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Critical Rationalism, Christianity and Christian Transhumanism

by Jonathan Gunnell, Micah Redding

Posted on Thu Jul 28 2022 20:00:00 GMT+0000 (Coordinated Universal Time)

INTRO to CRITICAL RATIONALISM

Critical Rationalism is the philosophy of Karl Popper and his intellectual successors, notably quantum computing pioneer David Deutsch. It is concerned with the question "How does knowledge grow?" Popper's key insight was that knowledge grows through a process of Conjecture and Critique. That is, new ideas are created, and then they are tested, compared to other ideas, and so on. Over time, better ideas can accumulate, and worse ideas can be rejected.

This is in contrast to theories that attempt to show why certain beliefs can be "justified" or "proven". Instead, Popper suggests that ideas can be "severely tested", and then valued based on how well they have withstood such tests. Rather than the traditional focus on "where ideas come from", Popper puts the focus on "how well ideas withstand tests". In science, this is the source of the idea that scientific theories must be falsifiable. Falsifiable theories are theories that are built to be severely tested.

SOME CONCEPTS in CRITICAL RATIONALISM

  • Realism (objective reality really exists)
  • Fallibilism (we can't be certain what that reality is)
  • Tradition (we have to start from existing knowledge)
  • Error-correction (we have to improve that knowledge over time)
  • Persons (are knowledge creators)
  • All life is problem-solving (and that's beautiful)
  • Institutions: Habits, traditions, customs that shape human behavior (non-coercively). This includes everything from hand-shakes to parliaments. By analogy, consider how a paved path directs human foot-traffic, without needing to fence humans in. Institutions are social technologies, and civilizational progress consists in the progress of effective institutions.
  • Problem-Solving: The process of identifying problems in the network of current theories, and conjecturing new theories to resolve them. Paradoxically, the more problems are resolved, the more new problems are discovered. Thus, our most long-standing scientific theories introduce the deepest problems. Problems are good, however, because they show us opportunities to grow towards a better understanding of ultimate reality. Since ultimate reality is infinite, problem-solving continues without end. Problem-solving is identical with growth or progress.
  • Knowledge and Explanatory Knowledge: Knowledge is any useful information or structure that can cause changes in its environment. This includes everything from genes to computer programs to intuitions to institutions. Knowledge is "hard-to-vary". That is, most mutations will considerably degrade usefulness. Thus, severe testing will tend to sustain good knowledge, while eliminating less accurate/effective knowledge. Explanatory Knowledge is knowledge that consists of far-reaching models of how things work. This makes it exponentially more useful than other kinds of knowledge. Explanatory knowledge is more "hard-to-vary" than other kinds of knowledge. Explanatory knowledge is universal. That is, any system in the universe can be explained/modeled to any degree of accuracy. Only persons create explanatory knowledge. The connection between persons and explanatory knowledge means people have a "special relationship with the laws of physics".

CONNECTIONS with OTHER PHILOSOPHIES

Pragmatism: Critical Rationalism is similar to Pragmatism, in that both concern theories/ideas/structures that are always provisional, and are evaluated according to their usefulness. Critical Rationalism differs from Pragmatism in using "knowledge" to describe our provisional theories, and using "truth" to describe the conjectured objective reality that we have no direct access to.

Baconian Empiricism: Baconian Empiricism is not a real empiricism in the later sense of the term. Rather, it is a process of constructing knowledge, using explanatory models, through repeated rounds of experimentation, conjecture, and evaluation. In this sense, there is a lot of practical overlap between Baconian Empiricism and Critical Rationalism. Karl Popper criticized Bacon, but was criticizing Bacon as seen through the lens of later empiricists such as Hume.

Bayesianism: In contrast to Popperianism, Bayesianism says that "rather than being an all-or-nothing phenomenon, belief comes in degrees, and these degrees obey some formal constraints related to the axioms of probability theory. In epistemology, these views temper some traditional thoughts about belief and knowledge, and they may give rise to alternative views of justification and evidence. In philosophy of science, these views help structure views about the general practice of science." Bayesianism can be critiqued for allowing grey areas in belief, and whilst they may be useful for predictions, are not useful unless an explanation is found.

INDUCTIVE and DEDUCTIVE LOGIC

Inductive reasoning proceeds from Observation to Pattern to Hypothesis to Theory. Deductive reasoning then proceeds from the Theory to make a Hypothesis, followed by a specific prediction then confirmation.

Deductive logic is traditionally expressed in a syllogism, which has a major premise (a general rule), a minor premise, then a conclusion. The commonly-recognised problem with this ancient Greek formula is that all examples of the minor premise are included in the major premise. So unless the syllogism makes a prediction outside its comfort zone, it's meaningless. As soon as a 'black swan' appears, the syllogism fails. Thinking in syllogisms can result in closed world views and evidence filters.

A way to simplify deductive and inductive logic is to think in terms of "Pattern Recognition and Pattern Challenge/Extension/Refinement". A pattern still may be very useful even if a more rigorous pattern is known, for example Newtonian physics still rules structural engineering.

All patterns are provisional and subject to new evidence emerging, and new science and new data shedding light that helps us refine and extend our knowledge. And so it should be with our spiritual lives.

WHAT is TRUTH?

Pontius Pilate asked an excellent question. Modern philosophical descriptions of the concept of truth break into classical divisions such as Correspondence, Coherence, Pragmatic, Constructivist etc. These can be somewhat arcane and are not always helpful when faced with practical questions. It seems more helpful to define a series of 'types' of truth, with examples and contexts, because the "Search for Truth" and how we arrive at it means something very different depending on the nature and context of the Search.

Despite being a key topic in philosophy, it seems to need a definition of different types of truth, flowing out of different kinds of investigations in which we seek Truth.

For the purpose of this essay, "truth" will be defined in one of the following 11 Types of Truth, presented in approximate order of certainty:

Item Name Definition Examples Why we know it's true CTA Approach
1 Euclidean Axioms Geometrical certainties If A=B and A=C, B=C Unchanging observed truths about the Universe, starting with Geometry. Non-Euclidean geometry has also emerged and behaves in the same manner, albeit with different axioms. Foundational observed Truths from the General Revelation that concord with the Special Revelation, such as “Minimum Viable Theology” incl “Good Wins”.
2 Euclidean Propositions and Theorems Certainties derived from axioms that are not immediately evident to humans, but after logical proof back to axioms we can treat them as being as certain as axioms Pythagoras's Theorem Proven from Axioms Theorems undergirding our worldview, such as “Causation is a feature of the Simulation/Creation” - because both infinite regression and brute fact are defeatable using Popperian criteria.
3 Other Mathematical truths Certainties from mathematics that we can rely on. Quadratic equations, statistics etc Notwithstanding Goedel's theorem, maths provides a foundation for certainty and is amazingly effective. Application of mathematics and science, understanding universe is mathematical and scientific
4 Theoretically Derived - Hard sciences Hard sciences such as Physics, Chemistry and much of biology and medicine where our Inductive and deductive logic (together "pattern observation and refinement") indicate truths that we hope to test experimentally, but may not be able to. Big Bang theory We don't. It hasn't been falsified yet, and it may not be able to be falsified. But we continue to use it and develop the field until it reaches the point where it can make a falsifiable prediction. CTA members keep up with the frontiers of hard science as best as we can. For example, understanding the possible breakthrough paths in Physics to reconcile Quantum Mechanics and General Relativity
5 Experimentally Derived - Hard sciences Theories from hard sciences that are corroborated by experiment. Eddington’s 1919 verification of general relativity All theories are only provisionally accepted. They are 'corroborated' by experiment, not proven. If falsified, it may be an edge case, and the theory may be updated.If a theory is replaced, the old one may still be useful. (e.g. Newtonian physics) We love hard sciences and emerging tech, and how they might turn into Tech, eg. Neuralink.
6 Theoretically Derived - Soft sciences Theories about humanity, social and political systems. Political systems. We don't. Utopian visions abound but attempts to radically overhaul society have rarely produced good fruit. Social changes should be careful improvements, inclusively led. "Scientific" Marxism was not at all scientific. Articulating the future of humanity, promoting the Archetype of Christ and other Christian Archetypes
7 Observationally Derived - Soft sciences The soft sciences emerge from hard sciences. Phenomena occur in a manner that is hard to definitively measure. Practitioners in these fields often make varying predictions. Failed predictions are often explained away in terms that may not be falsifiable. Amongst many pundits, at least one may be correct. Economics: stockmarket predictions.

Psychology: prediction of an individual's behavior.

Politics: cannot function without evidence filters, post hoc and numerous other logical fallacies.

We don't. There are insights and theories that help us gain understanding, and may be useful and give some useful fruit. Any such system will help to some extent, but many rely on unfalsifiable theories. Observational studies may be the only ones available.

An observational A/B testing result may say “This psychological treatment results in X% success” - a pragmatic observational or inductive ‘truth’ that is useable.

Politics in particular must avoid dogmatism, which today threatens western democracies.

"By their fruit shall you know them" Study the impact of proposed social changes, such as UBI.

Comparing and contrasting different understandings of consciousness.

8 Revelatory Truths Truths injected into the Creation / Simulation from outside. Or conjectures of such truths. This occurs as God gives people insights, words to say, or the revelation of the person and work of Jesus. Revelations of all kinds are welcome to Popper as conjecture. Scripture states “test the spirits”, which implies not suppressing them, but listening and critiquing.

Hebrews - in many ways and at various times God spoke to our forebears…

Other religions may make comparable claims of truth, but they must be tested against reliability of testimony, ability to deliver spiritual transformation and better societies.

This will remain subjective, and other religions in other cultures may deliver comparable results, but none have the 'limit state' archetype of Christ embodying extreme states of both compassion and judgment.

Learning the spiritual truths expressed by Christ (Special Revelation) and inherent in the foundation of the universe (General Revelation), and using these to articulate the future of humanity

Future humans should converge towards the archetype of Christ. A personality that would enjoy eternal life is filled with the fruit of the Holy Spirit.

9 Genetic inheritance Genetic truths inherent in our minds from before we are born. How to conduct yourself, reflexes, lower nature drives, our brain's OS.

- Jungian Archetypes and collective unconscious.

- Chomsky’s universal grammar

- Pinker’s ‘non-blank’ slate

Observationally we can measure these, so they are part of biology, psychology, and will be a mix of hard and soft sciences above.

These features can be said to be ‘emergent’ in the sense of strong emergence[7].

Learning how human nature evolved and Christian Spiritual Disciplines that ameliorate it.

Being transformed by a spiritual relationship with Christ.

10 Enculturated Truths - Tradition Experience handed to us by our forebears. This is likely to have been influenced by genetic, geographic and other factors. Social traditions, compliance with which will produce a good society "We hold these truths to be self-evident." which certainly they are for that society, and how they can be best adapted to other societies may or may not be possible.

Debate over the universality of such truths is legitimate and should be conducted in good faith, but may be hard to conclusively verify.

Traditions are important because they embody wisdom and should not be discarded recklessly.

Traditional aspects of Christian faith and worship. Understanding the thoughts of church leaders in past centuries, how they responded to their context and how we should respond to ours.

11 Systemically defined truths Truths that flow from definitions of systems such as language, or laws and e.g. building codes "All bachelors are unmarried", "This building complies with the Building Code." These are true either by definition, or by certification by a qualified person. We don't have our own system, but seek to understand conflicts in other systems and seek truth wherever it may be found.

Regrettably English only has one word for "Truth". Similarly, it only has one word for "Love" which we apply to both to our love of chocolate (temptation!) and God's 'agape' love for humanity that he would suffer and die. On the other hand, New Testament Greek gifts us 7 words for Love. If only we had more words for Truth in English, we would avert a lot of conflict! Indeed, most debates about what is 'true' have an underlying subtext of the definition of truth and how sure we can be about anything.

Underlying these is the assumption that our reality is objective. Human minds are born with this underlying assumption built in, also that we are part of but separate from the world around us, that we can learn about it, make choices in, and influence. Because we believe we are living in a Simulation or Creation, 'objective reality' can be defined as the contents of the Creation. Knowledge is useful as it helps us grow and begin to cross Irenaeus' epistemic gap.

Human knowledge is acquired by noticing patterns in nature. Humans are born with some innate knowledge (Chomsky's underlying grammar, Jung's archetypes). We learn how our body works and how to interact with our emotions and those of our parents. This is the first kind of knowledge we acquire by experiment and experience. (The Spanish translation of those two words are near synonyms.)

So we gain knowledge inductively and deductively by a process of pattern observation and pattern refinement. Observation is data collection, hindered by evidence filters (these can be thought of as a type of sin to repent of, a powerful tool) and by limitations on our perceptual abilities. Our patterns are conjectures which can then be challenged using Popper's methods. But we can also use conjectures from any other source.

The Scientific method could be reconceived as a more rigorous version of the process all children go through as they gain awareness. The scientific revolution (initiated by Baconian empiricism) could be reconceived as correcting over-reliance on tradition and the 'appeal to authority' fallacy.

SOME RAMIFICATIONS of CRITICAL RATIONALISM in the SEARCH for TRUTH

These are some ways that people have interpreted and applied the ideas of Critical Rationalism. There are many disagreements around these topics.

Free speech. The fundamental process of knowledge creation is critiquing ideas, even very good ones. This means critique cannot be impeded. Thus free speech is an epistemological necessity.

The right to Free Speech also flows from key concepts we cherish such as:

  • individual human rights to freedom of thought and association
  • individual sovereignty
  • that leaders should serve the people, not vice versa. If people can't speak freely, how will leaders know what will help them flourish?
  • that the best way to solve problems is to collaborate from different perspectives

Implicit in the concept of free speech is that the speech should be in good faith. The public freedom to speak your mind is not only threatened by censorship, but by abuse of it to publish fake news. It can also be threatened by ad-hominem attacks and suppressing ideas contrary to those held by the powerful.

Bad-faith speech and speech you disagree with must not be conflated.

Free Speech is a necessary but insufficient condition for what we really want, which is 'good quality truth seeking discourse'. Therefore we also need::

  1. No heckler's veto nor social media pile-ons
  2. No bots spouting semi-true propaganda
  3. Verified humans only (who may choose to stay anonymous)
  4. People not requiring others to recite their 'team Shibboleths' to be accepted
  5. People not limiting their own speech to their 'team Shibboleths' but who actively question their own team's ideas to ensure they moe closer to truth
  6. People not replacing their own personal thoughts with those from some memeplex they adopt because their 'team' does.
  7. Minds willing to change as they understand things better, and to applaud those who also change.
  8. And above all 'do unto others...' i.e. listen respectfully, and don't be partisan.

Non-coercion. For the same reason, coercion of any kind impedes the growth of knowledge. If a choice is coerced, it means that critique of that choice has been impeded, and knowledge creation is being slowed or reversed. All life has some coercion, but this explains why less coercion brings more knowledge.

