Is mankind’s quest for knowledge, power and longer life about to backfire and wipe human beings off the face of the Earth?
Secret experiments now underway in the U.S. and elsewhere are sparking fears of a potential extinction-level event hastening the 2nd Coming of Jesus.
For decades now, there have been science-fiction stories portraying a future filled with spectacular abilities for people, where the definition of what makes someone a human being is blurred by blending high technology and even animal traits into the human body.
In the 1970s, TV’s “Six Million Dollar Man” featured Lee Majors as a critically injured astronaut rebuilt by the government to “make him better than he was – better, stronger, faster.”
In 1982’s classic film “Blade Runner,” Harrison Ford portrayed a futuristic cop who falls in love with a genetically engineered female “Replicant” while he looked to kill renegade androids seeking immortality.
And with major advances in technology in recent years, science fiction of the past could become science fact of our immediate future, with human minds connected wirelessly to computers and bionic bodies outperforming top athletes by leaps and bounds. That prospect has some sounding alarm bells about the fulfillment of End-times Bible prophecy and the possible vanishing of mankind through global warfare, disease, starvation or even – as strange as it sounds – replacement by other entities.
At the center of the debate is what is known as “transhumanism,” a term often used synonymously with “human enhancement.”
Basically, it’s a sort of regenesis, altering human bodies – genetically, mechanically or both – to make them better than they’ve been for thousands of years, affording them Superman-style abilities in both brains and brawn.
It’s sometimes described by futurists as being “posthuman,” what they believe is the next step in the evolutionary process.
Nick Bostrom, an Oxford University philosophy professor and director of the Future of Humanity Institute, says many transhumanists wish to follow life paths which would, sooner or later, require growing into posthuman persons who have a form of eternal life.
“They yearn to reach intellectual heights as far above any current human genius as humans are above other primates,” says Bostrom on a frequently-asked-questions page.
He says transhumanists want “to be resistant to disease and impervious to aging; to have unlimited youth and vigor; to exercise control over their own desires, moods, and mental states; to be able to avoid feeling tired, hateful, or irritated about petty things; to have an increased capacity for pleasure, love, artistic appreciation, and serenity; to experience novel states of consciousness that current human brains cannot access. It seems likely that the simple fact of living an indefinitely long, healthy, active life would take anyone to posthumanity if they went on accumulating memories, skills, and intelligence.”
High on technology
With that in mind, scientific breakthroughs seen as beneficial to mankind are often trumpted with great fanfare in the media.
Just this month, for instance, a tiny, high-tech, electronic body monitor resembling a temporary skin tattoo was a top story on news sites worldwide including the popular Drudge Report.
“What we are trying to do here is to really reshape and redefine electronics to look a lot more like the human body, in this case the surface layers of the skin,” said John Rogers of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. “The goal is really to blur the distinction between electronics and biological tissue.”
Meanwhile, IBM just unveiled an experimental computer chip it says mimics the human brain in that it perceives, acts and even thinks.
Additionally, researchers at Cambridge University created the first-ever animal with artificial information in its genetic code.
“The technique, they say, could give biologists ‘atom-by-atom control’ over the molecules in living organisms,” the BBC reported. “What makes the newly created animals different is that their genetic code has been extended to create biological molecules not known in the natural world.”
And 14-year-old British car-racing fan Matthew James made heartwarming headlines when he was given a state-of-the-art, cyborg-style hand and forearm at no charge in exchange for advertising.
“It is just amazing,” James told the Daily Mail. “My old artificial hand had a pretty basic open-close mechanism similar to a clamp. But with this one I can do everything. It also looks really cool – the outer-shell is see-through so you can actually see the mechanics working.”
Research and destroy
But behind closed doors, there is more sinister genetic tinkering taking place, and that has some voicing grave concern.
Among them is author and researcher Tom Horn, who stars in “Trans-Humanism: Destroying the Barriers,” an hourlong DVD exploring the radical transformation of humanity.
He suggests people, as we now know them, are in the process of a man-made redesign in order to make them superbeings or even non-human entities.
“In terms of what transhumanists are aspiring to do through the use of these new sciences – biotechnology, nanotechnology, neuropharmacology,” Horn says, “what they may do is lead us literally into the fulfillment of biblical prophecy.”
Horn cites concerns by the likes of Stanford political scientist and author Francis Fukuyama, who reviewed emerging fields of science and the philosophy of transhumanism.
“He wrote a white paper in which he considered the combination of those two to probably be the most dangerous science and technologcial and philosophical concepts in the history of mankind which he believes could very quickly lead to an extinction-level event,” Horn says.
Horn claims the effort to transform humans into a different style of being is now being fast-tracked with billions of dollars.
