In my last post, I outlined what Posthumanism is. The article finished with a question- why should Christian even care about Posthumanism? In this article, I’d like to suggest some reasons.
Start with Creation
When doing theology it’s normally a good idea to start at the beginning. The book of Genesis starts with two creation stories, in both of them, humanity is created by God as the pinnacle of his creation. I would guess that Genesis 1-3 has been talked about more in the history of the church than any other chapters in the whole Bible. It is in these chapters that some fundamental questions get answered about some foundational questions:
- What is humanity?
- Who am I (as part of that humanity)?
- What is the nature of this created world that we find ourselves in?
This is just the start of the story but already here that Christian’s start getting a sense of why Posthumanist philosophy might run completely counter to the Biblical narrative.
- Humanity is made by God, as a potent blend of Body and Spirit
In Genesis God creates humanity out of the dust of the earth and breathes life into them (Genesis 2:7). This is such an important verse for the way Christians understand themselves, their bodies were formed by God out of the dust of the earth, this means the dirty, physicality of our bodies is intrinsically good and should be honoured.
Complementing that, we have had life breathed into us by God; we are filled with His Spirit. We are not just dirt which can be manipulated and changed on a whim once the technology becomes available, there is a God-fueled, God-activated stamp of approval inside each human person.
To treat human bodies as matter which can be manipulated, to treat the body as “the original prosthesis”, is to misunderstand both the goodness of the body and the sacredness of the Spirit housed within.
- You are a subordinate to God, who is called to care and steward God’s creation.
God put humanity in the garden to tend and keep it. There are lots of things that can be said about these two words which I will aim to cover in future posts. However, for now, it is enough to point out that “tend and keep” could never be translated or understood as “transform and manipulate”. When Christian’s recognise themselves as subordinate to God they humbling themselves and seeing the world as something which was given to them to care for. This is a vastly different approach to the posthumanist assumption that the world is ours to play with and manipulate as we see fit.
- Creation is God’s
Christians see the role of humanity in Creation as stewards of God’s Creation. This means Christians do not believe they own the world or have the right to do whatever they want to it. The earth and all that is in it belong to God says Psalm 24.
There is a strong likelihood that at least some of the Posthumanist ideas will become a reality. It may take some time but it is not impossible, we just need to develop the technology (not impossible means it will be possible eventually). As a result, I think Christians need to start thinking about these issues now before the technology becomes available. Once the technology becomes available it will be too late because theological refelection takes a long time.
These ideas cannot be relegated to the realm of science fiction or abstract philosophy, they are the blueprint for a potential future which is being actively pursued, and which some academics believe will be realised within a generation. Below you’ll find a Youtube video produced by the British Institute of Posthuman Studies in it, they outline their vision for a Posthuman future. As you watch the video as yourself the question- does this vision of humanity chime in harmony with the Biblical vision? If not, Christians should care about that!