Transhumanism And The Christian Worldview

Mar 6th, 2021 | By | Category: Culture & Wordview, Featured Issues

The mission of Issues in Perspective is to provide thoughtful, historical and biblically-centered perspectives on current ethical and cultural issues.

In 1947 C.S. Lewis published The Abolition of Man, in which he charted the “negation of human dignity in the name of progress.”  He lived long enough to see the accuracy of his assessment:  “For the power of Man to make himself what he pleases means, as we have seen, the power of some men to make other men what they please.”  Transhumanism comes close to fulfilling Lewis’s warning about the “negation of humanity.”  It is a philosophy or ideology that aims to control and transform the human species using bio technologies, in order to eliminate suffering, disease, aging and death. One of Transhumanism’s proponents, Alexander Thomas of the University of East London, suggests that “If we want to live in paradise, we will have to engineer it ourselves. If we want eternal life, then we will have to rewrite our flawed genetic code and become godlike.”  The core assumption underlying transhumanism is that human life is nothing sacred or special.  Humans are mere biological machines, which can be modified and improved. “If they should prove obsolete, they can be discarded and replaced by a new form of biomechanical life.”  The word itself may have first been used by Julian Huxley in his 1927 book, Religion Without Revelation:  “The human species can, if it wishes, transcend itself — not just sporadically, an individual here in one way, an individual there in another way — but in its entirety, as humanity. We need a name for this new belief. Perhaps transhumanism will serve: man remaining man, but transcending himself, by realizing new possibilities of and for his human nature.” [In 1932, Huxley published A Brave New World, his fictional account of a dystopian, totalitarian world in which individual liberty is usurped by an all-powerful state.]

Transhumanist ideas have been a part of popular culture for years.  Mary Shelley’s classic Frankenstein, in which a scientist creates life in the form of a murdering monster, is one of the earliest examples.  But also consider these recent movies: TranscendenceLimitlessLucy and Ex Machina as well as earlier movies such as GattacaThe Matrix and Blade Runner.  Most of these are bleak, disturbing films, while others ask “thought-provoking questions about what it means to be human.”

Transhumanism has strong religious overtones:  James Hughes, who heads the Institute for Ethics and Emerging Technologies, a transhumanist think tank, says. “I think the overarching issue is that transhumanism is promising things that religion has always promised” (e.g., a version of eternal life).  Transhumanism also promises profound wisdom through enhanced cognitive capacity, and bliss through modification of the senses.  Consequently, traditional religions are often directly threatened by transhumanism.  Mark Walker writes that “One common reaction here is that using technology to re-create humanity is tantamount to humanity ‘playing god.’ Also, some transhumanists are quite dismissive of religion. For example, on occasion it is claimed by some that transhumanism is a secular philosophy and that transhumanists ought to be ever vigilant that it is not confused with religious ideas or interpretations. These views create a hostile polarization between religious and transhumanist visions of humanity’s existence and future.”  But not everyone sees a polarization.  Indeed, there is a Christian Transhumanist Association, which advocates for a synthesis of Christianity and Transhumanism.  Its website posits this affirmation:  “As members of the Christian Transhumanist Association:

  1. We believe that God’s mission involves the transformation and renewal of creation including humanity, and that we are called by Christ to participate in that mission: working against illness, hunger, oppression, injustice, and death.
  2. We seek growth and progress along every dimension of our humanity: spiritual, physical, emotional, mental—and at all levels: individual, community, society, world.
  3. We recognize science and technology as tangible expressions of our God-given impulse to explore and discover and as a natural outgrowth of being created in the image of God.
  4. We are guided by Jesus’ greatest commands to “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength…and love your neighbor as yourself.”
  5. We believe that the intentional use of technology, coupled with following Christ, will empower us to become more human across the scope of what it means to be creatures in the image of God.”


Carol Szczepaniak of the Nebraska Coalition for Ethical Research argues that transhumanism is evident in the technologies of Genetic Engineering, Brain-Computer Interfaces; Nanotechnology; Robotics and Cybernetics.

  • Genetic Engineering: “We’ve already seen the first genetically engineered humans, twins born in China in 2019. I was there in Hong Kong, at the 2nd International Genome Editing Conference, when Dr. He Jiankui shocked the world by announcing his unethical and illegal research. The DNA manipulation done to those babies was completely unnecessary, and ended up changing dozens of their genes, not just the one that was targeted. We have no idea what long term price Dr. He’s ambition will have on the health of these girls. A positive use of gene editing would be to therapeutically help cure diseases in children or adults, and medical research is doing just that- example: sickle cell anemia.”
  • Brain-Computer Interfaces, Robotics and Cybernetics, Nanotechnology: “Moderna, the company that makes one of our mRNA COVID vaccines using nanotechnology, has been a long term contractor for biodefense with our Pentagon. As a part of DARPA (defense advanced research project agency) they develop mRNA therapeutics and gene editing that aim to give our armies an edge over our adversaries. DARPA includes soldier enhancement using robotics, with brain-to-human computer interface, almost like a real life Iron Man. Examples in use today are exoskeletons for strength and protection, and bionic limbs to replace injured ones.”


