Share This Episode
Family Policy Matters NC Family Policy Logo

Technology as God

Family Policy Matters / NC Family Policy
The Truth Network Radio
April 11, 2022 10:04 am

Technology as God

Family Policy Matters / NC Family Policy

On-Demand Podcasts NEW!

This broadcaster has 499 podcast archives available on-demand.

Broadcaster's Links

Keep up-to-date with this broadcaster on social media and their website.

April 11, 2022 10:04 am

This week on Family Policy Matters, host Traci DeVette Griggs welcomes Dr. Wesley J. Smith to discuss the rise of a troubling “religion”—transhumanism—which elevates technology as the way to eternal life.


Welcome to Family Policy Matters, an engaging and informative weekly radio show and podcast produced by the North Carolina Family Policy Council. Hi, this is John Rustin, President of NC Family and we're grateful to have you with us for this week's program. It's our prayer that you will be informed, encouraged, and inspired by what you hear on Family Policy Matters and that you will feel better equipped to be a voice of persuasion for family values in your community, state, and nation. And now here is our host of Family Policy Matters, Tracy Devitt Griggs. A growing global movement seeking immortality through technology hopes to use scientific advancements to transition the human race into super beings called H plus or more than human in a quest to enhance life and cheat death.

And they're even trying to appeal to Christians as if this is some kind of holy pursuit. Well, it's not, according to Wesley J. Smith, who is host of the podcast Humanize and chairman of the Discovery Institute Center on Human Exceptionalism. Well, we're grateful to have him join us today to discuss this complex and important topic. Dr. Wesley Smith, welcome to Family Policy Matters. Thank you. How are you? Good.

Thanks. So start off by explaining what exactly is transhumanism. Transhumanism is a modern social movement that seeks to use the wonders of technology to achieve immortality in the corporeal world and also to allow people to gain superhuman type capacities through technology.

In a sense, it's a belief system, and it would replace belief in God and belief in the afterlife with a belief that one can be immortal here and now in the world as we know it once the technology is developed. So who are these people that are pushing our world towards this transhumanism? It's very interesting. There's a broad variety of people who are pushing this. It started in the high academy, you know, professors from places like Oxford and Cambridge and Yale and this kind of thing. But it's been really picked up by big tech, Silicon Valley, the people like Ray Kurzweil who works for Google and some others.

And then there's also a popular version led by somebody named Zoltan Istvan, I-S-T-V-A-N, if your listeners want to look him up. He even ran for president in 2016 on the transhumanist party ticket, and he gained worldwide attention and media coverage because he took a bus and redesigned it to look like a coffin and ran on the plank of defeating death. So you have a lot of people who have given up the idea of God or given up Christianity, and they're seeking to find a replacement for where that hole is, and they're looking to technology as the great hope to allow them to have, if not immortal life forever and ever, at least indefinite life here in the modern world.

And how exactly do they propose bringing this about? Well, there are several examples, but the one that they find most intriguing is called uploading one's mind into a computer. And the idea here is that at some point AI, artificial intelligence, will become so sophisticated that they will be able to upload their minds into computers, and then they will be able to live forever, perhaps even in blended consciousnesses in the cyber world of software. And it's a fantasy, but it is a deep desire because this is based on a tremendous fear of obliteration at death. Because transhumanism is a materialist philosophy, and materialism breeds hopelessness and nihilism. And the point of transhumanism is to allow materialists who think that all we are is a bunch of carbon molecules to find some hope of rescue, if you will, if not salvation.

Right. So besides the mind, do they have some other ideas for keeping the body going? Yeah, there's one idea that they would continually make human clones of themselves once cloning is perfected, and then they would transfer their consciousnesses into the new bodies. Some of them are having themselves, when they die, cryogenically frozen, their heads frozen, and with the hope that they will be attached to a new body one day or onto a cyborg. These are the kinds of fantastical ideas that they're actually pursuing and people are putting a lot of money into.

In addition, there's a lot of money going into research to prevent aging and this kind of thing, as well as those more fantastical technological approaches. For those of us who are Christians, there's a huge gaping hole here, and I think we would call it the soul. So talk a little bit more about why transhumanism is incompatible with Christianity.

Sure. Well, Christianity is theistic, and transhumanism, properly understood, is materialistic. Christianity is eschatological in the sense that it sees internal life not here in this world, this fallen world, but in the New Jerusalem. Transhumanism believes that this world is all there is. Christianity gets into issues in terms of improving sanctification and that kind of thing to improve oneself, to become more God-like in one's behavior. Transhumanism doesn't believe in any of that and seeks to improve capacity, such as, let's say, have the eyesight of a hawk through things such as genetic engineering and other technological fixes. Christianity believes in sin, salvation, and so forth, and transhumanism, again, is purely materialistic. You can no more be a Christian transhumanist than you can be a Christian Muslim or a Christian Buddhist. These are just incompatible world views. Okay, but they are appealing to Christians, aren't they?

And on what basis are they doing that? Well, there's something called the Christian Transhumanist Association that basically, I think, is conflating the belief which we all would accept. Look, if you improve technology, life can be better on Earth and you can alleviate suffering. But they conflate that kind of idea with what transhumanism proposes, which is to change human nature itself. Transhumanism wants to change the very biological nature of human beings. And, of course, Christianity doesn't want any of that, so the Christian Transhumanist Association will say things such as, you know, this is a way that we can improve the world as God would want to improve this kind of thing. But it has nothing to do with redemption, reconciliation, and renewal. Transhumanism is mechanistic. And, of course, Christianity is metaphysical. Since many Christians don't actually read the Bible, I think sometimes we fall for things that we shouldn't. How much chance do you think that this movement is going to get a Christian following?

