Center Assistant Professor Devan Stahl, PhD, recently traveled to Atlanta to present at the 2015 Annual Meeting of the American Academy of Religion. Dr. Stahl’s presentation, “Tillich and Transhumanism,” was part of a panel called “Tillich: Issues in Theology, Religion, and Culture.”
Abstract: Amongst those who call themselves “Christian transhumanists” Paul Tillich is one of the most, if not the most, quoted theologian. There are many obvious and not so obvious reasons why so-called Christian transhumanists find a kindred ally in Tillich. In this presentation, Dr. Stahl cautions against believing that Tillich himself would have upheld the moniker of “transhumanist.” More than likely, Tillich would have been deeply skeptical about the ontology and the utopian telos of transhumanism, even though he might have found great promise in some transhumanist technologies. Transhumanism certainly has an ultimate concern, in fact, if, as Tillich says, religion is the personal and social quest for meaning, transhumanism likely fits the mold of a religion more than any other scientific movement, but transhumanism likely comes close to Tillich’s understanding of idolatry—or taking a preliminary concern as ultimate. In this presentation Dr. Stahl explores the ultimate concern of transhumanism and compares it with Tillich’s writings on technology and human progress.