Catholic Church Wages War on Transhumanism


  • Catholicism:  Because threatening to kidnap a bunch of potential cyborgs is such a good idea.
  • I'm not really surprised. Well good luck to them. About 10% of the western world population can be considered cyborgs already. But then it's good they refuse science like that. If they reject the implantation of pacemakers they actually do the world a favor.
  • edited November 2013
    Heh. Always thought the Roman Catholic church had a skewed perspective about certain things. This probably tops the list for me. Ironically, by doing this, they just draw more attention to our cause.

    Things are starting to remind me of Assassin's Creed. Speaking of which, I better go pick up a copy and start practicing parkour and blade fighting again...

    Some of the comments for that article are quite interesting though. I'm probably going to do a bit more research, because they brought to my attention a good bit bias and subjective commentary. Kinda driving my inner skeptic tendencies off the wall. But from what I've seen so far, it would probably be a good idea to be careful. Maybe establish a list of countries to avoid travelling to. Or a guide on how to keep from getting dragged off to court by this modern day "Spanish Inquisition". Because, while I'm pretty sure that no one here is afraid of getting hauled off to court, getting hauled off to court is rather... Inconvenient.
  • Dude, I just bought a lions den!
  • Ok guys, I think of us as a smart bunch of people. We use scientific processes, we read between the lines.

    I know many people don't like the Catholic Church for various personal/philosophical reasons. I don't really care, you have a right to believe what you want.

    But this article was written by a anti-Catholic Troll who makes fictitious statements having no basis in the main article that is linked to.

    The original declaration says:
    Nothing about cyborgs.
    Pacemakers? cmon, The previous Pope has a pacemaker.
    Science? The Catholic church pretty much says that if Science and Belief contradict - then science is right.

    The deceleration just re-iterates the status-quo:
    • Life is valuable, none as much as human life.
    • Life starts from the moment a new human organism is created. (conception or its cloning equivalent)
    • Technology is here to help people. People should not be created for technology. (ie: like the movie The Island - 2005)
    • A machine or animal will never have as much value as a human being.
    • Those people who are cloning human beings or creating new human organisms for the sake of technology/science are doing something criminal and should be prosecuted at an international level.
    This is pretty much a summary of the (theological-speak) deceleration.
    But you don't need to believe me, just read it yourselves .

    And for fucks sakes, don't believe everything you read on H+, the article there is labelled as "opinion". people have agendas and love to spread fud and anti-catholic bullshit.

    In short the article is Bullshit, Catholicism supports using technological means to improve the human condition. I am a Catholic AND a trans-humanist and I see very little friction between the two philosophies.

    If you want to know more, I'm not really here for theological reasons, - but I don't tolerate BS, - give me a shout.   duneo.
  • yeah, i had this conversation on reddit already, so i'm not going to bother reiterating all the points made in detail. you can hunt down the details if you need to. here is a link to that conversation

    also, i promised someone that i wouldn't engage in uhh... energetically dissuading people from there point of views, on this forum, so i will do my best to keep this chill. however, i am opposed to the catholic church for it's long history of war waging, intolerance of others, torture and abuse of humans, and repression of women, minorities, and others in the name of faith and imaginary being. while everyone is allowed to believe what they want, this doesn't mean that everyone is right. 

    suffice it to say, the original article explicitly is against modification of any type, the original article explicitly stated that giving rights to modified creatures, including humans, animals, or anything else, was a no-no, here is a quote from the original article:

     "The relevance to alert about the real possibilities of dehumanization that threaten certain fashions and scientific fictions. We can not ignore that behind the apparent kindness that give rights to animals (natural or artificial), robots, or new human species artificially manipulated, lies a real danger to human life as we know it with their freedom and way of being"

    the catholic church pretty much says that is science and belief contradict, then lip service should be given to science but belief is more important. i will just cut and paste a comment on that behalf.

    this helps clarify any misinformation you might have received.

    the pope made a big PR show of accepting a few token parts of evolution, while still quietly rejecting most of it.

