Book Review: Humans 2.0 by Fazale Rana and Kenneth Samples

Humans 2.0: Scientific, Philosophical, and Theological Perspectives on Transhumanism is a book that looks at transhumanism, which is essentially the idea that technology should be used to improve human lives. This extends from the more innocuous, such as using a prosthesis to replace a missing limb, to the morally serious, such as using genetic enhancements to improve a human’s performance or even uploading a person’s consciousness into a machine for the purpose of immortality.

Rana and Samples use the opportunity to talk about the similarities between Christianity and transhumanism. Transhumanist ideals are realized in Christianity. It will probably never be possible to obtain immortality through uploading our consciousness into a machine, but there is a real way we can attain it — by submitting to God and becoming a Christian. Christianity has a way that we can live forever, through the sacrifice of Christ on the cross and his overcoming death through the resurrection. As Christians we also have hope that one day we will live in a place where life-improving technologies will no longer be necessary because there will be no more sickness or disease. This provides some common ground that we can find with those who believe in the promises that transhumanism makes.

The book comes in three parts. Part one talks about the science behind transhumanism. They touch on things like gene editing, neuroprosthetics, and brain-computer interfaces, and how these kinds of things could potentially become a reality. They even have a helpful appendix you can read to have a better idea of biology and how some of these technologies work regarding how they affect us at the cellular level. Part two talks about the ethics of transhumanism, whether enhancing humans genetically, rather than simply therapeutically, would be an ethical use of that technology. They talk about the image of God and what it means for humanity. The third part consists of talking about transhumanism and Christianity, and showing how Christianity actually makes reality what will likely only remain a dream in transhumanism.

Transhumanism is becoming more and more important all the time, especially as science and technology continue making advancements, allowing us to do today what was only science fiction 50 years ago. As scientists continue to make advances with technologies like in-vitro fertilization, cloning, artificial womb technology, gene mapping, etc., it looks like some of the more fanciful technologies may at one point become reality. It behooves Christians to understand what transhumanism is so that we can offer an intelligent response to transhumanist arguments and also so we can show how the teachings of Christ can give us what transhumanists ultimately long for. There are still some insurmountable obstacles which may never be overcome for these kinds of technologies. But that can make Christianity all the more appealing for those to whom death seems like an unkillable enemy.

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