VFTB 233: Judd Burton – Transhumanism and Frankenstein

frankenstein_monster_boris_karloffAN 18-YEAR-OLD woman published a story nearly 200 years ago that contains a warning for our day, one that becomes more relevant with each passing day. Sadly, we appear to be ignoring this warning.

Dr. Judd Burton, Director of the Institute of Biblical Anthropology and author of Interview With the Giant: Ethnohistorical Notes on the Nephilim, joins us to discuss the parallels between Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein and the present-day transhumanist movement.

Here is a link to the Burton Reliquary and Burton Beyond Press. And here is the link to the interview with Dr. Future and Tom Bionic about Judd’s doctoral thesis about Banias (Caesarea Phillipi), the Grotto of Pan, and Jesus’ very direct message to the Watchers who created the Nephilim (link opens an mp3 file).

Please join Derek and Sharon Gilbert Sunday mornings at 10:30 AM Central Daylight Time (UTC -5) for the Gilbert House Fellowship, our live online Bible study webcast. Log on to www.GilbertHouse.org for more details.

Discuss these topics at the PID Radio Cafe, visit the VFTB Facebook page, and check out the great Christian podcasters at the Revelations Radio Network.

Download a smaller, lower-fidelity version of the mp3 of this show by clicking here.

3 Comments on VFTB 233: Judd Burton – Transhumanism and Frankenstein

  1. I came to hear Dr. Burton’s take on transhumanism. I was not satisfied. First of all, they both seem to equate transhumanism with malakoi-ism (the learning of the secrets of the universe through interactions with angels – either sexually or intellectually. 1 Cor 6:9, Gen 19:4+). Although they both deal with the morality of self-transformation efforts, one is technical and one is theistic. Neither present any reasons to believe that there is a “technological” overlap between science and religion in either area.

    On a scientific level I have to ask where Derek got the information on the rate of genetic change through mutation projecting the theoretical evolutionary origins of man back to the era of the dinosaurs? I’ve read several article on evolutionary “clocks” over the years and, while there is variation in the “clocks” and some discrepencies between human “clocks” and fossil records, none of them pushed human origins back to the time of the dinosaur Derek was speaking of the shrew-like ancestors of mammals alive at that time.

    You should consider dropping the use of the term “junk DNA”. It was, to my knowledge, dropped by geneticists 20 years or so ago. The better term (and it might be a little outdated now) is “dark DNA”. This term encompasses an unknown amount of genes that have mutated beyond current usability and / or accessibility (some genes are intact but have lost the activation sequences that would allow the body to use them). It also acknowledges that some DNA is used for structural rather than coding purposes. Mostly, however, dark DNA is DNA that, for technical reasons, we have not yet developed a good way to “read”. It doesn’t mean that it doesn’t have a function. It only means that we don’t even know what it says yet.

    On a moral front, I don’t understand how you can claim that modern scientists are not learning good ethical values. Scientific research is currently under the tightest ethical standards that have ever existed in any intellectual endeavor with which I am familiar. This may be less true in the corporate world than in the academic world but, even there, there are dire consequences to over-stepping ethical lines.

    Also, your stand against transhumanism is remarkably vague. Where do you draw the line one what is ethical and what isn’t? What is allowed by God and what isn’t? Blood transfusions, antibiotics, stem cell manipulation and implantation, guns, rockets, cars? What about prosthetic limbs? I’ve yet to see a reliable account of God replacing a lost limb or organ so should I assume that that is immoral and satanic?

    For that matter, where does the “Bible” state that the generation of life from non-living matter is immoral unless God does it? I can’t think of any passages that state that.

    By the way, “Frankenstein: a Modern Prometheus” might not be the best choice for arguing about transhumanism. The book does not actually argue that the quest to resurrect the dead is immoral. The crux of the conflict of the story centers on a man who has great power but not the ethics to apply it properly. It is not, directly, the resurrection of Adam that causes the conflict but of Dr. Frankenstein believing that he is that absolute authority of that which he creates. He teaches Adam the lessons of violence, death, and hatred when he applies all of them to his creations. In many ways, the story is more an allegory of religious authority than scientific.

    Despite all of that, I still find your podcast more intellectual than many. I just feel that you’re not being honest with yourself or your guests by not asking the hard questions and using very poorly-researched “facts”.

    • I appreciate your comments on a couple of levels. Basically, you motivate me to think about my positions more carefully, and I hope that results in a better program.

      I am not opposed to research devoted to improving the quality of human life, and many transhumanists are certainly motivated by a desire to alleviate human suffering. My dad appreciated the additional mobility granted by his artificial knee. But at the end, he knew his future was secure because of Christ’s atoning sacrifice on the cross.

      Sadly, Dr. Raymond Kurzweil has no such security, hence his daily regimen of 150+ nutritional supplements and his apparent goal to survive until the technology is developed to make him immortal.

      Insofar as H+ proponents seek “to achieve omnipotence as expediently as possible”, they are attempting to achieve apotheosis. That is what I reject. I do not want my children or future grandchildren (God willing) placing their hopes of salvation on a microchip.

  2. Okay, I was going to discuss this further but I just read the “Three Laws of Transhumanism” by Zoltan Istvan. Those are stupid laws. I can’t even understand the second one – “omnipotence”? What does he mean be that? There is no definition of that word that fits into a realistic human context.

    I’d argue that Dr. Kurzweil’s goal (singularity) is significantly different from transhumanism. I’d argue about the nature of salvation and the existence of God. I’ll agree, however, that transhumanism is wrong. Whether it is stupid stupid or dangerous stupid I guess we’ll just have to see.

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