    The Catholic Church is willing to admit that some elements of the creation story "may employ figurative language". A lot of apologists have taken this and ran with it, pretending that this means the RCC has cried "metaphor!" on everything, and is now 100% A-okay with evolution and cosmology. I can't tell you how many of these apologists are being willfully dishonest, and how many are simply not aware of their church's official position on this policy.

    What I can tell you is that this conveniently ignores a lot of the Church's teachings. For example, they still teach that Adam and Eve were one literal man and one literal woman who are literally the ancestors of every human being, and who literally allowed sin to enter the world with a literal single act of disobedience at the beginning of time. They're just willing to admit that things like the "serpent" and the "fruit of the tree" might be metaphors.

    "When, however, there is question of another conjectural opinion, namely polygenism, the children of the Church by no means enjoy such liberty. For the faithful cannot embrace that opinion which maintains either that after Adam there existed on this earth true men who did not take their origin through natural generation from him as from the first parents of all, or that Adam represents a certain number of first parents." (Pius XII, Humani Generis)

    Note that this is the document most frequently cited by people claiming that the RCC "accepts evolution".

    "The account of the fall in Genesis 3 uses figurative language, but affirms a primeval event, a deed that took place at the beginning of the history of man. Revelation gives us the certainty of faith that the whole of human history is marked by the original fault freely committed by our first parents" (CCC 390)

  • @duneo
    What do you mean by
    • Those people who are cloning human beings or creating new human organisms for the sake of technology/science are doing something criminal and should be prosecuted at an international level.
    That the use of human beings as unwilling test subjects is wrong? 

    That quote looks like it could either mean what you said, that the catholic church is against modification of any kind, or it could mean that they believe the use of human beings as unwilling test subjects is wrong. I think it's too soon to judge which interpretation is actually the case.

    In regard to the RCC's teachings and their compatibility with the madrid convention, it really depends on your interpretation of the document.

    Let's say they are opposed to modification of any kind. Before they could effectively oppose "modification," they'd have to define it, something they have not done, as evidenced by their description of modification, which is vague at best. If anything, it's a very subjective definition, because "modifying the human body" can and is done on a daily basis(i.e. Anyone taking medications). That said, the RCC can't really oppose us effectively without looking... Foolish. 

    On the other hand, if they oppose the use of unwilling human test subjects, there isn't really anything wrong with their statement. It just means they don't want to run into another Auschwitz or Unit 731. However, if such is the case, they run into the issue of defining "willing."

    Or perhaps they simply oppose the use of humans as test subjects in general. This would severely limit the capabilities of the medical field to produce drugs and devices for public use, in addition to prohibiting anything new that required testing(Everything new...) from being used. That makes this idea both impractical and stupid. 

    In terms of the Catholic Church's teachings in general, they're right in some places and wrong in others. But that's not the topic of the forum, and so such a conversation will be limited to mail... 

  • @TheGreyKnight -
    The idea is that it is wrong to create a new human being just for the purpose of saving another one as the new human being has rights too. eg. A couple conceiving and then having a late term abortion so that some tissue/cells/bone-marrow etc. can be harvested to save the dying father. Embryonic stem cell research is another example of technology that is viewed as morally wrong for the cells are used after conception - so the belief is that a human life is destroy in this.

    It boils down to when a human being has the rights of a human being. The RCC says at the moment of conception, some say in the second trimester, others say not until it's born, meanwhile there are some who believe humans have no rights even then.

    The RCC believes that humans have a soul that exists from the moment of conception and will still exists after the body is dead and that it's wrong to disassociate the body from the soul.

    Re: courts, It's the same scenario as in countries that have laws against cloning humans, those who would attempt it in those countries might find themselves in court.

    Maybe it would be a good idea to have a "philosophical" section at
  • this whole "making a new person to save another person" is not mentioned in the article. however, the quote that i mentioned basically stated that this "artificial" person would not have rights. giving rights to an artificially manipulated human is dangerous. that's what they said. so, there is a little conflict between your points and the statement.

