Much has been written about the potential dangers in the realm of Transhumanism; but, for readers unfamiliar with exactly what is involved in this futurist pursuit, here is a quick primer on some of the things that the Transhumanists have been able to do along with some of their plans for the future.
I. Medicine & Pharmaceuticals
In the area of medicine, transhumanist innovations have been many. One underlying tenet of tranhumanistic study is this idea that human beings have limited, flawed, and sometimes breakable hardware shells that transhumanism can help fix or, to go one step further, upgrade. Much of the work being done here is very good and helpful; and, many of the researchers, doctors and inventors of these technologies would probably not classify themselves as transhumanists. However, their underlying philosophy has its spot to one degree or another in the transhumanistic world.
Some examples of this technology are things such as cochlear implants to make the deaf hear, prosthetic arms for those who have lost limbs, artificial hearts and even in vitro fertilization. In each of these cases, the technological breakthrough takes from the human body that wasn’t functioning properly or wasn’t there period and develops a capability that person did not have. While there are a few issues with the last technology mentioned, in general and in theory these technologies are good and beneficial to mankind. They are, for the most part, as benign as a peg-leg was 200 years ago and are helpful additions to the medical arena. That said, man never seems to be satisfied with his achievements and always wants to push things one step further; and herein lies the problem.
Medical science has not been content with helping infertile couples have children through fertilizing their babies outside the womb; they have had to start creating their own type of babies through genetic engineering. Down syndrome babies a problem? Hey, we have a test where you can see whether your baby is going to be undesirable and eliminate the problem before it occurs. Have a particularly ugly gene in your own genetic makeup that you don’t want your baby to inherit? That’s fine, we’ll just introduce another person’s mitochondrial DNA in vitro and solve that issue. The resulting child will be 99% the genetic offspring of the requesting parents and .1% that of a female donor. All subsequent generations will also inherit this genetic mixture. And even though any potential risks of this kind of manipulations are at this point unknown; because we want to and because we can and because we’ve sold it to the general public – we’re plowing forward into the great unknown and going for it. Note these articles.
One advocate of the method also notes the risk. Medical Ethicist, Art Caplan states:
“The big issue over the next 5 to 10 years is going to become how far do we go in pursuit of the perfect baby,” said Caplan. “Do I think we’re going down that road? Yes. Does it creep me out? Yes. Are you going to be able to draw a clear line? I don’t think so.” ( FDA considering 3-parent embryos )
Advocates say it isn’t eugenics, and perhaps under the strictest interpretation it isn’t. After all, they are attempting to save lives not destroy lives. Nevertheless, in practice this will likely be what it becomes even if on an embryonic level. Scientists will take the most desirable of their genetic creations and destroy the rejects. From curing disease, it will evolve into creating better humans with greater capabilities. When Pandora’s box is opened (and it likely is already opened), it is just about guaranteed that it will not be able to be closed again. Where it ends is anyone’s guess; but, they are playing with fire to be sure.
Still, the medical manipulation doesn’t stop there. In an effort to create non-human test subjects for things such as pharmaceuticals, scientists have now gone beyond what people once thought was possible and are creating hybrid beings or chimeras. These hybrids take human DNA and animal DNA and intermix kinds (again, where have we heard this before?). Using genetic engineering, a firm in New Jersey as early as 1991 created pigs which produce human hemoglobin, in Shanghai, they have fused human embryos with rabbit embryos (and allowed the resulting chimera to live for several days), Mayo Clinic produced pigs with human blood, London is pursuing human-cow embryos for their stem cell value, the University of Reno-Nevada has produced sheep with human organs (including brains) making creatures that were 15% human, and Stanford University created mice with 1/4 human brain cells. In fact, an article from 2011 noted 150 animal-human hybrids had been created and destroyed in the UK at that time raising all sorts of questions from theological to ethical to legal. For instance, holding back on the theological considerations for a bit, legally, if something is part human, does it have the legal rights of a human? At what point does it gain these rights? Is experimentation even ethical? What laws need to be written to protect hybrids from abuse? All of these things are being actively discussed.
Legal and ethical issues aren’t the only thing that scientists have to be concerned with. One telling article told of what was found when scientists examined the DNA of pig-human hybrids. They found that the resulting creature was truly intermingled down deeply within the DNA and that this would influence things such as animal-human organ transplantation and even epidemiology. If animal-human DNA could be fused in such a way, they surmised that perhaps the stem-cells from an infected animal merged with human stem cells resulting in the AIDs epidemic. Indeed, they also found that by mixing the two types of DNA cells, virus previously only affecting pigs could now be transferred to humans. What box has Pandora opened?
Finally, there is also a move afoot in the medical realm that doesn’t involve human-animal hybrids at all. There is this idea of nano-technology in which scientists hope to one day reprogram the DNA of human beings to overcome certain genetic diseases. Beyond that, they also hope to augment humans into something beyond what they are today (we will discuss more about that in coming posts). In these cases, the internal DNA of humans would not be human only, but a mixture of human and machine. In their minds, it would be a step to push homo sapiens to the next step in his evolution.
Scripturally, there are many things to consider, the least of which is do these things have a soul? Are they able to be saved? I believe in both instances, the answer is no. In the book of Genesis, we see where God breathed and man became a living soul. These creatures are beings that God did not create, so why would they have a soul? We see further evidence in that with the hybrids in Scripture, the Nephilim, there was no attempt to save, evangelize, or otherwise reason with these chimeras. Often, God instructed His people to utterly wipe them out. I believe this was not an arbitrary decision on His behalf.
Second, I find this idea of the transference of disease quite interesting. Revelation 6:8 says “And I looked, and behold a pale horse: and his name that sat on him was Death, and Hell followed with him. And power was given unto them over the fourth part of the earth, to kill with sword, and with hunger, and with death, and with the beasts of the earth.” Might our genetic manipulation play a part in this? We already have several instances where ugly diseases such as Ebola and AIDs have transferred from animals to humans, and clearly mixing the DNA of beasts with humans makes this even easier. Might there come a time where this experimentation becomes more widespread and a resulting judgment is that humans become the beneficiaries of deadly plagues?
There is so much more to discuss, and I’ll try to bring it out in the posts to come. We’re in truly bizarre territory here – but perhaps not new. Was this part of what the Angels who fell were doing in Genesis 6? There is no new thing under the sun. Is Satan attempting a sequel? Stay tuned.