Transhumanism-Christianity Diplomacy:  To Transform Science-Religion Relations

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Virginia Tech

Transhumanism is an emerging philosophical and social movement that aims, through technology, to extend human life and radically expand intellectual, physical, and psychological capabilities. Many of transhumanism's goals overlap the eschatological hopes of Christians, such as the elimination of sickness and death. Yet observers who see transhumanism and Christianity in monolithic terms often portray them as adversaries. Against this view, I argue that within each community are factions that have comparable, but contested, views on God, the divine attributes, and human origins, responsibility, and destiny. As a result, an emerging dialog between particular transhumanists and Christians seeks to shape the future of humanity by integrating the basic commitments of transhumanism and Christianity.

Bruno Latour's concept of modes of existence offers a framework for both developing and analyzing diplomacy between and within Christian and transhumanist communities. Specifically, Latour's work allows for the identification of category mistakes that set the terms of intermodal conflicts and dialog. Some transhumanists and most Christians hold beliefs about the nature and meaning of God. Christians believe in a Trinitarian God that is the preexistent, eternal, and personal creator of the universe. By contrast, elements of the transhumanist movement believe that in the future an artificial God will inevitably emerge as an omniscient and omnipotent supercomputer. The attributes, concepts and purposes of God and, by extension, nature lend a basis for developing diplomatic relationships between factions of transhumanism and Christianity.

Diplomacy between transhumanism and Christianity exists via social media and virtual meeting places. At the forefront of this movement is a new Christian Transhumanist Association that I analyze in some depth. It is only a couple of years old, but its leaders have already attracted international attention. Their strategy of theological minimalism seeks to reduce friction among stakeholders. I show that this strategy sacrifices the insights that Christian theology and philosophy could bring to the development of transhumanism. I conclude that in order to affect transhumanism Christians must find ways to apply their insights into personal creator-creature relationships to the challenges of safely developing artificial superintelligence.

Christianity, transhumanism, diplomacy, modes of existence