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An Evolutionary Bifurcation: Transcendence or Transhumanism? by David Lorimer

In 2023, the world is a very different place compared with 2010, when I wrote the introduction you can read below, but looking at the contents of this volume, I can’t help feeling that the need for a new renaissance is more significant than ever at a time of rising divisions, intensifying polarities, intolerance of other viewpoints, increasing narrative control and censorship, and the relentless rise of technocracy as social engineering employing behavioural psychology techniques such as ‘nudging’ and fear mongering in order to shape our perception and behaviour. These were widely deployed by governments during the COVID crisis and they are now being applied to climate change. This keeps us in a state of emergency and anxiety that makes it more comfortable to accept in an uncritical fashion the solutions on offer. Already in 2010, we were referring in the original edition to ‘being saturated with antagonistic polarities’, to ‘a failure of foresight, political and moral will’, and to the need for global community and cooperation.

It is all the more striking, as you will see, that I began my introduction with a reference to Churchill’s prescient warning in November 1936 that:

Owing to past neglect, in the face of the plainest warnings, we have now entered upon a time of great danger. … The era of procrastination, of half-measures, of soothing and baffling expedients, of delays, is coming to a close. In its place we are entering a period of consequences. ... We cannot avoid this period, we are in it now ...

This remark is surely even more timely than it was.

In a famous speech delivered in 1990 before Congress by Czech President Vaclav Havel, he remarked that ‘Without a global revolution in the sphere of human consciousness, nothing will change for the better in our being as humans, and the catastrophe toward which our world is headed …. will be unavoidable. … We are still incapable of understanding that the only genuine backbone of our actions – if they are to be moral – is responsibility: responsibility to something higher than my family, my country, my firm, my success, responsibility to the order of being where all our actions are indelibly recorded and where, and only where, they will be judged.’

Some people would substitute ‘spiritual awakening’ for global consciousness revolution, but both phrases emphasise the importance of a change of orientation and direction, in other words of worldview, which is examined in the first part of this book by a number of distinguished scholars. Our values and way of thinking underpin and infuse our systems and policies across the board. In the 1990s, Philip Sherrard made this connection when he wrote that ‘We are treating our planet in an inhuman, God-forsaken manner because we see things in an inhuman, God-forsaken way. And we see things in this way because that basically is how we see ourselves.’ In other words, world image and human image mirror each other. Speaking systemically, Gregory Bateson stated that ‘the major problems in the world are the result of the difference between the way nature works and the way man thinks.’

Mechanical Uniformity or Unity in Diversity?

In Lewis Mumford’s brilliant and prophetic book, The Transformations of Man, published in 1957, the final two chapters address world culture and human prospects based on two very different worldviews. At the end of the previous chapter on post-historic man – ‘a wholly subservient creature of the machine’ – Mumford already refers to previous utopian aspirations to ‘impose upon the whole community a common military discipline … to banish the poet and artist.’ Under such repressive systems, ‘every form of privacy is either diminished or denied; every form of tender feeling is repressed. The end product is a community unified, centrally directed, uniformly responsive to command: freed from anxiety, insecurity, mischance or error; and by that fact equally freed from possibility of growth and improvement.’ The present danger is that our superhuman technological powers can now be deployed for subhuman and ultimately dystopian purposes.

Mumford states that ‘Man’s principal task is to create a new self, adequate to command the forces that now operate so aimlessly and yet so compulsively [even more so in our own time]. This self will necessarily take as its province the entire world, known and knowable, and will seek, not to impose a mechanical uniformity, but to bring about an organic unity.’ He continues that ‘such a culture must be nourished, not only by a new vision of the whole, but by a new vision of the self capable of understanding and cooperating with the whole. In short, the time for another great historic transformation has come.’ Even then, Mumford realised that ‘the political unification of mankind cannot be realistically conceived except as part of this effort of self-transformation.’ The individual and the collective, inner and outer, have to develop hand-in-hand.

