Defining Humanity in an Age of Plasticity
Modern discourse about the human person often emphasizes the extent to which humans are “plastic” and thus capable of being transformed in remarkable ways. Our brains are malleable, we have the technological capacity to reshape our bodies in seemingly countless ways, and even things we once imagined to be relatively stable features of human identity (e.g. sex, gender, and race), are increasingly viewed as subject to change. In this age of plasticity, it can be difficult to know what we should think about the task of defining what it means to be human, particularly when there are elements in the Christian tradition itself that challenge the idea of a stable and easily identifiable human nature. This paper explores the challenges presented by plasticity and various kinds of “posthumanism,” suggesting that at least some common theological critiques may not be as strong as they seem.