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Engineering Abundant Life

In 2013, Micah Redding founded the Christian Transhumanist Association, a group bringing faith and ethics into transhumanist conversations. Transhumanists believe that human capacities can be enhanced by science and technology.

Some are anti-aging researchers applying biomedicine to improve humanity. Aubrey de Grey studies preventative maintenance for the human body and believes the first human to live to 1,000 has already been born. Others look to computing advances; futurist Ray Kurzweil has predicted that by 2045 artificial intelligence will surpass human intelligence, leading to “the singularity,” where everyone’s brain will be connected to “the cloud.”

These predictions may seem outlandish, but recent breakthroughs in the science of aging do make modest, if not radical, life extension a real possibility. Various studies on lab animals have extended lifespan by up to 30 percent.

At the same time, the church must continue to proclaim the basic reality of our existence, as summarized in the Ash Wednesday call, “Remember that you are dust, and to dust you will return.” Life is a gift.

Philosopher Diogenes Allen made the distinction between extended life and eternal life. Extended life is what we are trying to make for ourselves through scientific solutions. Eternal life, on the other hand, is “that which we can experience and have to a degree in this life but can have fully only after death.” Eternal life, in other words, is received.

To the extent that we receive this eternal, abundant life, Christians offer it to others—through loving our neighbors and building communities of mutual care and hospitality. This is our ultimate goal. Though caring for bodies may be part of this process, it is not everything.

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