Transhumanism as Contemporary Idolatry: A Judaic Critique
Wednesday, November 17th 2021, 5:00pm (PST)
A CTNS Public Forum with Dr. Hava Tirosh-Samuelson and Respondents
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Transhumanism is a social and intellectual movement that promotes the use of technoscience to shape the evolution of the human species. Transhumanism calls for the engineering of the human body to enhance physiological and mental capacities, radically expand the duration of human life, and even attain (digital) immortality. Although secular in tone and style, transhumanist discourse is rife with utopian, apocalyptic, and eschatological motifs that invest technoscience with spiritual and even salvific meanings. For transhumanists, transcendence is to be attained through technoscience. Engaging transhumanism from a Judaic perspective, this lecture argues that transhumanism is a contemporary case of what the Bible understood as "idolatry," namely, the veneration of human-made artifacts as if they were divine. Instead of making us "better humans" and "perfecting" our world, the transhumanist idolatry has made us and our world less just, less equitable, and less caring. The harm inflicted by the massive technologization of life demands a critical examination of transhumanism.
Dr. Hava Tirosh-Samuelson is Regents Professor of History, Irving and Miriam Lowe Professor of Modern Judaism, and Director of Jewish Studies at Arizona State University in Tempe, AZ. Tirosh-Samuelson is a Jewish intellectual historian who focuses on the interplay of philosophy and mysticism, Judaism and science, and Judaism and ecology. Within the field of science and religion, Tirosh-Samuelson explores the interplay of religion, science and technology with a focus on transhumanism and the relationship between Judaism, science and medicine. In addition to over 50 essays and book chapters, she is the author of Between Worlds: The Life and Work of Rabbi David ben Judah Messer Leon (1991) which received the award of the Hebrew University for the best work in Jewish history for 1991, and the author of Happiness in Premodern Judaism: Virtue, Knowledge and Well-Being in Premodern Judaism (2003), and Religion and Environment: The Case of Judaism (2020).
This virtual event is free and open to the public. Please email Matthew Hartman (email@example.com) with any questions.
This is a co-sponsored event between the Center for Theology and the Natural Sciences (CTNS) and the Richard S. Dinner Center for Jewish Studies (CJS) at the Graduate Theological Union.