“We have to reject uncritical consumeristic adoption of digital technologies,” said Mitchell, provost, vice president for academic affairs, and Graves Professor of Moral Philosophy at Union University. “Remember our humanity and resist excarnation. … Resist the notion that efficiency is the summum bonum, the chief end, and seek to have our desires formed by the good news of the incarnate Christ.”
In a series of lectures titled “Homo Sapiens to Homo Deus: Technology as Mastery or Master?” Mitchell explored how digital and scientific technologies attempt to redefine humanity by overcoming limits to human knowledge and ability. He described the potential dangers for using technology and robotics to strive for immortality, which undermine the creation narrative and blur the lines of reality and one’s relationship to the world.
“Three major technological innovations — information, nano[technology], bio[technology] — are challenging us to rethink those dichotomies which have been part of our way of inhabiting the world and have tempted us to begin to redefine what it means to be human,” Mitchell said.
Mitchell identified human self-loathing, or “the lament of limitation,” as the driving force behind the culture seeking technologies that perfect the human condition, without concern for how they may disorder desires and restrict human freedom. Philosophers and scientists promoting transhumanism, eugenics, and robotics hope to create a “techno-utopia” of an enhanced human experience that no longer looks very human, Mitchell said. He called for believers to engage in serious theological reflection on how the structures and patterns of technology may work against the desires that shape a faithful Christian life.
“Do not loathe your incarnation; you were made embodied creatures in the image of God,” Mitchell said. “We are not just brains on sticks; we have been made whole persons in the image of God … we must not exchange our incarnation for a new Gnosticism.”