Democracy. The reason democracy works is not because it is the "will of the people", but because it allows us to treat policies and politicians like science experiments. We can test them, and then critique and reject the bad ones. Deutsch goes further, suggesting that compromise political policies are bad, because it muddies both the assessment of the policy and the responsibility. Therefore 'first past the post' voting is preferred, because it leads to quicker trialing of well-defined policies. On the other hand, this risks extreme policy swings.

No human is infallible. Investing a leader with unfettered power does no good for the leader, let alone the led. In a well-functioning management hierarchy, a useful oversimplification states "Goals down, plans up". The leaders (ultimately the voters) set the overall objectives for the organization or society, and the society mobilizes to achieve these goals based on plans and policy ideas developed by representatives to test in the public arena. The rapid testing of ideas, in Deutch's view, is prevented when compromises are driven by un-representatively powerful minor parties. He critiques proportional representation because the most powerful party becomes the third-most voted. In Australia, quirks in the senate election system have seen individuals with 0.51% of the vote elected when a quota of 8.3% is required.

Society and governance standards are therefore essential to Christian Transhumanism. If humanity is to progress and reach God's best for us, we must elevate the best systems for creating explanatory knowledge. Currently, no system better than Popper's Open Society has delivered this. This assertion can be validated by explanatory knowledge derived from soft sciences, both theoretically and observationally, Types of Truth 6 and 7. As Popper wrote about institutions, civilisation's progress consists in the progress of effective institutions. This includes the 'Tradition of Criticism', that is, the freedom to create, test and discard ideas. [Need Citation]

CONNECTIONS with CHRISTIANITY

Because we see the universe to be an ordered Creation, which can be understood from the General Revelation independent of Scripture, it must be understandable to some extent by humans. A Christian Transhumanist view of Truth must therefore include the evidence from physics and other sciences as outlined in the Types of Truth.

That is, from our perspective, to say "reality is objective" is to imply sense data as we receive it is a meaningful input from the created reality. That is not to insist that our perceptions are 100% accurate, because all "perceptions are theory laden". (That is another way of saying we all have evidence filters). There is so much to perceive, and so many different things demanding our attention. Therefore our brains naturally triage inputs for what is most meaningful, which we will interpret using motivated reasoning for various purposes, most likely to enhance our status in our group.

Therefore, discerning "Truth" from the noise is not easy.

"Truth" can then be conceived as coherence with the reality of the creation as we experience it. Routes to Truth therefore include pure reason, experimentation, debate and contest, and the evolved model-making techniques inherent in the human brain that we must continue to intentionally improve.

Popper distinguishes mathematical proofs from scientific proofs. (In the table above with 11 Types of Truths where we seek to break this down further). Whilst a mathematical theory can be conclusive due to the nature of the mathematical system, advanced scientific theories, particularly in complex fields such as physics and biological science remain provisional, always subject to being replaced by a later and better theory.

Fundamentalist atheism, and indeed many experts in their own fields, fail to make this distinction. But it already exists in Christian Scripture, that "whoever thinks they know something does not yet know as they ought". To Popper, it is just as important to know how to know, to ensure you continue to learn.

Jesus' words "the truth shall set you free", in context imply a relationship with Christ, richly drinking in the 'logos' or foundational logic of the Universe. This leads to freedom from being enslaved to daily desires, rejection of mindless consumerism, and a commitment to a renewed humanity both in ourselves and society.

Truth, to Jesus, is firstly truths about how to live, the truth of the spiritual renewal, the truth of a relationship with the divine, not only the truths of mathematics and science. Indeed our important pursuits in all other fields will be effective only with an undergirding spirituality that seeks only truth, that does not try to distort, that does not exaggerate or engage in 'fake news' nor score political points to create division.

This is why we include Type of Truth 8 - Revelatory. We get Revelatory Truth from both the General Revelation (humanity's ability to observe the ordered universe) and the Special Revelation (the nature of Christ and God as revealed in Scripture and the life of Jesus). Popper does not care where the conjecture comes from. It must be critiqued and then found reliable until falsified. So far, the Revelatory Truths, properly understood, have withstood two millennia of critiquing, yet remain the foundation of the world view of the vast majority of monotheistic and post-monotheistic societies.

Not everything we value is able to be falsified. Not everything that is true can be subjected to rigorous proof using critical rationalism. But that should not devalue these things we know by other means, nor diminish the power of Critical Rationalism. Popper was right to understand this also, believing that many unfalsifiable propositions are important. Thus there is a need to classify the 11 Types of Truth.

EVIDENCE from SCRIPTURE SUPPORTING CRITICAL RATIONALISM

The New Testament contains many warnings against false certainty, not just 1 Cor 8 ("knowledge puffs up, but love builds up"). Jesus' parables were delivered with a caveat that "let the listener understand". Some were delivered as riddles, encouraging independent thought, in contrast to the strawman that religious dogmatism represents Christianity, Martin B Copenhaver in the ironically titled "Jesus is the Question" lists 307 questions Jesus asked but only 3 he directly answered.

Jesus is therefore encouraging conjecture and critiquing, a very Popperian notion.

In Matt 5:35-36 Jesus says not to take an oath, but to simply let your yes be yes and your no be no. It's not just the bad look of having to say, "I'm being especially truthful," implying you often lie. The swearing of an oath elevates one particular fact (be it past, such as evidence in a trial, or future commitment) to a level of certainty that humans just aren't capable of. It's well known in law that a single eyewitness is unreliable. Scripture requires two or three to give evidence.

Popper contends that we cannot be certain about hypotheses we haven't tested, and even if we have tested them, we can only say 'they haven't been disconfirmed yet'. Evidence 'corroborates' rather than 'proves'. An echo of this is found at the end of Matthew's gospel. Jesus says, "You shall be my witnesses". He doesn't say, "You shall be my logical arguers." He does not say, "You shall swear that you have seen the truth." He just wants us to say, "This is what happened, this is my testimony." No oaths, no false certainty, just tell your story, and be prepared to listen to others. Truth will emerge if it is sought after.

In this, we are seeking Truths of Types 8 to 11, to compare them with other truths in the hierarchy, most of which come from the General Revelation.

MOST THEOLOGY IS BAYESIAN

Whilst complex systematic theologies have some positive uses, never does Jesus instruct his followers to construct these. When preached, theology is invariably presented with verses or authorities that support it. Disconfirming evidence that doesn't fit the pre-defined narrative is discarded, much as for any assertion of Truth, including many published peer reviewed papers in Truth Types 4-7.

Referring to the 11 types of Truth above, systematic theological 'Truths' emerge from type 8: Revelatory, and are influenced by 9: Genetic Inheritance, 10: Enculturated Truths and 11: Systemically Defined. These are more as risk of motivated reasoning and evidence filters than higher Types of Truth. Despite the importance of having a clear view of the Creator, and the many good things that do come out of systematic theology, it is imperative to carve out the essentials of faith, leaving the non-essential theological ideas out of dividing lines between Christians.

In a Bayesian way, different proof texts are presented and some kind of balanced compromise reached, based on the probability and importance of various verses and concepts. Article 20 of the Church of England requires that no one teaching from the Bible may "so expound one place of Scripture, that it be repugnant to another." But this doesn't stop many preachers from building complex edifices on a few verses and excluding others.

At times in European history in particular this has occurred in the context of political power struggles between factions and nations, with the objective of finding theological truth happily (for the proponents) coinciding with the desire to politically exclude others. Thus adding 'Truths' that must be believed beyond a very basic set that can withstand severe critiquing in a Popperian manner is a profoundly dis-inclusive and anti-Christian undertaking.

APPLYING CRITICAL RATIONALISM TO CHRISTIAN THEOLOGY

The faith that Christ rose from the dead and that he has died to bring us back into a great relationship with the Creator needs to be distinguished from the faith that various passages of scripture must be taken literally, or that the musings of any given Christian leader on eschatology or other sub-discipline of theology are authoritative. So maybe we need a list of different types of Faith, much as our list of types of Truths.

But first, it's important to win a battle with Atheism over the definition of 'Faith'.

When we feel 'truth' and certainty, without having falsifiable evidence, that is 'faith'. Faith (defined in Scripture) is the assurance we feel about things we have not seen (that is, are not able to falsify).

Atheism makes two frequent assertions about faith:

  1. That atheism itself has no faith (yet it has faith that the universe just popped into existence by itself, or is eternal, with intelligence arising from nothing, or that these questions are not important)
  2. That faith is holding a belief despite evidence. Such faith of the young earther is not faith at all but a dogged denial of evidence. (even if less wrong than believing the universe could be self-creating).

"Faith" (as defined in Scripture) is the same for both Christians and Atheists. Christians have seen many things in changed lives, the gospel's positive impact in history, and in its utility. Solid Christian faith is based not just on ideas we have heard but experiences with the divine. It is based not only on scripture and tradition, but also on reason and experience.

Christian faith also echoes in the good soil from the parable of the Sower. Those who identify with the archetype of Christ, that is, those who trust that a good God exists. This is what Jesus meant speaking to Thomas after his resurrection. "Blessed are those who have not seen and yet believe", means blessed are those who are prepared to commit themselves to the archetype of Christ. Those who accepted it is believable that a good God exist, would seek to interact with the Creation / Simulation and trusted enough to make this the central foundation of their world view and life's actions.

Faith is categorically not the strawman that fundamentalist atheists make out, that is, holding beliefs in spite of evidence. As Hebrews makes clear, it is the assurance we feel about what we can't see. For example, the age of the Earth is seen. The power of Spiritual experiences is seen, but the reason is taken on faith. (either the Atheist mimetic and evolutionary explanation, or the Christian personal and interventional God explanation). It can be argued both of these explanations are already implicit in the worldviews of their respective proponents, and difficult to rigorously falsify. Therefore, they both fit Scripture's definition of 'Faith'.

Faith means holding beliefs that are unfalsifiable in the Popperian sense. This includes the truth of the transforming relationship that Jesus spoke of in John 8:32, referenced above. Popper believes unfalsifiable beliefs are still useful, in contrast to logical positivism that holds the fundamentalist position that all unfalsifiable statements are meaningless.

Christianity seeks not only 'faith' but wisdom, insights and character transformation. About wisdom, James writes: But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial and sincere. You need the Faith that wisdom, insights and character transformation are possible. This faith exists in both Christians and non-Christians to some extent, but the Christian version sees the source of faith in the character of the Creator.

Epistemology for the CTA must therefore see Critical Rationalism as a central plank, in the context of other greater 'truths' of which we can find a kind of certainty spoken of in Scripture. But we must be cautious at this point, to divide different kinds of truths, and use truth in a compassionate and careful manner, reflecting the way Jesus used truth.

But Critical Rationalism, applied to Faith, leaves us some conjectures which can survive Popperian critiques and some which can't, but are still useful. Therefore we can define different Types of Faith-held Truths:

Item Name Description / Examples CTA example and position
1 Foundational Faith Axioms An axiom that is unquestionably derived directly from the scriptures and teaching of the Apostles That Christ died, was buried and rose again
2 Archetypal Concordance Faith that the nature of God is as revealed in both the Old and New Testaments, comprising both Law and Grace.

Faith which does not result in transformation to the likeness of Christ is less than God planned.
That we, and future humans, should move ever closer to the archetype of Christ. Our creations, including AGI, should instantiate archetypes drawn from Christianity to avert the SkyNet risk.
3 Error Correcting - Less Wrong

Faith that God wants me to do one or both of the following to improve my representation of God’s character:

  • “Let your light so shine before men” or
  • “Do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing.”
Scripture provides different corrections for different errors. A wise and mature Christian will discern such errors and help those seeking guidance.
4 Emerging theological structures Eschatology, Soteriology, Hamartiology, etc These are important and interesting but not necessary to be correct for salvation. For example, in Soteriology, there are different views between ransom theory, penal substitution theory, and Christus Victor, amongst others. Entrance to an eternal blissful relationship with God is not on the basis of correct theology, but the conformance with the archetype of Christ.
5 Pseudo-faith Faith held contrary to evidence, for example, young-Earth creationism This is not faith at all, according to specific words in Scripture, the General Revelation and the Character of Christ.

The process of applying Critical Rationalism to our religion can free us from dogma. This is not to seek after a stale miracle-less modernist gospel, far from it. We do not discard the central truths of the Gospel, that Christ died for our sins and was raised and ascended. That God spoke through the prophets in various ways and various times, that the Holy Spirit is our ever-present companion and coach, empowering our conscience and discernment. This is a truth which can be allowed in Critical Rationalism, despite its only partial falsifiability, as Popper argues that many important and useful things cannot be falsified.

Applying CR to systematic theology leaves nearly every major systematic theological tenet with disconfirming textual evidence. Maybe this is because Paul sought to become all things to all people, so by all means to win some of them . Christianity should always comfort the disturbed whilst simultaneously disturbing and challenging the comfortable. Thus, as in the extra-biblical parable of the blind persons and the elephant, each person needs to hear something different about the Gospel, due to the inherent limitations in humanity's understanding and the different errors we all make.

There are numerous apparent scriptural contradictions, when really it is just different messages for different occasions. Take for example "Let your light so shine" and "Do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing." The mature reader must understand this, and falsify theologies that present only one part of the greater picture of God.

This compels us to hold all complex theological constructions lightly. Confused about Calvinism v Arminianism? Join the club, both can be disconfirmed by scripture. So let's relegate it to a second-order mystery, and focus on the main game of bringing the good news and seeing our churches, institutions and society continuously evolving to the likeness of Christ.

What are we left with, after applying CR to theology? We are left humbled, with very little faith (assurance) of our theology, even the bits that are helpful. Which is good. The Gospel must be simple enough for anyone to understand. Hence the core Christian concepts that withstand rigorous CR relate to practical behaviors and archetypes. Christian truths which withstand all challenges require repentance, faith, and to strive after the archetype of Christ. That we are living in a Creation. That God is good, and that the Creation is good despite its fallen state.

Theology that withstands CR challenges in Scripture is archetypal. That is, it points to routes of formation. It enlivens our faith in practical ways. It points us to the values of a society ruled by God's principles. It encourages us to think for ourselves, to reason, to debate, to consider different points of view and change our minds as appropriate.

This is what Christianity has in common with Critical Rationalism. That we will continue to reason, to learn, to grow, to change ourselves, and to change our minds. There is no need to be dogmatic when you are truly comfortable that the truth of the Gospel is an unshaken foundation of a transforming relationship with the Creator. All else will continue to be revealed with inquiry.

STEPS FORWARD

The Christian Transhumanist project includes defining a defensible world view that not only attracts Christians and Transhumanists, but provides sufficient common ground for non-Christians and other people of good will to support us.

