The Darwinian Connection
Using Darwinian principles to “improve” mankind is founded on the understanding that man has evolved over millions of years and that therefore we were less or “sub” human in the past. Then, logically we will evolve into something more/better or “post human” in the future. The concept that we can assist our evolution through scientific means isn’t new and is gaining widespread popularity. (For a pictorial depiction of this visit the Before & After Humans website on MSNBC released in 2005.3)
It’s an entirely logical premise if one thinks that man is the ultimate authority. After all, why not give evolution a hand if it’s headed onwards and upwards anyway. Such help could even be regarded as part of the evolutionary process itself. That is, until one realizes that this concept being applied to enhance societies has been tried before.
The horrific consequences of social Darwinism has been thoroughly documented, Nazi Germany being the prime example of ‘survival of the fittest’ ideas being applied to a society and the eugenics movement (the “science” developed by Darwin’s cousin, Francis Galton) frequently touted as the obvious result of the concept that some of us are “more fit” (evolved) and some “less fit” to survive/procreate etc. The Nazi death camps were the “final solution” birthed by eugenic concepts like “racial hygiene”.
Modern atheists like Richard Dawkins try to downplay the connection between Darwinism as “science”, and social Darwinism as a moral concept. Dawkins stated on The Science Show (ABC Radio, 22 January 2000);
“I’m a passionate Darwinian when it comes to science, when it comes to explaining the world, but I’m a passionate anti-Darwinian when it comes to morality and politics.”
But he has also said that although he doesn’t agree with Hitler, certain ideas of eugenics may not be that bad after all. In a letter to the editor of the Sunday Herald (Scotland) he said “ … if you can breed cattle for milk yield, horses for running speed, and dogs for herding skill, why on Earth should it be impossible to breed humans for mathematical, musical or athletic ability?” So in at least one sense Dawkins does agree with Hitler! And as much as he tries to avoid the logical connection between someone believing Darwinism also believing in social Darwinism, they are there all the same.
On the coattails of the postmodernist movement, ultra-modernism has birthed a new concept based on these (above) ideas resulting in a large global phenomenon that is gaining tremendous popularity with a broad base of supporters worldwide. Dubbed Transhumanism, one of the reasons it is popular is it attempts to be all inclusive, embracing Darwinism, Intelligent Design, spirituality, science, belief in ET etc wrapped up in a self guided salvation message. In short:
“Transhumanism is the ultimate goal of Technocracy … a meta-movement: the idea that the works of Man’s hands can save Humanity—hence, technology and science forms the basis of a Technocratic society. Transhumanism takes this to its ultimate conclusion: The development of the post-human or neo-human.
“Based on the premise that evolution is true, Transhumanism looks to shape the human species through the direct application of science. In other words, by employing technology we can take hold of the evolutionary process and change it as we desire, thus becoming the masters of our future. To this end, advocates of Transhumanism ascribe to a multitude of possible options.”
How will this utopia come about specifically? Christian apologist Carl Teichrib (a Canadian-based researcher and writer on globalization) explains;
“1. DNA: Now that we are unlocking the secrets of DNA, we can alter our genetic makeup to augment desirable traits and block negative characteristics. It’s hoped such a move will bring longevity and eradicate diseases. Other possible outcomes include the production of designer babies in the womb, and even introducing DNA from other species into the human code; thus building a ‘Human Plus’ equipped with advanced physical and cognitive traits. Such a trans-human/hybrid would be ‘transgenic’—literally a human GMO (Genetically Modified Organism).
“2. Computer Interfacing and AI: As the secrets of the brain are discovered, it is anticipated that a time will arrive when the mind is efficiently interfaced with cyber-space. It is believed that in such a scenario the brain, once ‘plugged-in,’ could allow the mind to surf the network, download and upload from the web, receive memory upgrades, and converge with a global mind-to-machine-to mind community—forming a type of cyber-hive. Or, according to some cybernetic purists, to allow one’s consciousness to completely leave the bounds of flesh and enter cyber-space as an electronic entity. After all the brain, it’s argued, is an electrochemical organ. This mind uploading, it’s believed, could culminate in what the Catholic mystic, Pierre Teilhard de Chardin called the noosphere: the emergence of a living, global consciousness. The web would thus ‘come alive’.”
The transhumanist group Technolife’s website makes it clear;
“The exponential improvement of technology will make extensive body and mind enhancement possible within decades. Mainly through changing our genes and by emerging with machines (which by then will be just as ‘human’ as we are, and not like the machines we know today).”
And in a video on their site we hear “Humans have a natural desire for perfection. Who will settle for normal when you can be perfect? Today we have the technology to go beyond any limitation … nanotechnology, biotechnology, neuroscience, informatics … all of these knowledge fields will soon converge. Superior bodies and minds, bodies without pain, without limits … now we can offer you to be happy, healthy, beautiful and forever young”.
Many might consider this a fringe movement except for the fact that this website represents a research project funded by European Union (The EU is an economic and political union of 27 member states located primarily in Europe including the UK, France, Germany, Sweden etc).
And a quick overview of a 2003 report titled, “Converging Technologies for Improving Human Performance: Nanotechnology, Biotechnology, Information Technology, and Cognitive Science” reveals these ideas are indeed far reaching. This extensive 405 page document issued by the National Science Foundation and the Department of Commerce of the US explains its (indiscernibly transhumanisistic) goal isn’t just better bodies and more effective minds but actually the preventing an inevitable societal “catastrophe”.
In its introduction we read;
“This report underlines several broad, long-term implications of converging technologies in key areas of human activity, including working, learning, aging, group interaction, and human evolution.
“Activities that accelerate convergence to improve human performance must be enhanced, including focused research and development, increased technological synergy from the nanoscale, developing of interfaces among sciences and technologies, and a holistic approach to monitor the resultant societal evolution.”
This is more that overcoming illnesses, diseases and birth defects that have beset us since the Fall. According to this report the answer to humanity’s ultimate problems is a kind of worldwide technology induced unity:
“Technological convergence could become the framework for human convergence (Ostrum et al. 2002).
“The twenty-first century could end in world peace, universal prosperity, and evolution to a higher level of compassion and accomplishment. It is hard to find the right metaphor to see a century into the future, but it may be that humanity would become like a single, distributed and interconnected ‘brain’ based in new core pathways of society.”
Sounds like the Borg to me!
Indeed, the transhumanist magazine “H+” (Humanity +, the “+” signifying what humans will evolve into) revealed an article on November 16 2010 titled “Problem Solved” with the following tag line; “In 2011, with your help, H+ Magazine will solve all the world’s problems!”, listing everything from poverty, disease, discrimination, terrorism and even death as problems solvable by transhumanistic beliefs. While admitting tongue in cheek that they didn’t believe a magazine could solve all the world’s problems, it reveals the faith that they hold, that this path of transhumanism will eventually be our “savior”.