Ian Ramsey Centre

Transhumanism, Posthumanism and Super-Naturalism, 2018 IRC Conference, Oxford, 6-7 July 2018

Transhumanism, Posthumanism and Super-Naturalism

2018 Ian Ramsey Centre Summer Conference
Mathematical Institute and Egrove Park, Oxford, 6-7 July 2018


Registration is now open at the Oxford University Online Shop.


Advances in genetics, robotics, informatics, and nanotechnology (GRIN) in the last several decades have sparked great speculation about the future of the human race. Just as the products of the human mind have transformed the earth, leading to the introduction of terms such as ‘noosphere’ and the ‘anthropocene,’ GRIN technologies offer hopes, and raise concerns, about far-reaching transformations of human persons, especially when new biotechnologies, such as CRISPR-Cas9, offer the prospects of precise manipulation of genomes. Human enhancement proponents contend that because of such prospects we may even need to redefine what our progeny should be called, introducing terms such as ‘posthuman’ or ‘transhuman.’

How do these developments impact upon perennial questions explored by philosophy and theology? Who am I? What am I? What can I know? What should I do? What can I hope for? What about new questions raised by the technologies themselves? For example, can I ‘engineer’ changes to my character and ethical dispositions? What about the impact on the social dimension of the person, such as the relations expressed by ‘I’ to ‘you’, and ‘we’, whether in families, societies, distributed communities or the world as a whole? And how does the prospect of techno-transcendence relate to theological transcendence, especially the notion of a super-naturalised humanity through grace, and its ancient gnostic counterparts?

Plenary speakers will include: Alister McGrath (Oxford); Agnieszka Nogal (Warsaw); Jeanine Thweatt (Flager); and Graham Ward (Oxford). In addition, three short papers will be selected for inclusion in a plenary session at the Mathematical Institute on 6 July.

Call for papers

Short papers are invited on topics relevant to the conference themes, to be delivered in parallel sessions of 30 minutes duration (20-minute paper, 10 minutes discussion). Those wishing to contribute a paper should submit:

(1) Full name
(2) Institutional affiliation
(3) A title
(4) A < 500-word abstract that summarises the key points and situates the paper against its scholarly backdrop.

Submissions should be sent to:


with the subject line:

“Transhumanism, Posthumanism and Super-Naturalism”

Closing date for abstract submissions: Monday 23 April 2018

Notification of acceptance: Friday 27 April 2018

For questions on paper submissions, please contact: andrew.pinsent@theology.ox.ac.uk.

Most short papers will be presented on 7 July at the Egrove Park workshop. In addition, THREE PAPERS will be selected by a panel of three assessors for a plenary session at the Mathematical Institute on 6 July and will be filmed along with keynote speakers.

The European Journal for Philosophy of Religion is planning to publish a special edition with a selection of papers from the event.

Costs, registration, and timing


All registration is via the Oxford University Online Shop.


In response to feedback from previous years, the Ian Ramsey Centre had kept costs low and flexible this year to meet a range of needs and budgets. Please note, however, that registration does not include refreshments or accommodation except for lunch on Saturday for those attending the second day of the event.

Thu 5 July
Public Lecture by Alister McGrath, 7:30pm - 9:00pm, Mathematical Institute (free and open to the public - registration will be advertised separately through Eventzilla).

Fri 6 July
Day of Plenary Events at the Mathematical Institute, 9:00am - 6:00pm (£65). Refreshments can be purchased at the cafeteria of the Mathematical Institute.
Optional Dinner at Egrove Park, 7:30pm (£27.50).

Sat 7 July
Workshop at Egrove Park with registration including lunch, 9:00am - 6:00pm (£65).

All accepted papers will have places reserved at the conference and workshop, but will need to pay the registration fees.

Venue Details

(1) Main conference 6 July 2018:

The main conference will be hosted at the spectacular Andrew Wiles Building, home of Oxford Mathematics, opened in October 2013. The plenary talks will be in the state-of-the-art and largest purpose-built lecture theatre in Oxford. Please note that parking is very limited locally, but there is a direct bus route (300) from Pear Tree Park and Ride north of the city (OX2 8JD) stopping outside the institute (Old Radcliffe Infirmary).

Mathematical Institute
University of Oxford
Andrew Wiles Building
Radcliffe Observatory Quarter
Woodstock Road
Oxford OX2 6GG


(2) Dinner on 6 July.

(3) Workshop 7 July 2018.

The conference dinner and workshop, for those purchasing these options, will be at Egrove Park, Saïd Business School’s purpose-built executive education centre, set in 37 acres of wooded parkland 3 miles from Oxford centre. There is a regular bus route that stops outside the venue and free private parking is available on site. A coach will be leaving the Mathematical Institute at 18:30 on Friday for those wishing to travel to the dinner.

Egrove Park
Oxford OX1 5NY


There will be a coach travelling from the Mathematical Institute to Egrove Park on Friday evening for the dinner.


In response to feedback from previous years requesting more flexibility, registration fees have been kept low, but the conference registration does NOT include accommodation; there are ample options in Oxford, but early booking is advised. A block of rooms has been reserved at Egrove Park for short paper speakers.

For those wishing to search for rooms online near the main conference, the postcode is OX2 6GG; for the workshop venue, the postcode is OX1 5NY.


For 2019, the summer conference theme will be around the topic of evolution and theodicy.

For 2020, the summer conference theme will be natural theology.