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“The training we receive in the scientific method and model construction habituates us to making certain assumptions about who we are and how we relate to nature. We are minds-producing-concepts for the purpose of bringing the limitless possibilities of being into some order. These assumptions, which have their origins in a theologically motivated rejection of a classical understanding of God and creation, lead by an easy path to the view that human beings fully realize themselves by producing concepts that give us mastery over limitless possibilities—first mastery over nature, then over ourselves.

Since modern thought develops within the nominalist frame, sculpted by Ockham’s razor, it can only look upon the older tradition as a form of inferior speculation that has been chastened and surpassed by more methodical and rigorous thought. Fuller is supremely uncritical of this perspective. He never pauses to consider how one might adjudicate the controversy between Aquinas’s doctrine of analogy and Scotist univocity. In this he is in good company. Even such a brilliant and subtle study as The Theological Origins of Modernity, by Michael Gillespie, simply assumes that nominalism attained victory over the older tradition because of an intrinsic superiority. This presumption flatters the complacency of the modern mind, and prevents us from seeing the poverty of our current assumptions about reason, nature, and human fulfillment. 

The other great failure of Fuller’s account (also shared by Gillespie) is his ­interpretation of the Christian tradition in terms of the dualism of body and soul. Such dualism is the opposite of Christianity, a trick of perspective fabricated during the Enlightenment, perfected by Nietzsche, and generally widespread among educated Westerners today, many of them Christian…

…Far from being a source of sin, our embodied condition is pronounced good in the first chapter of Genesis…

…Politically speaking, the assertion of individual self-ownership is a central feature of libertarianism. The transhumanism of Humanity 4.5 is thus an extreme expression of the libertarianism that is spreading through American society, increasingly bankrolling and driving the agenda of both major political parties. Its animating principles are far from a fringe phenomenon, however far-fetched its bio-technological fantasies may sound.

Transhumanists, like other libertarians, make the mistake of thinking that the high-spirited few, who are enamored of ascetic self-overcoming and relentless power-accumulating work, will be welcomed as the model and standard for the security-oriented many, who prefer to live according to their appetites, and whose escape fantasy is giant cruise ships rather than silicone bodies. To the extent that it has not shed the heritage of Christian humanism, libertarianism imagines itself as a redemptive project of liberation for all humanity, not just the zealous few. But there is nothing egalitarian about a moral vision that flows from understanding human dignity in terms of transcendence-seeking projects; and libertarians, under the brutalizing influence of Ayn Rand, seem to have become increasingly honest about the inegalitarian consequences of their agenda…

…Fuller likes to tell the story of “humanity” marching through history and destined to prevail. This mythical protagonist masks the reality that the powers we accumulate are always the powers of some and not of others. A more realistic portrayal of the future of Humanity 4.5 would star the relative few who are going to use the enormous wealth accumulated by the globalist bourgeois empire to fund their own Promethean futures, self-cast in the role of “early adopters” whose job is to keep the cutting edge of progress sharp. Meanwhile, the supporting cast of millions will remain in pecuniary thrall, hoping for a better role in the promised but not yet budgeted sequel…

…The current wave of dystopian young adult fiction, for example, serves the same kind of public liturgical function for progressive individualism as the New Year liturgy of Marduk’s victory over Tiamat once did for a strong Babylonian kingship. In these stories, disasters resulting from technological or political threats generate a social order that fails to deliver liberation of the individual. The adolescent heroes inevitably find their true identities as they lead a political revolution to put social progress back on track. Surely, the problem must be bad technocrats trying to concentrate all the power and benefits in their own hands! The solution, of course, lies in putting a more beneficent management in place to spread the benefits equitably. The fantasy of political revolution thus serves as therapy: It maintains faith in the order of the universe under the reign of progress…

…In the idolatry of progress, the only sin is the refusal of optimism.

…From the vantage point of Humanity 3.5, the insistence on faster solutions to human limitations seems a lot like an inability to come to a mature reckoning with finitude and death. The translation of the fantasies of transhumanists into policy proposals looks like provision for a race of hysterical adolescents striking heroic poses as they cling ever more tightly to their idols.

Fortunately, it is still possible, despite the march of humanity through history, to see the human person from the vantage point of Humanity 3.5. The transcendent dignity of the human person in communion with the Creator is still capable of speaking to our depths—the more so to the extent that the fantastical mythology of “H+” is exposed as fraudulent and cleared out of the way, allowing us to notice that we have depths to speak to. This possibility seems to account for a significant but seldom noted social phenomenon. As techno-liberation has become more aggressive, and the cultural swindle of its humanistic façade more apparent, the American genius of voluntary association has produced a response. The steady growth of classical academies and classical Christian homeschooling seems to testify to a growing realization that the classical Christian humanism of Humanity 3.5 is the real liberation of humanity and cultivation of human dignity.

A spontaneous renewal of humane culture will, of course, face considerable opposition as the idolaters of progress recognize the full scope of its nonconformity. We need to protect the growth of these precious seeds in a number of ways. First and foremost are legal safeguards for the right to educate. Second, biblically inspired institutions of higher education need increasing self-awareness that the vision of humanity, nature, and God that provides their identity has to be defended in its integrity. Third, in both classical schooling and higher education, a self-conscious recovery of a biblical and philosophical understanding of created nature and the practical and spiritual relationship to it that fosters the human good must have a place in the curriculum. Metaphysical reflection and the cultivation of wonder provide the indispensable foundation for a critique of and response to the Gnostic culture that dominates our lives.

The machinery we have constructed to exercise control has a way of exercising control over us. The image of the “singularity,” the point at which artificial and human intelligence merge, haunts our cultural imagination. The real threat, however, is that our new possibilities become new needs, and our enhancements define a new normal that we can’t bear to fall short of. The idol of progress is as fertile in the demand for human sacrifices as any Baal of the past, whether in the form of self-mutilations, throwing our children into the fire of competitive frenzy to become productive functionaries of the exploitative machinery of power, or the insidious spread of the despairing and sometimes suicidal sense that we are mere spiders wearied by throwing out filaments that never attach to anything solid. Only recovering ampler horizons of truth about God, humanity, and the goodness of creation can set us free and renew a culture of life and love.

-Mark Shiffman, “Humanity 4.5” [Emphasis mine]

https://www.firstthings.com/article/2015/11/humanity-45#login