Transhumanism: Mormons and scientists unite for life-extension
Science mixes with religion like oil and water but Carl Youngblood, head of the Mormon Transhumanist Association, wants to bridge the gap. Youngblood is disliked by many traditional Christians and transhumanists – who believe technology will make us superhuman – but Youngblood told Metro that if everyone can stop squabbling, there will be fabulous rewards.
Metro: What are the main points of unity between your faith and transhumanism?
Youngblood: I’m a Mormon and it is close to a scientific naturalist point of view, in that we ultimately believe there are physical explanations for everything, including miracles. We believe humans can progress from their current state to something more advanced.
What aspects of transhumanism are you most keen on?
I’ve always been a tech enthusiast since I played with computers as a kid. Ten years ago, I read Ray Kurzweil’s book on the Singularity, and started to become aware of the rate of change and progress. I began to think things could happen much sooner, and transhumanism has made mainstream the awareness of exponential change.
They want to resurrect the dead. Are you playing God?
There is a tension in entering some domains traditionally left to God. The prospect of indefinite life is threatening to people with a more traditional view, but I see it as reconcilable because of my collective view of a God that works through us and does not impose upon us.
So, who hates you more – the traditional Christians or the science geeks?
We’re misunderstood by both sides: a lot of transhumanists are highly secular and cannot reconcile their ideas with religion and see it as a desecration of their goal. Traditional believers see us as heretics. But we’re trying to bridge the gap and both sides stand to benefit. Also, transhumanists display religious behavior in their culture.
Do you take part in the research and experiments? Would you be happy to be part mechanized?
There is not enough of this but we try to make inroads; fundraising for scientific research. We’re supporting an exciting protein development project and another for DNA mixing.
Is it a sin not to evolve?
It’s hurting ourselves. If we don’t take hints from the universe we are punishing ourselves, rather than God.