Mumford’s basic contention is that ‘the destiny of mankind, after its long preparatory period of separation and differentiation, is at last to become one’ after the progressive widening of the base of human community. This new unity, as already explained above, ‘lies at the other end from totalitarian uniformity’ which technocratic forces are currently seeking to impose on us (more on this below). He continues: ‘Our philosophy must respect the main attributes of life, balance and growth, freedom and choice, persistence and variation, adaptation and insurgence, above all, the tendency to self-actualisation and self-transcendence.’ He calls for a philosophy of the person based on integration, ‘with values and goals already embodied.’ He adds that ‘in the development of the person love is actually the central element of integration. … Without a positive concentration upon love in all its phases (including erotic desire, delight, fellow feeling, neighbourly helpfulness, parental solicitude and sacrifice), we can hardly hope to rescue the earth and all the creatures that inhabit it from the insensate forces of hate, violence, and destruction that now threaten it. And without a philosophy of the person, who dares to talk of love?’ Indeed, love is the very symbol and agent of this organic wholeness, and underpins ‘a radical transvaluation of values.’ In educational and developmental terms, ‘Growth and self-transformation cannot be delegated.’ This is our individual responsibility.

Spiritual and Materialist Worldviews

‘We have arrived at a critical point on the timeline of humankind. In these liminal times we find ourselves straddling two worlds: 1) the current paradigm and its archaic and self-serving systems and structures and 2) a new emerging paradigm built upon the principles and virtues of unity in diversity, equality, humanity, empathy, kindness and love.’

~ Nicolya Christi

I had lunch many years ago with Sir James Watt, who while President of the Royal Society of Medicine initiated a pioneering series of lectures on complementary medicine in the 1980s. He said to me that the fundamental question was: what is a human being? Spiritual traditions and scientific materialism give very different answers to this question, and they imply equally divergent evolutionary trajectories. The spiritual view is multi-dimensional: we are not only bodies, but also souls and spirits (there are many definitions of these terms) and the Immanent Divine is the transcendent core at the centre of the human being. Consciousness is seen as fundamental, and there is an inner spiritual focus in the journey of life. Scientific materialism sees us either as complex biological machines to be upgraded and made more efficient (in terms of instrumental value) or as ‘hackable animals’ (Yuval Noah Harari) to be programmed and controlled.
Underpinning of this way of thinking are mechanistic metaphors originating in the 17th-century, now updated as computer metaphors. These are contrasting metaphysical positions, and in 1930s Aldous Huxley wrote – contra the logical positivists – that ‘it is impossible to live without metaphysics. The choice that is given is not between some kind of metaphysics and no metaphysic: it is always between a good metaphysic and a bad metaphysic.’ He added, writing in 1937, that ‘technological advance is rapid. But without progress in charity, technological advance is useless. Indeed, it is worse than useless. Technological progress has merely provided us with a more efficient means of going backwards.’ This arresting statement can be found in his book Ends and Means and serves as a reality check in 2023, reminding us that technological progress needs to be accompanied by progress in spirituality, love and compassion. In other words, head and heart need to work together.

Frederique Apffel-Marglin has pointed out that the idea of nature as mechanistic was a reaction against the Anima Mundi Renaissance View championed by the occult philosophers and eloquently explained in the work of Frances Yates. The contrast between Pico della Mirandola and Renė Descartes could hardly be starker: Pico writes: ‘All this great body of the world is a soul, full of the intellect of God, who fills it within and without and vivifies the All. … The world is alive, all matter is full of life Matter and bodies or substances … are energies of God. In the All there is nothing which is not God.’ The Anima Mundi is immanent in a living and sacred Cosmos. Now Descartes: ‘There exist no occult forces in stones or plants. There are no amazing and marvellous sympathies and antipathies, in fact there exists nothing in the whole of nature which cannot be explained in terms of purely corporeal causes totally devoid of mind and thought.’ The cosmos becomes mindless, soulless and entirely material and mechanical. The physical world becomes insentient, and only physical causes are operative and naturalistic explanations valid. Ultimately, the transcendent or metaphysical realm ceases to exist within this way of thinking. Natural philosophy becomes natural science, the world is disenchanted and can now be exploited for human profit.