“One of the first things that President Obama did at the executive level as soon as he became president,” he says in “Trans-Humanism,” “[is] he overturned restrictions that had been put in place by President [George W.] Bush which would have prohibited federal dollars, American taxpayer money, flowing in to pay for experiments to be done on human-animal chimeras (combinations) and other forms of science such as stem-cell sciences – which is also important to the transhumanist movement.
“But what most of the public doesn’t realize is when we’re talking about stem-cell sciences, we’re almost always talking about the creation of a human-animal chimera from which those stem cells are being derived. But now, tax dollars in the United States from the federal level are flowing into thousands of laboratories.”
In 2006, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services even provided
$773,000 to Case Law School in Cleveland for a two-year project to
develop legal standards for tests on human subjects in research involving genetic technologies to enhance “normal” individuals – to make
them smarter, stronger or better-looking.
“It’s obvious that
many of the genetic-based techniques used for diagnosis and treatment
can also be used for enhancements,” Prof. Max Mehlman said at the time.
Strangely, says Horn, no public statements on the school’s conclusions
have been forthcoming.
Worthy of appaws?
As researchers have focused on blending animal attributes with human characteristics, the Reuters news agency published a report in 2009 in which scientists admitted their comfort with a “50/50 mix.”
“The public mostly is still under the impression that this is being done at the embryonic level, and that the amount of human DNA in a transgenic animal is so minute as to be excusable,” says Horn.
“But where they want the debate to go now is, ‘Can we raise these to full maturity in the public’s knowledge and experiment on part-humans, part-animals that are fully grown?’ And by admitting that that’s now where they want the public to be comfortable with this research, they also said that they knew that there are some rogue scientists out there that are not operating with federal dollars, and they’re getting ahead of them in this technology and it could even become a new kind of a weapon of mass destruction. It could, at a minimum, become a molecular biological nightmare.”
But why is there such a strong push for animal traits?
It might be desirable for some, says Horn, because, “Animals can also see into areas of the light spectrum that we cannot see into, and that is viewed in transhumanism as a future benefit and even one of the causal reasons we would want to merge ourselves with the animal kingdom so that we can open these new modes of perceptions into realities that right now we are blinded to.”
Such abilities could provide a huge military advantage, and Horn says for more than a decade, the U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, or DARPA, has been pouring billions into research for what it calls “the extended performance warfighter,” also known as “supersoldier” technology.
“The interesting parts about the extended performance warfighter is that it even includes literally altering the DNA of soldiers,” he says.
DARPA calls its project “BioDesign,” and in its 2011 budget, the agency explains it “eliminates the randomness of natural evolutionary advancement primarily by advanced genetic engineering and molecular biology technologies to produce the intended biological effect.”
Horn says the real purpose has to do with immortalism.
“DARPA has an interest in figuring out how to get around the decaying process of cellular life, and they use the term creating an immortal organism,” he explains. “But it’s more than just an organism. They consider it to be potentially a lethal force that can be used in military application.
“Wired Magazine actually referred to it as a living, breathing creature. And DARPA admits that the force of this living creature, this immortal organism, could be so potent that it ought to also have what they call a ‘kill switch’ introduced into its organism so that in case it gets out of hand, we could throw the switch and stop it, or if it became available to our enemies, we could throw the switch and stop it.”
Horn says top minds at the Pentagon are marching humanity in this direction, even if it’s meant for self-defense.
“They were talking about this kind of technology in the hands of our enemies, and what they were saying was, ‘We have to get at the forefront of this technology,'” he explains. “See, this is how we’re going to be forced into this. It’s not a matter of whether we should or whether it’s ethical. We have to do it, because if we don’t, our enemies will, and then they’re going to subjugate us to their will.”
In the summer of 2008, Rep. Brad Sherman, D-Calif., chaired a House Foreign Affairs subcommittee focusing on the diplomatic and security implications of the spread of “genetics and other human-modification technologies.”
Journalist Mark Stencel covered the hearing for Congressional Quarterly (now known as Roll Call), and seemed surprised at the topics discussed, as he reported:
In some ways, the testimony sounded more like a Hollywood pitch for a sci-fi thriller than a sober discussion of scientific reality and diplomatic policy – with talk of biotech’s potential for creating supersoldiers, superintelligence and superanimals, as the chairman put it. Witnesses mused about the convergence of nanotech, biotech, computers and cognitive science, with one warning that new applications could “put agents of unprecedented lethal force in the hands of both state and non-state actors.”
There were discussions of genetic discrimination, eugenics and the civil rights of humans and animals whose intelligence might be enhanced or whose genes might be altered or integrated to the point that definitions become tricky. And witnesses warned of a genetic divide, in which enhancements would go only to the most privileged societies or individuals.
And if all this weren’t enough to dazzle you, Horn says some transhumanists have a keen spiritual interest, and studies are already underway to determine if human beings can now or eventually communicate with occupants of the unseen world.
