupted due to the curse of sin. However, transhumanists are not content to repair these defects. Instead, they view any apparently removable limitation as a design defect which should be “corrected.” Consider, for example, the comment of Dr. Max More, “We’re all stupid. We don’t think very well. We can’t remember more than about seven numbers in a row before our brain gives up. We have very bad short term memories. We can’t think about long chains of reasoning without forgetting where we started. That’s all design defects as far as I’m concerned. So, is that an enhancement to improve that, or is it repairing a defect? It doesn’t really matter. We should be using technology to make ourselves better.” (Frank Theys, TechnoCalyps, (DVD, Votnik, 2006), Source: TheDejavu434, “TechnoCalypse.”) ↵