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Facing the Challenges of Transhumanism: Religion, Science, Technology

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Eschatology

Transhumanism articulates a vision about the possibility of attaining happiness in this life. The very use of advanced technologies, according to transhumanists will liberate humanity (both collectively and individually) from many ills. While the pursuit of happiness has been the deepest longing of humanity, transhumanists have given this pursuit a strict materialistic interpretation. The combination of neuroscience and genetics now promises to alleviate not only debilitating mental illnesses but also temporary sadness and occasional despair. We hypothesize that the materialistic approach to human happiness, characteristic of transhumanism, should be understood in the proper historical and cultural perspectives.

The origins of transhumanism are the Scientific Revolution of the 17th century and the Enlightenment of the 18th Century, which culminated politically in the French Revolution. We maintain that if we study contemporary transhumanism in comparison with developments of the 17th and 18th centuries, we will be able to explore not only the religious roots of modern science, but also the utopian and even eschatological import of contemporary transhumanism. As the scientific advances in the 17th and 18th centuries, with their social and political consequences, produced modern societies dominated by a secular vision of the utopian fulfillment of human history, how will contemporary scientific, social and cultural advancement transform our vision of end and fulfillment of human history? Will it be the Golden Age of historical fulfillment or an apocalypse of human destruction? Will transhumanism inaugurate a trans–ethical fulfillment of ethics or a decline into demonism? Understanding transhumanism as secularized eschatology will frame this phenomenon in proper historical and cultural perspectives and enable us to understand the full implications of this contemporary development.