"A fanatical technological suppression of the self"

Seventh in the PE Series, Reviewing Chapter Six

Transhumanism Enters Popular Culture by Frederick Meekins describes how societal goals for adopting technologies are influenced by the Arts — in the form of comics, movies and TV shows. I recall the time when our culture was shaped by the Arts such as beautiful oil paintings, classical music, literary gems, and by the Bible as it was upheld and interpreted in all of these. Alas.

Meekins points out that if you are a Star Trek fan then you can understand the complexities of Transhumanism, even with its jargon packed with words like cybernetics, panspermia, nanotechnology and etc. He goes into some detail about "the Borg," aliens who "represent the totalitarian strain of Transhumanism… (p 217)

"Borg" is derived from the word "cyborg," which has come to categorize an entity whose physical components are as much robotic and mechanical as they are biological and organic. However, the greatest atrocity committed by the Borg is not so much that they impose these cybernetic enhancements against the will of those forced to undergo these procedures, it is that the Borg obliterate, or at least sublimate, the sense of individuality altogether. Through the systems of censors and processors placed within the bodies of those taken in by or assimilated by the Borg, the individual is incorporated into the Borg group consciousness known as the "collective."…

This communal solidarity is achieved through a fanatic technological suppression of the self… By minimizing the distinctiveness of each individual within the context of the larger group, even if one claims to be elevating the status of everyone by ensuring that each voice plays a part in determining the overall consensus, this notion of the ultimate communal entity having the only real value minimizes the worth of any of its singular components to the point of fostering a mentality of easy bio-disposability.

When a Borg falls in battle, the body is not respectfully retrieved, even when comrades are nearby. Rather, data components are extracted from the corpse with the remains at best reclaimed for what it can "give back to the community."...

As with other faiths and creeds, transhumanism can be viewed as having a number of denominations. Those bending their knees to the Borg as the patron saint of the Church of Our Beloved Central Processor believe that merging man and metal …ought to be the path pursued to take the species to the level beyond the merely human. The second path… [would be] by directly tinkering with the genetic blueprint already there to advance the capabilities of individuals to levels beyond baseline humans. This would be accomplished in part by adding genes from other species into the code for human beings. (p 219)

Will there come a point where the church will "have to grapple with just how much of the genetic code can be tampered with before it is no longer human?" (p 225) These and other not unlikely scenarios are considered in Meekins' PE essay.

This chapter was so insightful that I went on to read and enjoy one of his ebooks on Smashwords.com, and have added his blog feed to SisterSite.org. See at right, Epistolizer.

To summarize and end his article, he quoted Genesis 11:6, And the Lord said, Behold, the people is one, and they have all one language; and this they begin to do: and now nothing will be restrained from them, which they have imagined to do.

Beware: popular culture is the wave.

Mark of the Best? or the Beast?

Second in a Series, Reviewing Chapter One of Pandemonium’s Engine

As mentioned in the previous post, I am re-adding this series to the new version of SistersSite. The book and its warnings are as relevant now as they were six years ago, maybe more so.

Pandemonium’s Engine (PE) comprises 12 articles. The first and longest at about 70 pages is by Thomas Horn, D.D., the book’s coordinator. It is titled Pandemonium and “HER” Children.

Have you heard of the JASONs? Learn more here. They advise the US government on scientific and technology issues. In 2010 they emphasized the need to place high priority on enhanced-human research. That is one example of groups and institutions with a high profile that are encouraging the leap to genetic reengineering and its resultant sidelines.

Aware of these developments, Dr. Horn decided to answer the 2011 American Academy of Religion Call for Papers on aspects of Transhumanism and Religion. His paper, titled “Transhumanism and Conservative Eschatology,” presents “the technologies imagined by transhumanists… followed by critical, ethical and eschatological concerns held by conservative Christian scholars.” (p 4)

Many today believe that mankind is at the precipice of the next step in human evolution, never mind that evolution is only a religion, not a science. That is why studies on the Ethics of Human Enhancement have been undertaken. You can download the report here.

