The anti-human religion of Transhumanism

Transhumanism makes grand claims about the future of humankind, from genetic engineering and artificial wombs to immortality and uploading humanity to the cloud.

Lead by pseudo-scientific thinkers like Ray Kurzeil, Transhumanism has become a popular ideology among Silicon Valley tech leaders including Elon Musk and Peter Thiel.

In recent years it has also become the focus of conspiracy theorists from Anti-Vaxxers to Qanon, who claim the ultimate goal of the “global elite” is to turn humans into post-humans.

The truth is that Transhumanism is a fantasy born in the pages of science fiction. While authors like Bruce Sterling and William Gibson warned against the terrors of Transhumanism, today’s Transhumanists see it as an inevitability, and have transformed the fantasy of Transhumanism into an anti-human religion.

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Published by Damien Walter

Writer and storyteller. Contributor to The Guardian, Independent, BBC, Wired, Buzzfeed and Aeon magazine. Special forces librarian (retired). Teaches the Rhetoric of Story to over 35,000 students worldwide.

2 thoughts on “The anti-human religion of Transhumanism

  1. One site I was on claimed that transhumanism would lead to immortality by being able to replace body parts as they wore out (liver, heart, etc.). They didn’t address the brain problem. There is a lot of evidence that brains wear out, too. How are they going to replace the brain? We don’t even know how the work much less how to make a new one, or how to hook it up to the body. I think these folks are living in a dream-world. :)

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  2. Hi Damien, thanks for the interesting podcast. The parallels between the goals of transhumanism and religion, in particular Buddhism, is a nice observation which you laid out well. This topic has been in my peripheries since I was a kid so it’s kind of fun now seeing it enter into different sides of the mainstream fear rhetoric.

    If I might offer some constructive criticism though. Although I absolutely agree with you that despite radical new technologies the human experience never really changes that much, I do feel you are underestimating the powers of convenience and comfort that drive our culture. Or laziness, I suppose would be a more cynical word for it, particularly for the examples of working and pregnancy that you gave although I suppose in general for everything that you spoke of. From my observations throughout my lifetime I see that people will almost always take the path of least resistance, whether it’s good/healthy for them or not. You happen to be the kind of person that’s highly self-motivated and doing their own thing and actively seeks out work that they love because it’s rewarding for them, but the truth is that most people don’t care in that same way and are working shit useless jobs that they are indifferent to, and given the chance to not have to work anymore they would of course take it. I’d say that’s true for at least 90% of people, who are basically floating through life in the most pleasurable way possible. Again, whether or not this is “good” for them or not, whatever the hell that means.

    As for babies growing outside of the womb, I’m pretty sure that a lot of women would do this (eventually), even if right now they say they wouldn’t. I know many women who have had elective C-sections simply because they don’t like the idea of all the pain and uncertainty involved with birth. Why stop there? I have witnessed friends having terrible and drawn out pregnancies involving constant discomfort and suffering which left them wrecked and depressed. I think you’re being naive if you don’t think that many women would take this road if it were available. I don’t expect to see this tech within my lifetime though.

    You’re definitely right in that the goals of transhumanism (to escape suffering, aging and death) are probably unachievable, but I feel that your aversion to the implications of new technologies that will (and they really will whether you like it or not) come in is bordering on denial, and this “NO NO NO” attitude comes across only as insecure reactionary counter-doctrine rather than any kind of objective argument. They are correct when they say that the technology is inevitable, even if they are probably wrong about the inevitability of their success.

    The prevention of physical aging, I think, will be one of the first of the mentioned technologies that we will have to grapple with, and I reckon it’s going to be a real shit show. Anyway thanks for the podcast, I look forward to listening to more of them!

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