Religion and transhumanism: Perfect fit or sure to conflict?

Then-Secretary of Defense Ash Carter (not pictured) is briefed on the robotic limb exhibit at the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency “Wait, What?" future technology forum in St. Louis on Sept. 9, 2015. (Photo by Senior Master Sgt. Adrian Cadiz)

Last month, a science story spread across the internet that seemed more suitable for Halloween than mid-September: Researchers had found that injections of young blood appeared to protect old patients from age-related illnesses.

The controversial discovery stemmed from a growing realm of scientific research aimed at transforming the human condition. Doctors involved hope to help people artificially boost their intelligence, gain new athletic abilities and maybe even live forever.

Transhumanism, the philosophy or intellectual movement underlying this type of research, teaches that humans aren’t done evolving. Transhumanists look at scientific advancements such as gene editing or robotic limbs and see the promise of a future with longer lives and much less suffering.

Although transhumanism began as a mostly secular movement, people of faith, as well as organizations such as the Christian Transhumanist Association, play a notable role in this movement today. Religious transhumanists draw on teachings related to bodily resurrection or rebirth to explain their involvement, arguing that revolutionary science benefits from a stronger moral compass.

Religious transhumanism has been criticized by both secular and religious people, who see a contradiction between belief in a higher power and passion for extreme human-led medical advancements.

Prominent transhumanists in Silicon Valley, including Elon Musk and Peter Thiel, are bringing more attention to this intellectual movement. Here’s a list of the people and organizations that can help you cover the intersection of transhumanism and faith.

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National sources