[su_note note_color=”#d5d5d5″ text_color=”#91201f”]The following is the Letter from the Editor for Volume 4, Issue 7 of Christ and Pop Culture Magazine: “For the Humans and Transhumans Among Us.” You can subscribe to Christ and Pop Culture Magazine by becoming a member and you’ll receive a host of other benefits as well.[/su_note]

Do you remember when death became real to you? I do. I was 11 years old and had caught part of a TV special about Nostradamus and his apocalyptic predictions. I was mesmerized despite being utterly terrified. A consciousness had dawned: I was on my way to death.

Yes, I know—it’s a bit dramatic for a girl of a mere 11 years. But my depth of fear over the certain end of life forced me to face my finite state and seek a greater hope. Because God is ever seeking those who are lost, I count this awakening as the first fruits of His redemptive work in me. Eventually, I would come to know God’s mercy and find it to be gloriously greater than Nostradamus, worldwide calamities, and personal sin. Transcendence in Christ renders the blow of death null and void.

Without such a hope, however, it makes sense that people seek to gain power over mortality’s claim on the living. Technological advances provide ample hope for prolonging life, giving us a glimmer of hope that death may, one day, become obsolete.

The hope of avoiding death isn’t new. But if we could live forever, should we? If, for example, we could preserve life apart from our aged bodies through some sort of disembodied state, should we? And how much of our human form can be replaced with machine or computer before our humanness is compromised? These are the concerns raised in the transhumanism movement, where the melding of man and machine is the answer to death. It’s the stuff of sci-fi movies and novels that is now emerging as real reality. As its presence grows, we have much to consider. In this issue of the Christ and Pop Culture Magazine, three features and three curated support pieces help us sort through the moral and spiritual dilemmas surrounding transhumanism.

Micah Redding’s article, “Transhumanism vs. Gnosticism in Solving the Problem of Evil,“ tackles the acknowledgment of certain death and reframes it as essential for life:

“Embracing the reality of death in Ars Moriendi does not mean life is any less valued. Rather, it holds that the best preparation for a good death is a good life. It powerfully orients its practitioners toward the flourishing of others by acknowledging one’s limitations and dependence on God and His Church, practicing gratitude for the gift of life, and freely trusting their fate into the hands of Jesus Christ.”

Transhumanism wants to deliver us from the evil of death, but Redding is correct—unless we grapple with our own mortality, we will seek a self-sustaining life detached from God, and that is no life whatsoever. Aaron Morrison continues this thinking in “The Political ‘Fallout’ of Cheating Death” by comparing the storyline of the video game Fallout 4 to our desire to overcome death:

“Although Christianity declares victory over the power of death, death still remains endemic to the human condition, and those who do not adhere to the faith are left seeking a solution. Scientific progress in medical technology has greatly extended human life over the past century, leading some to speculate about the possibilities of technology to extend life indefinitely. . . . [I]nteractive mediums—such as the video game Fallout 4—can serve as a commentary about the ability of technology to enhance or destroy human flourishing. In particular, it can help frame Christian political witness in the face of death—reflecting a long tradition of resistance, starting with Rome’s conception of immortality.”

Because advances that prolong life hold power for good and for ill, transhumanism isn’t something to be blindly embraced. In “The Coming Ethical Conundrums of Transhumanism,” Michael Graham explains:

“The lines between man and machine are starting to blur, and it is becoming increasingly difficult to parse out what constitutes man, machine, moral agency, and moral freedom. And this is why we are presented with such a complex ethical dilemma.”

We are creatures, made in the image of our Creator God—medical advances may enhance or prolong our physical experience, but nothing can erase His imprint (similarly, sin altered our human experience but couldn’t erase God’s imprint). The permanence of God’s image upon us doesn’t mean we should blindly embrace transhumanism, however. To the contrary, careful steps must be taken to rest fully on God’s provision and promise for the ultimate eradication of death, even as transhumanism grows in popularity. We trust this issue of the magazine will inform your thinking and help you discern the role and magnitude transhumanism will play in your life and in society at large.

—Erin Straza

Illustration courtesy of Seth T. Hahne. Check out Seth’s graphic novel and comic review site, Good Ok Bad.