November 28, 2008

James Hughes: Transhumanism and Religion

Earlier this year, James Hughes, executive director of the Institute for Ethics and Emerging Technologies (IEET), spoke in Tempe Arizona at a seminar on “Transhumanism and the Concept of Human Nature,” which is part of a four year exploration of Transhumanism and Religion that is being funded by the Templeton Foundation.

Hughes has significantly expanded the paper and it's now available in booklet form: “The Compatibility of Religious and Transhumanist Views of Metaphysics, Suffering, Virtue and Transcendence in an Enhanced Future” (PDF). It is being published by the Global Spiral, the Metanexus Institute journal.

Here's the abstract:
Transhumanism – the proposition that human beings should use technology to transcend the limitations of the body and brain – is a product of the Enlightenment humanist tradition. As a consequence most avowed transhumanists are secular, and many religious are skeptical or hostile towards the transhumanist project. However there are also many religious transhumanists who find the project of human enhancement at least consistent with, and sometimes a fulfillment of, their metaphysics, soteriologies and eschatologies. Transhumanism appears to be especially compatible with religious traditions that emphasize human agency and evolution to a transcendent state, such as Buddhism, or that have incorporated Enlightenment values, such as liberal Christianity. But elements of the transhumanist worldview and enhancement technologies are compatible with one element or another of most world faiths, even the most fundamentalist. We can thus expect that human enhancement technologies will be adopted creatively into the theologies of groups within all the world’s faiths, producing many flavors of “trans-spirituality.”

Download the PDF Slides Talk


JoMo said...

This being the same Templeton foundation that funded such notable projects "The Privileged Planet" (an Intelligent Design diatribe) and the Discovery Foundation (ID proponents and 'Teach the Controversy' anti-evolutionists)?

Just checking.

George said...

Yes. Dr. J is currently working to infiltrate the organization and bring them out of the darkness ;-)

Athena Andreadis said...

Audre Lorde said it best: "The Master's Tools Will Never Dismantle the Master's House."

dharmicmel said...

the PDF file is worth looking into; religion and religious beliefs are not just going to go away anytime soon; we need things to help us get together, especially if they go towards openness, tolerance, and what is referred to as trans-spirituality

JoMo said...

How can a scientist sit across the table from someone who believes that the universe was created after the domestication of the dog (a la young-earth creationists)? The axiomatic lack of reason in such a belief renders them beyond attempts to engage in reasoned discourse.

Opinions about the way the world is, which are inconsistent and factually inaccurate are considered symptoms of mental illness or delusion, but under the banner of religious tolerance they are protected, sacred and beyond reproach. This is a problem. Greater tolerance of increasingly intellectually redundant ideas is not a solution.

dharmicmel said...


the thing is that there is always room for different ideas and opinions, and especially, there is always room for things that you do not agree with; believing in something might make it inconsistent with your worldviews, but not with others; your worldviews are not the only game in town, nor, are things in this world as known and decided upon as some might think

blood and soul is still here, and pronouncements to the contrary do not lessen them; strict assumptions about axioms and reason, as decided by the individual, are part of the reason that people are turned off to transhumanism

sooner or later, I think everyone is going to make it to the mindgarden, no matter what they believe in