Here are some of the questions raised in that study. See if you can answer them.

  • What is human enhancement?
  • Does human enhancement raise issues of fairness, access, and equity?
  • What kind of societal disruptions might arise from human enhancement?
  • If individuals are enhanced differently, will communication be more difficult or impossible?
  • Will we need to rethink the notion of a “good life”?
  • Should children be enhanced?
  • What are the policy implications of human enhancement?

Here is a paragraph from the Report that helps to explain what Human Enhancement is:

As examples of emerging technologies in the last year or so, a couple imaginative inventions in particular, among many, are closing the gap even more between science fiction and the real world. Scientists have conceptualized an electronic-packed contact lens that may provide the wearer with telescopic and night vision or act as an omnipresent digital monitor to receive and relay information (Parviz, et al., 2008). Another innovation is a touch display designed to be implanted just under the skin that would activate special tattoo ink on one’s arm to form images, such as telephone-number keys to punch or even a video to watch (Mielke, 2008). Together with ever-shrinking computing devices, we appear to be moving closer to cybernetic organisms (or “cyborgs”), that is, where machines are integrated with our bodies or at least with our clothing in the nearer-term. Forget about Pocket PCs, mobile phones, GPS devices, and other portable gadgets; we might soon be able to communicate and access those capabilities without having to carry any external device, thus raising our productivity, efficiency, response time, and other desirable measures—in short, enabling us to even better survive our world.

Perhaps most people would not find that type of embedded technology a problem. However, what about the invention of genetically modified plants that cause second generation seeds to be sterile? That requires genetic reengineering. And what about applying such techniques to humans?

Thomas Horn reports (p. 55) that technology exists today that can reengineer a human being to no longer be purely human. If DNA is introduced by vectors that provide the means of transport and integration for gene alteration,

a human can have hybridized skin cells that glow in the dark, or perhaps form scales rather than hair, claws rather than fingernails…Muscle cells may grow larger and more efficient at using low levels of calcium and oxygen… hybrid ears may now sense a wider range of sounds.
…If so many scientists (funded by government entities) believe in the “promise” of genetic alteration and transgenic “enhancement,” how then can humanity remain human? We cannot. We will not. Perhaps, some have not."

If you believe man was created as a special kind, in the image of God, then Dr. Horn's insight will jar you.

Would you accept a vaccination, let's say, during a pandemic, if it introduced an animal-human strain that would rewrite your DNA so that you would no longer be entirely human, but part beast?

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...and every living creature that moveth, which the waters brought forth abundantly, after their kind, and every winged fowl after his kind ... the living creature after his kind, cattle, and creeping thing, and beast of the earth after his kind ...the beast of the earth after his kind, and cattle after their kind, and every thing that creepeth upon the earth after his kind: and God saw that it was good. -Genesis 1

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A SistersSite eBook

Flesh and Bone and The Protestant Conscience is an e-book on Amazon.com. It is 99¢ and in the Amazon lending library as well. The book description follows.

Would you let your conscience be your guide?

Does God care if the skin and bone of the dead are passed along to the living for medical uses? Is organ donation OK with God? Should you sign a Living Will?

Did you know that dead organ donors are often anesthetized before their organs are removed? Do you know the current definition of death? The conscience cannot function without facts.

As we ponder the ethics of in vitro fertilization, stem cell research and man-made chimeras, our thoughts trail off. How then should we live? (Ez 33:10)

How should a Christian think about euthanasia by starvation when doctors and the state attorney general all agree it is time to withhold feeding from a brain injured patient? Some things are family matters, but someday it may be our family.

Here is a small book to help you think about whether you want to sign your driver's license, donate a kidney, cremate your loved one, and many other practical questions that may arise in the course of your healthcare decisions or watch over others.

It offers a special focus on the doctrine of the Resurrection that is related to such decisions. Sunday School classes and Bible Study groups could use this book to facilitate discussion about the issues covered.