Center Assistant Professor Dr. Devan Stahl and Dr. Adam Pryor (Bethany College) are co-editors of the book The Body and Ultimate Concern: Reflections on an Embodied Theology of Paul Tillich, published in October 2018 by Mercer University Press.
Dr. Stahl also contributed a chapter titled “Tillich and Transhumanism.”
From the Mercer University Press website:
Paul Tillich’s account of “ultimate concern” has been crucial for his theological legacy. It is a concept that has been taken up and adapted by many theologians in an array of subfields. However, Tillich’s own account of ultimate concern and many of the subsequent uses of it have focused on intelligibility: the ways it makes what is ultimate more accessible to us as rational beings. This volume charts a different course by placing Tillich’s theology in conversation with theories of radical embodiment. The essays gathered here use discourses on the particularity and mutability of the body to offer a critical vantage point for constructive engagement with Tillich’s central theological category: ultimate concern. Each essay explores how individuals can be special bearers of ultimate concern by engaging the body’s role in faith, religion, and culture. As Mary Ann Stenger, professor emerita from University of Louisville, observes in her introduction: “From concerns about bodily integrity to considering bodies on the margins of society to discussions of technologically modified bodies, these articles offer us fresh theological insights and call us to ethical thinking and actions in relation to our bodies and the bodies around us. And certainly, today, the body and a person’s right to bodily integrity have become central, critical issues in our culture.” Contributors include: David H. Nikkel, Kayko Driedger Hesslein, Beth Ritter-Conn, Tyler Atkinson, Courtney Wilder, Adam Pryor, and Devan Stahl.
Dr. Stahl is President Elect of the North American Paul Tillich Society.
Center Assistant Professor Dr. Devan Stahl has a new book review published in NanoEthics, titled “Building Better Humans? Refocusing the Debate on Transhumanism.”
Building Better Humans? Refocusing the Debate on Transhumanism [Hava Tirosh-Samuelson and Kenneth L. Mossman (eds) 2012 (Peter Lang, Frankfurt) ISBN 9783631635131 520 pp.] is the third volume of the Peter Lang series Beyond Humanism: Trans- and Posthumanism.
The full text is available online ahead of print on the Springer website (MSU Library or other institutional access may be required to view this article).
Center Assistant Professor Dr. Devan Stahl is currently the Vice President of the North American Paul Tillich Society and the Co-Chair of the Tillich: Issues in Theology, Religion and Culture Group at the American Academy of Religion. In November Dr. Stahl attended meetings held by the North American Paul Tillich Society (NAPTS) and the American Academy of Religion in San Antonio, TX. Dr. Stahl gave a paper for NAPTS titled “Tillich and the future of interdisciplinary ethics,” discussing the difficulties in doing Christian ethics in non-religious fields, such as medicine, business, and law. Dr. Stahl discussed both why ethics is becoming an interdisciplinary field in the academy and why it is difficult for Christian ethicists to engage in interdisciplinary work. Dr. Stahl proposed Tillich’s method of correlation can help Christian ethicists be true to their Christian message while adapting it to the current situation and culture in which they live.
Dr. Stahl also gave a paper at the American Academy of Religion in a joint session between the Human Enhancement and Transhumanism Group and the Religion and Disability Studies Group titled “Does Transhumanist eschatology eradicate disability?” Dr. Stahl contended there is a tension at the heart of the transhumanist agenda and disability theology: transhumanists aim to enhance “normal” human traits through novel biotechnologies, whereas disability theologians desire a world wherein disability is accepted rather than eradicated. However, because both disability theologians and transhumanists believe bodily variation or modification cannot sever our connection to God, there is room to creatively imagine ways to modify the body that might be beneficial to persons with disabilities. Dr. Stahl argued “radical prosthetics” might be a point of convergence between the two camps and a way to creatively and jointly signal the kingdom of God through human creations.
Center Assistant Professor Dr. Devan Stahl recently presented at the International Academy for Bioethical Inquiry (IABI) Summer Symposium, held August 8-10 at Saint Louis University’s Albert Gnaegi Center for Health Care Ethics.
Dr. Stahl presented the paper “The Fate of Disabled Bodies in a Posthuman Future.” Her presentation explored themes of disability, Christianity, and transhumanism.
Please visit our website to learn more about Dr. Stahl’s work.
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.
Learn more about Dr. Stahl’s work.