Well, it depends on, again, what you mean by Christian. In order to be a Christian transhumanist, you have to change the purpose and nature of Christianity. And you also have to, in a sense, change what transhumanism is. For example, there's a great new potential technology that would help people with serious disabilities, an echo skeleton, that you could put the echo skeleton on the person who's paralyzed and they might be able to walk again. Now, transhumanists will say, oh, that's transhumanism, but that's not transhumanism. That's no different in kind than, say, the glasses I wear that help me see better. You're not changing the human condition.

You're actually providing a medical treatment to help someone live a better life. That's, of course, purely consistent with Christian belief. But what transhumanists want to do are things like genetically engineer the human condition, the human being. They want to genetically engineer children to be able to design them and to have the capacities that the parents want. They want to use various things like brain implants and merging with other consciousnesses again in cyberspace to change the very nature of life itself.

And those are not compatible sources because Christians look to God and Christ as the ultimate savior. Transhumanists look to technology, which, of course, is remaking man in man's image as opposed to being in God's image. I read that these transhumanist advocates believe that we are actually closer than one might think to be able to do this. Do you believe that?

I don't, but I am worried about the value system. Transhumanists will say there's something coming called the singularity. And you might look at the singularity the way some Protestants would look at the second coming of Christ. That it's going to be a point in time in which life is going to be completely transformed. But again, instead of being transformed by Christ, it's going to be transformed by technology. And the singularity, basically, that point in time is when the crescendo of advances will be such that it will no longer be stoppable. And then the technology will grow so exponentially that the desires that transhumanists have for permanent existence can be held.

I don't think that's going to happen. I mean, we live in a fallen world and mortality is part of this world. In fact, I think it's an important part because it helps us focus on what's important. But I do believe that the value system of transhumanism is a threat. The materialism of transhumanism is a threat because it takes away the hopelessness part and brings in the idea of hope. The transhumanist is highly eugenics. It says that there is a way to have a better, almost a Superman philosophy.

And that people who have these H plus are better than human. That's pure eugenics, which always leads to totalitarianism. So there are very real dangers in the values of transhumanism, even if the technology that transhumanists embrace or hope to find, I don't think will ever come about. So you mentioned earlier nihilism, and I think you've also written that the growth of religious nuns, N-O-N-E-S, is contributing to this. Could you, first of all, explain what nihilism and what religious nuns are and then explain why that is contributing to this? Well, nihilism kind of comes out of Nietzsche, who is famous for writing that God is dead.

And once God is dead, anything becomes possible, right? And it becomes a very depressing downward spiral of hopelessness and a loss of the concept of virtue and values. The nuns are people who are increasingly telling pollsters that they no longer have a religious belief. And that they are basically either agnostic or atheistic. And the nuns are growing among young people.

And I don't think it's a secret that young people are leaving the church in quite large numbers. And many might be attracted to this value system because a lot of people would feel so despairing if they believe that death, as many do, is pure annihilation. As opposed to the chance for salvation and eternal life or with Buddhist reincarnation, things of that sort. If you believe that all there is is the material and that when you die, you are obliterated and there's nothing left, that leads to despair.

And the hope of transhumanism is to alleviate that despair. It's almost a neo-faith. It's a faith in technology, that technology will be the savior instead of God. For those of us who are believers, if we were to encounter some of this philosophy, what are some of the most compelling arguments and responses that you think we can pose? Well, I think if you're going to be Christian, you have to focus on your faith. The point of Christianity isn't material improvement, it's spiritual improvement. The point of Christianity, of course, is to mitigate suffering.

That's what St. Paul said when he said that we are to, and St. James, to engage in works, but works without faith are dead. The point of transhumanism isn't improvement of, in terms of your spiritual self, it isn't growth in Christ, it isn't sanctification. It's to have a better body. It's to have greater eyesight or greater strength or higher intelligence. The thing that transhumanists really focus on is intelligence.

They want to genetically engineer human beings so that they have higher intelligence because they think that makes a better person. Christians focus on love, and you can't genetically engineer the greater capacity to love. That comes through the effort of prayer, of fasting, of asceticism, and of spiritual practices to increase our capacity to love others as we would love ourselves. That's our call as Christians. The call of the transhumanist is purely self-directed and self-centered to live as long as possible and to have the greatest physical capacities as possible and to remake oneself in one's own image.

We're just about out of time for this week. Before we go, Wesley Smith, where can our listeners go to read more about this and follow your work? My most recent article is called The Impossibility of Christian Transhumanism, and you can find that by going to the Discovery Institute website and my podcast and blog, Humanize.Today. Well, thank you, Wesley J. Smith, host of the podcast Humanize and chairman of the Discovery Institute Center on Human Exceptionalism. Thanks so much for being with us on Family Policy Matters.

You've been listening to Family Policy Matters. We hope you enjoyed the program and plan to tune in again next week. To listen to this show online and to learn more about NC Families work to inform, encourage, and inspire families across North Carolina, go to our website at That's Thanks again for listening and may God bless you and your family.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-05-08 15:09:53 / 2023-05-08 15:15:31 / 6

Get The Truth Mobile App and Listen to your Favorite Station Anytime