Transhumanism and the Church

Theological Reflections on Technology and Human Enhancement

Technology has changed our world dramatically over the past century and promises to change it more rapidly in coming years. Emerging computer and biomedical technologies have the potential to revolutionize our bodies and perhaps our understanding of human nature. Transhumanism is the name for the movement that enthusiastically embraces the opportunity to transcend bodily limits with new technology, especially the possibility of extending the human lifespan and increasing mental and physical abilities. Its most optimistic advocates predict a future where death has been defeated through the power to reverse biological processes or offload mental states onto computers. What should be the response of the church to Transhumanism and the technological possibilities for human enhancement that are on the horizon?

In September 2015, the Samford Center for Science and Religion held a conference on “Transhumanism and the Church” as a way to promote critical reflection and public understanding on an issue that will become increasingly important in future decades. The keynote lectures for the conference can be found in the video player and playlist at the top of this page.

Keynote speakers+

Ron Cole-Turner

Pittsburgh Theological Seminary
Editor of Transhumanism and Transcendence: Christian Hope in an Age of Technological Enhancement

Jeanine Thweatt-Bates

The College of New Jersey
Author of Cyborg Selves: A Theological Anthropology of the Posthuman

Joel Garreau

Arizona State University
Author of Radical Evolution: The Promise and Peril of Enhancing Our Minds, Our Bodies—and What It Means to be Human

Steve Donaldson

Samford University
Author of Dimensions of Faith: Understanding Faith Through the Lens of Science and Religion (forthcoming)

Michael Burdett

Oxford University
Author of Eschatology and the Technological Future

Jeffrey Bishop

St. Louis University
Co-Author of Chasing After Virtue: Neuroscience, Economics, and the Biopolitics of Morality (forthcoming)

Steven Kraftchick

Emory University
Author of Biblical Theology: Problems and Prospects

Christina Bieber Lake

Wheaton College

Author of Prophets of the Posthuman: American Literature, Biotechnology, and the Ethics of Personhood

Short Sessions+

Friday, September 25

Concurrent Sessions 1, 8:30 a.m.–10:00 a.m.

  1. Understanding Transhumanism, Brock School of Business, Room 101.
    • Boaz Goss, “There are Already Too Many Transhumanisms”
    • Michael J. Paulus, Jr., “Our Technological Past and Future: From Predigital to Postdigital Apocalypses”
    • Joseph West, “Transhumanism and Post-Secularization: Implications of the Changing Religious Landscape in the United States”
  2. Theology and Transhumanism, Brock School of Business, Room 109.
    • Una Stroda, “You Shall Call his Name Isaac”: Laughter, Transhumanism, and Imago Dei”
    • Michael Dickson, “The Imago Dei and the Imago Mundi”
    • Jaime Konerman-Sease, “Transhumanism,” the Church, and the “’Other’”

Concurrent Sessions 2, 1 p.m.–2:30 p.m.

  1. Transhumanism: A View from the Pew, Brock School of Business, Room 101.
    • Dorothy Deasy, “The Narrow Gate: Vulnerability in a Transhuman Age”
    • Nathan Wilson, “Is Better Always Best? Theology in an Era of Enhancement and Extension”
    • Christopher Benek, Transhumanism and the Local Church: “The Need for Christians’ Participation in the Advancing Technological World”
    • Christopher Bradford, “Transhumanism as Grace: God's Hand in the Radical Remaking of Human Nature”
  2. Transhumanism and Ethics, Brock School of Business, Room 109.
    • David M. Smolin, “Transhumanism Today, Yesterday, and Tomorrow”
    • Fred Glennon, “Even Cyborgs Cast a Shadow”
    • Ysabel Johnston, “Rivalry, Control and Transhumanist Desire”

Saturday, September 26

Concurrent Sessions 3, 8:30 a.m.–10 a.m.

  1. Transhumanism in Constructive Conversation, Brock School of Business, Room 101.
    • Allison Hepola, Assistant Professor of Philosophy Samford University, “Dragons and Dog-Headed Saints Some Medieval Perspectives on the Significance of the Human Form”
    • Benedikt Paul Göcke, Christian Cyborgs: “A Plea for a Moderate Transhumanism”
    • Micah Redding, “The reason for Christian transhumanism”
  2. Transhumanism: Other Perspectives Brock School of Business, Room 109.
    • Michael Glawson, “Our Impossible Situation: Coping with the Ever-receding Horizon of Dystopia”
    • Carol Ann Vaughn Cross, “’When That Which Is Perfect Is Come’”: Henry Drummond and The Changed Life”
    • Jackson Hogan, Samford University, “The Challenge of Transhumanism in Latin America”