    @TheGrayKnight there is no mention of using human beings as unwilling test subjects. So, I am not considering that as an interpretation.

    a "philosophical section" here? why make a section for it? there is already so much hand waving and whatnot, we don't need more chaff getting blown around. let's please try to focus on hard science.
    bringing issues up to discuss in regards to the community is one thing, but... just... >_<  i thought it was an interesting article. i had no idea that this would happen.... gonna tap out of this thread. i'll stick to research papers and projects. my bad.

    can we please have no talk of magic, n=0 accounts, and the like?
  • @glims
    As I understand it, in the statement
     "experimenting with human life, understanding it as a mean of
    production, or simply destroying it in the early stages of its
    "making a new person to save another person" is a way of using a human life as a means of production.

    The first line of the quote that you mentioned says
    "alert about the real possibilities of dehumanization"

    This is not a call to action to take away the rights of cyborgs, but a warning of the dangers that people with technological (including genetic) augmentations will view themselves as more human or superior human to those who do not have these. It could become an Auschwitz all over again.

    A philosophy section, not as much to spur philosophical discussions but there to keep them separate from the non-philosophical discussions.
  • Yeah, I really didn't like the transhumanist movement for a long time as it consisted of people talking about either ethics, or technology lifetimes away from us. The problem I have discussing the philosophy surrounding these things is its utter pointlessness... unless it leads to behavioral changes.

    Looking at the history of western science, we find that many of the heroes of science are also amongst the most devout followers of the Abrahamic faith. I'm not blind to the number of people burnt for heresy for reporting their opposition, but in its finest form religion is the pursuit of truth. A "true believer" should be one who truly seeks to see god, and understand god, regardless of whether something jives with scripture. In such clothing, religion provides a motivational framework for study and advancement.

    This isn't how the vast majority of people use religion though. Few are really seeking to understand anything at all really, and this isn't a criticism of them. Suffering is an inherent human condition, and religion is used most often to ameliorate suffering not as a means to understand. Lets say that a persons spouse recently died. They have a vested interest in believing that they will meet this person again and that this person continues to exist in some guise in some other place where everything is nice. Were this person presented with some great arguement about evolution, heliocentrism, or whatnot, the person isn't fighting about what is true, but rather they are fighting to not hurt.

    I think the divide between religion and science lies in poor church leadership. I'm a pretty bright person. I have a very good grasp on the support behind evolution and modern biology, and yet due to my understanding of philosophy I'm unwilling to really claim to know the truth. At all. I mean the further one delves into epistemology, the more one realizes the limitations of knowledge. I can't really "prove" that I exist, in spite of descartian word puzzles... much less make the claim that a god exists, had a son, flooded the earth etc. The funny thing is that a true theologian wouldn't make these claims either. Groups like the Jesuits requires serious college degrees before being considered for membership. They want their leaders to be men who question and seek the truth. But far too many religious groups do not want this. So many pastors are simply schmoes with faith who are convinced that they are the repository of gods one true message. This very limited philosophy does lead to behavioral change: denial and refutation of any information which challenges ones interpretation of scripture.

    I don't think that great divide between science and faith is the product of religion or science itself. I think the schism is the product of poor education amongst church leadership. A basic understanding of epistemology and ontology leaves plenty of room for coexistence. A good scientist isn't one convinced of his truth, but rather one willing to reinterpret his belief based on new observations and understandings. A good scientist is one willing to admit that his hypothesis was incorrect. A good religious leader should do the same. And good leadership would allow people to still be ok with grandma dying, and be able to maintain the level of intellectual integrity to acknowledge evolution is most likely how the organisms we see developed.

  • Well put Cassox. You should write a book on this subject.

    My only question is, when do you reinterpret your beliefs "based on new observations and understandings?" With everything new we find and all of the things we've already found, how do we effectively utilize the information. In our current state, we can't learn all of that information and apply it in a single lifetime. So where do we start? And what if the "new observations" are reinterpreted later, based on more accurate data? Should we wait, maintaining a position of ambivalence towards the issue, until it's been developed further? Or should dive right in and participate? 

