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Evangelicals and Nano-Gnosticism

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Luddites to the left of me, the religious to the right; and here I am, stuck in the middle with nano.

This Christianity Today article: “The Techno Sapiens Are Coming,” is subtitled, “When God fashioned man and woman, he called his creation very good. Transhumanists say that, by manipulating our bodies with microscopic tools, we can do better. Are we ready for the great debate?”

The author, C. Christopher Hook, director of bioethics education for the Mayo Graduate School of Medicine, and chairman of the Mayo Clinical Ethics Council, writes:

    “The ethical implications of nanotechnology are great, but even more troubling is the philosophy of some of its proponents, who subscribe to transhumanism. This is the belief that someday we will re-engineer our natures to such an extent that a posthuman species, or several new species, will be created that are “superior” to homo sapiens.”

Here’s an issue that will need to be addressed. The evengelical lobby has tremendous influence with the current administration in Washington, and subscribers to a publication that reaches many of them are being told that some nanotech proponents are “transhumanists,” which the author calls a “new incarnation of gnosticism.”

I’m guessing that the nanotech business leadership, already going through some bizarre intellectual contortions in order to distance itself from proponents of molecular nanotechnology, would certainly not want to be painted as gnostics.

Yet, here, a pro-nano evangelical and a confused religion writer add their voices to the latest incarnation of ages-old questions of faith and science.

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  • There is speculation about the Singularity, that religious types will undergo a reverse Rapture, being the ones left behind when the rest of us go transhuman.

    Or as Ken Macleod has speculated, wind up in their own preserve.

  • Eric Olsen

    Very philosophically provocative, Howard, very glad you are keeping us up with all this.

    I don’t see a contradicton between doing anything we can to improve our organic existence and religion – kind of like separation of church and state.

  • OK, i’ll be sure to check those out…oh, no, wait, i WON’T.
    If i want drugs, i can grow my own, that have far more information known about them and easily available, thanks all the same
    Nice artical Howard. Sorry about this, sometimes ignoring the spammers just isn’t fun enough =+)

  • btw, if anyone wants to e-mail the host of http://3xcuties.com
    about that site’s owner’s spamming habits, the address is abuse@esthost.com according to samspade.org, although both domain servers have “porn” in the name so i wouldn’t hope for much in the way of action.
    Funnily enough, the abuse e-mail address for http://www.asiansmaster.net/alprazolam-dosage/ is identical. The domain servers are different though, so it could still be two different spammers.

  • I learned from SpammerX that turning in spam abuse just gets your name on yet another spam list.

  • Sorry, I zapped those spam comments.

  • Tristan

    I like that:

    turning in a spammer just gets you put on another spam list !!!


    I HATE SPAM ~~~

    (unless it’s got ketchup on it)

  • is this Kill spyware Buy person spamming us?

  • Yeah, it (I’m using pronouns reserved for non-humans now — they love that!) shifted the URL it’s using, so I had to switch how I’m blocking them.

  • Jet in Columbus

    I forgot, what was this forum about again?

  • JP

    This raises intriguing questions, but I must say the gnosticism link is off: “Transhumanism is in some ways a new incarnation of gnosticism. It sees the body as simply the first prosthesis we all learn to manipulate. As Christians, we have long rejected the gnostic claims that the human body is evil. Embodiment is fundamental to our identity, designed by God, and sanctified by the Incarnation and bodily resurrection of our Lord. Unlike gnostics, transhumanists reject the notion of the soul and substitute for it the idea of an information pattern.”

    The first assumption is that somehow with nano-engineering, we’d actually create a new species. Many things go into distinguishing whether a being is of a new species, so question #1 is how much change to the human genetic makeup would be required to “create” a new species, and whether that’s even possible.

    Second, assuming we were able to modify the human DNA pattern by whatever appropriate measure would identify a new species, is whether us “improving” the human body is beyond the authority granted by our Creator? (various traditions will interpret differently) By improving, whether it be technically such as extended lifespan or improved immune system, or spritually such as ethics, does this mean we are judging the gift of our bodies as evil? I have a problem with that.

    This argument ignores the “knowledge” thread of Gnosticism: that man’s goal is to recognize his oneness with creation and with all other humans, in order to reach God who lies beyond the illusion or the Demiurge. One could argue that by learning even more about our makeup and how to manipulate it, we are that much closer to recognizing our common spiritual essence (gnosis).

    That said, the use of the term in the linked article is an attempt at “guilt by association.” But is knowledge, or gnosis, really a bad thing?

  • a good cook

    Most people prefer gnocchi to gnosis.