To do this we should start with axioms we can rely on, and build these into theories supported by both observation and logic, challenging ourselves at every turn with the tools of CR. Such axioms include:

  • The Universe is most likely to be a Simulation or Creation. This means when we refer to reality we refer to a part of the simulation or creation.
  • The sentient beings in the universe (humans are the most common we encounter) are themselves a mix of good and evil. The dividing line between good and evil runs not between groups of people, but through every individual heart.
  • Such sentient beings are 'problem solvers' as Popper would say, and seek to bridge Irenaeus's epistemic gap.
  • "Good Wins". That is, cooperative and mutually interdependent beneficial behaviour is most likely to succeed in a race or society.
  • These and other basic principles of the Universe can be understood from the General Revelation and bring concordance with Scripture
  • Optimizing trusted mutual interdependence globally is factually the most efficient way towards the development of explanatory knowledge, to achieve goals held by Christians, Transhumanists and people of good will alike. That is, peace, freedom, and individual human rights (or individual sovereignty). That is, Popper's Open Society.
  • What matters in Faith is conformance to the archetype of Christ. Such archetypes should be built into our human future, instantiated in Artificial General Intelligence and taught to our children.

It is therefore the CTA's mission to grow a mature Christianity that embraces the future, a future of diverse humans living together in peace and harmony under the principles of the rule of God. Together creating explanatory knowledge, using the tools of good-faith free speech and free inquiry, building a future we can barely conceive.

CONCLUSION:

Jesus described himself as "The Way, The Truth and the Life". What did he mean by this? On observation is Christ expects his followers to hold to the "Truth" in the context of the "Way", that is, the lifestyle of Christ, and the "Life" that is, the eternal presence with God that can start today as we seek to dedicate our lives to an ever closer walk. Truth standing alone is like knowledge that puffs up, rather than building up.

Given humanity's frail abilities to grasp 'Truth', that each person needs a different insight from the reality of God's best for their lives, and the ever-present evidence filters and temptation to join a pre-packaged world view, an isolationist view of 'Truth' appears not only hard to achieve but undesirable. Solving the puzzles of the universe is a great and worthy undertaking, but without the 'Way' and the 'Life', a focus on 'Truth' may end unsuccessfully.

So whilst we support Critical Rationalism as a powerful tool in understanding the technology of the Simulation/Creation, to leverage its power, we need a spirituality that disempowers evidence filters and prior convictions. Such a Spirituality is a core goal of the CTA.

Notes [1] [2] [3]


  1. Photo: University of Queensland, main entrance to Forgan Smith Building. ↩︎

  2. This article began with a few social media posts by Micah Redding, and was massively expanded and shaped by Jonathan Gunnell. ↩︎

  3. https://blogs.scientificamerican.com/cross-check/the-paradox-of-karl-popper/ ↩︎

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Three Missions of the CTA

by Micah Redding

Posted on 2022-03-07T01:06:22.696Z

For much of the past year, the board and I have been thinking about the mission and purpose of the CTA. And we've realized that we really have three missions:

  1. First, a theological mission. In a world where Christians often see science and technology as enemies of faith---We believe that science and technology are part of the mission of Christ and of God. We as a community need to be able to share this understanding of the Christian story.

  2. Second, a faith-renewing and revitalizing mission. In a world of rising skepticism and disenchantment---We believe that engaging the future can help faith come alive. We as a community need to be able to show how the future can renew our faith, and the faith of individuals, families, communities, and the world.

  3. Third, a technological mission. In a world of increasingly difficult ethical questions and challenges---We believe that Christ offers an ethical vision for scientific and technological progress. We as a community need to be able to articulate and advocate for that ethical vision, and to enact it progressively in our own lives, and in the world around us.

These are our three missions. A theological mission, to explain how science and technology fit into the purpose of Christ and of God. A faith-renewing and revitalizing mission, to show how the future can renew our faith. A technological mission, to advocate the ethical vision of Christ for science and technology.

Which of these missions is most important to you? Which one do you resonate with the most?

photo credit: Giuseppe Milo

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2021 CTA Board Election

by Micah Redding

Posted on 2021-03-06T20:27:29.688Z

Since our formation over seven years ago, the Christian Transhumanist Association has been working hard to advance the conversation between Christianity and the leading edges of technological thought.

From our first major action funding the Embrace Infant Warmer project—uniting our values of technology, compassion, and respect for human life—to authoring the historic Christian Transhumanist Affirmation in conjunction with academics, clergy, and technologists—we've helped set the tone for a positive engagement between religion and the deepest and most challenging issues of our time.

We've carried this message around the globe, engaging both secular and religious audiences. We've appeared in major publications, like Wired, Christianity Today, and the BBC, and our members have been interviewed for numerous podcasts, articles, videos, and even The Daily Show.

In 2018 and 2019, we took a massive leap, organizing an incredible series of Christian Transhumanist Conferences, and drawing people from around the world. In 2020 and 2021, we moved much of this discussion online, launching a series of monthly talks, and exploring new mediums opening up. Along the way, we heard from leading thinkers in technology and religion, discussed big, exciting ideas, and most of all—formed deep relationships with many people working for positive change, just like you.

These have been fantastic experiences, and we're excited to keep moving forward.

We're just getting started. We've got big plans for the year ahead, and we need hard-working, insightful leaders to help bring those plans to fruition.

Jonathan Gunnell, Mike Morrell, Mark Russell, and Blaire Ostler have just completed several fantastic years of service in CTA leadership. Which means that this month, we're electing new members to the Board of the Christian Transhumanist Association.

Who will those people be?

That's up to you. Nominations are now open. We're looking for the people who can help lead these important efforts into the future. Maybe that's someone you know. Maybe it's you.

After we finish collecting nominations, our voting members will elect the new board.

If you're not a voting member of the association, this is a great time to become one. You'll not only help advance this incredibly important conversation, you'll have a direct voice in who will lead it over the next three years.

Click here to make it official.

I believe this conversation is one of the most important efforts of our time, and I've dedicated myself completely to it. I'd love for you to join us.

Upward!

Micah Redding
Executive Director

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Ending Political Polarisation

by Jonathan Gunnell

Posted on 2020-06-17T15:26:20.885Z

This post presents personal opinions, which may not necessarily reflect the views of other members of the Christian Transhumanist Association.

Ending political polarisation: A Christian Transhumanist pathway to end political polarization.

Complaints about polarization are common, and the need to find reconciliation and a civil discourse is more important than ever. Pathways to fix our fractured politics are few. Here’s an outline from a Christian Transhumanist perspective that if adopted, will make a huge difference.

The causes of polarisation are complex, and I won’t cover them other than to suggest the fragmented media is a symptom and a catalyst, not the underlying cause.

I’m going to offer solutions from two sources, as befits Christian Transhumanism.

Solutions offered by Transhumanism:

I recently researched IBM Project Debater’s capabilities. This tech is the fruit of 6 years challenging work by IBM. Project Debater can hold its own against a champion human debater in real time, understanding and rebutting.

It has 10 billion sentences (“factoids”) at its disposal, and is able to evaluate if each supports or opposes any given proposition. In a debate against a human on the proposition “That we should subsidize pre-school” it opens with rich statistics and studies. Since both human and machine were given 15 minutes to prepare, the machine is obviously way better at finding obscure studies. However in terms of audience opinion (spoiler alert) the human (arguing against it) caused the audience opinion to shift against the proposition. This is despite the audience feeling the computer did more to inform them.

The human in the debate, being at a disadvantage in the face of the computer’s ability to serve up facts, resorted to impassioned arguments about opportunity costs. He pointed out any such subsidy would favor the rich. Speaking to a largely progessive audience, he knew what buttons to press, on a topic that, on paper, would be a tough sell for him to oppose.

But Project Debater does not only handle factoids. It also manages to sort and evaluate arguments for and against a given proposition, using logic. And, importantly, it does so without evidence filters.

Scott Adams book “Loserthink” in one passage juxtaposes two iconic polarizing issues: a border wall, and gun reform. He points out that the arguments put by the extremes of each side are mirror images. Conservatives use similar arguments for border control (preventive friction works) as they decry against gun control (preventive friction doesn’t work). The left uses similar arguments against a border wall (preventive friction doesn’t work) and for gun control (preventive friction works). Adams brings these together by pointing out in both cases we are trying imperfect methods of increasing “friction” to prevent undesirable outcomes. The friction agents proposed (wall, gun controls) are imperfect, but could be used to a sensible extent. On the extreme, both sides allege black and white e.g. “Walls don’t work at all, but you can keep guns away from criminals” which is plainly idealistic nonsense. Similarly, some conservatives ignore evidence that walls can be tunnelled under (or flown over on commercial airlines), and that reducing the availability of automatic weapons has reduced the death toll in shootings.

Surely as AI “Project Debater” applications increase in power, most of these iconic polarizing issues will find a sensible middle ground beyond evidence filters. For example, a government controlled and well organised immigration program, and ensuring only those responsible people with a valid reason to have guns will be able to get them.

This is just the beginning. In the same way computers are now unbeatable at Chess and Go, they will soon be unbeatable in political debates, at least at a factual level. Also of note is that the computer’s playing style of Go completely outclassed the masters, with a whole new genre of tactics. Will we see the same in politics?

Parallels can be drawn with Plato’s conception of the roots of monotheism. There can’t be more than one God, since there can only be one standard of right and wrong. Ontologically there can only be one optimal beneficial solution for humanity.

Parallels can also be drawn with the old analogy of the elephant and the 5 blind people who touch different parts. We are all blindly touching parts of the elephant, and in our teams loudly proclaiming only what we touch “it’s a rope” (tail), “It’s a tree-trunk!”, (leg). We deny the touch of others. But soon we will have another voice, an all-seeing AI with LIDAR scanning to pick up every wrinkle inside the elephant’s scrawny ears, and X-Ray eyes to see the bones.

So we must all start to adjust to the new world of AI offering up reasoned analysis instead of party-line iconic shibboleths. Soon we will all be required to interact with these AI systems, which some will call “beings” and for whom some will argue for some parallel of human rights. Maybe we will want them to somehow influence elections. Likely we may be required to interact with them via Elon Musk’s Neuralink or comparable technology.

Truly it will be better to understand the issues, (and each other!) than to shout our evidence-filter-based team allegiances. Truly we will have to join one humanity, governed by the ontologically-existent best course analysis.

Solutions offered by Christianity:

Christianity is a great leveller. All have fallen short of God’s standards, but a path of redemption and transformation is open. The rich and the poor are equal in rights and responsibilities, insofar as God requires they fulfil their respective vocations. From those to whom much is given, much will be expected. The only humans on this planet are sinners, that includes us.

Christianity’s greatest distinctive among world religions is this: “Love your enemies”. Why? What does it mean? How can I receive this command yet somehow let myself dehumanise my opponents, decrying their sin yet ignoring the beam in my own eye? I guess humans try to interpret our way out of some pretty simple scriptural principles!

So the command here is first to love your enemies. That doesn’t mean to uncritically agree with them. But it does mean to seek to understand and interpret the good in their message. To gracefully grant that maybe they mean well, at least in some way.

Certainly, to love your enemy must at least mean we don’t mis-represent or exaggerate their position. That we don’t puff up fake news. That we accept graciously when they apologise or withdraw. That we don’t cancel over an error from a quarter-century ago, of which they have since publicly repented. That we focus on what they can contribute in future, not on the past.

What does it feel like to be wrong?

Actually, it feels exactly the same as when you are right. Until you realise it. Another of Christianity’s core strengths is to admit error. To repent literally means “to change your mind”. To discover error not only in deeds, but in thoughts and words. Jesus talked at length about purity of mind and heart, noting a greedy look falls short of God’s standards, just as actual thieving.

So to end polarisation, we need firstly to maintain a very healthy skepticism of our own opinions. Which facts hit our evidence filters? Who’s perspective did we choose (maybe unconsciously) to ignore? So let’s define a few new deadly sins:

  1. Evidence filters. Many promote policies which sound like good ideas. But actually, most ideas (or something very similar) have been tried somewhere. Legalise marijuana? Single payer health system? Lower taxes? Higher taxes? Firstly you should challenge where else these policies, or parts of them have been tried, and what the outcomes were. I’ve heard many promote policies while ignoring that it failed elsewhere.
  2. Demanding extreme purity. Actually this is a hallmark of cults. You will observe the further you move on any extreme, the more fractured the group of people are. As the demand for purity becomes more extreme, those on the edges of the political spectrum suffer more severe internal divisions than mainstream parties. Instead of “extreme purity”, let’s demand “extreme acceptance” and “extreme logical examination of facts and evidence”.
  3. “Party Spirit” is spoken against in scripture. Gal 5:19-21 lists it amongst a long list of undesirable traits, and the Message version puts it thus: “the vicious habit of depersonalizing everyone into a rival[1]” — let’s be straight - we want none of this.
  4. Decrying compromise and insisting on a hard all-or-nothing line. All successful public policy will feel like a fusion or a compromise. This is because many people have different views on matters, as in the parable of the elephant and the blind people. All are partly true and partly false. So the real answers to most of our iconic disagreements are, in fact, a sensible compromise and synthesis.

Humans tend to judge themselves by their intentions and others by their outcomes. To live in grace is to do the opposite of this, that is, to assume in the first instance others mean well, at least at some level, and to rigorously test your own impact on the world.

Can you be more factual? Can you rigorously test your own ideas against global experience? Can you find the good in your worst political hate-symbol? Can you find fault with yourself, your side, and your policies?

Moreover, can you accept that with so many humans having partially correct and partially incorrect views, and differing legitimate interests, that the best policy is in fact a fusion or compromise? Remember, shortly we will have AI’s rattling off facts and different viewpoints at us, and all our party-spirit, evidence filter and tribalism flaws will be shown up to be as evil as the New Testament claims.

In this way, Christian Transhumanism offers a comprehensive path forwards out of political polarisation.

Takeaways:

  1. The command to love your enemy extends to your least favorite politician. That does not mean to not be critical, but it does require that you:
    1. Not exaggerate their faults
    2. Not repeat falsehoods. Thou shalt not bear false witness, even if you saw it on Facebook. Verify before reposting.
    3. Not demonise their supporters
    4. Rigorously ask yourself what your reaction would have been if your most favorite politician had said or done the same thing.
    5. Acknowledge and give credit when they do something good, or when they change course.
  2. Evidence filters are sin. Repent of them.
  3. Forming teams or “party spirit” is sin. All humans are one family. If we love our enemies, we should not experience “us vs them” the way the USA experiences family breakdown over voting Democrat or Republican.
  4. Always admit your errors, quickly and unreservedly.
  5. Always forgive others their errors, quickly and unreservedly, particularly when they publicly repent, let that be the end of the matter. Defend the genuinely repentant from unforgiveness.
  6. AI is now capable of collecting and comparing both sides of an argument. So you might as well get used to that or you’ll be made to sound silly by AI within a couple of years.
  7. Future humans will be judged by how they tear down their own evidence filters, remove the log from their own eyes, and always seek to understand the viewpoints of others.
  8. The development of every sound public policy feels like a compromise. This is true, because successful policy is a fusion of many different insights. So it’s a sin to dehumanize, misrepresent or exaggerate such other insights.
  9. All Christians will be evidenced by their commitment to loving their enemies and seeing others as fellow humans first, rather than people who vote in a particular manner.

