by Victoria Lorrimar
In engaging with transhumanist visions of the future, and the more general notion of human technological enhancement, from a theological perspective, a helpful starting point is the place of technology within a doctrine of creation.
Within a Christian understanding, an examination of the biblical language for creation (i.e. a word study of the Hebrew brand ytsar the first of which is reserved only for the action of God while the second is an activity that both God and humans carry out) suggests that it is appropriate to speak of humans as being genuinely creative from a theological perspective. Drawing on a metaphor of God as divine artist, we might situate human making within a theology of creation, rather than relegating it to the more distant doctrines of preservation, providence or redemption. Trevor Hart sums up this approach, arguing that viewing creation as a project divinely begun and established, yet one that is handed over to us with more to be made of it yet and inviting our responsible participation in the making, affords a fruitful perspective on the matter (Making Good, 2014: 8).
For a long time, the semantic scope of creation rejected the possibility of such parallels and served to underscore the radical otherness of God. We can chart the historical shift which saw the notion of creation extended from its previous preserve of God alone to human artistry. Creation proper may still apply solely to the work of God in certain instances, but the idea of creation more generally has expanded in scope.
In fact, we can track the understanding of human creativity as it diverges from its humble scriptural origins. The language of creativity is first ascribed to humans during the Renaissance, as the idea of art being a faithful imitation of divine creativity gave way to the idea of the artist or poet as a creator in their own right. This extends through the Romantic era and the Enlightenment period, with the result that the modern understanding of the arts is, on the one hand, more limited than its classical and mediaeval counterparts, in that earlier understandings of art encompassed human productivity more generally, but also more audacious in the claims it makes on behalf of human capacities and originality.
From the time of Francis Bacon, the father of modern science, we see this understanding of human capacities bound up in the promise of empirical science, the immense confidence in the expansion of human knowledge, the drive to master nature and the flourishing of utopian thought. This emphasis on dominion came to be enmeshed within theological understandings of creation, as creation found its way into the vocabulary used for human activities.
This does not mean, however, that it is inappropriate to speak of humans as genuinely creative. Hart, after an extensive historical analysis of the language of creation, reaches the conclusion that: at various key points in the story of Gods creative fashioning of a world fit for his own indwelling with us, divine artistry actively solicits a corresponding creaturely creativity, apart from which the project cannot and will not come to fruition (Making Good, 2014: 37).
We find similar ideas in the work of Jacques Maritain and Dorothy Sayers, who reinforce the theological significance of human making and its proper place within a doctrine of creation. Maritain describes the creativity of the artist as a development of divine creation, a work proceeding from the whole soul which bears the image of God. Though he distinguishes the creation of God (who is able to truly generate another substance through divine utterance) and human works of creating (which can only ever be signs), Maritain nevertheless grounds the dignity of art in his assertion that it realizes in act one of the fundamental aspects of the ontological likeness of our soul with God. Sayers, too, locates human creativity in our being made in the image of a triune Creator, introduced in her play The Zeal of Thy House(1937) and unpacked further in The Mind of the Maker (1941).
The challenges posed by transhumanist visions of the human future require us to develop a sufficiently robust account of theological anthropology in return. Of course, theological anthropology is a very broad category, and Ive focused on the understanding of human creativity within that. If we reflect on enhancement technologies, this prompts the question as to whether these kinds of technology are a legitimate exercise of our creativity, set within the framework of a broader doctrine of creation.
Most of the detailed theological treatments of human creativity we might turn to focus almost exclusively on the arts. If they do treat technology, they tend to have developed within the science and religion field and often are accompanied by an over-privileging of rationality and an epistemological confidence in human capability that neglects an account of fallenness and the need for discernment (here Im thinking mainly of Philip Hefners created co-creator proposal outlined most comprehensively in his 1993 work The Human Factor). In these latter discourses, even if they are moving beyond a foundationalist epistemology, the role of the imagination for understanding and discernment is often neglected.
Yet, transhumanism as a philosophy is veryimaginative. There are all kinds of synergies with science fiction that other scholars have drawn out, but (whatever we say about some of the ideologies involved) we have to admit that transhumanist visions of transcendence are captivating for many (even if not always taken seriously). If we are to engage these movements from a theological perspective then we need to meet them with equally compelling theological accounts of the future, and the good news is that Christian theology has a deep well of resources to draw on in this area.