  • Gonorrhea Lectim

    The Center for Disease Control has issued a warning about a new virulent strain of Sexually Transmitted Disease. The disease is contracted through dangerous and high-risk behavior. The disease is called Gonorrhea Lectim and pronounced “gonna re-elect him.” Many victims contracted it in 2004, after having been screwed for the past four years.

    Cognitive characteristics of individuals infected include: anti-social personality disorders, delusions of grandeur with messianic overtones, extreme cognitive dissonance, inability to incorporate new information, pronounced xenophobia and paranoia, inability to accept responsibility for own actions, cowardice masked by misplaced bravado, uncontrolled facial smirking, ignorance especially of Middle East geography and history, tendencies towards evangelical theocracy, categorical all-or-nothing behavior. Naturalists and epidemiologists are amazed at how this destructive disease originated only a few years ago from a bush found in Texas.

  • Funny, but way off topic.

    This is actually a really important topic that deserves a lot more attention.

    Many people seem to believe that the human race is already perfect, that we don’t evolve any more, just live on in a state of sweet perfection. Uh-uh, WRONG!

    Our species is actually evolving very rapidly in comparison to many other species. Some, including me, suspect that there are already at least two, possibly more, clearly divergent species starting to poke their heads out of their human host, rather like butterflies from a cocoon…

  • Christopher –

    I have to agree with you. We aren’t done evolving that is the beauty of evolution it never ends.

  • Chris suspects that

    “Some, including me, suspect that there are already at least two, possibly more, clearly divergent species starting to poke their heads out of their human host, rather like butterflies from a cocoon…”

    Shades of The Time Machine by H.G. Wells!

    Pray tell, Mr. Rose, what are these protospecies and how do we recognize them?

  • Ruvy, first off, please feel free to call me Christopher or even Chris after a drink or two! Although you can call me Mr Rose when you’re insulting me if you like!

    I don’t really have all the answers but I was thinking about sociopaths the other day, prompted by some horrendous murder case in my former homeland.

    It’s only speculation, but I got to thinking about what it must actually be like to be a rational thinking person living in a trivia obsessed society.

    As I understand it, sociopaths lack most “normal” human emotions, so the constant endless empty chatter of so much human activity could seem very strange to them. It doesn’t take much thinking about to come upon the possibility that a “sociopath” is a newer type of human, with extra thinking capacities but reduced emotional empathy.

    There is also a fantastic amount of mindblowing work going on in fields as diverse as life extension, stem cell research, DNA manipulation, the man-machine interface, (in the future, we are all going to be a little bit machine).

    Studies are also showing that humanity as a whole (and in particular the Ashkenazi) is becoming more intelligent, by a kind of intellectual self-selection rather than an evolutionary reaction.

    Clearly, the implications of all this are immense.

    For a start, there are going to be people who adopt all this new information quite readily and others who, for philosophical reasons, decide not to embrace the new world. That in itself may possibly provoke an even more rapid evolutionary lurch than we can currently foresee.

    I look forward to learning more on this…

  • Sociopaths generally do not reproduce and self reproduction is rather important to the development of a new species. In order to make those connections that make reproduction possible (not to mention enjoyable) empathy is a rather helpful quality.

    From what I’ve seen, particularly in Israel, Ashkenazi Jews are becoming stupider and stupider, rather than smarter and smarter. Frankly, I’d be very nervous for all of mankind if the “new & improved version” is supposed to be an Ashkenazi Jew…

  • I think they’ll start reproducing as they find more of their own kind! I’ll look for the source on the A thing, habg on…

  • nugget

    one word will suffice: Fatuous.

  • er, Nugget, thanks for describing yourself – now, do you have a comment on the topic..?

  • Most religions stemming from the Prophet Abraham have been sanitized, homogenized and regionalized for the sake of recruiting converts. I’ll bet there are thousands of religious writings from the great faiths which remain hidden in the shadows because they are contrary to the mind control propaganda spewed by religious leaders. Personally I’d love nothing more than to see Moses, Christ and Mohammed return on a great cloud at the same time. Let the triumphant trio inflict their wrath upon the Holy Land. Level the damn paradise in the desert and leave the rest of us alone!

  • Sophia Sadek

    Thanks for the posting. Interesting discussion.

    My impression of nanotechnology is that it will make the human animal more dependent on external support. If anything, it will weaken the species even more, rather than create a more “advanced” variety.

    One of the obvious applications of nanotech is to create mental control implants. Thought control is already a pervasive part of the modern landscape. Add mind control to it, and the transition to a Matrix-like society is complete.

    Some of our students are doing advanced man-machine interface work that is hands-free and implant-free. During their testing, a nanotech firm interfaced to their technology. The nanotech device burned out. This left us with a warm, fuzzy feeling.