Notes


  1. Galatians 5:19-21 (MSG) ↩︎

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Inequality Phobia

by Jonathan Gunnell

Posted on 2020-05-14T13:16:31.213Z

This post presents personal opinions, which may not necessarily reflect the views of other members of the Christian Transhumanist Association.

Inequality Phobia: The challenge of social and economic inequality to Christian Transhumanism.

Every time some new promising tech comes on the scene, we hear the same objection, “The rich will benefit and the rest of us will be left behind to die!”

Indeed this is a problem, and the CTA needs to address it.

In the Transhumanist context, this question comes up with technology that extends our life-span or health-span. But I would like to apply this generally to all new inventions, and point out that actually inequality does a lot of good, so long as we moderate it.

Gunnell’s law of technological inequality states that every new technology initially increases inequality, because:

  • New technology is developed firstly to benefit the rich, because they are more profitable as customers.
  • Rich people are more able to adapt new technology (or hire people to do so) to increase the wellbeing of themselves and their companies.
  • Rich people have spare money to risk, or to indulge, in new tech.

Since any new technology will increase inequality, and since inequality is bad, does that make new technology bad? Surely not. It’s so popular!

The first adopters of any tech pay a high price for a shoddy version. There is always a “first mover penalty”. When the technology is no longer new, it can scale quickly, and the price drops rapidly. So although the tech increases inequality initially, many technologies (e.g. the www) are great levellers. Now anyone can learn! (Or watch cat videos. You choose. You sow. You reap. There’s more inequality!)

Why is there inequality?

Great question, with many answers. A better question would be to ask why (or how) do any humans make it out of abject poverty, our default state? We lived for countless millennia as hunter-gatherers, nomads, or subsistence farmers. This lifestyle continues in some places. But most of us have found both the means and the desire to choose modernity.

To grow out of poverty, we need to work as a community. Key features of the social context in which technological development is successfully energized are trust, cooperation, and the rule of law, (not only patents). We also need people with spare resources (i.e. rich). Successful social contexts arise because they deliver progress that we want. (Largely, we vote for it.) These successful social contexts differ, but the key commonality is consistency in rules by which success is achieved, sufficient to give a level of unity of purpose in the community.

Any long-term game played by a set of rules that contains a mix of luck, discipline and insight, will end up in inequality. We see it in sports, for example basketball, where you need a mixture of luck, discipline, and insight. Luck: height, athletic genes, good place to grow up, great coaches, positive parenting. Discipline: many hours training, elite nutrition choices. Insight: game tactics, teamwork, deeply understanding your opponents. Those who rise to the top have all three. If they have only one, e.g. massive natural talent but no discipline and no insight, any success will be short lived.

The same applies in the economy. A mixture of luck, hard work, and business insight will result in success. So those of us fortunate enough to have succeeded (most, to some extent), should understand the context that allowed us to succeed (luck), as well as reflecting on what has worked for us and where the next opportunities lie.

Therefore, the longer the economy goes on, in peace, according to rules, in the absence of moderating factors, the greater inequality will become.

Put more simply, humans are unequal in luck, unequal in ability, and unequal in how hard they apply themselves, or “use their talents”. A “fair” rules-based system with enforced rules will therefore result in inequality.

We humans engage in a number of cognitive biases to convince ourselves that our outcomes are (or are not) what we deserve. Often unjustly crediting ourselves and blaming others. We ignore luck, deny poor choices, or indulge in other cognitive biases to protect our fragile egos.

We don’t like inequality.

It grates on our better nature. Ethics of reciprocity (do unto others, the veil of ignorance, etc.,) and rational compassion drive us to make our societies more equal. If we harshly enforce our “rule of law” and “rights” to dispose of our income as we see fit, those who are missing out will rise up and overthrow the existing power structures.

We can’t agree on what is “fair”. To some, “fair” means equality of outcome, to some it means equality of opportunity, so some, consistency of rules enforcement. To some, it means it’s “fair” to keep what I created (or was able to amass by whatever means), whether I need it or not. I can spend it on a super-yacht I’ll use about 3 days a month. I “earned” it! That’s “fair”.

“Fairness” means whatever I want it to.

It can mean “equality of opportunity”.

Equality of opportunity is rooted in modern history, arising with the fourteenth Amendment to the US constitution in 1868, and building through various movements, particularly post WW2 and the 1964 Civil Rights Act. It’s now so encultured we believe it instinctively. Everyone should be offered the highest quality education, and if we can keep our internet trash filters in order, we can each get it. Everyone should be appointed to jobs on the basis of merit, not in-group membership.

No one dares voice any objection to this, although in practice much inequality of opportunity exists and is practiced. Nevertheless, It’s something we strive after, and demand laws about.

And it doesn’t always work. For example, in Australia in 1974, to bring about equality of opportunity, we introduced free University for all. In the 1980s, this was modified, since it amounted to a subsidy given to the wealthy, and only made a small change to social mobility. Now there is a subsidized federal contribution and loan scheme, as well as private pay options.

Free university and full-fee university have both been described as “unfair” by the left.

Similarly in Australia, the balance between demand-driven and centrally planned tertiary places is open to debate, with some courses that are needed being unpopular, and vice versa. For course availability, both demand-driven (leading to courses with no jobs) and centrally-planned (leading to limits of places) are described as “unfair”.

It seems we can’t reach an agreed answer to the simple question, “What is ‘fair’ in university opportunity?”

It can mean “equality of outcome”.

We want a level of redistribution, to bring about more equality of outcome. But no one can be really sure where to draw the line. Both too much and too little redistribution lead to undesirable outcomes. No redistribution results in massive waste at the top and poverty at the bottom. In the extreme, enforced equality results in lack of initiative, loss of hope, kulak-violence, laziness and depression.

Therefore we want a society with a balance of these, in as transparent and meritocratic way as possible, whilst ensuring those without the ability to produce (who may well one day be us or our family) still have at least a basic level of housing, medical care, and the opportunity to retrain and climb the ladder of opportunity.

It can mean “consistent enforcement of rules”

That is, whatever I am able to amass within the rules is entirely mine to do whatsoever I wish. No one can criticize me for displays of wealth, because success deserves reward.

One would note, however, that rules are hardly ever enforced consistently, not to mention the massive scriptural objections to this position.

Equality of outcome, equality of opportunity, equality before the law and the system, these competing definitions of “fairness” generate much noise in politics.

Social systems with moderating factors to drive “fairness” (whatever that means).

Socialism v capitalism

Socialism in a pure form is defined as government ownership of the means of production. This “commonality” and government ownership has never worked, resulting in sclerotic bureaucracy, in-group nepotism, stifling of innovation and rampant inefficiency wherever it has been tried. Not to mention despotism and loss of the simple freedom to start and keep your own business. It’s the exact opposite of “agility” and “initiative”. If you’re still in favor of government ownership of the means of production, well that takes evidence filters the envy of young-earthers.

But similarly pure capitalism, (by this I mean a free-market with no controls) has heaps of drawbacks. It’s great to be productive and to produce more than you consume, that’s a fundamental ethical human driver, supported both in all economic systems and scripture. But in the absence of moderating factors, it tends to extremes of inequality. Then there’s worse:

Adam Smith stated, “With the greater part of rich people, the chief enjoyment of riches consists in the parade of riches[1]”.

Wow! We can have fun debunking that from a Christian perspective. “It is more blessed to give than to receive[2]” and “command those who are rich in the world... to be rich in good deeds, to be generous and willing to share[3]

Surely those who enjoy parading their riches are far from the Kingdom of God. No one can serve two masters. You cannot serve both God and Money[4].

So for those who conflate unbridled capitalism and Christianity, time to think again.

So what moderating factors will work best? Ask a socialist, and you’ll get somewhere between “tax the rich” and “nationalise the means of production”. Ask a capitalist and they’ll say “spread my work ethic, not my wealth”.

What would a Christian Transhumanist say?

A Christian Transhumanist perspective on inequality

Transhumanists value the rapid development of new technology, seeing it as ultimately a good thing and a defining attribute of humanity. In the short term it can increase inequality, but equalise opportunities in the long run. To lift the living standards of everyone means we should seek the “optimal” level of inequality (pure utilitarian perspective). Peace results where there is not too much inequality, but enough so people have incentive (and a pathway) to strive to improve their lot, and to innovate.

Christians value all humans equally as children of God. God is generous. All are worthy of the same love, opportunity, and where possible, as equal an outcome as can optimally be arranged in a society based inevitably on inequality and well-functioning meritocratic hierarchies.

Transhumanism requires massive capital investment in new technologies, the first versions of which are overpriced poor quality. But without early adopters, without inequality, there is no progress.

Christianity requires us to love our neighbour as ourselves[5]. And if we have two cloaks, to share one with our neighbour[6]. True Christian religion incorporates not only the best and highest of “ethics of reciprocity” but the ethic of “loving your enemy”. In this way, paying too much for an early shoddy version could indeed be “loving my fellow human”, because it will encourage the development of technology.

From a pragmatic utilitarian perspective, it’s not even clear what the best objective is. Maybe the best objective is to maximise the outcome for the highest number of people over a given time frame, say the next 50 years? By then, technology and society will be unrecognisable to us. Or maybe it’s to minimise suffering? Or maybe to hasten the Technological Singularity? Who is to say which of these goals is most worthy of our efforts? I know one that isn’t: it involves hedonism and time wasting.

So that requires us to seek the optimum level of inequality. This is the CT imperative to balance rapid development of technology and human enhancements with availability to all.

So why should we lengthen person A’s lifespan whilst person B starves?

Great question. Tough question. I have no good answer. But here’s some thoughts I find compelling.

Person B in this era is likely starving as a result of person C’s war, deliberate choices, economic sanctions or simply hard heart. Personally, I didn’t cause it, and have worked to ameliorate it. Do I have no rights to my own property? Can person C demand I pay the price for their misdeeds?

If Edward Jenner thought in such a way, he never would have developed the original vaccine. Instead, he would just focus on ‘alleviating poverty through redistribution’. The net result of such a hypothetical choice on Jenner’s part would have been a delay of developing the concept of vaccination (for how many decades?). Net result: much more suffering than he would otherwise have alleviated through campaigns to redistribute.

Had Einstein focused on ‘alleviating poverty through redistribution’ we wouldn’t have GPS and numerous other technologies, which do more to alleviate suffering than redistribution.

Each of us has unique gifts, unique callings, and a unique vocation. The world is not short of problems to solve, and again, not all ways of solving them are equal.

Instead of objecting on “equality grounds” to life-extension technologies, maybe you could object to warfare? Currently around 4% of global GDP is devoted to killing people, or preparing weapons to do so.

Instead of objecting on “equality grounds” to life-extension technologies, how about objecting to the existence of the pizza-fast-food-smoking-alcohol industrial axis of evil to kill people early via temptation? There’s trillions of dollars to repurpose, from less creation of junk, reduced medical costs and loss of productive years.

Instead of objecting on “equality grounds” to life-extension technologies, how about objecting to the rampant consumerism and waste of resources in high-end fashion, be that cars, $3000 bottles of wine, $200m super yachts, $10,000 suits etc?

Or if you think these choices represent a false dichotomy, and “both and” is appropriate, maybe you could see life-extension and consequent suffering alleviation as the natural inheritor of basic research. All the good things that have come from medical advances, from moonshots, from investment in computers and the www, from basic science research, had no apparent use (at first). All these things have done more to alleviate suffering, address equality of opportunity and build a better future than any amount of taxes and redistribution.

So those objecting to life-extension on “equality grounds” could think again.

How then to address inequality?

Inequality phobia appears often in Transhumanist critiques. And fear (phobia) is nothing to talk down, it’s a good positive God-given part of humanity’s make up.

The scriptures have two approaches. Firstly, they acknowledge the very real existence of hierarchies of differences in human ability; differences even in trustworthiness[7] and productivity.[8]

Secondly, they require the redress of inequality, in a community, by placing responsibility on kings, the wealthy, and the natural community leaders, including innovators, thinkers and communicators, indeed all[9].

All Christians are called to share with those genuinely in need. This can vary though, from sharing material goods to friendship and support. And sometimes dedication to a higher cause of technology that saves millions of lives is more effective than being a good Samaritan.

So as each of us considers what we can “cheerfully” give[10], not only of our material goods, but also of our time to build a better world through our daily employment or business.

Inequality should be addressed with grace, not compulsion. With the love of God, and the character of Jesus, not from the heavy hand of government and stifling compulsion. Those who can valuably dedicate their time to basic research, to technology development, and to moonshots should be empowered by the community to do so, since ultimately this will do more good than any forced redistribution.

You can’t redistribute what isn’t produced.

So maybe the right kind of inequality phobia is “the fear of the Lord”. A godly fear means the understanding that we fall far short of the archetype of excellence, of goodness. All such ideals are in themselves a judge. A judge we are naturally and rightly fearful of, as we are afraid of falling short of our own highest standards, or of those we believe the Simulator/Creator requires.

It’s a good and positive thing to fear that we have fallen short of God’s requirements, especially when it comes to addressing inequality.

So yes - let’s be afraid of inequality. Whilst we humans are naturally unequal, and have different capabilities, unless we moderate inequality, social upheaval will destroy our community. Unless we operate our society with a strong ethic of reciprocity, built from the foundations of loving kindness and spiritual transformation, the “winners” of the game of economic competition will be taken down by those less fortunate.

The various scriptural commands to love (neighbours, enemies, the Lord (archetype of excellence)) impels new technology.

Scripture commands the rich to be “rich in good deeds”. Jesus commends the servant with ten talents for his investments[11]. So investing your surplus to create even more value (not only to alleviate poverty with ‘good works’) is a central gospel command. Without those pioneers (rich entrepreneurs), and without early adopters (rich consumers), there is no progress.

And thus our planet(s) will remain until the technological singularity, or some other end-time, with a level of inequality as we shoot for the stars. May we learn to manage this difficult truth, learning the deeper meanings of peace and justice. Yes, be afraid of inequality - it is the spark that drives us, but can burn our society if out of control.

Takeaways:

  1. Technological advance requires surplus resources (riches). It is primarily driven by rich people both as customers (demand) and entrepreneurs (supply).
  2. What hasn’t been produced can’t be redistributed.
  3. Transhumanism accentuates the value we all place on the application of technology to improve the human condition.
  4. Christianity values all humans equally, so equality of access is the ultimate goal. This is difficult, since humans are inherently unequal (in genes, luck, and choices).
  5. Redistribution should be driven by transformed Christian human hearts, not government compulsion, especially not demonisation of the rich.
  6. The sociopolitical system and ethos that finds the optimum level of inequality that drives the most progress, whilst sharing the benefits most widely, will be the most successful long term (including electorally).
  7. The rich may “leave us behind”, but they will leave us a legacy also. Let’s celebrate this, with the right addition of fear of both social breakdown and of failing to live up to the standards the Simulator/Creator demonstrated through Jesus, our highest archetype.

