Dec 07 2012
Transhumanism is a word that is only just now making its way into mainstream consciousness, but the idea is an old one—as old as the Garden of Eden. After Adam and Eve fell prey to Satan’s plans to subvert God’s authority, YHWH (Jehovah) pronounced a unique and most exciting new plan:
“I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring; he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel.” (Gen. 3:15 ESV)
The above quote is from the English Standard Version, but the King James uses the term ‘seed’ translated above as ‘offspring’. Either way, it is clear that the enemy (Satan) would produce ‘seed’ or ‘offspring’ destined to hate the ‘seed’ or ‘offspring’ of mankind—in particular, one very specific human offspring, the promised Messiah—God made flesh. The battle lines had been drawn, and so the non-human (angelic) camp waste little time before commencing to do battle with the human camp.
The war begins in Genesis 6, where we learn that the ‘sons of God’ or angels who have been charged to ‘watch’ humanity look upon the daughters of men and find them beautiful and desirable. (Note: I will refer to these non-human entities as angels, but this term is not precise for it is primarily used to denote spiritual entities who serve YHWH and are sent on particular missions – ie. Messengers. It is entirely possible that God created a heavenly realm as diverse as our earthly realm). The extrabiblical book of Enoch expands on Genesis 6 and names many of these ‘Watchers’, numbering them as 200 strong. The result of this angelic/human coupling (whether consensual or forced) were gigantic beings known as Nephilim, a human/angelic hybrid. It is most probable that God sent the Great Flood to wipe out the corrupted human/angelic DNA, saving only Noah and his family (whose DNA was uncorrupted – a man ‘perfect in his generations’, that is, having unpolluted DNA). Why? The promised Messiah’s human lineage must remain unblemished ‘in its generations’.
After the flood, the fallen angels may well have returned to their old habits, because we find numerous references to ‘giants’. Nimrod, the leader who commanded his citizens to help build a tower that would reach to God, may have claimed to be ‘two-thirds god’ (if, as some scholars believe, Nimrod is another name for Gilgamesh). God had promised Noah that He would not to destroy the Earth again by flood, so we see Him choose a people for Himself—a people whom He would protect by commanding them to restrain from intermarrying with the surrounding tribes. Numbers 13:33 says this:
“And there we saw the Nephilim (the sons of Anak, who come from the Nephilim), and we seemed to ourselves like grasshoppers, and so we seemed to them.” (Numbers 13:33 ESV)
Anakim (sons of Anak), Rephaim, Zuzim, and Emim were also listed as tribes of larger than average height. For instance, Og of Bashan, a Rephaim king, was listed as being over 13 feet tall (Deut. 3:11). I Chronicles offers tantalizing information:
And it came to pass after this, that there arose war at Gezer with the Philistines; at which time Sibbechai the Hushathite slew Sippai, [that was] of the children of the giant: and they were subdued. And there was war again with the Philistines; and Elhanan the son of Jair slew Lahmi the brother of Goliath the Gittite, whose spear staff [was] like a weaver’s beam. And yet again there was war at Gath, where was a man of [great] stature, whose fingers and toes [were] four and twenty, six [on each hand], and six [on each foot]: and he also was the son of the giant. (I Chron. 20:4-6 KJV)
Satan’s drive to pollute the human gene pool so that no woman ‘perfect in her generations’ might be found in Israel failed. Mary (Miriam) gave birth to a son whom she called Emanuel, ‘God with us’. Jesus Christ, Yeshuah ha Mashiach, was born, died, and resurrected, defeating Satan and his followers.
But did Satan consider the war over? Not by a long shot.
Fast forward to the late 19th century, and we see a modern day return to an old theme. This time the drive to tamper with human DNA is called the ‘science of eugenics’. I’ve written several essays on the topic of early 20th century eugenics, so I will not repeat those here entirely, but let me summarize by reminding you, dear reader, that the root of the modern eugenics movement is the Enlightenment of the 18th century, which spawned numerous clubs and ‘secret societies’ where civilized men of Europe (particularly England/Scotland) met to discuss forbidden topics (and in some cases, perhaps engage in pagan behaviors, i.e. the infamous Hellfire Club). One of these civilized gentlemen was one Erasmus Darwin, founding member of the Lunar Society, and lettered physician, botanist, physiologist, natural philosopher. Erasmus Darwin was also the grandfather to both Charles Darwin, the man who gave us the theory of evolution through ‘natural selection’ in his seminal book ‘On the Origin of the Species’, and Francis Galton, who not only pioneered eugenics, but also gave us the term itself.
