This new poll from the Pew Research Center, a nonpartisan American think tank, is a bit of a surprise, because we didn’t know that that the technology they asked about was anywhere near to being implemented. Nevertheless, the results are interesting. Their report is The religious divide on views of technologies that would ‘enhance’ human beings.
They have charts and tables with a lot of information, so you should click over there to read the whole thing if you’re interested. We’ll just give you the main points, with bold font added by us for emphasis:
Many Americans are wary of the prospect of implanting a computer chip in their brains to improve their mental abilities or adding synthetic blood to their veins to make them stronger and faster, according to a major new Pew Research Center survey gauging the public’s views on technologies that could enhance human abilities. And this is particularly true of those who are highly religious.
The “highly religious” are the most wary. Well, if they don’t like evolution, it makes sense that they’d object to this stuff too. We’re told:
For instance, a majority of highly religious Americans (based on an index of common religious measures) say they would not want to use a potential gene-editing technology that would give their baby a much reduced risk of disease (64%), while almost the same share of U.S. adults with “low” religious commitment would want to use such a technology (63%).
Interesting, but not unexpected. Let’s read on:
Similar patterns exist on questions about whether people would want to enhance themselves by implanting a computer chip in their brains or by having synthetic blood transfusions. Not only are highly religious Americans less open to healthy people using these potential technologies, but they are more likely to cite a moral opposition to them – and even to connect them directly to religious themes.
Case in point: Many people who said these technologies would be morally unacceptable explained their position with references to “changing God’s plan.” In the case of a computer chip in the brain, some opponents connected this idea to the “mark of the beast,” a reference involving Satan in the Bible’s book of Revelation.
It’s amusing that those who could probably benefit most from a brain implant are the least likely to want it. We continue:
In addition to gaps based on levels of religious commitment, members of certain religious groups are more apt than others to express reservations about the potential future human enhancement technologies that were mentioned in the survey. For example, white evangelical Protestants are more likely than Americans overall (65% vs. 49%) to say using synthetic blood to give healthy people greater speed, strength and stamina would be crossing a line and “meddling with nature.”
As expected, there are denominational distinctions:
U.S. Catholics are somewhat less wary of potential human enhancements than are evangelicals. Still, most say they would not want brain chips or synthetic blood, and many see these things as morally questionable or problematic.
Similar to Catholics, white mainline Protestants are ambivalent toward these issues, but they are more open to potential human enhancements in some ways. For instance, a majority (57%) of white mainline Protestants say gene editing for babies would be no different than other ways humans try to better themselves.
Here’s one final excerpt:
Perhaps some of the most striking findings on these issues, however, involve those who are not affiliated with any religion. Self-identified atheists and agnostics, in particular, are by far the most open to using these technologies, and easily the least likely to see them as morally troubling.
Some of those enhancements seem quite desirable, but your Curmudgeon would be wary of a computer chip in the brain. No, it’s not because of religious concerns. We’d need to be assured that no one could hack into our brain — because if that could be done, it would.
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