The Troubles with Transhumanism

The Troubles with Transhumanism

By |2020-05-27T13:32:00-04:00May 27th, 2020|Categories: Eugenics, Reproductive Technology|Tags: , , |

Futuristic and sci-fi human android portrait with pcb metallic skin and binary code green background. AI, IT, technology, robotics, science, transhumanism 3D rendering illustration concepts.

Most transhumanists emphasize only the benefits that their movement would supposedly bring to the human race.  Perhaps they omit possible problems because, like all Culture of Death movements, they lack even the most fundamental understanding of human nature.  So their primary problem seems to be not dishonesty, but ignorance.

#1. Devastating War?

Ever since humanity’s beginnings, we seem to have possessed an innate capability to murder each other.  This urge manifests itself in many ways.  For example, we first thoroughly examine any emerging technology in order to assess its potential to either wage war or to support it (although to be fair, an amazing number of inventions have emerged from war-related research). These inventions and techniques include computers, nuclear power, tracked vehicles, flashlights, practical jet engines, air traffic control, radar, radio navigation, synthetic rubber and oil, pressurized cabins for aircraft, drones, and countless medical advances such as penicillin and mobile X-ray machines.

Some transhumanists recognize this danger: Julian Savulescu, Director of The Oxford Center for Neuroethics, believes that making humans much more intelligent will endanger our race because of our propensity to evaluate new tech as weaponry as soon as it appears.  Without doubt, the practical application of transhumanism would produce devastating weapons of war.  Imagine facing a nation that could field entire battalions of Captain Americas!

#2. “Engineering Morality”

Because of the possibility of transhumans bringing mass destruction to our own race, Savulescu would like to accompany our physical enhancements with an improved system of morality via genetic engineering and hormone therapy in order to make us more cooperative and altruistic.  In other words, we would all become “designer babies.”

The problem, of course, is the question of who decides what is “moral.”  Under a transhumanist regime, the true Christian vision would be entirely shut out because it would refuse to cooperate, knowing that being artificially “reconstructed” physically, mentally and morally is certainly not God’s will for our lives.  So the elite, despite their dismal record, would be left to make the decisions.  Savulescu argues that, since we already allow embryo selection and selective abortions to eliminate diseased embryos and fetuses, there should be no objection to using these methods to choose other genetic traits.1

genetic engineering editing dna

This shows that the Christian vision is already being ignored during the long march to the Singularity.

The third point of the Transhumanist Declaration states, “We recognize that humanity faces serious risks, especially from the misuse of new technologies. There are possible realistic scenarios that lead to the loss of most, or even all, of what we hold valuable.”  For Christians, a world without our Savior would be the ultimate nightmare.

#3. Social Inequality and Eugenics

Nobody — not even transhumanists — denies that the “Humanity+” movement will lead to even greater disparities between rich and poor.  Just look at our record regarding inequality between the developed and developing nations.

The average life span of Americans has improved from 48 years in 1900 to 79 years now.2  The great majority of this is due to the availability of clean drinking water and better health care.  However, more than one-fourth of Africans do not even have clean drinking water.3  Even multi-billionaires like Bill Gates recognize this disparity; he said, “It seems pretty egocentric while we still have malaria and TB [tuberculosis] for rich people to fund things so they can live longer.”

Members of the unthinking elite always lead the charge into morally questionable activities.  If it makes them feel progressive and good about themselves, they are all for it!

The world has always been populated with Utopians, those who desire a perfect world.  This concept has taken many forms, from massive social movements such as Communism, Socialism and Nazism to tiny communes in Oregon.

The grander visions are invariably doomed to fail because, in order to get to the final point, there must be an intermediate stage where a strictly authoritarian regime takes over and reorganizes society in order to realize the Utopia.  The most common of such systems, Communism, would be a perfect system for humanity — if not for our pesky imperfect human nature and the worship we owe to our Creator.  And so, after the authoritarians take over, they get comfortable on top of the heap and simply cannot let go of control.  So millions die while millions more live in abject misery.

The process of establishing an ideal society must always include the coercion and the exclusion of those who refuse to go along. Anyone who thinks that life-enhancing and life-extending technology (which will inevitably be hugely expensive) will not also lead to a “have-have not” society is criminally naïve.  And those who think that transhumanism will not lead to unheard-of atrocities are equally oblivious.  As already mentioned, Culture of Death movements cannot admit defeat; they simply claim that their ideas weren’t taken far enough, and are always eager to try again. As historian Elof Carlson writes, “Eugenics failed because it was not scientific enough.…The role of eugenics in our time is in maximizing [hereditary] information and its availability to those who need it and minimizing the temptation to use the State as the means of enforcing eugenic ideals.”4

Eugenicists always accompany their bland assurances with such empty promises.