Notes


  1. https://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/adam_smith_386875 ↩︎

  2. Acts 20:35 ↩︎

  3. 1 Timothy 6:17-19 ↩︎

  4. Matt 6:24 ↩︎

  5. Mark 12:31 ↩︎

  6. Luke 3:11 ↩︎

  7. Luke 19:24 ↩︎

  8. Prov 24:30-34 ↩︎

  9. Scripture references for sharing wealth:
    https://www.openbible.info/topics/sharing_wealth ↩︎

  10. 2 Cor 9:7 ↩︎

  11. Matt 25:20-21 ↩︎

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A New Era for the CTA

by Micah Redding

Posted on 2020-03-20T16:52:44.295Z

Since I first published A Call for Interest in a Christian Transhumanist Association, I hoped that the CTA would grow to become a community-driven and democratic institution. I've been thrilled to see numerous leaders develop within our community, as people grew and articulated their own understanding and perspective on the intersection of faith, science, and the future. Our board members, our volunteers, our active participants—all show the potential of a community like ours to help transform the world.

In keeping with that vision, for the first time, I’m running as a candidate in our annual board election this month.

This marks a new era in the history of the CTA. I've served the CTA as board-appointed Executive Director since the very beginning. Now, I am seeking the will of our members directly, as we elect the next slate of leaders going forward. If I continue in leadership, I hope to do so based on the direct support of our membership.

To that end, three board seats are up for election, as in previous years. If I am elected, I will transition from appointed to elected member of the board, and I will continue in my role. The same number of board seats will be maintained (9), and going forward, the Executive Director will be an elected member of the board.

I would love to continue serving the CTA for years to come. But more importantly, I hope for the CTA to grow to become a robust, empowered, and empowering community of vision, action, and ideas.

Thank you for all of your involvement and support. Your voice matters, and now is your time to shape the next era of the CTA. If you are a voting member, join the candidate discussions here. If you are not yet a voting member, take this opportunity to join.

We are living through a time of rapid, disruptive change. I believe that the existence of the CTA—and your involvement in it—is more important than ever.

Onward!
Micah Redding
Executive Director

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2020 CTA Board Member Elections

by Micah Redding

Posted on 2020-03-09T18:09:32.013Z

Since our formation nearly seven years ago, the Christian Transhumanist Association has been working hard to advance the conversation between Christianity and the leading edges of technological thought.

From our first major action funding the Embrace Infant Warmer project—uniting our values of technology, compassion, and respect for human life—to authoring the historic Christian Transhumanist Affirmation in conjunction with academics, clergy, and technologists—we've helped set the tone for a positive engagement between religion and the deepest and most challenging issues of our time.

We've carried this message across the country, from secular transhumanist conferences in California, to Redeemer Presbyterian in NYC—and around the world, from Lagos, Nigeria to Vina Del Mar, Chile. We've appeared in major publications, like Wired, Christianity Today, and the BBC, and our members have been interviewed for numerous podcasts, articles, videos, and even The Daily Show.

In 2018 and 2019, we took a massive leap, organizing an incredible series of Christian Transhumanist Conferences, and drawing people from around the world. We heard from leading thinkers in technology and religion, discussed big, exciting ideas, and most of all—formed deep relationships with many people working for positive change, just like you.

These have been fantastic experiences, and we're excited to keep moving forward.

We're just getting started. We've got big plans for the year ahead, and we need hard-working, insightful leaders to help bring those plans to fruition.

Robert Walden Kurtz and Emily Hogan Redding have just completed three fantastic years of service in CTA leadership. Which means that this month, we're electing new members to the Board of the Christian Transhumanist Association.

Who will those people be?

That's up to you. Nominations are now open. We're looking for the people who can help lead these important efforts into the future. Maybe that's someone you know. Maybe it's you.

After we finish collecting nominations, our voting members will elect the new board.

If you're not a voting member of the association, this is a great time to become one. You'll not only help advance this incredibly important conversation, you'll have a direct voice in who will lead it over the next three years.

Click here to make it official.

I believe this conversation is one of the most important efforts of our time, and I've dedicated myself completely to it. I'd love for you to join us.

Upward!

Micah Redding
Executive Director

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Why Is There Something Rather Than Nothing?

by Jonathan Gunnell

Posted on 2020-02-18T03:52:23.245Z

Why Is There Something Rather Than Nothing?

Great question. Many answers already exist, so I'm writing here a brief response from a Christian Transhumanist perspective. Transhumanism is about embracing the opportunities to transform ourselves and our species into the future. We are faced with a huge universe in both time and space, in which we seem insignificant. Humans are curious, always questioning, and seeking an answer to this primordial puzzle, "Why is there anything?". As such it's a vital underlying worldview question for both Transhumanism and Christianity.

Recently I came across a couple of relevant Sean Carroll podcasts [1] , and a paper [2] he wrote.

Carroll's paper in summary offers five possible answers to "Why is there something rather than nothing?"

  1. Creation (he uses the word "simulation" in his podcast, seemingly interchangeably)
  2. Metaverse (A different (but not very) concept from multiverse)
  3. Principle (Something special about reality that satisfies some underlying principle)
  4. Coherence (that "nothingness" is "incoherent")
  5. Brute Fact — that reality simply exists the way it does, without further explanation. That is, the laws of physics necessarily write themselves to cause the infinite multiverse(s) (or metaverse(s)).

The latter four all suffer from some version of the criticism of infinite regression ("turtles all the way down"), other than the last, which simply accepts it. So we are left basically with two choices: either accept infinite regression, or we look to some creative force that exists external to the chain of cause and effect that we perceive.

In criticizing creation (including simulation), Carroll writes:

While a creator could explain the existence of our universe, we are left to explain the existence of a creator. In order to avoid explanatory regression, it is tempting to say that the creator explains its own existence, but then we can ask why the universe couldn't have done the same thing. [2:1]

Actually, we already asked that question. The seeming impossibility of the universe "do[ing] the same thing" is why we started the quest for the first cause. Nothing in our universe appears prima facie as a good candidate for the end of seemingly infinite regression, nor does our universe seem the kind of place that such a thing could exist. No matter what "principle" or "self-writing laws" are posited, there is always a follow-on question, of "where did that principle come from?" or "what enabled laws to self-write?".

Not liking the obvious answer to this conundrum is a bad motivation to re-interpret our perceptions that caused us to ask the question.

In my talk to the 2018 CTA conference, I described the "first cause" more as "something external to the chain of cause and effect". We struggle to deal with infinities, as a painted figure struggles to deal with a dimension out of the plane of the canvas.

Humans live in four-dimensional space-time, yet we have strong grounds for suspecting there are in fact many more dimensions. Maybe the universe we experience is like a work of art, in the same way art may compress four dimensions to two or three.

Carroll concludes the paper with the possibility (or probability) that ultimately the universe could be unintelligible. Maybe there is an incompleteness theorem that states humans can never fully understand whatever it is we are experiencing. He puts it thus:

What we can't do is demand of the universe that there be something we humans would recognize as a satisfactory reason for its existence. [3]

In podcast ep 25 with David Chalmers (philosopher who coined the term "hard problem of consciousness") they expand on the idea of simulation. They go on to ask how a simulator (or a race of them) might communicate with us to let us know we are in a simulation. The requirement they suggest was to miraculously move the moon around or write a message in the sky.

Well, Christians think that the Simulator certainly did just that, through our moral instincts (in all their cultural variants) through our search for meaning, various prophets (Heb 1:1) and indeed through the resurrection of Jesus. These may not be "recognize[d] as a satisfactory" means of communication by Carroll, but are by many. (Globally, a majority.) It's nice that Chalmers seems to accept that is not an illogical position and doesn't join some atheists in ridiculing an intellectually defensible position.

So to summarise the position between Carroll and Simulation/Creationists, in the hope of further dialog, there are two choices:

  • accept (either explicitly or implicitly by glossing over) the idea of infinite regression as a reality, or
  • accept that this is philosophically incoherent, therefore there must be a creative (or simulative) force external to the universe we experience [4], coming from a place with a higher number of dimensions, such that we are in a "creation", a "simulation" or a "work of art".

In terms of the "experientialist space" of the universe we perceive being "wastefully large", well that's a value statement based on perception and evidence filters. Maybe we could re-conceive it as a lovely large blank canvas, on which to co-create an amazing future with our Simulator.



  1. Carroll, Sean. Mindscape (or Preposterous Universe) Podcast, ep 9 & 25. ↩︎

  2. Carroll, Sean. Why Is There Something, Rather Than Nothing? (direct link to PDF) ↩︎ ↩︎

  3. ibid ↩︎

  4. Do we need a new word for that? Our "experientialist space"? ↩︎

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Ron Cole-Turner of Pittsburgh Theological Seminary to speak at Christian Transhumanist Conference 2019

by Micah Redding

Posted on 2019-09-30T14:59:16.684Z

Ron Cole-Turner is the Professor of Theology and Ethics at Pittsburgh Theological Seminary, a founding member of the International Society for Science and Religion, and has served on the advisory board of the John Templeton Foundation and the Metanexus Institute. He is co-chair of the program unit on Human Enhancement and Transhumanism of the American Academy of Religion, and is the editor of Transhumanism and Transcendence and co-editor of Christian Perspectives on Transhumanism and the Church.

He will be speaking on "The Transhuman Christ".

The 2019 Christian Transhumanist Conference will be held October 19, 2019 in Nashville, TN. The keynote speaker is “Science Mike” McHargue, a former atheist who discovered God in science.

Tickets are available now.

For more information on Christian Transhumanism, and our mission to work against illness, hunger, oppression, injustice, and death, visit our webpage at www.christiantranshumanism.org.

We look forward to seeing you in Nashville in October!

> Register now! <

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Michael Paulus of AI & Faith to speak at Christian Transhumanist Conference 2019

by Micah Redding

Posted on 2019-09-27T05:37:32.487Z

Michael J. Paulus, Jr., is University Librarian, Assistant Provost for Educational Technology, and Director and Associate Professor of Information Studies at Seattle Pacific University. His administrative, teaching, and scholarly interests focus on the future of information and communication technologies, especially as they relate to higher education, libraries, work, and ethics. He is a regular contributor to the Patheos blog Digital Wisdom and a founding member of AI and Faith.

He will speaking on Data, Identity, and the Theology of the Digitally Enhanced Self.

The 2019 Christian Transhumanist Conference will be held October 19, 2019 in Nashville, TN. The keynote speaker is “Science Mike” McHargue, a former atheist who discovered God in science.

Tickets are available now.

For more information on Christian Transhumanism, and our mission to work against illness, hunger, oppression, injustice, and death, visit our webpage at www.christiantranshumanism.org.

We look forward to seeing you in Nashville in October!

> Register now! <

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Cheryle Renee Moses, founder and producer of Urban Mediamakers Film Festival, to present at Christian Transhumanist Conference 2019

by Micah Redding

Posted on 2019-09-25T01:12:09.277Z

Cheryle Renee Moses is an activist, author, content creator, educator and spiritualist. She has a passion for serving people and solving problems. Cheryle is the author of "God Told Me To Tell You To Put That Damn Bible Down" and the founder of mobile app development company PerSavvyTM.

Cheryle is also the founder/producer of the Urban Mediamakers Film Festival held annually in October in metro-Atlanta, GA. The mission of Urban Mediamakers is to spread better stories, and enact positive change.

The 2019 Christian Transhumanist Conference will be held October 19, 2019 in Nashville, TN. The keynote speaker is “Science Mike” McHargue, a former atheist who discovered God in science.

Tickets are available now.

For more information on Christian Transhumanism, and our mission to work against illness, hunger, oppression, injustice, and death, visit our webpage at www.christiantranshumanism.org.

We look forward to seeing you in Nashville in October!

> Register now! <

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Liz Parrish "Human GMO" to speak at Christian Transhumanist Conference 2019

by Micah Redding

Posted on 2019-09-09T17:06:49.532Z

Liz Parrish is CEO of BioViva, and the first patient to be treated with gene therapy to reverse aging. She has been called a "Human GMO", and is at the forefront of efforts to radically extend human life. She will be speaking on life extension, reversing the aging process, and what happens if these treatments are made available to the world.

Listen to Micah Redding's interview with Liz Parrish here.

The 2019 Christian Transhumanist Conference will be held October 19, 2019 in Nashville, TN. The keynote speaker is “Science Mike” McHargue, a former atheist who discovered God in science.

Early-bird tickets are available now.

For more information on Christian Transhumanism, and our mission to work against illness, hunger, oppression, injustice, and death, visit our webpage at www.christiantranshumanism.org.

We look forward to seeing you in Nashville in October!

> Register now! <

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Jim Stump of BioLogos to speak at Christian Transhumanist Conference 2019

by Micah Redding

Posted on 2019-08-09T05:44:09.465Z

BioLogos is an organization at the forefront of Faith & Science dialogue. Founded by Francis Collins—who led the Human Genome Project and now directs the National Institutes of Health—BioLogos advocates a strong embrace of current scientific understanding, while showing that science is not in conflict with the Bible, but actually enhances faith.

Jim Stump is Vice-President of BioLogos, and the host of the podcast Language of God. He has a PhD in philosophy and was formerly a professor and academic administrator. His books include, “Four Views on Creation, Evolution, and Intelligent Design”; “Science and Christianity: An Introduction to the Issues”; “How I Changed My Mind about Evolution”; and “The Blackwell Companion to Science and Christianity”.

He will be speaking on applying the lessons learned from engaging faith and evolution, to the questions of faith and transhumanism.

The 2019 Christian Transhumanist Conference will be held October 19, 2019 in Nashville, TN. The keynote speaker is “Science Mike” McHargue, a former atheist who discovered God in science.

Early-bird tickets are available now.

For more information on Christian Transhumanism, and our mission to work against illness, hunger, oppression, injustice, and death, visit our webpage at www.christiantranshumanism.org.

We look forward to seeing you in Nashville in October!

> Register now! <

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Early-Bird Tickets are Live! Christian Transhumanist Conference 2019

by Micah Redding

Posted on 2019-06-18T22:59:32.271Z

UPDATE: Early-Bird Tickets are Live!

Christian Transhumanist Conference 2019
Saturday, October 19th, 2019 • NASHVILLE, TN
Get the early-early-early bird discount now!

The Christian Transhumanist Association is pleased to announce a one-day conference this October with keynote speaker Science Mike McHargue. The event will be held in Nashville, TN on Saturday, October 19th.

