VFTB 255: Rev. Dr. Christopher Benek – Christian Transhumanism

Rev. Dr. Christopher Benek
Rev. Dr. Christopher Benek

THE TERM “Christian Transhumanist” is probably considered an oxymoron by many of us. That’s understandable; some of the leaders in the Transhumanist movement openly state their goals for humanity to be omnipotence or transformation into a Borg-like hive mind.

Rev. Dr. Christopher Benek, associate pastor at First Presbyterian Church in Fort Lauderdale, argues that the time has come for Christians to embrace the movement — not to become gods, but to try to direct this technology before it’s too late.

Here is the link to the website of the Christian Transhumanist Association.

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13 Comments on VFTB 255: Rev. Dr. Christopher Benek – Christian Transhumanism

  1. I wonder, are we about to see Tom Horn add this ‘Christian’ to his ever increasing roster? I ask because that’s interviews with Gonzo Shimura and now Derek Gilbert which have rolled over and not held this man’s views under any kind of critical, scriptural microscope.

    Let me sum up Benek’s arguments as he himself does during and towards the end of the interview:
    1) Jesus is an example of tranhumanism in action. The worst of the ‘good’ Dr’s heresy and right there at the beginning. ‘Shape-shifter Jesus’ as Dr Benek calls Him. Derek has nothing to say to this by the way, shame on you Derek. (3.30mins)
    2) ‘Transhumanism is here to stay so we should get involved’. – This is just an inane argument. It’s like saying in 1932 that Nazism is here to stay so let’s get involved to make it a Christian Nazism. Stupid. (48-50mins) Again Derek,you agree with this argument at 67mins. (And in your addendum at the end.)
    3) Transhumanism = medical advances. Benek equates transhumanism with dental anaesthaesia. I would argue that surgery, pain relief and the ability to provide comfort and better health is NOT what most people think of as transhumanism and Benek is just attempting the muddy the waters by changing the definitions. (21mins) That needed to be clarified by you Derek much more forcefully.
    4) Scripturally, Benek relies on the parable of the wheat and the tares. His argument goes as follows: Christians are waiting for the second coming of Christ so they don’t bother trying to make the world better because Jesus will sort all that out when He arrives. According to Dr Benek, Jesus wants us not be apathetic while we wait and to work for good things (- like transhumanism I suppose). This is bizarre reasoning at best – Christians DO work for the betterment of their fellow man! I’m sure there may be a few Christians like that out there for Dr Benek and his mentor NT Wright, but I’ve never met one!
    5) ‘Transhumanists don’t like me so I must be one of the good guys, right?’ Sorry, Dr Benek, that reasoning wouldn’t fly with a 5 year old. (49mins)
    6) ‘It hurts Christ’s heart to see the church fight publically.’ Does Dr Benek think that Christ wants us to shut up so Dr Benek can do his thing? (I must have misread all those Epistles where Paul publically warns against false teaching.) (50mins)

    Dr Benek has not been asked any difficult questions in any of the interviews I’ve heard with him recently. He seems to have been given a free pass. Is this an indication of a change that is about to happen, where opposition to transhumanism becomes reluctant acceptance, followed by enthusiastic reception? I hope not. I really like Derek, but this was not a good example of how to interview someone who holds views well outside the scripturally based Christian mainstream.

    And by the way Derek, having a rethink later and putting out an addendum does not make up for bad question preparation before the interview itself. Dr Benek has managed to avoid all the difficult scriptural questions once again. Both you and Canary Cry (Gonzo, now your colleague) have later added qualifying statements saying that you’re not in total agreement and you’ll have to have him back. You’ve been doing this for years, you’re a professional, and this is not a message that I should have had to write.

    Dr Benek and his views are dangerous. He is setting himself up as the ‘moderate’ opposition to the real transhumanist crazies, but really he is a gateway drug leading to the singularity. Be watchful, and pray for his Florida congregation.

  2. I have to agree with the above post. While I don’t think you should have done an ambush interview, there were a few points that should have been taken to task.
    When he used the parable of the wheat and tares, you should have pointed out that the wheat was gathered and taken to the barn.
    And ultimately, anyone who cites Campolo as a legitimate Christian leader has zero credibility with me.
    I think the idea of interviewing people with different viewpoints is a good one only if their errors are called to task. You don’t have to ambush them. Let them know in advance. It does no good to expose error the rest of the time if it can’t be confronted.
    Still love your show. I just see this one as a missed opportunity.

  3. I just wanted to add that on reflection, I should have phrased my initial comment in a forthright but less ‘forceful’ way. No excuses offered. The fruit I displayed was not great. It’s easy to get angry and shouty, but not quite as easy to come back and say sorry for it… So, sorry for being angry and shouty.

    Byron’s comment above is an example to me! May I also add my thanks to Derek for his reply. You’re a gentleman sir, and you put me to shame with your Christian humility. Peace and love to you and Sharon.

  4. I’ve listened to Dr Bennet twice and I’m beggining to get a fair picture of his stance. He strikes me as a pursue social justice in order to bring “Christ’s redemptive purposes” rather than submit to Christ and through Christ be renewed and have social justice as one of the perks of being christian. That cornerstone unfortunately damages his entire christian directed transhumanism because transhumanism itself or rather the advocates (including the most militant atheists) are pursuing transhumanism as a moral cause i.e cure disease, improve the quality of life on earth, and ultimately attain immortality

  5. I haven’t had a chance to listen to this interview yet but I have listened to the Canary Cry interview. I’ll probably have more to say later but, for now, I will simply repeat what I said there. Dr. Henri is almost certainly more correct than most of the commenters here. If you are limiting your view of what it means to be human to a physical body (God’s image) then you are decreasing God to a mortal being.