    In other words, when does something become "truth"?
    Or for that matter, what is the definition of truth?

  • It's sometimes not about truth, it's about functional working models.

    So, my buddy was agnostic for a long time. I am, obviously, hard line atheist. we got really drunk one night and sat down and talked this out, the divide between the two. he posited that one can not really _know_ that there is no higher being, etc etc etc. I put it to him this way. hopefully this will explain my n=0 comment earlier.

    We have the scientific method. It puts forth that gravity is a thing. we have working models for it. we have no evidence of it not working. it is called a theory, in the scientific way, as in, no one is out there disproving gravity. it's a real thing.

    if i throw a coin 1000 times, and it falls onto the ground each time, i'm not going to walk around saying that gravity might not work on the 1001th time. likewise, if one prays 1000 times, and nothing happens. why would one walk around saying, weeeellll i don't know, ineffable mysteries...
    We could consider the entire timeline of recorded history to be the lab notebook for religion. since 4000 BC there have been hundreds of thousands of reports of praying, gods, etc. inconsistent, unreproducible. we call this n=0, as in, zero reproducible data points.
    allowing for change and new information is one thing, but having a model with a huge gaping hole in it is another thing completely. I am unwilling to claim i know everything as well. however, i can point to something that doesn't work and say, this is not a thing.
  • That's the thing about gods, prayers, etc. They're supernatural, and thus are not controlled by or subjected to natural laws. That's why the scientific method, meaning the discovery of natural laws through testing, which searches for consistencies in the results of your tests, is unsuitable for the purposes of proving the existence of a god. 

    It's like giving an ordinary 7-year old a trigonometric equation and asking them to proof it. They wouldn't understand what a trig equation was, let alone how to solve it. Likewise, we can't effectively test a god because we don't know the rules that govern it, if there are any rules at all. 

    In all of this, I'm saying that you can't prove a god exists through the traditional scientific method. 

    In regard to praying, who are we to demand something from a god, and how can we know if the prayers in question fulfill his purposes or plans. If I prayed a thousand times for someone to drop dead, and they didn't, maybe it's not because the god doesn't exist that nothing happens. It just means that said prayer was answered with a no. 

    You can try to make a light bulb 1000 different ways, and you'll fail a number of times. However, if you never succeed in making a light bulb, it doesn't mean that the concept of a light bulb is impossible. It just means that you suck at making light bulbs.
  • i work in research, trust me, i know about trying to accomplish something and failing.

    this conversation has gone right off the rails.

    supernatural, by it's very definition, means outside the bounds of nature. so yes, the scientific method would, as such, would not be ideal.

    except for the fact that all the other mystical supernatural whatnot has never worked and most people are starting to move on from that. ghosts, vampires, mermaids, healing with crystals, all the homeopathy. it's all bunk. but, as Cass pointed out, religion gives us the good feels. it makes us less afraid when we are scared of what we don't know, like death. so people cling to it.

    if you gave a 7 yr old a trig problem, she probably wouldn't get it, right away. but in a few years she would, and a few years after that, she'd be doing calc, and on and on. maybe she won't make the next light bulb in her life, but her children may, or someone else.  we call this development.

    there is no development with the supernatural. the entirety of human history and it's still comes down just faith? that is called zero data. not a hard problem, but a broken one. you're saying we are stuck at 7yrs old, and i just don't see that as the case.
  • I have heard that there are some cases where purported super-natural events were investigated by scientists who did not believe and after the investigations the scientists believed. If these are true cases then we have reproducible data points but they are few and far between. This is why (these days) before suggesting anything as miraculous the Catholic church sends scientists to investigate it first. Most miracles aren't.

    I will at some point in life investigate this further, but I got to do some grinding first :)
  • Well, I'd love to write such a book but much greater thinkers than me have written volumes and volumes that only collect dust. I am admitted agnostic, but I don't think agnosticism should be applied in a lackadaisical way. It shouldn't be used as an easy out where anybody can believe anything and they all get to feel like they have equal credibility.

