Transhumanism and the Image of God: Today’s Technology and the Future of Christian Discipleship – Jacob Shatzer

How is today’s continuing growth in technology going to change the future for Christians and discipleship? This is a question that we are all facing, yet it is something that we seldom think about or plan for. Our smartphones, tablets, smart watches, etc. are just a normal part of our daily lives. In this insightful and challenging book, Jacob Shatzer argues that technology can and does shape our lives, and explains the world and thinking of “trans-humanism” and “post-humanism” and how they have infiltrated and changed how we view life.

This is how he defines and explains these terms:

Posthumanism argues that there is a next stage in human evolution. In this stage, humans will become posthuman because of our interaction with and connection to technology. Transhumanism, on the other hand, promotes values that contribute to this change.” – page 16 (emphasis added)

This includes emerging technologies such as virtual and augmented reality, the pursuit of morphological freedom, and the ever-increasing development of artificial intelligence and the possibility of mind uploading. These are technologies that can and will change how we function and operate in God’s good creation, and possibly for the worse as human desire for freedom, power and control (vs. God’s authority or desire) are often the driving forces behind these developments.

Shatzer gives us a firm, yet calm critique of the values behind these technologies, and shows how these often run counter to the Christian values of incarnation, embodied fellowship and suffering, and the very gospel itself.

Taking Christianity seriously and taking discipleship seriously means looking carefully at how new technology might shape us in ways that are opposite to the ways the gospel is meant to shape us.

Shatzer, page 119

The first half of the book, Shatzer engages with these different technologies, explaining them and offering critiques, as well as showing how they tend to advance transhumanist ideals and thinking. The last chapters look further at how various technologies (such as medical, mapping, robotic, and communication technologies) shape our lives, relationships, thoughts on community, etc. Here we also see ways to counteract the negative aspects of these technologies without rejecting them altogether.

Technology’s liturgies of power and control push us in one direction, but we must resist that direction when it runs counter to Christian discipleship. We can’t turn back the clock and abandon technology; we can’t change its logic. What we need to do is reflect on our own lives to identify, cultivate, and preserve practices that bring meaning and grace.

Shatzer, page 177

This is kind of a new arena for me, at least theoretically. But in practice, I can see how the technology that I use everyday is shaping my daily practices and values, how I relate to people, and what I hold to be most important in life. This was a challenging book! It made me aware of the direction we could be moving in as a society with our relationship to technology. As Christians, we have to be ready and continue to seek biblical principles and values at all costs. Whether you are technologically-minded or not, this will be a great resource for your thinking about how the Christian can thoughtfully engage with the future of technology.

*This book was graciously provided by IVPress in exchange for an honest review.

Read & Repeat

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