Already in 1967 with his ground-breaking book, Man and Nature, Seyyed Hossein Nasr was warning that ‘Nothing is more dangerous in the current ecological debate than that scientistic view of man and nature which cuts man from his spiritual roots and takes a desacralised nature for granted while expanding its physical boundaries by billions of light years. This view destroys the reality of the spiritual world while speaking of awe before the grandeur of the cosmos.’ CS Lewis (The Abolition of Man), Owen Barfield (Saving the Appearances) and Martin Buber (I and Thou) were concerned about the dehumanisation resulting from a scientistic view, as this quote from Michael Aeschliman’s book The Restitution of Man shows:

The ultimate effect of scientism is to dissolve the absolute qualitative distinction between persons and things – the very heart of the metaphysical tradition, of sapientia – reducing persons to things, denying man’s rational soul and his transcendence of the physical, giving him a value no higher than that of a camel or a stone or any other part of nature. This reduction of the human category to the natural runs parallel with a whole series of reductions from quality to quantity, from value to fact, from rational to empirical.

Martin Buber adds that:

Man embodies and reveals something unique and draws us beyond all physical, natural categories, draws us into a realm of value and meaning, a realm qualitatively distinct from and logically prior to scientific procedures and terms, a realm from which they derive whatever rational coherence, validity, and application they have.

Lewis himself regretted our obsession with means, with utility, with technique, to the exclusion of a serious consideration of the ends and purposes that alone can properly regulate and direct them, considering this the very essence of scientific relativism. Moreover, he insisted that ‘truth, meaning, purpose, goodness, importance are none of them scientific facts: they are wholly immaterial relations.

The point is reinforced by Edward Said, who writes that ‘scientism mistakes the truth about quantities, material and spatial realities for the Logos, the Word of sapientia, the realm of qualities, purposes, values, ends.’ The latter cannot be reduced to the former, qualitative sapientia cannot be contained within quantitative scientia.

More recently, in a personal communication on the inherent limits of science based on his magnum opus The Matter with Things, Iain McGilchrist writes that:
For perfectly understandable reasons, science rules out consideration of value and purpose from the beginning of its enquiry. It therefore, unsurprisingly, finds no evidence of either. Yet value and purpose encompass the ground of all meaning. So while science is useful, and (despite itself) sometimes beautiful, it is only a very partial witness to any kind of truth; and its narrow focus, which is what leads it to see only mechanism (the organic view can incorporate the mechanical, but not vice versa) rules out all that really matters to us – apart from utility. Which is almost everything.

In his book The New Abnormal on the rise of the biomedical security state, physician and ethicist Aaron Kheriaty quotes Augusto del Noce, who realised that scientism is intrinsically totalitarian, a profound insight of enormous importance for our time. ‘“Many people do not realise that scientism and the technological society are totalitarian in nature”’, he wrote fifty years ago. To understand why, consider that scientism and totalitarianism both claim a monopoly on knowledge.’ This last phrase about claiming a monopoly on knowledge has played out in the media during the COVID period in terms of government narrative control and corresponding censorship of so-called disinformation and misinformation by means of strategic alliances with Big Tech. We were instructed to ‘follow the science’ and to trust the ‘scientific consensus’ emanating from agencies manifestly captured by Big Pharma and from individuals compromised by financial conflicts of interest. Kheriaty’s view – with which I agree – is that the endgame here is corporatism; ‘the merging of corporate interests and government, or more accurately, the control of governing institutions by corporate interests.’ This is the agenda promoted by the World Economic Forum with their schemes of public-private partnerships designed to bypass democratically elected governments.

The Transhumanist Trajectory

Patrick Wood’s new book The Evil Twins of Technocracy and Transhumanism represents an essential briefing on the subject. The book explains how technocracy is transforming the world while transhumanism is aiming to take over evolution and to transform us through the merging of human and machine by means of the Fourth Industrial Revolution connecting us with the Internet of Things and the Internet of Bodies. The author explains the origins of technocracy at Columbia University in the 1930s and its connection to scientism. Technocracy purports to be the science of social engineering – a scientific dictatorship – and is an expression of the inherently dehumanising mechanistic and behaviourist view of life embodied in scientism. We are currently living through a period of rapidly converging sciences involving nanotechnology, biotechnology, information technology and cognitive science – NBIC for short, all underpinned by an ideology of mastery and control expressed in such metaphors as ‘precision engineering.’

