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Transhumanism is in some ways a new incarnation of gnosticism. It sees the body as simply the first prosthesis we all learn to manipulate. As Christians, we have long rejected the gnostic claims that the human body is evil. Embodiment is fundamental to our identity, designed by God, and sanctified by the Incarnation and bodily resurrection of our Lord. Unlike gnostics, transhumanists reject the notion of the soul and substitute for it the idea of an information pattern.
There are several key questions that our churches and theologians will have to address. Is it appropriate for members of the Body of Christ to engage in alterations that go beyond therapy and are irreversible? Is it just to do so in a world already deeply marked by inequities? What does it mean that our Lord healed and restored in his ministry—never enhanced? Is it significant that the gifts of the Holy Spirit—wisdom, love, patience, kindness—cannot be manufactured by technology? How would the transformation from homo sapiens to techno sapiens affect our identity as bearers of the image of God? If Christians should conclude that such enhancements are not appropriate for them to receive, should they oppose their use by others?
@Tim MurrLimbs lost in wars or accidents and replaced with robotics certainly wouldn't be anything any Christian would oppose. They would see the technology as a gift from God and a person maimed and crippled being able to live a normal healthy life testimony to God's abundant love for us.
As Christians, we have long rejected the gnostic claims that the human body is evil.
Er, perhaps they should worry about letting the majority of Xtians who do think the body is evil know this first?
preferred to spend their time seeking after the secret spiritual knowledge or Gnosis that would allow them to free themselves from the material world and ultimately become one with God outside the reality of matter.
@JuanNavarroAs for the ethical/religious/Christian slant: really, to what degree do you take the Bible to letter? And if you see it as wrong, can you enforce that belief on others?
I wonder how discrimination and prejudice will alter once this technology becomes more widely available (assuming it does). Will gay rights stall out because gays can "take the treatment" and become straight? What about blacks, hispanics or other minorities? Why bother punishing discrimination when the afflicated minorities can shift their body template to match that of the majority? Why look at our minds and souls when it's much easier to simply conform with our bodies?
The Gnostics, on the other hand, were a whole 'nother level of strangeness. They believed that all matter was inherently evil and that only the spirit was good. Therefore, they tried to cut themselves off from the world as much as possible. They viewed charity and compassion toward their fellow beings as a waste of time (why feed a beggar when that only keeps him confined within the world of evil?) and preferred to spend their time seeking after the secret spiritual knowledge or Gnosis that would allow them to free themselves from the material world and ultimately become one with God outside the reality of matter.
Oh, and the Gnostics really weren't that strange. They still had churches and charity and were the largest minority in Southern France until (after 50 years of debate and failed conversions) Simon de Montfort attacked them in 1210. Even then, most Catholic towns refused to give up their Cathar brothers until the massacre of Beziers. Even the traveling Dominicon priests the Catholics sent ahead to convert the wayward Gnostics were impressed by their asceticism and compassion. The whole Gnostics were weird thing is largely an invention of much later thinkers. Sorry, off my nitpick.
For that matter, assuming that the technology is too expensive/illegal to be widely available, what happens when those rich/connected enough to afford for themselves and their progeny adapt it? Now the wealthy won't just think they're "better" than the average person, they truly will have a qualitative advantage. They'll be stronger, faster, prettier and smarter than their socio-economic inferiors.
"As for science vs. religion I'm issuing a restraining order. Science should stay 500 yards from religion at all times.