Galton’s mind turned to many scientific endeavors, but it was his cousin’s book that drove him to ponder human breeding programs as a means for modifying human traits. Fascinated by statistics and numerical data, Galton catalogued every human characteristic he could find, including fingerprints. He then determined to learn whether these characteristics were inheritable. To establish his theory that traits are passed from generation to generation, Galton created pedigrees for noteworthy, influential thinkers of his day. He studied all the data he could gather on each man—from biographies, news sources, etc.—which he then enumerated into comparable data. His 1883 book Inquiries into Human Faculty and Its Development contains his conclusions and suggests ways that British society might improve through early marriage, selective breeding
(through appropriate marriage partners), and even encouraged the ‘weak’ to seek fulfillment in monasteries or convents (thus preventing further spread of their weak traits to progeny). Galton also proposed twin studies, where one twin would be raised in a different environment, an effort to determine whether nature or nurture played a greater role in personality and measurable traits.
Darwin, Galton, and Thomas Henry Huxley shaped the science of mid-to-late19th century England, and their theories led inevitably to a Science that eschewed Biblical foundations in favor of humanist ones. Man needed no ‘god’ but his own reason, and shaping a new Man became an all driving passion.
In 1907, the Eugenics Education Society was born with Sir Francis Galton elected as first president. One early member, David Starr Jordan, helped found the genetics program at this author’s alma mater, Indiana University, where the Biology building bears Jordan’s name. In fact, Jordan went on to become the first president of Stanford University in California. (Jordan also joined The Bohemian Club, a secret organization that is best known for its roster of high profile politicians and for a peculiar summer ritual, the Cremation of Care, that features a giant owl statue). The Eugenics Education Society boasted many Americans on its roster, including Margaret Sanger (founder of Planned Parenthood, Julian Huxley, John Harvey Kellogg (yes, that Kellogg!), and John Maynard Keynes (whose influence on 20th and 21st century economics has led to the current ‘fiscal cliff’ and rampant, reckless spending).
Early American eugenicists advocated sterilization and even euthanasia of the ‘weak’, particularly those with dark skin. These early genetic scientists looked
at behaviors and social aspects as heritable. Among their list of ‘unfit traits’ were feeblemindedness, criminality, insanity, epilepsy, and pauperism. These degenerate traits could be bred out, they believed, through carefully managed pairings—not unlike the breeding programs in cattle or sheep. In these nascent years of genetics research, DNA had not yet been isolated in human cells, but scientists proposed that a germ plasm might be responsible for many human traits. Though history has branded Hitler’s eugenics research as barbaric, British and American scientists and philosophers had actually pioneered the field!
Today, genetics has become a precise and respected science, and the recently completed Human Genome Project, provides a frame of reference for a eugenics movement that never truly died out, but only changed names. The search for the perfect man—what Hitler called der Übermensch—continues. Genetics, epigenetics, and even metagenetics (a theoretical branch) are exploding fields of research. But for some, the search for this perfect man requires more than selective breeding—it requires interbreeding. This is the essence of Transhumanism—to take us beyond mere humanity to superhuman realms.
‘Parahuman’ and ‘cybrid’ are terms given these days to such animal/human hybridization. The field began, innocently enough, when researchers sought ways to mass produce human insulin for diabetics. Next, experimental mice became transgenic mice (with human genes introduced). According to a 2011 article in The Daily Mail, over 150 animal/human hybrid embryos had been created since the UK’s 2008 Human Fertilization Embryology Act, which legalized the creation of such embryos. The argument that hybrid experimentation will lead to ‘fetal stem cell’ cures is misleading if not an outright lie, since nearly all successful stem cell treatments come from adult not fetal stem cells.
Also, a 2005 article from Associated Press revealed the existence of whole flock of sheep with partially ‘human’ livers, hearts, brains, etc. to allow researchers to test new drugs and other protocols before using them on humans.
