Religion and Transhumanism
t first glance religion and transhumanism are at opposite poles of human endeavour. Religion with its superstitions and reliance on supernatural intervention is the very kind of thing that transhumanism is trying to free the human species from. Yet there are a lot of things that transhumanism can learn from religion. There are even things that could make transhumanism and religion partners in improving the human species.
Transhumanism in its simplest incarnation is about lifting humanity to the next level and freeing it from the physical and psychological crutches that hold it back. We could leave our bodies and their problems behind. In many ways the body has taken us as far as it can. Its limitations are not just about our emotional and psychological upheavals, but the very real limitation of death. It is hard to get any work done when you know that your body is going to keel over after just seventy or eighty years of good working time.
We could also transform our bodies into something more durable and flexible. Drugs and other interventions might control our irrational behaviour and allow us to override instincts to create a true thinking man.
The goal of transforming humanity is a shared goal with most religions. In fact the entire purpose of religion is the transformation of humanity. Most religions wish to accomplish this task through relationship with the divine, while transhumanism seeks to use scientific progress to accomplish its work. Yet there are meeting points. The Cyborg Buddha project is one such meeting point, recognizing that many of the goals of Buddhism are compatible with that of transhumanism and that transhumanism may be a way of accomplishing the goals of Buddhism.
Beyond the Cyborg Buddha project we also have the need to convince the populace that there is a need for transformation. There is a perception that all too many people are content with their seventy odd years and a flat screen TV. There is a great desire for spiritual growth and learning, but not through the classical forms of religion. There is a huge opportunity for catching the imagination of people by allowing and even encouraging the use of spirituality to describe the goals and means of transhumanism. That meditation increases empathy in Tibetan monks and has other salutary effects is well known. Meditation in a vacuum is a very difficult thing to sell. If meditation is connected to personal growth through something like Karate or Buddhism or even Catholicism, can we not also consider connecting meditation to the progress of science and specifically transhumanism?