#UK I visited one of the largest megachurches in the US as an atheist Transhumanist presidential candidate — here’s what happened



As part of my 2016 US Presidential campaign representing the transhumanist party, I’ve spent much of the last month in America’s highly religious South, traversing the Bible Belt and spreading the news that soon radical science and technology will overcome biological death.

Some experts are predicting a brave new world where gene editing, robotic hearts, and cranial implants may forever change humans into something transhuman.

No matter how you twist it, such concepts don’t easily jibe with biblical scripture.

In my travels, I expected resistance to my message. Instead, people in the South have graciously offered curiosity and even support of my strange campaign.  While I imagined we’d have rocks thrown at our bus, instead we got lots of people wanting selfies with us and local TV crews covering the tour.

In Tennessee, my coffin-shaped bus made a visit to Alabama’s Church of the Highlands. This nondenominational Christian megachurch, which has a dozen campuses and 32,000 members, is the largest church in the state.

Pastor Kyle Cantrell first encountered my crew and I while we were checking out the massive speaking pulpit where Sunday services are held. 

Because I’m an atheist presidential candidate, my wife is a physician at Planned Parenthood, and I endorse microchipping humans for a variety of reasons (I have a chip implant myself), I was thankful my small traveling crew was treated so well.

Pastor Cantrell took us to the main chapel — which is separate from the Sunday service auditoriums — and I pressed him with questions about how technology might affect religion in the future.

One topic we discussed in detail was virtual reality. I asked him if he thought it might be used in teaching people about God. He told me he couldn’t see any reason why virtual reality couldn’t be used to facilitate Christian understanding and preaching. Cantrell seemed to think it might especially be useful for the physically disabled who might not otherwise be able to easily make it into the church.

One pertinent topic I’ve thought about before — especially since I was raised Catholic — is whether robots and artificial intelligences can be saved. I pointed out the Pope had recently mentioned that perhaps aliens could be saved if they existed.

“It’s really the first time I’ve thought about whether robots or artificial intelligence could be saved,” Cantrell told me, “but it’s an interesting concept.”


A time is coming, perhaps in as little as 20 years, when scientists will create intelligences as sophisticated as humans, and even I’m curious whether they will embrace spiritual values. I don’t mind if they do — so long as they are not fanatical about it — but I do hope they will always hold reason and the Scientific Method as their highest codes. 

I’ve been openly writing about my atheism for many years now, though if I really had to peg down my beliefs, I’d probably lean towards being atheistcideist  someone who believes a superintelligence like God may have existed at one point, but probably ended its own existence to give free will to the universe. 

Most transhumanists embrace some spirituality, including myself. And despite my secularism, I’m quite certain that other intelligences are out there in the universe that are smarter than human beings. In an expanding universe that is almost 14 billion years old and may have 20 billion habitable planets, it’s egotistical to think that humans are the only entities to evolve with advanced intelligence. 


In the end, technology is changing the human race so rapidly that controversial topics like abortion, the existence of heaven, and saving the souls of robots may not matter in 30 years time. Technology may literally eliminate the questions.

For example, abortions may drastically decline due to artificial wombs, better forms of birth control that we control with our smartphones, and a possible overall decline in biological sex as virtual sex and sex chip implants become better than the real thing. And far fewer people will worry about whether heaven exists if science can conquer death and reverse aging.

Lastly, robots and AI will probably outperform human intelligences, likely teaching us about spirituality and possibly even about a superintelligence like God that may already exist — or did once exist.

Zoltan Istvan is a futurist, 2016 US Presidential Candidate of the Transhumanist Party, and author of The Transhumanist Wager.

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