Transhumanist Beatitude

When you stop believing in heaven, you’re going to make one up, and the fake version always ends up some sort of hell, albeit a subtle and insidious one. We have seen this with communism – everyone sharing everything and all animals equal – and what happens inevitably is a corrupt plutocracy, a kakocracy, rule by the worst.

So too with transhumanism, a fellow traveler with communism, but in this iteration of utopia everyone reaches the bliss of beatitude by means of technology – artificial intelligence, genetics, cybernetics and enhancements of all sorts, the goal is the same: Perfect human beings living lives of unending bliss, but of a secular sort: Listening to Mozart, but just ever-better Mozart, as if one could improve upon perfection.

This recent essay here from the American Spectator gives a vivid window into the minds and goals of our current crop of idealists. They are an insane bunch, envisioning uber-evolved immortal human beings in the billions scattered across galaxies. Here is an excerpt, which sums up the drift of their thoughts and hopes, which sound a bit like a hypertrophied Star Trek:

Traditionally, when people speak of “the human condition,” they are thinking about lack and limit. “Man is born to trouble as the sparks fly upward,” the book of Job says. The biblical story of the fall of man explains why we are condemned to be born in pain, earn bread by the sweat of our brow, and finally die. But technology has already palliated Adam’s curse, and transhumanists believe that the next few decades will begin to complete our liberation from “involuntary suffering.” Aging will be dramatically slowed or abolished, so that we will measure our lives in centuries rather than decades. Our senses will be refined, giving us access to colors, sounds, and feelings for which we currently have no vocabulary. Our brains will be supercharged, so that the average person will think more rapidly and deeply than Einstein. We will be able to redesign our bodies to make them more efficient or simply more aesthetically appealing.

These changes will make the lives of our descendants immeasurably better than our own. They will be the supermen Nietzsche could only dream about. Nick Bostrom, the leading academic philosopher of transhumanism, outlined this future in his 2006 essay “Why I Want to Be a Posthuman When I Grow Up”:

You have just celebrated your 170th birthday and you feel stronger than ever. Each day is a joy. You have invented entirely new art forms which exploit the new kinds of cognitive capacities and sensibilities you have developed. You still listen to music – music that is to Mozart what Mozart is to bad Muzak. 

It seems some people actually believe this. Needless to say, Christ in today Gospel offers something quite different, indeed the polar opposite, in His beatitudes, which are the true path to happiness and fulfilment. Blessed are the poor in spirit, the persecuted, the pure in heart…

Not much in our Saviour’s words about space travel and longevity, but rather a lot about taking up our cross, poverty and detachment, living virtuously here and now, so that, by the grace of God, we may face our inevitable death with equanimity and gain a heaven – that is, true beatitude – in the end.