“The Sophia Project” at the University of Arizona, for instance, declares it is investigating “the experiences of people who claim to channel or communicate with deceased people, spirit guides, angels, other-worldly entities / extraterrestrials, and/or a universal intelligence / God.”
In that light, Horn says some transhumanists desire animal traits since they suspect some creatures are aware of dimensions presently invisible to human eyes. He cites the Old Testament account of Balaam striking his donkey which refused his guidance because the animal saw the angel of the Lord, though Balaam couldn’t see the angel until his eyes were supernaturally opened.
Eat, drink and be wary
Horn points out just one the dangers of combining human and animal DNA is the potentially toxic effect it could have on our food supply.
“Very quickly we could have a human form of Mad Cow Disease,” he says. “If you’re sitting in a restaurant eating goat cheese that contains human DNA, we don’t know what the impact of that is going to be on a human. We certainly know what it did to cows and the kinds of brain diseases it created in them when they were eating their own DNA.”
From the early 1990s through the end of 2010, more than 184,500 cases of Mad Cow Disease had been confirmed in the United Kingdom alone in more than 35,000 herds, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control.
Controversy over genetically altering the food we consume has made major news in recent years.
A world-renowned scientist, Hungarian-born Arpad Pusztai, caused a firestorm in 1998 when his research reportedly showed eating genetically modified potatoes can stunt the growth of laboratory rats, harm brain development and damage the immune system. Though not a campaigner on either side of the so-called “Frankenfood” debate, he indicated if given the choice, he would not eat the modified potatoes.
“I find it’s very unfair to use our fellow citizens as guinea pigs,” said Pusztai, who spent 36 years at the prestigious Rowett Institute of Nutrition and Health, part of Scotland’s University of Aberdeen.
Though his remarks prompted his forced retirement, Pusztai in 2008 told Britain’s Guardian newspaper he felt it was his duty to speak out “just to inject some caution into this business.”
“Make no mistake, this is an irreversible technology,” Pusztai said. “It is no good 50 years later to say: ‘We should have known.'”
This is the End?
The possibility of humans eradicating their own existence through technological advancement has some Christians cracking open their Bibles to see what Scripture has to say on the matter.
The 24th chapter of the Book of Matthew is often cited, as Jesus talked specifically about the end of the current human age, saying, “For then shall be great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be. And except those days should be shortened, there should no flesh be saved: but for the elect’s sake those days shall be shortened.” (Matthew 24:21–22)
Britt Gillette, the Virginia-based Christian publisher of End Times Bible Prophecy, has been studying transhumanism in the light of Scripture, and says:
Taken in its original context, Jesus did not necessarily say that unless those days are shortened, “humanity will not survive.” Instead, he said unless those days are shortened, “no flesh will survive.”
If the transhumanist movement suceeds in transforming the human race into a race of “posthumans” who no longer need flesh covered bones to survive, then these words of Jesus take on an entirely different meaning.
And it doesn’t take an illogical leap of faith to draw this conclusion.
After all, it seems reasonable to assume that humanity will have to undergo some sort of radical transformation in order to plot a war against God Almighty. The arrogant impulse already exists. All that remains is the need for an exponential increase in human power which deludes humanity into believing it can overcome the Lord of lords.
And make no mistake about it, the Bible is clear that this is where humanity is ultimately headed – physical conflict with God:
“Then I saw the beast gathering the kings of the earth and their armies in order to fight against the one sitting on the horse and his army.” (Revelation 19:19, NLT)
That point of an actual war between mankind – even if somewhat altered – and the Creator is echoed by author Steve Quayle, who warned of the dangers of transhumanism in an April 2010 radio interview with Horn.
“It’s the destruction of humanity and the introduction of ‘its’ and ‘things’ that will make war against God, believing they can prevail,” said Quayle. “But they won’t.”
The Bible says Jesus, who is called “the Lamb,” will intervene in human affairs and be victorious over the kings of the Earth and the so-called “beast” power: “Together they will go to war against the Lamb, but the Lamb will defeat them because he is Lord of all lords and King of all kings.” (Revelation 17:14, NLT)
During the discussion with Quayle, Horn sounded ominous as he talked of “that future moment … that gives birth overnight to some version of the artillects (artificial intellects) who suddenly come online as conscious, living, synthetic superminds that are immensely more powerful than humans.”
“It appears, at least in my belief system,” he continued, “to be the billion-pound
elephant standing in the middle of prophecy circles right now that
the lion’s share of critical Christian thinkers don’t seem to be
recognizing, or very few of them are waking up to it.”
“This is coming whether people want it to or not. It is so close to being unveiled. I’m not talking cosmologically close. I mean it is very close now. It could happen literally at any moment, and I think it carries magnificent prophetic themes around it. We’re literally talking about large-scale genetic, neurological re-engineering of humanity. … Anybody who thinks this is wishful thinking on the part of the transhumanists, just pick up your newspaper, get your newest science magazine and start reading.”
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