James McClendon argued for the need to enter the tournament of narratives competing for attention within a postmodern milieu. Presented in ways that recruit the imagination (as James K. A. Smith describes the imperative for good stories in the moral arena), the visions of transcendence and glorification proclaimed so confidently in transhumanist literature are ripe for reclamation by Christian theologians, philosophers, writers and artists. We might respond with a fuller vision of the human future, a greater hope to set alongside the imaginings of transhumanists and techno-utopians. Of course, this is already a move to eschatology, but then we dont want to separate out creation and redemption as entirely independent doctrinal loci.
Whereas technology itself tends to occupy many of the classic roles of a deity in the present technological paradigm, theologians are able to expose the pretensions to self-love inherent in certain technological mindsets (as theologian Brian Brock puts it). A Christian account of hope declares that in conceiving, assessing and implementing technologies, we bear neither the burden of correctly envisioning or accomplishing redemption for ourselves nor the risk and dread of complete failure. Technology occupies its proper place within the work of a gracious God who allows creation to participate in bringing the creation toward glorious fulfilment.
By reflecting on our technological activity in the context of theological accounts of co-creation (recognising and challenging the ways in which understanding has diverged from a biblical account of creativity), and by setting imaginative portrayals of Christian hope alongside transhumanist projections, we might think of theology as entering the tournament of narratives competing for victory over the human (and non-human, an aspect often neglected by transhumanists!) future.
- Teacher who insulted pupils and colleagues in 'Gossip Girl' style blog faces being struck off - Mirror Online - January 29th, 2021
- It's A Sin cast: meet the unknowns behind 2021's first TV hit - NME.com - January 29th, 2021
- FDA sends warning letter to company that is advertising COVID-19 curing tea - Food Safety News - January 14th, 2021
- The QAnon Doctor Pushing Wild Conspiracies About the COVID Vaccine - VICE - January 14th, 2021
- BravePicks 2020 - The Scribes Speak! Paul Stenning - bravewords.com - January 14th, 2021
- VidCon Now to Debut at the Singapore Media Festival - Branding in Asia Magazine - November 24th, 2020
- Watch This Superb Fan Adaptation of Peter Watts' Blindsight - tor.com - October 19th, 2020
- Pandemics and transhumanism - The Times of India Blog - September 18th, 2020
- CD Projekt Red have nabbed Cyberpunk, but here are 5 other punks that deserve games - PC Gamer - September 18th, 2020
- Scientific Psi? Neuralink and the smarter brain - Covalence - September 18th, 2020
- Transhuman - Wikipedia - August 10th, 2020
- The Transhuman Revolution: What it is and How to Prepare ... - August 10th, 2020
- What No One Will Tell You About Robots - OZY - July 25th, 2020
- Black LGBTQ+ playwrights and musical-theater artists you need to know - Time Out New York - July 25th, 2020
- ANTIBOY: The Family of Harry Hains Unveils Animated Video For Good Enough Single - Icon Vs. Icon - July 22nd, 2020
- No death and an enhanced life: Is the future transhuman ... - July 21st, 2020
- Immortality or Bust - Film Threat - July 20th, 2020
- In Dan Brown's AI Hype Novel, the Hero Stumbles Onto God - Walter Bradley Center for Natural and Artificial Intelligence - July 15th, 2020
- Quote of the Day on the Morality of Those Seeking Heaven - Patheos - July 13th, 2020
- A music and arts festival for Mumbaikars - Times of India - July 3rd, 2020
- Experience never seen before immersive music and art festival with transhuman collective 'UNRATED' - RadioandMusic.com - July 3rd, 2020
- This startup is ensuring babies get a good nights sleep with its smart mattress - YourStory - July 3rd, 2020
- Who exactly was Jeffrey Epstein? A history of the mogul and his crimes - Film Daily - July 3rd, 2020
- Livestream event on Steve Fuller's Nietzschean Meditations - Institute for Ethics and Emerging Technologies - June 22nd, 2020
- Transhuman - TV Tropes - June 13th, 2020
- Artificial eye with 3D retina developed for the first time - Advanced Science News - June 13th, 2020
- How to go on holiday in a pandemic - The Economist - June 13th, 2020
