Diversity and Similarity of Future Persons
27 October 2007 (updated 26 October 2021)
In a blog entry entitled “Here Come the Warlocks,” Wesley Smith suggests that “transhumanism would probably result in stultifying sameness rather than the wild differences for which most adherents yearn.” I disagree with Wesley for two reasons.
First, I don’t think it’s obvious that most Transhumanists yearn for wild differences between persons. To the contrary, it seems to me that most Transhumanists are looking for balance between difference and similarity.
We can only communicate and share to the extent that we have something in common. And we can only maintain identity to the extent that we are different. I value both sharing and identity. And I’m confident that I’m far from alone in this.
Second, I disagree with the probability Wesley assigns to Transhumanism resulting in uniformity. I do acknowledge the risk of decreasing diversity. However, the simple fact that most of us do not desire complete uniformity seems to be reason enough to hope we’ll generally and sufficiently embrace means for avoiding it.
In other blog posts, Wesley has suggested that popular culture seems to be encouraging increased uniformity in appearance. And he has suggested that combining Transhumanist technologies with that trend would result in the uniformity against which he warns.
However, I think virtual worlds like Second Life provide adequate evidence that control over physical appearance would not result in the uniformity Wesley fears. He would argue that Second Life is just a game. I think our games enable us to manifest our deepest and most abiding desires, of the sort that shape the future.
Not speaking for all Transhumanists, I can yet state unequivocally that, as one Transhumanist, I look forward to a future of both diversity and commonality. Although it may not be intuitive, the one does not logically contradict the other. We can increase the set of common characteristics while simultaneously increasing the set of diverse characteristics.
Below are some scripture passages that illustrate a vision of our future bodies that inspires me. First, here’s 1 Corinthians 15:
“All flesh is not the same flesh: but there is one kind of flesh of men, another flesh of beasts, another of fishes, and another of birds.
“There are also celestial bodies, and bodies terrestrial: but the glory of the celestial is one, and the glory of the terrestrial is another.
“There is one glory of the sun, and another glory of the moon, and another glory of the stars: for one star differeth from another star in glory.
“So also is the resurrection of the dead. It is sown in corruption; it is raised in incorruption:
“It is sown in dishonour; it is raised in glory: it is sown in weakness; it is raised in power:”
Here’s Doctrine and Covenants 88:
“For notwithstanding they die, they also shall rise again, a spiritual body.
“They who are of a celestial spirit shall receive the same body which was a natural body; even ye shall receive your bodies, and your glory shall be that glory by which your bodies are quickened.
“Ye who are quickened by a portion of the celestial glory shall then receive of the same, even a fulness.
“And they who are quickened by a portion of the terrestrial glory shall then receive of the same, even a fulness.
“And also they who are quickened by a portion of the telestial glory shall then receive of the same, even a fulness.
“And they who remain shall also be quickened; nevertheless, they shall return again to their own place, to enjoy that which they are willing to receive, because they were not willing to enjoy that which they might have received.”
And here’s Doctrine and Covenants 76:
“And the glory of the celestial is one, even as the glory of the sun is one.
“And the glory of the terrestrial is one, even as the glory of the moon is one.
“And the glory of the telestial is one, even as the glory of the stars is one; for as one star differs from another star in glory, even so differs one from another in glory in the telestial world;”