February 29, 2024

The gods of transhumanism

Although it has been called the world’s most dangerous idea, transhumanism probably provokes more ridicule than fear. Uploading one’s brain onto the internet or talk of thousand-year life spans seems to defy common sense. 

Nonetheless, my theory is that transhumanism is the logical outcome of a lot of contemporary bioethical theory. So developments in transhumanism are worth paying attention to.

The biggest story at the moment is the quixotic campaign of the head of the Transhumanist Party, Zoltan Istvan, for president of the United States. He is a philosophy and religious studies graduate of Columbia University and has worked as a journalist for the National Geographic Channel.

Mr Istvan has been running a blog on the Huffington Post for a while about his campaign which aims to make the platform of his party more plausible. In the latest post he defines transhumanism as “the radical field of science that aims to turn humans into, for lack of a better word, gods”. So while transhumanism is resolutely atheistic, it has religious aspirations.

And unlike Richard Dawkins and other militant atheists, Istvan argues that our responsibility is to transcend evolution. He writes: “the human body is a mediocre vessel for our actual possibilities in this material universe. Our biology severely limits us. As a species we are far from finished and therefore unacceptable… Biology is for beasts, not future transhumanists.”

It’s a curious development. While many prominent scientific thinkers want to abolish God and treat man as one beast amongst many, transhumanists want to abolish evolution and recreate God (or gods). 

Michael Cook
Zoltan Istvan’s quixotic campaign for president