Evolution of the Human Species: The Challenge of Transhumanism and Posthumanism
October 2022 – February 2023
Human enhancement, transhumanism, and posthumanism, are often seen as new, secular expressions of the desire for transcendence, traditionally associated with the sphere of religion, religious experience and hope. The transhumanist project includes the use of genetics, nanotechnology, and robotics to eliminate death and enhance humans into god-like beings, into Homo Deus, at least according to some.
Is the project of transhuman and posthuman existence our highest vocation and ultimate human fulfilment, and hope to, through technology, direct human evolution and transform present reality into an eschatological utopia? Or is it a misconceived attempt yet to seize the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil, and, as the serpent said when telling Eve a lie, become “like gods”?
This series of five lectures aims at addressing some crucial philosophical and theological presuppositions and repercussions of human enhancement, transhumanism, and posthumanism. Invited experts in the field come from different philosophical and theological traditions, which reflects the breadth of the dialogue between science and religion
Watch the Talks
Beyond Human: Transhumanism, Christianity, and the Challenge of the Future Prof. Ron Cole-Turner Professor of Theology (emeritus) at Pittsburgh Theological Seminary in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania Human enhancement through technology is becoming commonplace, with many turning to biomedical advances not just to treat diseases but to enhance their athletic abilities, good looks, cognitive abilities, or long lifespan. But can technology really improve … Read more
Moral Enhancement, the Virtues, and Transhumanism: Moving beyond Gene Editing Prof. Braden Molhoek Graduate Theological Union The desire to amplify existing human capabilities, or to endow humans with new abilities, are some of the goals of transhumanists. Some wish to go further, by taking control of human evolution through technological means to improve humanity or even evolve one or more … Read more
The Religion of Technology: Transhumanism and the Myth of Progress Dr. Michael Burdett University of NottinghamIan Ramsey Centre for Science and Religion, University of Oxford In this presentation I chart a succinct intellectual history of the myth of progress and how it has been embedded, and is still embedded, in the claims of science and technology. Furthermore, I aim to … Read more
Science in Transhumanism: the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly Arvin M. Gouw School of Divinity, University of Cambridge Transhumanism can incorporate good science, bad science, and the ugly – pseudoscience. The lines between these three are indeed fuzzy, and one can easily slip from one to the other. But there are general guidelines by which we can ascertain if … Read more
The Christian and the Transhumanist Desire for Transcendence: A Critical Evaluation Mariusz Tabaczek, O.P. Pontifical University of St Thomas Aquinas Mariusz Tabaczek, O.P., is a Polish Dominican and theologian. He holds Ph.D. in philosophical theology from the Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley, CA and Church Licentiate from the Adam Mickiewicz University in Poznan, Poland. After his studies at the GTU … Read more
The Forgotten History of Science and Faith
March 2023 – June 2023
The popular perception of the history of Science and Religion, and of Science and the Catholic Church in particular, is one of unending conflict and discord, but no contemporary historian of science would accept such a simplistic view. While the popular story of conflict often starts (and ends) with the trial of Galileo, the history of the Church’s relationship with and role in the sciences has often been positive and supportive. In fact, one prominent historian of science, Dr. Lawrence Principe, argues that “it is clear from the historical record that the Catholic church has been probably the largest single and longest- term patron of science in history.”
In this series of online lectures, we will try to unearth some of the lesser known aspects of the history of the Catholic Church’s relations with the sciences, beginning with a look at how the incorrect popular myth of conflict came to such prominence. We will then look at three figures from three very different moments in history who exemplified in their own lives the relation between science and the Catholic faith. These figures are Gerbert of Aurillac, the 10th century promoter of astronomy who became Pope Sylvester II; Bl. Nicolaus Steno the 17th century Dutch pioneer in biology and geology who converted to Catholicism and became a priest and bishop; and Angelo Secchi, the 19th century Jesuit astronomer who did groundbreaking work in spectroscopy from the roof of Chiesa di Sant’Ignazio here in Rome.
Please join us as we rediscover the forgotten history of science and faith in the Catholic Church.
Watch the Talks
The Forgotten History of Science and Faith: Origins of the Myth of the Warfare of Religion with Science Lawerence Principe John Hopkins University Although repudiated today by all serious historians of science, the concept of an eternal and inescapable conflict between science and religion remains strong among the general public as well as among a large number of scientists. This … Read more
Gerbert of Aurillac: Pope and Scientist Constantino Sigismondi Contract Professor in Rome Universities: Sapienza, Unicampus and APRA, Professor of Physics in Alessandro Volta Institute of Rome A passionating history, which has be seen as the ideal self-made man, or the genius prevailing against all odds.Reliably Gerbert was noble and cadet, monk and mathematical genius, so he could move from Aurillac … Read more
Stepping with Science to Sainthood: Nicolaus Steno’s Conversion and His Unity of Life Nuno Castel-Branco The Harvard University Center for Italian Renaissance Studies In 1667, at the peak of his scientific career, the Danish anatomist Nicolaus Steno (1638-1686)converted to Catholicism. Since then, much has been written about it. His Protestant friends andmodern historians alike found this conversion perplexing. On the … Read more
Angelo Secchi, Jesuit and Scientist: A Unique View of Science and Religion Ileana Chinnici INAF-Osservatorio Astronomico di Palermo