Schuurman in Hamilton: The Challenges of Transhumanism

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Event Details


FREE PUBLIC EVENT: The Hamilton Science & Faith Forum and the CSCA present a lecture by Derek Schuurman (Professor of Computer Science, Calvin University).

Lecture
Nov 29 2019

Derek Schuurman (Computer Science, Calvin College)
"The Challenges of Transhumanism: Discerning a Christian Response"

Friday | 4:00 pm - 6:00 pm | MacNeill Baptist Church

 

The Challenges of Transhumanism: Discerning a Christian Response

The adage that “we shape our tools, and thereafter our tools shape us” takes on a new meaning with transhumanism. Transhumanism is a movement that seeks to enhance humans using technology far beyond the limits of their current physical and intellectual capacities to evolve into something better.

Technology, like glasses, pacemakers, and artificial limbs, already augment human capabilities, but the goal of these technologies is to restore normal human capacities that have been lost or damaged due to disease or accidents. In contrast, the goal of transhumanism is for humanity to take control of its evolutionary destiny and move toward a “posthuman” future.

Transhumanists look forward to a day when we will overcome disease, suffering, and death. Christians also look forward to a day when “there will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away” (Rev. 21:4). The issue with transhumanism is that it looks to technology as savior of the human condition instead of God (or in addition to God).

The notion of disembodied existence found in certain transhumanist ideals also reflects elements of Gnosticism. We need to recall that the incarnation reveals the value God places on our physicality and humanity. We need to remember how Christ, “the Word who became flesh” (1 John 3:2), models what it means to be truly human. Furthermore, the importance of valuing bodies should inform our current technology use and design by encouraging embodied experiences and practices.

Derek Schuurman worked as an electrical engineer for several years and later returned to school to complete a Ph.D. at McMaster University in the area of robotics and computer vision. He has taught computer science at both Dordt University and Redeemer University College and is now professor of computer science at Calvin University. He is the current William Spoelhof Teacher-Scholar-in-Residence chair and a fellow of the American Scientific Affiliation. He has written about faith and technology issues and is the author of the book Shaping a Digital World: Faith, Culture and Computer Technology published by InterVarsity Press.