- The Best Way to Handle Your Decline Is to Confront It Head On - The Atlantic - June 13th, 2020
- Humans will be able to replace their bodies within 50 years claims transhumanist writer - Express.co.uk - May 27th, 2020
- How Britain's oldest universities are trying to protect humanity from risky A.I. - CNBC - May 27th, 2020
- Heres Everything Coming to HBO Max in June - TheWrap - May 27th, 2020
- Durham's Kriya Therapuetics lands $80M to advance gene therapies for diabetes, severe obesity - WRAL Tech Wire - May 15th, 2020
- Introducing When the Sparrow Falls, the Debut Novel From Neil Sharpson - tor.com - May 15th, 2020
- New Releases And Eshop Discounts Week 20 - N-Europe - May 15th, 2020
- Things To Do: Antonio Eyez Will Perform At R&R Studios April 30 - Houston Press - April 27th, 2020
- Five Essay Collections to Read in Quarantine - Willamette Week - April 27th, 2020
- OISTE.ORG Foundation endorses preserving the human right to privacy statement during the Covid-19 pandemic signed by a group of more than 300... - April 27th, 2020
- The Demo For Soldat 2 Is Now Free On The Steam Platform - Happy Gamer - April 2nd, 2020
- Friending the World Sociality and the Transhuman Vision - Patheos - March 28th, 2020
- What is an artificial womb and can it work for humans? - Screen Shot - March 28th, 2020
- How the Fast & Furious Movies Should End (and Live on Forever) - Observer - March 28th, 2020
- Oxford academic claims future humans could live for thousands of years - Express.co.uk - March 26th, 2020
- Electioneering on the Eve of the Virus Nathan Thornburgh and photographer Shane Carpenter were in New - Roads and Kingdoms - March 26th, 2020
- MultiBrief: Surviving coronavirus: Bravery, health, and strength - MultiBriefs Exclusive - March 26th, 2020
- Coronavirus and the Rise and Fall of Humanism - CounterPunch - March 26th, 2020
- The Fight against Socialism Isnt Over - National Review - March 16th, 2020
- Harry Hains, actor in American Horror Story and The OA, dies at 27 - SYFY WIRE - January 11th, 2020
- WISeKey to Hold its 13th Annual Cybersecurity IoT Blockchain Roundtable in Davos on January 22, 2020 - GlobeNewswire - December 25th, 2019
- Misinformation, hacking, and imploding startups: 18 books to read in 2020 that puncture Silicon Valley utopianism - Business Insider - December 25th, 2019
- Best books of 2019 - Patheos - December 21st, 2019
- The 50 best TV shows of 2019: No 4 Years and Years - The Guardian - December 21st, 2019
- The Big Read Poppy: Human After All, the NME interview - NME.com - November 13th, 2019
- Jonathan Kay: What to make of racism, sexism and homophobia from the same people lecturing us about bigotry - National Post - November 13th, 2019
- How Australian viewers are reacting to 'Years and Years' - SBS - November 13th, 2019
- Are LED lights and other techno-implants slowly turning us into the Borg? - SYFY WIRE - October 16th, 2019
- The finale issue of House of X/Powers of X: We dig into every detail - Polygon - October 16th, 2019
- Yudkowsky - The AI-Box Experiment - June 3rd, 2019
- Corporate Growth Summit and International M&A Awards - June 3rd, 2019
- 7 Reasons Why Transhumanism is the Greatest Threat to the ... - May 22nd, 2019
- Transhuman | Future | FANDOM powered by Wikia - April 20th, 2019
- Transhuman | Snafu Comics Wiki | FANDOM powered by Wikia - April 20th, 2019
- The TransHuman Code Initiative | A new initiative that ... - April 20th, 2019
- THE ADVENT OF THE TRANSHUMANS - News - Dreadnought - April 20th, 2019
- Transhuman Treachery - TV Tropes - April 20th, 2019
- Home - Believer - April 12th, 2019
- Transhuman by Jonathan Hickman - April 7th, 2019
- Calls for papers Conferences taking place in May 2019 - April 5th, 2019
- Transhuman Artificial Intelligence Coming to a Hive Mind ... - April 5th, 2019
- Transhuman Space Wiki | FANDOM powered by Wikia - March 18th, 2019
- Overwatch Transhuman Arm | Xenic-HL2RP Wiki | FANDOM ... - March 18th, 2019
- The TransHuman Code Initiative - January 8th, 2019
- Groundbreaking project seeks to 'bring dead back to life ... - December 5th, 2018
- The Transhuman Code - December 5th, 2018
- Transhuman r/Transhuman - reddit - December 5th, 2018
- Transhuman Space - Steve Jackson Games - November 3rd, 2018
- Transhuman Space: Bioroid Bazaar - November 3rd, 2018
- Believer - Transhuman - Amazon.com Music - August 22nd, 2018
- When Robots Take Over, What Happens to Us? - July 29th, 2018
- Nick Knight - Home - July 14th, 2018
- Transhuman Aliens - TV Tropes - May 30th, 2018