Mormon Transhumanism Trusts in Christ
by Lincoln Cannon on 14 December 2019
A recent academic paper by Roba Megersa of Jimma University mentions my work on Mormon Transhumanism. The aim of the mention is to contrast my theology with that of persons who the author esteems to be “fundamentalists” and “bioconservatives.” There’s a clear contrast, for sure. But the author takes the contrast too far, and doesn’t sufficiently recognize that Christian values are essential to my theology.
Below is the relevant part of the paper. Judging from the English, I suspect it may have been translated from another language.
“However, some theologians who pursue God from secular perspective mandate humankinds to use science and technology as means in order to expand their capacity. For example, Lincoln Cannon states that the “Mormon Scripture” or “Mormonism” allows humans to use science and technology improve and save ourselves as a wisdom given by God. According to this secular version of Christianity, it is our mandate to use science and technology as a means to accomplish what we may want. Thus, Mormonism admits science and technology as among the means prescribed by God. In giving a prominent role to science and technology, Mormonism shares common elements with secular humanism and transhumanism.”
Here’s what the author gets right:
- I believe that Christianity, and particularly Mormonism, mandates action using the means that God has given us to participate in saving ourselves.
- I also believe that Christianity, and particularly Mormonism, sanctions science and technology as some of the means that we should use to participate in saving ourselves.
Here’s what the author gets wrong:
- I don’t believe that humanity can save itself without a context of opportunity. Humanity can save itself only to the extent that it has received a context of opportunity, which is grace.
- I wouldn’t call my theology a “secular” version of Christianity or Mormonism. I would call it a PRACTICAL version, which is essentially an AUTHENTIC version. Technophobic Christians are counterfeit to some extent. As James put it, “faith without works is dead.” And technology is works.
- I don’t believe that we should merely use technology to achieve “what we may want.” Rather, I believe that we should use technology to achieve that which is holistically consistent with body’s desire, mind’s will, relations’ rules, and environments’ laws, to the extent that they are not oppressive. And I expect this will require an endless compassionate work of reconciliation or atonement.
Mormon Transhumanism, so far as this Mormon Transhumanist is concerned, is not remotely anything like individualistic secularism. To the contrary, I cannot imagine a coherent Mormon Transhumanism (or a coherent Mormonism or Christianity) without grace, practicality, and reconciliation.
These are some of the reasons that Mormon Transhumanists are Christians. These are some of the reasons that we celebrate Christ. Only in Christ, as exemplified by Jesus, can we reasonably hope for sufficiency to the challenges that confront us.
This is not a superstitious appeal to supernatural power. This is a practical appeal to the natural consequences of trusting in Christ. Christ is a role, exemplified by Jesus. It is the role of savior. It is the role of consoling, healing, and raising each other beyond death and hell.
If we trust in Christ then we follow Jesus’ example. We change from that which we are. And we immerse ourselves, body and mind, in that which we should become. We transform.
We become Christ with Jesus. But none of us can do this alone. Our transformation requires power beyond our own. It requires a context of opportunity.
The context must include physical laws that are ultimately consistent with our hopes. It requires reconciliation of relationships beyond jealousy, anger, and hatred. And none of us unilaterally controls either that environment or those relationships.
But we can work and do our part. We can try to be like Jesus. We can try to console, heal, and raise. We can try to be Christ.
Trust in Christ. Be Christ. Both are essential to Mormon Transhumanism. And that’s what Mormon Transhumanists celebrate as Christians.