    Duneo's example is a good case in point. There are likely many scientists who have studies something and come to the conclusion that its super-natural... just as there are nazi christians, one doesn't judge a system be it the scientific method or christianity based on the actions of the follower. Let be 100% logical for a moment with a thought exercise... lets say we went back in time and actually observed some dude named jesus walk on water. This is no way would "prove" christianity valid. What it would show, was that once upon a time there was a guy who could walk on water. A miracle, by its very definition cannot have a natural cause. There are many many things for which we do not yet have a natural cause... I mean shit, we don't know why calculations in physics show the existence of lots of matter which we haven't yet observed. As of now, it's a god damn miracle... Now, this doesn't mean however that a physicist who comes up with a hypothesis, and a guy who says its a smoking Caterpillar have equal credibility. As an agnostic, sure. Sure I don't know and it's certainly a possibility, but not an equally likely one.

    There are limitation to knowledge period. Even if some magical-esque being comes and does a bunch of miracles for you... can you truly ever determine that it is god, or even a god? No, but you can weigh the evidence and decide to believe that which is most likely based on the available evidence. This is why I have difficulty with new earth creationist and other religious extremists who pretend at science. Sure, sure. I can see all of the possible reinterpretations of evidence and how it's a possibility that the bible literally happened... but really? If a person has integrity, you shouldn't have to push and pull and strive to make sense out of the data so you can maintain a belief. No, the data in totality already makes a nearly incontrovertible pattern... so in spite of being agnostic overall, that doesn't mean someone saying the earth is 6k years old is my equal.

    The flip side of this is: do you believe the earth circles the sun? If so... why?


    math and the fact that we have been to space.
  • Let's not turn this into a religion fest, Glims. While I do agree with you, I'm sure that even some Grinders have their beliefs. 
    "Supernatural" and "Gods" or not, it isn't likely that the Catholics can legitimately do anything about what we decide to do with our bodies. Personally, I don't care what they think of us. 

  • To be fair, this isnt a technical discussion but rather one started with the intention of discussing religion. 
  • edited November 2013
    No. this is not a religion fest, and it isn't a religion discussion. my original point was one of _policy_. I am definitely not making it a religion fest. Debunking is just a habit. @Cassox and others, my intent was never to discuss religion. The intent of this thread was to discuss potential anti transhumanist action. i think it has been stated, talking about religion, while fun and easy , is not the point i would like to be discussing.

    @KatAttack the catholic church's ability to influence sociopolitical protocol is a long standing and well known issue.  I do not care as well, about how they think of me or the grinder community. unfortunately, the cliche holds true, in politics as it does elsewhere. the church, like god, does not need you to believe in it. it believes in you.

    So, to try to pull this back together. Anyone interested and / or know of pro grind / h+ political action? manifestos and chatrooms are all well and good, but is there any h+ representation? any way to not be just sitting around to wait for them to die? i for one feel that this is a terrible method....

    this is a very technical discussion. action and policy are crucial to completing most things. code is crucial. surgery is crucial. cutting and coding the body politic, probably more so. 
  • just regarding policy then:

    The opinion piece linked to at the beginning of this thread is bullshit.
    It spreads lies about the deceleration it pretends to review.
    It saddens me that h+ would publish such a biased and untruthful article.

    The Catholic church is not waging war on transhumanism or cyborgs or anything of the sort.

    If you are engaged in certain reproductive technologies or in trying to create a supposedly "superior race" and/or view yourself as a member of one (just as the Nazis claimed to be doing) then the Catholic church will have a particularly negative opinion of your actions.

    If you're cutting yourself open to stick technology inside - the church doesn't really care. Even if it did - it's not the middle ages anymore - the separation of church and state is real.

    As I stated, I speak my opinion as a member of the Catholic Church and not as anyone in any official position. I also speak as a trans-humanist.
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