Moral Perspectives For A Possible Posthuman Future – Part 2 -- By: Kevin Staley

Journal: Christian Apologetics Journal
Volume: CAJ 11:1 (Spring 2013)
Article: Moral Perspectives For A Possible Posthuman Future – Part 2
Author: Kevin Staley

Moral Perspectives For A Possible Posthuman Future – Part 2

Kevin Staley

Kevin Staley is an Assistant Professor at Southern Evangelical Seminary, Charlotte, NC.

This, the second of a two–part article,1 treats what is common to the areas of AI, robotics, and transhumanism, namely, the hypothetical existence of ‘persons’ in a posthuman existence and in other ‘intelligent’ artifacts. The author will endeavor to locate the subject (the created order) in the third and final context, the future (God’s will for creation – the telos of moral action). The three contexts—nature, nurture, and future—taken together will form the framework essential for locating the direction and motivation of present and future developments in the emerging areas of technological advancement that hold the potential to alter human beings and introduce ‘intelligent’ artifacts into human society, thereby fundamentally altering human society. In the concluding section of this article, the author will distill and then apply the moral framework to the areas of robotics and human enhancement.

The Context Of The Future

The goal to transcend the present embodied existence is evident in the future vision of transhumanists. The concerns of estrangement by transcendence from the ‘natural’ world and its consequences both present and future have already been mentioned in part one of this article. However, as Christians it is imperative that we consider our eschatology and its relationship to our present. It is no secret that doctrines such as the rapture or our eventual eternal abode being in heaven ring with a tone virtually indistinguishable from the knell of the transhumanists bell. How will we respond—like an employee working half–heartedly during the final days of his present employment before departing in favor of something better, to the charge of dereliction? And, will our response in essence amount to some form of the nautical retort, “Why bother to shine the rails of a sinking ship?” Jonas grounded his call for responsibility by referring to the nature of humans in their present existence and their place in the world with its potential to impact present and future. He criticized religion with its dualism for failing to account for present responsibility by relying upon that which lies beyond it: “the ethics we are looking for is not eschatological.”2 Is this really the predicament of a theological perspective, namely, that it jettisons the world like some spent rocket booster on its journey to heaven, implying some kind of severance of relationship betwee...

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