A Review Of Ronald Cole-Turner. "Transhumanism And" Transcendence: "Christian Hope in an Age of Technological Enhancement". Washington, DC: Georgetown University Press, 2011. 219 Pp. $32.95. -- By: Alex Carr

Journal: Journal for Biblical Manhood and Womanhood
Volume: JBMW 020:1 (Spring 2015)
Article: A Review Of Ronald Cole-Turner. "Transhumanism And" Transcendence: "Christian Hope in an Age of Technological Enhancement". Washington, DC: Georgetown University Press, 2011. 219 Pp. $32.95.
Author: Alex Carr


A Review Of Ronald Cole-Turner. Transhumanism And Transcendence: Christian Hope in an Age of Technological Enhancement. Washington, DC: Georgetown University Press, 2011. 219 Pp. $32.95.

Alex Carr

Doctoral Student
Dallas Theological Seminary
Dallas, Texas

What Is At Stake?

What if a friend tells you that it is ethical to enhance your body beyond normal human capacity using technology? What if someone wanting to join your church believes technology is part of God's plan to save the world? What if you have to weigh in on public policy regarding issues surrounding biotechnology? Questions like these, once relegated to the late night realm of Science Fiction, are now common, and Christians must be increasingly biblical and bold in answering them.

The book Transhumanism and Transcendence: Christian Hope in an Age of Technological Enhancement is a collection of essays responding to the view that technology can fix all of humanity's problems, including death itself—i.e., “transhumanism.” The contributors seek to understand transhumanism on its own terms and to provide a Christian response. Editor Ronald Cole-Turner explains that each contributor varies in his or her position on "how far" transhumanism may go and still be within ethical boundaries.

While this book is not focused on evolutionary theory, the chapters are all influenced by the idea, and so Cole-Turner provides clarity to the reader that all the contributors hold to evolution (193-94). The editor summarizes each chapter in his introduction. More broadly, the book runs from a select history (chapters 2 and 3), to specific issues (chapters 4-10), to Christian theology in general (chapters 11 and 12). As to focus and content, even chapters 4-10 are used to discuss mostly theoretical ideas regarding transhumanism and transcendence. From this simple outline, it is evident that conservative Christians will have reservations about this book. But let me list this books strengths and then some areas of concern.

Strengths

There are a number of well-done pieces in this volume. Any successful debate requires each side to understand the position of the other, and the contributors have met this requirement admirably. Around half of each chapter is devoted to understanding transhumanist thought, in which the authors show what many transhumanists believe. For example, many understand human life as defined by consciousness alone; childbearing is assumed to be a burden; and some or all emotions should be eliminated. One writer, Gerald McKenny, even attempts to break down the different types of tra...

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