Science Mike became a skeptic through science, then found God as an atheist. As the host of Ask Science Mike, he addresses wide-ranging questions on science and faith, and as a co-host of The Liturgists Podcast, he reaches millions of people navigating questions of spirituality and meaning.

More details will be announced over the next few weeks, but we wanted to give everyone notice in order to "save the date" and make necessary travel arrangements.

For more information on our keynote speaker, check out his website, or listen to an interview with him here.

For more information on Christian Transhumanism, and our mission to work against illness, hunger, oppression, injustice, and death, visit our webpage at www.christiantranshumanism.org.

A Call for Presentations is available.

Tickets are available here.

We look forward to seeing you in Nashville in October!

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2019 CTA Board Member Elections

by Micah Redding

Posted on 2019-03-12T01:21:23.143Z

Since our formation five years ago, the Christian Transhumanist Association has been working hard to advance the conversation between Christianity and the leading edges of technological thought.

From our first major action funding the Embrace Infant Warmer project—uniting our values of technology, compassion, and respect for human life—to authoring the historic Christian Transhumanist Affirmation in conjunction with academics, clergy, and technologists—we've helped set the tone for a positive engagement between religion and the deepest and most challenging issues of our time.

We've carried this message across the country, from secular transhumanist conferences in California, to Redeemer Presbyterian in NYC—and around the world, from Lagos, Nigeria to Vina Del Mar, Chile. We've appeared in major publications, like Wired, Christianity Today, and the BBC, and our members have been interviewed for numerous podcasts, articles, videos, and even The Daily Show.

In 2018, we took a massive leap, launching the first ever Christian Transhumanist Conference, and drawing people from around the world. We heard from leading thinkers in technology and religion, discussed big, exciting ideas, and most of all—formed deep relationships with many people working for positive change, just like you.

It was a fantastic experience, and this year we're going to do it again.

We're just getting started. We've got big plans for the year ahead, and we need hard-working, insightful leaders to help bring those plans to fruition.

Neal Locke, Lincoln Cannon, and Gabriel Redding have just completed three fantastic years of service in CTA leadership. Which means that this month, we're electing three members to the Board of the Christian Transhumanist Association.

Who will those people be?

That's up to you. Nominations are now open. We're looking for the people who can help lead these important efforts into the future. Maybe that's someone you know. Maybe it's you.

After we finish collecting nominations, our voting members will elect the new board.

If you're not a voting member of the association, this is a great time to become one. You'll not only help advance this incredibly important conversation, you'll have a direct voice in who will lead it over the next three years.

Click here to make it official.

I believe this conversation is one of the most important efforts of our time, and I've dedicated myself completely to it. I'd love for you to join us.

Upward!

Micah Redding
Executive Director

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Christianity Today: Can Anti-Aging Treatments Offer Abundant Life?

by Micah Redding

Posted on 2019-02-18T15:24:47.157Z

Christianity Today discusses Christian Transhumanism, radical longevity, and the questionable theology of popular hymns, in this wide-ranging conversation with some leading theologians.

Read the full article from Liuan Huska here.

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Announcement! National Geographic to sponsor Christian Transhumanist Conference 2018

by Micah Redding

Posted on 2018-08-20T20:04:57.935Z

National Geographic has just announced that they will be sponsoring the Christian Transhumanist Conference 2018.

They will provide free food & drink for all registrants — plus a special advance screening of their docu-series MARS. Mars Season 2 premieres on November 12; we’ll get an exclusive sneak peek while we eat.

Seats for this historic conference are filling up fastRegister now!

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(DRAFT) Statement on Radical Life Extension

by Micah Redding

Posted on 2018-08-10T03:10:08.678Z

This is the draft of a proposed statement, circulated for review and comment. Keynote speaker Aubrey de Grey will explore radical life extension at the upcoming Christian Transhumanist Conference on August 25th, in Nashville, TN.

Statement of Understanding

  1. We understand that the best current science suggests aging is a process of accumulating damage, leading to disease.
  2. We understand that bodies are always engaged in a process of healing this damage to the best of their abilities.
  3. We understand the medical work of healing to be a deeply vital aspect of the Christian mission, as enjoined by Christ. We understand medical science to be a necessary aspect of this work.
  4. We understand Radical Life Extension to refer to the work of using medical science to heal damage at a deep level, before it develops into disease.
  5. We understand that the expected result of that healing would be the restoration of health, the undoing of the effects of aging, and the indefinite extension of healthy, productive, relational life.
  6. We understand that Christians of all traditions embrace a biblical story which suggests that human life should extend to 120 years or longer. We understand the stories of Genesis, which describe humans living nearly a millennium, to affirm the value of physical life. We understand passages such as Isaiah 65:20, which look forward to multi-centenarian lifespans, to affirm the value of physical life.

Statement of Values

  1. We believe in the deep value of productive, relational, flourishing life, as embodied in the words and actions of Jesus.
  2. We believe in the deep value of physical healing, as embodied in words of Jesus, the instructions given to the earliest disciples, and the historic understanding of the Christian mission.
  3. We believe in the deep value of individual agency in the outworking of medical care and treatment.
  4. We believe in the deep value of providing care and healing to all people.

Statement on Radical Life Extension

  1. We believe that pursuing the technologies of Radical Life Extension is compatible with the highest values of the Christian mission.
  2. We believe that the technologies of Radical Life Extension should be made available to all people, to reduce the impact of diseases related to aging.
  3. We believe that the technologies of Radical Life Extension should be used to give individuals greater agency over their own life and care—not to remove that agency.

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Mike Morrell to present at Christian Transhumanist Conference 2018

by Micah Redding

Posted on 2018-07-31T18:19:45.713Z

The Christian Transhumanist Association is pleased to announce that Mike Morrell will present at the first Christian Transhumanist Conference, on August 25th, at Lipscomb University in Nashville, TN.

Mike Morrell is the collaborating author, with Fr. Richard Rohr, on the best-selling Divine Dance: The Trinity and Your Transformation, founder of Wisdom Camp, and a founding organizer of the justice, arts, and spirituality Wild Goose Festival. Mike curates contemplative and community experiences via Relational Yoga, the ManKind Project, and Authentic North Carolina, taking joy in holding space for the extraordinary transformation that can take place at the intersection of anticipation, imagination, and radical acceptance. Mike lives with his wife and two daughters in Asheville, North Carolina. You can read Mike’s ongoing exploration of Spirit, Culture, and Permaculture at MikeMorrell.org.

Mike Morrell will be discussing Will the rich leave us behind?

> Register now! <

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Emily Sue Laird to present on Art & Transhumanism—at Christian Transhumanist Conference 2018

by Micah Redding

Posted on 2018-07-31T18:13:21.241Z

The Christian Transhumanist Association is pleased to announce that Emily Sue Laird will present at the first Christian Transhumanist Conference, on August 25th, at Lipscomb University in Nashville, TN.

Emily Sue Laird is a Nashville-based commercial artist, educator, and civil servant specializing in visual arts and 3D printing. She earned a BFA in Fine Art from Watkins College of Art, Design & Film—and currently serves at one of Nashville's high-tech maker spaces for teenagers, where she teaches visual arts and technology programs.

As Creative Director of Artist Nashville from 2014-2017, Emily Sue was responsible for the design and production of large scale contemporary sculptural installations. A few of her notable clients include Jack Daniel's Distillery, Holiday Inn Suites, Cox Automotive, Cengage, Janet's Planet, and the YMCA.

In August 2017, the Tennessee Arts Commission awarded Emily Sue a grant to work with local young adults to create a large-scale mural at the Adventure Science Center in Nashville, TN—featuring fractal-based mathematical designs and blacklight-responsive paints to teach visitors concepts about math, science, and light. In Summer 2018, Ms. Laird and the Adventure Science Center were awarded a grant by the Nashville Metro Arts Commission to create large scale outer-space themed art with middle schoolers in under-served communities, surrounding the Sudekum Planetarium.

Emily Sue Laird will be presenting on Art & Transhumanism.

> Register now! <

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Derek Webb to perform at Christian Transhumanist Conference 2018

by Micah Redding

Posted on 2018-07-31T16:47:21.958Z

The Christian Transhumanist Association is pleased to announce that Derek Webb will perform at the first Christian Transhumanist Conference, on August 25th, at Lipscomb University in Nashville, TN.

Derek Webb is a folk musician from Nashville, TN. As a member of Caedmon's Call, Webb has seen career sales approaching 1 million records, along with 10 GMA Dove Award nominations and three Dove Award wins and six No. 1 Christian radio hits. As a solo artist, he has released seven studio albums. He is the founder of NoiseTrade, a ground-breaking site which empowers artists to connect directly with their fans.

Derek Webb will be performing selections from CTRL, an album about an artificial intelligence waking up to consciousness.

> Register now!

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Dr. Scott Hawley to speak at Christian Transhumanist Conference 2018

by Micah Redding

Posted on 2018-07-31T16:29:42.237Z

The Christian Transhumanist Association is pleased to announce that Scott Hawley will be a featured speaker at the first Christian Transhumanist Conference, on August 25th, at Lipscomb University in Nashville, TN.

Dr. Scott Hawley is Associate Professor of Physics at Belmont University, and a computational physicist and machine learning app developer. He spent the summer in Oxford on a Templeton-funded grant for the project "Christian Responses to the Ascendancy of Artificial Intelligence".

Dr. Hawley will speak on "A Future of A.I. Public Servants".

> Register now for the first conference

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J. Jeanine Thweatt to speak at Christian Transhumanist Conference 2018

by Micah Redding

Posted on 2018-07-31T16:23:02.615Z

The Christian Transhumanist Association is pleased to announce that J. Jeanine Thweatt will be a featured speaker at the first Christian Transhumanist Conference, on August 25th, at Lipscomb University in Nashville, TN.

Jennifer Jeanine Thweatt holds a Ph.D. in Theology and Science from Princeton Theological Seminary, and has taught at Princeton Theological Seminary, New Brunswick Theological Seminary, and Flagler College. She is the author of Cyborg Selves: A Theological Anthropology of the Posthuman, and publishes on the intersection of posthumanism, transhumanism and theology.

> Register now for this ground-breaking conference

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Ted Peters to speak at Christian Transhumanist Conference 2018

by Micah Redding

Posted on 2018-07-29T04:21:19.738Z

The Christian Transhumanist Association is pleased to announce that Dr. Ted Peters will be a featured speaker at the first Christian Transhumanist Conference, on August 25th, at Lipscomb University in Nashville, TN.

Dr. Ted Peters (Ph.D., University of Chicago) teaches systematic theology at the Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley, California, USA. He co-edits the journal, Theology and Science, at the Center for Theology and the Natural Sciences. Along with two colleagues he is editing a new book, Religious Transhumanism and its Critics. He also just published a fiction thriller with a Transhumanist plot, Cyrus Twelve, with Aprocryphile Press. His website is TedsTimelyTake.com.

Dr. Ted Peters will speak on "The Promise and Peril of Technological Hope".


The Promise and Peril of Technological Hope
God has promised a New Jerusalem where "death will be no more; mourning and crying and pain will be no more...'See, I am making all things new'." (Revelation 21:4-5). Inspired by this vision, Christian transhumanists rightly steward scientific and technological innovation on behalf of exploration and discovery as well as work against illness, hunger, oppression, injustice, and death. However, a peril lurks in the risk of unrealistically expecting from technological progress something that only God's grace can deliver, namely, the healing and redemption of the human will.


> Register for this historic conference now

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Call for Presentations: Christian Transhumanist Conference 2018

by Micah Redding

Posted on 2018-07-15T23:03:38.832Z

The Christian Transhumanist Association is pleased to announce that the first ever Christian Transhumanist Conference will take place on Saturday, 25 August 2018, at Lipscomb University in Nashville, TN.

The keynote speaker is Aubrey de Grey, a life extension advocate and radical longevity researcher, working to end aging and create biological immortality through science.

How will biological immortality impact our understanding of Humanity? How will it impact Faith? Is the pursuit of immortality a moral necessity—or a sin? Will it fulfill the age-old dreams of religion?

> Register Here <

Talks

We invite you to submit talk proposals for the conference. The aim of this conference is to address the many issues and topics that lie at the intersection of technology and religion, and their impacts on society, faith, and culture including art, music, entertainment, and on society in general.

Talks will be assigned slots of 10, 15, or 20 minutes. Presenters are encouraged to make use of multimedia aids, such as slides, to make their presentations more engaging. Potential conference topics include:

Transhumanism: Evolution and the great filter argument; Moore’s law, Kurzweil’s law and the technological singularity; the pace of technological change; evolution; the evolution of technology; simulation argument; solar energy; genome sequencing; synthetic biology; 3D printing; genetics and biotech; nanotech and molecular machines; robotics and artificial intelligence; substrate independent minds; mind uploading; consciousness; cultural impact of technology; coping with the pace of technological change; neuroscience.

Philosophy, Theology and the Sociology of Religion: The secularization hypothesis and its implications for religion and religious organizations; post-secularization; ethics; faith and rationality; religious anthropology; philosophy of religion; scriptural hermeneutics; demythologization; postmodern religion; religious naturalism; social anthropology of technology; sociology of technology; technology and spirituality; feminism and gender issues; technology and gender.

Religious Transhumanism: Human transcendence through ethical and technological advancement; religious transhumanism; rejecting fundamentalism; rejecting anti-religiosity; promoting benevolence; promoting creativity; engineering transformation; engineering resurrection; engineering renewal of the world; bringing life to the cosmos; Minimum Viable Theology; the New God Argument.

Demonstrations, Displays, and Interactive Activities

Non-talk submissions will also be considered, including projects, demonstrations, and activities related to robotics, prosthetics, 3D-printing, virtual reality, artificial intelligence, technology-enabled art, and alternative foods. These may be assigned to booths or tables around the conference venue.

Submission

Please send talk titles and abstract to conference@christiantranshumanism.org. Include author's full name, contact information, and title.

For more information, visit the official website of the Christian Transhumanist Association at https://www.christiantranshumanism.org .

Important dates

Conference Presentation Submission Deadline: 31 July 2018
Presentation Invitation Notification Date: 7 August 2018
Conference Date: 25 August 2018

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SAVE THE DATE! Christian Transhumanist Conference 2018

by Micah Redding

Posted on 2018-07-01T19:30:13.180Z

UPDATE! Register now! Early-early-early-bird discount for limited time only!

Christian Transhumanist Conference
Saturday, August 25th, 2018 • NASHVILLE, TN
Register now!

The Christian Transhumanist Association is pleased to announce that we are hosting a one-day conference this August with keynote speaker and longevity advocate Aubrey de Grey. The event will be held in Nashville, TN on Saturday, August 25th.

More details will be announced over the next few weeks, but we wanted to give everyone notice in order to "save the date" and make necessary travel arrangements.

For more information on our keynote speaker, read his Wikipedia entry, or listen to an interview with him here.