Liberals claim to be outraged by the great gulf between the resources allotted to the poor and to the rich.  Well, with transhumanism, we can say “they ain’t seen nothin’ yet!”

third international eugenics conference

Logo of the Third International Eugenics Conference (1932), courtesy of Welcome Collection

We have always had eugenics with us, from societies that simply discarded sick newborns outside the city gates to the social engineers in a dozen European nations who deemed who is worthy of life and who is not.  If the transhumanist idea of self-evolution sounds familiar, it should; it is the latest and most virulent expression of the movement that spawned Germany’s Holocaust.

#4. Artificial Means of Procreation

Of most concern to pro-lifers is that transhumanism will have a profound impact upon human procreation if it becomes the dominant philosophy.  The most influential transhumanist thinkers believe that all babies should be conceived via artificial means using the gametes of licensed parents, then thoroughly screened in order to eliminate all defects, and grown in synthetic wombs to ensure that only the “fittest” humans are produced.  As one transhumanist writer has said, “When responsible child rearing is more highly valued than biological parenthood, we will be procreating as transhumans.”

This is not a new idea.  In 1992, Time Magazine speculated:

It is reasonable to ask whether there will be a family at all.  Given the propensity for divorce, the growing number of adults who choose to remain single, the declining popularity of having children and the evaporation of the time families spend together, another way may eventually evolve.  It may be quicker and more efficient to dispense with family-based reproduction.  Society could then produce its future generations in institutions that might resemble state-sponsored baby hatcheries.5

We have already embarked upon what will become the latest corpse-strewn march to perfection; more than 90% of all Downs syndrome children detected before birth are aborted in most Western nations, and Iceland now publicly brags that it has entirely eliminated them.  In a transhumanist system, perfection is the primary survival trait.  And, if the history of earlier eugenics movements is any indication, so will be the color of one’s skin.

Interestingly, the 1997 movie Gattaca shows us what a transhumanist society would look like.  It depicts a society sharply divided into two categories of people — the “Valids,” who have been conceived with IVF and have been thoroughly screened, and the “Invalids,” conceived naturally.  The Valids have their choice of occupations, and whatever is left over is assigned to the Invalids.

Already, some of the elite are (perhaps) unconsciously imitating the film.  One of these is Julian Savulescu, who promotes what he calls “procreative beneficence.”  He claims that it would be better for society if we allow only genetically superior children to be born:  “If we have the power to intervene in the nature of our offspring — rather than consigning them to the natural lottery — then we should.”  His general plan, which is eerily reminiscent of the Nazi’s Lebensborn eugenics program, is to enlist the genetically superior to create millions of embryos via in-vitro fertilization, apply rigorous preimplantation genetic diagnosis to all of them, and then implant only the best.  He does not give us many details on what kind of people he considers superior, but, based upon descriptions provided by many previous eugenicists, we can make an educated guess.

In short, in the minds of influential transhumanist thinkers, a transhumanist society would be a society of “test-tube babies,” created apart from the natural environment of human conception.

test tube baby

Final Thoughts

The first casualty of such Utopian visions is common sense, brought on by an utter ignorance of human nature.  The second thing to be tossed aside is personal choice.  It is human nature to want to “keep up” with others.  Once some people begin to augment themselves, others will feel compelled to do the same, by removing and replacing perfectly good eyes, ears and limbs just to keep up at their jobs and in their social circles.  At this point, transhumanism will make man a slave to the technology he craves.  And the wise know that there is no happiness or contentment in slavery, whether it be to drugs, sex, fashion, money, power — or the latest style of artificial arm.

These grand projects may seem ludicrous, but we should remember that revolutions always begin with just a handful of people talking about them — people like Margaret Sanger, Jack Kevorkian, Larry Lader and Bernard Nathanson (before he reformed).

And their revolutions always end in death.

 

Endnotes

[1] Richard Weikart.  “Can We Make Ourselves More Moral? Designer Babies, Hormone Therapy, and the New Eugenics of Transhumanism.”  Lifeissues.net, June 6, 2016.

[2] United States Census Bureau.  Statistical Abstract of the United States (Washington, D.C., 2012 Edition), Table 104, “Expectation of Life at Birth, 1970 to 2008, and Projections, 2010 to 2020.”

[3] The 2016 Edition of the CIA World Factbook.

[4] Jan Witkowski and John Inglis, editors.  Davenport’s Dream: 21st Century Reflections on Heredity and Eugenics. Cold Spring Harbor, New York: Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory Press, 2008.[6] Kyle Munkittrick.  “When Will We Be Transhuman?  Seven Conditions for Attaining Transhumanism.”  Discover, July 16, 2011.

[5] Time Magazine Fall 1992 Special Issue titled “Beyond the Year 2000: What to Expect in the New Millennium.”

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About the Author:

Brian Clowes, PhD
Dr. Brian Clowes has been HLI’s director of research since 1995 and is one of the most accomplished and respected intellectuals in the international pro-life movement. Best known as author of the most exhaustive pro-life informational resource volume The Facts of Life, and for his Pro-Life Basic Training Course, Brian is the author of nine books and over 500 scholarly and popular articles, and has traveled to 70 countries on six continents as a pro-life speaker, educator and trainer.

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