Doctrinal and Logical Response

A logical and doctrinal response to Mormon Transhumanism

In general, the Mormon Transhumanist Affirmation emphasizes man's efforts through science and technology and leaves out a dependence on God and Jesus Christ as a requirement for exaltation.  While the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, or Mormonism, embraces all sources of truth, including science and technology, the Mormon Transhumanist affirmation, points one and two, are not compatible with Christianity and Mormon doctrine and teachings.  

Affirmation 1)  "We seek the spiritual and physical exaltation of individuals and their anatomies, as well as communities and their environments, according to their wills, desires and laws, to the extent they are not oppressive."
First, exaltation, or eternal life with God, is different from immortality, and is beyond the realm of science or technology, as I will discuss below.  In addition to this fundamental problem, one key challenge with this affirmation is that emphasis on seeking for spiritual and physical exaltation "according to their wills, desires and laws," which almost completely leaves out our dependence on God and His will, Christ's atonement, and the belief that His grace makes both immortality and forgiveness possible (3 Nephi 9:13-22).  Jesus asserts, "I am the way, the truth, and the life.  No man cometh unto the father but by me." (John 14:6Alma 38:9Helaman 5:9).  Submitting our will to God's will and His laws, is a central message of the Church of Jesus Christ, or "Mormonism" (John 7:16-18Hebrews 13:212 Nephi 1:19-20).  This submission of our will and offering a broken heart and contrite spirit, is a key to exaltation (3 Nephi 12:19-20Ether 4:15).

The specific mention of "their anatomies" and "individuals" being exalted can underscore a confusion between immortality and exaltation.  One's anatomy is only a portion of their soul, and cannot realistically be exalted on its' own, according to Mormon teachings.  Exaltation requires a whole, fully resurrected soul that is cleansed of sin, not merely a collection of parts that last forever.  Similarly, Mormon Doctrine states that individuals cannot be exalted at all--only married couples can (D&C 131).

Finally, exaltation requires forgiveness of sin, which is not a scientific or technological concept (Romans 6:1-15).  Sin and forgiveness are religious doctrines that require God's teachings, not science.  Scriptural standards for living without sin and obtaining forgiveness are much more stringent than simply behaviors that are "not oppressive," which is the only standard for behavior mentioned in this affirmation.  

Affirmation 2) "We believe that scientific knowledge and technological power are among the means ordained of God to enable such exaltation, including realization of diverse prophetic visions of transfiguration, immortality, resurrection, renewal of this world, and the discovery and creation of worlds without end."
This affirmation has several challenges.  Although the language suggests science and technology are "among the means," to enable exaltation, Mormon Transhumanist writings and  heavily emphasize science and technology and do not discuss a reliance on grace, God, and His forgiveness.  That emphasis is directly opposite to scripture and latter-day revelation on the topic.

If science and technology are only a small portion ("among the means") of the solution to some of these items, such as perhaps immortality for some people and perhaps the renewal of this world or perhaps even the creation of other worlds, then what's the point of Mormon Transhumanism?  Mormon doctrine gives the full answer to the opportunity for exaltation and resurrection for all people.  This is a much more comprehensive solution than science or transhumanism even claims to offer.   Why spend so much energy exploring and discussing one possible, yet unproven, means for helping a small portion of the people?

The vision and promise of Mormonism is not just about living forever and creating worlds.  The promise of Mormonism also is about the perfect judgment and mercy of Jesus Christ and His power and grace that ensures only the righteous who believe in Christ, live His teachings, and obtain His forgiveness will have this opportunity.

In addition, there are several direct conflicts between Mormon doctrine and Mormon Transhumanism, in two separate issues: Resurrection or Immortality, and Exaltation.

Immortality and Resurrection:
The Mormon Transhumanist Affirmation emphasizes science and technology as a means for immortality and resurrection, with very little discussion of faith or Jesus Christ as a means.  That emphasis is directly opposed to the Church of Jesus Christ, which provides for the resurrection of everyone who has ever been born, and emphasizes a dependence on Christ, not science, as the means for this resurrection.

With DNA research and other developments, I can imagine the possibility that scientific knowledge and technological power may eventually enable immortality, perhaps even a form of resurrection or transfiguration for some people.  However, teachings of The Church of Jesus Christ require that every single person will be resurrected, and emphasizes that this happens through Christ and faith, and in an order based on righteousness (1 Cor 15:22Alma 40:23-26).

First, Christianity requires that every person be resurrected.  No scientific or technological solution makes sense as a means to resurrect people whose remains have been completely obliterated--as in the tragic victims of the Challenger explosion, or the atomic bomb in Hiroshima and Nagasaki, or numerous other extreme fires, in which no traces of DNA remain.  In those cases, people's bodies were completely changed into vapor or other forms of matter.  Similarly, many people died thousands of years ago, and their remains long ago became part of the soil, perhaps eaten by worms or other creatures, and whose molecules are now part of the soil, trees, or even other creatures.  Belief in resurrection for those people requires faith, not science. 

Further, 2000 years ago, science and technology could not have been the source of Christ's resurrection or the many people that were resurrected immediately after Christ (Matthew 27:52-53Helaman 14:253 Nephi 23:9-13).  Whenever resurrection of other people is mentioned in scriptures or by other religious leaders, they consistently emphasize Jesus Christ's resurrection as both the cause and the pattern for the resurrection of others, saying, "Because our Redeemer lives, so shall we." (McKay, 1944. Also Joseph Smith, 1840sJoseph SmithJoseph SmithBrigham Young 1860Brigham Young, 1862Brigham Young, 1872,  Lee, 1958-1974Benson, 1993Matthews, 1991Oaks, 2000, Hunter, 1988, also Resurrection at  Not once in any of these scriptures or later religious statements is science and technology mentioned as a possible means of resurrection.