Among the main institutions driving the agenda is The Trilateral Commission, founded 50 years ago by David Rockefeller and Zbigniew Brzezinski with the intention of installing a new international economic order designed to restructure our systems along technocratic lines and shaped by elite financial and business interests that are also collaborating through other associations such as the Bilderberg Group and the much more visible World Economic Forum (WEF). The Trilateral Commission draws its members from North America, Japan and Europe, including ‘establishment lawyers, high-ranking politicians, influential journalists, globalist think tank scholars, International bankers, and academics.’

In his influential 1970 book, Between Two Ages: America’s Role in the Technetronic Era, Brzezinski wrote that we will see the gradual appearance of a more controlled and directed society: ‘Such a society would be dominated by an elite whose claim to political power would rest on allegedly superior scientific know-how. Unhindered by the restraints of traditional liberal values, this elite would not hesitate to achieve its political ends by using the latest modern techniques for influencing public behaviour and keeping society under close surveillance and control’ – a chillingly accurate prediction of what we are now experiencing. He adds that international banks and multinational corporations will supplant the centrality and the sovereignty of the nation-state. The Trilateral Commission and the WEF have three principal branches: corporate, political and academic. Their overall agenda is driven by corporate interests, with their corresponding foundations making grants to academics (for instance the Rockefeller and Gates Foundations), who in turn write books and reports that are publicised in the media – owned by the same people. The media formulate officially sanctioned narratives that can be promulgated as a means of shaping the way we think about issues and their proposed solutions.

In 2022, President Biden issued an executive order called the National Biotechnology and Biomanufacturing Initiative, including the sentence ‘We need to develop genetic engineering technologies and techniques to be able to write circuitry for cells and predictably programme biology in the same way in which we write software and program computers.’ The EO stresses the importance of scaling up production and reducing obstacles to commercialisation ‘so that innovative technologies and products can reach markets faster.’ The whole tenor of the document reflects agency capture by worldwide forces of transhumanism and the agencies were ordered to produce plans for implementation within a few months.

Resuming our exposition of the technocratic and transhumanist evolutionary track, Yuval Noah Harari highlighted that ‘COVID is critical, because this is what convinces people to accept, to legitimise, total biometric surveillance’ for their own ‘safety and security.’ This is what Kheriaty and others call the biomedical security state, which is to be centrally coordinated by the World Health Organisation. Even as I write, the WHO is preparing a treaty that gives them draconian powers in the event of future pandemics. Kheriaty summarises these powers by saying that ‘the WHO’s digital system of biomedical surveillance and control will be mandatory, transnational, and operated by unelected bureaucrats operating in a captured NGO.’ Harari continues that ‘By hacking organisms, [we] gain the power to re-engineer the future of life itself. Because once you can hack something, you can usually also engineer it.’ Soon, he says, some corporations and governments will be able to ‘systematically hack all the people.’ And if they succeed in hacking life, he describes it as the ‘greatest revolution in biology since the beginning of life 4 billion years ago.’

He further explains that the new religion replacing humanism is ‘Dataism’, which states that ‘the universe consists of data flows, and the value of any phenomenon or entity is determined by its contribution to data processing. This view has already conquered most of the scientific establishment. … The life sciences have come to see organisms as biochemical algorithms. Dataism collapses the barrier between animals and machines, and expects electronic algorithms to eventually decipher and outperform biochemical algorithms.’ Machines will become superior in these terms – note the implicit understanding of organisms as machines. Given that the supreme value of the new religion is ‘information flow’, it follows that the flow of information in the universe should be extended, deepened and spread. And, according to Dataism, human experiences are not sacred and Homo Sapiens neither the apex of creation nor a precursor of some future Homo Deus: ‘Humans are merely tools for creating the Internet-of-All-Things, which may eventually spread out from planet Earth to cover the whole galaxy and even the whole universe. This cosmic data-processing system would be like God. It will be everywhere and will control everything, and humans are destined to merge into it.’ (My italics). The sheer hubris of this chilling and nihilistic vision is as breathtaking as it is ultimately dehumanising.