She also concludes that “On the positive side, some transhumanistic genetic research is specifically aimed to change or eliminate the genes responsible for cancer, diabetes and Alzheimer’s.  On the darker side, the goal of much governmental military research is to create super humans, specifically targeting the genes responsible for larger muscles, higher intelligence, lowering the need for sleep, and increasing the ability to stay underwater longer. Harvard geneticist Dr. George Church is currently experimenting with age reversal in dogs using gene editing that has shown success previously in mice. He is one of hundreds whose research is trying to significantly lengthen if not eliminate the notion of a natural lifespan. One of many problems facing a transhumanistic society is it will create great disparity between the elite who can pay to be “upgraded” and those who cannot. Transhumanism’s goal, if realized, would be destructive and dehumanizing rather than transcendent. These new technologies should be used ethically for therapeutic purposes and healing, not enhancement of the human race, which is a kind of eugenics ideology where we choose who deserves to live and survive. “

In conclusion, permit me a review of a series of propositions rooted in Scripture:

  1. Human beings are created in God’s image—the fundamental basis for human dignity, value and worth. Technology must always seek to preserve the worth, dignity and value of all human beings, regardless of age or stage of development.
  2. Issues and practices associated with genetic technologies fall under the stewardship responsibility of humanity to God. These technologies give humans power never before realized in history. But because of human depravity, it is difficult to be optimistic about the ultimate use of some of these technologies. In His common grace, God has permitted the human race to develop these technologies—but we must always remember that we are accountable to Him as to how we use them. The sobering fact of human depravity looms over transhumanism.
  3. Human life itself is of higher value than the quality of human life. With the eternal perspective that Scripture gives, the quality of life ethic drives the current use of many of these technologies. Ethicist Michael Sandel writes that “In a world without givens, a world controlled by bioengineering, we would dictate our nature as well as our practices and norms. We would gain unprecedented power to redefine the good. . . The more successfully we engineered IQ and muscle-to-fat ratio, the more central these measures would become to our idea of perfection. . . But it w[ill] never be a perfect world.” [The Case Against Perfection: Ethics in the Age of Genetic Engineering, p. 5.] Because of sin, we live in an imperfect world, and, until the new heaven and new earth, our fallen world will be characterized by disease, tragedies, accidents and old age. The quality of life ethic, therefore, must never undermine the infinite value of life ethic detailed in the Bible.
  4. From God’s perspective, concern for the improvement of the “inner man” is always more important than concern for improvement of the “outer man.” No procedure or practice will prevent the inevitability of death. Perhaps that is why the Scripture gives focus to such issues as the fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23) and the eight quality traits called the Beatitudes (Matthew 5:1-16). From God’s perspective, these character traits are more paramount than using certain technologies to strive toward the goal of human perfectibility.
  5. Carl Henry, years ago in his book, Christian Personal Ethics (1957), provided an important guideline for wise decision-making when it comes to genetic technologies: “Whatever tends to overcome what would be deterioration in the created order and seeks to restore what God purposed in Creation is on far safer grounds than all kinds of novel and experimental enterprise.” In other words, he argued that there is clear biblical warrant for technologies that restore; there is no clear biblical warrant for manipulation toward perfection—an insightful guideline in approaching gene editing.
  6. Finally, human civilization must critically examine the scientific (technological) imperative. Simply because society can pursue a particular medical, reproductive or genetic procedure does not mandate that it must! Especially in the area of genetics, “can” does not mandate “ought.” The potential for power and control and its obvious abuse mandates an examination of this imperative. Perhaps with some of these technologies it would be wise to not pursue them at all.

See Carol Szczepaniak, “What is Transhumanism – and why should I care?”(2 February 2021) NCER Comments;; Matthew Waller, “Exploring incarnation: Can transhumanism enrich a Christian theology of humanity?” in Baptist News Global (13 July 2016); Subby Szterszky, “Transhumanism: Chasing eternal life without God,” at; and James P. Eckman, Christian Ethics, pp. 43-53.

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One Comment to “Transhumanism And The Christian Worldview”

  1. Arlie Rauch says:

    Since transhumanism cannot transform the sin nature, any ‘progress’ made could well result in monsters. This technology, however, could be useful in producing the image of the antichrist in Revelation. And given the fallen nature of people, there will be those who will pursue it because we can–for them the question of whether we should will not be considered.