Transhumanism, Posthumanism and Super-Naturalism: 2018 IRC Summer Conference

Ian Ramsey Centre for Science and Religion

Mathematical Institute (Friday) and Egrove Park (Saturday), Oxford

Thursday 5th July 8:00PM (BST) - Saturday 7th July 6:00PM (BST)

Transhumanism, Posthumanism and Super-Naturalism 2018 Ian Ramsey Centre Summer ConferenceMathematical Institute and Egrove Park, Oxford, 6-7 July 2018 PLEASE REGISTER VIA THE THE OXFORD UNIVERSITY ONLINE SHOP, USE THE ONLINE SHOP ONLY, NOT THE REGISTRATION BUTTON BELOW.


Event Description

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

Mathematical Institute, Oxford


7:30pm: PUBLIC LECTURE: Alister McGrath (University of Oxford)
The Transformation of Humanity – or the Abolition of Man?
C. S. Lewis and the Transhumanism Debate

8:45pm Finish

Mathematical Institute, Oxford


8:45am: Conference Introduction


9:00am: PLENARY: Jennifer Thweatt (Flagler College)
Cyborgs in the Garden

10:30am: BREAK

11:00am: PLENARY: Graham Ward (University of Oxford)
AI Vampires: In Search of the Soul

12:30pm: Lunch Break

1:30pm: PLENARY: 
Michał Łuczewski (JPII Centre, Warsaw)
“Conversion, Coercion, and Transhumanism”

Agnieszka Nogal (University of Warsaw), 
with Jonathan Price (JPII Centre)
Who Owns Life?”

3:00pm: Break


Jeffrey Bishop (Saint Louis University)
Becoming (Trans/Post) Human:
Mathēsis and the Technoscientific Imaginary of Transhumanism

Beth Rath (Borromeo Seminary / John Carroll University)
On the Impossibility of Engineering Moral Virtue

Tobias Tan (University of Cambridge)
"Extending the Transhuman Person:
Religion as Technological Enhancement

5:30pm: Finish

6:20pm: Coach to Egrove Park (for dinner at 7:00pm)


Egrove Park, Oxford


8:00am: (A): EARLY-BIRD OPTIONAL SESSIONS (repeated at end of day)

A. Alister McGrath (University of Oxford): 
Developing an Academic Career

B. Andrew Pinsent (University of Oxford): 
Developing Sales Skills in an Academic Context


9:00am: Tea, coffee and refreshments



A.1 Sean Clancy, “Posthumanism and Anti-Natalism”
A.2 Andre Alves Ferreira, “Transhumanism and Our Concept of Persons and Death”
A.3 Inge Fielder, “Blurring lines of transcendence and immanence 
– soteriological promises of transhumanism’s utopias”

B.1 Asla Mariano, “What is Wrong with Imperfection?”
B.2 Marius Markuckas, “Transhumanism from the historical ontology perspective: 
a self-defeating idea?
B.3 [SPARE] 

C.1 Sean Biggins, “Understanding and the Human Context: Is There a Place in it for Artificial Persons?”
C.2 William Hannegan, “Biological Natures and Posthuman Artefacts”
C.3 Finney Premkumar, “A Positive Future? Why Transhumanism and Posthumanism may be trying to reach beyond their grasp”


11:00am: Tea, coffee and refreshments



A.1 James Helmer, “In Excess? Natural Goodness, Moral Virtue, and the Limits of Moral Bioenhancement”
A.2 Judith Rahn, “‘We Understand More than We Know’: Tracing Posthuman Subjectivities between Technology and Prophecy”
A.3, Dani Shalet, “Street Samurai, Golems, and Cyborgs: Transhumanism in Popular Media.”

B.1 Ben Parks, “Transhumanism’s Violent Founding Myth”
B.2 Stevan Veljkovic, “On Tendentiousness and the Anthropocene
B.3 [SPARE] 

C.1 Marius Dorobantu, “Strong Artificial Intelligence and Theological Anthropology: One Problem, Two Solutions”
C.2 Eugenia Torrance, “Acquiring Incorruption: Maximian Theosis and Scientific Transhumanism”
C.3 Olli-Pekka Vainio, “Artificial Intelligence as an Image of God”


1:00pm: Lunch provided by Egrove Park



A.1 Johannes Grössl, “Transhumanism and Character Formation”
A.2 Hector Velazquez, “Is Human Nature Modifiable through Transhumanist Biotechnology? The Difference Between Ethical Perfecting and Physical Enhancement.”
A.3 Aku Visala, “Where Does the Buck Stop? 
On the Responsibility of Artificial Beings and Their Creators”

B.1 Kelvin Chong, “Can an AI Agent Imagine and thus Theologize?”
B.2 Mikael Leidenhag, “Liberating the Self: What View of Consciousness Will Lead to Techno-transcendence?”
B.3 Mujral Rajni (by Skype), “Noetic Impoverishment and the growth of technology”

C.1 Yaqub Chaudry, “Artificial Intelligence, Transhumanism, Augmented Reality and the Re-Enchantment of the World”
C.2 Ryan G. Hornbeck, “Sustainable Xiào (孝): Chinese Student Perspectives on Transhumanist Applications for Life, Intelligence, and Spirit”
C.3 “Josué Reichow, “The Lordship of the Smartphone over All of Life: The Dawn of a New Modernity”


3:30pm: Tea, coffee and refreshments



A.1 Konrad Szocik, “Manned Mission to Mars, Transhumanism, and Human Enhancement”
A.2 Koji Tachibana, “Posthumanism, the Supremacy of Survival, and the Meaning of ‘Human’ in the Forthcoming Space Era”

B.1 Matthew Eppinette, “Is Transhumanism an Emerging MacIntyrean Tradition?”
B.2 Agnieszka Wincewicz-Price, “Can Nudges Transform the Person?”

C.1 Alec Arnold, “The Technologization of Sexual Desire: Transhumanist Sexuality and the Future of Eros”


5:00pm: OPTIONAL FINALE SESSIONS (repeated from the morning)

A. Alister McGrath (University of Oxford): 
Developing an Academic Career

B. Andrew Pinsent (University of Oxford): 
Developing Sales Skills in an Academic Context



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

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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.

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