Dan Brown's novels have been published in 52 languages, with 200 million copies in print. This son of a math teacher and a church organist has frustrated theologians like me for years with his misleading attacks on the historicity of the Christian faith, most notably in The DaVinci Code. I read his latest novel, Inferno, with much apprehension. To my surprise, there is not a single line attacking the Church or the faith of its members.
However, the novel is extremely controversial for another reason: "transhumanism." Brown's plot turns on the argument that the human population will soon surpass our planet's capacities. In preparation, a group of scientists are seeking to speed up our development through genetic modifications and other techniques.
Brown is right. According to humanity+, a "transhumanist" Web site, "the human species in its current form does not represent the end of our development but rather a comparatively early phase." Their goal is to produce "posthumans"-people who transcend genius, disease, and aging.
Director/producer Bryan Singer of X-Men and Superman Returns fame has produced a 48 episode digital miniseries called "H+" (the common abbreviation for Humanity Plus). The show has more than a million views on YouTube, with a second season now in production. Some transhumanists are seeking immortality. Others merely want to better life as we know it. But all are convinced that science can be used to expedite human development.
There is much good in genetic advances as we find ways to prevent and treat disease, lower costs, and make health care more available. In my view, such work honors the Creator who "took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it" (Genesis 2:15). "Work" translates the Hebrew abad, meaning to "produce"; "take care of" translates shamar, to "guard." Here is the balance: We are to utilize God's creation for his glory and our good while protecting it.
However, the Bible also teaches that "the present heavens and earth are reserved for fire, being kept for the day of judgment and destruction of ungodly men" (2 Peter 3:7). On that day, God will replace the current planet with "a new heaven and a new earth" (Revelation 21:1). He is waiting, "not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance" (2 Peter 3:9). But "you do not know on what day your Lord may come" (Matthew 24:42). What we do know is that we're one day closer than ever before.
What do you think about transhumanism and its appeal? Know that for believers, on that day "when he appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is" (1 John 3:2). In the meantime, "everyone who has this hope in him purifies himself, just as he is pure" (v. 3).
What should you do today to be ready?