A Guidebook entitled Government in 2071 predicts the ‘best-case scenario’ as one where the next 50 years will be defined by catastrophic climate change, mass migration, mass layoffs due to automation, ensuing social unrest, and the merging of humans and technology. It touts ‘government’ as the provider of solutions to all challenges foreseen for the coming decades, in other words, central command and digital control. It also states that a ‘shock’ is needed to spur the ‘transition’ to a new ‘world order.’ In this sense the handling of COVID may prove to have been a dry run for the advent of a Chinese surveillance and social credit regime that is the very antithesis of the democratic ideals articulated by our forebears in the 18th century Enlightenment. Indeed, the handling of the crisis followed the script rehearsed at Event 201 in New York in October 2019, including maintaining public compliance through narrative control and the censorship of dissident views.

This trajectory towards the transhuman and post-human ‘Human 2.0’ through the use of technology to merge humans with machines represents ‘progress’, and uses the language of ‘human augmentation’ and ‘software upgrades’ engineered through implants, bio- and nanotechnology and genetics – these new scientific developments potentially enable total surveillance and control on the pretext of biomedical security. We will be collectively subjected by governments and intelligence services to ‘5th generation warfare’ including information war, psychological war and unprecedented censorship enhanced by AI.

The exemplar is the very clever and efficient left-hemisphere-driven human being – the New Eugenics ‘Superman’ without a heart. The potential consequences of the techno-transhumanist trajectory are well summarised by international lawyer Richard Falk in his autobiography:

I fear that this emergent tyranny of algorithms, robots, devices, artificial intelligence, and political correctness in the digital age purporting to address our desires, fears and needs is the technologically contrived destiny awaiting humanity. It seems likely to erode the life of the mind, heart, and soul, draining life from that remnant of spirituality, awe, and mystery that has struggled to survive the onslaughts of modernity.

We must not allow this tyranny to overtake us, hence the imperative of taking a different and more humane path towards a New Renaissance rather than The Great Reset.

The Spiritual Trajectory

The spiritual trajectory of evolution entails embodying spiritual values and qualities, and refining one’s character and consciousness by cultivating such attributes as love, compassion, care, wisdom, integrity, humility and beauty.

Interestingly, the Scottish Parliamentary Mace is aspirational, inscribed with the four moral virtues of Wisdom, Integrity, Justice, Compassion. These qualities can be directly experienced in the mystical state of gnosis. The scholar Giovanni Filaramo writes that ‘Gnostic knowledge is a lived experience of spiritual regeneration. Knowledge of beginning and end. To know means to become the same reality that is known, removing the dichotomy between subject and object [my emphasis].’ Likewise, Elaine Pagels: ‘Gnosis is self-knowledge and knowledge of the Self. … To know oneself at the deepest level is simultaneously to know God.’ To become God is theosis. Spiritual exemplars are the great sages and saints who may also demonstrate superhuman abilities – this is the true inner path of human evolution, transforming the socially constructed ego to reflect what Jeffrey Kripal calls the Superhuman Self representing our immanent divine core or centre.

All the great initiates, sages, saints and shamans have directly and personally experienced the ontological existential reality of subtle and invisible dimensions beyond and within the physical. They concur that these levels and realms are even more real than the physical and that they emanate from a Divine Source that can be personally experienced as Light-Love-Wisdom-Truth-Peace-Joy-Freedom, which we quintessentially are as microcosms of the Macrocosm, emanations and individual expressions of the One Universal Mind.

“An Evolutionary Bifurcation: Transcendence or Transhumanism?” by David Lorimer is an extract from A New Renaissance: Transforming Science, Spirit and Society Edited by David Lorimer and Oliver Robinson

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