Defense Date

Spring 2-28-2017

Availability

Worldwide Access

Submission Type

dissertation

Degree Name

PhD

Department

Theology

School

McAnulty College and Graduate School of Liberal Arts

Committee Chair

Darlene Weaver

Committee Member

Elizabeth A. Cochran

Committee Member

Gerald Magill

Keywords

Christianity, Enhancement, Hermeneutic, Posthumanism, Therapy, Transhumanism

Abstract

A cadre of scientists, philosophers, and ethicists labeled transhumanists and posthumanists argue that by strategic use of technology we can greatly enhance human beings into our next stage of evolution. Rather than leave the evolutionary process to natural results, transhumanists and posthumanists want to shape humanity to meet our own desires. This direct goal of changing human beings has profound implications for Christian faith and practices. At the same time, there is no reason to think that the utilization of technological enhancements will not happen. As such, to best meet the challenge, it is unavoidable for Christians to engage transhumanism and posthumanism in an attempt to help guide which technologies should be pursued and which should be avoided. This project works toward that end.

Beginning with competing views of what it means to be human the common positions of physicalism and substance dualism are shown wanting despite strong arguments in their favor. This project argues for a middle position – ensoulment – that attempts to take the best of both approaches but minimize their weaknesses. Likewise, this project examines the moral positions that propose the only moral criteria that matters is either “personhood only” or “human nature only.” Both of these positions are likewise found wanting and a third mediating position is pursued – an agency of relational responsibility. With these preliminary issues established, this project then proceeds to develop a hermeneutic of enhancement from a Christian perspective. The hope is that by following this model, Christians can help guide, accept, or reject various technologies as they are presented. The push for human enhancement cannot be stopped – there are simply too many goods to be obtained by their pursuit. However, any particular enhancement is not inevitable, and by utilizing the hermeneutic proposed in this project Christians can principally evaluate which enhancements should be allowed and which should be avoided.

Format

PDF

Language

English

Share

COinS