For more information on Christian Transhumanism, and our mission to work against illness, hunger, oppression, injustice, and death, visit our webpage at www.christiantranshumanism.org.

We look forward to seeing you in Nashville in August!

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Slate: Transhumanism is Complicating the Relationship between Faith & Science

by Micah Redding

Posted on 2018-05-28T14:07:49.159Z

Slate covers the Christian Transhumanist Association, along with people like Stephen Hawking, Elon Musk, Yuval Noah Harari, Ray Kurzweil, and Anthony Levandowski—as examples of the religious discussions and aspirations that emerge on the frontiers of science and technology.

Read Albert R. Antosca's full article here:
https://slate.com/technology/2018/03/transhumanism-is-complicating-the-relationship-between-faith-and-science.html

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BBC — Immortality, The Why Factor

by Micah Redding

Posted on 2018-05-22T21:28:36.810Z

BBC World Service aired a 2-minute interview with Micah Redding on Christian Transhumanism, and how the resurrection of Christ impacts our pursuit of life, radical longevity, and healing. It was part of The Why Factor (hosted by Chloe Hadjimatheou, and produced by Priscilla Ng'ethe), in an episode on the people who seek immortality, and what drives them to do it.

It aired multiple times, to millions of people around the world, on Monday, May 21, 2018.

Segment on Christian Transhumanism starts at 15:11.
https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/w3cswrjy

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A Transhumanist and Jehovah's Witness

by Micah McCathron

Posted on 2018-04-20T05:03:37.632Z

Growing up in a community as tight-knit, but which occupies such a public space, as Jehovah's Witnesses has always been an exercise in balance. Balancing the priorities laid upon you as a citizen of this world, with the expectations, duties, and sacrifices of personal time and professional advancement for the world to come, is something most practicing members of the faith know well. We are taught (in my case, from birth) that our duty is to share the good news about Jesus Christ and the Kingdom of God—that a new and better world is just around the corner.

This is a world that is not merely future, but already slowly manifesting itself in the present, through the explosion of knowledge that has been attendant to the last two centuries (Daniel 12:4). Not only has biblical scholarship increased its scope and power, but so has the means to communicate its message earth-wide. As the leaders of the precursor movement to modern Jehovah's Witnesses (known as Bible Students) used to say, Science is the infrastructure of God's Kingdom.

You might suppose given that start, that the route from Jehovah's Witness to a certain brand of transhumanism might seem like a straight line. You'd be wrong. By the time I was a teenager, I had lost all faith in the Bible. God might exist, I supposed, but if he or she or it did, he/she/it didn't seem terribly interested in me or anyone I cared about. For a while I entertained the philosopher's God, at other times a notion like the Dao. It obsessed me to no end. I studied the great religions East and West, Abrahamic, Hindu and Buddhist, traditional and new age.

In my heart of hearts, though, I was still that kid sitting in the Kingdom Hall (where Jehovah's Witnesses meet for worship), imagining what Jesus looked like, if the heavenly new Jerusalem actually had streets of gold, or if Jehovah preferred to be called Yahweh, the Hebrew version of the Divine Name. I dreamt of Moses, the burning bush, the climactic battle of Armageddon. I found myself drawing Solomon's temple, doodling the garments of the high priest when I had paper handy. In short, whatever else I was, I was culturally Christian to the bone.

In that milieu I discovered transhumanism, thanks to the work of Ray Kurzweil. The prodigious inventor, author and transhumanist laid out a vision for the future that at once seemed familiar. Soon, perhaps in mere decades, we might conquer aging, disease, and ultimately death. We'd think faster, be more connected to each other emotionally and mentally, our power and reach would grow, and compassion would win the day. He called it the Singularity. I began calling it the Return of Christ.

In Jehovah's Witness theology, Jesus will return spiritually. There is no literal, bodily descent from heaven in our teaching, because Jesus now has a spiritual rather than fleshly body (cf 1 Corinthians 15:42-45). He would, invisibly to human eyes, begin to change the world—to perfect it, and human beings with it. The Singularity as a concept was not dissimilar. It would mark a moment of great change, the end of human history as we knew it, and the beginning of something fundamentally new and different.

Being raised to expect that the 1,000-year reign of Christ was just around the corner, talk of the Singularity made me believe something like it was possible. And not only possible, but something I could actively work toward.

Just as the religious leaders of the Jewish people in the first century were not looking for a humble carpenter's son—from a no-account village, uncomfortably close to Gentile cities, and keeping company with a gaggle of illiterate fishermen, tax collectors, and former prostitutes—for their Messiah, so many scoff at the idea of a technological singularity having anything to do with ancient biblical prophecies. Perhaps, though, the explosion of intelligence expected sometime in this century might likewise be a manifestation of the risen Christ.

Who is to say? The Singularity as a concept has flaws, as any human idea will, but it's the best-case scenario we have for a better future, and one I firmly believe we ought to look toward. Indeed, one we should actively work to bring about.

As a Jehovah's Witness, I have a framework in place that allows me to build towards that brighter future. One of the greatest gifts we as Christians have is the example of Jesus Christ, the Bible, and the example of faithful ones throughout history. We have a gospel, a hope, and a message of salvation both to share and to live out. The cultural impact of a message of peace—but also of a moral duty towards our fellowman—cannot be overestimated. If preached with humility, respect, and genuine love, it can change the course of civilization.

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CTA Announces Officer Appointments

by Micah Redding

Posted on 2018-04-14T04:50:29.582Z

The Christian Transhumanist Association is proud to announce the addition of three officers to our leadership team: Agbolade Omowole, Jenne Alderks, and Heather Goodman.

Agbolade Omowole will be serving as Vice-Chair, Jenne Alderks will be serving as Secretary, and Heather Goodman will be serving as Charity Coordinator. Each will offer valuable perspective and insight to the board, and allow us to expand and enhance our efforts.

We are proud to have them on our team, and look forward to their contributions in the year ahead!

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2018 Board Election Results

by Micah Redding

Posted on 2018-04-02T23:41:28.869Z

Over the last month, we've been holding elections for the Board of the Christian Transhumanist Association. Each seat is appointed for a three-year term, and serves to represent the CTA to the larger world, and to represent our broad community as we pioneer this important conversation. The election results are now in.

Congratulations to our newest board members: Jonathan Gunnell, Mike Morrell, and Mark Russell. Welcome!

We also said goodbye to previous board members Amy Gaskin and Timothy Langer, both of whom have worked hard and made valuable contributions to our community. We look forward to their continued participation and contribution in the future.

Our new board consists of Neal Locke, Emily Hogan Redding, Lincoln Cannon, Jonathan Gunnell, Robert Walden Kurtz, Mike Morrell, Gabriel Redding, and Mark Russell.

These folks are your representatives, so be sure to reach out and make contact. You are at the core of our future, and we want to hear your ideas, your suggestions, and even your hair-brained schemes.

I am incredibly grateful for the contributions and encouragement of everyone who is making this effort possible. I truly believe this is the most important conversation of our time.

Here's to a great year!

Micah Redding
Executive Director

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Electing the Next Board of the CTA

by Micah Redding

Posted on 2018-03-06T14:53:24.014Z

Since our public launch almost three years ago, the Christian Transhumanist Association has been working hard to advance the conversation between Christianity and the leading edges of technological thought.

From our first major action funding the Embrace Infant Warmer project—uniting our values of technology, compassion, and respect for human life—to authoring the historic Christian Transhumanist Affirmation in conjunction with academics, clergy, technologists, and laypersons—we’ve helped set the tone for a positive engagement between religion and the deepest and most challenging issues of our time.

We’ve carried this message across the country, from secular transhumanist conferences in California, to Redeemer Presbyterian Church in NYC—and around the world, from Lagos, Nigeria to Vina Del Mar, Chile. We’ve appeared in major publications, both religious and non-religious, and our members have been interviewed for podcasts, articles, videos, and even The Daily Show.

At the same time, we’ve advised on documentaries, hosted Reddit AMAs, and cultivated conversations with some of the leading thinkers in technology and religion. We've brought together the prestigious Christian Transhumanist Academic Advisory Council. And most of all, we’ve formed deep relationships with many people working for positive change, just like you.

We're just getting started. We've got big plans for the year ahead, and we need hard-working, insightful leaders to help bring those plans to fruition.

This month, we're electing three new members to the Board of the Christian Transhumanist Association.

Who will those people be?

That’s up to you. Nominations are now open. We're looking for the people who can help lead these important efforts into the future. Maybe that’s someone you know. Maybe it’s you.

After we finish collecting nominations, our voting members will elect the new board.

If you’re not a voting member of the association, this is a great time to become one. You’ll not only help advance this incredibly important conversation, you’ll have a direct voice in who will lead it over the next three years.

Click here to make it official.

I believe this conversation is one of the most important efforts of our time, and I’ve dedicated myself completely to it. I’d love for you to join us.

Upward!

Micah Redding
Executive Director

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CTA announces newest board member, Timothy Langer

by Micah Redding

Posted on 2017-09-07T19:16:07.490Z

The Christian Transhumanist Association is proud to announce the addition of our newest board member—Timothy Langer. Timothy has an Interdisciplinary Bachelor's Degree in Science and History from Rochester College, and a Certificate from Yale in the Moral Foundations of Politics. He is a member of the American Scientific Affiliation, and is currently pursuing a career in writing and philanthropy.

Timothy Langer's appointment fills the vacancy left by the resignation of former board member James Ledford. Timothy received the greatest number of votes among remaining candidates during our board election, and graciously agreed to step into this role.

As the newest board member, Timothy has hit the ground running with ideas and efforts to move the Christian Transhumanist conversation forward. We are proud to have him on our team, and look forward to his contribution in the years ahead.

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CTA affiliates with Humanity+

by Micah Redding

Posted on 2017-07-08T03:31:41.316Z

Humanity+ is one of the leading advocates of the ethical use of technology to expand human capacities. In their prior incarnation as the World Transhumanist Association, they adopted the historic Transhumanist Declaration, and helped pioneer the modern discussion of how science and technology can and will affect our human future.

The Christian Transhumanist Association is the first explicitly transhumanist organization aimed at bringing this conversation to the wider Christian world. Through theological and social engagement, the CTA encourages Christians to use science & technology to participate in the work of God, to cultivate life and renew creation.

Humanity+ has recently added the CTA to its small list of officially-recognized affiliates, joining other long-standing transhumanist organizations like the Foresight Institute, SENS Research Foundation, Alcor Life Extension Foundation, the Institute for Ethics and Emerging Technologies, and the Mormon Transhumanist Association.

The CTA is pleased to affiliate with Humanity+, and is proud to be recognized as a positive addition to the larger transhumanist community.

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N+1 Magazine: Meghan O'Gieblyn loses her faith, discovers Christian Transhumanism

by Micah Redding

Posted on 2017-07-03T20:40:33.136Z

Journalist Meghan O'Gieblyn lost her faith, found transhumanism, and then realized she was on a strange, winding path back to Christianity.

N+1 Magazine and The Guardian published her beautiful and haunting story—an open-ended journey that has resonated with many peoples' experiences—and which leads to a significant encounter with Christian Transhumanism.

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Announcing the Academic Advisory Council

by Micah Redding

Posted on 2017-06-02T04:30:40.341Z

In keeping with our aim to continue advancing the conversation around Christianity and Transhumanism, I'm very pleased to announce our new Academic Advisory Council. The council will help inform our growth and development, and establish a center of positive engagement at the intersection of Christianity, Transhumanism, and the academic world.

The advisory council consists of:
Ron Cole-Turner
Jay Gary
James Hughes
Calvin Mercer
Ted Peters
J. Jeanine Thweatt
Frank Tipler

Each member brings incredible insight, experience, and academic accomplishment to this important conversation, and has helped to pave the way in significant areas. Together, they represent an unprecedented level of scholarship brought to bear on the field of Christian Transhumanism.

Read more about each of them here

We welcome the benefit of their insight and study in the years ahead!

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CTA Board Announcement & Appreciation

by Micah Redding

Posted on 2017-04-29T12:17:00.000Z

At the end of last month, we marked a historic moment for the CTA—completing our first full-board election, and appointing eight board seats.

We also said goodbye to several board members who have worked hard to bring us to this point. Among them were Dorothy Deasy and Christopher Benek, both of whom have served for the three years leading up to this election, and have been instrumental in our growth and formation so far.

Both of them have felt called to focus on other commitments, and have expressed their confidence that the CTA is at a point where others can step in and carry things forward.

I am incredibly grateful for their contributions and encouragement, as we have grown and developed in our vision and mission as an organization. Without them, we wouldn’t be where we are today.

Our new board consists of Robert Walden Kurtz, Emily Redding, Lincoln Cannon, Gabriel Redding, Neal Locke, Amy Gaskin, Jonathan Gunnell, and
James McLean Ledford.

The new board has hit the ground running with ideas and projects, and I am excited to be working with them on behalf of our community over the next several years.

These folks are your representatives, so be sure to reach out and make contact. You are at the core of our future, and we want to hear your ideas, your suggestions, and your hair-brained schemes.

Without you, this organization and this mission wouldn't be possible. Thanks again, and here's to a great year!

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Campaign Update

by Micah Redding

Posted on 2017-03-31T10:45:00.000Z

Our campaign is over 50% funded, and we’ve got 6 days to go!

As you know, at the beginning of this month, the Christian Transhumanist Association announced its launch, membership campaign, and logo-design effort, all at the same time.

Since then, we’ve had great conversations, seen new discussions pop up on Reddit, Twitter, and in diverse corners of the internet, and discovered new voices writing about Christianity and transhumanism.

It’s an exciting moment. The ideas that we propose seem poised on the edge of widespread discussion. Transhumanism is moving into the public consciousness, and with it, an awareness of the need for a thoroughly compassionate, comprehensive approach to our humanity and our future. 

As we move into this next month, we’ll be starting our logo design process, as well as electing our first Members Advisory Council. The council will be selected by our Voting Members (those who have contributed $100 or more, here), and will profoundly shape who we become, moving forward. Obviously, we would love to have as many of you as possible involved in this process. If you haven’t yet had the opportunity to sign up, now is a great time.

And of course, regardless of whether you can contribute financially or not, we value your voice, and want you to join us. Sign up as an official member, for free, here.

Be thinking about who you would like to nominate for the council. I believe that we are in the middle of an incredibly important conversation, that will be significant to people for years to come. We want to approach this conversation with all the wisdom, grace, and humility that we can muster.

Thanks for helping to make this conversation a reality!

Micah Redding
Executive Director, CTA
 

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Campaign Conclusion

by Micah Redding

Posted on 2017-03-31T10:45:00.000Z

In case you haven’t heard, our campaign was a success!

We raised $1175, registered our first set of voting association members, and signed up a number of new volunteers and supporters. And along the way, we made new friends, discovered powerful new voices, and participated in stimulating conversations on Twitter, Reddit, Facebook, and email.

