11 Dec

Gnosticism, medieval theology, transhumanism, and human identity

Category: What We're Reading
Published: 12/11/15

Mark Shiffman on the theological origins and modern context of transhumanism

What do an early Christian heresy, medieval theological debates about our language for God, and the belief that we can someday exist as virtual avatars all have in common? Quite a lot when it comes to how we think about human identity and especially how we think about human freedom and purpose. In a recent essay published by First Things, classics professor Mark Shiffman deftly examines how transhumanism has its logical roots in theological shifts made during the late medieval period as well as within various precedents of Gnosticism that have persistently surfaced throughout the Western tradition. Shiffman's summary, entitled “Humanity 4.5” was so helpful that we decided to interview him on the subject and release the interview as a free streaming audio. Even though we highly recommend that you read the article, if you do not have a subscription to First Things, we hope that this interview will shed some light on some of the radical—though increasingly plausible—claims of the transhumanists.