But what if animal DNA were inserted into a human fetus? Could we manufacture a soldier with enhanced running due to cheetah DNA? Or what about a fighter pilot with greater visual acuity (eagle DNA) or one who required very little sleep, water, or even food? Bigger muscles, heightened senses–taller, smarter, blue eyes, blonde hair, beautiful? Where does the tinkering stop? What about longer life span? This is the dream of inventor/scientist Ray Kurzweil, who hopes that he will never die.
Kurzweil, a high intellect whom Erasmus Darwin and Francis Galton might have considered a peer worthy of study and inclusion in their quirky clubs, imagines a human who has moved beyond the mundane into a future he calls the ‘singularity’. In 2001, Kurzweil wrote his controversial essay, The Law of Accelerating Returns, in which he explains the concept of the coming Singularity.
If we apply these principles at the highest level of evolution on Earth, the first step, the creation of cells, introduced the paradigm of biology. The subsequent emergence of DNA provided a digital method to record the results of evolutionary experiments. Then, the evolution of a species who combined rational thought with an opposable appendage (i.e., the thumb) caused a fundamental paradigm shift from biology to technology. The upcoming primary paradigm shift will be from biological thinking to a hybrid combining biological and nonbiological thinking. This hybrid will include “biologically inspired” processes resulting from the reverse engineering of biological brains. [emphasis SKG]
Reverse-engineering biological brains? What he implies here is that soon, science will have the capability to produce brains that are not necessarily biological but technological. Homo sapiens may give way to Homo silica. And if you’ve ever heard me speak at a conference, you can imagine my response: “Science, get your own dirt.”
Kurzweil believes the 21st century technology will outpace its 20th century predecessor by 1000 times at least. If you think the internet has led to vast changes in society, imagine something one thousand times more advanced. This is the terrifying engine that drives Kurzweil’s Singularity train. This rushing railcar of scientists cannot keep going faster forever. Eventually, the train will derail or crash. Kurzweil calls this ‘the event horizon’ of scientific advancement:
My view is that despite our profound limitations of thought, constrained as we are today to a mere hundred trillion interneuronal connections in our biological brains, we nonetheless have sufficient powers of abstraction to make meaningful statements about the nature of life after the Singularity. Most importantly, it is my view that the intelligence that will emerge will continue to represent the human civilization, which is already a human-machine civilization. This will be the next step in evolution, the next high level paradigm shift.
He goes on to further explain:
From my perspective, the Singularity has many faces. It represents the nearly vertical phase of exponential growth where the rate of growth is so extreme that technology appears to be growing at infinite speed. Of course, from a mathematical perspective, there is no discontinuity, no rupture, and the growth rates remain finite, albeit extraordinarily large. But from our currently limited perspective, this imminent event appears to be an acute and abrupt break in the continuity of progress. However, I emphasize the word “currently,” because one of the salient implications of the Singularity will be a change in the nature of our ability to understand. In other words, we will become vastly smarter as we merge with our technology. [emphasis SKG]
Merge with our technology. Homo silica. Cylons. This is where transhumanism is heading, and it is nothing new. In Genesis 6, humanity merged with interdimensional, supernatural beings. In the 21st century, Kurzweil would have us merge with the internet, an otherworldly construct of bits and bytes and electrons governed by physics held together by a divine cosmos. We transcend and become ‘as gods’ with eternal life. Of course, there’s nothing new here—it’s the oldest lie of all.
Perhaps, in reading this, you’ve encountered a new concept or two. Bravo. Welcome to the new ‘paradigm’. If you’re a Christian or Jew who places faith in the Creator God of the Old Testament–YHWH, Who saw human hybridization as cause for global judgement, then you must surely tremble at Kurzweil’s hubris and foolhardy notions. Satan sought to unseat God, and he used God’s beautiful new creation, Mankind, as a pawn. Transhumanism is just one more tactic in this ongoing war against heaven. Satan is betting that God will again be grieved for ever making Man. If you are a Christian, then you know that God loves us despite our foolish choices—loved us so much that He sent His only Son to die in our place rather than destroy us, though we certainly deserve it.
The future holds a series of final judgments, found in the book of Revelation. As you read this, we are so near to those final years that one can almost hear the hoofbeats of the four horsemen. Kurzweil may be brilliant, but his science will fail him in the end. Technology will fail him. And the Singularity for which he longs will never come.
However, Christ WILL come. And to this we who love Him must say, “Even so, come, Lord Jesus.”