Extracurricular Activities 3.28.15 — Marcion, Christian Stoicism, & Transhumanism
Yesterday, I began a conversation with Nancy Pearcey about her new book, Finding Truth: 5 Principles for Unmasking Atheism, Secularism, and Other God Substitutes. Today, we continue this discussion and focus on the benefits and limits of worldview training.
Trevin Wax: James K. A. Smith makes the case that worldview analysis isn’t enough when it comes to discipleship, since we are formed by cultural liturgies, not just philosophical beliefs. What are the limits of worldview training?
In my two previous guest blog posts (here and here) considering Marcion’s Gospel, I focused predominantly on issues of reconstructing this text, highlighting, first, problematic issues in Markus Vinzent’s new monograph and, second, the most important methodological considerations when attempting a reconstruction of Marcion’s Gospel. In this third and final posting, I would like to return to Vinzent’s book and consider “the other side of the coin” of his argument involving Marcion, namely examples of his reading of the sources.
People who worry about the hellenization, or greekifying, of Christianity tend to worry about Platonism. But the interaction with Stoicism has been equally complex and interesting.
Clement of Alexandria (ca 150-215)’s fascinating book Paedagogus is a great early example.
In my most recent post here I raised ethical questions about the idea of “transhumanity” or “posthumanity”—technology being used to transcend normal humanity into “humanity plus.” So far as I can tell there are no examples of this yet; only ideas that seem possible to some people given the tremendous technological enhancements created and offered to persons with physical disabilities and disadvantages. An example is cochlear implants. Another example is prosthetic limbs manipulable by mind power. These are not examples of transhumanity; they are technological creations that some people take as encouragement to believe in further technological advancements that would essentially take persons from being “merely human” to “human plus.”
I am a Christian ethicists, so my first concern in such questions is to advise Christians and churches how to think about them.
What would you say if you found out that our public schools were teaching children that it is not true that it’s wrong to kill people for fun or cheat on tests? Would you be surprised?
I was. As a philosopher, I already knew that many college-aged students don’t believe in moral facts. While there are no national surveys quantifying this phenomenon, philosophy professors with whom I have spoken suggest that the overwhelming majority of college freshmen in their classrooms view moral claims as mere opinions that are not true or are true only relative to a culture.
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