Technology: Friend or foe to humanity?

Enormous progress in technology is leading some theorists to believe that all human limitations can be overcome.

Enormous progress in technology is leading some theorists to believe that all human limitations can be overcome.

April 6, 2015

Protecting human ecology is an imperative every bit as important as protecting the natural environment, says a French pro-life activist.

Tugdual Derville, a leader of Alliance VITA, a pro-life and pro-family coalition in France, told the annual Catholic Organization for Life and Family seminar March 20 how surprised he was to look out from the podium over an immense crowd that was protesting the French government's redefinition of marriage in 2012.

"Nobody was expecting such a crowd in France," he said.

Derville said the reason so many people were protesting was that the law touched on the most intimate part of human reality – what it means to be male and female.

"The law said being a mother or a father was interchangeable," he said.

The reaction was not so much a reaction against a particular minority group or lifestyle that claims good intentions, but showed concern over the consequences of being male or female, he said.

The first basic structure for human ecology is the family, where the first notions of goodness and truth are conveyed, and where a child learns what it means to love and be loved, Derville told the 120 or so participants at the COLF seminar in Gatineau, Que. "A child needs parents committed to one another."

Protecting human ecology is as important as protecting the quality of water, air and the natural environment, he said.

"The human being comes first," he said, distinguishing between environmental movements that see the earth "as a goddess to be served," and a Catholic view that sees humanity as the steward of creation.

Derville warned against coming advances in technology that could spur the desire for humanity to reach for immortality and control.

Men and women are created for love, he said, and must resist the temptation to strive to overcome basic human limitations, a philosophy known as trans-humanism.

With laws saying that men and women are interchangeable comes the temptation to try to de-naturalize human nature itself, Derville warned.


One troubling development is the growing dynamic of treating the child as an object, he said. This can be seen in homosexual adoption where the mother or father is removed. It is also apparent in surrogate parent arrangements such as the one involving an Australian couple who refused to take one of two twins born to a surrogate mother because the child was disabled.

We risk progressively making humans a product and eliminating their nature, he said.

Advances in technology pose new risks such as the fusion of a human person and a machine to overcome limited, animal conditions, he said.

Technological developments have helped people who are blind or who are missing limbs, he said.


But now instead of merely creating a bionic eye or a bionic limb that can help the disabled achieve normal functioning, scientists are looking at using technology to give a man the sight of an eagle or to enable soldiers to fight without normal human vulnerability.

Tugdual Derville

Tugdual Derville

In Britain, a child was created with two mothers and one father by genetically modifying the embryo, he said, noting a lot of funding went into the research for this.

"We have to see the presuppositions of the post-human lobbying," Derville said. They want to overcome the limits of our bodies, which have a sex, male or female, are limited in how fast they can go, and ultimately get worn out with age and die.

They work under the illusion that humanity can go beyond the limits imposed by human nature, he said. The goal is to become omnipresent, omniscient, invulnerable and immortal.

Any idea of God is set aside by the transhumanist, he said. Transhumanists believe religion is rooted in a part of the brain, and they aim to prevent the brain from having religious influence. Transhumanism allows no place for the mystery of being.


Protecting human ecology is similar to the struggle to protect the environment, he said. If the state controls people with regulations instead of people having control of their own destiny, people will feel alienated from the systems of control.

Protecting human ecology means challenging the culture of rejection and the culture of waste, where the human person becomes waste, he said. Human ecology means recognizing men and women are spiritual beings.

"My personal experience tells me dignity is an experience of wonderment," he said. "The human being is made to grow and develop."

Human ecology is built on the ideas that free human beings build together and that they are vulnerable, the recognition that "I have need of you."

If you want to change the world, start with changing yourself, he said. We have plenty to learn from each other, starting with our own personal transformation.

Through building links with each other, we can change things progressively, building a new fabric, a humanizing response to a society that deeply needs it, he said.


Derville said people have to be aware of the extraordinary evolution of knowledge and neither fear nor adore it. Humanity can benefit from technology, but he warned against science that lacks conscience.

The new threat today comes from technology not regulated by ethics, he said. A major challenge for humanity will be the question of the fusion between man and machine.

All of us are "repaired and improved" already by the progress of medicine and technology, he said. People live with pacemakers, hearing aids and other technological aids that can be life-saving.


Derville asked what it might mean if an artificial uterus is created that can produce children. "Will love and altruism remain the engines of history?"

One basic fact of human life is that each of us grew inside the body of a woman, he said. How will it be defended before this kind of science?

To promote human ecology, Derville said, "We should value interdependence." One cannot live all by oneself; every person needs others.