    If, on the other hand, you believe God to be transcendent and eternal, then you have to accept that the difference between flesh and blood and wires and circuits is inconsequential (at best) to a being that can create man from soil and children of Abraham from rocks (Matthew 3:9).

    If you accept that technology and A.I.’s can be tools of the Devil and the habitats of demons, then you have to accept that the same options are open to God and the Angels. The idea that transhumanists can become gods and immortal is childish and incorrect. The idea that transhumanists can be a tool of God, on the other hand, is very much a possibility.

    • With all due respect, Dr. Barton, you have this wrong way ’round. It is Transhumanists who reduce humanity to mere biological machinery. It is because God is transcendent and eternal that we have no deed of wires and circuits.

  6. With all due respect, Dr. Benek makes it clear that not all transhumanists reduce humanity to mere biological machinery. Rather, they seem to envision the physical body as an operating platform through which the soul can operate in the physical world. Upgrading the operating platform does not affect the soul but it might increase its ability to interact with the material universe (and for the glory of God).

    You don’t need wires and circuits to gain eternal life. The theological question that transhumanism asks is, do they prevent you from gaining eternal life? I would have to say, no. Can God operate through wires and circuits as He does through flesh and blood? I would have to say, yes. I can think of no biblical passages that address or even hint that God couldn’t or wouldn’t.

    • That is true, but, with the possible exception of “spiritual” transhumanists, such as Dr. Benek (with whom I disagree over his speculation into the eschatological implications of transhumanism), they seek to extend the lifespan of the physical body through genetics, robotics, artificial intelligence, and/or nanotechnology, to immortality.

      For them, there is only this life, no afterlife. Consciousness must somehow be preserved, like our distant forebears carrying glowing coals in fire pots from one place to another, and transferred from our flawed biological machinery into something more permanent.

      I completely agree with your statement:

      The idea that transhumanists can become gods and immortal is childish and incorrect.

      However, whether they can actually achieve apotheosis is irrelevant. Their message is leading people, especially the generations coming up that have never known a day without a handheld computer, to trust in tech instead of Christ.

      As Scott Keeter, director of survey research for the Pew Research Center said, “If the U.S. has a national religion, the closest thing to it is faith in technology.”

  7. I can’t tell the difference between “Christian transhumanism” and the social gospel. Neither Benek nor his apologist above (Barton) addresses mankind’s real problem — that man is inherently evil, with a wicked, deceitful, desperately sick heart, in which no good thing dwells.

    Giving people bionic and cybernetic enhancements will never solve this problem and wasting energy discussing how to “Christianise” transhumanism simply diverts energy from our main goal, of preaching the Gospel and warning people to shift their focus from this dying world, where their life is but a brief interlude, to where they will spend eternity.

    I was once a theological liberal like Benek (and by the sound of it, Barton). Then I got saved. A theological liberal wastes his time trying to appeal to the culture by attempting to baptise cultural memes, in the hope that so doing will earn him an audience for whatever watered-down pabulum he’s trying to sell people. Born-again believers are more like Ray Comfort than Tom Wright — i.e. not respectable, not renowned for being clever, but about their Father’s business, scattering the seed of the Word.

  8. Especially to Paul – Lighten up! Do good works! Everything in our lives has the potential to aid us in promoting help or harm. It is up to us to choose to use them responsibly. Transhumanism is no different. We either craft its use to help people or we abandon it to others who would use to harm people. That is the choice, plain and simple. You don’t have to “plug in and turn on” but you will not be able to stop others from doing so. As such, you have the responsibility for fairly and rationally guiding its use and development so that it, like the automobile and antibiotics, helps more than hurts.

    And, we are not such wicked creatures as you think. If that were the case, then “Matthew” 25:31-46 would be a lie and that story of judgement – possibly (it isn’t stated with certainty) – came directly from Jesus. In the words of Johnny Mercer, “You’ve got to accentuate the positive. Eliminate the negative.”.

  9. Especially to Paul – Lighten up! Do good works!

    You make my point — a false Gospel of works. Just lighten up, do good works and you’ll get to Heaven. The lupine lie of the liberal.

    And, we are not such wicked creatures as you think.

    Really? Read Jeremiah 17:9. Or Ecclesiastes 7:20, reiterated by Paul in Romans 3:20. The truth is that we are bad, and that is why Christ had to die.

    If that were the case, then “Matthew” 25:31-46 would be a lie and that story of judgement – possibly (it isn’t stated with certainty) – came directly from Jesus

    Why do you put Matthew in scare-quotes? And if you want Jesus’ verdict on whether humans are good or not you should read Mark 10:18, Luke 18:19, Matthew 19:17. Indeed, as He’s teaching His own followers in Matthew 7:11, Luke 11:13, He casually mentions that they are evil. But perhaps you think you’re better than they are?

    Like Benek you are a theological liberal and you preach a false Gospel of works. Genuine Christians should have no fellowship with you. …My namesake certainly wouldn’t.

  10. Paul, in deference to Mr. Gilbert and the other readers, we are off-topic and I will bow out. Thank you for your time.

    P.s., Those aren’t scare-quotes on Matthew. Since I don’t seem to have an HTML underline option, I use quotation marks to indicate the title of a book, article, etc. Sorry for the confusion.

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