Transhumanism and Transcendence

Christian Hope in an Age of Technological Enhancement

Ronald Cole-Turner, Editor

"A deeply engaging and critical guide to competing arguments about being human within the contemporary context."
+ Add to Cart Preorder


Request Print Exam Copy

Request Digital Exam Copy

The timeless human desire to be more beautiful, intelligent, healthy, athletic, or young has given rise in our time to technologies of human enhancement. Athletes use drugs to increase their strength or stamina; cosmetic surgery is widely used to improve physical appearance; millions of men take drugs like Viagra to enhance sexual performance. And today researchers are exploring technologies such as cell regeneration and implantable devices that interact directly with the brain. Some condemn these developments as a new kind of cheating—not just in sports but in life itself—promising rewards without effort and depriving us most of all of what it means to be authentic human beings. “Transhumanists,” on the other hand, reject what they see as a rationalizing of human limits, as if being human means being content forever with underachieving bodies and brains. To be human, they insist, is to be restless with possibilities, always eager to transcend biological limits.

As the debate grows in urgency, how should theology respond? Christian theologians recognize truth on both sides of the argument, pointing out how the yearnings of the transhumanists—if not their technological methods—find deep affinities in Christian belief. In this volume, Ronald Cole-Turner has joined seasoned scholars and younger, emerging voices together to bring fresh insight into the technologies that are already reshaping the future of Christian life and hope.

Table of Contents

1. Introduction: The Transhumanist Challenge
Ronald Cole-Turner

2. Contextualizing a Christian Perspective on Transcendence and Human Enhancement: Francis Bacon, N. F. Fedorov, and Pierre Teilhard de Chardin
Michael S. Burdett

3. Transformation and the End of Enhancement: Insights from Pierre Teilhard de Chardin
David Grumett

4. Dignity and Enhancement in the Holy City
Karen Lebacqz

5. Progress and Provolution: Will Transhumanism Leave Sin Behind?
Ted Peters

6. The Hopeful Cyborg
Stephen Garner

7. Artificial Wombs and Cyborg Births: Postgenderism and Theology
J. Jeanine Thweatt-Bates

8. Taking Leave of the Animal? The Theological and Ethical Implications of Transhuman Projects
Celia Deane-Drummond

9. Chasing Methuselah: Transhumanism and Christian Theosis in Critical Perspective
Todd T. W. Daly

10. Human or Vulcan? Theological Consideration of Emotional Control Enhancement
Michael L. Spezio

11. Whose Salvation? Which Eschatology? Transhumanism and Christianity as Contending Salvific Religions
Brent Waters

12. Transcendence, Technological Enhancement, and Christian Theology
Gerald McKenny

13. Transhumanism and Christianity
Ronald Cole-Turner




"A deeply engaging and critical guide to competing arguments about being human within the contemporary context."—Peder Jothen, St. Olaf College, Religious Studies Review

"The diversity and quality of these contributions make the volume useful for those interested in the intersection of theological ethics and transhumanist ideals."—Choice

"This volume is an important call to a mutual dialogue between Christians and transhumanists."—Medicine, Health Care and Philosophy

"This is the most important Christian debate on transhumanism that I have ever read. Those who prefer fawning acceptance or frightened rejection of human enhancement can find simplistic monographs aplenty. But if you want to think theologically about the transformation of humanity through technology—what’s already here, and what lies ahead of us—this collection is mandatory reading."—Philip Clayton, dean, Claremont School of Theology


Michael S. Burdett Ronald Cole-Turner Todd T. W. Daly Celia Deane-Drummond Stephen Garner David Grumett Karen Lebacqz Gerald McKenny Ted Peters Michael L. Spezio J. Jeanine Thweatt-Bates Brent Waters

Supplemental Materials


About the Author

Ronald Cole-Turner holds the H. Parker Sharp Chair in Theology and Ethics at Pittsburgh Theological Seminary. He is the editor of Design and Destiny: Jewish and Christian Perspectives on Human Germline Modification and coeditor of God and the Embryo: Religious Voices on Stem Cells and Cloning.

232 pp., 6 x 9

Sep 2011

232 pp., 6 x 9

ISBN: 978-1-58901-780-1
Sep 2011

232 pp.

ISBN: 978-1-58901-794-8
Sep 2011

Related Titles