Finally, what about keeping this all in order and ensuring resurrection is obtained and controlled by those without sinister intentions?  Today, science and technology are heavily controlled by money and are commonly  used for sinister or at least selfish ends, primarily to get gain or power.  In contrast, Mormon Doctrine and scripture clearly states that resurrection happens in order, with the most righteous resurrected first and others later (Revelation 20:4-6Alma 40, Gospel Principles, 277Doctrine and Covenants 76D&C 88:98-100).

Brigham Young, in speaking of the process of resurrection, said, "They will be ordained, by those who hold the keys of the resurrection, to go forth and resurrect the Saints, just as we receive the ordinance of baptism, then the keys of authority to baptize others for the remission of their sins." (Young 1872).  That process suggests God and priesthood keys controls gets resurrected and when, not scientific power based on whoever has the technology to use DNA.

The second coming of Jesus Christ is not mentioned in the Mormon Transhumanist affirmation, but it is a key doctrine related to resurrection.  In direct contrast to traditional, gradual and evolutionary scientific progress, the second coming is consistently discussed in both scripture and latter-day revelation as a single, dramatic event, in which "The wicked will be removed from the earth and the righteous will be caught up in a cloud while the earth is cleansed." ( to Second Coming of ChristMatt. 24:37–41Luke 21:15-28, 2 Peter 3:10–14;D&C 133:42–52; Joseph Smith--Matthew 1 Rev. 1: 7).  Since the second coming is a key moment of resurrection for many people, this is yet another area in which Mormon Doctrine is in opposition to the transhumanist emphasis on gradual scientific and technological progress.

The affirmation also mentions science technology as a means for obtaining exaltation, which is different from immortality or resurrection.  Exaltation, Eternal Life, or living in the presence of God in the kind of life He lives, is a purely religious concept and requires both acknowledging the existence of and obtaining forgiveness from sin through the atonement of Christ (Isaiah 52:111 Nephi 10:212 Nephi 31:19-20Alma 11:373 Nephi 27:19Eternal Life--lds.orgMadsen 2002)  Science and technology does not claim forgiveness of sin--it's not the realm of science at all.  

Even considering this on moral, not religious, grounds, if scientific and technological power were a means of resurrection and even the creation of other worlds, who or what ensures these future eternal creations serve positive, uplifting purposes that are "not oppressive"?  Who ensures that these powers are not controlled primarily by evil, selfish people into eternity?  The same principles that apply to the order of  resurrection based on righteousness, apply even more directly to a discussion about exaltation or eternal life.

Science and technology, even with the best governmental regulation, have a terrible track record of avoiding oppression, particularly when extreme power is involved.  Sure, we can find examples of restraint (cold war and nuclear weapons), but those examples are surrounded by examples of abuse (need I list them all?).

That is a key reason religion provides a hope for a future that is not realistically possible through scientific means.  The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day saints, gives hope for an eternal future in which God lifts up the oppressed, gives power and ability to those who have demonstrated love for one another, and casts out and takes away power from those with selfish, hateful, oppressive desires.  This solution relies on religious faith, and is not realistically possible through science and human technology.

Affirmation 3) "We feel a duty to use science and technology according to wisdom and inspiration, to identify and prepare for risks and responsibilities associated with future advances, and to persuade others to do likewise."
No problem with using science and technology according to wisdom and inspiration.   In fact, latter-day prophets have been consistent in encouraging academic and scientific learning "according to wisdom and inspiration."

However, feeling a duty to identify and prepare for risks and responsibilities associated with the future appears to place the burden on man or the Mormon Transhumanist Association for determining what to be done to prepare for future advances.  One unique principle of the Church of Jesus Christ of latter-day Saints is its belief in continued revelation available to every person for their own domain of stewardship.  The Church also teaches that prophets, seers, are revelators, or the 1st Presidency and  the 12 apostles are here to help the entire world prepare for the future.  That insight into God's teachings in preparation for the future is one definition of a prophet and a key point of doctrine for the Church of Jesus Christ.  According to Church doctrine, we can feel confident that if there are important moral positions to be taken in order to prepare for future scientific advances, following the counsel of Church leaders and scriptural teachings will place us is a position well-prepared for these advances.

In other words, while we have much need for individuals to actively pursue scientific progress and to work together in pursuit of scientific truth, a separate organization is not needed to determine moral positions or actions to be taken in order to prepare ourselves morally for this future progress.


In conclusion, science and technology have much to offer members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in their pursuit of truth, and advancements discovered through scientific means are embraced by Church doctrine.  However, the Mormon Transhumanist affirmation is at odds with Mormon doctrine in its proposition that science and technology are an important means for resurrection or for exaltation and eternal life.  Suggesting resurrection is possible through scientific means is unrealistic as a way to fulfill the Mormon doctrinal requirement for every person who has ever lived to be resurrected.  In addition, this transhumanist affirmation is incompatible with Mormon teachings that Jesus Christ enabled resurrection of many people 2000 years ago, that His power and grace enables and controls the resurrection of future beings, in order of their righteousness, in a short-term, not a gradual process.

Finally, Mormon Transhumanism appears to assume that exaltation is simply a matter of immortality and the ability to create future worlds, and ignores God's judgment in regulating who obtains exaltation.  Scripture and teachings of latter-day Church leaders consistently suggest that a belief in Christ, His grace and forgiveness, and cleansing from sin are requirements for exaltation.  All of these principles are religious, faith-based concepts that are outside the realm of science.  Transhumanism offers a possible, yet unproven answer to death and eternity for some people, and brings no new additional truth or insights to Mormon Doctrine.  The Church of Jesus Christ of latter-day Saints already provides a full answer to the problems of death and oppression on the earth, and provides direction for eternity as a solution for all people.