September 10, 2009

J. Hughes: Radical Life Extension, Transhumanism and Catholicism

IEET director James Hughes has written an epistle on transhumanism to Italian Catholics. Hughes offers four suggestions to the Italians as they assemble to discuss radical life extension and human enhancement:
  1. Although transhumanism is part of the family of secular Enlightenment philosophies, many of its elements are compatible with Christianity.
  2. Although some aspects of the transhumanist movement may resemble classical heresies, these are marginal similarities. Transhumanism is not trying to be a life philosophy or religion.
  3. Transhumanists are not really interested in “immortality,” but only in reducing unnecessary death.
  4. Human enhancement technologies, especially neurotechnologies, can support moral behavior and spiritual self-understanding.
Go here for expanded clarification.

These issues are explored more fully in Hughes's essay “The Compatibility of Religious and Transhumanist Views of Metaphysics, Suffering, Virtue and Transcendence in an Enhanced Future”

Also see Max More’s contribution to the Italian conference, “Why Catholics Should Support the Transhumanist Goal of Extended Life.”

1 comment:

George said...

There's a similar post at Anissimov's Accelerating Future, to which I responded:

"It's easy to be cynical about this -- as I often am (especially as person who was raised Catholic) -- but it's important to remember that the RCC is the largest Christian organization in the world, boasting an estimated 1 billion adherents. So reaching out to them is clearly important.

But looking at this situation critically, the RCC is, for all intents and purposes, an orthodoxy. They haven't had any true reforms since.....well, ever. The Council of Trent doesn't really count because it was merely a retrenchment of values and a widespread mobilization effort. Similarly, the 2nd Vatican Council reaffirmed the RCC's opposition to birth control etc, while its 'reforms' were mostly on the surface (eg mass could be read in non-Latin languages).

It's worth noting, however, that the RCC has recognized certain scientific axioms, including Darwinian evolution. But even that claim is dubious as I doubt the Church considers this a truly autonomous process; I doubt that Catholic 'scientists' are truly naturalists by strict definition of the term."