Thank you to all of our donors, and to all of you who offered your energy and time. Thank you to everyone who spread the word about the association, whether to your own social networks, or to individuals you knew would find it meaningful. Thank you to all of you who reached out over email or web or social media to express your support.

I’ve been impressed by how much this conversation really means to people. For some, it’s provocative; for others, it’s compelling. For still others, it is long overdue.

Over the next month, we’ll be taking some significant new steps. As we do, we want your input in every possible way. If there is a project you believe in, or a way you want to contribute, don’t hesitate to let us know. Thanks for being part of this team!

Micah Redding
Executive Director, CTA

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Letter from Our Board Chair

by Christopher Benek

Posted on 2017-03-23T01:56:00.000Z

I want to say that it has been an honor serving as the Board Chair of the CTA for the past 3 years. This is an organization admittedly still in its infancy, and it rightly means a lot of different things to a lot of different people. But its creation is significant to me primarily because it offers an alternative to secular transhumanism. That is because Christian Transhumanism is transhumanism that happens in community that seeks to love its neighbors as Christ commanded.

We may not always be good at that—actually we may sometimes be awful at it—but our motivation at its heart is the selflessness of Christ, not the ego driven Will to Power that motivates many (not all) secular transhumanists.

I think that as Christian Transhumanists we are called to discernment in community—in Christ—as to what technological future we are called to steward forward. The only way this works though is if we are willing to ultimately humble ourselves for the good of others. This means that different voices need to be heard—even those that are wildly disenfranchised—within a community that strives to live into the formational teachings of Jesus. It is certainly hard work. It takes patience and sacrifice and, maybe most importantly, a fervent desire for reconciliation. But in this humility, I think, comes the honor of a vocational call that promises, in Jesus, to allow us to participate in the redemption of humanity and all of creation as Image Bearers and Stewards on behalf of God.

But given all of this, I’ve discerned that it wouldn’t model the right behavior for the CTA’s first Board Chair to attempt to cling to power. For that is the exact critique that we should have of secular transhumanists. Our true power—as Creatures made in the Image of God—arises only in obedience and submission through Christ. And so it is for this reason primarily that I’ve decided not to seek to remain as a board member. This will be a good break for me to foster creativity in other areas and to enjoy my family—particularly my little techno-baby who is about to turn two. It is my intention to continue to aid, walk with, and to be part of the conversations of the CTA in whatever ways I may be able to be helpful.

When I initially called Micah Redding to see if he was interested in founding the CTA with me, my intention was that the CTA would stand as this visible alternative to secular transhumanism. I think that most thoughtful folks recognize this fact. I think that is also of note that it was my intention—from the start—that Micah Redding would serve as the CTA Executive Director for an indefinite period of time as long as the Board continued to be satisfied with his leadership. As you all know, he continues to do a fine job. I think most folks here would affirm Micah’s vocational calling to the role he is serving in. So it is my prayer that you will continue to support him in the work of Christ.

We Christian Transhumanists are a New Creation in Jesus. Will we have challenges? Certainly. Will we have to continue to discern our theological identity? Who among us doesn’t? Do we certainly know what is next to come? Not exactly! But there is one thing that we all have the power to ensure. That we will experience it together. May God’s grace steward us as we seek to humbly steward Humanity and all of Creation.

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Inverse: When Cyborgs and Christians Compromise

by Micah Redding

Posted on 2017-03-16T00:52:00.000Z

Inverse Magazine asks: Can Christians can come to terms with transhumanism? It explores some of the tensions and difficulties, and finds an answer that drives to the heart of the biblical story: the blind see, the deaf hear, and the lame walk.

Read the complete article here:

https://www.inverse.com/article/20477-transhumanism-zoltan-istvan-religious-right-christian-science

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Christ & Pop Culture: Can Transhumanism Lead Us Back to Orthodoxy?

by Micah Redding

Posted on 2016-08-17T09:32:00.000Z

Is transhumanism a new version of Gnosticism? Or is it in fact the opposite—a rejection of the Gnosticism it has found lurking in popular Christianity, and a radical attempt to reclaim the heart of Christian orthodoxy? What does this mean for how Christians should engage transhumanism? Christ and Pop Culture explores these issues!

Read the complete article here:

http://christandpopculture.com/can-transhumanism-lead-us-back-to-orthodoxy

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Baptist News Asks: Can Transhumanism Enrich Christian Theology?

by Micah Redding

Posted on 2016-08-10T18:35:00.000Z

A recent article at Baptist News discusses the CTA and the Embrace Warmer project, and asks whether transhumanism can enrich a Christian theology of incarnation and humanity.

Read the full article by Matthew Waller here.

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The Christian Transhumanist Affirmation

by Micah Redding

Posted on 2016-04-03T21:40:00.000Z

Over the last few months, I've been working with the Board and the Membership Council, to craft a Christian Transhumanist Affirmation

Of course, trying to draft a list of ideas that we all agree on is quite an undertaking—and not something we will ever get exactly right! Nevertheless, we've moved forward, consulting with academic theologians, along with other different voices and perspectives. After many rounds of revisions, I'm proud to say that we've come up with a statement I believe captures a lot of our essence.

My hope is that this short statement can help to provide a sense of unity, and create a launching point for generative conversations among ourselves, and with those who are interested or curious about the intersection of Christianity & Transhumanism.

This is a living document, which will evolve and grow in the years to come. We're not aiming for legalistic agreement and interpretation, but for an open-ended expression of our spirit and intent. 

I would love for you to join with members of our Board, our Membership Council, and our membership to read and sign it:

Read and Sign the Christian Transhumanist Affirmation

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Motherboard: The Jesuit Priest Who Helped Create Modern Transhumanism

by Micah Redding

Posted on 2016-03-09T21:39:00.000Z

Motherboard just ran my article on Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, the 1930s Jesuit priest whose ideas helped lead to modern transhumanism. Teilhard was a powerful visionary of the future, synthesizing science, religion, evolution, technology, and love.

Motherboard: The Jesuit Priest Who Believed in God and the Singularity

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Embrace & the Christian Transhumanist Association

by Micah Redding

Posted on 2015-10-06T07:30:00.000Z

Earlier this year, the Christian Transhumanist Association made its public debut with an open invitation to membership, and a small fundraising campaign that brought in approximately $1200. Now, as our first substantial financial act, the membership advisory council, the donors, and the board have decided to contribute that money towards a project that combines technology, compassion, and respect for human life.

That project is Embrace, and it attempts to address the issue of high infant mortality rates in the developing world, by replacing expensive traditional infant incubators with the Embrace Warmer, an innovative technology which requires no constant electricity, reduces costs, and eliminates most operating requirements, so that it can be used in almost any situation or setting.

By addressing the major causes of early infant mortality in an immediate way, this technology has the potential to save large numbers of lives over time. Our particular donation will be applied to a region in Afghanistan, and will help with both supplying the warmers and training the local staff.

The Christian Transhumanist Association seeks to encourage Christians to participate with God in the redemption of the world, through the compassionate use of science and technology. As a transhumanist organization, it challenges Christians to embrace a positive and proactive approach towards technology; as a Christian organization, it challenges transhumanists to recognize the role of compassion and respect for all human life as the basis for a thriving and sustainable future.

Every organization has financial needs, and ours is no different. However, given our message and identity, it is fitting that our first substantial act be directed towards the outside world, to remind us of our purpose, our direction, and the very reason for our existence.

If you would like to contribute towards Embrace, learn more about the region where the donation will be applied, or if you would like to join or find out more about the Christian Transhumanist Association, you can can do so here.

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Motherboard: Why I became a Christian Transhumanist

by Micah Redding

Posted on 2015-08-14T12:10:00.000Z

Motherboard has published an article by Micah Redding on the growth of Christian transhumanism, and why Christians are beginning to look towards space exploration, artificial intelligence, radical life extension, cyborgs, and cryogenics as tools for fulfilling the Christian mission.

Just as the printing press gained incredible religious significance during the Protestant Reformation, we may see the next wave of Christians embrace transhumanist technologies as part of a sacred duty to participate with God in the redemption of the world.

Maybe missionaries will embark on cryonic missions to the future. Maybe would-be “Noahs” will take vast arks full of the DNA of endangered species, and head towards the stars. Maybe Christian computer scientists will take seriously the responsibility of a creator to its creatures, and treat new artificial intelligences not as monsters, but as beings deserving of love.

Read more here:

http://motherboard.vice.com/read/why-i-became-a-christian-transhumanist

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Christian Post: Why Christians should embrace Transhumanism

by Micah Redding

Posted on 2015-08-14T12:05:00.000Z

The Christian Post has published an article by Christopher Benek on why Christians should embrace transhumanism.

It has always been the goal of Christians to care for and heal the sick, give sight to the blind, help deaf to hear, the lame to walk, give voice to the mute and guide persons toward holistic betterment in community. 

He goes on to discuss Christianity's responsibility to use technology for the betterment of the world. Read more at:

http://www.christianpost.com/news/why-christians-should-embrace-transhumanism-139790/

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Disability Acceptance and Access

by Dorothy Deasy

Posted on 2015-07-07T15:21:00.000Z

At almost any minute of any day, your life could change drastically. Our bodies are fragile, our destinies determined second-by-second. Snap your fingers. That’s how suddenly what you have come to expect for yourself, or a member of your family, could change as the result of an illness or accident. What would it mean in terms of work, mobility, relationship, identity? How quickly or slowly would you adapt to a drastically new state of reality?

Watch

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) was introduced into Congress in 1988 and finally signed into law July 26, 1990. It prohibits discrimination against people with disabilities, requires that reasonable accommodation be made for employees, and requires "accessibility requirements on public accommodations". Such accommodations are often thought of as ramps and elevators, but also includes assistive technologies. As technology is advancing at an ever-increasing pace, it is now time to revisit rights for those whose minds and bodies are non-ordinary, who have been impacted by illness, accident or disease. It is time to think of access beyond ramps and curbs and think of access in terms of fuller participation in society.

This is a difficult post for me to write, because I have limited personal experience. I want to be sensitive to the fact that "disability" is a social issue more than a personal label. "Disability, like race, ethnicity, and culture, is a term whose definition is culturally derived ..." That said, this is an important topic for transhumanists. As with all innovations, biotechnology is not without its unintended consequences. An emphasis on "assisting" others may easily result in social exacerbation of one "right" way of thinking and being, development of a cultural messiah complex, an emphasis on perfection, etc. Already we see this in the prevalence of images of bodies within transhuman Internet posts of people who are young, thin and white. As technology seeks to remove physical obstacles, the transhumanist community must be on guard to broaden rather than narrow our understanding of, and expectations for, what we think of as "normal." The conversation surrounding "healthy" is often about a bodily norm, ignoring other dimensions of health, such as mental, spiritual, social and relational health. Even as we seek to go beyond the limitations of biology, transhumanism would benefit from understanding that there is a certain perfection that comes only from the imperfect. From a faith perspective, health is often judged at the community rather than the individual level. In this context, a person who may be physically or mentally challenged, may serve at the community level by helping a higher level of social empathy to manifest. Greater access and visibility, therefore, for those with physical or mental challenges benefits not simply the individuals but also our social sphere.

Technological solutions for a wide variety of disabilities and chronic problems are emerging. The technologies already in or near development and commercialization include BCI, shifting of sensory inputs for non-ordinary perception, robotic exoskeletons, insulin pumps and improved prostheses. They promise to be like the miracles of Jesus: allowing the deaf to hear, the blind to see, the lame and maimed to walk, the mentally ill to get relief from the demons of biochemistry. Far from the scare stories of mad scientists and Nazi doctors, the science behind the transhuman age is nothing short of a godsend.

To truly fulfill the promise of the coming biotechnology revolution though, we must think in terms of a new kind of access. Within the gospel stories of Jesus’ healing miracles is a story of social justice. The healing miracles are, themselves, parables about people on the margins being made whole so that they may be recognized by society. The healings of hearing and sight and hemorrhage were stories of reintegration, denial of stigma, and restoring of self-hood.

The technology alone will not be enough to fulfill the promise of transfiguration. We must also innovate business models to ensure that those who need the technology can gain access to it. Access also means that we recognize that vagaries of accident or illness happen to families and not individuals. Along with technology solutions, we need innovation in terms of care management, attending to physical, logistical, mental health and spiritual needs.

Access also means ensuring that those who will be served by the innovations are collaborating in the design and development. The users of biotech solutions should be not simply “study subjects” but design team consultants: pointing out bias, providing perspective. Empowerment comes, in part, by being part of the creation of solutions. Voice, visibility and the ability to co-create solutions is as important as the technology.

Access, too, means full access to society. Access is paving ways for people to share their gifts, experience and hearts. It entails meeting people where they are, leveraging their existing abilities and providing a path into society. The above video is an excellent example of technology that helps create a path for access.

Technology is making amazing strides in changing our lives. Technologists and their finders, though, most often speak in terms of providing solutions and perceive “their users” as receiving the benefits. While the technology is, indeed, a blessing, society will be at its healthiest when those creating and financing the innovations see themselves as Servant Leaders rather than as Saviors.

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Christian Transhumanists involved in support for Orphan Technology & Education Project

by Micah Redding

Posted on 2014-10-21T09:29:00.000Z

Christian Transhumanists like Dorothy Deasy have joined together with BrighterBrains to help support charitable and educational projects for orphans in Africa. To donate yourself, click to GoFundMe.com (Eggs for Orphans --- Uganda) — you'll get a wonderful Thank You photo in return, like the one below.

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H+ Magazine: Towards a Relational Transhumanism

by Micah Redding

Posted on 2014-10-14T09:26:00.000Z

H+ magazine ran Micah Redding's response to Zoltan Istvan's radically individualist "three laws of transhumanism", arguing that the truly transhumanist future will be built on the recognition of interdependence and relationality.

http://hplusmagazine.com/2014/10/02/relational-transhumanism-interdependence-rule-exception/

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H+ Magazine: Humanity+ vs Individualism+

by Micah Redding

Posted on 2014-10-12T09:24:00.000Z

H+ magazine has published Chris Benek's essay on the difference between a transhumanism that's really only looking out for individual advancement, versus a transhumanism that's truly working towards human advancement.

This is a big discussion in the transhumanist world at the moment, and it's something that religious and spiritual transhumanists have an important view into. Religions and spiritual traditions have spent thousands of years seeking to find the right balance between individual needs and society-level concerns.

Read the essay here:

http://hplusmagazine.com/2014/07/14/humanity-vs-individualism/

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H+ Magazine: Christianity & Transhumanism

by Micah Redding

Posted on 2014-10-11T09:19:00.000Z

H+ magazine ran an essay, arguing that Christianity compels us towards transhumanism.

Read the essay and comment here: http://hplusmagazine.com/2014/05/22/christianity-is-transhumanism/ 

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