Monday, August 25, 2008

Christianity and Advanced Technologies

Here we go with another Christianity-related post. This one solicits Christian responses to issues brought up by technological advancement. Atheists, I know you might think there’s no point in asking these questions, and if so, there’s really no point in you commenting in this thread. Let me ask my questions without dismissive or bitter comments.

Disclaimer: Nothing in this post is meant to be pro-Christian or anti-Christian. I am just asking hypothetical questions. The views expressed in this post, if any, are not necessarily the position of any organization or individual associated with the author.


1) If man was created in God’s image, would it be blasphemous for people to radically alter their body and brain as it becomes technologically possible, through genetic engineering or nanotechnology? (See “What I want to be when I grow up, is a cloud” by J. Storrs Hall.)

[I could postulate another scenario: If adultery is wrong, then would it be right for society to enact a law so that each individual would be engineered for sexual attraction and desire for their life-mate? The answer to Michael's question is, it depends on the direction of the alteration of their body and brain. Meaning, engineered in order to achieve what objective?]

2) Would it be a sin to extend someone’s lifespan indefinitely using anti-aging therapies, because that would forever prevent them from getting into Heaven? Or would indefinite life extension merely be God’s will, because if he wanted us to die anyway, he could easily make it happen at any time?

[While science (or science fiction) seems to point to eternal life through scientific means (life extension technologies); Christian canonized writings (the Bible) state that humans will annihilate themselves if Christ does not return. The Christian premise is that humans are innately bent towards destruction by their very nature. Eternal life extension is God's desire for humans, but Christ is the means through which that can be accomplished.]

3) Say that a brain chip is invented that makes its user more morally sophisticated and theologically insightful. Would this contradict the notion that good comes from God, and show that the “soul” is actually rooted in the biochemistry of the brain? Or would this signify the brain implant is somehow better tapping into the power of God? How would we tell the difference?

[If one reads through some Church theologians’ writings, some of them point out that people have a disposition to commit certain moral sins (e.g. overtly drinking, envy, out of control anger). I'm guessing that some people that were a Christian that had a lobotomy had certain personality traits alter with the procedure - your jack'en with the brain. A person that might have been prone to having an out-of-control temper might become mellow in all aspects of their behavior. My point, you alter one trait, another trait shows up. However the first "sin" recorded in the Bible came from a person's desire to replace God. The desire (even without an act) is a sin. Christianity doesn't really have an exact concept where the separation from the immaterial-self, and the material-self begin and end. There tends to be a reciprocal interaction that is not scientifically explained in known religious writings. Michael, your thinking on “good” and Christianity seem to not match up. In general all people can be “good,” but in Christian theological terms none truly good.]

4) Say that humans develop a technology to bring someone “back to life” a few hours after brain activity ceases. Could this be used to research possible visions of Heaven, such as those in “light at the end of the tunnel” and other near-death experience accounts? How would we distinguish between genuine visions of Heaven and hallucinations caused by neurological trauma?

[To my knowledge – as far as I can stretch my brain - there would be no verifiable test between hallucinations and brain trauma. A wise suggestion on this point would be to discuss the issue once we cross that bridge.]

5) Recently it was reported that the Vatican was encouraging local churches to hire more clergy adept at performing exorcisms. When a high-level Vatican official was interviewed on the topic by CNN and asked how he knew the difference between a possessed subject and one suffering from psychological problems. The priest responded, “you can see it in their eyes”. If this is true, could we determine this by taking pictures of different types of eyes and discovering distinguishing characteristics associated with possession?

[If I was a demon, and I didn’t want the general population to remain ignorant of the demonic netherworld, then would I be able to manifest inside a person at my choosing as to keep from revealing to the general population that I, or demons exist?]

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