Sunday, 16 April 2017

Human?

"More human than human is our motto"  
Tyrell. Blade Runner.

It's so welcome when it happens. Your doing something - watching a movie, reading a book, taking a walk, and suddenly, you see or realize something that hits you hard because it says something true about who and what you are. It can be like laying the final piece of the puzzle.

I had something akin to that this week. Nursing myself through a virus, I was listening to an introduction on the work of an early christian writer, when the broadcast broke to advertise a forthcoming discussion on transhumanism. I listened with intent. I've recently finished attending a series of studies which sought to examine issues of identity and this had lead me to my own further interrogation of where our current social trends are driving, and I now found  another major piece was being dropped into my ears.

We all know moments of personal dread or loss, but what about those moments when we encounter something more universal - a sense of foreboding concerning where 'we' - humanity - are? 

History shows us there are times of cultural death and collapse.

In the book of Genesis, the first eleven chapters of human history speak of several such events, including three which irrevocably change human life entirely -
the fall, the flood, and the tower of babel.
What is imperative in these accounts is that all of these were locked-in to the issue of our identity - to how we define ourselves as 'human'.

It's worth taking a moment to just recall the scale of those times as we now think about today.

However smart and easy technology has made everyday things for you and me, we still often seem to be inherently ill at ease in our own skin, so would detaching us from our flesh so 'we' can become something inherently beyond death be the answer? Would a state whereby 'we' became operation systems for tech that in effect rendered us immortal, equate to freedom, or would we just become something less than we are?

It's no longer science fiction or hypothetical. The next two decades are going to see the rise of the age of robots and growing use of inter-phasic bio technology that will bring about more and more convergence between ourselves and such assistance. The "wow" of such a world promised in countless 'see tomorrow' shows of earlier decades may have indeed been displaced by the sinister dystopia of a tale like Alex Proyus' "Dark City", but these days are coming on fast, so the same question will mark it's (our) time - who am I?

I'm deliberately writing this on Easter Sunday, because the answer to that nagging question isn't going to be discovered in us burying ourselves in more of what we can achieve.

There are telling moments in those three accounts in Genesis - moments filled with foreboding and horror of the most dreadful kind. The 'what if' of transhumanism bears the same ring as the 'what if' raised by God after our fall in regards to our then eating of the tree of life (Genesis 3:22).

The actual answer to our malady is found beyond ourselves in the events of today - easter sunday.
It may be considered passe by our post-modernal estate to speak of death ended by a resurrection (Paul of course faced the same tough crowd in his day - Acts 17), but the ramifications of that empty tomb to our humanity are clear.

When Jesus stands again amongst His friends, not as an apparition or some etherial "being", but as a man, marked by crucifixion yet alive and asking for something to eat, the matter of what is entailed in being human is faced head on.
Our longing to be, and yet be more won't die even if we're wired to devices that breathe and eat for us - we just become, in effect, further away for being us.

The message of the resurrection is that humanity can be found, here, amidst flesh, and then live without enmity to itself and the universe. Real freedom is not the further suppression or submergence of our identity, but the re-discovery and burgeoning of this (John 10:10). What needs to be killed or negated is not our physical bodies, or our relationship to them, but our autonomy from the life we cast aside in those early days of our race.

The "escape" is not about checking out or going away.

Easter is all about coming home.

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